Costco wins again

Here is the latest addition to our home:

A fade-free, stain-free 7x10 ft rug we got for $99 at Costco (where else?). It sure does make our living room and dining area look so much cozier!

Also? This is the fifth item of furniture/home decor we have bought from there! They should really start paying us for all the good press we give them....

I don't teach no stinkin' fifth graders!

Andrew raises his hand. "Mrs. B? I can't breathe."

"Why not?", I prompt.

"Because of Ricky" he informs me.

Suddenly, I can smell Ricky too. And what did Ricky have to say for himself? "There's a skunk in my pocket."

Born in 1982, not 1882

I was introducing new vocabulary to my fifth graders recently. One new word was "invention". I had to explain what it was and I used a few examples before turning to the light switch. "Someone invented electric lights", I said, "Before we had electric lights, we had to use candles!"
Then one kid in the back asked me in all earnestness: "Mrs. B, was there light when you were little??"
I think I may have just sprouted a few more gray hairs....

You know you teach in the inner city when...

Many of you will remember that a while ago, I started a token reward system for my students. They can earn tokens by showing good learning behavior: raise your hand, read quietly, bottom on your chair, follow directions the first time, etc. I open up my "store" every day for them, and their tokens are kept in a small basket velcroed to the front of their desks.
Today, as we were transitioning between classrooms, I looked up from my desk to see "James" standing with his hands in the air protesting "I don't take none you tokens" while "Michael" FRISKED him. Literally patting him on his sides up and down to check if James had swiped any of his tokens!
I feel safer just knowing Michael is in my classroom...

.....Or brussel sprouts

A little tip on rewarding your students for hard work:

Choose a food item that you yourself enjoy. That way when you scarf down two ice cream sandwiches in one sitting, you can say you are just cleaning up the leftovers!

Another little tip:

Choose a food item that makes you want to barf if you are trying to stay healthy... that way you won't be tempted to eat all the leftovers. In retrospect, I should have rewarded my students with some Beanboozled Jelly Beans.


The kick-butt leather boots I was talking about in my previous post:

What you can't see in the picture is that I am madly in love with them!

Conclusion: need more vacation time

Things I did:
  1. Got a new dryer
  2. Spent Christmas money at Old Navy (one dress and three skirts for ten bucks total!!!)
  3. Got the oil changed
  4. Ran errands at Walmart
  5. Ate lunch at Chick-Fil-A
  6. Went to church
  7. Watched Barney run off some steam at the dog park
  8. Worked out
  9. Cleaned the house
  10. Spent more money at the mall
  11. Bought kick-butt knee high leather boots from the thrift store
  12. Watched the Best Movie of All Time ("Mansfield Park", the 1999 version)
  13. Ate chili and homemade bread (thanks, Max!)
Things I meant to do, but never ended up happening:
  1. Blog
  2. Write in my old-fashioned journal
  3. Sew some baby leg-warmers
  4. Organize my closet
  5. Clean/organize my craft area
  6. Make biscotti

Can't we all just eat ice cream?

As you can see from the comments on my previous post, I have some amazingly creative readers! I was thinking more about fantastic classroom inventions this week because the kids have been taking their second round of benchmarks. (Benchmark tests are for the district). I wish I had a button that made all tests disappear. In the words of my husband: "They're testing AGAIN!?"
As teachers, we want our students to do their best. But I have issues with rewarding kids by how well they do on tests. And maybe this is just because I'm coming at it from a special education perspective... you know, what about those kids who try their hardest but still miss the mark? What about the kid with severe test anxiety? What about the kid who is just having an awful time at home right now? That's why I had to try not to cringe when the teachers in the lounge were talking about how they were "motivating" their students to do their best on the benchmark tests. One teacher told her students that she'll be making ice cream sundaes for kids who get 90 and above while all the other students just watch. Last year, for the state test, they promised a McDonald's Happy Meal for all the students who passed! One teacher told us that he was so depressed about how his kids did on the math benchmarks yesterday, that he ate every single cookie he had promised them as a reward IN FRONT OF THEM. Meanwhile, I'm trying not to choke on my lunch burrito.
These teachers happen to be very good and very caring teachers. I just don't understand what happens to common sense when testing comes around! But maybe I'm the one who is wrong here. Should I be throwing ice cream parties for the kids who passed? Do potentially better test results justify the means? What is your take on bribing (ahem, rewarding) for tests?

Things I would pay thousands of dollars for

Here are some inventions that I really think every modern classroom needs:

1. Pencils that come with a very small microchip inside that would beep VERY loud when a student walks out of your classroom with it. (My teacher pencils keep disappearing!! How hard is it for students to remember to bring a pencil with them to school every day?)

2. Something like an "easy" button that, when pressed, would automatically generate the next week's lesson plans. I'd fork over a lot of cash for that one...

3. Expo dry-erase markers that never run out of ink.

4. Another button that, when pressed, cancels every before and after school meeting of any given day.

5. An anti-stress invisible shield that, when activated, prevents any one from dumping any more responsibility on you. Emails would never reach your inbox. Memos would disappear from your mailbox. Administrators would talk to you but you wouldn't be able to hear a sound.

6. A fast forward button that would instantly take you to June!!

Did I miss any?

The New Year's Resolution of the Century

Yesterday was my first day back at work. It was a really nice transition because it was an all day professional development meeting! But being back at school, back in my classroom, back behind my desk... let's just say I was really missing Vacation. I was also dreading the return of a particular problem-child in my fourth grade class. You know, the one who's so flippantly defiant all the time, who saunters out of my classroom and off school grounds when he doesn't feel like following directions, who isn't above hitting or kicking others when he wants his way. Yeah, that kid. I was kinda hoping he had moved out of town. I was especially nervous about how he would do today on his first day back.
But he came back! And he managed to keep it together all morning! In fact, he even came up to me and said very earnestly:
"I not going to be crazy no more. I don't hit nobody!"
Yeah, I'll toast to that!!!
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