Sunday, December 28, 2008

Tradition!

Holiday traditions old and new:

Opening a pair of new pajamas on Christmas Eve

Opening presents one at a time so everyone can see what everyone else got (this quickly disintegrates every year into everyone simply opening presents willy-nilly.)

Chinese for Christmas Day dinner (This one has nothing to do with A Christmas Story, it's just a delightful, and rather delicious, coincidence.)

Watching Greg in the New Year's Eve show at Hale

Life Savers Books in the stockings

New Year's breakfast of Belgian Waffles and omelets

Christmas breakfast casserole

The cousins gift exchange

Jumping on Mom and Dad's bed on Christmas morning - though in recent years they've been getting up earlier than us due to their extreme old age ;)

In other news, at one of the holiday get-togethers this year (which were rather plentiful) I had an old moment.  I was watching all of the little kids playing and remembered being that age at the family parties, and it felt weird to be a grown-up at the Christmas parties.  Life marches on.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Holiday Travel Tips

Here are a few things I've picked up over the years while traveling to and fro to various festive locations:

Don't get in a wreck.  First of all, this can be a royal pain for you as your travel plans will be abruptly interrupted, and possibly for an indefinite period of time.  I don't recommend crashing.  Along with being a total downer for you, it slows traffic to an aggravating pace for everyone else.  Road rage will rise and other people, in their frustration, may cause other wrecks.  So really, for the love of humanity, pay attention on the road, use common sense, and don't be stupid.

Unless you're going faster than everyone else, stay out of the fast lane.  I don't think anything is as annoying as some Clueless Morgan going 5 under the speed limit in the far left lane.  Seriously people!

When in the car, put your phone away.  I'm as guilty as the next person, but phones are a major cause of the above mentioned mobile mishaps.  If you have to have your phone out, at least refrain from texting.  There's a reason they invented hands-free sets, and I'm pretty sure no one has invented hands-free texting.  As a concerned citizen, and one who values his own life more than your less-than-important textual flirtations, keep your eyes on the road, and your hands on the wheel.  He/she will wait, I promise.  The human race wouldn't have gotten as far as it has if people were that impatient.

Now, even the most seasoned and observant driver can't predict everything, so for those hapless happenings that we can't foresee, make sure your car contains:

A first aid kit
A blanket
A flashlight/flare
Window scraper
Battery cables
And probably a small supply of non-perishable foods like granola bars and gummy snacks.

Remember to obey the speed limit...within reason...don't mouth off to police officers, and that it's better to take a short nap than to die.

Be safe, and Happy Holiday Travels!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Where do they come from?

Journal entry from a 3rd grader:

"Yesterday I watched the scaryest movie ever it was about a guy Who loved this girl and killed her mom and friends and her boyfriend so he rewened her prom night the end the movie was called, 'prom night."

WTF?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

More from School

One of our 3rd graders has a shirt that says: " Jesus has skills."  I find it slightly inappropriate, but still funny.

We wrote a Christmas poem as a class today.  Ok, so we actually wrote a Kinishmas poem.  I don't get my kids sometimes.

I was reading "The Polar Express" with some kids and asked them what they'd ask for if they could ask Santa for anything.  I didn't get any responses as poetic as a sleigh bell, and certainly nothing practical.  Most kids wanted a Wii, PSP, Nintendo DS, or ipod.  One kid wanted cowboy boots.  That restored my faith.

Some of my kids have never tasted eggnog.  In fact, some of them have never even heard of it.  I think that may need to be remedied before the Kinishmas break.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Aggravation

Today was an aggravating day.

My alarm clock went off too early.  This isn't necessarily different from any other day, but it's still aggravating.

My refrigerator is making an aggravating vibrational noise. (Yes I made that word up.  Deal.)

At the beginning of the school year I had somewhere around 40 individual white boards for students to use.  Today I have 22.  Double aggravating.

Because of the missing white boards, my kids now get boring pencil and paper math.  This means less/harder engagement.  Aggravating.

For rehearsal this evening I was scheduled to be there from 7:45 to 8:30.  I was there from 7:40 to 9:40.  I said three lines a total of about six times.  I hate aggravating wastes of time.

As a result of the extended rehearsal, I didn't make it to the gym, and I didn't get any studying in.  Aggravating.

