Musings on Teaching  

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A couple of months after my wedding in 2002, I was laid off from my job. It was a blessing in disguise. I was doing data entry at a health insurance company, and I was hating my job. However, I knew the people and what was required of me - I'd been there seven years - and I was scared to go find something else. It was the kick in the pants I needed to get out of there.

However, eight months later, I still didn't have a job. I wasn't getting any interviews, and I was starting to get to the end of my unemployment. A friend of mine who taught kindergarten had me come visit her class a few times, as I had thought I might like working in a classroom setting. I had no experience working with kids, and didn't even have a child of my own at the time, but I enjoyed it. Soon after that, she told me that they were hiring instructional assistants (like teacher's aides) where her mother worked. Her mother was a special education teacher working with multiply disabled children. I didn't think I had a shot at the job, but I went in for an interview. I remember the interview was showing me around a few classrooms being used for their summer program. There were children with all kinds of disabilities in all kinds of strange equipment. I wasn't familiar with the setting. The supervisor basically asked me, "Do you think you can handle it?" I needed a job and so I said, "yes." I was hired. I began as an IA a few months later in an elementary school classroom. By the end of the year, we would have 1 teacher, 1 nurse, 4 IAs including me, and 8 multiply disabled children in wheelchairs. It was a large group. It was crazy. I fell in love with the children, and by the end of the year I was thinking I'd like to go back to school so I could teach them.

My thoughts were put on hold slightly while I was pregnant with Paige. After her birth in February 2005, I started thinking about it again. As I already had my BA, I was eligible to take one of the state tests for teachers. I passed. I told my boss, and she told me that a teaching position had opened up at the summer program if I wanted it. I took it. Paige was 5 months old.

During that summer, I learned that a school year teaching position had opened up. Ironically, it was for the same classroom where I had started two years before. I applied for the position and got it. I started my first year teaching September 2005. Paige was 7 months old.

I was teaching on what is called a "waiver" - kind of like a "hardship waiver" for a position that is difficult to fill. However, if I wanted to become a licensed teacher, I needed to go back to school to get my Master's in Severe Special Education. So, that same month that I started my first teaching job, only a few months into becoming a mother of my first child, I went back to school. It had been 10 years since I'd graduated with my BA.

This past December I finished my student teaching - my last requirement for school. I am going to graduate with my Master's in Severe Special Education in a couple of weeks. I can't believe that I've finished. It has been a crazy couple of years, becoming a mom, a teacher, and a student again all at once. However, it has been a very interesting journey. I've found that things I learn on the job in the classroom help me to be a better mom, and things I've learned on the job as a mom help me to be a better teacher.

My diploma was mailed to me in February. However, I had the option of going to the ceremony in May, which I decided to do. I want all the pomp and circumstance! I ordered my cap and gown and they showed up about a week ago. I tried them on for Paige and she laughed at me. "Take off that hat Momma!" she giggled. I asked her if she wanted to wear it, and she said no. It is amazing to see how much she's changed just in the time I've been in school.

Here she is in September 2005.

And here she is in March 2008.

I can't believe she's gotten so big and that I'm all done with school. It all seems very surreal. :)

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Unplugged Birds  

Monday, April 28, 2008

I had a hard time with this week's Unplugged Project theme - birds. Not because it was a hard topic, but because my perfectionism really got the best of me this week. I think it is because I've been stressed about our house situation and stuff I need to get done at work, but I became obsessed with finding the "best" way to feed the birds. Paige loves birds, and I figured she'd love to feed them. Seeing as we made Cheerio Feeders a couple of weeks ago for our Unplugged Project, I wanted to do something different. I spent most of the week looking online for different bird treat recipes that would be easy enough to create with a toddler/preschooler. The best one seemed to be the pine cone bird feeder, but it isn't really the right season for that. Another suggested putting peanut butter and birdseed on a stale bagel and hanging it up outside. Our bagels weren't stale, but we had some stale bread, so I finally decided to try this one, and yesterday we made our own version - peanut butter and birdseed on a sub roll. Paige always gets so excited when I talk about feeding the birds, and was calling these "bird sandwiches."

