10/31/11

A {true} Halloween Ghost Story



Happy Halloween!  

Okay, I have never written this story down.  And I bring you this story with a little bit of trepidation.  First, I am changing all names to protect the guilty innocent people involved.  Second, you have to promise not to turn me into the police.  Or the union.  Or whatever.  Third, I believe all the statutes of limitations have run out anyways, so don't even try.


I was in my first year of teaching first grade EXACTLY fifteen years ago today and what I'm about to tell you happened on a FRIDAY on HALLOWEEN.    Please keep in mind throughout the telling of this story that I was in my FIRST YEAR.  And I was proud and happy to have my own classroom.  I was IN CHARGE.  I knew what I was doing.  (ha!)  


I had a pretty normal morning.  Since it was Friday, the girls (my colleagues) and I went out for lunch.  When we returned, we met our kids out on the playground where they lined up.  


My kids were all in an uproar.   I heard variations of "Esteban (remember I changed the name) went to the office!" "Esteban got in a fight!"  "Esteban is in trouble!"  "We don't know where Esteban is!!"  It was pandemonium.


Well, let's remember I was IN CHARGE.  


"Boys, and girls, relax.  Shhhhh.  Quiet down!  Stop!  SHHHHHHH!" (I had no signals to get my kids' attention whatsoever.)  "The office will call me if I need to know anything."  (ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!!)


We went into the classroom and I told them about this GREAT activity that we would be doing for math.  It was called Spinning Ghosts and it was an AIMS activity (anybody??) and it was fantastic for a first year teacher to do (especially because we didn't have standards and/or math curriculum so I could teach whatever the heck I wanted and nobody said anything about it.  The good ole days).  The best part about this Math activity was that students got to stand on their chairs while they were spinning their ghosts.  Yes!!!!  Let's all stand on our chairs!!!!!  What an awesome idea!!!!  And I'll do it, too, so I can be a good role model!!!!


So there we all were, spinning our ghosts, when sweet little Carol asked to go to the bathroom.  Let me give you the background on Carol.  


Carol was a know it all.  She tried to correct me all of the time.  She constantly told me that I was spelling things wrong (which I wasn't but she really wished that I was).  She was into every one's business and knew everything that was going on.  Carol was onto me.  She knew I didn't know what I was doing.  Oh joy.


"Can I go to the bathroom?" Carol asked.


"Sure, " I answered.


We kept spinning our ghosts to see which ghost would actually spin (the one with one arm down?  or the one with both arms up?) and we were having a great time.  The next time I looked up (oh, I don't know.  Ten minutes later??) there was a huge crowd of kids around Carol.


From the perch on my chair, I said, "What's going on???" (in a very stern, in charge voice)


The kids replied with lots of squeals, "Carol's got Esteban's finger!!!!!!"  


I am proud to say that I got down from my chair.  I walked over to the crowd.  I was annoyed.  


"Carol, whatever you have, throw it away, wash your hands, get back up on your chair, and SPIN YOUR GHOST!"


And that's what she did.


The rest of the day went by without a hitch.  (Well, some kids fell off their chairs and no one would stay quiet and everyone was super excited for Halloween but we made it to the end of the day.)


At dismissal, Esteban's older sister came to my classroom and asked if she could get his backpack and stuff.


"Sure.  What happened to him, by the way?"  I asked.


"Oh.  I don't know.  I just know he got hurt and went to the hospital,"  she replied.


????????????????  Uh oh. ????????????????????


I dismissed my kids and ran up to the office.  


"What happened to Esteban?"  I asked whoever would listen.


"Which Esteban?" (Seriously.  Which one?)


"Esteban LAST NAME!!!!"  


"Oh!!!!  Oh no.  You didn't hear?"


"Um, no.  No one called me." (why would they, right?)


"The big outside door to the boy's bathroom (which is usually held open by a large, circular trash can) slammed shut on Esteban's finger and cut half of it off."


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Shut.  The.  Front.  Door.

I started to sweat.  My heart began to pound.  My stomach hurt.

"Um . . . is . . . well . . . um . . . do you need the finger?" I asked.

INCREDULOUS LOOKS.  "Do you HAVE THE FINGER?" all of the office ladies shrieked.

"I THINK IT'S IN MY TRASH CAN!!!!!!!!!!!" I yelled.

"Go get it!  Hurry!  They could re-attach it!!!" 

So I ran all the way back to my room in shock.  This couldn't be real.  This was a joke.  They were playing a prank on me.  Right?  First year teacher.  Friday.  Halloween.  Ha ha ha.

I ran into my room and screamed for my partner, Sheri (real name - can't help it.  She saved my life and taught me everything I know) to help me.  We had a connecting door and she came running through it.  I caught her up to speed.  I don't know how she understood me because I just told her the whole story in one breath at a high decibel)  We decided to get a craft stick and a Dixie cup to forage through the trash. 


While we were sifting through the garbage, the classroom phone rang.


As I walked across the room to get it, I had a sinking feeling.  I was going to be fired.  I would lose my credential.  This was it.  

"Hello?"

"Kristin,"  my principal (GREAT man) said.

"Uh huh."  I'm dead.  It's over.  Almost two months in my own classroom is a pretty good ride.  Right?

"Kristin . . . has anyone ever given you the finger before?" he laughed. Laughed.  Laughed. Laughed.  Roared with laughter.  Barely got the sentence out.

"WHAT?!  Is this a joke????  What is going on?"

Amid the bursts of laughter, "No, no.  Really.  Try to find that finger.  They may be able to re-attach it."


Really.  My principal did that.  

