Saturday, April 29, 2006

MySpace Rewards

I created a MySpace account a few months ago just to check it out. I really don't use it too much to network with people. I feel like I am a little bit too old for that crowd. That being said, my MySpace has account has ended up being a very valuable thing to have.

In the past several months, I have either found or been found by old high school and college friends. It has been fun reconnecting with old acquaintances. Today though I received the best MySpace treasure ever. A former student of mine, from my first years of teaching e-mailed me. What a surprise!

My first few years of teaching were at a non public school for S.E.D. children. This former student of mine is one that I will never forget because she was both a character and a challenge. For confidentiality reasons, I don't really want to write up the details of my interactions with her but it is fair to say that I had many ups and downs with this little one. Be that as it was, I always loved coming to school each and every day because I loved her energy, her outlook on life and her strong willed spirit. Of all the students I have taught thus far, I felt as if my bond with her was the strongest. We really connected.

I left that school after several years and went on to teach in public school. From time to time, over the years, I have run into this girl's mother around town and inquired about her. Each time, her mother has ended our conversations a bit teary eyed and thanked me for everything I did with her daughter.

Well, today, the tables were turned. Today, I received two lovely e-mails from this beautiful, young lady. (20 years old!!!!!!!!!) She told me a bit about herself, thanked me, inquired about me and made me extremely proud to be a teacher. I am the one who cried today.

I guess that MySpace does have some good things to offer!!!

Monday...What will I do? What will you do?

About two weeks ago, a friend of mine asked me about my plans for Monday, May 1st. Will I go to work? Will I keep Sabina out of school? I hadn't even thought about participating in the boycott by not going to work until she asked me.

Since then, I have been torn about what to do. I support the boycotters 100%. I would love to participate in an event but in order to go to a really good one, I would probably have to travel to San Francisco, Sacramento or Fresno, since it is kind of dull here in my part of the Central Valley.

While I support the boycott, I also support my student's need for an education. All but one of my students are either immigrants themselves or children of immigrants. The majority of the kids in my class come from very modest, humble and hard working families. Their parents value their education tremendously and have done an excellent job of instilling this value in their children.

My guess is that IF I have any students absent on Monday, it will be the students from the few families that don't place a high value on education. (To be honest, the one non immigrant child will probably be absent too because he is absent at least one day a week just because he has better things to do than to come to school!) On top of that, we have two weeks left until our state testing. We need every day that we can get together to prep for the test. I just don't feel like I will be doing my students justice by not showing up to work and giving them the education that most of them really seem to want and desire. I guess you could say that I feel like I will be doing my part in participating in the boycott by coming to work and educating these immigrant children, mi gente, on that day.

The next question then is will I discuss the boycott that day with the students? I am a little torn on this subject too. Part of me thinks that I need to keep my personal politics out of the classroom. My students think that everything I say is what is right. While I kind of like that, I want to make sure that I don't abuse that power I have over them. It is important that I help them to be independent critical thinkers. The subject will probably come up though and we will discuss it in our circle/calendar time. If it doesn't though, I might even bring it up myself. We do discuss current events during our circle time so it isn't like it is something out of the ordinary.

Will I keep Sabina out of school? No. I would if I would be out of school or if there was some educational learning opportunity regarding the boycott that day for her to attend. Since there is not, I will leave her in school. Will I discuss it with her - absolutely. We have already started that topic today.

So, here is my question to all of you:

What will you be doing on Monday???

Friday, April 28, 2006

This picture is all that we have left of my mom's car.

Bubbe's Political Statements!

It was stolen Wednesday night at the YMCA when my mom was working out. Click here to read my mom's blog for more on this story.
Have you seen it in your neighborhood? As you can tell, it has very identifiable bumper stickers!!! Maybe we should have put a sticker on it that said

Thursday, April 27, 2006

My Baby Can See

Guess Who Inherited Mom's Vision???

