Wednesday, January 31, 2007

More School Stuff

This month I lost two students. One went to an SDL class and one moved to Texas. On Friday, if one of my students does not return from her trip to Mexico, I will lose a third. Today, a new student joined our room. She comes to us directly from Oaxaca. She was apparently born here in town but then went to Mexico to live with her mom. When I asked about her family she told me that her mom just died and that "no se, pero creo que padre no tengo." (I'm not sure but I don't think I have a dad) She is now living with her uncle and his wife and kids.

My Challenge: She speaks NO English. Really, none! This will be another issue for me to juggle with all of the other things I have to balance in my day. Today went really well but I came home exhausted from doing so much TPR and translating in addition to teaching my other little ones. I think that my teaching didn't suffer but I am WORN OUT!

The Positives: She is eager, friendly and she seems to fit right in. She is not shy and made friends quickly. She attended pre-school and at least first grade in Mexico. She has a ton of paperwork that came with her from her schools in Mexico. I will need to spend some time looking through them. They are quite interesting. I have never had any paperwork accompany a child from Mexico before so it is a special treat to have documents to review.

Here's hoping for the best!!!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Who Knew???

I have a student who behaves perfectly in school. Too perfect sometimes. I have always found him to be a bit stuffy. Everything has to be in just the right place in his desk, his peers have to follow the rules to the letter of the law or he tattles, and he has NEVER, not once, moved a clip for ANYTHING because he has to be perfect at school.

Well! I just found out that at home, he is the exact opposite of how he is at school. His room is a mess, and he is often in power struggles with his mom and brother. When I talked with his counselor last week, I almost didn't believe her.

I have been trying to figure out why he is behaving so differently at home and at school. My theory is that I have a very structured classroom complete with rewards and consequences. He knows exactly what will happen if he breaks a rule and he doesn't want to go there. I am wondering if it is that way at home. My guess is no. He must be exhibiting this behavior at home because he can.

Any other theories???

A Different Kind of Birthday and Present

Tomorrow one of Sabi's classmates will be holding her birthday party at school. The party will take place after school is out but it will be held in her classroom. All of the kids in her room are invited. What a fun idea!

Tonight, Sabi and I went to to Target to shop for a present for her friend. We looked and looked up and down the aisles trying to find something fun. (I was actually trying to find something cheap!) After a while, Sabi came up with a cool idea! She wanted to get her friend a set of multicolored white board marker and a cool eraser to use in class. (They use the whiteboards a LOT in class) We ended up throwing in a set of cool gel pens and a fun notepad from the $1 spot and we were also able to score a fancy gift bag from the $1 spot as well. When all was said and done, the present totaled $10.49. I knew that the present was fabulous when Sabina started hinting about how she wished that her birthday was coming up and how she really needed new whiteboard markers!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The ABC's of MsAbcMom

I stole this from Cincysundevil:

A- Available or single? Both...maybe...
B- Best Friends? - I can count them on one hand
C- Cake or Pie? - CAKE BABY - especially carrot cake - YUM!!!!
D- Drink of Choice - Lime Diet Coke or Starbucks Frech Roast Coffee made at home with Fat Free Hazelnut Creamer
E- Essential Item? - My Digital Camera
F- Favorite Color? - Green and Orange right now. I go through phases of favorite colors. I especially like them on the brighter sides.
G- Gummi Bears or Worms? - Actually, I prefer Swedish Fish.
H- Hometown? -Modesto, CA
I- Indulgence? - Trader Joe's Chocolate covered dried fruit. OMG...I LOVE that stuff.
J- January or February? - (I am stealing this from CincySunDevil) "January because Valentine's Day sucks"
K- Kids and names? -No idea what this means. I can tell you that in the past 12 years of teaching I have found that if I have a kid named Brandon, Christian or Domonic I will be in for an interesting and challenging year!
L- Life is incomplete without? - My Bina!
M- Marriage Date? - Ummm, yeah, rub it in. Especially with Valentine's Day coming up!
N- Number of Siblings? - 2 baby brothers. (not that they are babies anymore!)
O- Oranges or apples? - Oranges - especially mandarins
P- Phobias/Fears? - In the past few years, flying has started to freak me out a bit.
Q- Favorite Quote? - "Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." - Dr. Seuss
R- Reason to Smile? - Because it's almost Friday!
S- Season? - Fall - I love the trees and the crisp air. The bad part is that around here, a true fall season begins somewhere in mid to late November and last about 3 weeks and then winter settles in!
T- Tag three people! - 1) Anyone 2) who wants 3) to do it!
U- Unkown Fact About Me? - I once punched a lady in the stomach when I was riding the bus with my mom. In my defense, I was really, really young and obviously had no clue as to what I was doing and how bad it was to do it.
V- Vegetable you hate? - Just one??? I hate most veggies that are cooked. The only ones I will eat cooked are peas, green beans and corn. The smell...yuck!
W- Worst habit? - I don't save money like I should.
X- X-Rays you've had? - Legs, feet, arms, teeth, back, etc....
Y- Your favorite food? - More than one: Empanadas from Argentina, Sopapillas from Chile, Pupusas from El Salvador, Pastelitos from Panamá and fresh fruit and veggies from my local Farmer's Market
Z- Zodiac? - Cancer

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Just Say What You Mean!

