Man Down

You join me on long journeys, tucked neatly inside of your case.
Until that moment in which there's a turn in scenery
or a moment in my life
that must be saved.
You join me in short trips, strapped to my shoulder,
gently swinging between clicks.
Your new job helps me to remember the important, document the arts, freezeframe the crafts, and reflect on the learning... as well as the learners.
Your pictures have been to China, even when you have not.
Life is creeping past my window,
seeping through the cracks of wood...
hesitantly approaching the windows of my mind.
Unable to capture, unable to halt life... I am lost without you by my side.
Hurry back.

What ball am I throwing?

First day of classes down.

Today was a full day of one class, 9am until 4:15pm.

We had Oreo Ball Truffles for breakfast.

We played with imaginary footballs, soccer balls, basketballs, and tennis balls. Our imaginations threw them with reckless abandon.

We started a storm.
Rub, snap, clap, slap, stomp, clap, snap, rub.

We debated art.

We created songs and games.

We performed those songs and games for our classmates.

We roleplayed.

Ah, how I missed these great thinkers.

I feel sufficiently warmed up for the assignment on tomorrow's agenda.


Arrivals and Departures

The first day of classes is quickly approaching.

As in tomorrow.

Integrating Fine Arts. There is a website, a blog, pictures, chapters to read...
A new email is required to participate in the website.
Signing in required for the blog.

The blog discussion is currently how early we will have to arrive on campus in order to not only find a parking space, but to actually park, walk, and arrive to class on time. Should we start at 9? Should we move it up to 8:30? My alarm clock clicks backwards in time as the debate continues.

And for those of you that are not familiar with my grad school parking issues... there is usually a wait/stalk/hover time of about 45 minutes to an hour. To even park! To get off of campus at 4:20 is another, and usually much longer story.

THIS is why we need textbooks on audio.



I could call it research.

Investigating the interests of students.

Creating an experience to help me relate to the students.

But I would secretly be memorizing the songs...

...and the dances.... each step, each turn, each twirl.

Tickets are on sale now. For my, ahem... research opportunity.


The Anti-Read Aloud

I am learning to love my read aloud voice.

Lately I have been congested, so I'm a little nasal-ly, a little short of breath, and I think my lisp is coming back. But regardless, I try to take my time and use inflection at all the appropriate moments. I go from high to low, to silly, to serious... it's like I can enter a world of dissociative identity disorder just for the sake of my listeners.

This week the class started reading Ruby Lu, Brave and True. The first 2 chapters cover Ruby as a Magician, and how she loves her baby brother Oscar, then goes to hating him and then to loving him again. Oscar gives away Ruby's magician secrets. Which, really, at this point, serves Ruby well b/c now she is not only Ruby the Magician, but she has Oscar the side-kick. The students seem to be sort of into it, but not as much as their last book. I could just have a warped perception, thanks to the gigglers in the front row. It doesn't help that there are names in the book such as PohPoh and GungGung. Ah, the things that authors think of.

Day three. I sit in THE seat. I pick up the book. The students assume position.

N e a t
R o w s
J u s t
L i k e

every other day.

Enter the cutest baby in the whole world (outside of my family, of course). Mom had a could-not miss opportunity in the classroom, and being an incredible community of teachers at the school, there was no fear - and we welcomed her into the room. BabyLove was very quiet and reserved. Then I began reading.

It was at that moment that BabyLove made her vocal debut.
The students fell in love.

I continued reading in my best nasal-ly reading voice.
This was no competition for the baby in the corner.
She had them wrapped around her little fingers.

Slowly, as I read the chapter, the students rearranged.
Slowly, the students sat up.
Slowly, the students moved closer to eachother.
Slowy, the magnetic force was apparent.

There I was, reading in my chair....
to my audience of one.

All of the others formed a tight sunburst away from BabyLove.
None were looking at me.
None were listening.
Imagine a picture with a yellow crayon sun drawn in the corner. That is what the room looked like.

A bright light and her admiring rays.


Intersession, Take 2

Today was the first day back from Wintersession. Hooray for being back to the regular classroom, but boo for the wonderful days of Wintersession being over.

On this first day back, we (meaning the Interns) were approached about the Spring Intersession (Last 2 weeks in March).

What grade level?

Language Arts or Math?

Ack! I don't know. I just hung my coat in my new classroom... and I have to make all of these executive decisions?

I'm partially joking, of course. I knew it was coming, those questions about what my intentions are for the spring intersession. Just how soon they came is shocking. I'm ready. I'm willing, and I'm able.

I have an idea... that I bounced off of many people to be sure it wasn't too "out there."
Now here's to the potential pre-planning that may happen!

