Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Spidey Senses

"With great super powers, come great responsibility."

Yesterday, we had a minor heartbreak at school.  One of our students has been expecting to see his dad soon.  His dad has been in and out of rehab, and U. has moved in with his mom and step-dad this year as his dad is unable to take care of him and his own issues at the same time.  U. came in quite excited on Monday and said his dad would be picking him up.  At the end of the day we got a phone call that his dad would not be coming and he needed to take the bus.  He left quickly, saying that he would probably get to see him the next day.

Tuesday, U. came to school with a plastic shopping bag all packed up with things he'd need for an overnight stay with his dad.  He talked all day about how he'd be staying with his dad that night.  He referred to it nearly constantly.

The end of the day came.  Dad had not arrived.  U. called him.  No answer.  He called again about one minute later.  No answer.  He stood on the picnic table, straining his neck, looking for his dad.  Called again and again.  The school bus came and went.  A few more calls.  Then a call to his mom asking where his dad was.  I could only hear his side of the conversation:
"No, mom.  He'll come.  I know he'll come.  Please.  Let me try one more time.  I know he'll come."
More calls to dad with no answer.  Another call to mom with a mumbled conversation.  Then, he muttered to me, "Gotta meet my mom out front, bye."

This morning U. is absent.  His mom emailed and said he had "a cough."  My heart hurts for him, but I know he needs to believe we don't know what happened.  When he comes back, he will probably be a turkey to re-establish his control of the situation, and then we will move on.   

These kids come to us with a lot of hurt.  They handle it with varying levels of skill, and we need to try to help them soak up the hurts and move on.  Ouch. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Littmus Lozenge

We are reading the book Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo.  In it, Miss Franny Block tells the story of Littmus W. Block, who created the Littmus Lozenge.  The Littmus Lozenge has a secret ingredient--sorrow.  Opal and Amanda share their great sadnesses with Miss Franny Block.  I asked the class to write down their great sadness:

"When my grandma died, and I never met my mom's mom or dad, and my Dad having diabetes."
"That I don't know my real dad."
"That my dad left my mom and I."
"If I don't make it to college"
"One of my family members died in the wild fire."
"I sad because I didn't go to my little cousins birthday and these is my first year I didn't go to her birthday." [sic]
"I'm sad because barney is a dinosaur that gets paid in clipped toenails."
"Leaving all my friend at PKMS."
"Getting taken away from my mom, being in foster care, and not seeing my mom and family on my birthday which is today."
"I am sad that I am adopted and I don't get to see my birth family.  I have a lot more sadnesses but I'm not going to share them."

Friday, February 19, 2010

Love That Dog

We accept all students and differentiate instruction as needed...

Monday, February 15, 2010

Complete the Sentence

In the golden mist of sunset...

"...I look at the sky."
"...I was looking at it and went completely blind."
"...was a rainbow."
"...we saw a big rainbow."
"...there was an army of knites (sic) waiting for them."
"...I found my dog."
"...we saw a little rainbow."
" started to rain."
"...there was a man that nobody talked to."

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Quote of the Week #1

Student: "Oh....!  I still have a sandwich in my pocket."

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Teachable Moment #95

What did Lewis and Clark travel in?

The Missouri River

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Man on the White Horse

Truly, I don't know when I started doing this, if I stole it, or if it helps as much as I think it does, but The Man on the White Horse Series has been an integral part of my grammar curriculum for many years. The Man on the White Horse arrives to give various examples of poor grammar.  I'm never sure when he'll come up, but a few months into each school year, he's made his appearance and is quite well known.
Sentence Fragments:
"If The Man on the White Horse rode up and said that, then rode off, would you know what he was talking about?"  Followed by a dramatic presentation of a man on a horse riding wildly toward a student, shouting an enticing sentence fragment, and galloping away.
Run On Sentences: 
"If The Man on the White Horse came up and started to talk to you, and he won't stop, and he just keeps going, and you keep thinking his sentence is over but it just keeps going... you may have a run-on sentence." Also followed by a dramatic presentation and many student examples.
Could The Man on the White Horse point to it?  Could he go there? Could he hold it in his hand?
Action Verbs:
Could you see The Man on the White Horse do it?

And so it goes.  For whatever reason, this Man on a White Horse made an appearance one day.  He is still around over ten years later, and he is still teaching medium-quality grammar lessons. 

Friday, February 5, 2010

Oh my, it's a--

This week, we reviewed sentence fragments. In an attempt to energize a possibly dull topic (especially considering this has taken quite a bit more review than you might imagine), I first had them writing sentence fragments on their individual white boards.  They were supposed to make the fragment interesting enough to entice their partner to WANT to know the end.  
"Hey, that's a"
"Yesterday I tripped and"
"You look like a"
We traded back and forth for awhile. Then, I asked them to hold a conversation with their partner using only fragments.  They picked a topic and tried to communicate about it.  I listened, took part in a few, modeled once or twice, and then snuck off to the loo while Mama H. (our illustrious aide), took over.

When I returned, I came upon two of my little urchins laying on the floor.  They had been playing with one of the koosh balls while I was out and had, it appeared, injured themselves.  Rather than get up, they had decided to play dead.

What does a caped teacher do when she walks into a classroom with two dead students? It depends.  At this moment, this caped teacher was tired of the lecture.  Tired of explaining the dangers of horseplay, and tired of reminding them to behave while she was at the loo.  So this caped teacher went off on a tangent and created a crime scene.

We taped off the scene, identified the evidence, wrote reports (on sticky notes), and then, I asked for a crime scene report--using only fragments. 
"C- and A- were"
"Then they"
"The bear was"
"I thought"
By this time the "injured/dead" students were sheepishly cleaning up their mess and sitting in their desks.  I am not sure what they were up to while I was gone, and I realize there ought to be some consequences for whatever it was, but how many times can I lecture them about the same misbehaviors?

Next week we'll see if they learned anything about sentence fragments.  Or maybe we'll--