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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Aging Gracefully???

On Monday, I walked to work. Should happen more often than it does since I am only 1/2 a block away, but anyway, on Monday I walked. It was rainy. I had my basket, my lunch bag and an umbrella. Just as I got behind the building...almost there...I fell. Dropped basket. Broke hardboiled egg in lunch bag. Got both knees wet, but didn't rip my new leggings! It was the first thing I checked. Even before I checked to see if anyone saw me...and totally whacked my eye with the wooden handle of my umbrella. A giant, well, you know, pretty durn big, bump popped up on my eye before I could walk through the Morgan St. building and into my Price Street building. By the time I could get to a mirror, it was a lovely mosaic of blues and purples with the aforementioned giant bump.
Now, you know how usually you fall sort of in slow motion? This time, there wasn't even any motion that I knew about. It was just, "How the heck did I get here?" Don't know what made me fall. Didn't hurt my toes and I just had on my Birkenstocks. Just dropped on both knees and the palm with the umbrella. Very odd.
So, aging? Yes. Gracefully? Not so much evidently. Good thing I am retiring before I fall on a small one or something.
Below you can see my damage on Day One and Day Two. Only hurts when you touch it...
And no one was watching when it happened!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Alas, No Need to Shop

In an all too infrequent attempt at housecleaning, I came across a Heinemann catalog that I have not been able to throw away, but don't really have a need for.  Heinemann is my favorite place to buy great books about teaching...how to's and why to's and the joys and frustrations thereof.
So, a good excuse to stop the dreaded housecleaning - look at the catalog!  It was heartening and sad.  It was heartening to see some of the books that inspired me for many years still being sold and new books by some of my favorite authors.  It was sad because, alas, I have no need to shop...notice, the verb was "need" and not "want".  A problem that I will have to deal with at sometime is what to do with all the treasure trove of reading material I have collected over 30+ years.  Great teaching just doesn't change all that much over the years.  It's still great stuff!
I love learning and reading about how other teachers make it work in their classrooms.  Anytime I end up in a school for any reason, I go wandering the halls and looking into classrooms just to see and get ideas!  Then comes the fun part...taking what I read or see and fine tuning it to work for me and mine.  I love that part!  I love that I never think that I have it all figured out!
Maybe I can get a job being the Dear Abby for kindergarten teachers.  I could go around to classrooms and help them solve little problems and share ideas...now that sounds like a fun job!  Anyone want to hire me????

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Kids Still Say the Darndest Things

These are just a few of the giggles we get every once in awhile:
When it is their birthday, I give them a paper crown to wear.  When I put the crown on one of my little boys he said, "Now you can all call me, 'My Highness."  What????
At the soccer game the other night, one of my little ones who is now in 2nd grade came up to me and wanted to know if this really was going to be my last season.   I told her I would be old enough in the middle of the year and she said, "But you won't quit at half-time will you?"  She's all about her sports.
On the playground today a little boy asked his teacher which she thought was taller and he was holding up one piece of grass.  Trick question???
And a couple of classics - When teaching a unit on parts of the flower and asking them to name them, one child called the full open flower a bud.  Hoping to lead him to the answer of flower, I asked, "Is there another name for the bud?"  He responded with a question in his voice, "Miller Lite?"
When a child gets into trouble on the playground they are often asked to stand on the wall to think about things for a few minutes.  I like to stand on the wall because I am old and it is warm there.  One day a little boy who was standing there to think sidled up to me, tugged on my hand, look up at me and said with awe in his voice, "What did YOU do?"
And even I almost always say I am graduating at the end of this year!
So, what darn thing have you heard a kid say?  Or maybe you said it....

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Metamorphosing in My Life

                                        


Watching the miracle of metamorphosis from caterpillar to butterfly makes me think, as others have before me, about my/our transformation and becoming more Christlike...Christian.
Before we become Christians we, like the lowly caterpillar, move about close to the ground with a mighty focus on getting what we need to grow in whatever way we have decided is the best way to find and secure our personal happiness. When we have done all we can, when we finally feel the need for more, the inexplicable urge to change someway, somehow because we just aren't happy, then we stop.
When we hear the call of God in our lives, we like the caterpillar, attach ourselves and just hang on. I have seen every step of the life cycle with the Monarch except that letting go and hanging step. I wonder if they just let go with great abandon and fall straight or do they cautiously release 2 of their little feet at a time as they ease into the vertical hanging position. I want to witness this step, but it will have to wait for another year. And I wonder if we, when we find God and attach our lives to His, just let go with abandon, knowing that with him we are safe, or do we cautiously let go a little at a time? Our next step, like the butterfly, is to shed our old skin/life/way of living for the last time. When you watch the caterpillar do this, you see that it isn't really a gentle or gradual process. It is hard work, but it is also short work. After it is begun it must be completed and that final shaking off of the old skin is the very hardest part, but when it drops you can see the relaxing into the new creature that is becoming. You can immediately see the creature it will be. I don't know if with us it is that obvious, that immediately, but I do know that it must be done if the transformation is to be complete. And once it is done...Woo Hoo! Who knew that inside that creepy crawly caterpillar was the beautiful butterfly? Who knows what is inside you? God does and He has built into us the "need" to be transformed ...completely and forever.
Amen.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Monarch Magical Metamorphosis


