Monday, April 28, 2008

best wedding present ever

last year on my last day of school before i left to get married one of my jumpers brought this to me along with a card that said, "good luck with the love".
this is a little girl who will stay with me forever. her family situation is grim and she runs the family, keeping everyone in line. she is one of the most caring children i've ever met and will go out of her way to help others. when two girls couldn't make it to our try outs last fall she taught them the routine in the evenings and then asked us to let them try out.
she misses school frequently, mainly because she has to be a translator for her family. despite her grades i know this is a girl who is going to survive. she put together a memorial service for her brother who was killed in another country over a drug dispute. as a 5th grader she got it together, created the invites, talked to the people who needed to be talked to, and pulled off the funeral. this is a child whose strengths will take her far.
i love my wedding present because it was such a sweet, unexpected gesture. which of course, represents who she is.

writing our own endings...

look carefully. yes, that is a pigeon holding a handgun to a duck's head and blowing his brains out. the words on the page said, "pigeon is handgun. boom."

this is another one that was on my fridge that had to be tossed in the move.

it was the beginning of last year and we had read the Mo Willems Pigeon books. (if you are not familiar with them you are missing out. although not necessarily 'good literature' kids LOVE them and reading them with a child is always an entertaining experience.)

one of my little friends, who has autism, drew this picture during writing workshop.

you see, in one of the books the pesky duck is following the pigeon around asking for his hotdog. so my friend with autism wrote an alternative ending to the story. one where instead of sharing the hot dog, (because really, who wants to do that?), the pigeon blows the duck's head off. perfectly reasonable really.

because he does have autism this isn't as violent or upsetting as one might think. we did show mom and the principal, but really we just needed to sit down with the student and nicely explain that we don't draw guns in school, and that using a gun to solve your problems isn't a good idea.
still, it may be one of my favorite pieces of art from first grade ever.

look at me

"look at me becus I'm prety"
Note found on my classroom floor last year.
this one had to be thrown away in the move, but it's too great not to take a picture of.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

is it strep?

the throat that is slowly closing up by the minute.
the overwhelming back and leg pain of sitting up, standing up, sitting down, or moving in any way shape or form.
the feeling of weights pressing down my lungs.
the pain created by swallowing water.
the achy head.
the nasty taste in the mouth.

the unending feeling of regret for not using antibacterial soap more on Friday.
the memory of the sneeze at lunch bunch that covered my face, hands, arms, clothes.
the frustration at laziness for not being able to get off the couch.
the dread of having to go to the dr and be told its more than just a cold.
the hope, prayer, dream that tomorrow it will all be gone and i'll be back at school.


my last monday night grad class of the semester (one year to go...) we gave our research presentations. one of my classmates, a girl working on her BA in social work, presented her research on inclusion and how it impacts SOL test scores.

we were all shocked by her results.

she found that students with learning disabilities at her school who spend the most time out of the classroom in a learning lab score far better on SOLs than their peers who stay in the classroom for whole-group instruction. in fact, some of those kids who attended the learning lab earned 'passed advanced' on their SOLs, while their peers actually failed.

there were a lot of variables in her study, but as we questioned her (horrified, wanting to prove her wrong) we realized that she limited the variables as much as she could. she herself was shocked at her findings.

it makes sense though. in a pull-out environment you have fewer children, more individual instruction, and more instruction aimed at the individual in question. if they don't get something you don't make a note in your book to revisit it tomorrow, you immediately change your direction, and re-teach until you're satisfied that they are secure in their information.

i have been unsure about my thoughts on inclusion all year. in the beginning of the year i worked with my bff, who most likely was not in the best place for his needs. once he left i started realizing that some kiddos weren't learning what they needed to be learning so i started pulling them out for lunch bunch. they're not missing instruction, and lunch bunch is always a choice. if they want to stay with their peers they can. little do they know that lunch bunch is tightly planned to meet specific phonics skills tailored to their special needs. the results have been pretty impressive. i'm thrilled with how much their learning in the small group.

but lunch bunch is also the most exhausting 45 minutes of my day. it in itself is a reason why self-contained classrooms aren't such a hot idea. i cannot imagine having those 5 kiddos all day alone together. even with an aid it would not be a great placement for them. they need the social skills they can learn in a whole-group environment.

