Thursday, April 10, 2014

What are Little Boys Made Of?

There are so many things in the curriculum today:  craft and structure, key ideas, range of reading and complexity, production and distribution, etc. etc.
Yet there is nothing that says 2.34-  children should find joy in learning.
web pic

I'm so thankful that most teachers include joy.
I can't begin to express the heartache of dedicating yourself to helping other children, and to not be able to move your own child as fast as you wish.  It steals the joy in learning.
It can truly make you feel like the worst person in the world.  

There can be further frustration that school is set up for girls.  
Sure, boys do amazing in school.  There are boys who are blessed with quiet natures and a natural learning ability.  
Just like there are loud girls who are not natured to sit still (me).

NEA web pic
However, a close look at current national stats tell a story. 
Girls on average are higher in language, do better on tests, relate better to the all female teachers, and most of the gains in America's educational system in the past 30 years have been made by girls.   Girls outperform boys in all areas (NEA).  
Further studies:

  • Boys account for 71 percent of all school suspensions. Fifty-nine percent of Black boys and 42 percent of Hispanic boys report being suspended. (U.S. Dept of Ed and Schott Foundation Report)
  • Boys comprise 67 percent of all special education students. Almost 80 percent of these are Black and Hispanic males. (USDOE and Schott Foundation Report)
  • Boys are five times more likely than girls to be classified as hyperactive and are 30 percent more likely to flunk or drop out of school. (National Center for Education Statistics)

We all know there is a lot of untapped potential out there.  

My whole teaching career I have sat across from these little boys who look at chairs like they are poison. They would rather be rolling in the dirt and chasing dogs across the pond! Adventuresome, intelligent, funny, dirty, wonderfully complex boys, who have been identified as slow, poor, wild, and defiant.

Then I give them a passage from your average first grade book:

"This is a very big painting.  The light on the woman's dress make it look like she's really sitting here.  A note on the wall tells us about the artist and the painting."

(Doesn't it make you want to sit and listen?) 
NOW Little Johnny sit and listen before you walk your whole recess, why are you moving around!?!  I'm not telling you again. Why did the painting look real?
Boy:  I don't give a crap about a dress.
That. is. it.  Go back to your desk!  You are so disrespectful! We don't have time for this.

web pic

web pic

Last night I couldn't wait to get Connor to read this little chapter book called Shark Attack!  I thought it would be an awesome story about a Shark who got loose on a field trip.  
Freddy can't wait for the class trip to the aquarium!  But is Freddy a big enough shark fan to ace the Shark Quiz?

I mean I can't believe Connor didn't want to read further to see if Freddy would pass a QUIZ!?
The anticipation.  

For weeks, I have been "flash carding" my son to get him more fluent in sight words.  It was a lot like nailing jello to the wall. 
Boy did Connor enjoy it- "do we have to do this again?"  as the bug in the light captured his attention while I reviewed away, yelling PAY ATTENTION.

 How many sight word games can you play without getting out the cooking sherry and chugging?

So after reading, Shark Attack,  I decided I had enough abilities to write a book that didn't involve 'passing a shark quiz'.

I tried to fashion it as close to his current reading level as possible.
I made it about something he really loves.
I used the same sight words we have battled for weeks. 
It's my first finished book.
You can read it here.
I'm sure pretty Scholastic will NOT be rushing to buy it.

The good news:  Connor LOVED it.  He has read it three times tonight and asked for another story.  I can say he was sincerely interested and read for over an hour total with his hw book.
It made me feel awesome.  
I created something he wanted to read!  
(I mean I cringe every time I have to hear it....)  
Still, he is flying through those words.

YES!  YES!  YES!  -aka. Daniel Bryant

still reading in the van

Looking at my son, he is a wonderful little boy that doesn't fit the school mold.  
I know what God is telling me, but so help me Dear God the second school is in session I am the one trying to shove him with all my strength in that mold.  
It isn't going to happen.  God already said so.

I just hope in this rigorous academic pace of keeping standards high and pushing all children to succeed, that we take the time to include the frogs, tails, and puppy dog tails.  
We better all understand what children are made of, otherwise we are all going no where fast.

This ain't Dick and Jane: WWE Readers #1

Is this a dream?
“What is going on?” said B.
This can’t be REAL!  
We were on WWE!!

magic rock

Maybe I shouldn’t have made fun of that “magic rock” under the tree branch
The legend at BT is there is a purple rock that is magic.  
If you find it, it will make wishes come true!
My friend B. found a rock today to show me.
It must be real.

