Let There Be Light!

I arrived at school today an hour plus before I am due to pick up my students. I walked into my quad and immediately noticed that the emergency exit lights were on. "Hmm," I thought.

Then, without giving my 7:15am brain a minute to process, I flipped the light switch up. "Hmm," I thought again.

DownUpDownUpDownUp went the switch.

Off, stayed the lights.


I walked into the main building, thinking that my poor little quad was just malfunctioning. Darkness greeted me, and I saw a huge crowd of teachers in the office. Holding flashlights that the office was providing.

Quick. Think. How can I take my 3 smartboard lesson plans and recreate them as active lessons. In the dark.

I walked around my room for a bit with the flashlight beam, searching for something, anything, to give me an idea of how to make the best of the morning. I had to dark plan for instruction until 10am - the time the power company promised the power would be back on.

Then the flashlight beam fell upon something wonderful. A big brown box delivered a week ago, sitting in the corner of my room waiting for me to pull it out and plan.

The Science Kit.

The Science Kit for Magnets and ELECTRICITY!

Forget that we are in the middle of a plant unit. I have batteries! And bulbs! And wire!

On each desk, I put all of the materials a student would need to... you guessed it... create light.
I told them some camp story of the Life Before Lights and they were hooked. I then challenged them to use each of the items on their desk to create light. They discussed, they squinted, they clipped and cut wire. Then, one by one, I made them declare: "LET THERE BE LIGHT!"

We all read by the light of the wee-bulb. They each had a personal circuit on their desk. I even heard some say "I'm going to save energy and turn my bulb off," as they chose to read by some light coming in (finally) through the window.

Even with this wonderful experience, they all still cheered when the lights flickered back on at 9:50-something. But for a few moments, we were all there. Back in time.


Thinking About Numbers

We just survived a long unit in multiplication. The test showed that while they understand the actual act of multiplying, what it meant, etc... it also showed that they are having a hard time remembering the little facts - the multiplication facts that they have been learning for, oh, a few years now.

So we're doing a little backtracking. In order to prepare for division, we are making what the Investigation series calls "Multiplication Towers." Each pair of students gets a 2 digit number. I gave them a 300 chart to highlight all of the multiples of their given number. For some students, this meant they were only highlighting a few numbers on the chart. So, they were also asked to look for a pattern to help them continue the multiple pattern. Some students, such as the pair that was given the number 60, decided to instead highlight the multiples of 6 - knowing that they could add the "0" and create the multiple of 60.

Once they created a sufficient list, checked it, etc... I gave them a long strip of counting tape - "As tall as you are!" to create their multiplication tower. They start with the original number on the bottom, adding multiples above. My plan is to go over some observations of the towers, including what are multiples of 10 and 20 on their tower (without letting them count up!) Then, we will begin division discussions using the towers (thinking top down instead of bottom up). Here are some shots of my worker bees:


We all remember the rule.

Keep your hands to yourself.

Well, what happens with this rule backfires? When really, you just want to see the kid's hands on the desk. Not touching anything, including themselves.


One of my jobs in the classroom is to keep my students safe. From lots of stuff. Danger, sharp pencils, math books, and each other. I remind them about PE homework (seriously), music tests, to bring their instrument... and, to keep their hands to themselves.

Well, one of my students is having a very difficult time with the hands. In fact, his hands have overpowered his brain and now control comments from the mouth as well. Invasion of the touchy-feelers. It's not just his hands, unfortunately. It's also his body. His movements. You may remember the post about humping a few weeks ago.

Things really started escalating from there, so we called the parent in to meet. School counselor, assistant principal, myself, and the father. It was at this time that I had to explain what his son did, so unaware of consequences, to that bathroom mirror. At this point the AP quoted the witness - "humping" - she said. The dad made it clear he didn't understand what this meant. So, while the counselor and I mentally fled the scene avoiding all eye-contact, our brave AP did her best to describe the term. On the spot.

This may be the single most painful example of "keeping it together" I have experienced in my professional career. After all, it was the dad we were explaining this to. We, no, no.... SHE.

So, my AP, my wonderful AP, went to town. Picture this:

While saying "You know that action a dog does....???" she proceeded to make a pumping action with one hand towards the other hand. This is totally one of those "If only you were there" moments... but I swear... I was both impressed, embarrassed, and totally trying to control myself from spitting out a huge guffaw.

Reason 450 why I'd never make it in administration.

Well, we're back in another meeting with the dad tomorrow. I'm hoping for another vocab lesson, to be honest. We have a few new words to discuss.



Isn't that what is supposed to happen after 3 weeks off? It's 9:30 and I can barely keep my eyes open. AND I only saw my students for a total of 1 hour today. We have early release, I had an IEP meeting, and the students had art (I love art).

I have so much to share. About Queen Goldfish, Bug Lover, and Future President (new to the blog, not the class). Alas, those stories will have to wait until another, more energy-filled day. This, however, is my promise to you that I will return with said stories. I am alive and well and will thrill you with my educator commentary in a jiffy.

Quick observation (more so I don't forget this small thrill): I love seeing my students after a long break. Their hair is different - either shorter or more grown out. I love that the boys that have short hair have just a bit more length and it's all fuzzy. I love the new braids, the new ponytail holders, and the new shoes that they are so protective of. Take that - outdoor recess - no mud on those new foot puppies! They are also taller and, well, they're growing.

And they are still little geniuses.


Vacation Brain

Most of my students are back in school this week for our intersession. I, on the other hand, learned my intersession lesson and instead chose to take the extra week off.

I have found, however, that more and more of my thoughts and conversations are starting to revolve around them. Breakfast conversation involved the trials and tribulations of some of my students, past and present.

I'm not going to lie. I miss them. And I promise to wait at least 2 weeks after going back to verbalize my countdown to our next break.


I have also been reading grown up books during our break. As in books that in no way will tie into my curriculum, books that do not tell me how to be a better teacher, or even books that I want my students to read. Bona fide grown-up books. In one of the books, Glass Castle, there is a section about how a girl shows up at her Grandma's house with a mess of hair and the Grandma simply puts a bowl on the top of her head and cuts anything hanging below the dish clearly off.

I have a connection. Well, truly, one of my students does.

I went back to read that section in the book about five times. The rest of the book shares other similarities with one of my student's family, sadly. The book is great, but it's unfortunate that I connect it with a student.