We watched the life cycle of the Monarch butterfly in class. We started with 3 lowly yellow, black and white striped caterpillars in various sizes. Each were tiny, focused eating machines munching almost continuously on their only food source - milkweed. At the appointed time each moved to the top of the aquarium and onto the screen to turn into a chrysalis. This is an amazing process and one rarely seen because it is so fast, but this year a couple of the early arrivers did get to see it happen. They attach themselves and then hang vertically until they shed their skin one last time in a writhing dance of change. Then the final transformation and the becoming. The kids watched faithfully and waited patiently for the final step. The BUTTERFLY! Yesterday was the day. You should have seen the excitement as they announced to each kid to enter that we had butterflies! Two of them! These two actually hatched out on Sunday, so I got some flowers and put them in the aquarium with them.



They were restless and ready to go early on Monday morning. We left the last chrysallis hanging in the room and went out to free them. I let it walk across each child's hand on its way to Mexico. Amazing to see them lift off and fly for the first time...can you imagine, really?




So, while we were celebrating the release of the first two (and really we brought one back inside to rest a little more because he couldn't fly very far) the last one decided to emerge. Stevie saw it happening and Connie got some pictures almost immediately after it was hatched.


Later that day, Flutterby #2 was getting restless again and as soon as I opened the top of the aquarium to try to get him out, he decided to fly on his own...right out the window thankfully. Mariposa #3 went on her way at the end of the day and everyone went home wearing a beautiful monarch butterfly with the #3 on the back. I hope they shared their excitement with someone at home.
What miracles have you witnessed lately?
This is a sad last time...won't be sharing this miracle with little ones anymore....

Friday, September 17, 2010

TGIF

It really is all in the planning and evidently mine wasn't too good today.  You would think that after 30 years I would have a fairly good idea what can be accomplished in a day's time.  Guess not!  We were rushed from the minute we started.  The kids were mostly well behaved, but the lesson did not do them justice.  Today was the conclusion of my last unit study of the amazing Monarch butterfly, although we are still waiting for the butterflies to emerge and will celebrate with each release.  It was mostly about metamorphosis...2 examples of and one non-example.  They were all cute activities, but so rushed there was no time to enjoy them.   Aaarrrrggghhh.
Sufice it to say that no one told me that today was the best Fun Friday ever!  Ah, well.  There is always next Friday, right?
Hope you have a great weekend...I'm using mine to recuperate and rest very slowly......

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Weather Alert


For ever and ever I have tried to deny that the weather had anything to do with the behavior of the kids.  Today, I am hoping that I am very wrong.
My class who just seemed to be "becoming" sweet and kind and eager to learn, turned on me today.  They were SO off...please, let it just be the change in weather and not a developing trend...please.
Is there research out there to support this weather/behavior connection?  If not, I think I should start writing for some grant money to study this phenomenon.  Did you notice anything today????

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I Wrote It All By Myself!

As we started writing in our journals this year, I did about 3 lessons with the whole group about how to write the sounds that you hear when you stretch the word out. The assignment for this day was to write about something that you love and I wrote the beginning of the sentence on the chalkboard. They mostly got to work by themselves and Teresa and I just go about helping as needed. All of a sudden Lydia shouts out, "Hey, I wrote butterfly all by myself!" And sure enough she had...a proud moment for both of us. You have to read around the head of the beautiful butterfly...


Another quick learning to write story from each of the last several years. It might be a different word each year, but the problem and the lesson are the same. I remember best the year Celeste came up to me in a bit of a huff. "You have just got to tell me how to spell hope, because I wrote all the sounds I hear and it comes out hop every time." Can't you just picture that face? The 'I have done everything you told me to do and something is just not right' face. This is the proverbial teaching moment. So, I explain about the silent e and then for the next week or so, everything has a silent e, but you always over generalize before you refine down to something usable. I love these moments of joy!
Want to share a moment of teaching/learning joy? Let's hear...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Teamwork

Last Friday was a big day for football fans in West Virginia.  It was the annual Coal Bowl, in which WVU and Marshall play each other.  This was Marshall's big year...we had a chance to win for a change.  So, we decided to use the event to have fun with the kids.  I sent a note home early in the week asking them to dress their child in Marshall green or the old blue and gold.  Here's the turn out for the green team.
Yeah.  That's it.  Me and Lydia!  Go Green.....
Then there were these two blue and gold cuties.   I don't think they planned to dress alike, but it sure worked for them.

