Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Today's Forecast...YUCK

I have a field trip today to watch a play at the local college and then take the kids on a campus tour. Sounds good in theory but let's remember that it is with 100 kids! To add to the extreme fun, it is raining now and should be raining all day.

Let's do the math:

Lots of kids + field trip = craziness.

Lots of kids + field trip+ rain= chaos!

Can it get any better?


Monday, January 21, 2008

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Art
Originally uploaded by msabcmom
For the last two weeks I have been weaving MLK Jr. into the curriculum. This year, I was amazed at how much my students knew about him. We had some great discussions, wrote some good paragraphs and made great art.

May we all keep working hard to make Dr. King's dream a reality.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Fabulous Foolishness!

Miriam got me hooked on this show. Who else loves this show? I can't get enough of it. Niecy rocks...HMM!

Saturday, January 12, 2008


This year I didn't make the "lose weight" resolution. I want to lose weight but I think I need to have a different focus. Moving more is my resolution. My brother is on an exercise kick and he encouraged us to exercise along with him.

We each set a goal of a certain amount of miles per week. (elliptical, running, walking, biking, etc) We can track our progress on a cool excel program that my brother sent us. I chose to go with a minimum of 5 miles per week. I hope to go over that but I didn't want to set it so high that I would break the resolution and just stop completely.

So far I am on week 2 and I made it both weeks. Yay!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Student Success and Challenge

Let's start with the success first.

Student 1:
V is an average student. He has been working at grade level up to recently. He made a sudden drop in math when we started double digit subtraction with regrouping. He went from scores in the high 80's to scores in the 20's and 30's. He was just lost. I worked with him and he got it one on one but then could not perform on his own. On Tuesday morning I was mentally planning the phone call I was going to make to his family to ask for their help with him. That afternoon he surprised the heck out of me. We started an even more complicated task that day mixed addition and subtraction with and without regrouping. I started the class off and then made a beeline to his desk to get him going. By the time I had made it to his desk he had already completed 5 problems and they were all correct! I looked around him to see if he might have copied the answers but the kids next to him hadn't even done as many problems as he had. He then went on to finish the page and the rest were also correct. I asked him what had changed...how he had finally understood the concept. He told me that his mom kept looking at his math pages and said that they needed to do something so she went out, got a math book and worked with him at home. I told him to give his mom a big hug and kiss and thank her for helping him and he looked at me with the most serious face and nodded while telling me "I will Ms V.!" I wish all parents were as dedicated as V's.

Student 2:
Y is one of my older students. She is actually Sabi's age, fourth grade age, but she was put in school late and then retained. Y is interesting. She appears to be at least average but she really isn't. Verbally she is high. She is also very mature with regards to responsibility. Y is the second oldest in her family but she is the only girl. As the only girl she has assumed responsibility for caring for her first grade sibling as well as her 3 year old sibling at home. I have yet to meet the mom, despite numerous calls made by me to request a conference. (They live across the street from school)
Academically Y is on track in math but in language arts...ouch! Y can barely read first grade text. What she can read is not fluent not usually accurate. This week when Y was reading with me I just couldn't take it anymore and told Y that we have to do something about her reading difficulties and do it fast. I told her that I understood that she doesn't have anyone who will help her at home and that she has many responsibilities that await her once she is home. I told her that I wanted her to either come in before school or stay after school and work with me or my student teacher one on one so she can make that jump and catch up. Y nodded at me and said that she would do it but she was worried about her little brother, she is responsible for him after school. i told her to bring him over too. If it will allow her the time to learn, so be it. I also thought that I should just work with the little brother because he will be a second grader next year so I might as well get a jump start on working with him now!

Y has been on my mind all week. Why? I am so saddened about where she is academically. She is really quite a remarkable kid. I look forward to seeing her everyday. She is funny, sweet, responsible and she gets my jokes! I am also saddened about the fact that there is no adult at home who is willing to work with her or even cares about where she is academically. I can't understand why her mom hasn't come in to see me. Mom doesn't work and is available. There are always many cars in the driveway. When I have made calls home I have been given many excuses as to why mom couldn't come. The last time I called home a man answered and I was told that I had the wrong number and that I needed to stop calling. (I did hear mom in the background)

I am hopeful about my study sessions with Y. I know that she will be successful. I also know that she will be very grateful for the help and thank me for it. I am worried about her future though. Who will care for her and help her in the years to come?


I checked Poplicks' blog this morning and was surprised with the video of my brother jumping off the Macao tower as today's post! I didn't know that my brother posted the video! I'm posting it here too. It is wild. I can't believe he did it! Crazy!

Monday, January 07, 2008

Back to School

Today Sabi and I went back to school. Yesterday, we didn't want to even think about going back to school. Today was another story.

I woke up happy thinking about my students. I was eager to see their bright little faces. The day was fabulous. I had to be a little bit on the strict side with two students to remind them of our rules but it was really a super day. My student teacher took over more planning and she was fabulous too. She is a natural born teacher.

