Saturday, September 30, 2006

Me Meme

Following in the footsteps of Chef Paz...

I am thinking about: A very important school board meeting that is coming up next week. If I am brave enough, I might write about it soon.

I said: Too much! I need to try to not talk as much as I do and try to listen more.

I want to: try and have more fun. Life for me is about what I have to do and get done not about what I want to do for fun.

I wish: that I would be more motivated about working out. I really do enjoy working out, I just need to get to the gym. I need a gym partner.

I hear: Sabi singing to The Cheetah Girls! She is so pre-teen!

I am: tired.

I dance: in private. I am too embarrassed to do it in public!

I sing: to my class every day. Poor kids...

I cry: every single time that I watch the The Color Purple (the part where Shug walks to church in her yellow dress) and The Joy Luck Club (when Jing Mei meets her sisters in China).

I am not: going to do any school work today. (So there!)

I am: going to hang out with Sabina and take her to a Fall Cake Decorating class today.

I write: poorly.

I confuse: where to put and not put accents when I write in Spanish. My mom keeps telling me it is so easy to learn but I really don't want to do that. I am lazy - I admit it!

I need to: stop eating out and eat healthier. I need to plan this out and work it into the schedule.

Have an excellent weekend.


Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Conversations I Never Planned on Having (At Least Not This Soon!)

Last weekend I ran into a former student. She was in Target's baby section looking for baby items. I, like a dummy, asked her what she was up to and she said "I am up to 5 months pregnant!" Then she introduced me to her husband. She went on to say that they have been trying to get pregnant for over a year and they were finally blessed with pregnancy.

I was in shock. This girl is about 20 years old. It is not abnormal for her to be pregnant at this age but it was just shocking to think of my former students at the "having sex age" and at the pregnancy stage. I have often thought about students that I would like to connect with again and things that I would like to ask and discuss with them. Pregnancy has never crossed my mind as one of those topics.

This entire week I have thought about the encounter with this former student and have been trying to come to terms with my aging. (I was more concerned about myself than the girl - I admit it!)

Today, I had another big surprise. I ran into another former student. She was coming to pick up her little second grade sister next door. I gave her a hug and asked her how she was doing. It had been 10 years since I had seen her, she looked so beautiful! She told me that she is now a senior in high school. I then noticed a little boy that she was pushing in a stroller. Like a dummy (again!) I asked who the little cutie was. She said "my son!" I choked and asked how old he was. This little boy was almost 2 years old. She had him as a sophomore. This time I was concerned but not for me. I was worried for the former student and the little boy. I know the statistics on teenage moms and kids of teenage moms. I really hope that they both make it.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

What is wrong with this picture?

The group of kids that I have this year is SO different than any other group I have ever had.

Here is the breakdown:

10 girls
10 boys
17 English Learners
14 of those E/L.'s are in the 1st or 2nd stage of English Acquisition (Beginners and Early Intermediates)

13 of them are still SIX YEARS OLD!

9 of them suck their thumbs! I am NOT joking!

I could go on and on with my list but the last item there, the thumb sucking is just killing me. I can't believe it.

The kids are all so trusting of me and they take me so literally. Yesterday, while getting ready to tell them a big surprise, I said "Ok, hold on to your seats now." ALL of the kids grabbed their chairs to hold on to their seats! I had to explain that it was a figure of speech. I then went on to tell them the surprise. About 5 minute later, I glanced over at a little girl and had to say "Let go of your chair _____." You don't really have to hold on to it.

How am I ever going to get these kids even close to being prepared for our state test?


Friday, September 22, 2006

The Air We Breathed

Today was our first Spare the Air Alert Day due to a fire, far away in Yolo County. The air was atrocious. It was smoky outside and breathing was just near impossible. The kids, and I, all arrived at school with horrible headaches and burning eyes. Around 9:45 we received an e-mail stating that an Orange Alert was issued by the County Air Board. We were advised to limit our time outside with our kids. Then, around 11:30, we were told that we had been upgraded to a Red Alert. Red alert means stay in side and no recess. Aside from the fact that the air was miserable, the wind was blowing pretty hard and dust was flying. My worst nightmare. I was sneezing, and coughing all day long.

