. Regurgitated Alpha Bits: 2013

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Awwww, Man

Before every meal, my teaching partner's middle kid (her actual child by birth, not a student) says "Awwwww, man!" a lot! I mean A LOT, and mostly before they eat. 

And then my partner figured out why. 

You see, her kids go to a private Christian school. Her middle child is in preschool. Each day at snack time, they sing a song before they eat. She has begun singing the song at home too, right before meals. 

And she ends it with "Awwwwww, Man!"

'Cause that's what you say at the end of a prayer.  

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Rookie Mistake

Each of our students has a gmail account and google drive account through the school. That means we can create and share documents totally online and paperlessly. It's pretty cool!

We just got these accounts though, so teachers and kids alike are are learning as we go.

Today, my most intensive readers and I were working on creating a new document, giving it a name, saving it and then sharing it with me so I can grade it.

A time-consuming process for all the kids at this point, but glacially slow with these kids.

And, as is usually the case with me, I was running behind. We were right in the middle of naming our documents "Last name, first initial, Super Sentences" when I saw my next class lining up outside. I had to get things moving.

So I decided they should shorten "Super Sentences" to "SS" in their titles.

I asked Arturo Granado, the student who was modeling my instructions using his iPad under my document camera, to type in our shortened title, thus producing in all its giant, well-lit glory across the front of my room:

Granado A SS


Thank goodness these kids rarely look at my examples and were already furiously typing their titles.

So I quietly positioned myself in front of the offending title and encouraged them to type quickly.

And the following shared documents began populating my folder:

Smith ASS - from Adam Smith
Gonzalez ASS - from Andy Gonzalez
Jones A SS - from Amy Jones (at least she remembered the space between her initial and SS...)

Tomorrow, we are going to learn how to delete a document.

Before next week when we will show our parents Google Drive.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


I'm pretty quick on my feet.

Verbally, that is. (Physically, a legless tortoise could catch me.)

But verbally, I'm pretty spry. It's not often I'm thrown by what someone says to me.

But when a parent asked me for a wine opener at a school picnic, it left me a little speechless.

He was kidding, but he didn't tell me that part until after he went on and on about how much more fun these things would be with a little vino in our systems. How kids are so much more fun when you have a buzz. How, grown up to grown up, we can agree that wine makes everything child-related more tolerable.

But he was kidding!


Saturday, October 26, 2013

I've Been Waiting for This

It finally happened.

And I'm ticked.

Our grade has pretty good state test scores. We feel (probably like every teacher does) that our scores could be better and that the kids deserve that, so we're always looking for new ways to meet their needs.

Like everyone else out there, we do lots of small groups, lots of pre-teaching, lots of reteaching, tutoring before school and during lunch and LOTS of small victories cheerleading in an attempt to make a small dent in the long list of needs our little kiddos have. We are so proud of them when they get to see some success throughout the year, and excited for them when they can show some growth on that doggone state test.

Because of the hard work the kids put in, some of them score proficient in reading and/or math for the first time in their school careers. We are so proud of them!

Well, another teacher at our school suggested lately that the only way some of our 4th graders could score proficient in reading or math was through cheating.


That assertion completely disregards all the extra work and time those kids put in to accomplish such scores. It implies that they CAN'T do it. It implies we teachers cheated too.

We didn't cheat. We all, teachers and students alike, worked very hard, as I know all of you do too.

Maybe that teacher should take a lesson from the kids. Hard work has its rewards.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Feeeeed Me

We have a little cherub, who we'll call Bobby Lee, and he really enjoys food. 

Reeeeeally enjoys food. 

It's about all he wants to discuss. 

It's the only thing he wants as a reward in class. 

It's what he wants in his hands during recess. 

It's the only topic he'll use a complete sentence for when talking. 

And there is no shortage of it in his home. This is not a case where a kid is not being fed. 

Oh yes, he's being fed. His mother has made that clear. 

Well, we recently gave each of our students their own email addresses and had them practice sending emails to their teachers. They read as follows:

Susie Smilth - I LOVE fourth grade!!!!!

Billy Jones - This is the greatest year ever!!!!!

Timmy Williams - You're the best teachers ever!!!!!

Linda Thomas - I can't believe how awesome this is!!!!!

Bobby Lee - I'm hungry. 

And then today, my teaching partner was discussing with Bobby about how he should be behaving in his RSP class, because he has been making some pretty poor choices. They reviewed and reviewed three positive behaviors we would like him to display. 

And when he was asked to recite those three behaviors, he said:

Keep my hands to myself. 
Participate politely. 

Good try, kid. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Book 'Em

Today I was teaching a lesson about, when answering questions about a piece of text, how to refer to that text in your answers. 

For example, a question might say, "Name one living thing found in the desert ecosystem."

Instead of making answers up, I would like students to refer to the information found in the provided text.

We practiced using sentence frames such as:

"On page ___, the author states _____."


"On page ___, paragraph ___, the text says ___________."  

After much group practice, I gave them a question directly from their science text to work on with a partner. 

But first, I checked if anyone had any questions. 

And question number one was:

Can we use our books?


Tuesday, September 24, 2013


Seeing a student pick his nose and then eat what he picked ranks in the top 3 things I dislike about my job. 