The one problem that I had with these is that I couldn't seem to keep Paige from licking the peanut butter off of the knife - even when there was birdseed on it! I kept telling her that it was for the birds, but she kept picking at the "sandwiches" too! LOL

My pictures came out horrible this week. And yes, she's in her Ariel jammies! :)

I managed to poke a hole through a few of the pieces of bread with a straw and hung them up with yarn, but one just kept breaking, so I put it on the railing of the deck. This morning I noticed it was gone. Roland said that when he left for work this morning there was a bird walking around near our cars with a big hunk of bread hanging out of his mouth. So I guess they were a hit with Paige and the birds! I feel bad that I almost didn't get a project done this week because I was having such a hard time picking one thing to do. I think the birds are glad I finally decided on something though. I really need to try and relax a little more - I keep stressing myself out about fun things!

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Friday Fill-In #69  

Friday, April 25, 2008

Friday Fill-In #69

I found this one to be difficult.

1. When I fell in love I got married!
2. Spring is when when the flowers bloom and it heats up outside!
3. Oh no! The internet connection is down, I'm going to be overloaded with email.
4. WWE Monday Night RAW is the craziest tv show ever.
5. Cheese and pretty much anything make a great meal! (If you ask Paige. She loves cheese.)
6. Plant a garden.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to blogging, tomorrow my plans include playing with Paige and Sunday, I want to watch a movie!

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Thursday List  

Thursday, April 24, 2008

I've been on school vacation this week, so in between cleaning, decluttering, packing, and all that joy, I've had more time to waste enjoy in Blog Land. Here are some things I've liked this week:

This looks like a yummy dessert recipe.

This is such a cute hangy thing.

This isn't actually a blog post, but I linked to it from a blog post, so that's how it got included here. Plus, it looks like a recipe Paige and I might be able to try together and I didn't want to lose it. So here you go - Chocolate Chip Popcorn Bars

I want to make everything on this blog, but the chocolate chip cookie pie really caught my eye!

I like the idea of Love Thursday. This might be a fun thing to go along with my Thursday list. Maybe...something I loved this week?

I liked this article about ways to use your digital camera that I found through Michelle at Scribbit.

I am very bad with time management. There are always so many things I want to do, and I never seem to get around to doing them. I like this idea for a preschool time management calendar so I can "schedule" some of the things I'd like to do with Paige.

I really like this idea for all of Paige's paintings - use them for decoupage! This might make some nice gifts for family members!

Speaking of which, here's another post/tutorial with pictures on making a decoupage frame with kid's artwork!

And one more cool kid's artwork idea involving decoupage.

I love this idea for organizing tub toys and whatnot because it gives a great way for the toys to drain and dry off - and it is cute too!

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Moving Forward  

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Well, we've put in a bid on a house, and it was accepted! Oh, and don't worry, it wasn't Vacant and Easy to Show! I've been afraid to say too much about it, afraid of jinxing it and having the process fall apart somewhere along the line. If all goes well, we will be moving the weekend of May 16th, which is the same weekend that I'm graduating from college with my Master's in Severe Special Education. (Perhaps my next post topic...) So of course things are looking to be a little hectic for the next couple of weeks.

Our house was WAY OVERDUE for a decluttering. I was just starting to get into "baby steps" like the Flylady suggests when all of this started. So the process of weeding out and figuring what to keep and what to toss is really overwhelming me right now. Roland works for a truck rental company and ordered boxes from a vendor they use. They should show up today or tomorrow. I think maybe once I am able to start putting the things I know I want to keep in boxes, that might help me to feel more like I'm making progress. Right now I'm just moving things around, going through piles, trying to throw things away and organize the best I can. I am so overwhelmed!

A little while ago, Michelle asked me to see if I could find any traditions for moving into a new home. I've just started poking around online and found the idea of taking Paige's picture out front every year, having a special dinner when you move in and celebrating the "anniversary" every year, stuff like that. Anyone have any ideas?