On my drive home one of the stop lights turned red, but no one was driving in the direction the lights allowed for.  Aggravating.

When I finally got home I discovered that my HOA fees had been increased by $7 a month for next year.  Aggravating.

I might just consider getting a roommate if the financial situation of things doesn't improve.  I find roommates generally aggravating.

It's been an aggravating day.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

I got big plans.

I've been sitting at my computer for the last few days trying to come up with something to write about.  Here are a few starters I've had:

"I'm a Mormon, ya know?"

"I started a tradition of posting a list of 100 things that make me happy..."

"My life seems to have lost some of its mystique."

"I like pie." (This was inspired by one of my kids.  I looked at his white board where he was supposed to be breaking the word "eventually" into syllables, and saw "I like pie!" instead.)

I also mentioned rhubarb, faulty Christmas tree lighting, a friend who - unbeknownst to me - cleaned my kitchen whilst I was away, my job, and Jane Austen. 

I will now mention that one of my favorite sweaters shrunk in the wash because I failed to realize that it was wool, and this is apparently the first time I've washed it.  But now it's the perfect size for my nephew, so he gets an unexpected bonus Christmas gift. :)

I will mention further that I enjoy all kinds of sweaters, nearly all kinds of brownies, musical performances by people who know what they're doing, and most people named Steve.

After rereading this post I think the preceding could somehow come together in a rather intriguing and entertaining story.  I'll put it on my list of books to write.  After I'm a famous author it'll be my contribution to holiday literature - a story about the life of a pudgy Mormon who works at Utah Woolen Mills, feels stagnant in life, and reads too much, but discovers the true meaning of Christmas and somehow ends up dancing in the snow while wearing a red-plaid scarf and a tan trenchcoat.  It'll be the next big Christmas movie to be made by Haelstorm entertainment, and I'll be in the days of '47 parade.  Isn't it nice to have dreams?

P to the S,
I just ignored a call from my EQP.  Does that make me a bad person?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Moments

On Sunday I home taught in a double-wide trailer.


My students had to write in their journals about what super power they would choose if they could. One of them said would choose to be "heck of fast."

My blog has looked the same for quite some time, so I'm going to experiment with some new themes just for fun.

My home teaching companion is one day going to be a Jr. High history teacher.  I fear for any kid who has to take his class.  Partly because he'll rely heavily on auditory learning though only about 13% of people are auditory learners, but mostly because he's awkward.

My junk email inbox currently contains 2,006 messages.

During a spelling test I said, "Alright, challenge word number 1..."  and one of my students said, "Dun dun dun..."

My food storage contains 3 bags of rice, 4 cans of apricots, 1.5 bottles of oil, and 10 boxes of brownies...among other things

I just bought these on ebay in three different colors:



And this made me laugh:


Saturday, November 22, 2008

A+

My report cards from elementary school:

"Sometimes Greg is a little too social."

Report cards I filled out this week:

"Sometimes he/she is a little too social."

And people say God doesn't have a sense of humor.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Block

6:15 - Arrive at Misti's house and put on my shirt with a large black "B" on the front, and "Joey '08" on the back.

6:30 - Leave Misti's house.

6:37 - Arrive at Training Table and join Sara in a booth.

6:45 - Order mushroom burger.

6:47 - Run across the street to see if cameras are aloud inside. (They are)

7:15 - Receive and enjoy mushroom burger.

7:32 - Leave Training Table and head for the E-Center.  (This process involves getting pictures and shimmying at passing traffic)

6:37 - 7:32  - Receive mildly amused looks and stares from the abundant patrons of the Training Table.

7:38 - Find seats in the second row of the second box on the floor.

7:40 - Discover oversight in seating arrangements and inform logistics crew.

7:46 - Seating oversight is, in fact, a seating misunderstanding.  All is right with the world.

8:00 - Cue Lady Gaga.

8:23 - Lady Gaga bestows mercy on the assembled guests by leaving the stage.

8:30 - Enter Natasha Bedingfield

8:37 - David Archuletta enters the box next to ours.  Everyone stops paying attention to Natasha and starts flashing pictures of David.

9:00 ish - Natasha Bedingfield leaves the stage.  David Archuletta and Co. leave their box.

