Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Funny Story!

Read it here


A few weeks ago I wrote about a new student in my class from Mexico. She has been with me for about a month now. I have learned a lot about this young lady but I still have more to learn.

Academically, she is low functioning. I am not convinced though that it is due to language or a learning disability. "Cindi" has been in and out of homes and schools all of her life. She has been back and forth between California and Mexico many times. She actually attended school in both places. I think that she has never been in school long enough to grasp the language much less the concepts that are taught at each grade. When I work one on one with Cindi, she catches on very quickly and gives me the impression that she could perform on grade level if given the chance to stay put and really focus on studying.

I still don't have a clear picture on all of the places that Cindi has lived or how long she was at the schools that are mentioned in her cummulative records. Interestingly enough, when we called one school mentioned they had no record of her attending that school. I wonder if this is because she never attended that school or because she was there for just a few days.

What I do know about this girl is that she has lived a hard life. Her mother is dead and she has no clue as to the whereabouts of her father. She has been raised by different family members. She is now currently living with her aunt and uncle. I don't know what her other relatives were like but this couple is amazing. Cindi comes to school well groomed each day and the aunt stops by to talk to me for clarification on homework, classwork or to see how Cindi is behaving. Cindi is pretty well trained too. She behaves pretty well and at the end of each day she comes to find me and shake my hand. She says "Gracias Maestra. !Hasta Mañana!" (so cute - she gets a hug from me each time -I love it!)

I really hope that Cindi gets to stay with her aunt and uncle for a long time. They seem to really love and care about her. I can't help but think that if she had a stable loving environment she would be able to catch up with the rest of her grade level peers.

Oh! One more thing...
Yesterday as I was pulling up to school I witnessed a private moment between Cindi and her aunt. Her aunt was walking her to school. As they were approaching the room, Cindi's aunt kept primping Cindi for school. (pulling lint off of her clothes and fixing her hair) She then stopped a bit away from the classroom where she was going to leve Cindi to walk to the room on her own. Cindi turned around and received her bendición from her aunt and a big hug and a kiss. I felt so happy for Cindi and her aunt. Those two really are lucky to have each other.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Cultural Appreciation Day

Yesterday was fun!

Here is the recap:
Fan Dance
Chinese New Year Celebration at the Salida Library:
The perfoming arts group Fantasia, from Fremont came to perform many wonderful dances and musical pieces at our annual Chinese New Year celebration at the library. So many talented
children and adults performed.

The dances, songs and costumes were beautiful. The group, Fantasia is located at a "Daycare Center" in Fremont. It is quite an amazing organization. Read more about it here.

Cuando las empanadas están al punto, sirven con chimichurri
Family Food Night:
My brother, Lil' Lobo came to visit yesterday. He wanted to make Chinese food for us. My mom, a Spanish teacher, is currently teaching a food unit. She wanted to cook some Latin American food and take pictures of the process and final products to share with her students. The end result was an amazing feast. The menu consisted of shrimp, meat and vegetarian egg rolls, wonton soup, vegetarian and shrimp chow mein, rice, pot stickers, vegetarian and meat filled empanadas and cabbage salad. Today, I think Mom will be making some yuca and platanos to add to the food photo gallery. YUM!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Observation Day

Today some teachers from another school came to my school to observe our ELD rotation. ELD is a specific subject area for English Language Development. We rotate our kids in our grade level by their proficiency in English. The idea is to have homogeneous grouping to be able to push the kids ahead in their acquisition of reading, writing and speaking in English.

Anyway...I was one of the lucky few observed. The person who came to observe came half way through the lesson. I wish that she had been there for the whole lesson so that she could have understood how I do things in my rotation. I teach the newcomers as well as the kids who are the least proficient in English. When the rotation was done, I told the visitor that I was going to get someone to take over my class for a few minutes so I could explain how we work the rotation and teach using our new program. After all, she was here to learn about what we do and how we do it. The response was "we already have one person at our school piloting the materials. She can tell us how to use it. " Now the lady didn't say this in a snotty was to me but it was rude just the same. She then asked if she coul stay and continue to observe me.

I told her that there would be nothing to observe because at that moment in time we go directly into independent work for 15 minutes on skill drill work. She said that would be fine. I then clarified for her that I would not be formally teaching at this point. She said that was fine. At this point two other teachers came in to observe. I gave them the same spiel. They then started walking around my room and checked out my walls.