Sheri and I kept looking through the trash.  Sifting ever so carefully.  Afraid.  Wanting to find it.  Not wanting to find it.  Still half believing that it was all a prank.

AND THEN.

There it was.  Amid ghosts and tissues and garbage.

Half a pinkie finger.  From about halfway between the first and second knuckle up.  It was a clean cut.  Had the fingernail and everything.  I'm not kidding.  THERE IT WAS.  ESTEBAN'S FINGER.

Sheri and I both said, "Hmmm.  Well, there's something you don't see every day."  
We said, " Well, now we've seen everything."  
We said, " Isn't that interesting?"  
We screamed, "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!"

We shimmied it into the Dixie cup and then I ran back up to the office.  I will NEVER FORGET the way the finger threatened to bounce out of the cup as I was running.  Jiggle, jiggle, bounce, bounce.   Are you picturing it?

My principal drove it to the hospital but it was too late.  It had been sitting in my classroom's trash can for way too long.

So Esteban came back a few days later with a nub.  A NUB.  Sadly, nubs don't grow back.

I am still amazed that his parents didn't sue, that I didn't get in trouble, and that my principal thought it was funny.  I'm not AT ALL surprised (in hindsight) that little Carol asked to go to the bathroom.  That was just her excuse for crawling around on the ground near the bathrooms to look for Esteban's finger.  Because she knew.  And I didn't.  And she loved that.  The fact that she found what she was looking for (a FINGER) and held it in her bare hands grosses me out and cracks me up at the same time.

If this were to happen in my current school, I'd be a dead woman.  DEAD.

Lesson learned:  I ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS investigate now.  If my kids say that someone has something, I check it.  (although in all my years since, no one has ever said that they have someone else's body part)  I do have to caution you on investigating everything, though.  

My friend told one of her kids to stop playing with something while she was teaching a lesson on the carpet.  He didn't.  So she told him to give it to her.

It was POOP.  From his pants.  And he had been playing with it.  For real.  

So BE CAREFUL.

That's my story.  And it's true.  And it happened to me.

Anybody out there got something like that to make me feel a little better???  


Please please please leave a comment so that I know you don't think I'm an awful human being and/or teacher.  


Have a happy Halloween.  And remember, I believe all of the statutes of limitations have run out.  So don't even bother.  Put the phone down.

10/30/11

I'm on Fire!

First of all, let me just say that I can't believe I haven't posted in three days.  I do NOT like that, let me tell you.  I did lots of posting in my head, though, and they were all a hit.  :)


But did you hear?  My blog's on fire!!!  I love it.  That is actually one of the things I say to my kids.  "So and so's on fire!  I hope it rains later!"  Or "Wow!  You're on fire today!  What did you eat for breakfast?  . . . .  Really?  Chocolate pop tarts?  Eat those again tomorrow!!"  (I also love the song "I'm on Fire" by Bruce Springsteen.  Is it just me or is that a sexy song?)


Three of my bloggy friends have given me the "Blog on Fire" award.  LOVE THEM.  THANK YOU, GIRLS!!!!  I'm beaming with pride.  (Or that's the natural blush caused by mimosas.  Yesterday was a cuh-razy day and so today my hubs and I are staying IN.  And we are starting the day with mimosas and we never ever do this so if I have a typo or two, please ignore.) 



Here's the tough part.  I have to tell you seven things about me.  And since I've already told you three thousand, six hundred, twenty-two things, this part is difficult.  I'm running out of anecdotes.  But I'll reach way back into the closet and see what I can rummage up.

1.  I got married in Vegas.  I didn't elope.  Lots of people came.  I loved it (much to my mother's disappointment).  I think the whole thing from beginning to end was $1000.  

2.  When I was in the teaching credential program, I worked nights at a blueprint company.  Mondays through Thursdays, I worked from 5:00-10:00pm and on Fridays, I worked from 5:00-1:00am.  Everyone at the company called me Tweety Bird, even on the intercom.  After awhile, I just became Birdy.  I have no idea why.

3.  When I was 18, I was escorted off of an airplane for impersonating a marine.  The airline attendants had me sit next to the ticket counter while they made some phone calls.  When they weren't looking, I ran for it.  I hid in a restroom for a very long time and then called my dad.  It's a super long story but I didn't fly on American Airlines for YEARS.  YES!!  This is a true story.

4.  My grandma lost both her legs in a horrible accident about 2 years ago.  Less than a year after it happened, she was walking on presthetic legs.  She will be 91 this week.  I KNOW!!!!  She is truly amazing.

5.  I have no cousins.  Zero.  It happens.  My mom had a much younger brother.  He DID get married but never had children.  He passed away a few years ago.  My dad has an older sister who never married and lives alone up in the mountains.  So zero cousins.  I am told that this is weird.  

6.  I used to get kidney stones all of the time.  The first time, I was 15 years old and I thought I was dying.  Both of my sisters have had them, too, and they tell me that I have been through the agony of childbirth (without an epidural) but just never got the baby in the end.  I haven't had one in years but I'm very nervous typing this . . . I think I better knock on wood.  IT IS HORRIBLE PAIN.

7.   On Halloween of my very first year teaching, something terrible happened.  I've been saving this story for Halloween.  I will be posting it tomorrow.  It's a true ghost story so be sure to come back tomorrow!!!!!!!!  :) :) :) 

Okay, well, that was all new info.  Hope you enjoyed it or got something new you can tell someone else.

I have to nominate 7 blogs.  I'd like to nominate everybody.  This is always difficult, too.  All of your blogs are on fire!!!!  I stalk them every day.  But I'll try to narrow it down.








Okay, I'm off to relax (and maybe have a mimosa nap) and blog stalk.  Be sure to come back tomorrow for a TRUE HALLOWEEN GHOST STORY (that I've never written down before).  

