Carnival of Educators

Teachin' at I'm a Dreamer is hosting the latest Carnival of Educators with a variety of education related posts from different blogs! Check it out!

Ultra Hilarious

If you happen to be seven years old and really like giggling, today was the day for you in room 202. There were (what some would label) "ultra hilarious" fart noises happening during math. If you happen to be grown-up years old and find giggling overrated, today was not the day for you.

The Second Grade Scale of Hilarity

Fart Noises: Ultra Hilarious

Continuing to Make Fart Noises After the Other Kids at your Table have Stopped and You Don't Realize the Teacher is Staring at You and then Realizing: NOT Hilarious

Actually Farting: NOT Hilarious, except when it is Ultra Hilarious

Picking One's Nose: NOT Hilarious

FAKE-Picking One's Nose: Ultra Hilarious

Burping: Moderately Hilarious

Songs with the Lyrics, "BUTT-butt-butt-butt, BUTT-butt-butt-butt": Hilarious


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Magic Scraper

There are many potential distractions at literacy centers. There's a kid at another table tapping his pencil and the girl next to you reading aloud a poem. Kids are walking across the room to get materials and the vocabulary game on the computer is rather hard to take your eyes off of. The guided reading group has just started a new book you really want to read and then you overhear someone talking about How to Train Your Dragon while they should be reading Time for Kids. Everyone once in a while someone spills a bunch of letter blocks on the floor at the spelling center, and it's all you can do to focus on your writing.

And then today we get this.

Everyone's eyes were glued to the window, and ten of the kids were halfway to having their bodies do the same. I figured we should probably just spend a few quality minutes watching the ultimate fascination that is window washing. After a few minutes of staring at these poor guys out our second story window, I was in no way expecting my "back to centers" countdown to actually work to tear anyone away, but somehow it did. Most kids actually got back to reading/writing/current events-ing, but it was just too tempting for some.

"Does he have a magic scraper?" asked Alexis when she should have been reading at guided reading. "Yes" I answered when I should have been making her get back to reading at guided reading. "It's called a squeegee." An even more magnificent word than she probably had ever imagined.

Sort of a Hero

OK, I'm sort of a hero. I didn't stop a bank robber or put out a fire or anything, but mine is the sort of moderate heroism conferred upon those who do very yucky things for others. Disposing of a dead baby mouse in a friend's closet? Very yucky and I've done it. Digging in the trash for a student's missing item? Very yucky, and I do it fairly regularly.

Today in the middle of another teacher's lesson, Bria turned toward me and was motioning wildly about needing to talk. "After the lesson" I told her. A few minutes later, she turned again and whispered, "But I have to tell you something!" I broke out my two often-cited Really Good Reasons to Interrupt to help Bria put this supposedly dire need in perspective. "Are you bleeding?" I asked. "Is the school on fire? Then I'll talk to you right after the lesson's over!"

"But I need to talk to you before Mr. Jose throws out the trash!" After blood or flames, I could see how impending dumping of the trash could potentially be considered an emergency situation. Bria had accidentally thrown away her metal spoon from home after lunch. We headed into the hallway to the two trashcans with the dumpings of todday's lunch. "OK--this is going to be gross!" I warned her. "But we can just wash our hands right after, so let's go for it." We each dove in up to our elbows on the count of three. Somehow I had gotten the trashcan with the wet, sloppy, gooey lunch trash, while Bria sifted through a few barely used napkins and some crackers.

I was covered with extra-saucy red beans, yogurt, and green beans when Bria turned up the spoon. "I think yours was the grossest" she declared. "You're the best teacher ever." Well, OK, I'm sort of a hero.

What heroic acts of yuckiness have you done for someone lately?
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That's What You Always Say

"What are you doing this weekend?" I heard Niyah asking loudly and exaggeratedly at the next table during lunch today. She turned and looked over her shoulder at me. "I'm Ms. Sarah! That's what you always say!" True, that is what I say when I pull up a seat at one of the tables during lunch. "What else will be part of this Ms. Sarah impersonation?" I wondered, thinking of Mr. Halpern's recent post over at Look at My Happy Rainbow.