Last week Sabi was on vacation from school. She came with me to my school for the first 3 days. On the first day that she was with me at school she mentioned in passing that it was hard for her to see from the back of the room. I told her to move up. She then said that she has that problem in her school sometimes too. I immediately began to ask her all sorts of questions about her vision. She said that this had been going on for a while now but she always forgot to tell me about it.

Since I can't see through her eyes, I made an appointment for her at Costco last Sunday. She went in and sure enough, she is near sighted, just like her mommy. We picked out a pair of glasses and were on our way. It was interesting to see which glasses Sabi picked out. She picked out glasses that are almost identical to mine. The girl has good taste!

Today, Costco called and her glasses were in. Sabina is thrilled with her glasses. Let's see how long we can go without them getting broken....

Gas Prices are CRAZY!!!!!!!!!

Filling it Up!

GRD posted a picture on FLICKR of how much it costs him to fill up his vehicle. It got me wondering about the price of gas around the state, the nation and around the world. If you are reading this blog...comment on what you drive, how much it costs to fill up your tank and where you live.

I will go first:

I drive a Toyota Corolla, I live in California's Central Valley and a you can see by the picture, it costs me $34.17 to fill up the tank!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Resurrection Plant

The teacher next door to me at school shared a very cool plant with me and my class for our plant unit.

Resurrection Plant

The plant is called a Resurrection Plant.

Resurrection Plant -Dry

When it is dry, it looks like a dead, dried up plant.

Resurrection Plant- Dry

When placed in water, it slowly opens up and it quite pretty.

I placed the plant in a bowl and passed it around to show the kids and let them touch it. I then asked them to chart whether or not they thought it was alive or not.

Resurrection Plant - Wet

Then we put it in water and it opened up. It was a slow process but we could actually see it opening in front of our eyes. So cool.

Resurrection Plant - Wet

After it had opened all of the way, we touched it again, and then wrote about the characteristics of this plant when it is dry and when it is wet.

We just gave the plant back to the teacher next door. I need to start looking for one of these because they are SO cool!

I'm a Mommy again! (and again, and again, and again...)

We are studying life cycles of both plants and animals. Today, our butterfly and ladybug larva arrived! We have about 10 ladybug larvae and 5 butterfly larvae.

Butterfly Larvae

We are still waiting for our frog embryos to arrive. We are going to be witnessing some very cool life cycle stages in Room #38.

Proud Mommy that I am, I will be posting pictures of their development. Stay tuned...

Field Trip Dilemma

I just found out that Sabi's grade level field trip will be an excursion to John's Incredible Pizza. I am SO not happy. I am a firm believer in educational field trips for children. On top of that, I HATE John's Incredible Pizza.

I have been to J.I.P. for their "field trip" before when Sabi was in Pre-School. The field trip is essentially a 2 hour long self promoting commercial for them. The kids are not educated on the nutritional value (or lack thereof) of the pizza or where the ingredients come from. All they do on this trip is make their own pizza, get a guided tour around the place and then get to eat their pizza and play a bit.

Why do I hate the place? J.I.P. is noisy and crazy but I really don't hate it for that. One of my biggest problems with the place is their HUGE arcade. I think that kids today are playing with video games too much and are not seeing the link between fantasy and reality. Some of the games that they have at J.I.P. are very violent and just inappropriate for children. One of the games has life size mannequins of 20's era gangsters with machine guns, etc. I was appalled just to see it in the building.

The other thing that I can't stand about that place is what is does to kids. I have been to several birthday parties there and the kids get absolutely nuts there. It is probably a combination of too much junk to eat in their all you can eat food/drink bar, the loud noise and the lure of the goodies that can be redeemed with tickets earned from all of the games. Give a kid about 20 minutes in that place and they will transform from a calm and quiet child to a non-compliant and smart mouthed kid. There is too much stimulation in one place and it is bound to drive anyone up the wall.