my thoughts on inclusion are forever changing and growing. i haven't come up with a secure opinion yet. but currently i'm leaning towards believing that children with emotional disabilities, high functioning autism, and other disabilities that are more behavior based, should be placed in full-inclusion programs. they benefit the most from being in whole-group situations where they can practice their social skills, observe others' social skills, and not feel "different" for their disability, which does not necessarily impact them intellectually at all.

however, for kids with learning disabilities i'm starting to see that having pull-out programs isn't the evilness i originally believed it to be. they need a quiet environment to learn. in fact, they deserve that. they're smart kiddos who just have a hard time processing information. why leave something as important as reading for them to struggle to learn in a whole-group setting when they are distracted, frustrated, and aren't getting the best instruction for their needs? whose to say that 30 minutes a few times a week to work on those skills in a safe environment isn't exactly what they need to access the rest of the general education curriculum so that they CAN be with their peers. I hate to let them just be the "slow kids" in the class, when in fact they are able to read and think so well, they just need a different sort of instruction, more wait time, a quieter environment, or constant, immediate re-teaching.

but like i said, i'm still playing with all of this in my head. i think the real answer is that there is no one size fits all approach to special education. everybody needs something different, because, of course, kids aren't machines we are preparing for the real world. they are little people with different needs, wants, desires, and abilities, and each one presentes a new puzzle.

house keeping and the power of play

yesterday i attended the morning sessions of a conference on early childhood. i went last year and continue to be impressed at the speakers and resources this organization brings together. it gives me so much hope for my community that there is an organization like this working out there.

the opening speaker gave us numbers. he told us the number of words a 3 year old hears in a middle class household, compared to the number of words a 3 year old hears in a low-income household. then he broke down those words into the percent of positive words a 3 year old hears in a middle class household vs the amount of negative words, and he did the same for the low-income households. (i of course wrote these down and then left my notes in my car, which on this early Sunday morning seems like a lot of work to go get. So I'll post the numbers/facts/figures tomorrow. today is just anecdotal.)

it was stunning to see how many more negative words are said in a low-income household than positive words. yet truthfully the numbers didn't surprise anyone in the room. when i am in kindergarten for free choice time i am always awed by the house keeping center. there are days i'd like to sit and just listen to the drama in house keeping because it gives me such insight into the worlds of my kiddos.

on wednesday i was in a classroom for housekeeping when i witnessed a 'domestic dispute'. one little girl called the cops on the play phone and then reported to the pretend father and son, "they said just get 'em", at which point the father and son grabbed plastic knives from the play dough center and began to have a knife-fight in the kitchen. when the knives were taken away and the boys were redirected they first tried to argue "the police told us to!" and then "if we're good can we get the knives back?"

when they'd finally forgotten about the knives the pretend father told everyone in the house hold to "GET IN THE CAR! YOU'RE GOING TO COLLEGE" he pointed at one girl, "I'M TAKING YOU TO HIGH SCHOOL AND YOU'RE GOIN' SHOPPING BECAUSE THAT'S ALL YOU DO!! SIT DOWN AND PUT YOUR SEAT BELTS ON. I SAID PUT YOUR SEAT BELTS ON OR I'M NOT GETTING ANYONE MCDONALDS. PUT 'EM ON NOW."

i guess its good to know that his family is pretty firm about the seat belt rule.

the next session i attended was on play. i've always been fascinated on the power of play in school and am now thinking that next year i may do my teacher research on play in the housekeeping center in kindergarten. (more on this later).

the speaker presented her fascinating research from her phd project. for one part of her study she read a story to different groups of children. some of the groups were told at the end of the story, "wow! wouldn't it be fun to build a house for the kids in the story! you could put up walls and doors and give the kids a place to play..." and lots more detailed suggestions about what the kids could do. she then video taped the children working together on building elaborate structures for the story.

the other groups were told, "now you have to go build a house for the kids in the story. you have to put in tall walls and doors and give the kids a place to play..." the exact same "suggestions" the first groups were given, except instead of suggestions they were direct instructions. she video taped those groups as well.