Then, it became clear to me what was going on with these teachers. These teachers are not used to working with English Learners. At my school English Learners are the majority of our population. I think that they must have thought that they were coming to see a completely different world in teaching than what they do in their rooms. I could tell by the comments such as "i have that in my room" or "hey....look at that focus wall - we are on that story," that they were surprised to see that we teach the same subjects, content and standards. I think these teachers were surprised to see that our rooms look just like their rooms. I know that the teacher that observed my rotation group was surprised to see my students working quite well on note taking using simple phrases and sentences. I think she almost passed out when at one point in our note taking I asked the students for some synonyms for the word great and I got the following list of words "cool, fabulous, awesome, stupendous and marvelous!" Ha! My kids ROCK!

I don't know what these teachers carried away with them as far as how to work with English Learners since they didn't seem to interested in talking to me. I do hope that they learned that working with English learners is the same as working with any other child. They can do the same things as other kids can, they are just as capable, all they need is a teacher who believes in them, vocabulary development and lots of scaffolding.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

My Brain is Green!

Your Brain is Green

Of all the brain types, yours has the most balance.
You are able to see all sides to most problems and are a good problem solver.
You need time to work out your thoughts, but you don't get stuck in bad thinking patterns.

You tend to spend a lot of time thinking about the future, philosophy, and relationships (both personal and intellectual).
What Color Is Your Brain?

Thanks to Mrs. T at Chuchería for the link!

Monday, February 19, 2007

Trip Countdown...where did the time go?

19 more days until our trip to Panama.

Where did the time go???

I stil have to:

1) Complete report cards

2) Plan for Intersession

3) Teach Intersession

4) Dig out the summer clothes for both Sabi and myself

5) Pack

6) Prepare for the Purim Carnival

7) Figure out a costume for Sabi to wear to the Purim Carnival

8) Shop for the trip. (LOTS of mosquito repellant, another 2 g memory stick and gifts for family members)

9) Lesson plan for the third quarter and send off Xerox requests

10) Get well...this garbage is still lingering in my lungs...

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Welcome Spring!

I don't mean to brag but it has been absolutely beautiful here. Today's high was 70. I love it!
Signs of Spring

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Bathing Suit Trouble

I took Sabi out shopping today to find a bathing suit for our trip to Panama next month. She really wanted a 2 piece so I told her that we would give it a shot. I did buy her a 2 piece several years ago, a tankini which was very cute. I was open minded. We went everywhere and saw only one type of bathing suit though. This type of bathing suit came in many different colors and prints but the design was all the same, no matter what store we were in. The bottoms are very low waisted with high cuts in the thigh area. The tops are either way too big or way too small - none fit just right. The bottom line however is that not only did the bathing suits not fit Sabi well, they were just plain inappropriate for girls. They looked as if they belonged in the juniors or women's sections.

It is hard to shop for Sabi's size. While she is not overweight, she clearly has some hips on her with a much smaller waist. It is always difficult to find pants for this very same reason. That being said, it is unfortunate that it is difficult to find something appropriate for her to wear. We ended up with a one piece Speedo from Costco. It is exactly the right size and she can't grow anymore and continue to wear it. It will do us just fine though for our trip next month. We will have to keep our eyes open for something else for her to wear this summer.

trips to the Dentist

In April, Sabi needed dental work. Her dentist said that she was too squeamish during her regular visits to have a filling put in the regular way and that she would need extra medication to relax her during the procedure. The dentist also informed me that the medicine was so special that it would erase her memory of the event after it was over. (that made me worry) Oh, the "special" medicine was not covered by my insurance either. It cost $290! The dentist also said that she might need to be strapped into the chair for the procedure.