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Unplugged Scissors  

Monday, April 21, 2008

I have to say that I was greatly amused last week when I saw that this week's Unplugged Project was in my honor! I have joked about having the theme be "scissors" a couple of times, and this week, guess what the theme was? Scissors!

Paige loves to use her scissors. They are safety scissors - I think they were made by Crayola, but don't quote me on that. She often tells me she's going to go get her scissors to cut something. She likes to help cut tags off her new clothes, things like that. She's always ready to go get the scissors. In fact, not too long ago I made a "cutting box" and put a bunch of different colored and textured paper in a box for her to cut.

I wasn't too sure where to go with this theme - seeing as it was my idea and I'm a perfectionist, that could have been a recipe for disaster as I could have spent hours searching for the perfect toddler scissor project. But I worked really hard to control myself. I did look around online a little for toddler/preschool cutting projects though, and got a couple of ideas. I hadn't thought of giving her something other than paper to cut. Someplace online suggested giving kids straws and play dough. First I tried the straws. The ones we had here are clear, and I think it might have been more fun to cut up different colored straws. I learned that when you cut a straw, the little piece that you cut off goes flying across the room. That was interesting.

Then I got her to try using her scissors with her play dough, or "squish" as she calls it. At first she told me no, scissors aren't for play dough. But then she got around to giving it a try.

She seemed to have fun with this - cutting a snake of squish into little pieces, and then putting them in the play dough container and we pretending she'd made soup. :)

We tried one other thing this week. I found cutting pages at Wondertime Magazine. There are a whole list of printables, including a bunch of ones geared for young cutters. For example, one set of printables was a farm. It had a barn and animals to be cut out. I liked that they had two sets of lines, depending on the age and experience of the child doing the cutting. It had a dotted line for younger kids, and a solid line for older kids. The solid line was more difficult cutting than the dotted one. So I printed the animals out and Paige cut them out. They even have little stands to cut out to make the animals stand up. We did that together too. That was fun.

I'm happy that Paige got to use her scissors, and I managed not to go all crazy and perfectionisty trying to find a "perfect" project for a theme inspired by us. :)

Come join us with this week's project - the theme is birds!

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Why We Plant Gardens Outside  

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Paige and I opened her "My First Tomato Garden Kit" yesterday morning. Since it was a little chilly outside, I said we could do it in the kitchen. Silly me.

Alternate Title: Sure you can play with the dirt on the kitchen floor. We are moving soon anyway.

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Thursday List  

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Some things that caught my eye out in Blog Land this week....

Cool idea for microwave puff paint that I found through a new blog that I like, the Crafty Crow.

Watercolor mobiles.

This is a tip from Valentine's Day, but it was too cute not to add to the list - Valentine Mistletoe.

An interesting idea for the last bits of wrapping paper and the rolls to keep kids busy.

Going to have to save this one for Halloween - pumpkin chocolate chip cookies!

I like the idea of someday making a blog for Paige. It might be a cute way to keep long distance family updated on what she's up to.

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First Time Tagged!  

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

This is my first time being tagged. I've been tagged by Chrissy at ToddleBits. I'm supposed to share seven random facts about myself. So, I stole the rules from Chrissy's site, and here they are:

1. Link to your tagger and post these rules on your blog.
2. Share seven facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.
3. Tag seven people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.
4. Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Ok, now just because I love a theme, here are seven random facts about me and my BEDROOM. (Don't worry, this post is G rated.)

1. I almost never make my bed. I don't really understand the point of it. Aren't I just getting back into it later?

2. When I do make my bed, I tend to fold up my pajamas and put them under my pillow. This is something my mother taught me to do, and so I've never thought it was funny, but Roland found it to be quite amusing.

3. For some reason, when I am sleeping with Roland, I am most comfortable in the "spooning" position, either lying with my arm over him, or him lying with his arm over me. When I'm ready to go to sleep, I'll ask him, "which way" we are going to roll! :)

4. If I go to sleep without Roland, I find that I don't know what to do with my arm, since I'm so used to putting it over him in that "spooning" position. So I usually steal his pillow and cuddle up with it.