Here's hoping all of us that have to teach tomorrow SURVIVE the energy, ants in the pants, chattiness, excitement, etc.  I told my kids on Friday we have to keep a lid on it.  They said, "on what?"  I said, "On IT."  They said, "On WHAT?"  I said, "JUST KEEP A LID ON IT, OKAY?!"  They eventually agreed.

10/26/11

Going Postal

In between Parent Conferences, Minimum Days and a MAJOR GIVEAWAY, I've actually been doing a little bit of teaching.  I know - it was a surprise to me, too.  Today, we started some new centers (remember I am squeezing in Centers two days a week which is not ideal but I am sleeping better at night) and one of the most popular ones was POST OFFICE.  Who doesn't love to get mail?  (I like actual mail with cards and envelopes from people I know.  I do not like junk and ads and bills.  Obviously.)  My post office center looks like this:





The kids get to write to each other on special stationery (I have 4 choices) or they can even write to kids from other classes.  They put the notes in the mailbox and, when I remember, I deliver the mail to the appropriate cubby or class.  Some kids like to write to their kindergarten teachers and tell them how much they miss them.  (I frown upon that but I do encourage them to write to me and I hang a HUGE word bank with ideas right next to the center.  Examples include beautiful, smart, adorable, funny, pretty, amazing, You, Are, The, Best, First, Grade, Teacher, Ever!, etc.)  Letter writing is not a "standard" in first grade but our second grade teachers seem to appreciate the frontloading (big word!) that we do with this center.

I suggest READING the notes before delivering them.  Some first graders think they can tell others that they LOVE them and want to be their boyfriend or girlfriend (gasp!) and others think they can tell their friends that they are stoopid, dum, and uglee.  And still, even others think they can tell me that I am SHORT.  In all of these instances, the culprits SIGNED THEIR NAMES because I taught them how to do that and so they did that and they incriminated themselves.  CSI - FIRST GRADE.

Later this week (maybe tomorrow but maybe not) I will go into Part 2 of Post Office.  I "extend" this center later in the year.  You must be on pins and needles now.  

Click on the rocket stationery above to get all of the stationery.  (PS  I had to trick my Mac with the margins.  It looks like you need legal sized paper but you don't.  You just have to be smarter than a Mac.)

If you haven't entered the MAJOR GIVEAWAY, you should do that now.  I am on the Eberhart's Explorers/First Grade Blue Skies team and we have linked up to give you some free money and products.  Leave me a comment about the post office center or even one of your own experiences with your local post office and then go enter the giveaway now!!  :)  Click below!






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10/25/11

Show Me The Money!

Okay, peeps, I feel like a big wig.  A head honcho.  The bee's knees.  A Very Important Person, if you will.  


Erin of Eberhart's Explorers and Jennifer of First Grade Blue Skies have teamed up to offer you all a giveaway.  And I'm a part of it.  I'm on the team.  And whether or not I got picked last, I don't really care (well, maybe I do but that just goes back to a traumatic childhood experience that my therapist and I are working through - mainly how I was picked last for the badmitton team in elementary school).  I feel so happy that I am a part of a TEAM GIVEAWAY.  Or a LINKED UP GIVEAWAY.  I feel like I am in the popular group.  (And no, I don't have a sad story about sitting by myself at the lunch table.)  

Anyways, here's what you can win:

1) $15 to Target from me.
2) $15 to Scrappin Doodles from Erin.
3) Two items from Jennifer's TpT store.

Now, THAT's a giveaway and I'm going to be sure to enter.  I didn't see any rules about that on Erin's post.  So hold onto your hats and look out for your children because HERE I COME!  :)

Here's what you do.  Click on Erin's button below and go tell her that you follow me, her, Jennifer, and all of the reality TV shows that I watch.  

Well, actually, you don't have to watch my Reality TV shows.  But they're fun and after you watch, we can talk about them.  Which is the best part.  But you can tell Erin that you've added our blogs to your roll and that you follow Jennifer's store.  If you are a math wizard, you just figured out that's 7 chances to win.  Now THAT'S a giveaway if I ever heard of one.   

So go now before I beat you to it.  Click on Erin's button right here at the bottom of this post and go leave a comment or two or four or seven.  You can leave a comment here, too, but that would be for me and not the giveaway.  

Now I feel like no one is going to leave me a comment because you're going to hightail it over to Erin's blog.  So maybe you could leave me a quick comment and say hi.  Or tell me what your weather is like where you are.  (it was really cold here and overcast).  Or maybe what you thought of the Real Housewives of New Jersey Reunion Part 2 (can you say crazy town?) or the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (I want to be Adrienne's friend and go to her spa day) or Sister Wives (yes, I watch that one, too, because it IS fascinating!).  Just say something really quick and then go ENTER THIS AMAZING GIVEAWAY.  

Did I tell you that I'm a part of it????  :)
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Also, if you don't follow know Jennifer of First Grade Blue Skies (the only way that's possible is if you don't own a computer) check her out.  Her stuff is ABSOLUTELY ADORABLE.

