Rain Dancer & Glasses

RD: I don't want to watch your video. (project)

G: Why don't you?

RD: I just don't.

G: Well, then I won't watch yours.

RD: You already watched it yesterday.

G: I did not commit it to memory.

Other things G doesn't commit to memory: Homework. Lunch Money. Remembering Glasses everyday.


That's One Way To Do It

A student comes up to me holding a pink, slobbery, partially chewed piece of candy. (Starburst, if you need a visual). He has a grimace, clear sign of pain across his brow.

In his partially chewed piece of candy, there was his tooth. One of the big ones.



Trouble in Paradise

I have two students in my room who are totally the fourth grade versions of the Odd Couple. Except, of course, neither of them is neat.

They do everything together. They co-write, co-read, walk in the halls together, support eachother, etc. The other day one of them was having a bad day, an "I-don't-have-any-friends" kind of bad day, and the other chimed in with "I'm your friend!!!" with a good ol' pat on the back. AND they sit at the Peanut Free table at lunch, by themselves, even though they aren't allergic to peanuts.

Well, today a huge hill appeared... and their relationship went down it. I overheard one say to the other "You're a bad friend." and then a "But I don't know what I did wrong, you have to tell me." and then "You should know what you did."

One of the friends spent the entire lunch period by himself at the Peanut Free table... the lone island of their former friendship... and cried the whole 30 minutes. And then cried the whole way out to recess.

I later found a note... I couldn't make out the whole thing, but it was the start of an acrostic poem:


I hope that in the morning we will be back to normal, and the relationship will be back on track. I will keep you posted.


Rules for Teachers

Food and Shelter

This weekend I went to the bookstore to spend my $20 giftcard I received as a thanks for a small inconvenience.

I was in search of something, anything, that could rope in my "I don't want to read" readers. I have a few of them. I combed through student-aged "how-to" books, books about cars, buildings, candy... Nothing seemed just right for any of my little darlings.

My poor husband was trailing behind me as I wound my way around the entire store. (In all fairness, I did suggest he get a beverage from the bookstore bar before we began).

Finally, I found something. I situated myself in front of the magazine rack and picked out 6 magazines for various readers. They looked cool... The language varied enough to hit a wide range of readers, and I thought the topics would look interesting to the readers.

I brought the magazine stack in on Monday and unveiled it to the class. I showed them the awesome pictures and an article in each one that I thought was really interesting. I was excited, I showed enthusiasm (which was completely genuine - these mags were right on!)

It worked... they looked so psyched and the magazines have been a hot comodity ever since, well, yesterday. Some students have even removed the ordering slip from them in hopes of asking their parents to get it for them. One girl even said - "That's all it costs for a year? I can earn that money!" Hooray for them.

Right after I gave my Read These Cool Mags talk, I asked if there were any questions. Beyond the drooling and GimmeGimme looks, I saw a lone hand. Rain Dancer. This was going to be good.

RD: Why did you waste your money on us?

Me: Waste? I love these magazines and I wanted to share them with you all!

RD: You should spend your money on Food and Shelter.

Good point. I can see someone is ready for the economics lessons.


Classroom Management

Today. Oh, today.

Today I had to whip out the "Take a Break" talk.

Is it true irony if I was interrupted by shout outs during a talk about shouting out?

I knew I needed it, it's true. It was confirmed today, after my talk, when I was approached by Rain Dancer. He handed me a list and simply said "Here they are."

"What's this?" I said, scanning the list of names.

"It's a list. A list of students who were talking."

"Talking? When?" (Knowing, that in my classroom, I channel Organized Chaos and it's usually a loud productive mess).

"Talking too loudly. Talking when you were talking. Some of them were whispering, but I got 'em. I wrote them down."

We need noise-cancelling headphones, and stat.



Snippets from the Party Room

Today was humorous. Funny. Laugh out loud at the end of the day funny. Trying to catch my breath funny.

Let me say, that not all of this might be funny to you. But pile it all together, and, by-golly, you have one heck of a day.