To top it all off, we had a performance today. My class joined the 4th and 5th graders in a performance for Constitution Day. The kids were anxious about the performance and were extra crazy. The performance went well but it was a lot of work getting there.

Today was an exhausting teaching day. The kids were nuts and I didn't have the patience. It was all I could do to get home today. TGIF!

New Year's Greetings!

L'Shana Tovah!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Oprah - part 2

HA! Someone else shares my views on Oprah. I am not the only one! Read more here.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Why Oprah Gets on my Nerves

I have never understood the appeal of Oprah Winfrey. She has always rubbed me the wrong way. Ok - the one thing I like about Oprah is her portrayal of Sofia in The Color Purple. THAT's IT! Everything else about the woman gets on my nerves!

Here are some of my reasons:

1) Format:
Way back in the beginning, I didn't like her show because it was too weepy. Someone was always crying. I liked Donahue better.

2) Dieting:
What is up with the craziness about her back and forth weight loss? I mean, who wouldn't be able to lose weight when they have a personal chef, a personal trainer, no kids and a husband to look after and flexible work hours? Come on! If she REALLY wanted to try to impress me, she could lose the weight on a single mom's salary with a single mom's busy schedule and resources. Now that's a story!

3) Gayle!:
Can you believe that she showcases her best friend all the time like everyone wants to hear about her personal life? Where are the "issues?"

4) Flaunting Her Celebrity Status:
Remember her big Legends bash? The woman had a party and invited most of Hollywood and then films it for her show to show how wonderful she is. Ugh! I heard a rumor that Whoopi Goldberg was not invited to this event. I don't know if this is true but it certainly puts Whoopi up a few notches in my book!

5) Political Endorsement:
I was disgusted when she invited Maria Shriver and Arnold Schwarzennegger on her show when he was running for governor of CA. She of course did not invite all candidates, just that louse. Thanks Oprah!

6) Book Club:
I hate seeing the Oprah's Book Club stamp on books - like they are the only good books out there in the world. For you teachers out there, it reminds me of A.R. books. I hate labeling books to show if they are A.R. or not because the kids won't read them if they don't have that label on them because they must not be good and they get no points for them. That dumb Oprah stamp gives me the same feeling.

7)Today's Show:
Gayle and Oprah go on a road trip. I turned on the tv this afternoon to keep me company as I was preparing dinner. Apparently Oprah and her best girl Gayle were taking a road trip like "regular" folks. I caught them as they were pulling into Las Vegas. They walked into the Lobby of the hotel like regular people do. ( I think this was the point of the show - to do what normal people do) Of course, they aren't normal people and they had tons of people trying to paw over them. They were totally lost in the lobby because they didn't have a clue as to how to check in at a hotel. Oprah explained that she has "people" meet her at the door and whisk her away. Oprah and Gayle finally found the check in desk and had to wait 20 minutes (gasp!) for the whole check in procedure. Poor little Oprah! Finally these exhausted souls were escorted to their room which I have to say was not your run of the mill "regular folks" hotel room. At this point I was too disgusted to keep the tv on. Who knows what ended up happening on the rest of the show. I was too irritated once again with this woman's arrogance.

So you must be thinking, for someone who doesn't like Oprah, I sure know a lot about her. Really, I don't watch the show. I turn on the tv from time to time, watch a few minutes and then shut it off. It is enough time though for me to learn all of this info.

I need to spend less time in front of that tv. I REALLY need to remember to click away from her show. She brings out the worst in me!

Monday, September 11, 2006

September 11 and Sabi the Activist

7:15 AM:
On our way to school this morning Sabi and I were listening to the radio. There was talk of 9/11 all over the place on the radio today. Sabi asked me about it so I told her about it. I told her what it was and where we were on that day.