the difference in the groups was stunning. the play groups created elaborate, creative structures and pleasantly debated and shared their ideas for the house. the structured groups ended up in fights as the kids argued over what they were suppose to do and whose idea was best. the structured groups structure were not nearly as creative, but then again she had to stop most of those groups early because fights broke out.

she gave them a post-assessment to see if there was carry-over from the original lesson. the creative groups showed powerful carry-over in skills of working together and building with blocks, and created more elaborate structures than before. the structured groups showed little to no carry-over from their first task.

i was riveted by this research.

when i taught first grade i devoted the last 20 minutes of my day (or how ever many minutes the children earned in our behavior management plan) to a free choice period where they could access any learning materials we use during the school day. the fun indoor recess games were off limits, but they were welcome to play in the science center, explore with the math manipulatives, read books, write letters, or create structures from card board boxes in the art center. i took notes on what they did, and through their choices led them to 'guided learning' on their current interests. it was my absolute favorite part of the day, but a time when i shut the door and never really told anyone what we did during those 20 minutes. free choice is kindergarten stuff, isn't it? i thought, though i knew full well that the measurement skills my kiddos learned during free choice stuck with them longer than what i taught them in math.

now that i have this research i feel a little more secure in my 20 minute free choice time. if i ever go back into the classroom at least i'll be able to back up my plan with research.

i learned so much more on the power of play and am still mulling ideas over in my mind for next year's research project. more to come on that, i'm sure.

sadly i needed to leave the conference early, but i believe my principal won an award from the organization. i'm so excited she received this honor.

i work at such an incredible place.

Friday, April 25, 2008

two little kiddos jumping on the bed

the day we closed on our new house one of my fantastic co-teachers made a movie of two of my kiddos congratulating me on my new house. the video is fantastic and i know i'll keep it for years so that whenever i'm having a bad day i can watch it. perhaps, when the boys are in 5th grade i can play it for them and let them see what we experienced day in and day out...

in the movie, when one of the kiddos is prompted to wish me congratulations (my co-teacher actually says, "What is that big congratulations word you want to say to mrs lipstick?") the child says, "mrs lipstick is going to put us in her car and take us to see her house and then bring us back."

which my co-teacher responds to with a "maybe" and turns to the next child.

the maybe is loaded with a tone of voice that clearly means "NO" to most people. not, however, to my little friends, who should never be confused with "most people".

they have both asked me, multiple times, for more than a week now, when they are coming to my house. sometimes it sounds like they believe they've already gone to my house, which i slightly worry will get me in trouble with their parents. today, in the spirit of "a girl's got to do what a girl's got to do", i prompted us to write about it at writing center instead of explaining to the child, once again, that he has not been to my house, nor will he be going in the near future. we got two whole sentences (TWO!! So great!!) of the boys going to my house and then jumping on my bed. yes, jumping. on. my. bed.

its beautiful really. what five year old wouldn't want to jump on their teacher's bed?

sadly, the boys will have to settle for just seeing pics of my new house. and hopefully we can find a nice way to explain to their parents that they did not actually visit me there.

the video is the best video ever, and totally worth all of the confusion, as long as one day i don't come home to find the two of them using my bed as a trampoline.

international night

sadly, due to an unplanned afternoon nap and then some bad traffic i arrived late to international night at my school this evening. this is usually one of my all-time favorite nights of the year. the families all bring food from their countries to share, come in native dress, and some even present their traditional dances. usually the food is unbelievable~ its real traditional food from all over the world~ South America~ Africa~ Asia~ Europe~ Southern United States (someone usually brings fried chicken).
as i gripped the wheel of my car in traffic all i could think was 'you're standing between me and sushi!'
by the time i arrived most of the main meals were gone, leaving only rice. but i was hungry, so i filled my plate with rice from all over the world. looking at my plate as i walked to my table i was amazed at how all the different cultures are able to present such different variations on such a simple theme. so, despite my disappointment of the lack of sushi/tamales/food i don't even have a name for, i must say i had quite a tasty plate of rice.

i love working at a school with a community so diverse that they can fill up my plate with rice from all over the world.

more kindergarten logic

I'm looking for kindergartners who are sitting quietly! says mrs lipstick in a quiet voice.


