Saturday, February 27, 2010

is it finally Saturday?

in case you couldn't tell from my lack of posting- this week just about killed me. I can't exactly put my finger on any one thing that did me in, but instead it seems it was just one thing after another, with very little time to breath in between.

It did of course have its moments & here's my attempt at some of the posts that I just haven't had time to write this week:

One of my friends has an intellectual disability (previously known as MR). She's an amazingly happy, determined little girl and usually working with her is the highlight of my week. We've gone through a lot of practice matching objects, colors, and numbers and so we were on to our next goal of being able to not just match one color, but to label that color with its name. Typically she is very quiet and mute, especially whole-group, but once you get her excited she'll start repeating what you've said. So after she and I had played multiple games with the color red in the classroom we took a color-hunt around the school looking for the color red and shooting pictures of it for a red book. I want to move her past the phase of matching colors and into the phase of identifying colors without a model, and I thought it would be helpful for her to recognize these colors in her environment, so after looking at her RED book for awhile when she walks down the hallway her brain will automatically say "red" when she passes the fire hydrant. Or so I hope- we'll see.
She adored walking up and down the hallway taking pictures and saying "red". We returned to the classroom in good spirits and she sat down for post-reading workshop share-circle where every child's name is on a Popsicle stick in a can, so every child's name has a chance of being selected and asked to share what she or he did during reading.
My friend's name was selected by the substitute, who had no real idea of what to expect, since she was clutching an index card with a red circle on it and smiling wildly.
We prompted her to tell us the color, and after several tries- she did. And then she said it again, with a LOUD voice.
We asked what color one of the other children's book boxes was (it was red) and she said "RED" with a huge smile.
The classroom aid and I exploded with happiness, and the rest of the class cheered with amazement. She hadn't spoken in whole-group before.
As the class went on to get ready for snack they gathered in small groups. One boy even put his hands onto another's shoulders
"Can you believe it?" he asked "she said red! this is the best day ever!"
"Did you hear her?" another child gasped, "It's awesome!"
The substitute stood back a bit confused at why all these 5 year olds were still talking excitedly about their friend identifying a color.
Our friend sat grinning, knowing she was awesome.

I love this class. Splatypus has such a great community that they all celebrate each other spontaneously, considering one another's achievements as their own.

and yes, some of that could be considered condescending, and if our friend had felt uncomfortable being celebrated I would have put a stop to it. But she loved it, and our friends . have celebrated like this if a student read a really hard book, or wrote a really good story- so why not celebrate something equally as exciting for one of their friends?

*** In other moments***

Listening to our kids

We've had meeting after meeting with specialists, administrators, instructional aides, and the parents of our friend who has a physical disability and spends most of her day in a wheel chair. We've been addressing one particular issue since the beginning of the year, but haven't been able to get anywhere- everything we put in place just doesn't work.
So, we sat down on Tuesday afternoon with a team of people and came up with another plan. We presented the plan to our student on Wednesday morning. She smiled and listened to us, and then interrupted, "Actually" she said, "I have an idea."
We were bowled over. Part of our problem is having her advocate for herself. Well, here she was, advocating for herself, very boldly.
"The first graders have buddies. Why can't I have a buddy. I want a friend to go with me" she stated.
Of course. The first graders have buddies because they don't have adults when they leave the room, and she of course, has 2 adults with her. But really, that's not nearly as much fun, or motivating as having a buddy. And really, she wants to be like everyone else as much as possible. It was a great idea, and one we never would have thought of, because it wasn't logical, but it was exactly what she needed.

"Wow, what a great idea!" we said. "Were you thinking of anyone in particular?" and she went on to name the most responsible person in the room.
"But my dad said this wouldn't work" she added. "Why didn't my dad listen to me?"
I tried to explain the idea of how we need to look at what's wrong with a plan to figure out how to make it better. I almost went into how Mr. Lipstick is a republican, but I decided that since she was only 5 I'd leave it alone.
The plan didn't completely work, but we made some strides better. And perhaps we need to include our 5 year old friend in on more of our meetings, or at least get her opinion before we meet with specialists, since she is exactly who is affected by our decisions.

*** *** ***

Then there were the other moments-

At our jump rope event there was vomit. Why is there always vomit at our jump rope events?

A wind advisory made any classroom in a trailer to come inside and find a space in the building to teach for the day. Do you have any idea of how many of our classrooms are in trailers?
I will say, however, as I was desperately printing out special education paperwork I got to observe the two teachers team-teaching in the library- two fourth grade classes together all day. But when I was in there, at 1:30, when this had already been going on for hours, the kids were still happily learning, and the teaching that was going on was phenomenal. I didn't want to leave because I was so entertained by the history lesson. Of course think-tank teachers would make the best of the situation.

Anyone know what happens when you google image search for "in a box" when working on prepositions? One would assume you'd find a nice Green Eggs and Ham imagine. Yet after the Justin Timberlake song you can only imagine what will pop up...

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