Conversation with a student after school.

Student: "Ms. V. I'm going to move when we are done with school this year."

Me: "Oh, really? Where?"

Student: "I don't know but it's going to have a big pool and..." (I really don't know what else she said here...she went on and on and on about how special this pool was going to be and I kind of checked out...)

after she stopped talking:

Me: "Wow...that pool is something else!"

Student: "It is? What?"

Me: "What do you mean, what"

Student: "You said it is something else, what is it then?"

Me: (smiling...and CRACKING UP inside) "No, something else is just a phrase"

Student: "What does it mean?"

Me: "It means that it is really unique, special, cool"

Student: "Well why didn't you just say that???

Monday, January 22, 2007

Corazones Dulces

Corazones Dulces
Did you know that Conversation Hearts are available in Spanish? The company that makes them, Necco, calls them Corazones Dulces or Sweethearts Hispanic Boxes. I think I prefer the name Corazones Dulces...

Sunday, January 21, 2007


I am having such a hard time this year with my students' academic status. While my students have been making steady progress, most of them are not near where they need to be. I have been trying all kinds of tricks to see what makes them motivated and eager to learn. What I have found out is that they are motivated and eager to please me but they don't have a strong academic background at home to carry through with what we learn at school. Most (if not all) of the academic stimulation they get is from school.

I have been very surprised this year to find that most of the parents of my students aren't doing too much at home with the kids. They aren't even helping with homework. I send home a packet once a week so that parents have the time and opportunity to work together with their kids. Unfortunately, when the packets come back. they are not signed by parents. There are pages that are incomplete and unchecked by a family member. I simply can't understand this. Sabi receives homework on a daily basis. I make sure to review it with her each and every day. I also have her make any necessary corrections before turning it in so she can receive immediate feedback and learn from her errors. Yes, this can sometimes be difficult due to our schedule but it is my responsibility!

I realize that I do need to take into account that the work my students take home may be challenging for their parents. Half of the parents in my room are not strong English speakers. Being fluent in English does not necessarily mean they can help though. Last month an English Only speaking parent, who does help her son at home with homework, questioned me on a reading comprehension activity I sent home on Inference. She told me "I tried to help **** but the homework don't got no answers that are right." I then had to give mom a mini lesson on inference and tell her that she would not find the exact answer in the text and that they would have to process the information and figure out which answer made the most logical sense given the scenario. She then apologized to me and said "Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't graduate from no high school and I don't know too much." (Bless her heart!) Several issues here: 1) Grammar 2) She doesn't have a sound academic foundation to carry through newly learned concepts at home. I am extremely grateful for parents like this one I mentioned because they do value education and know how important it is. On the other hand, I feel even more helpless as a teacher when I know that so many of my parents have such great academic defecits because I know that in order for their kids to succeed I am going to have to work overtime with their kids.

I have been giving some thought into holding a parent academy to try and help my parents to hellp their kids with their homework. I know that if I can give them the tools that they lack, many of them will go home and do what they can to follow through with their kids. The problem with this parent academy is that I would have to take more time away from my own family to help these other families. While I know the benefits would be so great, I can't help but feel selfish with my time. After working all day with the kids and then a few more hours without the kids, it is all I can do to keep my energy up and have some quality time with my own child.

What is the solution????

Saturday, January 20, 2007

It's a Picture book now!

It's a Picture book now!
Originally uploaded by msabcmom.
I was so surprised to find that Flat Stanley has been made into a picture book. I picked up this nifty new version of the 1964 classic yesterday. I love reading Flat Stanley to the kids when we start our letter writing unit. It is a cute book. Now that it is in a picture book format, the kids will be able to enjoy the book in color with larger pictures. YAY!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Who KNew?
LogoThere are:
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

Thursday, January 18, 2007

5 Things You May Not KNow About me Meme

Everyone else is doing it so I jumped on the bandwagon too!

Hmm...5 things you may not know about me...

1) Like Cindylu, I don't like too many reality tv shows. There are however two that I absolutely love: Project Runway and Top Chef. I also enjoy watching the Food Network, especially Paula Dean, Emeril Lagasse, Rachel Ray and of course Iron Chef America.
*** btw...if you watched Top Chef last night, were you happy to see Cliff go??? I was... good

2) In 8th grade I was my school's rep to the county spelling bee. I was so proud of myself. That bubble burst very quickly though when I was the first one out by not spelling "business" correctly. I spelled it buisness.