"Sit down! Eat your lunch!" Niyah/Ms. Sarah continued. Well, true, that is also what I say quite frequently at lunch time. I then tuned out of their conversation for a bit but caught the tail end, following a fake slap between Niyah and her friend Amelia. "Don't slap me!" said Amelia. "Ms. Sarah doesn't slap people!"


The topic of discussion today in the second grade was the eating of babies. Yes, babies. Being eaten.

We were working on synthesizing, and I used Shel Silverstein's poem, Dreadful, so we could do some thinking as the poem went on, and then see how our thinking changed as we got more information.

We began with the first stanza.

Someone ate the baby.
It's rather sad to say.
Someone ate the baby
So she won't be out to play.

We'll never hear her whiney cry
Or have to feel if she is dry.
We'll never hear her asking, "Why?"
Someone ate the baby.

At this point, the kids had some guesses about the fate of this poor baby. Mariah thought it might be an alligator. Charity figured it seemed more like the work of cannibals. DeAngelo thought maybe the mom or the dad was the culprit. When pressed for some text evidence to implicate the parents, the kids pointed out that the narrator seems to think the baby quite annoying, what with the whining, the diaper changing, the crying.

Someone ate the baby.
It's absolutely clear
Someone ate the baby
'Cause the baby isn't here.

We'll give away her toys and clothes.
We'll never have to wipe her nose.
Dad says, "That's the way it goes."
Someone ate the baby.

Someone ate the baby.
What a frightful thing to eat!
Someone ate the baby
Though she wasn't very sweet.

The discussion progressed to some comments which were surprisingly sympathetic to the reasons someone might have for getting rid of a baby. "The mom probably has to be up all night with the baby," said Nikki as she clapped her hand to her forehead and shook her head at the thought. "Stressing out--she probably got rid of the baby so she could give away all her misery!"

It was a heartless thing to do.
The policemen haven't got a clue.
I simply can't imagine who
Would go and (burp) eat the baby.

We finished out the rest of the poem and made some inferences based on the last line. Not only did we get to talk about a baby getting swallowed up, but we also got to talk about burping!

Do You Know Spanish?

If you don't know Spanish, you'll be very confused when all of the other second graders are sitting in a circle in the Spanish classroom, not touching the rug, and you're still sitting smack in the middle of the carpet. If you do know Spanish, you'll know what to do when Señor Cody says, "No toques la alfombra." Being able to speak Spanish means you'll know when we're going to get the ultimate prize - the *top sticker* from Señor Cody. You'll be able to write an entire play that takes place at la tienda de mascotas. Clearly knowing the Spanish language is the key to everything that happens in room 200.

On Friday, I popped into the Spanish classroom for a few minutes while my class was in there to grab a few kids to finish up some work. Milo came up to me, his brow furrowed, stuck on his script. "Do you know Spanish?" he asked. "Un poco," I replied, not sure my limited language skills would help him at all on his play. "I need to know how to type a lowercase letter" Milo explained as he led me over to his computer. I may not know much more than the basics in Spanish, but it was enough to get the caps lock key turned off!
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Hold Your Nose

Truth be told, I didn't think that turkey sandwich looked all that appealing either, but it was lunchtime and that's when you do the eating. And if you don't particularly like the school lunch, Derrick, well, you still gotta try to eat some of it so that you don't collapse in a heap in the middle of math from hunger and lack of good nutrition. I found myself in a rather extended sandwich discussion with Derrick that consisted of these things:

How Derrick only likes turkey, not ham and thus was not eating his sandwich

How I was pretty sure that the turkey-colored meat was turkey and not ham because it was not ham-colored

How Derrick only likes turkey

How it was turkey, just eat some and see that it is turkey

After this turkey/ham impasse, our discussion turned to the other contents of the plastic school lunch tray besides the meat. When Derrick said that he didn't like the salad either, I let him in on the holding your nose trick. Sometimes you just have to get it down whether you like it or not to prevent the aforementioned collapsing during math. He managed a bite of the salad with his nose pinched tightly, but there was a limit to the effectiveness of this technique. Taste now not a factor thanks to the nose-holding, temperature was the issue. "I don't like cold pasta. I only like warm pasta."

Kids are just funny about food! I suppose that many adults are funny about which foods they like and don't like, and that many tastes we have as adults can be traced back to that one incident with the peaches. But they're just so odd with their tastes! I was passing out cheese sticks at snack one day and Brian shook his head. "I don't like cold cheese" he said. "Well, what kind of cheese do you like then?" "Warm cheese."