I'm looking for friends who are sitting quietly and not even talking to me! says mrs lipstick again.



Thursday, April 24, 2008

rolling bowling

if you're ever having a really horrible day, i recommend going to watch kindergartners in pe class. if you're having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, i recommend going to watch kindergartners in pe the day they visit the bowling truck.

bowl america comes once a year and brings their 'rolling bowling' truck. it's a regular mac truck but inside is one bowling lane. one side folds up so that the class can stand at the side and watch their classmates bowl. while they are watching the truck plays music (think 'who let the dogs out and 'bye, bye, bye'. )

i have never seen anything like it. 20 something kindergartners cheering wildly for their classmate's almost-strike (they rolled the ball down the ramp so most were very successful). a group of boys, completely in their own world, became the back-street boys and showed us all of their moves. the child jumping up and down wildly, so proud that she hit them all.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

she dug her hands into her bookbag this morning and pulled out two fistfulls of flower petals. pushing them into my hands she spun away and ran off to class, without saying a word.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

here comes the sun

On Friday morning I brushed my teeth twice. Totally by accident. I forgot I'd already brushed them. I felt like that pretty much summed up my week. We've been moving (almost finished!!), we purchased our first home, it's the end of the semester in grad school and with that, of course, comes finals and presentations. I've had a million IEPs and IEP related meetings. I pretty much haven't known which end is up.

But now we've moved to our new house. The kindergarten field trip was successful for my kiddos and we all survived (relatively). The majority of my crazy meetings are out of the way. I have one more grad school project that's due tomorrow. I will finally be able to breath again. I'm looking forward to it. I'm excited to talk to kids and really listen, not have a check list in the back of my head about what I should and could be doing. I'm looking forward to reading books with them without thinking about what kind of data I should be taking and how I can present their reading ability to their parents and the IEP team.

Now, if I can find the box where I packed our tooth brushes, I'll be set.