5. I snore. A lot. And loudly. I've been woken up many times during my life to be told, "you were snoring." Gee, thanks for waking me up just to tell me that.

6. I have sleep apnea. This means that I stop breathing in my sleep, and therefore often do not reach REM state, and do not get a quality night's sleep, making me apt to fall asleep during the day. This is most likely also why I snore. For my sleep apnea, I use a machine called a C-PAP that keeps me breathing during the night.

7. I also thrash during my sleep. I think it correlates to how well I'm breathing - more thrashing means I'm not breathing as well. Therefore, there are lots of nights when Roland gets beaten up by me. Once, while I was pregnant with Paige, I thrashed enough that I broke his cheek - hit him with what we assume was my elbow, and gave him a hairline fracture!

Now I'm supposed to tag seven more. I tag:

Cortney at All Because Two People Fell In Love
Crazy Daisy at Forever Daisies
Candace at Mommy Matters!
Sandra at On The Eastern Journey
Shawn at Letters To My Daughters
Mom Unplugged at Unplug Your Kids
Amy at My Blog

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Unplugged Food  

Monday, April 14, 2008

This week's Unplugged Project theme was food. I had thought about cooking and/or planting with Paige - I have a really cute kid's tomato planting kit for her - but life has been a little stressful with all of this house hunting, and I actually wasn't sure at one point if I'd have a chance to do the project this week. So we fit in a simple project, and wouldn't you know it, simple is often best. Inspired by this post we made Cheerios bird feeders.

This is a really simple project, basically all you do is string Cheerios onto a pipe cleaner. Bend the top of the pipe cleaner to make a hook, and then go hang it on a tree. I asked Paige if she'd like to make something for the birds and she was very excited - Paige has always loved birds. She really seemed to enjoy putting the Cheerios on the pipe cleaner, and had more success with it than I thought she would. Of course a pipe cleaner is a little easier for a "threading" type project than string is, because it is more rigid, and she just had to place a Cheerio over the pipe cleaner. It was also a good project for hand-eye coordination. Paige also enjoyed picking out what color pipe cleaner she should use - and assigning a color for me too.

We made them at night and then took them out to hang up the next morning. Paige quickly put them on the tree in our front yard, turned and looked at me and said, "where are the birds?" I guess they should just know that there's a yummy Cheerio breakfast waiting - and that they might be able to lower their cholesterol in six weeks!

The additional benefit to this project was nibbling on the Cheerios as you go along.

Here are our feeders, hung of course, at toddler height.

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Who Am I?  

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Yesterday I went to a book fair at school. This is another one of those things I love about elementary school. Who wouldn't love a book fair? I bought three books. Two for Paige, and one for me. The one for me was about "Mama Tricks" - ways to keep the kids entertained while in the car, or waiting at the doctor's office. It included "cool Mama" kinds of things. I couldn't wait to look through it.

Last night I said to Roland, "I think I need some help. I went to buy books and I bought two for Paige and the one I bought for myself is about being a Mom. I'm not sure who I am when I'm not a mom or a teacher."

Tomorrow I am going to a scrapbooking crop, so Roland's advice was, "You want help? Don't scrapbook any pictures of Paige this weekend." Don't scrapbook Paige? Then what the heck would I scrapbook? I told him that I'm not sure I have any pictures that don't involve Paige - none that have anything to do with something other than kids, be them my own or my friends at school. I finally had to go back as far as my wedding and honeymoon to think of something that didn't involve kids. Granted, I never did finish my honeymoon album, and I think it'd be fun to work on it, but I was concerned that I had to go back five and a half years to find something that didn't have to do with who I am as mom and teacher, but something that revolved around me.

When I got married I wasn't a mom or a teacher yet. So those things have obviously become a big part of who I am. And I am fine with that. I am ok with reading teacher or mom books for fun. I am ok with enjoying looking at blogs to come up with projects for school or home. But I'm a little concerned if that's all I am.

Paige was six months old when I started back to school to become a teacher. For the passed three years, my life has been a blur of kids and school. I didn't have time for much else. In fact, I can probably count how many times I got to scrapbook during that time on one hand. So I am excited about doing it again. But now that I'm starting to have a little more me time, I'm realizing I don't know what to do with it.