I didn't think that she was too squeamish during her visits and I also worried about the medication that was reccommended but I thought - "I am not the professional here, the Dr. knows best." When we arrived for the visit, Sabina was given her special medicine. This special medicine that was supposed to make her relax did just the opposite. She was unable to control her arms, and other body parts. Her head and arm kept slipping off of the chair. She was stressing out! When the Dr. arrived to do the work he started to scold her for not sitting still. Well, she couldn't control her body movements due to the drugs! He then said that since she wouldn't control her body he would have to strap her in to the chair. I was watching all of this mayhem in the corner of the room where I was told I could sit but not be heard. I was also warned that I might have to leave if I sopke. The dentist went on with his work. He didn't tell Sabi what was happening as he was working and he scolded her many times and threatened her with more drugs and more work if she didn't behave. I wanted so badly to yank Sabi out of there and tell the Dr where to go but I was afraid to do that in the middle of the procedure. I didn't want to have to break that procedure up into two visits. The experience was horrible. Sabina cried throughout the entire procedure. The medicine that she had was horrible. She was painfully aware of everything going on and she could do nothing about it. When we got home, Sabina was still pretty drugged up. At this point though she was different though. She was high on the medicine and feeling very powerful. She still had poor body control but she wanted to get up and run and dance and be wild. I literally had to hold her on the couch for at least an hour. This was no easy task since she struggled with me and tried to figure out a way to get out of the hold. A few days later, Sabina developed a pretty bad rash that lasted for about a week. Apparently, Sabina is allergic to the special medicine.

I was so angry at the dentist and I was angry at myself for not doing anything during the procedure. I was also worried about her next denatl visit. Where would we go? Who would we see? Would Sabi be scarred from the visit?

I ended up taking Sabi in November to a dentist whose father had been my dentist when I was a child. Sadly, he was no good either. When he examined her he barely spoke to her. He didn't even introduce himself to her. The hygenist told him that Sabi had some questions for him. He just looked at her and said "well..." Sabi asked him if she would have to get braces because her two front teeth are a bit crroked. He just said "Yep." I was floored! He later told me that her sealants were going to need to be re-done and that we would have to schedule another exam. I was ok with sealants. We have done that before - no problem. Then he told me about the medication they would have to give her. I then questioned the medication. At this office, they apparently use a dental dam to do sealants. Crazy! Sabina has had sealants before and my students have sealants put on at school by the local dentists. You don't need any medicine for that at all! I figured that I would need to find a new dentist.

This time, I wanted to find the right dentist. I asked around and called around. When I found a dentist that seemed to be a good fit, I went to the office and asked for an office tour and to speak with the dentist. They were kind of surprised about that but granted my request. When I spoke to the dentist, she told me about their procedures and practices. She was nice, seemed very knowledgeable and spoke Spanish! I then made an appointment for Sabi to be seen by this new dentist.

Sabi was nervous when we went to see the new dentist, Dr. M. That soon wore off because Dr. M won Sabi over with her frankness and openness with Sabi. Dr. M talked her way through the entire exam with Sabi showing her the different tools she would use and the reason for doing so. She treated Sabi like the smart and mature young lady that she is. She also talked to Sabi about her responsibility in keeping her teeth well. As it turned out, Sabi would need to have the sealants put in but she also needed a filling where a tooth was calcified. She explained to Sabi that she couldn't help that the tooth was calcified, that it just came in that way.

We went in for the filling and sealants appointment yesterday. I was so nervous that when we arrived at the Dr.'s office, I could barely move. Sabi was a bit nervous too. We had no need to worry though. Dr. M was just fabulous with Sabi. She sat Sabi down in the chair and showed her all of the instruments that she would use. She also gave her a hand held mirror that she could use to watch the procedure anytime she wanted to. Dr. M. was quick, efficient and so very kind. At the end of the visit, she reminded Sabi that she couldn't help having the cavity that she had but the rest could be prevented. She quizzed Sabi on good dental hygiene practices and thanked her for being a good patient. I was so overwhelmed with gratitude for Dr. M. I couldn't believe how different our experience was with her. I was close to tears and I wanted to run over an hug her for being so wonderful with my baby. I ended up only having the chance to thank her from across the room because she had another patient to tend to .

Right now...Dr. M is my hero. Thanks Dr. M!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

NABE conference

The NABE conference I attended last week was an interesting experience for me. I was so looking forward to hearing the latest news on English Language Learners and being around the best of the best.

As the conference date appoached, I started hearing some drama regarding NABE. The first thing that I heard was that some key people in NABE had pulled out of NABE because they couldn't stand behind the direction NABE was going in. That concerned me a bit. The second piece of drama was about Ruben Navarrette, the columnist. Apparently he was billed as a guest speaker. Then when people found out that he was going to be a guest speaker, even when he has criticized bilingual education, there was a big backlash. He ended up not coming and I heard that NABE said that it was only a "typo" about Ruben Navarrette coming!