First Grade Blue Skies

10/24/11

Conference Week

Hallelujah, Glory Be - I made it to Conference Week!!!  This is a HUGE accomplishment.  This means that in two weeks and three days, I get a four day weekend.  And then one week after that, I get Thanksgiving break.  And you all know what comes after that so I won't even tell you or write it down here because that actually FREAKS ME OUT.  But I've made it.  WHEW.  From here on out, the year is broken up into nice little pieces.  This is big for a girl who was used to a year round schedule and is supposed to be going off track THIS FRIDAY.  (little tear just rolled down my cheek)  Also, I know I can express to all of you that I love my job but I need a break.  I think it's because we put SO MUCH OF OURSELVES (like, actual blood, sweat, and tears) into our kids that we end up working MORE than the average human being.  A long, long, long time ago I switched schools.  And I went from a traditional schedule to a year round schedule.  So I got out of one school year in the middle of June and started a new school year at the beginning of July.   I'll wait for you while that sinks in.
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I KNOW!!  I only had TWO WEEKS between school years and I had to move my whole entire classroom like hundreds of miles away (or maybe like 35 miles but at least an hour away with traffic) and it was HORRIBLE.  I did not get a break.  If I was talking to a teacher about it, I always got the sympathetic nod and clucks and shoulder rubs and "hang in there" and "you poor thing".  But if I was talking to ANY OTHER KIND OF PERSON with ANY OTHER KIND OF JOB, I always got "All I ever get is two weeks of vacation so shut it."  (maybe that last one was more my husband but you get the jist)  The point of all this rambling is that I know I can tell all of you that I am SUPER EXCITED for a four day weekend in two weeks and three days.  And I know you get it.  


Parent Conference week is actually really nice (besides the fact that I have to talk to 29 families and act like I know what I'm doing and that I'm in charge) because we have MINIMUM DAYS all week.  It's teaching at high warp speed.  I don't slow down.  The kids arrive, I start talking, and I just keep going until I'm chasing them out the door telling them just ONE MORE THING.  Seriously.  Here's the schedule:


8:45 Arrival
Do some stuff.  
Have recess.  
Do a little bit more.  
Have lunch.  
Recap.
12:32 Go Home


It's beautiful, isn't it?  :) :) :)  Nothing seriously bad can happen in that short amount of time.  I don't think anyone will have time to throw up on their desk and/or pee their pants in that short amount of time.  (both of those have happened TWICE this year and I am proud to say neither were me!!)  It's just beautiful.  I am filled with glee.   


Obviously, instead of starting a new Theme, we will be doing lots of review in Language Arts this week.  One thing we'll be doing is reviewing what Houghton Mifflin calls "clusters with r".  Not sure what you call it but that's what my kids are calling it these days.  So we're going to do this cut and paste activity.   

I imagine once we're almost finished gluing these down, it will be time to go home.  Beautiful.  (PS  I always copy the pictures onto colored copy paper so that students can get their supplies easily and there is {almost} no confusion)

Just click the pic to download it.  If you grab it, please leave me some LOVE.  :)

Did anyone watch Part 2 of the New Jersey Reunion??????  Holy Macaroni and Pasta, it was so fun!!!  I'm telling you right now, I will not leave my first graders unattended.  You can bet your bottom dollar on that.  :)

10/22/11

Data = Kill Me Now

First up -- my blog is back to normal.  Nothing a little money couldn't fix.  If it's not one thing, it's another.  :)


Second -- the book fair is going on at our school right now.  And one of my favorite moms of all time is in charge of it.  I had all three of her daughters (adorable!!!) and she is just a really neat person.  She is also drop dead gorgeous which makes me feel inferior whenever I stand next to her.  I feel like I am the "before" picture and she is the "after" picture.  But what are you going to do?  I am not from a foreign land, I do not have perfect skin, and I am not tall.  ANYWAYS, she had us fill out our wish lists as usual.  (parents can look at our wish lists and buy us a book if they so choose)  We had to put one wish on one piece of paper and so on.  THEN she put all the wishes into a hat for a drawing (this is new because she is running the book fair) and had our school secretary pull one out.  AND I WON! (and she says it wasn't rigged)  


I never win anything.  GUESS WHAT I WON?  


$75 to spend at the book fair!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I went a little crazy when it was revealed on an impromptu announcement during our sacred language arts block.  (for once, I was glad for the interruption)  I got my kids a little hyped up, too, as in -- a couple of my stinkers thought they should celebrate with me by standing on their chairs and shouting louder than me.  Hey, I am the one who won.  ME.  Not you, so get down from there and just WATCH me jump up and down on my desk.  Do as I say, not as I do.  For crying out loud.


Last -- I am FINALLY finished with those assessments.  FINALLY.  Hallelujah.  The assessments were actually kind of easy for my kids.  (well, except for those couple of kids who are below grade level and no matter how much I emphasized the correct answer in the choice making process, they did not get the hint.  For example, 9+3.  a) 11  B) 12 or c) 13  I did the best I could.)  The worst part about assessments is what my district has decided to use to compile the results.  TAKE A LOOK:




Yes.  It's a remote control.  I am pretty well versed in this device.  


Originally, they bought a set for student engagement.  Fun!  Each kid gets one and you play certain games and the score keeper or whatever is on the computer so kids can ooh and aah.  You can ask true, false, multiple choice, yes, no, etc.  Great for review.  You can also get very technical and have each kid enter their student number and then when you play, you can INSTANTLY see who gets a concept or who doesn't.  People, this remote control is HUGE for my school because we do not have technology.  Unless you count the phone in my room.


Oh, but we only have one set.  Of 34.  For the whole school.  


But that's okay -- it's only for kinder and first.  HOORAY.  Something is just for us!!!


But we still only have one set.  For 10 teachers.  :(


AND THEN SOMEONE OTHER THAN A TEACHER (obviously) THOUGHT THIS WOULD BE GREAT TO USE FOR ASSESSMENTS.