So I'm curious. What do you enjoy doing when you aren't being a mom, or teacher? What kinds of things do you do for yourself?

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Friday Fill In  

Friday, April 11, 2008

Friday Fill-In #67

1. I love springtime in Paris! (all I can think of for some reason...)
2. Waffles and sausage are foods I love to eat for breakfast.
3. It seems I'm always searching for a clue.
4. Sleeping is a great way to end the day.
5. I think I can!
6. Chocolate is what I've been craving lately.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to blogging, tomorrow my plans include looking at houses and Sunday, I want to scrapbook!

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Vacant! Easy to Show!  

Thursday, April 10, 2008

I have been approved for an itty, bitty, tiny mortgage. Of course for the amount that houses go for out here, it is actually a pretty laughable mortgage - most of the places in our price range are listed as "Handyman Special" or "Contractor's Dream." I am neither a handyman nor a contractor, so these things do not excite me.

Yesterday Michelle, Roland and I went and looked at a few houses. One was listed as "vacant - easy to show." We went in and it turned out that it should have been listed as "condemned and gutted - hand out hard hats to show." Upon entering the first thing you noticed was the smell of skunk. The next thing was the fact that there was plywood for floors, insulation exposed and hanging off of the walls, and it just looked like crap. Michelle is highly allergic to insulation and went running out the door. I wasn't in there that long, and still ended up feeling itchy and needing a shower by the time I got home. The real estate agent was someone who was referred to me, who wasn't familiar with the place and who was showing it to us per our request. He looked pretty upset that all the listing said was, "property needs work," with no mention of the fact that it really looked like it should be torn down. Roland has come up to me several times since last night to say, "Hey hon...vacant! Easy to show! Property needs work - ha!"

I think we are all slowly losing our minds....

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Thursday List  

Well, this week's list isn't much of a list, it is more like a couple of bullet points. This week I'm a little stressed out trying to figure out where I'm going to live and also trying to finish the ridiculous standardized testing for my students (a soapbox for another time). So, not as much time for lurking around blog world. In any event, I hope you enjoy these! :)

Cute idea to make meals fun for kids.

This is a too funny use for Peeps.

This looks like a yummy idea for brownies.

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Unplugged Books in the Imperfect Classroom  

Monday, April 7, 2008

Well, with talk of storytellers and unplugged books, it seems like a good time to share some of the fun of the Imperfect Classroom, and some of the many book related activities we do. I thought maybe there would be some other book project ideas someone might be interested in. I read a LOT at school. I try to read all different kinds of things. This year is my first year working for a public school, and I have students in two different grades. I've been trying to read some of the books that they are reading at each grade level, but I also read books more at Paige's level, as some of my students are developmentally younger than her. I try to mix it up as much as I can and expose them to as much as possible. For instance, April is National Poetry Month, so I've been reading poems by Shel Silvestein (a childhood favorite) and Jack Prelutsky every day.

One new thing I tried this year that everyone seems to be enjoying is the idea of the "Author of the Month." A friend of mine teaches kindergarten, and she said that every Wednesday she would do an author study. She'd do one author each month, and they would spotlight a different book by that author each week. As my students need a lot more repetition, I decided to make this the overall theme for my class this year. Each month I pick a different author, and we talk a little about the author and read stories by that person all month. We started with Eric Carle in September, and we discussed how he's both an author and an illustrator. We learned a little about collage and how he makes his pictures. Then each month we've taken on a different author. It has been fun to have the nurses in my room suggest authors that they like too, and it gets them interested in what we are doing too. So far we have done Eric Carle, Laura Numeroff, Doreen Cronin, Jan Brett, Bill Martin Jr., David Shannon, Dr. Seuss, and this month's author is Patrica Polocco.

Patricia Polocco was a suggestion by one of the nurses in my room. I didn't know much about her prior to this, but I have really been enjoying her books. I came across a video interview with her here and it was interesting to discover that most of her stories are ones passed down from her grandmother and are based on her family. It seemed to be perfect timing to go along with our tap dancer the other day, who told a story about his grandmother, and suggested the kids go search out the stories from their grandparents.