Then we heard creepy music.
Oh!  My!

“ummm. Is that the Wyatt family?”  my friend asked.
He looked scared.
I looked down the ramp.
The WWE lights were as bright as the sun.
We were on RAW!
The song Beat It (changed to Beat Em) played.
It boomed from the speakers.

It was the real thing and the Wyatt Family looked MAD.
B. and I took one look at each other.
“Let’s do this!” we both shouted.
We were a team.  We had work to do.

“Announcing, THE ATTITUDE ERA”, said Jerry the King Lawler, “I have heard these guys are amazing!”
“I hope the Wyatt family makes them pay!” shouted Michael Cole.
“Dude, shut your pie hole” said Jerry.

We  slapped high five to the fans on the side.
We walked down the ramp showing our muscles.
They were all chanting-  B.! Connor!

This was great.

The music stopped.
Uh!  Oh!
We were on our own.
The Creepy Lamb mask was coming for us!
No more child’s play.
We had to Eat, Sleep, and Conquer.

I jumped into the square circle in one move.
B. hopped over the ropes.  
He had light up wrestling tights!
It was too funny.

Then, Bray, Luke, and Eric were fighting us.
I was scared for my life!

“Lookout!”  said my tag team partner.
Bray Wyatt was trying to do the Sister Abigail.
He was going in for the kiss.....
I went below his head.
He missed me.

B. came up behind Bray and kicked him out from under his legs.
He fell.
Then I had to tell him to watch out.
B. looked up to see Luke Wyatt grab him.  
I climbed to the top of the turn buckles.
On the inside I did a high jump right on Luke!!!!

The crowd went crazy.
It was awesome.

From the left corner, I saw the lamb mask coming at me!
I got low before the next hit.

I had no choice but to do an elbow smash, crushing Erick Rowan’s mask.
“Hey that cost big dollars!” said Erick.
“You can send the bill to Vince McMahon, loser!”

Attitude Adjustment RULES!
I could not wait to tell my class about this event.

Soon I heard the music to Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman.

Oh Boy this was going to be a long night.
Paul Heyman started to run his mouth.
I gave him the elbow smash!
He got quiet.

All of a sudden, I saw my partner with his hand bent back!
Brock Lesnar was trying to break his arm.
That was one big jerk.

Stop!  Get off my partner!  I am going to squeeze your head like a ball python!” I shouted.

I was on my way to save him.
Then the Wyatt family grabbed me in a choke hold.
3 against 1.
This was low down dirty.

We could not run for cover!!!

We were going to die.
THEN, we heard Cult of Personality music!

NO way.
CM Punk came back to the WWE for us.

The fans chanted  “Attitude ERA!”
B. turned on his light up wrestling tights.
so funny
The fans cheered.

CM Punk ran out.
He jumped into the ring and got Bray Wyatt on the ropes.
He knocked out two brothers with the Pepsi Plunge!

It was a great move, but B. and I had a better one.
We linked arms, 
bounced off the ropes, 
and high kicked two at one time!  
The best finishing move 
.....the Badtitude Bash!

We did it!  
We were the most important tag team champs of all time!
It was so awesome.

Now we have to go home.
Remember this rule:  
Always Beware of Magic Rocks (and the Figure Four).

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

It Started with a Seed...

This week we bought pumpkin seeds.
Pumpkins Seeds are dreadful.
I thought they would be a healthy snack.
Connor asks me if he can give Carlee one.
I say yes.  
Five minutes later we have the exact same chocking incident as last time.
Connor screams “Carlee can’t breath, she is chocking!”  
Darren steps in and I check out.  
I start yelling at Connor to be quiet and to just put up the seeds!
I am no help.
Darren pounds Carlee's back and she throws up a small handful of pumpkin seeds.
We tell a distraught Connor it is going to be ok, it wasn’t his fault.  
She just snuck a few seeds while I wasn’t watching.

The next day at 
I pick Carlee up for a requested hearing test and possible language assessment.
There is a lot of talking from Carlee, 
but I don’t understand much of what is being said.
There are not many consonant sounds.  
I ‘anna ash (I wanna wash).  I ooo (I go).

Maybe it is age appropriate.
Maybe it isn’t.
Maybe I’ve taken over 40 hours of language training this year and I’m HYPERsensitive.
Maybe she needs early intervention.
Maybe she needs time.
I tell all of this to Dr. T.  (again).
She is given a 15 minute hearing test.  For 15 minutes she has to sit quietly, not move, and not talk.
She does it.
(Obviously she is like her father.)

