Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Rare, But Welcome

I got another new student today. She, like the last student to join our little group, is working at grade level. This is such a rare thing to happen at my school.

Don't get me wrong, I will work with any student no matter where they are academically. It is my job, that is what I signed up for and am happy to work with all students. When students come in at grade level though it just makes my job that much easier because I don't have to do a lot of catch up, individualized work.

I have one more open spot in my classroom. I wonder who will fill that spot?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Coolness!

I have 4 low readers. I have been working with them individually and they also get some pull out help. 3 of the kids are really invested in making progress. Today, I started my monthly running records to see what level they are reading at independently. The three that have really been working hard made growth. Yay!

One of the students, "D", had a major breakthrough today. Today, he became a reader! While he was reading to me he stopped and looked up at me and said "Ms.V., I am reading!" I smiled at him, complimented him and encouraged him to continue. Shortly after the testing period we had library time. D, now energized about his new found skill, grabbed two Dr.Seuss books. He started to read Green Eggs and Ham. He was late to the line to check out his books because he was so engaged in reading. In fact, he wouldn't release the book to the librarian when he checked it out. He held it open so she could scan the bar code and he could continue reading. On the way back to class, he didn't look up once. I heard the entire book. When we got back to class he said, "Ms. V., this book is EASY!"

I totally love these moments. They make the rest of the nonsense worthwhile.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Pancho Villa Turkey


Pancho Villa Turkey
Originally uploaded by msabcmom
I got the coolest idea online for a Thanksgiving family project. The kids get a "naked" turkey and then have to disguise it to help it make it past Thanksgiving. Once it is disguised, they then have to write a small persuasive paragraph, in the voice of the turkey, as to why they should be saved. I have received 7 so far and they are cute! I am hoping to get more on Monday. I will have o remember to bring my camera in.

This one came as Pancho Villa. The write up for it said " My name is Pancho villa, a Mexican revolutionary and I need your help to make it through thanksgiving." I am so impressed with both the artwork and the writing!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Parent Conference Notes

1) I was totally shocked this week in one of my conferences when a parent asked me to explain how to use addition and subtraction flashcards. I started to explain how she could play games with her son etc but she said "no, what does it mean?" I realized then that she didn't know the plus and minus signs. She said that she "didn't have too much schooling. " I had to teach her the plus and minus signs and then explain how to read simple equations like 4-1=3. She said that while she is working with her son she might learn something. That comment might seem like a positive one but sadly, I have not yet seen her follow through with anything school wise this year, not even the simplest handwriting homework. That was a depressing conference.

2) Some conferences were great. I have a lot of parents who really want to be involved. A different set of parents told me that they went to school in Mexico but only through 2nd grade. They said that they really want to help their daughter at home but are limited so would appreciate any help I could give them. I began by telling them that despite their formal education, they have provided the most academically nurturing environment for their daughter. She LOVES school and is thriving as one of my top students. They are doing a whole lot in the right direction for her. I also recommended the an after school homework club for their daughter in case she needs help that they can't give. Within 5 minutes of leaving my class they had enrolled her in the program. Now that is follow through!

3) One parent flat out refused to come. I wrote about this in a previous blog. My VP went to the house to do a home visit and review the conference material with the mom. My VP returned the signed paperwork to me today. I asked her who signed it and she told me that the mom did. I then let her know that the name on the paperwork was not the mom's name. When I spoke with my student about the situation he told me that mom was in bed and his mom's friend talked to the VP instead. The friend never told the VP that she wasn't the mom. The mom couldn't be bothered to get out of bed!!! Unbelievable!

4) My daughter was a great help during conferences. She took care of my students as well as their siblings when I spoke with the parents. She had kids from ages 2 - 12. She really came through for me. This year's conferences were the smoothest I have ever had and I think it is because I didn't have toddlers running through the room screaming! I handsomely rewarded her with cash for the school book fair.

5) I am all done with conferences...yay.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Call I Hope to Receive

A colleague of mine told me yesterday that she received a phone call this weekend from a former student. He told her that he is a superintendent of a school district here in California. He went on to tell her how he thought of her often and that she was his "dream maker." She inspired him and made him feel as if could do anything he put his mind to.

What a cool thing. I hope i get one of those calls someday!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Parent Conference

I have a student this year who is a sibling of a student that I had year. Both children are so kind, sweet and hard working.

Last year at parent conference time I tried several times to get the mom and dad (separated) in for a parent conference. The mom never responded to my notes home so I called the home and the mom told me that she would come but never showed. When she didn't show, I called the house again and was told that there was no one by that name that lived there. It was most likely the mom's boyfriend who I talked to. To make matters even more interesting, the family lives directly across the street from the school. It isn't a long walk to the school. I ended up never once meeting the mom last year. I had so many wonderful things to tell her about her child and never had the chance.

This year I am going through the same ordeal. She has ignored my notes home. I called her from the school and she never answered the phone. The secretary told me to use my cell phone and call her and guess what, she aswered since she knew it wasn't the school! I surprised the mom and she told me she would come to the conference. The conference was scheduled for last Friday. I was totally expecting a no show on Friday afternoon but then I saw the kids walk into the classroom. I got so excited. I couldn't wait to actually meet the mom. I waited for a minute because I fgured that the mom was walking behind them. When she didn't show up, I asked the kids where she was. They told me that she was home sleeping. The kids, my former student, my current student and their 4 year old brother, came to attend the conference themselves! I was immediately filled with conflicting emotions. I was angry at this mother for not giving a damn about her beautiful children. I was filled with sadness for the kids knowing that they know that they have to pick up the slack for their mom. I was also so damn proud of them for being such responsible children despite the model given to them at home. I gave them hugs for showing up and sent another note home to their mom.

What do I do in this situation? My administrator wants me to go on a home visit with her to the house to hold the conference there. I don't feel so good about that. can I really force a parent to attend a conference? I am not a fan of this mother but she apparently has some kind of phobia about school.

On a side subject, I really worry about these kids. There are 4 siblings in all and they are all the best of children, truly wonderful human beings. I see them running around the neighborhood with no supervision. Last week, during a heavy rainstorm, the student in my class was sitting on the bleachers with another kid just hanging out because he didn't want to go home. The kids come to school dirty sometimes because they are the ones who get themselves out of bed and ready on their own. They don't have coats in the winter. From the stories I hear, there are all kinds of people in and out of their house on a regular basis. I wish I could just take them home with me.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Missing Grandfather

It has been several years now since my grandfather has passed. I miss him from time to time. I especially miss him during election time. My grandfather was very passionate about politics. Grandfather would have really loved Obama. He probably would have started out as and Edwards or Clinton supporter but would have put everything behind Obama when the time came. He would have been inspired but Obama and infuriated and disgusted by Palin. We would have had many interesting and indepth discussions regarding both parties, the candidates and local initiatives.

Last nigh,t in between my non stop viewing of the election night coverage, I made a quick trip to the grocery store to pick up something for school. I passed my the ice cream and happened to see Peppermint ice cream, one of my grandfather's guilty pleasures. I picked one up and took it home. I scooped out two bowls of ice cream and called Sabi over. I introduced her to Peppermint ice cream. I also told her how much her great grandfather liked it and how much he enjoyed election night and politics. We sat in front of MSNBC, ate peppermint ice cream, and watched history happen in front of our eyes. What a night.