Here is their bright idea.  Give an assessment.  Whole class.  With paper and pencil.  For example, how about the math district assessment which is 31 problems???  Give that.  But don't let them bubble in their answers.  They should lightly mark it with an X.  In the bubble.  (scan tron machines everywhere are freaking out)  And then give the test.  A couple of hours later, collect the tests.  Then later in the week, when it is your turn to use the remote controls, pass out the tests AGAIN and a remote control to each student.  And have them enter their lightly X'd answers into the remote control.  I don't see any mishaps occurring, do you?  No first grader that I know would be off by a number or two.  Or forget to hit enter.  Or mark A instead of C.  That would NEVER happen in my ship shape classroom.  


The district told us that kids these days play with iPod touches and iPads and video games so much that this would be a piece of cake for them.


We tried to tell them that those things are for FUN and that the scores racked up on those games do not reflect on a sad sack of a teacher.  I mean, COME ON!!!!!!!


So guess what we do?  All of the kinder and first grade teachers at my school and a few of my friends at other schools????? 


You got it.  I sit there after school and enter every answer for every kid from the paper-and-pencil part.  So whatever 29 kiddos times 31 problems equals the number of times I pushed the buttons.  And then I repeated it for the 55 questions on the Language Arts portion.  Needless to say, I am not typing this post with my thumbs.  They are dead.


I would like to know how your school collects data.  Are you more technologically advanced?  I think my district thinks this is the wave of the future or that we are ahead of our time.  This could be because we used to hand write the scores on a grid and just pony them in the mail to the district.  THEN we bubbled scan trons.  And now we're using Technology.  Oh my.


Seriously, I need to know.  Do tell.


I am off to the carnival.  Oh, happy Saturday.  :)

10/20/11

Pardon Me

Is it just me or is my blog design a tad bit off?  I feel like I'm naked!!!!!  YIKES!  Apparently, I need to do something with my photobucket account (you know what that means --- $$$$$$) and I am planning on it, but just not right now.  Maybe later.  I just don't have it in me tonight for some reason.

So pardon me.  And excuse me.  And forgive me.  And all of that.

I will be back to normal by the weekend.  Either before or after I work at the school carnival.  For free.  As in, I am working in the Teddy Bear Toss booth for free on a Saturday.  When I asked the PTA President what the hourly wage was, she got a funny expression on her face.  Which I assumed meant I was not being paid hourly, but more like salary, so I thought I would get my per diem (fancy talk for what I earn in a regular day).   Turns out, I'm doing this out of the goodness of my heart.  Who knew?

TGIF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :)

10/19/11

Favorite Read Aloud Linky Party

Courtney over at Swimming into Second is having a Favorite Read Aloud Linky Party.  This one started out a little bit difficult for me.  How do I pick just one?  I LOVE books.  But I especially love reading to kids.  1)  It's fun.  2)  The kids are quiet.  3)  I get to use different voices.  4)  All eyes are on me the book.  5)  The kids are QUIET.  Need I say more?  Honestly, though, if I could find a job where I get paid to read to kids ALL DAY, I might just take it.  Not the SAME kids all day, but different groups of kids.  Different ages.  A coffee break here.  Read a story.  A nap there.  Read another story.  Wouldn't that just be ideal???

So I thought of SEVERAL books that I love to read to my kids year after year.  I'll just make a quick list and then move onto my NUMERO UNO pick.  

1.  Anything and everything by Robert Munsch (except for Love You Forever which is NOT funny and just makes me want to cry.  I also loved it when Joey read it on Friends but that's it.)
2.  Anything and everything by Kevin Henkes.

That's not much of a list, is it?  I was prepared to write down more but it's late and I'm in a first night of the world series-had to order pizza-get free garlic knots when you order online-coma.  (go Rangers!)

My number one pick to read aloud is Junie B. Jones.  


Please don't get all high and mighty on me and say that the grammar is all wrong and that she uses BAD words.  (gasp!  BAD words!)  She is so funny to me that I don't care that I'm corrupting little children.

Really, though, the grammar is wrong because SHE IS IN KINDERGARTEN, PEOPLE.  That is great character development.  Kids DO talk like that.  Plus, it's a great opportunity for a  mini lesson if you feel so inclined (I don't.  Maybe once or twice, but really, I'm just too into the story to stop.)

And the BAD words??  They aren't BAD.  They just aren't nice.  I edit them out.  For example, if Junie B. ACTUALLY SAID, "I don't like my DUMB baby brother", I would read, "I don't like my baby brother".  Easy.  No problem!  

I've been reading Junie B. for probably 12-13 years now.  I have only had one parent complain.  (please pause while I roll my eyes)  I forget what I said to resolve the situation but most parents say I have lit a fire under their child and where can they purchase the books?  

I read Junie B. in order.  I start with book one.  And so on.  I have yet to read every single book in the series in one school year.  The kids usually beg me the last couple of days of school to only read Junie B. and do nothing else so that we CAN finish but I've never made it.

My favorite part about Junie B.?  She is HILARIOUS!!   I have a Junie B. voice that I use and my kids always want to know how I can sound like her.  (Um -- I made her up??)  I also have different voices for Lucille, Philip Johnny Bob, and Jim.  I use my regular voice if it's her teacher or parents talking.  It is FUN!!!  I ordered the Junie B. doll and my Teacher's Pet (kid of the day) gets to hold her when I read the chapter.  Even the boys want to hold her.  It cracks me up when I look up from the page and someone has Junie B.'s head shaking back and forth furiously as I read a "screaming" part.

My first graders end up bringing their own books with them to the carpet and they follow along while I read!!!!!!!  It makes me SUPER HAPPY.


Also, I use signals such as, "Hot - " (kids say Dog) "Pepperoni - " (kids say Pizza) and now I just throw in "Junie - " and they all say "B"!  :) :) :)

Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I am good. 


TOOT TOOT.  