Friday, April 18, 2008

kindergarten logic

I have lots of sisters and brothers because my mom grew boobs too early and it made the babies just keep coming out.

~~~ ~~~~ ~~~~~~~ ~~~~ ~~~~~

I am going to have a baby spongebob in my tummy.

ewwww... replies a boy.... i am going to have a baby spiderman in MY tummy.

no pockets? what's a 5 year old girl to do?

as one of my kindergarten classes was lining up for PE today I noticed that a girl clutching 4 crayons in her hand. I asked her why she had them, reminded her she would be in big trouble with the PE teachers if she brought crayons to PE, and told her to put them away.

"But I have nowhere to put them!" she argued, as she hadn't brought a bookbag or jacket today.

"I'll take them and put them on your teacher's desk so nobody will touch them." I offered, put a tissue on my hand so that I could "wrap" the crayons up.

"OK" she happily agreed and handed them to me. "WAIT!" she exclaimed as I started to walk away. "There's more!"

She proceeded to put both hands into her pants to pull out 8 more crayons and one ball point pen. It took quite a bit of squirming to get them all out. At least I hope she got them all out. Can you imagine going to PE with a ballpoint pen and 8 crayons in your pants? It couldn't be comfortable. One wrong move and you could really get hurt.

Monday, April 14, 2008

worst teacher ever

on mondays i usually join one of my classes in the computer lab while they do type to learn. in the beginning of the year getting 20 kids on computers created mass-chaos and i was more than willing to go be an extra pair of hands as we bounced from child to child solving computer issues.

now that all of the kids know what to do the classroom teacher doesn't really need me. normally the teacher and i end up chatting since the kids absolutely do not need or even notice us unless they need permission to go to the bathroom.

today i was trying to finish up some work before i headed down to the computer lab and i lost track of time. when i realized i was already late i kept thinking 'five more minutes' as i finished an iep, planned lessons, and got ready for some meetings this week. we're closing on our house tomorrow and i had a test tonight, so i'm just a tad stressed.

i looked up and one of my friends was standing outside my office. he'd taken a friend to the bathroom and ended up waiting outside my room. "where you?" he asked, accusingly.
i launched into a "tell your teacher i'm so, so sorry!" when he looked at me and said, "5 more minutes? just five minutes. you come now."

how do you argue with that? so i followed him down the hall as he joked around with me about recess and caught me up on classroom gossip (this much verbal dialogue is very out of the ordinary for him!)

he took me over to his computer with a huge smile on his face and sat down to show me how he can "win" every time (get 100% accuracy). this is incredible. before he really only got around 30%, and that involved pounding his head against the computer, telling me to leave him alone, and throwing the mouse pad at me. in fact, i had been planning on breaking into his type-to-learn program and doing his work for him so that he could move on to the next level (as he knows everyone else is way beyond him at this point).

but no, there he was, as proud as could be.

and there i was, the guilty high-schooler, caught skipping class. i will never do that again. because when i deem myself "not needed", i apparently have no idea what kind of value an extra teacher's presence means to some kids.


today i walked past my smart cookie in the hallway and reminded her in my best Viola-Swamp voice to sit up, as she was lying on her stomach and obviously in the hallway because she was in trouble.

she sat up immediately but quickly explained what she had been doing.

"see my shirt?" she held up her sleeves to show the long, flowy cuffs (i'm sure there is a fashion term for this, but i don't know what it is).

"it's the ______ * dinosaur. and when my shirt goes like this, it means i'm mad. now i'm hungry. now i'm happy. now i'm going to eat my prey" she manipulates the shirt to show how if her hand was the dino's head it would be changing emotions quickly.

"when the raptors..." she went on but i realized it was inappropriate for me to stand there and listen when she was in trouble.

"i'd love to talk to you about this later, but not now." i said and walked away, trying not to crack up. "and please sit up, you are a role model for my kindergartners".

"what do you think??" she yelled down the hallway after me. "i'm a kid with energy!"

suddenly i saw myself drawn in a calvin and hobbes cartoon. the sunday ones, with lots of color and detail of the scary dinosaur. i'm in the tiny corner, bringing my smart cookie back to realty, when she was much happier laying on her stomach in the hallway, pretending her two arms were flying dinos.

*I cannot remember what type of dino she said she was, and after a quick google search of images i couldn't find the name. then i realized that i have a test in an hour and i really shouldn't be wasting my time looking at dinosaurs on line.

kindergarten list of animals from the farm

"i know horse"

"we already have horse on our list! what else?"

"what about two horses?"

"we have horse! can you find it?"

"there's no more animals for me. duck!"

"we have duck"

"what about a big duck? what about a mother duck?"

teacher calls on another student.

"a camel"

"hmmm... would that be on the farm or at the zoo?"

"but i've seen camel's on a farm!" says the child from iraq.

how can you argue with any of this?

Friday, April 11, 2008

a great fall?

We had another jump rope show today at Great Falls, a school in our district. This time it wasn't quite so close by, but in a much more ritzier area of the county (The part of town secretaries of state live). It's a beautiful drive to get there, although we go over narrow, windy roads across a very hilly country-side. We've taken this trip before and it always saddens me a bit to hear the kids wonder what the ridiculously huge buildings are out in the middle of nowhere. My first year with the team a child asked me how many families live in one of those houses. Today I heard, "Are we in DC? Isn't that the White House?" as she pointed to a large white house with columns, that was possibly bigger than the actually White House.