So - what do I do about this field trip situation? I do not want to allow Sabina to go for many reasons. I know that she will be very upset at me because "everyone else is going mom!" As an educator and as a parent though I feel that I just can't allow her to go because it is sending a message that I think that this type of school sanctioned activity, during school time is ok.

What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Weekend BBQ:

The Three Amigos

My brother Nebur had a BBQ at his house this past weekend. I got to meet my very first fellow blogger there, HispanicPundit. He was exactly as I thought he would be. All of us that came had a very good time. Read more about this fun event here.

Tuesday at the dentist

Sabina's back teeth (molars) are soft. The dentist told me that some kids are just born this way. She has had sealants put on them to try and protect them but on our last visit, she was found to have two cavities and a chipped tooth. Due to the fact that she was a bit nervous and weepy during her check up, the dentist recommended that she take a special medication to
relax her during the procedure. He also told me to not tell her that we were going to even have a procedure - just to show up and let her figure it out in the process. This didn't sit well with me at all. I was not about to lie to Sabi and the thought of the medication made me nervous.

Anyway, today was the big day. Sabi was quite nervous. She was given her "kool-aid" medicine drink right away. It was supposed to calm her down and relax her but it really didn't. About a half hour later, I had to help her walk to another room since she was wobbly to have her dental work done. Everything went downhill from there. Due to the fact that the dental table/chair was so skinny, Sabina kept sliding off. This resulted in her being restrained. Then her head was placed in a restraint of sorts as well. Sabi was freaking out but all she did was weep. Then the dentist came in to give her the novacaine shots. He was a bit rough with her and kept telling her things like "Do you want to be here all day" or "You are making this hard on yourself" or "I am going to have to do it all over again since you are being difficult." Oh, I forgot to mention that he was using a very gruff and harsh tone with her. He left the room to let the novacaine set but left with with a threat " I will be back in five minutes. Make sure that you calm down or we won't finish today." When he returned, more of this talk continued until he completely scared the crap out of Sabi and she didn't move for the rest of the procedure. At the end, that jerk turned to me and said "Mom, this ended up ok but next time, we might have to hospitalize her or up her meds for her safety and the safety of my staff. " He said this in front of Sabi too. Stupid Jerk!

Aside from his poor bedside manner, here are some major problems I am having with the dentist and his office.

1) Sabi was weepy but in no way was she aggressive or out of control. I don't think that the medicine that she was given helped her in any way at all.

2) I don't like how kids are not respected at this office. The language used is ridiculous. They speak in a babyish tone and don't even use the appropriate vocabulary for things.
cavities: sugar bugs
the covering for her mouth: tooth rain coat

3) Sabina was never included in the discussion of what would be happening to her. This is the most important thing. Sabina has always been a worry wart about things that are unfamiliar to her. What helps her is to speak directly to her about it in an honest and truthful way.

When we got home, Sabina was still high on the medicine she was given at the office. It stayed in her system for a good 2 hours or so. It was truly scary to watch my child possessed by this drug. I couldn't understand her speech, she couldn't walk straight because she had lost control over her muscles and she kept trying to fight me about trying to get up to walk around. I was finally able to get the girl to sleep. When she woke up my baby was back.

With Sabi's teeth the way they are, I think that she will always be in need of going to the dentist and having special things done every now and then. I can't change that. I can change her dentist though. I will need to get on that right away!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


Remember my new student? The family moved! He was in my room for a total of 2 days and went home sick on the third. Today we found out that the family moved again. Coincidentally, his file came in today. My school was his fifth move so far. Poor, sweet little thing. I wish him the best.

Remember yesterday's post about germs and sickness??? Today, another one went home with a temperature of 100.3. Still more hacking, sneezing and sniffing going on in the room. I have been Germ-X-ing and Airborne-ing but I felt a slight tickle in the back of my throat today. I have also been drinking a BUNCH of tea. I know that kids want to come to school but they should REALLY stay home if they are not well. I think that all of us in the room are going to end up sick. (Well, all but me because i am NOT going to get sick!!!)