I often work a craft, recipe, or other activity in during the month to go with the books we are reading. Last week we read John Philip Duck, a book about a boy who works in a hotel and brings his duck to work, and eventually trains him and others to walk down to the hotel fountain and swim in it to the delight of the guests to a John Philip Sousa march. I'd never read the book but it was really cute and we all enjoyed it. To go along with the duck theme, I we made Touch and Feel Ducks.

The crafts the students make always look pretty good as they are done "hand-over-hand," meaning that an adult does the majority of the work, but tries to do the project with the student as much as possible, usually by helping him to feel the different textures, and ask for choices, "do you want this or this?" etc. Then the adult would help to move the student's hands to glue, etc.

I decided this project looked like something Paige would enjoy, and brought the materials home for her to try one too. Well, Paige doesn't need me to help her physically, so hers looks quite different. It took all I had not to tell her she wasn't doing it right. (I mean come on, what duck has it's eyes under the bill??) I keep telling myself that if I tell her what to do and tell her it isn't right, I'll take away the enjoyment of activities like this for her. So, she's my little Picasso in training, apparently.

I also took a John Philip Sousa CD out of the library to play for the kids in my class, so they'd have an idea of what I'm talking about in the story. I try to supplement my stories with props as much as I can, because my kids don't have the same opportunities to experience things that other students do. When we read Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, for example, I realized that they might not even know what a coconut was, so I brought one in for them to feel and experience first hand.

I've been thinking it might be fun for me to try to do some Unplugged Theme projects in the classroom too. I thought it might give me some different inspiration for activities with Paige and with my students. Books are an easy place to start since I love them and always incorporate them into everything I do.

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Unplugged Books  

Sunday, April 6, 2008

When I read that this week's Unplugged Project topic was books, I wasn't sure what to do at first. Paige and I read books together, so that wasn't anything new or different to do this week. So I looked online for ideas to make books, and found several ideas to try in the future. One looked like something really simple to do, called a "Flip Flap Book." Basically, you take a piece of construction paper, fold it in half length wise and then cut a number of slits into one half of the paper to make flaps that can be lifted up to view what is underneath. Paige loves lift the flap books, especially those by Karen Katz so I thought this might be a hit.

In these books, such as the one Paige just got before Easter:

the baby is looking for something. In this case, her Easter eggs. Each page says, "Are they behind the ______?" and you lift the flap to see, "No, that's just a _____" until the last page when you lift the flap to see, "YES! There they are!" Paige and I drag out the Nooooo every time. One time when I was reading it I showed her that NO spells no, and that YES spells yes. Now when I read them I'll point to the yes and no and she'll read that part.

In any event, since this is a popular format, I figured maybe Paige and I could make a flip flap book to look for Ariel. I had her choose what color paper, and then had her work on making cuts to make the flaps. Then she picked different princess stickers to put under each flap, with Ariel being the last one. I numbered the flaps one to four, and under flaps one, two, and three, I put NO. Then under flap four I put YES. So then we read, "Where is Ariel? Is she under the number one? Noooo, that's just Cinderella!" and so on. I would have attempted to take a picture, but Miss Paige decided it was more fun to grab her scissors and cut the book up. I had a few minutes of perfectionism issues, where I wanted to tell her she couldn't, but then I reasoned, why the heck not? She actually seemed to enjoy cutting the "book" more than she actually enjoyed anything else. But she wasn't feeling very good, and the act of mindless cutting seemed to soothe her, and kept he still for awhile. In fact, from it I got the idea to make a "cutting box" for her. I got a plastic bin and put some pieces of different types of paper: wrapping, construction, wax, brown mailing, etc, and told her she could sit and cut what was in the box. She seemed to enjoy it.

Maybe I really do need scissors to be the topic of an Unplugged Project! LOL

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For any teachers of anything out there...  

Just saw this posted on one of the teaching groups I am part of:

Have you heard about the next planned 'Survivor' show?

