Gingerbread Teacher

So the gingerbread graphing activity was a success! The kids were all really excited, and they all promised me they would only take one bite, then finish the rest after they did the worksheet. To my surprise, everyone loved the cookies (usually there's one kid who doesn't like to try new foods). I was also surprised that the kids didn't all bite the head off first (that was my first thought: a decapitated gingerbread man would be funny). In fact it was practically a tie between how many people bit off arm, leg, or head--which was too bad for my graphing activity but oh well. One student made me laugh out loud when, after he had taken one bite and done the worksheet and it was time to finish the cookie, he folded his napkin around his gingerbread man and said: "First, I will give him a memorial". He said it quite somberly with almost a hint of regret that he would eating the rest of it, it just made me crack up. Plus, where did he learn the word "memorial"?? Too funny.

This is what my gingerbread man looked like after my first tiny bite... I wish I could have included pictures of the kids, but you'll have to wait until Christmas :).

Gingerbread News

As I let my toe-nail polish dry, I thought I'd write a quick update. Not much is newsworthy these days. We started our Gingerbread Man unit this week and the kids are getting a kick out of all the different versions I borrowed from the local library (the Gingerbread Boy, Girl, Baby, Mouse, Cowboy). They are all familiar with the basic story. I'm getting the sneaking suspicion, though, that they only consider the "gingerbread man" as a story character, and not as a cookie. Most of my kids are Hispanic, and I'm not sure if make gingerbread in that culture.... I'm assuming they don't. What a great excuse to eat cookies in class! I have Nestle pre-made gingerbread cookie dough in the form of boys and girls cooking in the oven right now. Tomorrow I'll distribute one cookie to each child; I'll let them take one bite, then we'll do a graphing activity based on what body part they ate first, then they'll get to eat the rest of the cookie (hopefully they'll have enough self-control to stop for a minute after the first bite!). We'll see how they do :).
Friday, we'll use an array of different candies (M&M's, cinnamon hearts, licorice strands, etc) to glue down to gingerbread men made of cardstock as an art project. That should be fun, and hopefully I'll remember to bring my camera so I can post pictures!


Wow. It's been a while since I've posted... I'll recap this last week for you using mostly words (for a pictorial summary, click here)

Tuesday's Thanksgiving Feast with the DHH program went very well. The food was excellent, the kids were downright hyper, and things went smoothly. After feeding forty kids, the staff got to sample each others' cooking, and it was all very yummy (though a little bit cold by that time). I can't even describe the sweet sense of freedom that was mine as I went home that night... five whole days off!!

Wednesday was a shopping day--some last minute Thanksgiving items, and a jaunt over to Goodwill where I found the cutest black boots. Peter arrived later that evening, and after a walk around the back bay, we watched "Nacho Libre" (a very silly movie, much in the style of "Napoleon Dynamite")

Thursday we enjoyed a very yummy turkey dinner, mostly prepared by Max (though I did contribute another green bean casserole). We ate sooo much--but not cranberry sauce, because nobody likes that stuff anyway. Peter and his friend came over to help us eat all the food. Here's a picture of us waiting for the food to be ready:

Max is smiling, but he's secretly disappointed that I forgot to get rolls at the store... ;)

After dinner, we watched "Elf" to kickoff the Christmas season. Woo hoo!!

Friday, we picked up my grandma from the airport (she just got back from China).
Saturday, we went to the beach and bummed around. I fed the seagulls (way fun)--many of them were hovering above my head, waiting to catch a crumb mid air!

And today, I did everything that I was supposed to do during this break but was putting off. I did three loads of laundry. I went grocery shopping. I watered grandma's plants. I took three practice tests for the CTEL I have to take on Dec. 9 (don't ask me about it unless you want to hear some ranting...). And to reward me for all my trouble, Max made me the Best Baked Potato Ever--complete with cheese, sour cream, green onions, and bacon bits fresh from the frying pan. And since I'm dreading going back to work in the morning, Max is going to give me an extra helping of ice cream to make me feel better.

He just doesn't know it yet...

Oh Happy Day!

This morning as I walked across campus to my classroom, I noticed quite a few teachers with happy, giddy faces walking around. As I paused to think why my colleagues would be so chipper this morning, I suddenly remembered that this is a two-day week in honor of Thanksgiving! Duh. So then I was walking around pretty happy too :). Today was Monday and tomorrow is like a Friday--why can't every week be like this?
Nothing too major happened over the weekend. We ran errands, we cleaned. We had company over Saturday night (old high school friend and his new wife) which was fun. Sunday was very relaxing--I even picked up a book from the library! Today was fairly uneventful, aside from the birthday mini-celebration we had for our classroom volunteer (I'm guessing she turned forty-something but I wasn't about to ask...). The kids gave her the sweetest cards, and I gave her some chocolate from France. I could tell she was really touched....
Tomorrow is our Thanksgiving Feast at school. It's a tradition for the whole DHH program to get together (about 30 kids) and the staff (us) bring in the turkey with all the works. It's always a lot of fun, and the kids have been looking forward to it since last week! Speaking of which, I need to get crackin' on that green-bean casserole I'm bringing in tomorrow...