3) In my elementary school years I went to 5 different schools. At my 3rd school, I decided that I needed a change of identity and I told my teacher that I wanted to be called by my middle name, Jeannette. She told me that if that is what I wanted that I had to go by that name the entire year. I hated my middle name by the end of the first week. My teacher didn't care and I was Jeannette that entire year. I hated that year!

4) In high school, Footloose was my favorite movie. I have seen that movie upwards of 50 times. (probably more!) To give you a more vivid picture, Footloose came out when we used to have to go to the video store and rent the VCR as well as the videos. I had a lot of slumber parties as a high schooler and we must have watched that movie at every party. My friend and I could quote scenes from that crazy movie. (i know...we were LOSERS!)

5) When I was in elementary school I had a crush on Shaun Cassidy. I watched every single Hardy Boys episode and was a proud owner of his first two albums. Don't even ask me how many times I sang "Da Doo Run Run!"

Aren't you glad that you know that very menaingful trivia about me???

Who do I tag??? YOU! You're it! Go ...NOW!!!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

I LOVE my coffee!

Thanks Mrs. T. !(Chuchería)

You Are an Espresso

At your best, you are: straight shooting, ambitious, and energetic

At your worst, you are: anxious and high strung

You drink coffee when: anytime you're not sleeping

Your caffeine addiction level: high

Monday, January 15, 2007

Happy Birthday Mom!

Mom's Birthday Dinner
May you have many more wonderful birthdays to come!
Happy Birthday Mom!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

The Past Week

The highlights:

1) Moving Student:
One of my students will be moving to a SDL class at another site this week. I am going to miss him terribly. He has one of the biggest, sweetest hearts ever. I love this kid. This was his last week at our school. Sadly, I wasn't able to be with him very much for the last 3 days here at our school because I was in my math training. Luckily though, the training had several breaks so I was able to go and visit my class and get many big smiles and hugs. On Tuesday, I will follow his bus to school and walk him to his new class to meet his new teacher. I know that this is the best thing for him but it makes me teary eyed to think of him leaving me. I got all misty in his SST when we discussed it, I am getting misty right now as I think about it and I know that I will be a crybaby when I leave him at his new school. I have been truly blessed to have had the opportunity to work with this young man.

2) Math Training:
UGH! One of the trainers is very good and the other the opposite. The good one knows her math and when she takes us out of the training manual I really like the info we receive. When we do work in the manual though it is all I can do to not explode. The manual is all about getting to know our curriculum and how to use it. Why is this a problem? We have been using our math materials for the past 6 years and will only have it for one more year. What a waste!

3) COLD weather! It has been freezing around here. Last night it dropped to 19 degrees at night.
More Ice
The sidewalks and streets have iced over in the mornings. Yesterday morning I slipped and fell - OUCH!
Icy Streets

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


Tonight the temp is going to drop to 36 degrees. By Friday we are going to go down to 25 degrees. I can't take it!!!


Dree's most recent post has been haunting me. I don't currently have a studnet like the one she wrote about but I have had them in the past. Many non-teachers just really don't know what we go through. MORE BIG HUGS DREE!!!

Friday, January 05, 2007

Random Thoughts

1) I am going to NABE!!! (National Association of Bilingual Educators) Yippee! Even though I don't have an offical bilingual classroom, I am a teacher of English Learners. I can't wait to hear the latest research available on English Learners, hear awesome speakers such as Jose Luis Orozco, Virginia P. Collier, Jim Cummins, Lily Wong Fillmore and Kate Kinsella and last but certainly not least pick up FREE goodies at the vendor tables. Yay!

2) Check out GRD's latest post. He has posted a song that addresses problems with NCLB and testing.

3) Vacation has been good to me. I have had plenty of time to rest, relax and enjoy myself. I am refreshed and ready to go back on Monday. I am actually looking forward to it!

Have a good weekend everyone!

Monday, January 01, 2007

I got my first grumpy comment...OUCH!

Just in time to start my New Year off I received my first ever not so positive comment on my blog. The post that I originally wrote was about the rising cost of gas. Here is the comment:

I don't know what you Americans are complaining about... petrol (gas) costs a little over twice that much here in the UK! ;-) Most of that is tax, justified by the government for investment in transport infrastructure and (increasingly) for reducing carbon emissions. Count yourselves lucky!
I do realize that we pay a lot less for gas here than people do in other countries. I was merely commenting on how fast the price seems to have gone up.

The funny thing is that I am not really so disgruntled about the gas comment. I am more offended as being put in to the "you Americans" category. That is what really doesn't sit right with me. I have never seen myself as a "you Americans." I have always worried about the actions that my fellow "Americans" have taken that put us in a horrible light to others. I have tried to live my life to make sure that I am not one of the "you Americans" but rather a citizen of the world.

Oh well. Maybe I shouldn't read to much into the comment. We are all entitled to our own opinions. If I put myself out in the blogosphere I need to be ready to handle the criticism. If it ever gets too bad I guess I can just delete the comments, right?