My grandfather is not physically here but will always be here in spirit. He would be so proud of us as a country.

I miss you GF!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election 2008 - Voting At School

My school's cafeteria is a polling place. Today, after reading our Scholastic News magazine about the election and Obama and McCain, we went to tour the polling place. When we were done, I had the kids sit in the back of the cafeteria and fill out a special kids ballot for the two top presidential nominees. After voting, I gave the kids an "I voted" sticker. When we returned to class we tallied the votes. I didn't vote. I also refused to tell them who I voted for this morning in order to not sway the vote.

Here are the results:

Mc Cain: 0

Obama: 18

Tomorrow we will compare our results to the rest of the Country!

Just Do IT!



I voted today. Did you?

Friday, October 31, 2008

How the Cookie Crumbles

Check out today's Modesto Bee for a Story on predicting the presidential election.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Inspirational Child

I have a student this year who is very low performing. She was tested and didn't qualify for special education because she didn't have a large enough discrepancy. Her IQ is low. Her psych and academic testing showed her as performing at the early kinder level. The work she does in class is low.

that being said, I have never seen a child that is so low work so hard. She gives her school work everything she has and then some. She is literally working above her ability. I am amazed everyday by her. She is a fragile child emotionally when it comes to academics. She knows that she is low and it hurts her if she thinks others are making fun of her work. I have really worked on protecting her in this respect and in turn she works even harder. At the beginning of the year I didn't call on her when I asked questions because I didn't want to embarrass her in front of the class. Now though, I do call on her and she can handle it. I am amazed by what she gets right and proud of how she handles getting a wrong answer. (smiles and says, I will get it next time!)

On a side note, this girl is a cutie too. She is a very carefree and into everything kind of child. She comes to school with her hair done very nicely and within the first half hour it is all messed up. it is not uncommon to find her with smudges on her faces from active play on the playground. She is quite the Tomboy!

Today she started going to a pullout class for math. When she returned from her class I asked her how the class was. She quickly responded "it was hard, but I learned!" Wow! her response just made me smile. If only all of my students had the internal drive that this girl has.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Columbus Day

Every year around Columbus Day teachers on the message board I subscribe to ask for "cute" ideas for teaching Columbus Day. For some reason, Columbus Day and cute don't belong in the same sentence to me!

What do I do on Columbus Day in the classroom? Nothing special, it is just business as usual in my room. I don't have too much time for anything else.

If I did take the time for it though, I might use the song posted below.

1492
Nancy Schimmel

In fourteen hundred ninety-two
Columbus sailed the ocean blue,
It was a courageous thing to do
But someone was already here.

Columbus knew the world was round
So he looked for the East while westward bound,
But he didn't find what he thought he found,
And someone was already here.

Chorus
The Inuit and Cherokee,
The Aztec and Menominee,
The Onandaga and the Cree;
Columbus sailed across the sea,
But someone was already here.

It isn't like it was empty space,
Caribs met him face to face.
Could anyone discover the place
When someone was already here?

Chorus

So tell me, who discovered what?
He thought he was in a different spot.
Columbus was lost, the Caribs were not;
They were already here.

Chorus

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Blog Hiatus and other stuff

These past few months I have been on a sort of hiatus from blogging. I was not feeling quite right and I had no drive or interest in blogging. For the past two weeks or so though I have been feeling a little bit like my normal, healthier self. Yay! I have also started thinking of blog ideas as I drive to work, stand in line at the grocery store or while working out on the machines at the gym. As usual, I forget all of the clever ideas I thought of when I open up my blog. Go figure!

Here are a few thoughts that are floating around my head right now though:

1) Teaching: We are in such a mess right now due to the stupidity of the NCLB. My district, along with almost every other district in the state and most likely, the nation, is wasting VALUABLE teaching time filling out ridiculous papers, and assessing kids just about every day. We really don't have time to actually teach anything to mastery because it interferes with our testing schedules. When we do test, we don't get to reteach items students don't do well on because there is no time built into our pacing calendars.

2) Standards: Still on the subject of teaching and assessing, why have we had NCLB for so long and not had anyone at the national level question why it is that all states are compared against each other but we don't have the same teaching standards, the same assessments and the measure of success measured by the assessments isn't even the same. Isn't this a pretty basic idea?

3) My Class:I have been back to school for 8 weeks now and this past week was the first week that I wasn't counting down each day to the end of the week. The group that I have this year is pretty tough. They are academically very low and very young. In addition to teaching, I have to mediate fights, teach how to blow noses, tie shoes, remind children to wipe their hands after using the toilet and listen to a million "tattle tales" all day long.

4) Presidential Race: Palin is such an embarrassment to the nation. I can't stand her. I can't wait for Obama to win in November and have Palin take her behind back to Alaska where she can fade into the woodwork and be forgotten.

5) Best Soft Drink of the Year: Green Tea Ginger Ale... LOVE it!

6) Facebook: I am addicted

7) My daughter: She rocks! I am so impressed with her academic achievements, her confidence and willingness to take risks that I never took. She does have her willful moments but she is a good girl and I am proud to be her mom.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

School

This year is rough. Most of my students are really, low. To make it worse, half of them are still 6. The difference between a 6 year old and 7 year old student is HUGE! Additionally, my students, for the most part, don't have the ganas (desire) to learn. It isn't that they are opposed to it, they would just rather play all day long. I come exhausted every day.

I do have a few bright lights in the class that make it worth showing up each day. One if them is Natalia. I love this kid. She reminds me of the main character from Hairspray both with her physical appearance and her upbeat spirit. She just lights up my day.

I have been working on progress reports for the past hour. Many of them are depressing. However, I just came to Natalia's report and found myself smiling just thinking about her. I have to admit that even though I am appreciating my weekend, I am really looking forward to see this gem on Monday. Thank goodness for the Natalia's of the world!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Assembly Today

Today we are having a Constitution Day Assembly. The 3th and 5th grades are putting it on but my 2nd grade class and another 2nd grade class are singing two songs. WHY do I volunteer to do these things? I have a headache just thinking about it. We haven't had the time to practice and the kids are not going to be perfect. I know that they will look cute and that is what the parents want to see but still....

I can't wait for teh end of school day bell to ring today!

-Kelly

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Highway Politics

The other day Sabi and I were on the freeway listening to the radio and we heard a horn honking. It was a strange place to hear a horn and we both thought at first that it was part of the song we were listening to. We then realized it was the car passing us on the left, trying to get our attention. When we looked at the person in the car he was waving his "thumb down" at us crazily. We didn't know who it was. Then we figured out that it must be regarding our Obama '08 magnet on the car. Once we realized what was going on, Sabina started cracking up hysterically. She thought it was SO silly to see a grown up behave so silly to a complete stranger. Funny!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

DELL Hell

I bought a Dell last October. The laptop is cute and fast but that is about all it has going for it. I have had ongoing problems with the computer with their DVD media player. The computer ended up not working because of a problem with the media player. I was told that I would have to wipe the computer clean and start fresh. Dell re-did my computer from their remote site and it was supposed to work. Guess what? When they reinstalled everything they forgot to install that darnmedia player and this time they forgot to install the camera. It took me two months to figure this out since I didn't need to use those two items right away. I have saved so much on the computer in the last two months and now, according to Dell, if I want the computer to work 100%, I will have to dump everything again. I am so angry with them.