A little after 9:00 ish - Lights up, screen flashing, music playing

Moments later - A deafening cheer.

Moments later still - Enter New Kids On The Block. (More deafening cheers)

A little after 9:00 ish until 11:00 ish - An almost sad display of washed-up, has-been, middle-aged men trying to recapture their youth.  Though I'll admit I did rock out to some of their old-school stuff.  Joey and Donnie were having fun.  Jordan seemed to be hating every minute of it.  Danny did some dancing, and Jonathan remained obscure through the whole show.

11:00 - The official show ends, the stage goes dark, deafening cheers.  

Moments later - NKOTB comes back to the stage for an encore.

11:04 and a few moments - Encore 1 ends.

11:05 - Cue encore 2.

11:05-11:18 - Encore 2 followed by acknowledgments of dancers, band members, warmer-uppers, and the middle aged men milking the applause for as long as they possibly can.

11:19 - Exit E-Center while wondering when my hearing will return.

It was a rockin' good time, don't get me wrong, but I think I've discovered I don't really like big concerts like that.  They're loud, long, filled with drunk people, and my ears ring for at least one entire day following the event.  Nevertheless, being the "B" in NKOTB was pretty much the best moment of my week.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Apologies

As is frequently the case, in my jubilation over the awesomeness of the sticker chart, I forgot to mention my inspiration for even starting one in the first place.  Her name is Erin, she's a friend's roommate, a scholar, and an inspiration to people the world over.  Thank you Erin for sharing this with us!

As a side-note, though the sticker chart would understandably involve stickers, for young mothers with mischievous little hands to worry about, people on a budget (stickers can be pricey *insert eye roll*) or anyone with an odd aversion to stickers for whatever reason, a marker (washable for the mothers) can be used to indicate progress where a sticker would be impractical.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Motivation

In my many adventures around the world I've encountered quite the array of supposed life-changing aparati (though it may actually be aparatuses, I'm not sure to which latin declension the word "aparatus" belongs).  Things that will enhance your quality of life, give you more money, more friends...more hair.  I've been skeptical of most things, but recently I've discovered something that could, in very point of fact, change the world. 

 "What is this modern marvel?" you ask? "What amazing discovery has he made?"  you query?  "Will it give me more hair?*"  You wonder?  Well wonder no longer good people.  I present to you that most amazing of futuristic marvels...the sticker chart.  Yes, the sticker chart.  I am a firm believer in their power.  In the course of one short month I went from being a lazy hedonistic oral-hygienically neglected wart on society to developing a habit of daily scripture study, near daily journal writing, and regular flossing.  There's more bounce in my step, more writing for future generations, and less plaque on my teeth. 

I know what you're thinking, "A sticker chart?!  That's it?!  That's kid stuff!"  Perhaps, oh doubting Thomi (Again, it could be Thomases...) but then again, sticker charts have been known to change behavior, establish routines, break habits, and even save relationships.  

Here's how it works:

1 - Set a goal.  Anything you'd like to accomplish.  Start small.  Something you'd like to change that is attainable, but things always "get in the way."  Something like daily flossing, daily reading, weekly calls to family, daily practice of something.

2 - Set a prize.  Something you'll give yourself for accomplishing your goal (this is the motivation factor.  Having a full sticker chart - while definitely a worthwhile endeavor - doesn't get even the most motivated person off their duff.).  Something you'd like, but wouldn't necessarily buy for yourself just because.   A new t-shirt, jeans, new shoes, decor for the home, that special dessert that you only allow yourself to have occasionally.  You pick, after all it's whatever will motivate you.

2 - Make a sticker chart for the number of days you'd like to try - 10, 15, 30 etc.

3 - Every day you accomplish you're goal, add a sticker. (For you die hard tow-the-line kind of people, you have to get 100% to get the prize.  If you miss a day, start over.  For others you may want to set your goal for a lesser percentage to start off.)**

4 - When your sticker chart is full, you buy the prize - without guilt.  You've earned it!

Here are the sticker charts I used:




I taped them close to wherever the desired activity occurred. i.e. the flossing chart was on the bathroom mirror, the journal chart was close to where I keep my computer etc.  The result was nothing short of miraculous.  I use them for everything now.  