Three businessmen and three businesswomen will be dropped in an elementary school classroom for 1 school year. Each business person will be provided with a copy of his/her school district's curriculum, and a class of 28 - 32 students.

Each class will have a minimum of five learning-disabled children,three with A.D.D., one gifted child, and two who speak limited English. Three students will be labeled with severe behavior problems.

Each business person must complete lesson plans at least 3 days in advance, with annotations for curriculum objectives and modify, organize, or create their materials accordingly.

They will be required to teach students, handle misconduct, implement technology, document attendance, write referrals, correct homework, make bulletin boards, compute grades, complete report cards, document benchmarks, communicate with parents, and arrange parent conferences. They must also stand in their doorway between class changes to monitor the hallways.

In addition, they will complete fire drills, tornado drills, and drills for shooting attacks each month.

They must attend workshops, faculty meetings, and attend curriculum development meetings. They must also tutor students who are behind and strive to get their 2 non-English speaking children proficient enough to pass standardized tests. If they are sick or having a bad day they must not let it show.

Each day they must incorporate reading, writing, math, science, and social studies into the program. They must maintain discipline and provide an educationally stimulating environment to motivate students at all times. If all students do not wish to cooperate, work, or learn, the teacher will be held responsible.

The business people will only have access to the public golf course on the weekends, but with their new salary, they may not be able to afford it. There will be no access to vendors who want to take them out to lunch, and lunch will be limited to thirty minutes, which is not counted as part of their work day. The business people will be permitted to use a student restroom, as long as another survival candidate can supervise their class.

If the copier is operable, they may make copies of necessary materials before, or after, school. However, they cannot surpass their monthly limit of copies. The business people must continually advance their education, at their expense, and on their own time.

The winner of this Season of Survivor will be allowed to return to their job.

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Storyteller Rambles  

Saturday, April 5, 2008

I love working in an elementary school. Yesterday the older grades got to go to an assembly. We had a guest storyteller named Bob Thomas. He came and told stories and tap danced. It was really pretty cool - the kids really enjoyed him. He told simple stories, one of his grandmother and another about an older man who taught him to dance. The kids got into it a lot more than I would have thought they would. He had a lot of the kids go up on the stage with him and he taught them a few simple tap moves, and they performed together. Afterward, one boy came sitting down near me telling his friend, "that was awesome!" I thought it was cool that a young boy would find doing a silly dance number awesome. There were some older men and women in the crowd, who I'm not sure if they were invited by Mr. Thomas or by the school (I got into the assembly late) but after he was done he invited the kids to ask the "seniors" questions. He got them started by asking them how old they were when they first saw a tv. One lady said 25! 25 is hard for even me to imagine, even though I remember my dad telling me about when they got a tv. He told the kids they had an assignment to go and talk to older members of their families and ask them to tell them stories about when they were young. It sounded like a good idea to me. My dad and my grandmother have told me stories before, but maybe I should encourage them to write them down. Or maybe I should. In any event, it sounded like it could lead to some fun conversations. Here Bob gets you started.

One of the things I've always loved to do is read books out loud. It has always struck me as odd as I have social anxiety (fear/anxiety of social situations) and I generally try to avoid putting myself in the spotlight. I do not like to do oral presentations. However, I've always liked to read aloud - I will even volunteer to do so. I've been told several times in my different classroom settings that I read really well. A lot of times I'd be the one who would read because others wouldn't. Sometimes other people would volunteer to do other things so that I would read. It is one of the things I enjoy doing the most. I've joked that maybe I should just become a professional storyteller, and I've had people tell me that I probably could. If Bob is any indication, though, then first I need to learn to tap dance! LOL

Basically, I found it pretty cool that even older kids could enjoy something as simple as sitting around and listening to stories. But I guess in a way that's why I like reading blogs too. It is fun to share stories with each other. Thank you for stopping by to listen to mine. :)

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Friday Fill In  

Friday, April 4, 2008

Friday Fill-In #66

1. Tonight I saw Dora and Diego go to Polar Bear Mountain.
2. The tap dancer I saw at school today makes me wanna dance!
3. Splitting a few appetizers between friends sounds good to me right now.
4. Anyone who has a nice house for me is someone I'd like to get to know better.
5. The smell of fresh air reminds me so much of springtime!
6. Roland hugged me and that made it all better.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to reading, tomorrow my plans include looking into real estate and Sunday, I want to sleep!

