Test Test Test

Today marked the first of 3 standardized tests for my students - math, reading, and social studies. And, in true fashion, it wasn't without silliness.

1. This morning I handed each student a Magic Pencil. See, I can't say anything to them as they finish their test - none of my usual "Are you sure?" or "Did you double check your work?" They are on their own. So, I passed each of them a Magic Pencil and told them, that if they held the pencil eraser up to their ear... if they were really, REALLY quiet, that they could hear the pencil say... "Did you check all of your work?"
Some of them scoffed, chuckled, and deemed themselves as non-believers in my Magic Pencil. All I replied was "I believe." I believe in them, I believe in what they can accomplish....

After we started the test - I was walking around the room I noticed one of my students staring at her pencil. Intently. Then, all of the sudden, she starts mouthing words. It looked like she was giving herself, or her pencil, a pep talk. Then, as I was watching from the corner of the room, I saw her even give herself a little fist pumping action. Well, in the direction of her pencil. This happened a few times throughout the testing. I even caught her mouthing comments about the questions - smirking, smiling, and looking at the paper as if to say "Haha, I've got you, you fraction comparison!" (disclaimer: In no way am I saying that there was a fraction comparison problem on the test. Or wasn't. There, legal team.)

2. Some of my students, including Queen Goldfish, are tested outside of the classroom for various reasons. Distracting, distractible, or because of some sort of modification from their IEP. QG was testing with one of her biggest admirers and former teachers. I received an email update mid-test from this teacher, sharing some of QG's comments - which - not shocking - had nothing to do with the test. At one point she emailed to tell me that QG had just "strangled her pencil. A-la Homer Simpson." I imagined that Magic Pencil was talking to her, and she was ticked at what it was saying. Thank goodness I later found out that it wasn't the magic pencil, but just a regular ol' number 2. I would love to know what was going through her head, and at what point she decided that strangling a pencil would resolve the issue. I bet on a multiplication problem.

3. Ants in His Pants - the kid that just can't keep still - the kid who picks his nose and eats it (it's a habit that he's growing out of - I have one month to rid him of it completely) - he was working so diligently on his test. I imagine that he was thinking of my "if we make loud noises and disturb others everyone will have to redo the test." I imagine he was thinking this at the moment he FELL OUT OF HIS CHAIR. Right onto the floor.

I'm not sure how we avoided the giggle outburst, but we did. I bit my lip and had to busy myself immediately, in order to get my mind off of the kid that had just fallen on the floor. He hopped right back up and got right back to work. I guess he was just blown out of his chair.

These kids... these amazing kids - they work so hard all year. We work so hard all year, making progress and then taking a few steps back when we need to in order to get it all together. They look at us with honest eyes, hoping that we are teaching them all they need to know. Giving them all of the tools they will need in order to succeed. This test doesn't measure all of that - but it is measured by our confidence and determination during these few weeks.


Leaving Too Soon

For the first time in a long while, I decided to leave school at a reasonable hour. This means within the hour that school let out. It was 4:05 when I drove away from school. As I was turning the corner, I saw Queen Goldfish and her little sister wandering back towards school.

Since QG has a history of wandering, I rolled down my window to ask where they were going.

"Big Sister didn't show up."

"Why can't you just walk home yourselves? I thought your mom said that was okay?"

"Because then Big Sister will be mad we didn't wait for her. We might go the wrong way."

So, I shouted from my window: "Go back to school and we'll call."

I turned my little going-home-early car around and parked myself in the front of the building. Moments later, they joined me as I got out of the car.

"Wow, nice car," she said.

"Thanks, it's Mr.'s car."

"Well, next time you see him, tell him I said it's nice," QG replied.

Then, her little sister chimed in:

"You have a husband?"

"Yes I do! Didn't QG tell you all about me? I am VERY important, you know."

"Do you have any children?" (This, in the mind of children, is what the purpose of being married is. If you're married, you have children. That's that.

"Yes, I have 18 of them, and I teach them ALL DAY LONG."

Little sister enjoyed this response. Then QG chimed in:

"Which one of them is your second favorite?" she asked.

"They are all my favorites," I replied. Then I realized what she said... second favorite. As I realized, I looked over at her... there was a glimpse and a smirk waiting for my recognition...

"Get it, I said SECOND favorite. You know, besides me."

"Clever, Queen Goldfish."

We continued our conversation as we walked into the main office to make the call home.
As we were sitting there, waiting for someone (please someone, anyone, pick up the phone) to answer - the three of us got into a discussion about hygiene. It is true, that as QG gets older, her hygiene habits are becoming more and more apparent. There is NO reason I should smell you before I see you.

Little sister started the conversation by saying that QG told her about the "kit" I kept for her in the classroom - toothbrush, toothpaste, and a hairbrush.

"I take 2 showers a week," little sister said.

"Well, that's pretty good for a 2nd grader, I suppose. You'll probably need more when you get older." Please.

Little sister continued: "QG only takes one a week."

"Sometimes!" QG chimed in. "Sometimes I go more than a week."

We then discussed what would probably be a better routine and for what reasons. I casually and teacher-appropriately hinted that she should probably increase that amount. Then she told me that she doesn't wash her hair every time. Which means that she's washing her hair less than once every 2 weeks. Remember, this is the girl who had all of her hair cut off over Thanksgiving. It may be shorter than normal, but in need of a wash regardless.

I knew I was treading on thin ice, but felt the eyes of encouragement from several co-workers that were passing by.

QG says, "I just took a shower last night to wash my butt because my butt was dirty."

Uh-oh. I can hear the ice cracking.

"Oh, so you just washed your hair!"

"No, I only washed my butt."

Cue change of conversation.


Goose Geese Duck

One of my lovely ladies - a usual quiet but powerful presence in the classroom - shared some interesting news with us the other day.

We were discussing the plural exceptions - the words that you can't just "add an S" onto. As we were listing some of the words we are familiar with - the word goose came up. We then wrote out the plural form.

Then, suddenly, from the corner of the room I hear a loud "OH!" Following the outburst, the quiet lady slapped one hand across her mouth (apparently shocked she could achieve that voice level), and threw the other hand in the air. I love when they are so excited about sharing a thought that their fingers, while the arm is straight as a stick, will wiggle frantically. I imagine all of the dendrites going berserk in the brain with all of this action.

I call on her, and she tells us all that her family now has a new pet. Two, actually. Ducks.

This is a girl that lives in a relatively confined space. With a small outdoor area. And minimal bathroom space. (For some reason I am imagining that the ducks live in the bathtub. I blame Friends).

But, ducks. City ducks.

I imagine that the stories will really start to become interesting as these ducks become bigger. And louder.

I asked her where they got the ducks, and she simply said: "The store." She made it sound like the local Kmart was having a clearance on ducks, and, well, her family happened to be in the right place at the right time.

Who sells ducks? In the city?


Don't Panic

I have how many days to complete the Developmental Reading Assessments (DRAs)?

Our first Standardized test is in how many days? And I have how much material left to cover?

Did I mention I hate May?

But, I love me some June. It's the most fun month with my students- where we can learn what we want to, without a state test looming over us. We have a 4th grade carnival coming up, ice cream parties, technology projects...

Just have to get over May first.