On Wednesday, the first day of the conference, I was pumped! I was in beautiful San Jose, and I was ready to get my handbook of workshops and start mapping out my daily plans. I tried to focus on courses that were specific to the needs of the English Learners at my school. I went to my first class and I was surprised to hear that what the speaker was saying. Everything she was talking about was old news to me. I stepped out at the break and found another class only to find the same information. Sadly, this is how the rest of the conference went.

The good news is that California is apparently way ahead of the rest of the nation when it comes to working with English Learners. The things that I heard being discussed were things that I (and my colleagues) have been doing for some time now. The bad news is that some places are really behind. In one of the workshops, the speaker spoke about how important it is to use multicultural literature in the classroom. I thought to myself "duh!" Then I looked around and my neighbor was writing on her notepad "incorporate multicultural literature." I couldn't believe it!

I was also disappointed in the vendors. I love going through the Exhibit Halls to get all kinds of free stuff and to get info on materials I might like to use in the classroom. This time, it was not so great. I did get some good pens out of the Exhibit Hall but the vendors themselves were for the most part not so good. I asked several vendors for specific information about particular ELD programs that they offer. One of the vendors told me that she didn't even know anything about the products. What was she doing there then? Another vendor tried to b.s. his way through product description. I hate liars! The best thing about the exhibit hall was the Ballet Folklorico that provided the entertainment. They were awesome!

I think that I will probably not go to another NABE conference. I have not given up on CABE, the California version of NABE, though. I am going to sign up for that conference next year. Heck... I might even try to be a presenter!

Happy 5 Day Weekend!

I start my extended weekend today!

My district takes both President's holidays and adds Admission Day to the mix to give us a wonderful 5 day weekend. We go back to school on Tuesday. Why do we get Admission Day? I don't know. Why do we do Admission Day in February when the real date is in September? I don't know. What I do know is that I am going to have a nice few days of leisure. Yay!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Miracle Drug

Have you taken Zithromax? My doctor prescribed it on Saturday. You take two pills on the first day and then just one pill for the next 4 days. I started it Saturday afternoon. When I woke up Sunday, I was a changed woman! All of the head cold, fever, achy joints and sinus problems were gone. GONE! I am still left with a bunch of nasty stuff that is draining its way out of my system but I am ok with that. So what if I have gone through 3 boxes of tissues - I am SO much better!!!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Valentine's Day Musings

So... I still don't like Valentine's Day.

When I saw this box of Anti-Valentine's Day Fortune cookies I couldn't help but smile!!!

These were SO made for me!
I was also quite amused with's Love Stinks
site. Smart people over there at Amazon!

Speaking of Love Stinks...check out this clip from The Wedding Singer with Adam Sandler singing that song!

That being said...I do have to admit that I do have some special Valentine's that I have to be very thankful for.

I have my mom and Sabi who brought me these lovely flowers, my FAVORITES, yesterday when I was sick and miserable. They rock!
Someone loves me!

I also have a secret admirer who sends me sweet little anonymous e-card love notes. Actually, the secret admirer was found out right away when I saw that the notes were signed "aynonamus!" That's right... my sweet Sabi sends me cute little cards to brighten up my day!

I have to admit it, I am a very lucky person. I may grumble a bit around V-Day but I am well loved by the people who matter the most.

Friday, February 09, 2007


I'm back.

I'm still sick.

I feel like BLAH!

i need to eat some of this stuff.

more on NABE later... (maybe)

"Amor Gitano" y El Zorro (Updated 2/13/07)

I wandered over to Alejandro Fernandez' website today. I found this photo there and also found out that he and Beyonce have recorded a new song together for the upcoming Telemundo novela, Zorro.
(Feb 12)


I saw it last night. The novela looks good and the song sucks. :-(

Conference Update

1) I am sick. I am loading up on Advil cold and sinus and am almost out of Kleenex!
2) It is overcast and rainy at times
3) I have not yet been "WOW-ed" by any of the presenters that I have seen
4) I miss my family

1) I am in great company here. The people I am hanging out with are the cream of the crop in education as far as I am concerned. It is wonderful to be around so many great minds
2) My hotel is pretty cool.
3) San Jose is very cool. Big city looks with a smaller town feel.
4) I have collected a lot of cool freebies in the Exhibit Hall.
5) I have run into Jose Luis Orozco several times in the past two days.
6) There's a Peet's coffee shop close by!

