. Regurgitated Alpha Bits: January 2012

Saturday, January 28, 2012


Question: If a student only speaks English, however understands some Spanish, and his mother speaks and understands Spanish only, how do you imagine they communicate with each other?

She can't understand the only language he speaks, and he can't speak to her in the only language she understands.

I'm perplexed.

What are your thoughts?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Is That What I Think It Is?

It was a rough week in my teaching partner's math class. Things just never seemed to go his way, and the kids were acting really wacky.

They are generally a sweet bunch, but are our most intensive learners. They're often off task and really struggle to follow directions even on the eleventh (or eleven hundredth) time you've given them.

Hey, we've all had those weeks and those classes.

It's why wine was invented.

So on Thursday he's teaching math to his squirrelly little bunch. They're truckin' along at a dead snail's pace. Students are showing work on whiteboards, and two or three of them are even laying their markers down on their socks (AKA eraser/marker holder) correctly between problems...

...except Howard.

Here's his marker and sock:

At least someone was erect and paying attention in that class.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Pay Up!

We run the mile every Wednesday, no news to you, and yet again it brings the funny.

One young man, who generally protests throughout the mile run and often refuses to run, ran the best mile of his life.

He ran a lot.

He ran fast.

He broke a sweat!

After finishing in record time for him, he walked up to me and said:

Him: Well, I guess I might owe the school some money.

Me: Why's that?

Him: Repairs are needed because I was burning up the asphalt! 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

How I See Things

We have this big ole writing test here in California that all fourth graders take in March.

(Hey State of California, I have a GREAT idea for something you could cut to save money...)

We try to incorporate writing across the curriculum all year long to develop the kids' skills.

We also begin FRANTICALLY writing essays riiiiiight about this time of year as well...

Expository summaries, narrative summaries, narratives, and response to literature essays are literally pouring out of our heads.

You do get quite an insight into their minds when you're reading so many of their thoughts on paper.

I'm learning that my impression of the inner workings of some of them is spot on.

For example, this week we read a pourquoi tale that tells the story of why the sun and the moon live in the sky. In a nutshell, Sun and Moon always wanted to invite their friend Water over, but their house was too small to accommodate all of him. They expanded their home and invited him, however when he arrived he took up so much space that they had to rise up into the sky to stay dry. Luckily, they learned they liked it up there and have remained ever since.

We used this piece to write a response to literature essay, which requires the kids to identify a theme in the story and connect that theme to their own lives.

My Impression: Her "on switch" remains hidden, and she always seems disinterested. Tough to motivate, but I'm still looking for ways.
Her Sun and Moon Theme: Never try too hard. 
Evidence: Sun and Moon tried hard to make their friend happy, but ended up losing their house.
Her Connection to life: I don't work hard at anything. Hard work is too much work. My mom works and goes to dance classes at night, but I like to just want to watch tv. 

My Impression: Always the victim. To him, everyone is working against him.
His Sun and Moon Theme: Don't let a friend get the upper hand.
Evidence: Sun and Moon invited Water over, but he stole their house from them.
Connection to life: People take advantage of me all the time. You can't trust them. 

You know what they say, perspective is everything. When I read the story, I only saw the positive messages hidden within it, but clearly it has a different message to others. 

Thankfully, there were also kids like this:

My Impression: Will help anyone. Always volunteers to give time to others.
Her Sun and Moon Theme: Being generous leads to good things.  
Evidence: Inviting their friend over, even though they lost their house, lead them to learn that the sky was an even better place to live. They never would have learned that if they hadn't been generous about wanting to have their friend over. 
Her Connection to life: Because I try to help people, I have lots of friends.

There is hope!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Promises Schmomises

Well, it's the New Year.

(Did you already know that? You know me. Always full of breaking news...)

Time to make those promises to myself that I fully intend to have no intention of fulfilling.

Resolution #1
Seek revenge on people who leave the copier jammed full of half-eaten spelling lists and chewed up math worksheets. You see, our new copier still jams as much as our old copier, but now I can see who logged in before me. Hahaha!! I'm gonna clear out their mess from the copier, like I always do, and shove it right in their...


Resolution #2
Stop stealing staples right out of my teaching partner's stapler. I'll be much closer to the supply room in the new year, so there will be no need.

Resolution #3
Not leave the editing of essays until I have weeks and weeks and weeks worth of essays to edit; filling me with a temptation to "misplace" them. I have so many essays to read over winter break that I honestly considered telling the kids they got lost by the movers who are relocating us over vacation. (Our school underwent a remodel.)

Bad teacher. VERY baaad teacher.

Resolution #4
Devise a way to stop giving spelling tests. I hate spelling test. It tests them on nothing. Sure, they spell ok in isolation, but unless they develop a career playing Words with Friends, spelling in isolation is a useless skill. I'd rather teach the spelling rules, but skip the traditional spelling test. Spelling in context is key.

Maybe they could use words that follow the weekly spelling rules in those essays I'm going to be grading with more frequency?

Resolution #5
Stop thinking up resolutions that make editing essays more work than it already is.

Resolution #6
Make an honest attempt to fulfill my resolutions.

Resolution #7
Stop lying to myself. I'm never going to actually DO these things.

Resolution #8
Hold myself to a higher standard than I have in the past. Strive to be a better person and challenge myself to make personal and professional changes when changes are needed.

Resolution #9
On second thought, love myself just the way I am.

Resolution #10
Blog more.