Go link up with Courtney to see what everyone else is reading!!!


10/18/11

From Here to There and Back Again

Hey there!  I must not have a lot in my brain right now because I actually remembered to bring home the transportation books.  I'm wondering what important thing I forgot to do . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . okay, I just checked and I AM wearing underwear so it's not that.


Anywho, if you have the same Transportation standard as we do, these books are GREAT for comparing and contrasting vehicles from long ago to today.  You can check them out {HERE}.  I took the liberty of taking some pictures.  I don't know about you, but I need a visual.  And Amazon's website says "no image available".  That right there can be a deal breaker for me.  How hard is it to take a picture of a book (or eight)?  Surely there is someone in the office, warehouse, parking structure, or bathroom that has a phone camera and can snap a picture.  I've never actually been to the Amazon building (is there more than one?) but I picture it as a huge  warehouse filled with books.   Obviously, I don't know how this works and just to be clear, I'm not asking, either.  I think someone somewhere could take a picture of a book.  I'm just saying.  And I believe it with such conviction that I did the job myself.  Uh huh.  Amazon can thank me later.  :)


                              (front cover of the Spacecraft book)

                                        (covering the standard)

            (the chimp picture that prompted the "homeless people" question)

Take a look at that chimp.  His arms are crossed and he is clearly looking at the human on the left (see the hand?).  My first thought was that he's thinking, "Bring it on!  Let's go!  To infinity and beyond!"  But when I look more closely, I think maybe it's more like, "Nope.  You people are crazy.  There's no way I'm doing this.  Uh Uh.  You must be outside your mind!"  Poor chimp.  On a whole 'nother note, you'll notice the capsule on the right says Liberty Bell.  My class totally made the connection from the our American Symbols unit.  I was unable to read ONE word on this page as the class erupted and I lost all control, as well as my hearing.

All right, I'm off to see Rachel Zoe have her baby.  Did anyone catch the Beverly Hills Housewives last night?  Holy cow!!!  The drama!  I think Kyle and Kim can be so mean!  I don't really understand the Brandi girl but I don't think they needed to hide her crutches.  That's just dangerous, don't you think?

10/17/11

From Here to There

Is it just me or did the weekend fly by?  Let me tell you about that 5 year old's birthday party I went to on Saturday . . . I posted that I couldn't wait to hit the pinata or pin the tail on the donkey.  Well, lo and behold, those were the two kiddie events!!!  For real!  That pinata would NOT break.  All the dads were trying but to no avail.  They finally had to open up the bottom and just let the candy spill out.  One or two kids cried that they didn't get enough candy but I don't share chocolate.  Every person for themselves is what I say.


We (finally) finished up our transportation unit in Social Studies.  It takes a really long time to get through units these days when I only have three days a week to do Social Studies.  (Yes, yes, I teach Science.  In fact, we started Matter today.  Ho hum.)  My kids LOVED transportation.  Their effort was amazing!  Our standards state that first graders need to be able to compare transportation from long ago to today.  We have one cool picture in our Social Studies textbook and a couple of words on transportation.  Talk about thorough and complete.   I don't know what I was thinking when I used supplemental materials but I did.  Call me an over achiever.  Anywho, I found some awesome books through a catalog that totally cover our standards.  Our school library actually has them but I bought mine.  (don't tell my husband)  They are from the Heinemann "Read and Learn" series but I'm having a hard time finding the series on Amazon to show you.  :(  Waaah.  I meant to bring one of my books home so that I could type in the ISBN number but, of course, I forgot.  So I'll update this tomorrow.


Then I made up these worksheets to go with them (kind of like the American Symbols that I did).


We covered six vehicles, although there are eight in the series.  I just had to cut it off at some point.  I mean, really.  We would have been doing this unit FOREVER.  Click the pic to grab all eight vehicles.  If you need an assessment, you can click {HERE}.


The funniest thing (or maybe not funny - not really sure) was that when we studied spacecraft, the kids learned that chimps used to go up into space before humans.  There is a really cute photo of a chimp in a capsule getting ready to take off (I assume) and the kids went crazy for it.  So we had a quick discussion about why we would send animals up into space instead of humans.  Lots of good dialogue, such as, "not safe", "too dangerous", "how sad", and outcries of "that chimp has a mommy!", etc.  AND THEN.  One of THE NICEST boys in my class (seriously - I JUST gave him a character award!) raises his hand.


"Why didn't they just send homeless people?"


............................................................................................................................................crickets..................................chirp......................................chirp.........................flatline....................................................


What would you have said?  "Hmm.  Now that's thinking outside of the box."  ?????  Or would you have gasped and made him feel bad?   I honestly have no idea what I said.  Some kind of political-mumbo-jumbo-cover-my-butt-don't want to make him feel bad-something or other.  At least I'm pretty sure I spoke up after the crickets died down.   


I wish I would have taken pictures of their work.  The backgrounds and details that they added to each vehicle were really great.  :)  But I sent them home.  Daily.  No stapling into a cute book or anything because . . . well . . . I am lazy too busy teaching these kids to read. And how to become advocates for homeless people.


Here's our bulletin board, though.  We did a Step Up to Writing paragraph on all that we learned.



Yes, I am missing two pieces of writing.  Don't you just hate that?  They are my turtles.  They will finish eventually.  Right?  Right?