Lydia and Anna are BFFs even though they root for different teams.  While we were "playing" football at the end of the day, I happened to look down and see Anna (who was not performing for anyone) say mostly to herself, with the appropriate hand motions, "Marshall is goin' DOWN!"  It was so funny.  Anyway, here are the BFFs.  Afterall, it is just a game.

During the big "game", where Mrs. Bayles was the quarterback for both teams, we had cheerleaders for both teams.  Notice the homemade pom-poms.  More about them later.  The game was just too fast to get photos.  :>)

So, the whole point of the day was to teach them a little bit about our wonderful state and a lot about teamwork.  Each of the day's activities were completed as a team.  They played finger flick football, worked with a map of WV, did some football math and made pom-poms.  Here's how the teamwork worked.  When making pom-poms, each person could only have one job.  There was a feeder, a cutter, a stacker, a sorter, a counter for each color and a taper in each of the 4 groups.  One child fed the crepe paper to me and I cut.  Another took the cut pieces and stacked them up.  The next child put them in stacks of 8 in each of the 4 colors.  Each child picked up one set of each color and I taped them together.  You can see they have all four of the colors in each pom-pom...no favoritism!  They worked together and heard lots of talk about the advantages of this plan.  A great time was had by all and again, they were well behaved and on task.  Gotta love that in a class!  Gotta love this class.  Here they are holding their TEAMWORK banner.
What do you think?  OH, and by the way, Marshall ALMOST beat the Mountaineers.  Next year!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Coming Soon

I have two blog posts in my mind and some photos to go with them, but I am too tired on a Monday after a meeting at school, a meeting after school and Zumba.  So, you can look forward to a post about an
Ah Ha Moment and some fun Team Work activities....coming soon to a computer near you.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Really? What? Hmmmm.

So today was one of those days sort of like you have when you are first dating someone.  Lots of hmmm?  Really?  What?  The kids just kept surprising me today....still looking for the way to put it all together, but learning some interesting stuff.
It was not a great morning...noisy and a wall writing incident that was later scrubbed off.  But, the afternoon was much better.  We are talking about sorting in math.  Had them decide on ways they could sort each other and they seemed pretty much into that.  Then we read The Button Box and I got out the buttons to sort.  With no small measure of trepidation, I sent them to their seats to hand out the buttons.  They were quiet, patient, and attentive...and they could sort!  What????
Next, we started our study of the life cycle of the monarch butterfly.  I read a book with great photos and then read the classic, Very Hungry Caterpillar.  Just so happens that I have a copy of that book in spanish.  For fun, I read it to them.  They clapped when I finished.  Really?????
Last, it was time for journal writing and one of them asked if we could put on some quiet music and turn the lights out.  Hmmmm.  What???  Really????  It was one of my boys!  We did and they wrote quietly for 15 minutes or so.
I just keep storing this information to be used for future planning.  I love finding out what makes a group tick and it is different for each and every group!
What do you think?
Donna

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A Gift

We got an appointment at the Vet's at 11:30 this morning. I took my lunch, recess and planning time to go with my husband for Sweep Pea's final visit. We got there after a wonderful drive over that Sweet Pea loved, I'm sure. She loves riding on your lap in the car and the sunshine...both were hers today. My husband went into the office to tell them we were there. I stayed in the car with Sweet Pea. Soon after he went inside she gave a couple of coughs, straightened out, curled right back up on my lap and breathed her last. I was talking to her the whole time. I told her to run fast to the bridge. (If you don't know about the bridge, I will post it at the bottom of this.) I think she had been glimpsing the bridge on the way over. One of her little paws kept reaching out.
It was a gift to hold her and talk to her as she left this life.
We planted her and prayed over her out at Shangri La Ti Da.
When Don got home and I went back to work, the two dog girls both whined and Mercy went right in to check the last place she had seen Sweet Pea. My furry family is a fine thing!
Like my brother said, we know this day is coming on the very day we bring them into our lives...
I am happy that she is not sick or tired any more.
Today was a day of tears, but the joy of her life with us will stay with us forever.

***Here is the story of the Rainbow Bridge:
Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.
When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.


All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.


They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.


You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.


Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....