After the last bus incident we weren't taking any chances with directions. We got on the bus and handed the bus driver directions, to which he replied, "I know how to get there." The head coach pushed the directions on him anyway "just in case". And off we went.

Because the winding roads are enough to make anyone car sick on a school bus, we were paying fairly close attention to the road, so when it started to look unfamiliar we got a little nervous. Then we passed signs for the national park in .5 miles and got really nervous. Upon questioning the bus driver we learned he never looked at our directions, or asked us where we were going. He was taking us to the park with the same name as the school.

As I have said before, being a bus driver would be my own personal hell. However, if someone gives me directions I think I will at least look at them and not completely assume I know where I am going. Maybe we should have taken his reading finger and asked him to read the directions. Or asked him to tell us which route he was going to take. Or read the directions to him and insisted he follow ours and not his. Alas, we did none of these, and blindly belived our bus driver knew what he was doing.

So although we had caught the mistake early on we now had the task of turning the bus around on the narrow, winding, hilly roads. Perhaps embarrassed that he had refused to look at our directions he immediately turned the bus into the nearest driveway. (drive way... as in gravel). He pulled up a bit and then started backing up, as though he was thinking the bus would be able to turn left backward onto the narrow road. (I might also add that there was a turn to our left and a hill to our right so traffic from either direction could have come around a bend without expecting to find a bus in the middle of the road.)

I peered out the window and realized that on my side of the bus was a very steep cliff. There was little shoulder (none that I could see from the window of the bus) and many, many rocks at the bottom of the steep hill.

We were going to die. I knew it.

Now, I am one of those people who laughs in times of trauma. I am biting my lip at this point because I cannot believe how ridiculous this is. I mean, we're going to die, with all of these kids, on a school bus in our bright orange t-shirts. I start thinking about the medical kit and how if the bus tips over we can get everyone out safely and wondering if I have cell phone coverage out here.

One of the boys in the row behind me put his head down on the seat and squeezed his eyes shut. The other, obviously a fan of killing tension with humor says, "Well, you said we were going to great falls. this looks like its going to be a great fall". hahaha.

So the head coach stops the bus driver and points out that we did not stand a chance at making this turn without turning our front wheels off the road, and therefore plummeting the bus down the hill. Unlike when she gave him the directions, he listened, and pulled the bus forward, up the steep driveway.

So, now we're on what appears to be private property. There is room to turn around, but barely. We're on some one's ridiculously expensive land and now turning our bus around on their well-manicured lawn. As he backs the bus up I run to the back of the bus, because it appears we are planning on driving the bus through the kitchen windows of the house behind us.

Apparently the man who lives in the house believes this is our plan as well, as he rushes out and attempts to direct us so that we might hit him before we take out his house. I think we only hit a few beautiful rhododendron bushes, but we managed to spare the man and the house. *whew*

So, back down the steep driveway. You could hear the prayers of the children on the bus, the gasps as we got close to the edge, and the mutterings of "mrs. lipstick, i'm really scared". (What could I say, I know, I am too.)

But we made it out onto the main road and eventually to our destination.

Throughout the day I heard tales from the kids of their experiences. One rather serious girl declared to her seatmates to make sure her shirts went to the homeless children in DC when she died.

Next time I take my GPS system and force the bus driver to use it.

no no no

my husband and i bought a house and we're in the overwhelming process of trying to pack up and move. in going through old papers, deciding what can be thrown away and isn't worth moving yet again only to stay in a box. i keep coming across bits of papers and notes from kids that make me think, "how can I possibly throw that away?" but after 4 or 5 years, its time. i realized however that a picture will make it last forever on my computer, so that i no longer need to hold onto the original document. so be patient, i'll slowly be telling stories with my memorabilia pictures as i clean.

a few years ago i had a little boy with autism in my first grade class. he was only there a month before he moved, but in that month he made quite an impression. daily he and i would struggle over writing workshop. he wanted to just sit there, and i, well, wanted him to at least attempt to put words on a page. or a picture on a page. anything. it was the beginning of first grade, so a lot of the kiddos didn't know their letters or letter sounds. really, any attempt would make me happy.

one day we hit a break through. after our first writing conference of the day i walked away, leaving him with a timer and the "I'll be back in five minutes to see how you're doing!" speech.

when i returned this is what i found:

number 1: he got his message across in writing. that was a first!
number 2: his pictures match his words. universal no sign + no no no. pretty good.
number 3: his spelling is correct, no is a known word. he has spaces (kind of). his letters are going in the right direction.
