Monthly Archives: February 2013

24 Down, 14 To Go

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This was my last happy week. You see, next week, we will begin preparing for the IOWA exams that begin on Friday. The week after that, students will take the IOWA exams and have “Spring Day” on Friday. The week after that is Spring Break. And you know what kind of learning happens after spring break…

In language arts, the munchkins finished their “How-To” book.  It was a struggle for them because they didn’t include quite enough detail…

For instance: How to make cup cakes “First, go to HEB. Next, buy cupcakes. Finally, take them home.”

or: How to make cup cakes “You will need frosting and sprinkles. First, make the cupcakes, then put icing on them. Then put sprinkles on them.”

I kept telling them. “But how do you MAKE it?” They got so frustrated, but by the end of the class, they had written out all the proper steps to draw a kitty or make a boat or even make cup cakes.

In math, we began practicing addition again. The idea is that students will slowly gain automaticity. We took a pre-test at the beginning. There were 100 problems and the students tried to do as many as they could in 3 minutes. The said it was impossible. I told them that it is probably impossible for a first grader, but older kids could do it. They still didn’t believe me and challenged me to do as many as possible in 3 minutes.

I finished in 1:12 and enjoyed the adoration of first graders for at least 8 minutes before they got enchanted with Spiderman again.

 

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23 Down, 15 To Go

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This was a momentous week, because it contained….*drum roll*….the 100th day of school! My kids have been so excited about this day. Each day during calendar we count up to the number of days we’ve been in school. The munchkins could barely contain their excitement last week counting up 97…98…99 days. The Kindergarten and first grade combined to do several activities. Tammy oversaw the making of necklaces. The kiddos strung 100 FrootLoops together on yarn to make a necklace. Also, they doubled as snacks during prayer time, much to the chagrin of us teachers.  I led the students in making 100-piece trail mix. Students counted out pretzels, chocolate chips, raisins, cheerios, M&Ms, goldfish and other goodies to make a nice afternoon snack.  In P.E., our wonderful coach had the students dribble balls 100 times, do a 100-times-around-the-school relay. 

Unfortunately, after the 100th day of school, there was a huge let-down for the rest of the week. The kids learned about making inferences, finished learning about fractions, identified the part of a plant that certain vegetables come from, and wrote letters to soldiers thanking them for their service. 

Yes, they were adorable. 

Yes, I sent them to real soldiers. 

Yes, I have the best munchkins on the PLANET!

22 Down, 16 To Go

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This week didn’t have much to talk about in the way of academics, and there were some hard emails I had to write. So this post will be devoted to telling you about my buddy teacher and why buddy teachers are so important.

Although I’m friendly with all the teachers at the school, and friends with many of them, I have one teacher buddy: the Kindergarten teacher, Tammy. She and I serve several purposes for each other.

1)Advisor: Tammy and I go to each other to bounce ideas off the other person, try out test questions, make suggestions for emails, and make plans for labs. Not only is it nice to get an extra pair of eyes looking over your work, but our different perpectives and learning experiences help us give each other valuable advice.

2) Co-teacher: Tammy’s and my classes do all sorts of things together, especially during special days like the two days before Thanksgiving break, or the 100th day of school. In that way, our students can get lots of hands-on experiences, but Tammy and I only have to prepare and clean up one or two things, and simply rotate the students.

3) Ear without a recording device: It is essential for teachers to have a person with whom they can blow off steam. Teaching is such an emotional profession, it’s nice to have someone you can whine and complain to who won’t tell your boss, who won’t tell you that you’re being ridiculous and who understands how frustrating/sad things can be.

4)Naysayer: Tammy and I feel comfortable telling each other “no.”  One time, I mentioned that I should explain to a parent that I can’t give one-on-one help in class because there are 20 students and only 40 minutes of class, that’s two minutes per kids. She simply said, “I wouldn’t attach a number to it…” I knew what that meant, and I was glad to have taken the advice. When Tammy had to go to our boss to get something changed, I told her that what she was going to say might sound whiny, and helped her come at the problem from a different angle.

5)Friend: It’s a wonderful feeling to have someone to hug when you get back from break. 🙂

21 Down, 17 To Go

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This is the week that my brain left. On Monday, everything was normal. But by the end of the week, I felt like my brain had gone on vacation.  I made so many mistakes! Not big mistakes, mind you. I didn’t lose and children, or forget to give a test, or anything like that. It was just many many little mistakes that culminated in me looking completely incompetent. None are even worth mentioning, they’re so harmless. But, I’m hoping for a more solid, clear-thinking week next week.

In language arts, our focus was on author’s purpose. This is a very difficult concept to teach students because while students have no problem identifying whether an author wrote a book to inform or entertain his/her audience, it is difficult for them to explain why the author made certain choices about what to write. That is, unless the student reads a lot, in which case it is very easy. That’s the problem with LA. You’ve got to be a reader to succeed. When parents tell me that they want their student to be a better writer, I say: she should read. When parents say that they want their child to use high-level vocabulary, I tell them: he should read. When parents say that their child doesn’t spell well, I say: she should read. And when a parent tells me that we’re moving too fast in class and their child is having a hard time catching up to all the concepts we discuss, I tell them: he should read.

There’s no secret, magic formula that I haven’t mentioned. Just pick up a book and go at it!

I’m also in the depths of despair because we are learning about coins in math. Coins are so hard for the munchkins and when something is hard for first grade munchkins, it is especially hard on the parents of said munchkins. I have to reassure them that learning how to count money takes time, which is why we are spending a week on it. If students don’t know how to count nickels and pennies, it doesn’t mean that they won’t go on to the next grade or fail at life. It just means that it might take until “dime day” or “quarter day” to get the hang of establishing values of coins and skip counting by different numbers. I’m so glad it’s going to be over next Wednesday!