DON'T BUY A DELL FOLKS!!!

Untitled

Where Have I Been?

I have not been blogging very regularly. This is in part due to the fact that I have been a bit under the weather. It is also partly due to the fact that this year's group of kids are exhausting me. I have no energy to be inspired to blog.
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Pick Me Ups For the Day:

1) One of my students wrote me a super long letter and gave it to me today telling me how much she likes school, me, etc. It was so sweet. It was accompanied by a very lovely picture.

2) On Tuesday one of my talkers drove me NUTS! I talked to her Jr. Hi brother about it after school. Today, she was perfect. Ii complimented her on her great behavior. This afternoon, her mom came in (for the first time) and asked how her day went. She heard about the bad behavior and apparently had a HUGE talk with her daughter. The mom told me that they have had a lot of chaos going on in their family but that it is no excuse for misbehaving. WOW! That was a great show of support. Yay mom!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Fifth Grade

Sabi is in fifth grade. I think she is in for an awesome year. Sometime last week we received a 3 page letter from her teacher to be talking about his classroom policies and expectations. I smiled and thought that Sabina was going to have fun but would be in for a year of hard work. Sabina read it and looked depressed. She told me "this year is going to be hard!"

School started on Monday. Sabi came home and told me how great her teacher is and how much she liked school . Super! Back to School Night was on Thursday. At BTS night we were given the same lecture about rules and expectations. In addition to this though, the teacher told us all that he would do to make sure the students are successful. I was impressed. We were also informed of all of the great things the kids were in for this year. Then came the request... The teacher asked to be invited to each student's home through the course of the year for dinner. He wants to get to know the kids outside of school. He said that he would promise to bring dessert. At the end of the year he will then host a dinner for the entire class at his home. How totally cool is that?

I am so excited for Sabi this year. I know that she is really going to suffer at times and will have to learn to "feel the burn" when learning this year but that is all good. I am sure that it will be a year to remember.

Yay for 5th grade!

Friday, August 22, 2008

10 years ago today

10 years ago around this time of night I went in to labor. At 6:00 am the following morning, I was blessed with my Sabi. She is such a joy and delight. I am happy to be her mommy.

Happy Birthday Baby Girl!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Back to Work

Yesterday was my first official day back at school. We started with a long staff meeting from 8:30 - 11:30. We have a new principal and vice principal. Both made a good impression on me yesterday so that is good news.

After the meeting I was busy running around like crazy trying to do some last minutes touches on my room. I invited the families of my students to come by for a Meet and Greet session. I ended up with five out of my 20 families. I think that was good for the first time. The kids were great! At first they were a little shy but then they warmed up and had a blast. Their favorite thing to do was read! They found the books in the library and went over to the rub and sat down and read to each other. I wish I had brought my camera with me so that I could have captured that.

I did have some interesting encounters with 2 parents yesterday. One told me, in front of her son, that her son is very hyper and that he doesn't listen and follow directions. She also told me to move him up to the front of the room because he can't see well. As the boy was wearing no glasses I suggested that she take him to an optometrist for an exam. She then told me that he has glasses and needs to use them but he won't listen to her and therefore doesn't use them! Hmm... I watched him with her in the room. She told him to do a few things and he just pretended like she wasn't even there. I finally couldn't take it anymore and I walked over to him and I said "_____ your mom is talking to you." He then tried to pretend like he didn't hear me and he started walking away. I got in front of him to stop him from going anywhere and again told him to follow his mom's directions. The look he gave me was priceless. I think he was dumbfounded that I was going to try and make him do what he was told. He was so shocked that he turned around and asked his mom what he needed to do. Mom was so surprised that she was at first speechless and then she told him what she wanted him to do. As their little boy left I reminded him to wear his glasses on Monday. We will see what happens.

The other interesting encounter was with a parent who wanted to tell me how devoutly religious his family is. That was ok but I started getting nervous when he told me that the problem with school today is that prayer isn't in school anymore. He also told me that when his son comes home from school feeling sad he just tells him to remember that he has G-d in his life and the rest of the kids dont' and that maybe he is there to put G-d in their hearts. Hmm... this went on for a while and I was thinking about how this might play out throughout the year. They then thanked me for having the room open and said that they had to go because they were going to see a movie. I asked which one and they said "The Dark Knight." Somehow this didn't seem to fit with the values he was telling me about and it really doesn't seem like a movie for 7 year olds but who am I to judge!

Monday, August 04, 2008

Back to School Time

It's that time of the year again...back to school time. School starts in two weeks but I have to start getting the room ready and get my lesson plans in order. This year is a bit different because we changed from year round to traditional schedule. I am not happy about it but what can I do. The silver lining in this schedule is that I have two extra weeks of vacation. I am going to try to enjoy them. Usually, when I am on vacation, I spend a lot of time in my classroom getting things ready or cleaning or prepping etc. This time, I was away from my room for 24 days straight! That is an all time record for me....WOW! I went in for a few hours last week to asses the damage and work a bit. Today I went back with Sabi and she helped me to get the desks ready and work in my library. I will have to go back again but I will wait a few more days. I am enjoying being away from school.

I am planning to do something new this year before school starts. I want to have a "Meet and Greet" hour on the day before school starts in my room. I will send out postcards to the families of kids who will be in my room. This will allow me the chance to get to know the families and will allow the students a chance to get to meet me and check out their new room. I asked the secretary for a sheet of address labels with the addresses of my new students so I could send out the postcards. My heart almost sank to my knees when I saw one of the names on the list. I have D.E.! D.E. is one of those kids that everyone in the whole entire school knows by the end of the first trimester of kindergarten, a kid who has quite a reputation at an early age. I am quite familiar with him as each time it was my week to do yard duty, I ended up escorting him to the principal's office. His first grade teacher sent a note to me saying that "he is ok as long as his parents remember to give him meds...if not...watch out." YIKES!!! I am going to have my work cut out for me this year.

I REALLY need to enjoy these last two weeks. This year may turn out to be a long one.

Back

We came back from our trip last week. I haven't felt much like blogging because I haven't been feeling well. I have been checking out everyone else's blogs but haven't been inspired to blog until today.

More on the trip later...

-K

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Bye

I will be leaving for Panama in 2 days. Depending on the internet service available, I may or may not blog...we'll see. Have a good July y'all. I will be back soon.

I will be back older too... the last 30's birthday this year...

Ciao!

Friday, July 04, 2008

You've Heard This Story Before...

Me and the gym...

I like the gym. I enjoy the benefits the come from working out at the gym. I am always happy after I am done working out at the gym.

I just hate the process of GOING to the gym. I think about it and just want to roll my eyes and complain. The strange thing is that now that I am on vacation it should be easier than ever to get to the gym. I have a lot of free time. I have been to the gym every day this week but not before 6pm. Why? Because it has taken me the whole day to make myself go! I was surprised to hear the gym would be open today. I was even more surprised to hear that it would be open for regular hours today. I then found out that it is open regular hours because there is a BIG party at the gym for the 4th which will end in watching the firework display put on almost next door at the Modesto Nuts baseball game. As soon as I heard that little piece of information I told myself that I wanted to make sure to get to the gym EARLY in order to avoid the mayhem at the gym and driving there due to the baseball game traffic. However, I am still piddling around the house doing little things trying to put off my trip to the gym.