The Case of the Missing Supplies

Over the past few months, my aide has said things to me like: "Hm. I thought we had more markers", or, "Have you seen the red construction paper?" Today when she was looking for gold-yellow construction paper and it was all gone, I started to get worried. Before, I just assumed that things were messy and got lost, or moved, or maybe we were just losing our minds. But I could have sworn we had lots of gold-yellow construction paper left the last time I checked. My aide suggested that maybe somebody was taking things from our room. I dismissed the idea quickly, but the more I thought about it....

Two weeks ago, my colleague wanted to borrow a certain edition of the second grade reading curriculum. I directed her to where I keep that stuff, but it wasn't there! And even more telling, Monday morning I noticed that one of my two large classroom clocks was missing. One clock is a district clock, and the other was a personal clock that the teacher before me had bought--the one missing was the one belonging to the teacher before me. My colleague from across the hall, upon hearing of my little problem with disappearing items, was sure that the culprit was this other teacher who left right before I came. She must have kept the room key (she took a year off last year, and went back to teaching at a different school this year). So we went to the office to request a lock change.

The whole thing is quite bizarre. If she wanted her clock back, why not come and ask for it? Or call? As for the markers and construction paper--that stuff isn't hers, it stays with the classroom. Our supplies like construction paper come from district allotted budgets. Anyways, it could be that we're wrong, and it's not her... but she is the only good suspect so far.

And furthermore, how come I keep getting robbed? But I suppose missing markers is better than missing thousands of dollars :)


No fun pictures this time, but I do have a lot of mental pictures of parents smiling at parent-teacher conferences, and that is always good. Unless they were evil, menacing smiles then it wouldn't be as good. But their smiles were genuine....

So far, I've talked to four children's parents, so I've got six to go. I love conference week because there's early dismissal all week, and no kids on Wednesday so that the upper el. teachers who have thirty sets of parents to see can fit it all in. Yea! I only have ten parents to see which means that I get to play... or catch up on work, whichever I feel like. In any case, this week is a breeze, despite not sleeping well (getting used to a bed can difficult--who knew?). Tomorrow, everyone in our DHH program is going out to eat so I'm definitely looking forward to that! I miss my colleagues... sometimes it seems like I only see them at the copy machine or on bus duty!

Quite a few parents have told me that their child REALLY enjoys coming to school. It somehow made me feel flattered, but the more I think about it, the more I believe that my kids are just too young to feel cynical about learning. Either that, or we do way more cooking and crafts than we should be doing and they're not working hard enough :). Either way, it was an odd feeling to have one set of parents look at me with an outright grateful look. But I'll take it!! The more I think about it, the more I feel like this group's parents are much more accepting of their child's disability and more able to support what I'm doing in the classroom. Maybe that's what makes the difference...
But who knows. I still have six more sets of parents to see and lots could happen to change my theory by the end of the week :)

A weekend in pictures

I can't believe my long awaited long weekend is almost gone! Where did it all go? Well, first off, Thursday afternoon, we made "haystacks" (which is a mixture of butterscotch chips, peanut butter, and dried chow mein noodles--it sounds gross, but it's surprisingly good!). The kids were really into it, and some of them made it a point to remind me that hay turns into cow poop later. Whaddaya know? My kids do listen to me :).

Here's a flattering picture after my aide encouraged me to mix with my fingers!

And this weekend, we FINALLY bought a bed and a couch. We're happy with both, although we cheaped out big time on the couch and bought a futon at IKEA. We just couldn't stomach paying 6 to 800 dollars for a couch we knew we wouldn't be keeping forever. The futon is comfortable enough for us, and plus, it will give overnight family visitors a place to stay ;).

I then went out and bought a nice comforter set for our new bed. What a luxury it is to sleep elevated from the floor!! Wow. I guess three months was long enough to sleep on the floor. Our apartment is definitely more homey now. It even inspired me to do some cooking and cleaning!

And today, we went out to lunch with my old friend from high school and his new wife. So it's been a very busy, productive, and fun weekend! Now it's time to go suck the fun out the last remaining hours of freedom I have before work starts up again tomorrow! Either that, or I'll go do the laundry...

It could always be worse...

I should be safely tucked away under the covers right now, but the thought of a long-awaited three-day weekend is leading me to believe that I can stay up really late and not suffer the consequences tomorrow (Thursday). Tsk, tsk. Early morning regrets are usually quickly forgotten by the end of the day :).