i said nothing about his obvious message to me. as the other children looked in utter confusion i praised him for his fabulous job at writing words on a page that told a message. after that he wrote, a few simple words every day, but he wrote.
and i kept my portrait. because sometimes its ok when if they're mad at you.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


I knew it was officially spring on the airplane last Thursday on my way to our first wedding of the season. The man in seat beside me kept his head pasted against the window (blocking my view), gasping with happiness of the views of the cherry blossoms below.

Today spring's magic reached school.
I returned to my room this morning after 2 long local screening meetings where we went over testing and discussed whether or not children are eligible for special ed services. Already tired at 10am after the two tedious meetings I saw the longest daffodil I've ever seen in my life lying across my desk. I mean, the flower might actually be taller than my smaller kindergartners! The flower was from one of my little one's from last year, a girl with a difficult home life, and who doesn't seem to enjoy school that much. A girl I rarely saw the spark of happiness in. When I saw her a few hours later she told me it was the largest one she could find in her neighbor's yard. I love that the spring flowers tempted even her.

at lunch bunch one of my little ones exclaimed in an excited voice, "Mrs Lipstick! I went on a walk. I saw SPRING!!"
Wow, what does spring look like? I asked


Pink Flowers!! Pink TREES!!


his voice almost squeaked as he painted his simple-word picture of the excitement of his walk.

i love spring.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

the 'amp' chunk

my smart cookie's current teacher took me aside today to tell me about my smart cookie and the 'amp' chunk. the class was generating a list of words that ended with the 'amp' chunk like 'lamp' and 'stamp'.

My smart cookie, always thinking, raised her hand and offered the word 'tampon'.

inappropriate, yes, but she was able to apply the chunk to the middle of the word, not just the end like the rest of the class.
i interrupted a tug-of-war to remind the children they needed to share. one little girl looked at me with big eyes and said,

"But~ I don't like to share!"

honesty is usually the best policy, but sadly, she's got a long road of schooling ahead of her.

Monday, April 7, 2008

hey, hey

you, you,

i don't like your girlfriend

was being sung by multiple children during kindergarten work time today. how do they learn all the words to these songs?

and why is it still stuck in my head, 12 hours, many meetings and a 3 hour grad class later?

peter pan

occasionally i find myself identifying with peter pan who never wanted the children in his life to grow up. obviously i want the children i teach to eventually turn into responsible, knowledgeable, problem-solving citizens. but why now?

today was the first day back after a 3 week break. i did not teach during our optional intersession, and even restrained myself from going into school to do paperwork or see my kids. which of course made today the first day i'd seen them in 3 weeks.

they're so big! how can five year olds possibly grow so much in 3 weeks?!? they look like miniature adults. or, even scarier, they look like they are ready for first grade. they are standing taller, paying attention slightly longer, and walking around like they belong in our school. they're ready to move on.

of course peter pan taught us that we can't resist those around us growing up. still, it seems so fast.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

new job description

i'm watching espn and they just interviewed a woman whose job description is "fantasy injury expert". I'm not exactly sure what that means, but it sounds like something i too can add to my resume.

"mrs lipstick, i'm bleeding" child holds up a perfectly fine finger.
"Wow. And you're so brave! Good job. Go play!"

"mrs lipstick, my tummy hurts!"
"Oh no! Go get a drink of water."

"my foot hurts!"
"good think you don't need your foot for writing!" (on evil days).

"i have a headache!"
"i know. me too."

I don't know what qualifies you to be a fantasy injury expert, but I totally think my co-workers and I are experienced with fantasy injuries.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

and everyone thought beezus was so perfect

think it's henry's?


a tale of two parents

we just arrived back home and were thrilled to see the dc spring. it was quite a relief after the snowy roads we drove this morning.

in the airport in denver we joked as we watched a little girl stand in a defiant pose, arms crossed, jaw out, hip to the side. she was waiting to load the plane and looked like if they didn't let her on that minute she might tell them where to stick it with her 7 year old self.

while we waited at Reagan National for our bags i noticed the little girl again. this time i saw her mother, thumbs ruthlessly attacking her blackberry as the little girl slumped on the floor beside her. our bags were late and while we waited over half an hour i never once saw the mother speak to her daughter. despite her daughter's loud sighs the mother never looked up from the blackberry in her hands. watching the mother's face it was clear to see where this little one learned her disgruntled-with-the-world looks.

only a few feet away was another girl, about the same age. she danced around her father as he laughed with her. they didn't talk the whole wait, but enough for her to know that he cared. he watched her while she hopped around, reminding her to be safe, or responding to her off-the-wall questions. on the way out he put her on top of the large suitcase and wheeled her out of the airport, both of them giggling away.

the blackberry-mother put her blackberry away long enough to grab the bags from the belt and she and her daughter huffed across the airport, sighing identical sighs in response to the silliness of the little girl riding the suitcase.