So don't delay!  Start today!  Make your own sticker chart and watch your life start to change!

*No significant hair re-growth can be attributed either directly or indirectly to the use of sticker charts.

**Another variation on the sticker chart is instead of having a "get a sticker every day" chart have a "get a sticker every time" chart.  i.e. every time you do the dishes, every time you compliment your spouse, or every time you exercise.  That way it doesn't necessarily have to be every day, but you're still motivated to make it a frequent occurrence.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Books

From "The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig" by Eugene Trivzas and Helen Oxenbury:

"We shall build an even stronger house," they said, because they were determined. Just then they saw a truck coming along the road carrying barbed wire, iron bars, armor plates, and heavy metal padlocks.
"Please, will you give us some of your barbed wire, a few iron bars and armor plates, and some heavy metal padlocks?" they said to the rhinoceros who was driving the truck.
"Sure," said the rhinoceros, and he gave them plenty of barbed wire, iron bars, armor plates, and heavy metal padlocks. He also gave them some Plexiglas and some reinforced steel chains, because he was a generous and kindhearted rhinoceros."
I love when kid's books can make me laugh.

Monday, November 3, 2008

No soup for you.

I made soup for dinner this evening as I'm feeling a tad under the weather.  Soup is a comfort food for me.  Though I'm fairly certain soup does not actually contain any hyper-healing powers, or introduce microscopic superheroes to fight viral villains, soup makes one feel better when one is feeling blue.  Or in my case, a bit sniffly.  And this particular variety was a winner.  As I was making it I thought of my friend through whose circulatory system soup courses, and wondered if her chewable-food-loving husband would approve. Even if not, I enjoyed it immensely.  It's easy, quick, and entirely delicious:

Greek Lemon-Rice Soup

3 c. chicken broth
2 to 3 oz. uncooked regular rice
2 eggs
3 tbsp. lemon juice
Dash of salt
Dash of white pepper

In 2-quart saucepan, bring broth to a boil. Reduce heat, add rice, cover and simmer until rice is tender, about 20 minutes. In small bowl, beat eggs and lemon juice. Stirring constantly, add 1 cup of hot soup, a little at a time. Stir mixture into soup in pan and heat. Do not boil! Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

I am only one and thus reduced the recipe.  I also don't have chicken broth sitting around so I ended up using about a cup and a half of water mixed with chicken flavored ramen seasoning.  I went with 1/4 of a cup of rice and halved everything else.  It was perfect for one.  I added some yeastless wheat bread I made for Sunday dinner and had a perfectly pleasing, and healing-power-packed meal. :)  With any luck I'll awaken tomorrow not only feeling better, but positively glowing with healthy radiance. Keep your fingers crossed.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Thank you sir, may I have another?

I let my kids clean out their desks.  I am completely astonished at how much stuff you can fit into one of those things.  Some of my kids didn't need to clean because they're just organized kids.  Others need some serious help.

During recess one of my girls painted her nails, and then commented as I was helping her with math, "My nails all look a pig sty."  So funny.

One of my team members told us a story about how one of the cats she used to own had once squirted urine into her eye.  I mean, really.

I love my job.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Back in the Saddle.

Call me crazy, but I'm in another show.  I was planning on taking a break for a while and focusing on this whole teaching thing, but I guess someone somewhere had other plans.  

I got a call last night from the Dietlein (Mark Dietlein, he produces the shows at Hale Theater) asking if I wanted to be in Cash On Delivery - the first show for next year's season.  I was a bit surprised as I hadn't auditioned.

So, I slept on it and decided I wasn't going to do it.  I was planning on calling during lunch today, but conveniently forgot to bring my phone to school.  That left me open to discuss it with a few friends.  I got home at about 6:30 after going to the gym, thought about it some more and decided I might like to do the show.  Here is my line of reasoning:

Cons:
1 - It's a time commitment.  Things are crazy as it is without throwing one more thing on top.
2 - It would be nice to use the little free time I have to focus on getting the hang of this new career I've adopted.
3 - I may or may not need a break from doing a show since I've been involved in one fairly consistently since about this time last year.
4 - Loss of the little social life I currently have - including my nearly defunct dating life.
5 - Either Friday or Saturday night becomes null and void.