That is all. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Aren't You...?

We had Back to School Night last night. Fourth grade had a good turn-out, probably because we don't do the talking. We make a movie with the kids explaining everything, and parents show up to see their kids on "the big screen."

One of the parents came up to me after the session and she had her sister with her. Her sister just kept staring at me. Finally, the sister says, "Maybe you taught here when I went to school here. Do you know a teacher named Miss Blank?"

"That's me! I was Miss Blank! I got married a few years ago." I replied.

And she burst into tears and threw her arms around me.

Well, as it turns out, I was her 3rd grade teacher and I seemed to have had a bit of an impact on her. (But not visually...)

She's 21 years old now and going to college. She wants to be a teacher, and credited me with that (although I think others probably had as big an impact or more.) According to her and her sister, her favorite year was 3rd grade, and she often spoke about me after she left our school.

How touching!

She asked if we could stay in touch.

I said no.

Just kidding.

She loved third grade and that was worth a million bucks to me. Of course we can stay in touch ! It is so gratifying to see one of my students all grown up and working towards a wonderful career.

I feel so lucky!

Friday, August 23, 2013

She's Gonna Die?!?

We always start off the year in fourth grade by reading The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. (If you haven't read it, you really should! Click here to watch the 1973 version of it. You'll never understand the rest of this post without having read it.) 

(Oh, and it's a good book.)

The book is a terrific launching point for introducing the Depth and Complexity icons we will be using with the kids all year. It also conveys a message about selflessness and caring we like to reinforce. 

So we were discussing using the Unanswered Questions icon, looking for things we were left wondering about after reading the book. 

The questions they developed included:

Why did the tree always give so much to the boy?
Why didn't the boy ever say thank you?
Why did the tree let the boy use her like that?
Did the boy love the tree, even when he got older?

And a lively discussion followed each question. It was a great deal of fun!

Then a girl asked, "Why was the tree willing to die for the boy?"

So I asked her to expand on her question, and she said, "She's a tree with no leaves or branches. She gave them to the boy. Now she's going to die. Why would she do that?"

And that's when it hit me. 

That tree is gonna die! 

I've read this book a hundred times. I read it as a kid and have read it to every class I've had for 17 years. 

And I never realized that the tree gave her life for the boy. 

How did I miss that?!?! 

But a nine-year-old saw it. 




Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Day 1

Today was my first day with my new class. Well, 1/3 of my new class. I've only met my homeroom so far.

And how did it go?

Wow! Thanks for asking!

It went well.

If "well" includes having a kid tell me I have old, wrinkly hands and having another kid swinging his jacket over his head like helicopter whenever he thought I wasn't looking. (Getting caught once stops most kids, but not him.)

Should be fun!

In reality, they seem like a super sweet bunch and I'm looking forward to working with them.

I'll keep you posted.

Let's hope some funny stuff happens!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Kid Humor

A quiet little girl came up to me in science class today, as we're finishing up our final projects on the rock cycle, and says:

Little Girl: What did Sherlock Holmes say to Watson about the rock he found?

Me: I don't know. What?

Little Girl: Sedimentary, my dear Watson!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Old Joke Put to Good Use

Wanna know what I did today at work?

I blew my nose.

Because I have a cold, and my nose was suuuuuuper stuffy.

But my classroom microphone was still on...

And students were taking the practice test for state testing.

And they had NO idea if they should laugh, puke, groan or stay quiet since we were testing.

So , of course, I apologized.

And said, "Sorry kids. I thought my mic was off."

"But it's snot!"

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Bless You

Today, my class and I walked past Mrs. Hernandez,  a mother who was a pebble in my shoe all year last year. Our 4th grade team never did anything right in her eyes. Of course once she got her kid's state test scores and saw, despite our perceived ineptitude, that her kid made great progress, we suddenly became her "favorite teachers of all time." 


So when she threw a big hello my way, followed up by a "I really miss having you as my daughter's teacher," I steeled myself to fake an enthusiastic greeting. (Not my strongest area.)

But I was saved by a most unexpected hero. 

Just as little Ricardo was passing by her in line, he sneezed a great big, wet, uncovered and highly unexpected sneeze 

...all over the front of her. 

Bless you, Ricardo. Bless you!

(It wasn't my sneeze, but I'm taking it as a personal victory.)

Friday, April 19, 2013

Tender Moments

I have a sizable bruise on my arm right now. (I banged into a door handle and bruise like a peach.)

And here is the conversation the next day:

Kid: What's that? (Pokes my bruise)

Me: A bruise. And ouch!

Kid: Oh. I thought it was a tattoo.

Me: A tattoo? Of a bruise?

Kid:  You never know nowadays, Mrs. Lee. You never know.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Breakfast, err Dinner, of Champions

Yesterday, I was doing a social skills lesson about similarities and differences with our friends.

Each student stood back to back with a partner as I called out different scenarios such as "It's your turn to go down a big water slide," or "Your best friend hands you his pet snake." After each, students showed their reactions on their faces (happy, scared, excited, etc...) and then turned around to see if their partner had the same reaction or different and we discussed our feelings.

And here's how it went right at the end:

Me: Ok. Get back to back again. Here's the next one. Your mom is serving cereal for dinner.

Little Girl under her breath: Again???