Monday, September 6, 2010

My Other Real Life

Today I am at school all by myself, which I love...usually.  I can get so much done when there is no one else here to visit with....usually.  Today, I am having touble concentrating.  My 20 year old kitty, Sweet Pea...and her name says it all...is on her last days I'm afraid.  She has been sleeping more than usual.  She is wobblier than usual.  She leaks a little.  And this morning she didn't want to eat her special soft food.  She is sleeping in her safe and quiet place in the closet - away from the younger cats and the big galumphing dogs.
I held her this morning and petted her just like she likes to be petted.  She purred and was happy.  She isn't in any pain.  She is tired.
So, my other real life is taking up all the space in my heart right now.  For me teaching and planning for teaching is a work of the heart....
Today it is going slowly...with a heart full of kitty thoughts.
My Sweet Pea   aka  PeaPod

Friday, September 3, 2010

Another Fun Friday


I mean to tell you that I got paid too much to do my job today. I promise you that the day went so fast they probably should have only paid me for 1/2 a day...no, don't tell anyone! It was a great day and the kids behaved so well. The secret today was speed. We had so much to get done that there was NO time to get into any kind of trouble...LOVE that!
So, here's what we did: The Seasons of Arnold's Apple Tree. Each of them made a book (insert their name in the title) that showed all the seasons. We first did all of the backgrounds and bare trees. They were made out of pretty blue xerox paper with torn green construction paper for grass in three seasons and torn white for the winter season. Brown paper trunks and branches were added. (Connie, we didn't have enough! But quickly cut more.) Next, they came to the carpet to hear the part of the story that told about spring. OH! I forgot. Stevie and I sang, loudly and ... oh, well, just loudly, the song, "Winter, spring, summer or fall...all you've got to do is caaaallll and I'll be there, baby...you've got a friend." Does that song have a real name? So, I read about spring, we talked about spring and the apple tree and then we went into 3 smaller groups to glue tiny tissue paper blossoms and leaves onto the spring tree. Have you ever met a kid who couldn't tear paper? If not, come on in and I can introduce you to one...he had NO idea. We read the summer part, added lots of leaves and tiny green apples to the next page of the book. Fall was golden leaves and red apples. For winter, they got to put one finger in the white paint and add snowflakes to the sky. We then took the pictures outside (with a block to put on top-thank you, Earl) to dry. Unfortunately, one of the little girls put hers under her arm to carry it! Just when you think you have everything covered....sorry, mom.
We also did an apple print on the back page to show the star in the middle. We did run out of time to really enjoy the books all put together so I kept them and we will finish up on Thrilling Tuesday. Still need to add the words for the seasons and now I think we will have time to write one thing about each season on the back. Hopefully, I can get some photos of the finished product on here for you to see.
But, the BEST part of the whole day was when one of my darlings said, "Do we do Fun Friday every Friday? I love Fun Friday. I love this craft. I love this book." Ahhh, a last first time they realize how fun Fun Fridays are. Better from them than my principal any day!
Planning is massive, clean up is massive (Thanks, Teresa!), but happy kids learning something...SO worth it all. Good day. Long weekend. Pay day. Just doesn't get much better than this.
So, how was YOUR day? :>)




Here is the whole book of the seasons.  On the back of each page is a fact about that season that they dictated to an adult.  Amazing how hard a concept this is for them to get...I guess it is just too abstract for them.



And a little apple art for decorations.  The little one hung on the tree and the big one hung from the ceiling...you can do that when you work with little people.




Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Happy Tears

Today was a good day after much praying and planning last night and this morning!  We started off with some reviewing and refining of expectations...it always seems clear enough to me when I say it the first time, but often have to go back and say it another 3 or 7 ways until we are all on the same page.  Family building continued as we agreed to help a couple of kids by reminding them gently about recurrent infractions.  I also told them I needed help remembering to use a quieter voice.  I told them my throat was sore when I went home from talking too loudly all day.  So, all day one of my little guys would quitely pipe up and say, "Your throat, your throat."  Sweet.
I have a little boy who is sad all the time, or seems to be.  I haven't seen him smile or enter into any of the excitement and fun of the first few days.  Today was his unbirthday and when we sang our special birthday song to him as I bounced him on my lap and held him tightly, he laughed.  It was such a sweet surprise that I had to stop singing for a moment to clear the tears out of my throat and eyes...so happy for him and for the other kids to see him happy! 
More happy tears:  at Zumba on Monday as we were dancing up a sweat and I was enjoying myself as usual, I was overcome with the scope of the many blessings in my life and I got teary eyed.  Ahh. I'm sure everyone just thought it was sweat!
What has caused you to cry happy  tears?
d.