Pros:
1 - It's not a major role, so it wouldn't be a major time commitment.
2 - I could use the extra cash.
3 - New Year's Eve show = Oh so much fun!
4 - As my mentor/coach/aunt pointed out, it's an outlet for me.
5 - Being in a show at the beginning of the year (which might be crazier than my life currently) will help me get used to the schedule for when I want to audition for Treasure Island.
6 - It's a comedy, which I love and I'm good at.
7 - I LOVE IT!

So, the pros outweighed the cons.  I said a little prayer around 7:15 stating my reasons for wanting to do the show, said I would be calling the theater back at 7:30 to give them my affirmative answer, and if that wasn't a wise idea I needed to know in the following 15 minutes.  I didn't get a no.  In fact I felt pretty good about my decision, so I called up the theater and told them I'd be willing to be in the show.  And there you have it.  Along with the role they offered me - Dr. Chapman, a novice psychiatrist dealing with his rather awkward first case - they asked if I wanted to understudy for one of the leads.  I'd get a little extra money and maybe have the opportunity to perform as a lead character.  It's not a guarantee, but it's a possibility.  I didn't commit to that one yet.  We're gonna see how the show goes and then make a decision. 

So, life just became a little busier, but it's nothing I've never dealt with before.  Being able to share my talents has always been a priority and has helped me deal with the stress of a busy life.  Plus, I get free food. :)

So come see me in "Cash On Delivery" at the Hale Theater from December 31-February 14.

Monday, October 27, 2008

No worries!

So, it turns out I have a knack for this thing they call "teaching."  Who knew?

I've been observed by administration, big-wigs from the district, colleagues, coaches, and mentors.  Though I'm certainly not perfect, and there's plenty to work on, they've all had good things to comment about and most have said I'm doing an amazing job at teaching my kids.  I think that may just be because they don't see me teaching math.  Either way it's good to know that I'm not being completely ineffective.

Families of Greater Kearns - your children are in good hands. :)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Say what?

Overheard by me:

Aide: "That's called condensenation"

Teacher: "Pencils aren't girls or boys, they're just pencils."

Girl: Ella es una maestra? (Is she a teacher?)
Me: No.
Girl: Es una prostituta? (Is she a prostitute?)


Freeze...

Tag!

Lame, I know, but deal.

8 Favorite TV Shows:

Will & Grace
SYTYCD
The Fairly Odd Parents
Ellen
What Not to Wear
Myth Busters
Iron Chef
"The Show" by Lenka

8 Things I Did Yesterday:

Inspired young minds
Woke up too early
Experimented with curry
Ripped awesomeness into my itunes library
Gave candy during completely lame Red Ribbon Week activity
Watched Bill Nye
Flossed
Had an uber-long chat with a friend.

8 Things I Look Forward To:

Summer
Christmas vacay
Treasure Island auditions
Hot tubbing
Brownies
New pants
The day my mortgage is paid off *sigh*
Social interaction

8 Favorite Restaurants:

The Italian Village
Noodles and Co.
Paradise Bakery
La Cucina
Cheesecake Factory
Rodizio
Crown Burger
Quiznos

8 Things On My Wish List:

More books than I care to name
New cookware
New carpet
Trip to Disney
The ability to teach math
A permanent roommate
A new door
$1,000,000

8 People To Tag:

Jay
Launi
Joe
Erika
Naomi
Leah (I know you won't, but I had to tag someone.)
Anyone from Florida who reads this
Topher

Monday, October 13, 2008

Artisans and the like

I had my very first art project with my kids this week (sad that we've been in school 7 weeks and this is my first art project, I know, but there's a reason for that. I just don't want to go into it right now.) Here's what we did. Try it for yourself!

The one my third-grade team member gave me was a magic marker drawing from 197who knows when, so I used some good old modern technology to spice it up a bit. If you don't like the skull I've picked, you can find a whole slew of other options all over the internet. Your going to cut out the skeleton as follows:

And end up with something like this:


Then you glue the ribs to the back of the 'spine' thusly:



Then you're going to get four strips of paper for each limb for a total of 16 strips about like this:

Make a chain of four on both of the top ribs and bottom ribs:

And you'll end up with something along these lines:

In my class I decided to keep them around for a while as halloween decorations for the room. My kids all colored theirs and we got some interesting final projects. Here's where they currently reside:



And this is what mine ended up looking like. The kids asked if they could do eye patches too. I told them no. Only because I wanted mine is like the captain skeleton. Not that I would have done anything if they made an eye patch, but sometimes it's fun to exercise my supreme power over them. (insert evil laugh)...