3:00pm:  Her wheezing is so loud, the hearing machine doesn’t work properly.
She retakes and passes.
She remains as still as a mouse.
I’m not convinced something isn’t wrong.
I ask Dr. T. to check for fluids.
He asks me what Darren thinks.
He thinks I am overreacting, but
I am always right.  
I have an instinct when something is off with my children.
Dr. T. is married with children.  
He says he understands the rule- mom is right.
I explain it always seems she has a cold.
They check.
She has a bit of fluid in one ear.
Dr. T. checks her wheezing, and suddenly he becomes very concerned that her wheezing is coming from one side.
He asks if she has been throwing up.
I say only once because she got chocked on pumpkin seeds.
I feel a disapproving look coming.
I think to myself at least it wasn’t beer.
Dr. T. really becomes concerned and says wheezing from one side can be a sign of pneumonia or aspiration- possibly a pumpkin seed is lodged.

4:00pm:  We go to the hospital to get chest x-rays.  
She soaks a pair of pants, lucky this time I have an extra pair.
Mrs. E. meets me to help find where I need to go (she is a special lady).
I give Carlee half of my leftover hamburger from lunch (I have pumpkin seeds in my bag but I decide against giving those out).
On the cold, hard x-ray table the woman looks at my baby and tells her to ‘breath in and out slowly’.
(!?!) ummmmmm.
She is two.
She doesn’t know what you are talking about.  Can we make it a game?  Can she scream BOOOOOO!
I tell Carlee to scream BOOOOOO!  
She looks at me like this:

I tell her to blow the machine away.
She puckers her little lips and blows very weakly, while the woman manipulates her body.  
Sit up, lay down, turn around, hold your hands up, and do the hockey pokey and turn yourself about.
The woman gives up.  
She does what she can.
She walks out.

Carlee screams BOOOOOO! and blows hard.

Back to Dr. T’s office to wait out results.
Carlee has been going for three and a half hours.
She has had three dum dums and no dinner.  
She is tired but still sitting nicely with a Woman’s Day magazine.

6:30:  We head home, when Darren passes me with Connor on the side seat.  
He stops me and tells me the hospital called and they want MORE x-rays.
ASAP  (my cell phone is dead of course)
We turn around and head back.
My 24 hour tights gave out three hours ago.
I feel so bad for Carlee.
I give Carlee a beef jerky and water.

To take X-rays this time, she has to cry really hard.
I leave her alone with two strange technicians.
She doesn’t cry.
I give her the sacred paci and take it away.
She doesn’t cry.
We hold her arms up and won’t let her move them.
She doesn’t cry.
The nurse says she is too stubborn.
She really is stubborn.

I have an idea.
I take her red shoes off and throw them in the trash.
She screams bloody murder.

don't touch my shoes

We wait in the waiting room.  
A woman wearing a mask, gets very close to Carlee and begins to talk and touch her.
I very boldly ask the lady if she is sick.  She says yes.  I say, then please do NOT touch or get in this chid’s face.  She catches viruses easily and I would NOT like for her to be sick.
The woman moves while shooting me a few looks.
I don’t give a flip.
I haven’t had dinner either.

The X-rays are digitally sent to a technician in w/salem.
They call back and say they don’t see anything concerning, but if her wheezing doesn’t get any better in a week we have to go to a pulmonary specialist.

I am so stressed.
My kids need me.
My students need me.
My paperwork needs me.
My house needs me.
My dinner needs me.
I am having a panicky moment.
Carlee says ‘ I ant eeds.’
No you can’t have seeds.
I realized we didn’t even addresses her language, 
all because of dreadful pumpkin seeds.

I'm OUTTA here!!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

A Real Day (of Post-its and kids)

4:45am:  snooze times 3

5:30am:  scheduled a 40 minute workout this morning, which is now down to 20 minutes thanks to my Facebook scrolling.

6:00am: time with God in scripture and prayer, so many needs I'm reading about, so many things to hand over to our all knowing, loving Father.

6:20am: Connor has 2.3 seconds to get ready because I am S├║per Late-O!  His blood is instant coffee.  He is up and running.  Lucky his hair looks the same brushed or unbrushed.

6:40am:  breakfast sausage and eggs, 
pack lunches, while getting dressed (at the same time) 
daily hairdo choices:  bun or ponytail

"natural look"

7:00am: Connor awakens Carlee.  Darren gets up.  He begins to get himself and Carlee ready for daycare.  kisses and cuddles

7:20am:  Out of the Door..... when Connor reminds me, he doesn’t have a book bag.  The arm broke off yesterday.  Crap. Double Crap.