My answer: Language Arts, 4-5 grade.


The Find

Lucky for me, I still have a whole 2 weeks before my grad classes begin again. Unfortunately, I already have a few reading assignments to keep me busy.

In order to get a nice jump on the reading, I had to pay a trip to the University Bookstore.

Normally, when beginning a trip to the bookstore, I must plan a few hours for incidentals. Just in case scenarios in which the floor sucks me in, and I surround myself with potential additions to my personal bookshelf. As it turns out, the University Bookstore is no different.

There I was, focused on searching... E... ED...EDC...EDCI - there they are!!! I quickly stacked my new additions, skimming the pages without really focusing on the contents. After all, there will be plenty of time for this when I get home.

Then comes the true excitement... the time when my eyes wander to the surrounding course books... slowly peering through the covers, grazing the pages of the workbooks, and eyeing the content of books that are NOT assigned for me to read.

Then I see it. A book that is practically jumping off of the shelf at me. Shiny, smooth, sparkling... I carefully pluck it off the shelf, looking around me as I do... I flip through the pages, the content confirming my suspicions - that I MUST OWN this book! I MUST mark it with my ideas with pencil, pen, and highlighter.

I hear the words of many professors of the past:
"I know I ordered enough for the whole class! It's odd that they ran out for you who have registered for this class!!"

I add the book to my stack.

I own that book.

And I apologize to the student who must wait for the bookstore to reorder.


What They Thought

My brother got a go-cart for Christmas.
The horses were not thrilled.
"If he thinks he's riding that thing in OUR pasture, he has another thing coming!"


The First Annual Christmas Eve Bonfire.

Well-Being and the Effect on Student Learning

Today was the first day of Wintersession. For those of you that do not know what Wintersession is, you're missing out!

(My school begins before the normal fall first day for most other elementary schools in the district, so to make up for it we have more "breaks" throughout the year. During these breaks, the school offers optional classes for students. We call this time "Intersession" - or a more festive version of the word, such as Wintersession!)

First, a little background. I was a psych major in college. Not by choice, as education has always been my intended field, but because I could not major in education. I was interested, secondly, in child development and psychology. Hence my major. During my last semester I took two upper level elective psychology courses, Abnormal Child Psychology and Science of Well-Being. Both were taught by the same professor, who happens to also run studies about social anxiety and the effects on well-being. This professor will be very critical, I am hoping, to my future research.

I am interested in social anxiety in children/students, within many avenues of their school-life, including environmental effects on standardized testing. A little wild in direction (as in unfocused), but as I proceed I'm sure I will create a more focused and guided research question.
I feel I have an advantage as an intern. Some of the time I am really able to just observe, I mean really observe, what's going on in a classroom. It is during this time that I tend to notice the students' behaviors rather than the teachers techniques. I spent four years learning about these behaviors. The twitching, the blinking, the nail biting, the aggression, the lying, the avoiding.... these are all behaviors that I have studied along the way. So when I see these types of behaviors, my mind becomes a sort of filing cabinet. I flip through, frantically looking for the possible diagnosis. I am not interested in the label, I am more interested in remembering the part of how to reach them and help them overcome the roadblock, so to speak, breaking down the behavior and helping them as a learner.

Back to Wintersession.

I was thinking today, as I overheard excited voices, singing, and laughing, about the social anxiety level of the school today versus a normal school day. The students are in new classrooms for the next 2 weeks. They have new classmates. They switch classes mid day. They chose the classes (in some cases), and they are classes that promote learning in a FUN (gasp!) way! Mission Math, Fresh and Healthy (snacks), Cooking (Fractions/Math), Arts and Crafts Around the World... and so on.... these are the great classes the students are offered during this time. The same students that are here for the rest of the "normal" school year are now offered an opportunity to come to school, pick their own classes, and really focus on exploratory learning experiences. No tests, no quizzes... but instead they get a few weeks with new teachers who are EXCITED to be teaching something that they actually chose to teach.

So, how does this relate to my research thoughts? Well, if well-being is increased by perception of happiness, and less stress... then the students should be increasing their personal well-being in the next few weeks. How, I ask, does this task at increasing well-being increase the success and well-being of the student throughout the year? Does the student have a better outlook on school and the environment having been given this opportunity? Having these three intersessions throughout the year - how much do they affect the student in this positive manner? And for that matter, if the well-being is increased, then shouldn't the test scores go up? Hmm.... so many questions.

Meanwhile, I will enjoy seeing the students smile, laugh, learn, and create... in a class that isn't offered to more than 75% of the students in our school system.