When will the thought of going to the gym be enough to push me out of the door in a hurry? I need that change to happen soon!!!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

On Vacation

Finally! I am on vacation...YIPEE!

The last week of school was brutal. Aside from the fact the the kids and I were just plain tired, we had to deal with awful smoke in the air. Last week at this time there were over 8oo fires in the state. The smoke was blown into our central valley and just stayed put. It was awful to look at and even worse to breathe. We were on the air quality red alert all week until Friday when it turned into a purple alert which is even worse. YUCK! We had a nice bit of wind come through and push the smoke out but the forecast for this weekend calls for less wind, higher heat and more of that smoke pushing our way since we still have fires going around the state.

In an interesting side note to the fires, Gov. Schwarzennegger, has asked that we Californians not buy or use fireworks due to our current situation with the fires and smoke. I was quite pleased and surprised to hear this come from him. Many are bashing his idea though saying that it would hurt non-profit organizations who need the money brought in from the sale of fireworks. I guess that no one ever heard of making a donation!

In other news, Sabi and my mo are off to explore Baltimore, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania. How fun! I will be joining them soon to go to Panama. Until then...I rest and enjoy being on vacation!

Ciao!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Missed It By THAT Much...


We just saw Get Smart. It was ...

Woiuld you believe...terrible
Would you believe boring...
Would you believe silly...

Seriously though, it was ok but it is nothing like the original.

Check out some clips of the original show here, here and here!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Let It Be Over With Already!

Waking up this week has been awful. I can't believe that I am still in school. The kids and I are tired of being at school every day. I still have 7 more days to go. I don't know if I can hang in there....

HELP!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Little House


For the past 3 weeks I have had my students listen to two books on tape, Little House in the Big Woods and Little House on the Prairie. They are so into the books! We do a chapter or two a day and discuss the events. Sometimes the discussions range from a comparison to the life of the Wilder family to our lives today to discussions of the usage of a racist term in song lyrics sung by Pa. That discussion was deep but good. This week I have started to show the Little House on the Prairie movie. We watch about 20 minutes of it a day. The kids can't get enough of it and are sad when it is time to turn it off. We had a special surprise this week when the 5th graders had their Pioneer Day. My students thought it was so cool to see the 5th graders dressed like the characters in their books. During recess, they followed the Oregon Trail that was set up around campus. It was great fun!

I am always amazed at how interested my second graders are in this series. I guess that good literature always reels you in regardless of how old it is!

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Mixed Emotions

I am getting ready to wrap up the school year. We have three weeks left and I have started counting down the days because I am just so exhausted and ready for a break. Although I am ready for vacation, a part of me is a little sad to see this year end.

One of the reasons that I am sad to see the year end is because I have the world's most fantastic student teacher. She is just amazing. She is a natural at teaching and was such a quick study. I so honored to have had the opportunity to have worked with her. I am also extremely proud of her accomplishments. Not only did she successfully complete the year long student teaching program but she also went above and beyond the credential requirements and challenged herself by working towards and receiving special certification in direct instruction. The job market in our part of California is quite slim right now. Despite this fact, my student teacher went to several teaching fairs. Why they had them, I don't know because no one was hiring. She did however talk to one representative from a small, newer school district close by. This conversation was followed up by a call for an interview and then a job offer for fourth grade for the coming year. She got a job when no one else has! Yay! I am so sad to see her go but so happy for her.

The other reason that I am sad to see this year end is because I have one of, if not the best group of students that I have ever had. Academically, they are not necessarily the cream of the crop but in the areas of respectfulness, kindness, good naturedness, risk taking, hard working and just plain good heartedness, they are the best ever. They started out great and got even better. My student teacher and I were commenting on Friday at how well they behave and how independent they have become. In fact, on Friday, I marveled at their working habits. I had some group work planned for them and was ready to pop around to all of the groups and help out but they had it all under control without me. In fact, they handled the entire day that way. It was amazing. If one student didn't know how to spell a word, another one sitting close by helped him out. When another student needed help with a math problem, a peer would offer to help that student out in solving the problem. The most incredible thing about this though was in the way they helped each other. They were so kind, positive and approached it in an educational manner by helping their friends learn how to solve the problem by themselves. I heard a lot of "mini-me's" on Friday. "What part of the word so you know?" "Did you check to see what the operation is? Do you need to add or subtract?" "What do you always need at the beginning of a sentence" "Remember, synonyms are the same or almost the same thing." etc.

I was so floored and proud of their behavior. It was just the greatest gift a teacher can receive to see their students using what they know effectively and independently. At one point during the day on Friday I just sat back and watched my busy little bees and started feeling sad because I am going to miss all of those great little personalities next year. I stopped the class for a few minutes in the afternoon to tell them just how proud of them I was and one little boy sweetly said "Well, thank you!" Then they all got back to work. Wow!

I guess that my babies are ready to go on and fly. I know that they will just soar.

Another side of Hillary (for me, at least)

I have never really been a Hillary Clinton fan. I just watched her today endorsing Obama and I have to say, she gave quite an outstanding speech. Within the first few minutes I had goosebumps and was brought to a tear or two listening to her stories of supporters. I still don't know how I feel about an Obama/Hillary ticket but I do have a new view of Hillary.
*****
On a side note, I made Sabina watch the speech today with my mom. She was not happy at first because the cartoon channel sounded more interesting than a speech. She did listen to the speech and make comments along the way such as running for president is like playing chess. (someone loses, someone wins, you have to think about your moves and you could get knocked down along the way!) It was cool to have our three generations of women watching this historic moment inhistory.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Best Award of All


Sabi's 4th grad year is coming to an end. Tomorrow at 1:00 she will have officially ended 4th grade. She will be a 5th grader! Where did the time go?

These past few weeks have been full of much excitement for us. Sabina placed in the science fair and has earned some scholastic honors as well. The awards have been coming in for Ms. Sabi. She in turn has been bitten by the award bug and has made awards for her teacher and librarian to honor their work with her and her classmates.

Today though she made the best award of them all. She noticed that in this big flurry of awards being handed out to her and her friends, one of her friends at school, her best friend at school, has received nothing. She said that she was going to make him an award to let him know how special he is. This morning we had to leave a bit later so that she could finish and print his award. It said "This award is presented to Alexis for being the very best friend a person could have." It was such a great award complete with a fancy font a seal, watermark and a place for her to sign her name and date it.

I have been proud of her accomplishments this year but this award that she made for her friend made me the proudest. She is a bright girl but I am so, so happy that she also has a heart of gold.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Craziness

In the past few months, my school's neighborhood has experienced a rise in gang activity. There have been several shootings. On Sunday, there was another shooting. This one resulted in the death of a 25 year old man.
*****
Today, one of my students was very upset and was crying. When I questioned her she told me that she saw some men with guns shooting each other. Her details were foggy and she was very distraught. I had the office call her home for info and looked into getting some emergency counseling. When her mom was contacted, we found out that the incident that the girl was talking about was the same shooting incident from Sunday. The mom reported that the girl didn't actually see it happen but was down the street at a grocery store. They heard the gunfire and ran into the store. The girl heard the info regarding the shooting and it was heavy on her mind.

I have been sad today thinking about this little girl as well as all of the other kids who live in the school's neighborhood and other similar neighborhoods. From what I see at my school, kids are either living in fear of the gang members or idolizing them. This is a regular, everyday life happening for them. It is terrible.