And just last week, I encountered a child who doesn't like the most child-friendly food of all times! Daniel explained as his lunch sat uneaten that he didn't eat pizza, though he was cajoled into taking a few bites. "What kind of lunch DO you like, then?" I asked, still amazed at this seven-year-old shunning pizza. "Bacon" he replied. "And fries."

Any picky eater stories out there?
Photo from Anna the Red

On the Phone

I walked out of a fundraiser tonight around 8 pm and turned on my phone to find THREE phone messages. Who left me so many messages? I scrolled through a mental list of who might have that urgent of a reason to get a hold of me on a Tuesday night--grandma in the hospital? Nate didn't know where I was? Agent calling to say someone wants to publish me?

Nope--they were all from children and all about tonight's homework. There are varying degrees, among seven- or eight-year-olds, of phone-message-leaving effectiveness. One of the messages was from Denaia who took two tries to leave a message--the first a bit of background noise and a hang-up, the second her actual message. Michaela closed out her message by not only providing her phone number but by repeating it to make sure I'd gotten it. Neither, however, left her name. This, as I have found nearly every single time a child calls, is just not within in the scope of elementary phone messages. Most phone calls I receive from children go pretty much as follows:

Me: “Hello?”

Student: “What page did we have to do for the math homework?”

I am left to guess the caller’s identity. After doing so, I often teach an impromptu
mini-lesson on polite phone call openers. A further complicating factor in navigating the challenging terrain of telephone protocol is encountering voicemail. It is very difficult to leave a phone message when you’re eight. I still chuckle about Ka'Von's series of messages one year, guided by his mom in the background!

Anyone have any good kid phone message quotes?

When You Close Them

We had a good week back from break! No notes in the mailbox asking me to send anyone away, lots of learning, and Brandon discovered something extremely special about the math books. We had taken out the math reference books that we don't use much, and as we were cleaning up, Brandon slammed closed his hardcover book and exclaimed to everyone at the table, "Hey guys! They're the kind of books that make noise when you close them!" I hadn't realized that a hardcover book and its noises were so fascinating....

It Is Not Wolking Out

We all get a bit sick of each other in the second grade from time to time. We're together all day, through math and lunch and we all troop off to visit the bathroom as a class as well. In such close quarters for so much of the day, many quarrels, disputes, and annoyances crop up, and I hear about all of them via notes in my classroom mailbox. Often my solution is to give the warring parties a few tips for how they might resolve a particular situation, to let them develop the skills of figuring out a way to resolve the rest, and to lighten the mood a bit by reminding them as I walk away, "You don't have to be best friends and you don't have to get married, you just have to sit at this table next to each other."

"Married!" I imagine them exclaiming after I've left. "She said married! Eww! Now what were we arguing about again? Oh well, I guess we'll just do this subtraction work we were supposed to be doing all along."

When two kids have been particularly getting on each other's nerves for a while, however, I sometimes move their seats around on the carpet, in line, or at the tables for a little change of scenery and to prevent further conflicts. True, every once in a while I actually encourage conflict and arguing, but only to prove a point about dictatorship. Usually, though, harmony and learning subtraction are the goals.

After a long stretch of togetherness in between school vacations, however, everyone's nerves get worn a little thin. After school one day during the week before our spring break I got a note from NaKyra with a request.

Unfortunately for NaKyra, I don't quite have the power to just "send someone away." Her note makes me think she was hoping I could perhaps vaporize her carpet neighbor, or to at least banish Paul to a faraway land. Well, I suppose I sort of do have the power to banish someone to the opposite side of the rug, but I wield this power sparingly. "You don't have to be best friends...." I told NaKyra the next morning, hoping that their disputes over rug territory will lead to them finally figuring out a way to coexist.

Now, after a week of spring break, a week of not seeing each other, and a week away from the close quarters of the classroom, I'm hoping that everyone is polite, pleasant, and more tolerant of an accidental bump here or there. Crossed fingers for smooth sharing of pencils, tables, and rug tomorrow!

We are NOT Joking Around, Here

This summer I have been getting lots of advice on the impending baby situation that will be happening this fall.   Highlights of this advi...