On that tragic morning, I was making a mad dash to my dad's house to drop Sabi off on my way to school. I got to my dad's house around 6:30 or 7:00. When I arrived at my dad's house he asked me if I had been watching the news. I said no thinking to myself "who has time to do that?" My dad then directed my attention to the tv where I watched the re-play of the plane crashing into the first tower. I remember thinking that my dad must have been watching some crazy movie. It didn't make sense. I was speechless. I think I plopped down on my dad's couch around this time and stayed there transfixed on the tv, trying to make sense of the mayhem I was watching. I stayed in that spot for the next 2o minutes or so, completely forgetting about my morning rush. I then went on to school listening to the radio updates and getting internet updates for the remainder of the day.

Sabi told me that she of course didn't remember any of that. She wanted to know why I didn't tell her about it. I told her that at the time I didn't think she would be able to understand it and that I have never found the right time to explain it to her but that now seemed as good a time as any to inform her. She didn't have to much to say about it after that. Before I dropped her off at school, I just told her that it was important for us as citizens of the world to make sure that we respect each other and try to be good people to the best of our ability so that we can do our part to make sure that an incident like 9/11 never happens again. That was the best I could do during our ride together this morning.

4:45 PM:
When I picked up Sabi this afternoon she was VERY excited. Today, she and a friend decided that they want to take action at their school. In Social Studies Sabi has been learning about social action, letter writing and petitions. Sabi and her friend are very concerned about the horrible state of their bathrooms and the way their fellow classmates treat the bathrooms. They are also concerned that their janitor has to work harder because the kids don't clean up after themselves. Sabi and her friend brainstormed and came up with the following:
1) They would each draft a letter to the principal to inform her of the problem.
2) They want to ask the principal for an appointment to discuss the problem.
3) They will volunteer to talk to the entire school about the problem during their morning whole school opening.
4) They want to draft a student pledge in which the kids will sign their names on a piece of paper stating that they will do their part to keep the bathrooms clean.

Sabi was so excited and energized about this idea. She couldn't wait to get home and get started on her letter. I couldn't believe my eyes. Sabi sat down and whipped out 3 pages right away. The spelling needed a little help and the organization wasn't perfect but the content was great. Check it out on her blog here.

Now I don't know if my talk with Sabi about 9/11 had anything to do with Sabi's enthusiasm about making her school a better place today. It probably didn't. I have to say though that I hope that we have more and more kids who try and do what Sabi and her friend are doing. I also have to say that I felt extra proud of my little girl tonight.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Young A. F.

Why I might have to make the switch from Coke to Pepsi:
You have to watch it. Go play! Have a Coke and a smile.
Oops - make that a Pepsi!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Pity Party!

Alejandro Fernandez

This weekend Alejandro Fernandez will be playing in Las Vegas for Mexico's Independence Day. While he is busy singing his heart out, I will be sitting in a crowded room with a bunch of teachers for a District Buy Back Day.

Needless to say - I am not happy. Where is the justice?

To those of you who read this blog and just happen to be in Vegas this weekend - tell El Potrillo that I said "HOLA!"

Monday, September 04, 2006

Book Thoughts

My new students are not in love with books. This is a strange thing for me. I can't quite understand it since to me, books bring so much joy to my life. As I have been getting to know my new group, I have heard a lot about the shows they watch on tv and the video games they play. I have heard not one thing about books. How sad!

The first two weeks of school I read picture books to my class. They thought that was fun but I didn't hook them. Last week I resolved to change all of that. I am going to read a bunch of series chapter books to the kids. I want to try and hook them on to a character in one of the books. My thought is that maybe, just maybe, this will draw them in. Our book for last week was Flat Stanley.