FYI - my student is going to be ok. Her parents are great and very loving. As it turns out, talking to me and my student teacher was a good outlet for her. She also asked if she could write about it in her journal. After our talk, she forgot about it for the rest of the day.
*****
When I got home, I checked my blogroll and read all of the new posts. Two of today's blogs discussed senseless violence like this post I am typing up right now.

What is the world coming to?

Sunday, May 25, 2008

T.M.I.

I have been spending the afternoon and evening watching the Law and Order SVU marathon. I LOVE that show. In addition to watching the show, I have been watching (more like hearing) a lot of commercials. I am just amazed and appalled at the content of some of the commercials. I don't want to sound like a prude but companies are just giving too much information over the tv.

I don't like to watch SVU with Sabi in the same room because I don't think the content is appropriate for her. She came in during commercials twice. Hear are some of things she had the privilege of hearing:

From Viagra:
- Ask your Dr. if your heart s healthy enough for sex
- If you have an erection for more than for hours....
- "Viva Viagra" - sung by the Viagra guitar/banjo players

From K-Y :
- One's for me and one's for him. When they mix together...


YIKES! I was just hoping that she wouldn't ask me what any of those things meant. What is the answer? I don't know. I don't believe in banning the ads. Maybe they could come on after 9 pm?

Yes, I am getting old!

Next Year's Group

I am a member of a second grade teacher message board. Most of the time, the messages end up being deleted but every now and then I get some really good stuff so I stay on the message board.

Friday, a post was written that has had sparked a lot of responses. The question was something to the effect of "Are you hearing horror stories about next year's kids?" Every single response to the post stated that they heard that they were in for it this coming year.

Generally speaking, I hate to even discuss this information with the first grade teachers. I don't want to bias myself against the kids. The way I see it, we all deserve a fresh start, right?

This coming year may be a bad one though. Ever since the beginning of this year, the first grade teachers have been talking about how low and poorly behaved this current group is. From what I see on the playground, I have been hoping (praying) that I don't get some of these little out of control kids.

In the end though, I will get the group I get and have to work through it. It will work out. The worse that can happen is that it might get rough but it will be over in nine months.

*****
Back to the message boards...
One of the teachers responding to this question on the message board said that a teacher at her school said that the reason this group is challenging is because they are the 9/11 babies. What is that about? What will they think of next???

Friday, May 23, 2008

A Blog I Enjoy

Julius Lester's Blog

Check it out.

3 Day Weekend

I LOVE it! 3 days! YAY! I will most likely go to the Farmer's Market, the library and possibly BBQ for the family on Monday. Whatever I do end up doing though will not be on a schedule. I just want to take it easy and relax.

What are your plans?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Bad Wind, Bad Fire


Bad Fire
Originally uploaded by msabcmom
Today I drove to Sabi's Field trip to Columbia State Historic Park. The winds have been high these past few days. (up to 45 mph) Fires have been popping up around the state but today, we had two in our area. One occurred on our way home from Columbia on highway 108 near Knights Ferry. We were so close to the fire but still far enough away to be safe. We were re-routed through Knights Ferry to find our way home.

Had we been at school today, we would have encountered the other big fire in our area. Our schools were on red air quality alert today. The kids had to stay inside all day with the exception of going to lunch and to the bathroom. My student teacher reported that the kids were horrible today due to being cooped up. Not surprising at all.

Dichos/Sayings

I am thinking about making mini posters with positive messages on them to post around my classroom next year. This will be one of them:

"No hay que llegar primero, pero hay que saber llegar." (You don't have to be first, but you have to know how to get there.) This comes from the song El Rey by José Alfredo Jiménez.

Do you have any great sayings, (short ones) for me to put up on my walls? If so, write it down for me in the comment section please. If you can, let me know where it came from too. (if you know...)

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Going to the Fair


Remember little Raven Symoné from The Cosby Show? My daughter loves watching her in reruns of that show.

She also loves to watch her in her all grown up show That's so Raven.

We just found our that Raven will be coming to sing at the Stanislaus County Fair in July...FOR FREE!!! Guess we will be
there!

:-)

Friday, May 16, 2008

A Record I Wish We Hadn't Broken

Today we hit 106 degrees. It was awful. I only let my students out to go to the bathroom and to go to lunch.

When I drove home, It took 10 minutes for the car to actually bring cool air in!

It is only May...we are in for a hot one.

More here.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Test Anxiety

We are on day 2 of state testing and so far have had three "throw up" incidents. The kids are so stressed out that they are responding physically.

Have you ever wondered about what happens to a test that has been vomited on? You can't throw it away! The test has to be bagged up and returned to the state! Before that though, our lucky test coordinator (vp) has to transfer the bubbled in items to a new test document. I am so glad that I do not have that job!

Crazy!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Relief!

I have been suffering from seasonal allergies since early March. Some days have been ok and some have been bad. This week has been just rotten. I have been dizzy, have had non stop headaches and pain behind my eyes. I take Singulair and Claritin but I haven't seen too much of a change. Yesterday when it felt as if my eyes might pop out of my head I called the Dr. for something new. I was told to try two over the counter meds. One was eye drops called Naphcon. The other was Mucinex. What a change! I can think, I have little head pain and I can sit around and enjoy my students at school and my daughter at home...imagine that! I went a little nuts when I saw the price on the Mucinex box but it is worth every single penny. I almost feel normal...wow!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Addicted to CNN Politics



Every caucus or primary vote day I am glued to CNN either online or on tv. I can't get enough of the coverage. Today is an especially exciting day of news coverage with the close race in Indiana.

Am I the only one who suffers from this addiction? Enquiring minds want to know...

Teacher Appreciation Day

Today is National Teacher Appreciation Day. I didn't get an official present or card but I did get lots of great effort from my students and lots of smiles, hugs and even a "Ms. V. you are beautiful!" That is enough for me!

I actually forgot that today was Teacher Appreciation Day. Sabina wanted to do something for her teacher and I told her it was tomorrow. She came home upset because we messed up on the day. I told her to go ahead and just give her present to her teacher tomorrow. What is the present? A cute little bag of teacher note cards from the $1 store and Sabina's favorite truffles from See's Candies. The best part, in my opinion, is the card that she wrote. Here is the message:
Happy Teacher's Day!!!
I am glad to have you as my teacher this year. I will miss you next year when I am in fifth grade.

I really think that you are the best teacher I've had in my entire life (and I don't say that about everybody!)
Thanks,
Sabina

Happy Teacher's Day to all of my fellow teachers!!!

Monday, May 05, 2008

Meme 2008

Tag!

Chuchería, posted this meme recently. Here is my installment.

The rules:

1. The rules of the game get posted at the beginning.
2. Each player answers the questions about themselves.
3. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5-6 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they've been tagged and asking them to read your blog.
4. Let the person who tagged you know when you've posted your answer.

Here we go...

1) What was I doing 10 years ago? I was pretty pregnant and hoping for an early delivery. I didn't get the early delivery date but I did get a beautiful baby out of it!

2) What are 5 things on my to-do list for today (not in any particular order): I am posting tomorrow's list since it is already past nine...YIKES!

1. Finish Progress Reports.
2. Work on a materials order for next year.
3. Cut up fruit and veggies so they are easy to grab for snacks.
4. Praise all of my students for acing the multiplication test I gave today - over half scored 100%!
5. Play Howrse. (I will have to post about that addiction later...)