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Thursday List  

Thursday, April 3, 2008

I'm interested in how to be a guerilla artist.

A new blog carnival to highlight the fun of motherhood.

Great tips for kid's birthday parties.

Kid's cooking night.

Recipe for bubble bath.

This is something I've wanted to do for awhile, but never knew where to get the right size frames!

Cookies of the month - what a cute idea for a teacher gift! And I don't just say that because I'm a teacher. Well, ok, I do.

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The Imperfect Classroom  

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Michelle suggested the other day that I should post about recipes that I do in my classroom. I believe I've mentioned before that I am a severe special education teacher. Most of the students I've worked with in my short teaching career are in wheelchairs, are medically fragile, eat via feeding tube, are nonverbal, have seizures, and have so many things that children should not have to deal with. My goal as their teacher has always been to try and provide them with as many "typical" childhood experiences as possible. I usually say that I am a "if there's a will there's a way" kind of person. I've taken my kids on a hay ride - pushing wheelchairs up and down boards to get them on and off of the wagon. I've enlisted a physical therapist to help carry a couple of my students through the school's playscape and up to the top so we could go down the slide together. I've climbed into a bouncy house moon jumper thing and held kids so they could experience it too. I like to try and figure out how to help the kids have every experience they can have.

I try to do a weekly cooking group with them. At first, I wasn't sure about doing a cooking group with kids who can't eat - I was afraid it was cruel. Another teacher once told me though that food is still a part of their lives - their families eat. People eat. It is a fact of life. Meanwhile, they are being exposed to smells and textures, a bit of math, and the enjoyment of having fun as a class, and of taking something home for their family (if we don't eat it in class first. :) ) For example, one of my favorite Thanksgiving activities is for each student to make a pumpkin pie that they can take home to contribute to their family's dinner.

To be able to cook at school, I do a lot of "no bake" things, or things that I can make in a toaster oven. Michelle said she thought there might be other people who would like to read about recipes that they could do with their special needs (or "typical" ) children. I am wondering if anyone would be interested?

This is only my third year teaching, and my perfectionism rears it's ugly head here as with every part of my life. I am quite the collector - I collect project ideas and recipes, but then I never do any of them. I am trying to push myself to do things more and more, both in my personal life, and in the classroom. I had at one point toyed with starting another blog, "The Imperfect Classroom," in which I posted about all the activities I'd finally done after all the time I'd been "meaning to do it." But of course then I didn't know if I could keep up with two blogs. I didn't know if I should just post about that stuff here. Then, as usual with my perfectionism, I couldn't figure out what the "best" idea was, and so nothing happens. Maybe I'll go with Michelle's idea and just start posting some of our classroom recipes and general shnanigans here and see how it goes.

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The (Im)Perfect Post  

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

After I posted about the most recent Unplugged Project, I showed the post to Roland, to show him how "cool" I was that I'd found a picture of Paige's game online. He asked me if I took the picture, and I said no, that I'd found it. I told him that I was a little disappointed that I hadn't been able to get a decent picture of the "Rockstar" Cookies, or of Paige in her apron, but I knew that I just needed to post it and have it be "done," or I could easily obsess over getting a perfect picture in there, and as a result stress myself out. Michelle has said to me, "are you getting stressed out over something that is supposed to be fun?" Of course. I know that I enjoy reading blog posts with nice photos, and I've been very frustrated that I have a hard time taking what I feel is a "decent" photo. I've been wondering if I'm a horrible photographer or if I need a better camera or both. So I told myself that I was just going to go ahead and post my Unplugged story, and if I discover that one of the pictures I took of Paige in her apron actually came out decent enough, I can always post it later. Roland told me, "that's what you should post about next." So here I am, continuing to try and work on eliminating the perfectionism. I hope nobody minds some imperfect posts.

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