Okay, time to go watch the Beverly Hills Housewives.  Looks like a GOOD one tonight!!!!!!  :) :) :)



10/15/11

Writing (again)

I can't believe I went three days without blogging and/or stalking (although I did stalk a little bit but I did not exceed the maximum daily allowance as usual).  People, those report cards got the best of me.  Apparently, deadline means they are ACTUALLY due by 3:00 on Friday.  I was shocked, surprised, and dismayed that our server didn't go down -- that's what tends to happen every trimester and then we get a bonus email telling us that we have an extra two to three days!!!!  But no, no, no, not this time.   So . . . on top of report cards, I had to finish my assessments and write those sub plans for that stupid meeting that I was a part of at the district.


I want to tell you about that meeting so bad!!!!!  But I am pretty sure it's confidential.  Even though that was never stated, I am pretty sure it was implied when attorneys showed up.  Uh huh.  And we had nine people on "our side" and they had nine people on "their side".  Dang.  Let me say again that I had nothing to do with this.  They just needed a general ed. teacher.  The meeting lasted for about four hours.  Would you like to know what I got to contribute?


One word.  


Yes.


I was asked a question.  I replied yes.


That's it.  For four whole hours!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  It was torture.  I NEEDED to talk.  Not about what was going on but about something!  Survivor from the night before?  Bev Hills Housewives from Monday?  The heat?  My cute top?  That person's hair across the table, or that person's cute accent, or that person's crazy perspective?  SOMETHING.  Talk about cruel and unusual punishment.  Oh no.  I can't talk.  So never mind.  


As soon as I got out of the meeting, I called everyone I knew.  And talked about all of the above.  My principal said I didn't have to go back to school but I sure did.  I caught up with the secretaries and the morning kinder teachers and our day custodian.  Phew.  I thought I might have lost my voice (hubby was hoping).


Back in the classroom, I was doing lots of assessments.  I have one more writing assessment to give so that I can show parents another authentic piece of writing.  I am not going to help them on this one.  I'm not, I'm not, I'm not.  No maps.  No brainstorming.  No, I am not spelling that for you, no matter how cute you are!  Don't ask.  (Okay, it's w-h-e-r-e but don't ask again)  Yes, I have a problem.  I think I help too much when it comes to writing and then I wonder who wrote what.  So some of the writing pieces I have to show parents look like their child is ready to be a published author.  That's a problem because I teach first grade.


Here is what we are going to do this week (in between the District wide Disaster Drill, Red Ribbon Week activities, book fair, Math District Assessments, and a Science assembly) for a writing assessment.  
I figure I will read some version of the Three Little Pigs first and then let them go.  If you'd like this, just click on the pic.


I am off to get ready for a five year old's birthday party.  I can't wait to hit the pinata and pin that tail on the donkey.  :)

10/11/11

I Am A Guest Blogger

That's right!  You read that right!  Someone actually wanted ME to be a guest on THEIR blog.  I know!  I didn't think they had the right person, either, but turns out it's true.  And sure enough, my post is over there.   This has made my day.  Which is really good because I had that big brew-ha-ha over at the district office today and let's just say it was mostly "brew" with no "ha ha's".  :(  But again, just for the record, I am not involved.  So I tried to stay awake  alert and pretended like I was extremely interested.  I made lots of important eyebrow movements and alternated between rubbing my chin and my temples, as if in deep thought.  


Please go read my post over at Frogs, Bees, and Under the Seas.  You'll be glad you did.  (Actually, I have no idea if that is true, but isn't that what people say on commercials for something?  For Real Estate?  Restaurants?  Viagra?  You'll be glad you did?)


Click to check it out!  :)

10/10/11

Subs

Subs - not of the sandwich or boat variety but THE TEACHER KIND is my topic for tonight.  As I was blog stalking, I ran across Alisha's post from The Bubbly Blonde.  She has to be out for a few days and she posted this picture of her desk:

I don't know about you but that looks almost EXACTLY like my desk does for tomorrow.  YESSS (big sigh), I am out tomorrow.  For a big brew-ha-ha (I know that's not the spelling but I thought it looked cute so that version wins) at our district office regarding something that I probably shouldn't even talk about but I'm not even involved in it.  In other words, I don't really care that much.  And I have to do it again on Thursday.  Yes, the day after tomorrow!  They just need a general ed. first grade teacher there.  I was AMBUSHED by my principal in the teacher's lounge during lunch last week.  I was trying to bob and weave and duck and cover but nope.  She found me anyway.  And when she asked if I could do this for her, I said . . . YES.  Right away.  With a big smile on my face and a nod and maybe even a giggle.  (Let's just hope my lips weren't puckered accidentally.  That is where I draw the line!)  But as I was saying yes, my brain was shouting, "NO!  NO!  Negative!  Have you lost your mind, woman?  Don't you know I'm assessing?  Don't you know report cards are due and I haven't even started them?  Don't you know that I took a mental health day last week and already lost a day of assessments??  NO!!!!!  Now I have to write sub plans, too, you crazy lady!  WAAAA!!!!"  I mean, if we were having a contest of who's the busiest person in the world, I would win, hands down.  (Unless teachers that are also mothers entered the contest.  Then I would have to bow out.  But let's just the say the only other person who entered the contest was my husband.  I would win.  Hands down.)

Ugh.  Anywho, Alisha's desk looks like mine for tomorrow.  I make organzied piles by subject in the order that the sub will need to teach them.  I mark all kinds of things with post its.  My plans tend to be 9-10 pages long because I am extremely long winded thorough.  Most subs thank me for such "great plans".  I don't know what they REALLY think but that's what they write, in any case.  (Except for last year, when I had a very very very tough class, a sub wrote ONE line and ONE line only:  "I did the best I could." Ha!)