1. In math, we are talking about fractions. Students were building fractions using anything and everything in the classroom - clocks, pattern blocks, tangrams, fraction bars, money... you name it - we had it out. I was at one table, while my math co-teacher was W-A-Y on the other side of the room at another. The table I was working with happens to be a crammed table of seven boys (oy). They were building the fractions with no problem, in partners and independently. So, of course, they started to get distracted by their brains. "HEY!" their brains shouted. "Let's bust out in song in the middle of math!" And, of course, they obliged. (Tree - you should be channeling the bad idea bears)
I then stepped in and busted up the fun. Yeah, right. I told them that if they were going to sing, then they had to sing about the fractions they were building. Write a song, make up a song, sing it out... have at it! BUT it had to be about fractions. They said "I don't want to write a song." I said "What about a rap?" and they said "What's a rap?" SERIOUSLY? I thought I was so cool and hip on this stuff... but they don't know what a rap is? I couldn't help myself, I just started rapping about fractions. "Yo, Yo, Yo, fractions here..."

From across the room, the coteacher began laughing. I couldn't help myself.
Product? A song (rap) about fractions, created by two students in math today.

2. Not shortly after, a student, we'll call him Snail (because, as one teacher noticed, "If he walks any slower, he'd be going backwards), was bumped into by another student. Imagine a tap. Now divide that by 10 degrees of contact. This brush caused Snail to collapse to the floor in tears. Not because he was in pain, but because it disrupted him from his standing up. I know I know, poor Snail. I love this kid. But his collapse was award winning. The puddle (literally) of tears on the floor proved his dedication to the cause. No coaxing, pats on the back, encouragement, etc... were going to get Snail to get up. He laid there with our coteacher trying to convince him to get up for about 10 minutes. Puddle and all. Finally, with promises of kleenex, coteacher was able to get him to stand back up.

3. Nosepicker in the second row... go wash your hands.

4. Singing in the hall with an assistant leads to "dance party in the mod." It was part of my reading lesson, I swear. (Not the dance party part - but the reading the lyrics part).

5. This is from yesterday, but it is worthy of a two-day chuckle. We - another teacher and I - were lucky enough to have our school's tech guru come into the class to give an "Internet Safety" talk. Do not share personal information, great metaphors for safety they are familiar with, Stranger Danger online, etc... They should totally have connections with everything they were hearing. Here's one that will stay with me:

Yeah - that's like a movie I saw where a kid was setting his mom up on a date, but he found the date online, and gave the guy all this information and had his mom meet this stranger somewhere, and when she got there - it was a VAMPIRE!
All of the students either said "OH YEAH!" or their faces said "Vampires are online?"

I know there are more moments - but there's another day to blog :)


The I'm-so-proud-of-you-my-heart-expands feeling

I promised myself that I would be better about blogging on the day to day occurrences in class. Without sounding like a whiner, I'd like to say how difficult that is when you don't have internet (or cable, gasp!) at home.

Today... I want to remember today. Nothing particularly fabulous happened, but that is the fabulous part. I was being observed by some county folks for reading. I had all of my materials in order. The students were super chatty. We had outdoor, then indoor, then outdoor recess announcements (always a classroom disruptor when the announcer messes with their recess!).

I planned this carousel-ish activity for reading today. We are starting the discussion of author's purpose, starting with "inform." On each table I put a different style of informative text.

Table 1: Gaming guides for video games, instruction manual for my ipod, board game instructions.

Table 2: Time Almanacs (they are addicted to these lately, so I thought I'd throw them in the mix).

Table 3: Biographies

Table 4: Articles from Kids Post (including a pretty gross one that they loved on earworms).

In the back of the room, I had three computers set up with various sites, such as National Geographic for Kids, KidsNewsRoom, and Scholastic.