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Mr. Scott?

Mr. B - Who can tell me something that needs to be fixed in this sentence?

Girl 1 - You need a period at the end.

Mr. B - Good! Anybody else?

Girl 2 - You need a period at the end.

Mr. B - That's what she said.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Afternoon Delight. Uh...yeah...about that...

12:10 - Lunch, and the world goes crazy.

Someone decided it would be a good idea to install windows in my classroom around 12:35, so post-lunch activities are a no-go and the search for a suitable alternate location is fruitless.  I end up taking my kids outside for a half a chapter of Matilda and some good old fashioned running.  During the running two of my boys decide it would be a good idea to pee...on the fence.

1:45 - Afternoon recess.

A small group of girls wants to a grow up a little faster and enlists the help of the bathroom paper products.

One of my girls tells some of the other kids that I have a big wiener.  I don't know how she would know, and I'm not really sure if it was meant as an insult or not.

3:20 - The end of the day

I empty my mailbox to deliver notes.  I check some and find that one girl wants to know if another girl just dresses pretty for one of the boys.  

I also get a note addressed to me, with no sender information containing the following - and I quote - "OK?"

Monday, September 29, 2008

Am I write?

Me: What does kindness have to do with friendship?
Student: Bananas?!

I went to a writing workshop where the presenter said something interesting - go figure.  He pointed out that a lot of times teachers receive notes or pictures from their children, but never write back to them.  So I started to.  My little attitude problem noticed that I had written a note back to a student, so she promptly wrote one to me.  This was on the cover:


The contents were as follows:

"Dear Mr. B,
I do think you are in love how old are you.  and you're sometimes mean could you be a lot eacy on us?  oh on sometimes you're funny when you dance it Funny when you do have a nice day By.

Sweet Mother of Mary*"

I think I'm going to start a class post office so my students can write notes to me and to each other.  This should prove HIGHLY entertaining.

As a teacher, one takes every available opportunity for an ego boost. Example: I made up an activity where the kids had to use a dictionary and thesaurus. Question 5 said, "Complete this sentence using a fun word: "Mr. B is such a (an) _______ teacher." (PS a "fun" word is something other than good, bad, mean, nice, etc.) Words the kids found to describe me:

honorable
excellent
fair
amusing
clever
skillful
kind
glad

I have some interesting aspiring authors in my class. A sampling:

mydogisHappyall the
timeHecachestheBallallthethe
HeisLaZYaNdMydog
WakeupallthetiMe
ButSoMtiMeMydogruNsaway
aNdMYdogRuNsfastaNdI
caNt cotchHiM theNHe
gettierd. INSidtheHouseHe
RuNSarouNdHeBrakes stuf
aNdMYMoMgetsMad

And the future poet laureat of the United States (formatting of text has been preserved from the original.):

I like to Play video games
    and i playing outside
        and Inside
            and play Games

*names have been changed.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Determining your Altitude...

I love my kids, ya know?  But sometimes they just aren't the brightest.  For some reason they haven't really developed those ultra-important problem-solving skills that they should posses.  I don't expect my class of 8-yr-olds to solve world hunger, I just think they should be able figure out how much time is left between now and lunch, or know that when you look in your book an page 19 is finished, instead of rushing to Mr. B in a panic, just move on to the next page that isn't finished, or figure out that question 1 in the test book goes with question 1 on the answer sheet.  This isn't rocket science!

One particularly aggravating moment came when, during a standardized test (prepare yourself for a ranting post about this sometime in the future) one girl was confused about the word "punctuation."  I'm not really allowed to clarify anything on a test because...well...it's a test.  All she really had to do was figure out which sentence had the incorrect punctuation - which you can do without knowing what punctuation is, and which we do every single day in class - but she was so caught up on the word "punctuation" that it was totally hindering her progress.  