So that's how I've always prepared for subs.  BUT THEN my friend showed me what SHE does and I got jealous.  Jealous of the idea AND the prep period she gets for half day kinder.  She puts all of her things into a basket.  Something like this:
And she puts a ribbon on it and makes it even cuter.  Then, inside, she puts all of the things the sub will need.  But instead of in multiple piles, they're just in one neat pile in the basket.  And then the sub can walk around with the basket if the sub feels so inclined.  The pile is organized from what needs to be taught first down to the last thing at the bottom.  

Here's the kicker.  She puts a box of Whoppers on top with a cute little note that says, "Have a Whopper of a day!"  

So now I need to go buy a basket and get this all ready for Thursday.  It's too late for tomorrow - oh well.  It's bugging me but I'm going to let it go.  I have Housewives New Jersey to catch up on and Beverly Hills is on tonight.  I told you I was busy.

My questions to you are:
1.  What do you do when you have subs?  How do you prepare?
2.  Do you have any other "candy" ideas that I can use?  Besides a whopper of a day?  I thought of that m&m candy bar that says "mazing" on it or something.  So "Have an aMazing day."  Any others???  I like variety.  And choice.  My favorite candy bar is Take 5 but that would never last in the basket.  Ever.  It almost never makes it home from the store.
3.  If you've got a sec, go show Alisha some love over at The Bubbly Blonde.  :)

10/9/11

Adventure to Fitness

Happy Sunday!  We went to church last night so I have the whole day in front of me.  And even though I have to work on report cards and parent conference notes, I am procrastinating as usual.  I think I have said that I need to work on report cards and parent conference notes on the last five blog posts or something.  Report cards are not due until Friday so I imagine I will be starting them around . . . well, maybe . . . most likely . . . Wednesday.  Or Thursday.  Definitely Friday morning.   


I keep forgetting to talk about Adventure to Fitness.  Thanks to one of my bloggy friends, Reagan, over at Tunstall's Teaching Tidbits, I am now THE NUMBER ONE FAN of Adventure to Fitness.  I might have whined complained cried discussed the issue of slightly hot weather preventing us from having recess in this post {HERE}. And Reagan was kind enough to offer a solution.  But then my state wasn't listed on the site and I had to whine complain cry email them and call them and stalk them about ten times a day.  (I also bugged my principal to make a few phone calls, too) And the customer service there is PHENOMENAL.  Or, as I was typing that word, the way that I want it to sound as it is sounding in my head is FUH-NOM-EH-NULL!!  James Taylor (the executive director, not the singer of You've Got a Friend!) emailed me and answered the phone and basically was just there for me.  Got to love that!  And he was on it.  And now my state is on there!  And my school and all of the other public elementary schools in my entire state.  (You're welcome!  Just kidding.  Apparently, 40 other teachers in California were bugging him, too)


So . . . if you don't know what this is, here it is.  Go check it out!





Log on, go to the Teacher Guide and then create your account.  Once you've created your account, you're in!  And even though my school is way behind technologically, we do have our computer (yes, singular) hooked up to the TV (yes, TV) in our room.  Each week, there is a new 30 minute adventure for the kids to do.  It rained on Wednesday this week so we went on a Medieval Madness adventure.  I had to pause it after 15 minutes and then we resumed at last recess.  The kids went crazy for it.  They just do whatever Mr. Mark tells them to do.  No equipment necessary.  They have archived episodes, as well.  The teacher can participate or not - it's up to you.  I participated with them for the first 15 minutes but at last recess, I chose to sit on my butt and take a nap plan effective and engaging lessons for the next day.


ALSO, James Taylor (still the executive director and not the singer) emailed me to personally thank me for getting the word out.  Who does that?  I thought that was so above and beyond.   Oh, and did I mention that this is a FREE program and it is funded for the next five years?  I have a different outlook on inside recess now.  Phew.  I can do this.  And maybe I'm hoping it will rain this week so that I can start those pesky report cards jump and run in place with my kids!!!!


Let me know what you think!!!  I'm off to blog stalk!  :)

10/7/11

Say what?

Hooray!  It's Friday!  Pizza and wine and a movie with the hubby!  Yes, this is what amounts to an exciting Friday evening for me.  And I like it.  What's that?  Don't I want to go OUT on a Friday night?  Well, I would if you could tell me which restaurant does not care if I wear my pajamas and eyeglasses that magnify everything on the plate so much that I might just be able to call the Health Board to report this, that, and the other.  If you know of such a place, please let me know.

But what I REALLY REALLY REALLY want to know is what's up with this FALL BREAK?  And/or this 3 DAY WEEKEND?  How does one go about getting one of those?  I have neither.  I have a regular old two day weekend that is going to fly by while I work on my report cards and parent conference notes.  Just two days.  And then I will return to school on Monday to continue assessing and pretending that my other kids are doing everything that they should be doing while I work one on one with a kiddo.  And I will return to the stupid stupid stupid portion of the test that requires my little friends to come up with TWO rhyming words out of thin HAIR.  And it's MY HAIR because I am pulling it out by the fistful, especially when one of my smart cookies says CAT and CAT in response to "can you give me two words that rhyme with dog?"  Seriously.  Yep.  And you know I want to scream but instead, I smile and nod and move onto the next one.  Which is not any better.  It's "nose".  Did you know EYE and EYE are two rhyming words for nose???????????????????  

So who ARE you people and where do you live and why do you get a Fall Break????  Or what is your three day weekend for????????  I love my job, I do, I really do, but I would LOVE a little break.  Just a little one.  I'd take this three day weekend some of you are talking about.  Who do I need to call?  Is there a petition that I need to sign?   Should I just take it off in solidarity with you?  I would totally be willing to do that.  Just say the word.

In the meantime, I'll just be enjoying a little of this . . . and be happy to be home and ignoring my nerd cart until tomorrow.  :)


 

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