Monday, April 17, 2006

Stay Away Germs!!!

Kids carry germs, LOTS of them!!! I don't want to get sick so I do what I can to try and keep those bugs away from me.

This morning as the kids walked in to class, I heard a lot of coughing and sniffling. I don't like these sounds. One of my students told me he spent the entire weekend being sick. 5 minutes later, I looked at him, I mean REALLY looked at him. His eyes were glassy and he was not his usual perky self. I went over and felt his forehead and sure enough - he was warm. I sent him off to the nurse. He went home a few minutes later with a temp of 100.6.

By this time, my kids were quietly plugging away at their morning reading warm-ups. Well, not quietly - still lots of sniffling and hacking. I knew the germs were in the room and had to take serious action. I immediately walked over to the closet and pulled out 4 boxes of Kleenex. I then got everyone's attention. I pointed out the 4 strategically placed boxes of Kleenex around our room. I then reminded them that they needed to wash their hands with soap and water each time after blowing their noses. (Trust me, the way second graders use Kleenex, this is a necessary course of action!) I had them repeat the directions several times to make sure we were all clear on the emergency germ procedures.

At this point I got everyone back to work and sat down to check in homework. However, before I started working I lathered up to my elbows with my good friend Germ-X


and then mixed up an Airborne cocktail to drink.


I am NOT getting sick this spring. I am NOT!!!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

A Relaxing Weekend

Sabi and Sagwa
This weekend Sabi and I were bums. We just hung out and did as we pleased. What a concept!

Yesterday's highlights included going to the gym, taking my grandmother out to do some shopping and then topping it off with a trip with my brother to Boomers, a miniature golf place. We had a good time and Sabina won! After that, Sabina and I came home and changed early into our PJ's and played the Harry Potter version of Scene it. Great game! To end the evening, we watched Harry Potter 4 for the gazillionth time.

Today, we bummed around the house and didn't get out of bed until 9:00. That never happens around here. We spent the morning reading and playing on the computer. (I started a new book last night and finished wanted to finish it today - I did!) In the afternoon, we were itching to go out but it was raining. We opted instead for a trip to the mall to look for school uniforms. That was a short lived trip as there were no uniforms there in Sabi's size and the rest of the mall was closed.

On our way home, Sabi asked if she could go bike riding. I had to point out that it was raining but said that should it stop, we would go. Well, the rain stopped about an hour later and the sun came out. It was beautiful and clear. We got our coats on and took off. Sabi had a great time and really is coming along as a bike rider!

On our way home, it started sprinkling again and getting dark from the rain clouds. Luckily we are only 2 blocks away from the park. As soon as we got home, the rain came down. It came down so hard that you could hear it inside with the doors closed. The rain just poured and poured for a good ten minutes straight. It was so beautiful to watch. Then, all of a sudden, the rain slowed down a bit and the sun came right back out. To make it even better, out came a double rainbow just like the one I snapped a picture of last week. What a beautiful sight. Sabina and I were stuck to the window pane enjoying the beauty of nature.

This has been one of the most relaxing weekends ever. I don't want it to end...

More Bushisms

1) "I admit it, I am not one of the great linguists."
-On NBC's Inside the Real West Wing;

2) "If this were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator."
-Washington, D.C.;

Interpret them as you wish...

Saturday, April 15, 2006



We are 4 days into Passover and Sabina has gotten bored of Passover meals. We can't eat leavened foods. That means nothing with flour or corn. Today to spruce the Passover diet up a bit, I made "Mat-chos." (Nachos made with Matzah. It was a big hit with Sabina. Sabina said "Mom, this is the best Passover ever!" I am not so fond of them though. They have too much cheese!

Friday, April 14, 2006

Open House

Guess My Coins

Wednesday was Open House. It was quite a stressful event as we just returned from a month vacation and have only been in school for 8 days. Those 8 days were a mad rush of activities to "pretty" up the room with educationally driven art and written work. It was quite exhausting.

