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


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?