He has three options:  Food Lion Bag, Flowery Vera Bradley, or my MAC case.  MAC case it is.

7:35am:  pull into school on two wheels and give over our concerns to God.  I silently pray my clothing is on right side out.  When we get in,  Mr. E. has saved the day by repairing the broken book bag.  
C: ‘Now I won’t look like a dork.’

7:45am:  I have three things on my list this am.  I start to work when  a. the phone rings- parent concern  b.  a visitor asks for a favor since I have a “less children” and a “full time TA”  (sigh)  I want to explain the purpose of intervention, needs, and regulations.  Instead I smile and write down the favor on a Post-it.

8:30am:  planning over.  zero accomplished on list.  

8:40am:  Unit Weather Morning Circle:
I get another phone call, when I see a child balance himself on a chair like a trapeze artist (and I’m kind of impressed) but tell the child to get down before child is hurt.  Meanwhile, another little person comes up to me and gives me a shoe that is tied in such intricate knots that I swear David Blaine couldn’t get them loose.  Milk spills on another table.
Mrs. E. is finding extra breakfast and a change of shirts for another student.  I have to cut this call MAJOR short.  I write down to call back...  on a Post-it.

10:00am: celebrations.  One child achieved 100% letter sounds for the first time, and one child moved up a reading level!  whoop.  
New progress notes on a Post-it.  
Skittles and Pennies all AROUND.  
Such accomplishments and BIG smiles.

11:00am:  Tornados in a Jar and Writing Time 
(after reading all about what we would do...) 

me:  What do we do in school if there is a tornado Little Johnny?
Little Johnny:  Why do your glasses look weird?
I give a lecture about respect, paying attention, and that my glasses are totally cool.
me: Little Sally, where do we go if there is a tornado?
Little Sally:  Can I take this tornado in a jar home?

I get it.   Time for a break.  I ponder putting my own head between my knees and taking a nap against the wall as a “demonstration”.
Instead I get out a ruler, scissors, and a #2 pencil because ....
I will get this shoe unknotted.

The SPECTACULAR Mrs. E. finds another pair of shoes to replace the knotted pair because I give up.

11:40am: late 20 minute lunch-  a bologna sandwich, greens, scooby snacks, and leftover rice from last night (aka. whatever would fit in my bag).

I watch Mrs. E. put the finishing touches on our Fundraising Flower Pot for the silent auction- due tomorrow.  #itsabeautifulbirdfeeder

busy day 
(but she is really joking around here)

I start to work at my desk, when I remember I need to phone in a allergy prescription (sore throat coming on) and call Aunt T. back.  We have a chat and she is coming to take me to lunch Saturday with no children.  #treat

12:15pm:  There is a  universal rule curse on me when using the copy machine. One of these must happen:  1. be jammed  2. run out of toner  3.  copy my copy in a magnification of 500 while it staples in the center and I have no idea how to fix it quickly 4.  another teacher is making 10000 copies of War and Peace in front of me.
Curse machines and the knotted shoe.  They have both licked me today.

1:00pm:  NuMbErS
The students dress in rain gear and stomp/hop on laminated number puddle the appropriate # of times. #numbersense
HIT.  5 stars!

Game:  students roll (not throw. roll.  not throw) dice and place that number on self designed umbrella.  2.5 stars! 

Counting to 10 or 100.... never gets old.

2:30pm:  need to leave soon for Carlee’s wellness visit.
A child reminds me that I promised I would get his spiderman gloves from his classroom teacher.  I run (meaning walk as fast as I can without passing out).  The teacher says it is ok to give the gloves back as long as there is no play with them during class.      

2:45am:  social lesson:  gloves are for wearing, not playing.  Even if you are the real spiderman.

3:15pm:  daycare run.... late, late, late.  I put Carlee’s new coat on her.  She gets mad and throws herself on the floor because she wanted to do it!

common theme these days

She screams bloody murder all the way to the van and all the way to the doctor.  I consider inventing a valium drive thru for times like this.

3:30pm:  Carlee needs a diaper change that goes right through her clothing.  I have one outfit in her diaper bag.
Two sizes too small.

The Clampetts have arrived.  
like my outfit??