Flat Stanley

The kids thought that Stanley was hilarious. When we visited the library this week one of the kids asked for the Flat Stanley book and then almost passed out when he saw that there were many other Stanley books in the series. He then ran around to all of his classmates to share the amazing news. (GOTCHA!) All of the Stanley series books in the series were checked out of the library that day. It is starting... Next week we will read Horrible Harry.
Other Book Thoughts:

Situation #1
Student #1 dragged his mom to school one morning. She was a bit perturbed when I greeted her. She said " ______ said that he has to bring in money for the circus. What is that about?"

Me: "Circus? ________ what are you talking about?"

Student #1: "The circus. Like in the pages!"

Me: (dumbfounded) "I don't know what you are talking about." (pause...thinking...) "You mean in the book order?"

Student #1: "Yeah!"

Mom: (Whacking the kid on the head with his homework folder) "__________You don't need anymore books! You have too many books! You don't even read!"

Me: (pulling the kid away from mom and into the room) "Well have a nice day. BYE!"

As soon as mom was out of sight, I hugged little Student #1 who was teary eyed after his book dreams were sadly crushed. I ordered the book and will keep it for him at school.

Situation #2

Me: "You guys need to read more books and watch less video games!"

Group: "We love video games!"

Student #2: (raising her hand and asking in a very serious way) "I don't have books Ms. V. How can I read them?"

Me: I will get you some!

I am sending some home every night with her now.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Don't Go Bananas Paula!

Paula Dean
On Saturday mornings Sabina and I like to lie in bed together and watch Paula Dean on the Food Network. We love Paula. She is as cute as a button and we can't get enough of her Southern accent and temptingly fattening and scrumptious looking meals. Every few words that Paula says, Sabina and I try to imitate and then we giggle at each other. A fun time is always had.

Yesterday however, Sabina and I stopped giggling and began to get grossed out. Paula's episode was all about recipes that had bananas in them. We like bananas but we just not feeling these dishes. One is particular was just horrendous. It was a Cheesy Ham and Banana Casserole. UGH! It sounds bad but you should have seen it put together. In a casserole dish you line the bottom with sliced white bread. You then cover the bread with sliced ham. After the ham goes a thick layer of sliced bananas. Then comes another layer of white bread. This is then topped off with shredded cheese, crushed potato chips, sliced bacon and then a mixture of eggs, fresh cream, nutmeg and black pepper. The combination of these items was just too much for Sabina and I to bear.

Do people actually eat that stuff???

Well that's about it.

As Paula would say, "Good night y'all!"

Assessment Idea

A friend of mine was telling me that she will be going in for a parent conference with her daughter's teacher this week. Her daughter just started school 2 weeks ago. Why so early? I asked for more information. This is what she told me:

At her daughter's school, the entire first week is comprised of minimum days. During that first week, individual students have an assigned day and time to some in for assessment. (after school) The second week, the teacher has to develop goals for each child based on their assessments. The third week, this week, parent conferences occur. The assessments are reviewed and the teacher and parent discuss individualized goals.

I really like this idea. Assessing kids at the beginning of the school year is so difficult. It takes forever to test because in order to do many of the assessments I need to work one on one with the kids. That means that I have to leave the other kids alone. That is hard because the rest of the class just can't be left alone, even for small increments of time.

I have been trying to figure out how this might work at my school. Here are some of the issues that I am trying to work out:

1) Minimum Days/Teacher Work Days: If we were to have minimum days, I think that we would have to work for an extra 2 days or so. I would be ok with this - I wonder if other teachers would.

2) Meeting the Goals: I can certainly do my part but will the parents? What accountability will the parents have. As it is, there is no parent accountability in place. This has to change in order for this to work.

3) Minimum Days - Childcare: What happens to the kids who have parents that work and can't work out daycare?

4) Testing Early in the year: It has been my experience that assessing kids so early in the year is not a true measure of their real ability. Kids need a chance to warm up to you and feel safe and comfortable. Would assessing kids in this manner, at this time be the best way to do this?

Any ideas anyone???