3) Snacks I enjoy: Dried cranberries from Trader Joe's, Quaker Rice cakes - cheddar cheese, jicama, Swedish Fish - I LOVE THOSE FISH!

4) Things I would do if I were a billionaire:
Hmm... pay everything off for everyone in the family, give lots to charity and buy homes in:

El Valle de Antón
The other view


and in Playa Blanca in Panama.
Sunrise on the beach

That way I would be able to enjoy my two favorite places in Panama. That would be the life!

I would like to say that I would keep my job and help others, blah, blah, blah....but that is not really the case. If I could I would love to have the time to spend with the ones I love the most and not have to sacrifice time with them for a job. I would of course, want to to good things for others but I would love not to be tied down to a schedule for a long period of time.

5) Three of my bad habits:

1. overeating
2. piling up clean clothing - I would much rather clean toilets than fold.
3. procrastinating on the gym workouts


6) 5 places I have lived:

1. Santiago, Chile
2. Buenos Aires, Argentina
3. Bakersfield, California
4. Pocrí de Aguadulce, Panamá
5. Turlock, California

7) 5 jobs I have had:

1. Vet lab assistant - I was 14 and helped the neighbors in their lab. It was cool. They paid me in cat food for my kitten!
2. Sales person and manager- Miller's Outpost
3. Gym Associate: Checked People in to the gym, sold memberships and from time to time would set them up on a weight training program...WHAT A JOKE that job was...HA!
4. Graveyard shift at a group home - group counselor when I was there in the day
5. S.E.D. Teacher (severely emotionally disturbed)

8) 6 peeps I wanna know more about:

1) YOU
2) YOU
3) YOU
4) YOU
5) YOU
and...
6) YOU!!!!

The River Game


I found this game over at Latinopundit's blog. It has been driving me nuts!!!

If you try it...good luck! The rules are posted over on his blog.

It took me 3 days to figure it out!!!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Hooray For the Internet!

For the past 5 years or so I have been trying to find a long lost friend of mine that I met when I lived in Chile. We went to school together when I was in 6th and 7th grade. We stayed in contact for sometime after I left by writing to each other. I don't know when we stopped writing to each other and fell out of contact.

About 5 years ago I looked on our former school's website and found an update on her and an e-mail address. Sadly, the e-mail bounced back. A couple years later, I tried again but with the same luck. Yesterday, I went back to the site and found an updated e-mail address. Guess what? This time it worked! I got a response from her yesterday. How cool is that???

I am happy to be back in contact with my long lost friend!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Travel Booked

Viva Panamá
Tonight we booked our summer travel. Mom and dad are off to Spain. Later on, Sabi and Mom are off to Baltimore. After that, Sabi, Mom and I are off to Panama.
Fun!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

El Potrillo Cumple 37

In honor of Alejandro Fernandez's birthday today I am posting two videos. The first one was filmed today,in Venezuela, at an A.F. concert. A.F. was surprised in the middle of the concert by being sung to by the audience as well as being sung to by his children on video. I was suprised to see him wearing pants that were so tight! :-)




The second video is one of my favorites that he sings with Gloria Estefan.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Please Parents...Talk With Your Kids!

Last week my aunt gave me a book on puberty in young girls to read with Sabi. I hadn't taken the time to sit down with her yet and read through it. This morning, Sabi discovered the book and asked me about it. I told her that she could go ahead and read it if she wanted to. She grabbed it up and was reading in intently on the way to school. We had a short discussion on what she read this morning. She was kind of embarrassed about the book was clearly happy to have the book to answer some questions. I think it made it easier to ask me questions too since she could use a quote from the book to talk about. We will continue to work through the book.

I am so happy to be able to comfortably discuss the topic of puberty with Sabi. I was worried that she would be to shy to talk about it but she is really quite comfortable with me. I hope that we can always be so open with this and other topics.

* * * * *

On my way to lunch today, I told my student teacher the above story and she too agreed with me about how nice it is to have open communication. She then went on to say that if parents don't have these conversations, there will be many confused kids not to mention the risks of teenage pregnancy etc.

Not less than 5 minutes later we ran into a former student of mine. She is now about 14 or 15 years old. I didn't have to ask her why she wasn't in school. It was painfully clear...6 and 1/2 months clear. She is pregnant and has dropped out of school and will most likely not return.

Crazy!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Reader Appreciation Day


Happy Reader Appreciation Day!
Dear Readers of MsAbcMom,
Thank you for the following:
* Making me smile
* Making me laugh
* Making me sigh
* Making me cry (sometimes)
* Including me in your lives (via blog posts)
* Uplifting my spirits
* Making me feel loved and important
* Providing me with new friends/acquaintances
* Inspiring me to write
Thank you for visiting...please come again! :-)
p.s. Thanks to The Other Mother for this cool idea!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Great Challah Recipe

A perfect challah
I found a great recipe for challah online. I followed the recipe for the ingredients but changed a bit in the process. Check it out.

Here is how I made it:

Ingredients:
2 cups warm water
2 packages dry active yeast
6-7 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1/4 cup oil
1 eggs (1 for the mixture and one to brush on at the end)

Directions:

Dissolve yeast in water. Temp should be between 75-120 degrees. Stir in sugar and salt. Add 3 cups flour and mix well in a mixer. Add remaining flour. Dough may be a little sticky. Mix until it forms a ball on the dough blade of the mixer. Move dough to a greased large bowl. Cover and place in a warm place. (I put mine on the dryer!) When dough rises long enough (twice the size) punch it down to let the air out. Knead for a few minutes and then cut in pieces, roll it out and then braid. Place on baking sheets that have been lined with parchment paper. Lightly brush a beaten egg over the top of the challah. Bake at 375 degrees until golden brown. Enjoy!
round challah

Friday, April 11, 2008

Really?

None of these people look like me!

Learning While Listening


My daughter is in the Suzuki violin program. The program is very structured and somewhat rigid. There are a series of books in the program that are leveled to the ability of the student. All students start at the first book and then move up as they demonstrate mastery of all the songs in the book they are working on.

In addition to regular practice it is recommended that the students listen to the music from the books on a regular basis. This technique helps them to be familiar with the music, rhythms, etc. Sabi is currently finishing book 3 and moving into book 4.

Today, we are home sick. I am having Sabi work on test prep. I thought it would be good to play the CD for Book 4 while she was busy working away. It was a bit of a distraction to her at first. I didn't tell her that I was putting the CD on. She immediately recognized it and asked if it was the Book 4 CD. As the music continued, she reacted very interestingly. At first she was a bit worried because she said it sounded hard. I didn't say anything and just pretended to work away at my computer while I watched her. She then started tapping the music out and I could tell that she was trying to figure out the technique for the song that was playing. When the next track on the CD came on she was excited because it was a song that she really liked. We are on
the sixth track of the CD now. She has returned to her test prep but is much more focused on her work . Every now and then though she will conduct with her pencil in between solving another math problem. I love it!

Frustration

We have a handful of kids at my school that have been identified as GATE. (gifted and talented) Most of our GATE identified kids don't go to the GATE schools in our district though. Why? The parents don't send their kids to the program. The district I work in doesn't, in my opinion, do enough to promote the program to the Latino parents in Spanish. They also don't promote it at our site. Many of our parents don't speak English, or speak it well enough to understand it in an academic setting. They also are not very mobile so having something out of walking distance won't fly.