3:44pm:  Dr. T:  I can see you don’t like me.  Would you like a sticker and a sucker?
Carlee:  a dada?
Dr. T: Dora?
Carlee:  uh. huh.  
Dr. T. chats with me about both children.  He is a very attentive and good doctor.  
hearing assessment is in order next week.
(another Post-it)
Carlee has one shot.  She has officially had all of her vaccinations until kindergarten.  She is healthy!

lipstick makes the boo boo better
4:30pm:  Dollar Store:  pick up a few things to teach next week's language theme:  Spring/ Gardening.  
$20.00 and Carlee gets a cookie for her ‘boo boo’.

5:00pm:  Pick up time for Connor.  He tells me he was in a bit of trouble.  He found a plastic comb and pretended it was  switchblade.

I talk to him about the seriousness of words, and causes for suspension at school.  He said he was acting out the part in “Grease”.  Lovely.  I will just call after school care and explain that he meant he was going to “kill” with slicked hair, bad singing, and a switchblade comb.  no. thank you.

5:30am:  Carlee and Connor hug like they have not seen each other in weeks.
5:32pm: Connor starts yelling at Carlee for throwing his John Cena behind the couch.  
5:34pm:  They are giggling hysterically over the book ‘Potty’.
5:36pm:  Carlee is crying because she wants Connor’s shoes off of his feet and he refuses.
5:45pm:  I burn the bread.  

6:00pm:  Darren comes in and the children embrace him like he is the one trying to fix their burnt bread.
How was work?  How are you?  
(what we really mean- I need a nap)

6:15am:  another diaper change is needed.
Darren:  I’m tired from work, can you do it? 
Me:  (a stare that spawned a thousand deaths)
Darren:  ummm.  never mind.

6:30pm:  Dinner and we discuss a way to manage school fundraiser time, kid pick ups, soccer saturday, car repair appointment, and things we need.  Connor tells a funny story.  Carlee shows her “boo  boo”.  Connor takes three bites, and asks if he can have cereal.
(insert death stare here).

6:40am:  Homework/ Review of Awana Scripture
Connor and I have lots of engaging conversation.

How was school?
I don’t know
What did you learn today
I don’t know
Who did you talk to at lunch today?
I don’t know

7:00pm:  making a lot of careless mistakes.  I talk to him about the importance of using his brain and thinking things out.  

I can’t read planner- what does  ‘bring shack mean?’
I don’t know.
I text another mother.  
20 minutes later I get ‘shack’ is ‘snack’.  
I quit talking about using your brain.

spell. the. word. it has been 15 minutes.  spell. the. word.
I leave the room to have him work independently.
I come back and he is hanging upside down off the bed saying “Can you smell what the Rock is cooking?"
My voice is like a firecracker to “hurry up” and he falls off the bed.
We finish, review scripture, and give a prayer of thank you.

Darren gets the kids in the bathtub.
I clean up the living room.

finally some Disney TV time

Darren gets the kitchen.  (Rocks it.)  

I play and cuddle Carlee.
She likes for me to ask her to find things in books.
Carlee sleeps with four blankets and four stuffed animals.
They all kiss. kiss. kiss. kiss. her.  She giggles.  A lock of her hair falls over her eyes.  She is my sweetie cutie doll.  
She is a gift.

Darren works on bills.  I avoid him at this time.
Connor gets in my bed.  He asks me if Michael Jackson’s ghost is real.  There are no ghosts.  He starts to tell me about WWE, and that he gave another boy a pep talk at after school ‘just do your best, trying your best is what matters’...  and it felt good.  Then he asks me why I wear MC Hammer pants.
my PJ- MC HAMMER pants?
I love C.  He is so full of energy, personality, and compassion.  

9:15pm:  I get on the computer to work on my list of things to do from this morning and to organize all my ‘post its’.
I open my first PBIS email:  ‘SET accessories and overview: SETS are active, This is not to say that schools do not have to use data or submit data - it just might not include ODR data due to PowerSchool issues.  Include that information when presenting the exemplar implementation efforts!’  
I decide it must be written in Chinese because I don’t know what in the HECK I’m reading.  I cut to mindless Facebook and read the latest headlines instead.

Darren finds his debit card in his shoe, we see his wallet is open on the dresser (within Carlee’s reach), and the other cards are under bed.  
We tell a story or two about the day.  He tells a funny story about how when he was younger the only way to watch a wrestling ‘paperview’ was a closed circuit TV with a limited set of monitors. Once he got tickets to watch it at the BIG I on the BIG screen!
We are olddddddd.

11:00pm:   Thankful for day to day life, the ability to work hard, the health of everyone in the family, no emergencies, the richness of the day.  
high five day

Thankful for Post-its.
Thankful for sleep.

..blink twice for I love you, zzzzzzzzzzzzz