I've been running around like a semi-crazy woman gathering student work for portfolios, grading papers, writing report cards, creating assessments, testing one-on-one, and writing IEP's. Today the administration was gracious and allowed us to have the afternoon to work in our classrooms instead of boring us with some useless drivel at a staff meeting. It would have been great to have that time, but it turns out all four of the DHH teachers had to stand at the bus stop for thirty minutes after school waiting for a late bus to take our kids home.... So I really only had half of that time. But, don't worry, I made up for it by staying extra late!

Actually, I have nothing to complain about. Most people aren't getting a three day weekend for Veterans Day. And at least I didn't have to deal with a student who had explosive diarrhea like my colleague who teaches across the hall had to. This poor student... it got all over her clothes, in her shoes, and all over the floor.... I'm getting her next year, so let's all start praying now that I never have to come across that kind of situation!

Have a mess-free day today, everyone!! :)

"Fantastic" California!

I shouldn't even be posting, I should be working... But I needed a break from all of the report card writing, assessment grading, and IEP writing. A short week sure doesn't mean a slow week! I was observed this morning by the principal (wouldn't a more accurate observation be an unscheduled one? I guess I should be careful what I wish for!). I thought it went well. When I got to his office, I found out that he thought so too, so I was pleased. I think the word he used was "fantastic", but I don't want to pat myself on the back. But maybe I can justify an extra scoop of ice cream for my "fantastic" performance..... ;)

In other news, I spent $296 signing up to take the CTEL tests in December to prove that I know how to teach English Language Learners in California. There were deaf kids long before there were ELL kids, but whatever. I guess I can just tack on that bill to my $80,000 education for a degree that allows me to teach ELL! California is SOOO special! (You may want to wipe off the dripping sarcasm from you computer screens, folks) I guess it's the price I pay to live in year-round nice weather :)

Speaking of that, I need to go vote today....

Bathroom Talk

I had a really fun activity planned for today's "Fun Day Friday" time (kids can only participate if they've turned in their homework!). Unfortunately, I had to cancel it because I was forced to spend that time lecturing my students on the importance of proper bathroom behavior instead. Apparently, two of my students were observed by another staff member to be rough-housing in the bathroom, as well as peeking under the doors, locking doors, etc. The culprits wouldn't admit it to the other staff member, even though they had been identified by said staff. Well, after a long lecture, two detention slips, and quite a few teary eyes as I packed away all of the ingredients for my "haystacks" recipe, I decided that I would at least read them a story.

So I pulled my "Haystacks" book which I borrowed from the public library. I hadn't read it yet, so I decided now would be a good time. Well.... the book is all about farms, and farmers and hay. Near the end, it had a drawing of all that was left after the cows and pigs ate the hay. So my kids learned a new word today: manure. They were all quite shocked and grossed out when the next picture showed the manure being spread all over the field and I explained how it helps to grow our food. One student was particularly expressive and I saw visible relief on his face when I explained that the manure wasn't actually on the corn, just that it helped it grow. He later put his head in his hands and said, (in what I think was a statement intended to communicate overwhelming shock): "This is really a new day for me!"


I was just thinking today how much I love my kids! They can be cute even when they get in trouble...

I had a girl today chew out a teacher on recess duty for telling her to play in a different area. She yelled at her and pointed her accusing index finger right at her: "I don't like what you said! I'm so mad at you! I'm telling my dad and he'll be mad at you!". She went on and on. Thankfully the recess teacher had a sense of humor, and instead of getting mad and issuing a citation, she tried to keep from bursting out in laughter!
When said student got back to the classroom and my aide told me what happened, I pulled her aside and we had a chat about the right way to express our feelings. I told her that it's okay to let people know how we feel, but it's not okay to yell at a teacher because that is disrespectful. Because our classroom rules state that we follow directions the first time, and that we respect other people, I asked her to color her apple blue (that's one step down in the "good behavior chart"). She cried quite a bit and was obviously upset by the whole thing ("how did you hear me?" she asked), but I think she understands why her behavior was inappropriate. She will also be apologizing to the recess teacher tomorrow.

Ahhh, was I that funny when I was little and in trouble? I just remember having a sore bottom once in a while....
And, according to Max, he never got in trouble when he was little. Or if he did, he doesn't remember!

Kids have it easy!

Okay, okay, so I promised pictures :). I can't show the kids' faces, but I can show you some of what we did after our pizza party on Tuesday:

We made "ants on a log" (you would be surprised at how many kids are resistant to celery!)

Then, we made edible spiders--much more popular!

The kids also enjoyed making tissue paper ghosts.

After the festivities at school were over, I headed out to a high-class mall with my grandma to watch all the little trick-or-treaters go from store to store and get candy. My treat was a nice prime rib dinner!
Thankfully we didn't have a bunch of tired kids come in to school today.... instead it was just us tired teachers sitting in meetings from 8 to 3. Very draining, very overwhelming day. Good thing it's over--now I can get back to catching up on all my work!!
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