And speaking of this girl, she's been giving me LOADS of attitude lately.  Today, during our test, she wanted a drink, but it's a timed test, so I said, "No."  She pouted and said she wouldn't finish her test unless I let her get a drink.  I told her I'd let her get a drink when she finished her test.  After that section, we were moving onto a different section and I noticed her desk was clear.  I asked where her book was, she said it was on the floor, I asked why and she said, "because you wouldn't let me get a drink."  I looked at her - a bit shocked and bewildered by this latest in a string of manipulative attempts - and said, rather forcefully, "So?!"  When lunch came around I said, "I'm tempted to take away your recess today.  Go ahead and go, but if I don't see some serious attitude changes by Monday, you're going to have some problems."  She said, "I just won't come to school Monday."  I said, "Fine.  Don't come."  I can see that we may be butting heads for a while.  She's used to being able to manipulate people that way, but I won't take it from her.  I think it's throwing her off - which honestly kind of makes me laugh. 

On a more positive note, and as an ending to this rather long diatribe - 

Today we were doing a comparison activity.  As an example we were comparing Barbies with casserole and I asked what they had in common to try and get my kids to think outside the box a little.  One kid said, "They both have bad taste."  Yes, one of my very own students made that up.  They may not always be the brightest, but sometimes they surprise me.

Monday, September 22, 2008

High on Life

DOL geography question:

What is the name given to the group of five large lakes in the northern part of the United States?

I indicate the lakes on a map and ask, “What are those lakes called?”

Students:
Bear Lake?
The Indian Ocean?
Asia!

Sometimes I have my students use individual white boards so they stay engaged in the lesson. Today I noticed one young man sniffing his marker as he walked back to his seat. I dunno…maybe it’ll help.

Did you know I'm part of a club?  That's right, a club.  The "Say Uncle" Club, to be precise.  It's very elite.  Only 1/3 of the students in my class made it in.  I'm not sure about the nature, or mission of the club, it's all very mysterious.  All I know is that the secret phrase is "say uncle." ...woops, I think that was supposed to be a secret.

I'm always entertained when I have to say, "Get your hand out of there."

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Now and Then

The last time I cut my hair was in February.  Consequently I looked like this: 



Add a razor, some shears, a painted chair, a faded towel, a popped collar, and the mad skills of one amazing sister and 45 minutes later you get this: 



Not bad eh?

Hip hoppin'

Every day in class we do what we call a "D.O.L."  I think that's suppose to stand for "Daily Oral Language," but there's not really anything oral about it.  Today I'm calling it "Daily Obsolete Language."  On each page the students have two sentences to fix, two analogies (a la teacher : student :: coach : ____ ) then there will sometimes be a geography question, and a math question.  Today's analogy read:

book : read :: record : _____

We go over our DOL's together as a class, so when we got to this, we discussed the relationship between books and reading, then I began the next phase by saying, "A record is what we had before tapes...which are was we had before CD's...which are what we had before MP3's.  Does everyone know what an MP3 is?"  I received a resounding affirmative response and so continued, "Ok, so if you read a book, what do you do with an MP3?" Most of my students said - appropriately - "listen" but one very bright young woman said, "rock out!"  And that immediately became the correct answer.  It was fun to look over their DOL's today and see "rock out" written on the page.  I love being the teacher.

Friday we had our end-of-lesson test for the story we were reading.  Our current unit in reading is about friendship, so there's always a general question about friendship in the test.  Their personal response question from this one was "Write about a time when you made a new friend."  My favorite response was, "When I moved to America from Californya." We're still working on geography...

The last three minutes of my school-day on Friday consisted of a dance party.  I think I might make that a weekly occurrence.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

run, jump, play

I think I like teaching verbs.  I can be crazy, my kids can be crazy, and they learn without knowing they're learning!

Speaking of engaging learning, I'm in yet another boring graduate level course where a slightly aged, butch-y, poorly dressed woman is flapping her jaw and expecting me to learn something from it all.  On top of it, she doesn't like elementary school teachers much.  Where do they come up with these people?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Writing Center

My little non-English speaking girl is at it again with trying to get me married off.  Today her advice was to go on the internet and find a bride.  I laughed out loud.