This year my daughter is in the GATE class at the school next to mine, the school where our GATE identified kids should go. There are at least 4 other kids at my school, in her grade, who should be there with her but they aren't. Two of them are former students of mine. I contacted these parents personally to ask them to send their children to the GATE program. I tried to explain the benefits of the program to them but they were worried that there would be no teachers at the other school who could speak to them, the parents, in Spanish and that it wouldn’t be in walking distance. (The kids would get bused but the parents, understandably, like to be in close proximity to their kids in case of emergency, etc.)

My concern here is that we have this handful of really bright kids who are mixed in with the rest and are not being pushed to the fullest extent of their capabilities. With our current test driven state in education, most teachers are trying their best to make sure that the kids are ready for the test. This means really focusing on the kids who are below grade level. We were in fact told by a workshop presenter, who was there to help us get our scores up, to “not worry about GATE kids. They already have what they need!”

Now I am not saying that classroom teachers don’t have a responsibility to their GATE students because we do. We need to work just as hard for them as we do for our lowest students. However, whatever we do for them in our regular classrooms, doesn’t even compare to what they can get from a class comprised of like minded individuals.

Every day that my daughter has been in her new GATE class this year has been just amazing. I just melt inside when I hear the things they are learning, the way they are learning or just the casual conversations that she is having with her friends. What a difference and change. What an opportunity!

When I walk around my school and see the GATE identified kids at my school, I feel so sad. I wish that they too could have the same opportunities that my daughter has.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Just a few questions...


Why did I let me sick daughter sleep with me a few nights ago?

Why are ALL of my students at school with drippy noses?

Why, despite the MILLIONS of boxes of Kleenex that I buy, and my students go through, did that not stop the germs?

Why did the constant use of Germ-X on both my students and myself not work?

Why did I not start using this a few days ago?

I hate being sick. Hate, hate, hate it.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

It's Never Too Late To Learn

Did you catch the story in the news today about the 70 year old first grader. That story made my day. I am sharing this story and the video clip with my students tomorrow.

Here is the video and here is the story.

Paid in Full

I am still riding the Yo! MTV Raps nostalgia train. I just found the Paid in Full video by Erik B. and Rakim. Where else can you find such well crafted and eloquent rhymes such as:
"Me and Erik B. and a nice big plate of fish
which is my favorite dish
but without the money it's still a wish"

:-)

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

A Blast From the Past




Remember the show Yo! Mtv Raps? Guess what? April is dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the show. I used to LOVE that show. Ed Lover and Dr. Dre were cool hosts. Let's not forget Fab 5 Freddy either. Here is a picture of me with Fab 5 Freddy and Malcolm Jamal Warner!

I am looking forward to all of the foolishness and fabulousness that will be coming this way via MTV this month.

Let me leave you with an "oldie" but "goodie" by one m=of my favorites...Heavy D! (I was lucky enough to catch him performing btw in Indianapolis with Janet Jackson!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Vacation Ending and other stuff


Odalys is 10!
Originally uploaded by msabcmom

This is it. One more day and my vacation is over. I mean OVER! My school is going back to a traditional schedule next school year so no more July, November and March vacations. I am so bummed.

In other news...

Today we had a blast. We started out at The Mudroom and painted pottery for about 2 hours. From there we went on to a fantastic 50's themed party for one of Sabina's friends. The birthday girl's grandmother made poodle skirts for all of the girls. They were cute! At the party the kids sang 50's songs on the karaoke machine, had a doughnut eating contest, played pin the record on the jukebox, played a hot potato game with a record instead of a potato, hit a jukebox piñata and ate pizza and banana splits. WOW!

When we came home we rounded out the day by watching the Nancy Drew movie.

Tomorrow I guess I will have to go over lesson plans and get back into the mindset of being back at school. I wrote the plans several weeks ago but I need to wrap my head around them again. I am in for a long haul....we work all the way through June!

I guess that this vacation was a good one. I was quite busy throughout the month and I only really whooped it up this last week. That was enough though. We really did have a good month. It is sad to see it come to an end. On the plus side...I lost 13.4 pounds this month. Whoopee!!!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Gym Procrastination


Ever have those days where you just don't want to go to the gym but you have no real good excuse? That is how I am feeling today. I have no desire to jump in the car, drive and work out. I have been doing every possible thing that I can to occupy my time to make excuses for not going. (like posting a blog!) I know that eventually, I will have to get there but I am not sure when that time will come. Maybe after the 4:00 Monk re-run that I have probably seen about a million times!!!

Monday, March 24, 2008

The $2,350 Trophy

The $2,350 trophy!

A little more than 3 years ago I enrolled Sabi in a gymnastics class at a kid gym nearby. I really liked the gym and the classes. The classes were very well structured as far as athletics are concerned and it was a safe and non competitive environment unlike another local establishment. It was a bit on the pricey side at $57 a month but she was having fun and getting a lot out of the class.

About a year and a half into it Sabina asked if she could take a dance or karate class offered at the same place. After some inquiry I found that it would cost me another $50 and I told her that she had to choose. 6 months later she told me that she wanted to try dance out instead of gymnastics. I was glad to make the change. Gymnastics looked like a lot of fun but it was frustrating to Sabina because the bar work in gymnastics didn't come very easy to her. The rest of the girls in her class were so petite and tiny and were able to to fly over those bars with great ease. That just didn't work for Sabi. She couldn't figure it out and she came home crying several times.

Dance has been awesome. The teacher is so energetic and supportive of the kids. Even better, Sabina loves to dance and is good at it. She has a lot of confidence with it and gets an even harder workout from it than gymnastics!

Sounds great, right? Here is the clincher...

In December, the teacher told the parents that a recital would be coming up soon and that we parents might want to privately start looking for sponsors for our own kids' costumes to wear to the recital. I just laughed this off and thought it must be a joke. WRONG!

In February, the "costumes" for each dance class were posted with prices and the kids had to be measured. Sabina's class will be performing 2 dances and guess what? Each dance has a different costume!!! The total for both outfits is $133. Whoa! I thought it over for about a week and went back and forth on whether or not I would go ahead with the recital. $133 for 2 outfits? That is just ridiculous. I finally agreed to do it since Sabina really wanted to do it and she had never done one before. I am not completely happy with that decision but the my tax refund came around the same time and I just went for it.

Today, at class, we parents had another surprise. A sign was posted letting us know that we need to purchase tickets to have the privilege of watching the damn recital. (yes, I am angry by now!) The tickets are a whopping $8 for kids and $15 per adult. This is just outrageous. I, of course, have no choice but to buy the ticket but I am not going to have any other family members come. What a racket!

At the end of class today Sabina's teacher made an announcement to the entire class and group of parents. She had a trophy in her hand and said "May I have your attention. We have a student here who has been with us for 3 years. We here at ********** like to acknowledge this achievement with a trophy!"

The dad next to me started laughing and said "that is one expensive trophy!" No joke....that crazy trophy cost me $2,350!