Sabina: We arrived at my school and as soon as we pulled up Sabina got very wide eyed and excited and asked if she could go straight to her bus stop and not wait for a while in my room. I asked why and she said "I just can't wait to hear my friends' voices! I want to hear them as soon as possible!" How cute! When she returned from school she was so excited telling me all about her friends and how they caught up.

Today was a good day!

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Vacation is Over!

I can't believe that today is my last day of vacation. Where did the time go? Here is a list of how I spent my vacation:

1) Hosted my aunt and uncle for a few days: It is always fun to have them visit. We get to hear them play some good music, have nice talks and play board games! On this trip, they brought their digital recorder and recorded a live performance of themselves playing with Sabina!

2) Spent time with my dad: Dad came to visit us from Panama. Even though he knows what out weather is like here, it was still a shock coming from the tropics! We had some good times and good food!

3) Spent the entire vacation being sick! I started with a sore throat and no voice, got somewhat better and then got another throat bug...yuck!

4) Baked and cooked: My favorites include the stained glass cookies, Ruben's empanadas and making homemade cranberry sauce.

5) Read: I was able to get in some good reading time over the break. I just finished this good book. Check it out if you like murder mysteries! Sabina has been enjoying this book. (I must admit, I like her book too!)

6) Went back to the gym! Aaron got us on a new idea. We have set a monthly goal for miles to walk, run, bike, etc. He sent us a program to track our miles and we will make our way around the U.S. Cool!
I really like this whole vacation thing. I do not want to go back to work but I guess it will take me one step closer to my next vacation!

Political Compass Test

I saw this test over on POPLICKS last week and then had it mailed to me today. Here is how I rated. Take the quiz...it is fun!

Your political compass

Economic Left/Right: -6.50
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.15

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Help for the Homeless: Ideas Wanted

As I walked into service last night passed through the foyer. One wall of our foyer is a huge window. Outside the window there was a LOT of stuff. When I looked closer I could see that the "stuff" was a makeshift shelter for 4 people. There were 4 people sleeping in sleeping bags and blankets under the eaves and all of their belongings were gathered in several shopping carts, wagons and strollers.

I remembered seeing some homeless people in the same spot several months ago on a Sunday morning. From talking to others, I found that they come to this spot regularly but usually leave before we come around on Sunday morning for Sunday School. I had never seen them in this spot on a Friday night before though. What brought them to this spot was most likely the horrible winter storm that went through here yesterday. We had non stop hard rain all day long with winds around 20mph. They were trying to find the dryest place possible.

The rabbi's sermon last night was off the cuff. He talked about our brothers and sisters who were taking up residence just a few feet away from us outside and asked what we could do as a congregation to help them.

After every service we have oneg, refreshments. One of the kids brought up the fact that we have plenty of food and could share it with the people outside. The Rabbi another congregant and myself made up a large plate of food, wrapped it up with some napkins and forks and brought some bottled drinks to the people outside. The Rabbi had to speak loudly to wake the people up. He told them that he was sorry to interrupt their sleep but that we were celebrating inside and wanted to share with them. We weren't sure if they would accept our food because earlier that evening someone had asked them if he could give them something but they kindly refused. Well... they accepted the food. They were kind of groggy because they had been awakened from their sleep. They didn't say much more and we went back inside. In the meantime, I was checking out their setup. I was thinking about how lucky I am to have so many comforts in life. When you don't see first hand the hardships that others have to go through, you really don't even know what it is like. When someone talks about the homeless, you tend to think of it as a concept, not as an actuality. I am not trying to say that I truly understand what it is to be homeless. I know that I only peered into the world of the homeless last night.

I left with Sabi shortly after that. I gathered my things and walked back through the foyer, past the makeshift home right outside that window. One of the men who was sleeping in front of the window raised his head up and smiled at us and waved as if thanking us for the little bit of food that we shared. This touched me.

So...back to the Rabbi's question "What can we do to help these people?" At my grandmother's church, they have a portion of their church set up for this very thing. They have bathrooms with showers, a kitchen and a place to sleep. One of their congregants stays overnight with the visiting guests and helps them with meal preparation and any other needs they might have overnight. During the day, there is a van to take them to look for work and to take the children to school. Her church is in a network of other churches that does the same thing. It is an amazing system.
Our synagogue is not set up like this though. We can't offer anything like that. I know that we could do something though...we just need some good ideas. That is where YOU come in!!


What does your synagogue, mosque, church, temple, place of worship, community center etc. do to help the homeless? What ideas can you share with us?

Thanks for your ideas!

Shabbat Shalom.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Forecast: RAIN!!!

We are in for a LOT of rain for the next few days. I am so glad to be on vacation for this little weather system. I hate to work and drive to work when it rains. I had originally planned to go in to work and prep for school next week but the plans have changed. Now, I am looking forward to hanging out at home on the couch, in front of the fire with a good book and hopefully some Monk, and Law and Order SVU or CI reruns.

Right now, I am sitting in front of a pretty fire in the fireplace and enjoying a movie to the sound of rain falling outside. I love it!

For all of you who have to be out and about in this weather...sorry! Drive safely and hang in there.