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Saturday, January 30, 2010

This is Freakin' Me Out

Second grade is the time to try out new fun phrases. You hear something one day and take it out for a test drive the next. It's OK if the situation doesn't fully warrant the phrase, the important part is just that you're making the attempt.
  One of our lunch helpers yesterday was passing out the school lunches and came to Kyron, who had brought his own lunch from home that day. She walked over to me, rather puzzled, holding the blue lunch container in her hand, and declared, "This is freakin' me out. Kyron has a lunch, but this is his school lunch." I reassured her that she could simply place the lunch back in the bin, rather than continue to freak out.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

On the Map

  We had a pretty rockin' Family Heritage Day today, if I do say so myself! Kids set up stations with their information, posters, even food, and the other kids rotated around to learn about the countries, traditions, and foods of their heritage. It was a big day for our class, but possibly an even bigger day for The Pillow.
  Over the summer, in one of my many summer trips to the fabric store, I came across a bolt of fabric maps of the world! I immediately hatched a plan to make a giant pillow for the classroom out of Botswana and Peru and, well, all of them, and grabbed a cartoony fabric map of the US for the pillow's back. I knew it would be my absolute favorite thing in my classroom (well, aside from the little baby tampons), and indeed it has been pretty great--comfort in the library and ha! learning, all in one.
  However, until our study of world cultures began a couple of weeks ago, The Pillow had been used exclusively for the comfier of its two functions.
Today The Pillow got a chance to shine. I put it out on the rug along with a Heritage Day challenge for that moment when the roaming from station to station got old and the kids had eaten as much Irish soda bread as they could, and the only thing left was to devolve into chaos. Before that devolving, though, they had to complete a few questions about the countries represented at our celebration, and then locate as many of the countries as they could on the giant, squishy world map. Geography has never been more cozy.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Those Little People

  Another teacher and I were just commenting the other day on the fact that for mid-winter, our kids have been remarkably healthy. We did have a string of illnesses earlier in the fall which included both the actual swine flu and the almost swine flu. One student with a runny nose explained, "Yeah, I've got a nose problem, and I'm really close to getting swine flu." It seems to me that the swine flu is an either/or proposition--you either have it or you don't, but apparently there's a way you can be close to having it. Maybe Matthew just knew it would be arriving in three days, let's say, and was thus really close time-wise to having this new flu.
  Fortunately though, nothing major has swept through the classroom in a while. In fact, it's a little surprising at times that we don't have more germs spreading around, when you look at how frequently there are fingers in noses in the second grade. Some colds here or there--oh, and there was that one acute attack of "those little people."
  Alexis had been out for two days and was back at school, still somewhat stuffed up. As we walked down the hallway to art after she had made up some missing work, I asked her what it was that she was sick with for a couple days. "I had something that starts with 'm.' " she replied. "Those little people." Hmmmmm. The letter m. Those little people. Mumps? No, kids don't really have that these days. Measles? That either. Then I pictured the little green blob in plaid pants who's supposed to represent mucus personified in those TV commercials for Mucinex. Ah yes, the blurry lines between reality and what's on TV. "Mucus?" I asked. That didn't ring any bells with Alexis, and I was out of guesses.
  The next day, though, she had done her research. "I found out what I had" Alexis announced as she walked into the classroom the next morning. "Mucus."

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The New Turtle

  When my dad was in the fourth grade in Newton, MA, his class got a new student named Joe. Joe was from Italy, so the teacher asked for volunteers to help him get adjusted. "Who wants to teach Joe English?" she asked. My dad raised his hand.
  We got a new student this week, though I didn't have to find someone to teach him the language--just where the sharp pencils are kept. I had found out ahead of time that a new student would be joining our class, and I wanted to get everyone hyped to meet this new second grader. It worked. There were signs welcoming the new Turtle to our class (well, OK, they were my idea but taken on with great enthusiasm) and a general buzz of excitement. At the end of the day, we did our weekly announcement of the BOAT nominations - who had been brave, observant, active, or thoughtful that week. One slip of paper said, "Ms. Sarah was thoghtful when she let a new person in the class." I thanked Marcus for his nomination, though it wasn't so much me being thoughtful as....the office placing a new kid in our class and then informing me he'd be showing up Monday.
  With all of the excitement, I was actually a little worried that our new student would be physically knocked over on his first day by Turtles offering to give a tour of our classroom, asking questions, or maybe even offering to teach him English, but the week went pretty smoothly.

  If any readers have stories about when you yourself started at a new school or any memorable experiences with a new student coming into your class, I'd love to hear them!

New Student!

Oh--AND we're getting a new student on Monday! I found out this week that poof! One of the kids is gone to a new school. We didn't even get to say goodbye.

Minty Fresh MAP Test

Gum saved our MAP test today. This afternoon we settled in for an hour and a half long computerized math test, though the "settling" part never really happened. The kids were sort of trying on the test, but also sort of fidgeting around or looking lethargic. I made a mental note to buy some more of the "Smart Pills also known as Skittles" that I used to keep handy for standardized testing as I rummaged through one of my many boxes of "general teacher stuff" to see if I had managed to keep a box of Lemonheads in there. My rummaging turned up a whole triple pack of gum and I figured that I could apply the special "smartness" coating to gum equally as well as to Skittles.
  With a fair amount of ado, I announced my discovery of the "Smart Gum" and proceeded to distribute a brain-boosting stick to everyone. They chomped with great relish and it seemed to do the trick for coaxing some focus into the room. The chewing of the smart gum also proved to be quite entertaining for me to watch. Some kids smacked away with impressively audible chews. Some chewed one half of their gum with the other half dangling out of their mouths, some needed some water to counteract the "spiciness" of the spearmint, and all smelled pleasantly minty fresh when I came around to check on how the math was working out for everybody.

  I just realized that I've posted fairly recently about another second grade wonder drug....and after the success of these, I've got a large store of potentially vital wonder drugs ready to go in case of an acute silliness, whiny-ness, or grumpiness attack that I'm planning to administer at some point. I hope I'm not encouraging a reliance on prescriptions (imaginary, minty, or otherwise) to solve all problems! I'll make sure to point out later that really, it was lots of paying attention and hard work that helped their MAP scores improve, but for today--that Smart Gum sure worked wonders.

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year's Resolutions

Happy 2010! To ease back into the school routine after winter break, I usually start with New Year’s resolutions as our first writing assignment. Just like for adults, this is a chance for students to reflect on changes they want to make for the upcoming calendar year. I try to guide them towards resolutions about better behavior or turning in more homework. Not all students fall for this, but several do.

This year I will clean up my room. I will do more homework. I will get better grades. I will do what my parents say.

This year I will get better in school. And I will work on my football skills and boxing.

This year I will destroy king ceadora in GODZILLA MEELEE on game cube. I will also stop asking my mom for stuff such as toys.

This year I will try not to call people names or take someone’s hat.