The Wall

Open House always falls on a Wednesday. We always have minimum days on Wedsnesdays. The kids left at 1:00 and I had until 6:00 for Open House to start. My room was in such disarray from our 8 days or craziness that I had a BIG mess to clean up. I plugged away at it and did the best I could with it. Luckily, I brought my new Alejandro Fernandez live in Spain DVD with me to school so El Potrillo kept me company!!!

He Kept me Company!

By 4:00 I had made a huge dent in the mess. Things had shaped up quite well BUT I still had stacks of paperwork and books to put away and file. I was too tired at this point to do anything more. Just then, I saw a large tub tucked away under a table. BINGO!

The Tub

I shoved everything in the tub and that was it. I took off to buy treats for the families and my customary bouquet of yellow-tipped, maroon Chrysanthemums. So pretty!

The Bribe

The families poured in at 6:00. While I only had 11 kids represented that night out of my 20, I had a BUNCH of family members that came to visit. My students brought both parents as well as their siblings and tios. It was great. At one point I had about 25-30 people in the room at one time. Each family stayed a minimum of 20 minutes or so.

The Task

The kids were busy taking their families on classroom tours of our room, playing educational games with them or explaining plant life cycles and anatomy to them.

Plant Life Cycle Center

One of my students, Jo, was so completely thrilled to have both his mom and dad in his room. He was grinning from ear to ear the entire time they were there. He took his class tour seriously checking off each item as he went down the list. It was so beautiful to see him so engaged and proud and his parents so lovingly proud and supportive of him. It was an amazing sight to witness. It made me feel proud too!

An interesting thing about this Open House was that I saw more whole family units come to this event than I have in the past. Usually we mainly see moms. It is nice to have dads come along too. The teacher next door said that the dad of one of his students came by. He doesn't come by too often. He walked in and couldn't stop commenting on how beautiful the room looked and that in Mexico they never had anything like this. He then went over to a chair and sat down and just took everything in. My neighbor said that the man was in awe of our American classrooms and was overwhelmed! :-)

I was not happy that Open House came so early this year. I have to say though that it was quite a successful event and I am glad to be done with that for the rest of the year!

We Have Been Egged!

We went outside early this morning to find that our driveway had been egged. There were egg shells by the garage door and a trail of egg yolks and whites that led directly under my car. I have to say that I am happy that the house was not egged. that would have been a bigger mess to clean up. We were not the only ones to be egged either. It appears as if the entire neighborhood was hit. Sabi and I were busy scraping dried up egg off of the driveway today. That was definitely not the way I imagined starting my day off.

What kind of idiots do this type of thing?

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Happy Passover

Star of David

I am so tired.

This has been a long week.

*Unit testing in reading
* bubbling in 75 answers per studnet on twenty scantrons after the kids took the
unit tests
* math tests
* leadership meeting
* sub plans to write because I went to the leadership meeting
* my gym time and to Sabi's gymnastics class to fit in the schedule
* Open House
* cleaning for Open House
* and now...Passover.

We ran home from school and are are cooking a Passover meal for my brother and a friend of the family tonight. I snuck out of the kitchen for a few minutes to get a rest!

I will write more tomorrow. (hopefully) After this week, I have a LOT to say! :-)

Chag Sameach!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Tales From the Classroom # 10: New Student

About an hour and a half after school started today, I heard a knock on the door. I was in the middle of testing and I rushed to answer the door and get the kids back on track. I opened the door to find a mother and two kids waiting for me. Not one of the three spoke to me. I then figured out that the smaller of the two children must be a new student. At that moment, the taller of the two children, the boy, briskly walked in the room and started looking around for an empty desk and chair. I was confused. The mom still did not speak to me. The boy then walked right back to me and handed me an admit slip. He was supposed to be in my room. The little girl, his sister, was on her way to first grade.