Their job was to read at each table. Then, after about 10 minutes, I asked them to write a thought - any response - to the text they were reading at that table on a post-it note, stick it to a parking lot on that table (a blank piece of paper), and then move to the next table. As it was happening, I was thinking I should refine the reflection by giving them a mini-prompt - but I am not glad that I did not.

Guess what? They ALL got in about 50 minutes of independent reading. And at the end, the students that would typically cringe at the thought of reading said "Are we going to do reading today?" When I said "We just did!" it BLEW THEIR MINDS. Amazing. Truly.

At the end, we came together and talked about our reflections. I asked for hands to tell me something they were thinking about all of these books, etc.. and I also read some of the post-it notes from the tables. From those thoughts, we constructed a general statement about the resources. The students decided that these materials: showed them information, tells them something, teaches them something, or they learn something from it.

They get it, folks! A student said the word INFORMation and we deconstructed it... well, THEY deconstructed it. And the looks on their faces as they buzzed with ideas, thoughts, and statements was indescribable.

On the post-its? They wrote a lot of "Tells me about...," "Shows me...," and "Teaches me..." BUT they also wrote a lot of "I learned..." "This book was about..." "Are there really earworms?"

So, for today... reading at the end of the day was just fine and dandy. What a great way to end a day...


Hateful hateful computer

Twitter will not let me update from this computer. Grr.


That Chair is Dangerous

My students sit. In a chair, sometimes. Not too often. Often they are on the floor. So, when reading the following story you have to keep in mind that these students don't have much experience with, uh, chairs.

Math was going "swimmingly" (My fave Dr. G word). I was allowing the students to pick their own math game after an excruciatingly long rounding quiz. When I called one student, (we will call him Glasses) to come select, he did not arrive. I kept calling other students, assuming that Glasses would arrive in his own time. A few students later, I realize he is still at his desk - but looks rather uncomfortable. I go over to investigate, and he says:

"My hand is stuck in my chair."

"What?" I say.

"My hand is stuck and it hurts." pause "Ouch."

"How on earth..." I'm thinking out loud.

I push and pull, gently trying to ease his hand out of the slat in the back of the chair. Nothing.
I cut off his supply bag (a bag of books and belongings on the back of the chair), in hopes that if he can lower his hand into the slat, it would come free. Nothing.

I suppose it was at this moment that I suggest we move our project into the hallway.

"Can you stand up?" I suggest.

"I can't. My hand is stuck."

I slowly lift the chair, with his hand still in it. He slowly stands with me. We walk across the room together, exiting the door without bumping into anything (whew).

I'd like to say that I was not at all laughing at this point.. but it was a funny situation. Right? Whatever, you'd be laughing too.

I put the chair down in the hallway.

"Sit down and wait here." I say.

"I can ONLY sit down and wait, my hand is stuck." Yep, he's right. Point Glasses.

Then, as if the move into the hallway has some magical power that will free the chair's grasp on his bony hand, I attempt to free his hand one more time. Nothing. Then he says:

"Mrs. _______, do you have any butter?"

Chuckle Chuckle Snort.

I leave him to ponder his "sticking my hand through the slat to get something out of my bag" decision. I enter the bathroom, fill my cupped hands with liquid soap, and return to the hallway. This is when the videographer should have shown up.

I proceed to grease this kid's arm up like a pig at the county fair. There is soap dripping everywhere, and I'm lathering it up and down his arm and hand. Seriously, videographer's dream.

He proclaims "SOAP? This is not going to work at all!"

For those of you thinking that this may have been a Teachable Moment, let me assure you, the last thing you are thinking as you're greasing up a kid's arm is "Let's think about how we can make a hypothesis about the likelihood that soap will help in getting your arm out of this d*&@ chair."

Well, it worked. Hand free - he exclaims "IT WORKED!" "How did that work?" And as he walked away to wash the soap from his arm he leaves us with his final thought:

"THAT chair is DANGEROUS!"

In which I reply: "We'll try a new one when you get back to the room."

The UP side:
He had clean clean hands for lunchtime.
I only had to excuse myself once from class to get all the giggles out.