Never Too Old

Every day is a "Challah" Day!  (get it...holiday!)  :-)
Yesterday we spent the day in Oakland. We started out at The Grand Bakery. It is the closest kosher bakery to our house. Now we didn't really need any baked goods but we stopped to splurge on some goodies. They bake some wonderful challah there. I LOVE it. We also picked up some borekas and cherry filled hamantashen. YUM!
Glenda the Good Witch
From there we went on to Fairyland in Lakeside Park. We haven't been there since Sabi was 4. My mom and I were both a bit worried that Sabi would be too old for this play park but we were wrong. She LOVED it!!! Sabi was like a kid in a candy store. It was very fun to watch her enjoying all of the fairy tale stops. I guess that you are never too old to have fun, right?
The Cowardly Lion


The day was beautiful. When we were done at fairyland we hung out for a bit in Lakeside Park and then ended our trip at Oakland Kosher Foods in search of Passover food.

Lakeside Park, Oakland

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Bajo La Misma Luna

This movie is great. I couldn't believe that on the 2nd day that it was out, less than 20 people were in the theater. What a shame. Go see it and then tell me what you think.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Former Student Encounter


Today I went to Jamba Juice and after taking my order the cashier asked "aren't you Ms. V?" I told him that I was and he said that he wasn't in my class but he remembers me from "WAY" back when he was 7 or 8. (He put a lot of emphasis on the WAY back part!) He was very excited to see me and asked me how the school is doing now that he has been gone for so long.

So he made me feel a little bit old hearing the "WAY" back comment and also thinking that when this now 18 year old knew me, I was 10 years younger!

On the plus side, this young man seemed very well adjusted, and he is a contributing member of our society who is gainfully employed. (He also makes a very good Orange Berry Blitz!) It was kind of cool to be recognized and remembered fondly.
Cool indeed!


Obama's Speech Today

Wow! What a speech. Obama brought up so many important issues in his speech and handled them wonderfully. If I weren't already pulling for him this speech would have done it for me.

Peace Vigil


We are attending a peace vigil tomorrow in our hometown. If you are interested in joining one in your neck of the woods, click here.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Summer Trip

I am planning my summer Panama trip right now. I want to hit the usual spots, El Valle de Antón, El Decamerón and of course, my dad's place, Keruasa. This time though I would like to see some other places that I haven't been to at all or in a long time. I am thinking of possibly going to Coiba, Darien and Gamboa. What would REALLY be awesome is to go to one of the Smithsonian Institute's research-education centers such as Barro Colorado, Galeta, or Culebra.

Question:
Have you been to any of these places? What do you recommend?

Saturday, March 15, 2008

THe Week in Review

Here is what I am up to when I am "off track." (on vacation)

Monday:
Visited a prospective school for a student of mine. As per his I.E.P., he will move to an SH classroom. I went with his mom to see what the school and class were like. I also acted as a translator for her. It was a sad day for me because I am really going to miss this boy. He was a hard case to start with but he has come so far and he melts my heart each and every day.
On Monday night we went to shiva for a friend's mom. That was very hard.

Tuesday:
Drove Sabina to school (20 miles from home) and then turned around to go to Stockton for a coach meeting. (40 miles from Sabi's school) Once that was over I turned around to go back and get Sabi and then go back home. I drove too much that day and was exhausted.

Wednesday:
Worked with my grade level team on a collaboration day. We put in 7 hours of work focusing on all of the subject matters that we teach and planning for the last trimester. I am a bit stressed since there is so much to still cover and we have to test in May.

Thursday:
Another collaboration day with the grade level. This day was centered on what we do for our English Learners. It was a long day of reviewing writing samples and trying to figure out how to tweak our current program to make the best impact for our students.

Friday:
No plans were on the calendar - YAY! I decided to stay in town where Sabi goes to school and work in my classroom since gas is just too expensive for me to run around while Sabi is in school. I cleaned for a couple of hours and got some reading in too. Sabi had a minimum day so I didn't stay in town too long.

I waited in my car as Sabi's bus dropped her off at my school. She saw me waiting in my car and she got so excited to see me and started waving like crazy at me. Can you believe that I got goosebumps from that. It was so sweet and it just tickled me to see her do that. She is still my baby! She spent the ride home telling me about their Pi day celebration and about a glutonous pizza party that her class won. She was going a mile a minute and I loved every second of it!

When we got home, we stopped by the mailbox and Sabi's report card came in the mail. Sabi asked if she could see it first. Within about 10 seconds the screaming began. She had a fabulous report card. We celebrated with one of her favorite dishes, salmon. We also all ate together at the dinner table. That was a nice change considering that due to our busy schedules we don't all make it to dinner at the same time. We rounded out the night by watching Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

Saturday: (Today)
Went in to WW and I only lost .8 lbs. That makes my running total 11.6. I guess that is ok. WE are going to keep busy with laundry and housekeeping today.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

We're Back!


DSC00042
Originally uploaded by kjerringa1
We had a great time but are glad to be back.

I am so glad that I am off track and can just relax. Woo-hoo!

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Go See This Movie

I haven't seen much of Monterey yet as I was in my math workshop for the majority of the day. This evening we went out to Monterey for dinner at Turtle Bay and then on to the mall to see College Road Trip. Go see this movie. It is really fun! It is funny and engaging for all ages. Sabi, my mom and I saw it together and we all enjoyed it. (We may even go see it again!)

Friday, March 07, 2008

And We're Off!!!

We are spending the weekend in Monterey. I have a math workshop to attend tomorrow until 2 but the rest of the time will be for play...Yay!

Have a good weekend everyone!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

You Know You Are Getting Old When...

This week I am teaching Intersession. Intersession is basically a summer school type of program that runs while our school is off track this month. During Intersession we don't have aides around to help out with cafeteria and recess duty so I am with the kids every single minute of the day. It really is quite fun.

At recess today, I was watching the kids play. The girls were busy in a game of jump rope having a grand time. I listened carefully to their song. Here are the lyrics:

"Ice cream soda, cherry on the top. Who's your boyfriend I forgot?"

Then they start to recite the alphabet. Whatever letter the student stops at is the first letter of her boyfriend's name.


I had to stop that nonsense right away. I told them that they were in second grade and were too young for boyfriends. I also said something like "who needs a silly boyfriend anyway? Why don't you say something like: 'Ice cream soda, cherry on top. What's your favorite fruit, I forgot?" The girls looked at me for a second and rolled their eyes as they smiled at me. Nonetheless, the girls spent the rest of the afternoon trying to figure out names for fruit starting out with different letters of the alphabet!

Yeah, yeah, I am an old fogey...I know this and am ok with it!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Tear Jerker Movies

I just watched The Joy Luck Club for the millionth time. Every time that I watch it I end up in serious tears at the end when June meets her sisters in China. The same hold true for The Color Purple. I start crying when Shug walks into her father's church singing through the end when Celie's kids and sister come home. I am a serious mess when I see those flicks.

What movies make you cry?

Saturday, March 01, 2008

WOW!

Last weekend I re-joined Weight Watchers.The first two days were kind of tough because I am a food addict. I never ever felt hungry but I was craving for a food fix. I am so used to just nibbling away all day long so I had to retrain myself a bit.

To help myself out throughout the week, I bought some frozen meals that are similar to the Weight Watchers meals. I also bought some fruit, and lots of good veggies to use in salads. My meals were tasty and filling. I was careful about the food I took in but I did have some fun foods such as chocolate, cheese and bread! I never felt hungry or deprived this week.

Today was weigh in day and I lost 10.8 pounds. WHOA! I couldn't believe it. Let's see if I can keep it up!

Obama '08