Monday, February 05, 2007


Tomorrow night I am off to San Jose for the NABE conference. I am SO looking forward to hearing the latest info on and for English Learners.

Yesterday I spent two hours writing up 3 days worth of sub plans. It is so hard to write everything out. Not only do you have to detail academic info but social/behavioral issues as well such as how the reward system works, who will try to manipulate the situation, who gets a daily report, etc. Today, I spent another hour piling the plans and all of the necessary materials in separately labeled folders, one for each day. The way I see it, the better planned and prepared I am for my sub, the better the kids' chances are of having a good instructional day. It does help that I was able to hand pick my sub. She was been Sabi's student teacher earlier this year so I think she is pretty qualified. Yay!

I don't know whether or not I will have internet access in San Jose. Hmm ... 4 days without a computer...will I survive???

Ciao y'all!

Tu B'Shvat part 2

Our event was covered in the Bee. Sabi is in the middle picture. If you look close enough, you can see Mom in the same picture but in the background. Check it out here!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Tu B'Shvat 2007

Today was our 2nd annual Tu B'Shvat community tree planting project. Our synagogue has teamed up with the City of Modesto to help plant trees to make our community a better place. The City chooses parks that are in need of trees and then we help to purchase the trees to plant in the parks. The city then helps by loosening up the dirt for us to dig the holes, they tell us about the trees that will be planted, give us helpful planting tips and then when we finish planting the trees, they tie the trees to support stakes and water the trees.
Digging the hole
Last year, the park we planted in was in serious need of trees - there were none to start with! This year, it was exactly the opposite. We went to Beard Brook Park, one of the oldest parks in town. One kid, upon his arrival at the park said "Why are we here? This park already has trees!" The city told us that there were many trees in the park but they were mostly along the perimeter of the park or on the edge of the river. We were there to plant trees in areas where people would gather to play, eat and have fun in the summer. The trees were for new shady areas. Several years ago, we had a big flood. Many of the shade trees that the park had were destroyed in the flood.

Today's outing in the park was wonderful. After opening statements from our activity director and a City official, we all gathered to plant the first tree together and say the Schehecheyanu. We then spread out and planted 18 other trees. When we were done, we gathered again for a light lunch and the kids got to play in the park.

I love this event. Everyone comes out to this event, young and old. It is great fun. it's a mitzvah and a wonderful way to work towards Tikkun Olam.

Click here to find out more about Tu B'Shvat, the New Year of Trees.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Big TV weekend!

So what will I be watching??? NOT the Superbowl. I will be checking out the Alejandro Fernandez concert from Viña del Mar. Here is a YouTube clip from the very same concert!!!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

The Case of the Disappearing Students!

My class roster is officially at 18 now that I have lost 3 kids and gained 1. However, due to the nasty flu bug going around today, after lunch I was down to 14! Kids have been dropping like flies!

Yesterday, on the way to lunch, one of my boys started to cry out of the blue. He was crying like he was scared. It took him 5 minutes to tell me what was wrong. Finally he blurted out "Me duele la panza pero no quiero irme a la casa Maestra" (My stomach hurts but I don't want to go home) I walked him up to the nurse and sure enough, he had a temp of 102 . Today, he didn't show up and neither did his cousin who is in my class as well. In addition to those two absences, another boy didn't show up. His sister came by to tell me that he has the same bug. Around 9:30, one of my girls said "Ms. V, I don't feel so good." I asked her what was going on. She said "I think I am tired. I was up puking all night!" Great! I sent her up to the office and she too had a temp of 99.5. Fast forward to this afternoon. While we were working on our math, another little girl said that her tummy "felt weird!" Not wanting to take any chances, I sent her straight to the nurse. She came back with a note saying that she too was going home with a fever.

At this point I went into panic mode, I made the kids take everything off of their desks and I sprayed all of the desks with Clorox Anywhere Spray. Then I gave all of the kids a drop or Purell to rub into their hands. Whenever someone sneezed I made them wash!!! I am NOT going to get sick. I AM NOT!

I wonder how many kids will show up tomorrow???