I greeted the young man, introduced myself to him and showed him where to sit. I turned around to talk with mom and she was already on her way out. I called her back in Spanish because I assumed that she must not speak English since she was so quiet and didn't greet me. "Mucho gusto Señora ____. Yo soy la maestra ________." Mom just looked at me and said "I don't speak Spanish."

Was I wrong to assume that mom spoke Spanish? After all, what other rational reason would there be for a MOTHER to take her child to a NEW CLASSROOM at a NEW SCHOOL and not even attempt to greet the adult who will be responsible for his academic progress and physical safety for 7 hours out of each day!

Later in the day, I found out by talking to the secretary that there are custody issues that I needed to be informed of. I also heard from the teacher of the little sister that this young man takes the bus home and needs to leave promptly after school is out to catch the bus. You would think that Mom would have thought it would be important to discuss these issues with me.


The upside of this story is that my new student is really quite a nice kid. He is a bit below grade level but so are others in the room. He fits in quite well with the rest of the kids in the class. By the end of the day, he had made some new friends.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The Matzah Man

This video is so darn funny. Passover is coming ...7 more days!

See the video by clicking here

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Testing Let Down

In my last post I mentioned how excited Sabina has been about her standardized testing. She couldn't wait for it to start. I think she probably felt this way because it was something that she had never had the opportunity to do before and seemed like a "grown up" thing to do. After all, the kindergarteners and first graders don't test. As a teacher I hold a MUCH different opinion on the standardized testing. I was very careful though to not share my negative feelings toward testing with her. I want her to be able to make her own opinions and not be influenced by me or anyone else.

Yesterday was her first day of testing. When I picked her up from school I asked her how the first day of testing went. The excitement was gone. She picked up her book, started to read away and mumbled "ok." I probed some more and she said "fine." I tried again for more details. Finally, she put her book down and said "It was really boring mom and super easy. How many more days do I have to do it?" I empathetically explained that she should be done by the end of the week and can get back to the "regular" stuff that she enjoys doing at school. She then went right back to her book and I couldn't help but smile. That girl is no dummy.

The testing thrill is gone!

Monday, April 03, 2006

Back to School

Today I went back on track. Even though I looked forward to going back, it was hard to get up early and get back into the routine. I like to ease into my mornings and not have too much commotion going on until I have my coffee and read the paper.

Today was an especially hard morning. I got up late to start with. Sabina was very excited because this is her first day of State standardized testing. She was THRILLED!!! She rushed to the shower in a mad dash to have the morning go by quickly so she could get to school and TEST!
Throughout her morning routine, she talked my ear off asking me all kinds of questions about what the test would be like. This was just way too much overload for me since I was still waking up. Finally she left me alone for a few minutes so I could get ready.
When I went in to check on her in the bathroom, I found Sabina fiddling with a a scarf. She couldn't figure out if she wanted to put it in her hair, around her neck or use it as a belt. The funny thing is that she has never tried any of these options in the past. Why she decided that today she was going to make a fashion statement, I don't know! Finally, she decided that it would be best to use the scarf as a belt, use another matching scarf around her neck and then use 4 skinny little headbands all at one time in her hair. I asked her why she needed 4 headbands and she looked at me like I was so fashion challenged and said "Mom, because it matches the four colors on my belt scarf and I have 4 stripes on my jacket!" It was just too funny. I wish I had been more alert and awake and would have taken a picture of my little Pippi Longstocking! As it was, we were running late, I had to get gas and we were short on time. I am sure that she will have some more "fashion moments" like this one though. I will be ready next time!

Once I got to school, all went well. The kids were exceptionally wonderful today and worked very hard. I told them to be ready because we will be going in fast forward mode to get ready for our testing weeks in May. They were up to the challenge today. Hooray for going back to school!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Marine World

Marlin and his trainer
Yesterday we went to a birthday party at Marine World. It was great. We potlucked in the parking lot before going in and then spent about 7 hours or so in the park. A good time was had by all.
Shouka and Marlin