In one of my small groups the topic of my mustache came up and various opinions regarding how ugly it was were shared.  I told my students that I would shave it when the moment was right, but that now wasn't the time.  One young man tried to console me by saying, "You sure look cute with a mustache though."

A lot of the kids at my school come from rough home lives.  It's so heartwarming to see them during recess when they can just be kids.

Recess is just as much for the teacher as it is for the kids...if not more so.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Hanitizer

A teacher's thinking-out-loud dialogue:

"Alright, let's look at our next analogy.  We see 'teacher : student :: coach : _____' so what would go in the blank?

(Looks of slight confusion)

"Well, I'm the teacher, and you're the students.  So if I was the coach, what would you be?

"Players!

"Exactly.  See, when you're looking at one of these you need to think, 'hmmm, let's see Mr. B is my teacher and I'm the student, of if Mr. B was my coach...I'd be a player!"

And how right they would be. ;)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

A Teacher's Rant

I can't count the number of times I couldn't count the number of times I've had to repeat instructions to my class - and we've only been in school two weeks.  I guess I should get used to it.  They're 25 8/9-yr.-olds.  Their attention is easily pulled away from the current most important figure in their lives aside from their parents - namely me.  Having a constantly engaging environment is hard - not unattainable - just hard.  And perhaps not attainable for me at this moment.  One day, perhaps - and I hope that day arrives.  Right now I think God is trying to teach me a lesson.  It's as if He's saying, "See how aggravating it is when I have to repeat something?!  Can't you just do it the first time I say it?"  I guess I'm a little slow to learn myself.

But I digress.  The real reason of my rant is the following:  I get that 8-yr-olds have trouble paying attention for an extended period of time, or even for a limited period of time.  When I'm in a group of adults and an instructor has to repeat something, that's a little annoying.  When that group of adults is composed entirely of educators it's downright inexcusable.  How can we possibly complain about our kids not paying attention if we can't to do it ourselves?!  

I was in an ESL class this afternoon and just going over the syllabus our poor instructor had to repeat things, not just once, but several times.  Granted, she doesn't have the best presentational skills and she was perhaps a bit flustered/frustrated with all of us barely-interested teachers.  Even so, If the teacher explains something, pay attention!  It's not that hard!

And another thing - in education "they" are always talking about making one's classroom an engaging environment.  The large majority of people on Earth are not auditory learners so giving a lecture is probably the least effective way there is to teach.  The powers that be want us to make lessons engaging and fun - that way kids learn.  And yet when one peers into higher education - and especially post-secondary education - everyone seems to have missed that memo.  Don't talk at me!  And can someone find a way to help me learn besides making me read weighty and verbose documents full of superfluous language and meaningless jargon?  Some of the stuff you're trying to teach me is interesting, but it's presented so poorly that I don't care!  Please, take a class on making your classes engaging!  It can be done, I promise!

*sigh* Ok, I feel better.  Thanks for tuning in.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Dear so and so

Friendly letters from my children:



"Dear Michuel Jackson,

yore gae and gae and stoupid and doume"



"Dear Vanessa Lungens,

I wan't to see you ackt and you and Zack efron to geler becuse peploe or said that Zack is dating Ashaly.  and you or dating Drak you are pritey.  how come you and Zack Brack up in The move.  

Sinerely,  Desert Bird*"



"Dear high School Musical,

I like High School musical because I like hou they al sing together and I like gabryella more than the other High School Musical because she looks so cute in tv because she is so so so so nice to everyone of there friends I like her because she is nice to everyone and I lik her voice in tv and I like her voice in real life and I lik her close and i like her shoes to and I like all her magezyns I like her hair and I like her Purse I like every thing she has."



I also received 4 letters to Chris Brown, 2 to Spongebob Squarepants, and one to Hannah Montana, among others.

*names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Hitch Hikin' it.

Sunday morning dawned bright and delightful.  Thus I rode my bike to church.  After three hours of uplifting topics and awkward social opportunities it was time to return home for a nap.  I discovered that my bike tire was flat.  The institute - where I attend church - didn't seem to have a pump of any kind.  No problem, I live only a short distance away, so I'd walk.  Now, I'd prefer to have some charitable soul take me home in their car, thus allowing for more nap-time, but alas, this was not to be.  Between the institute at the back of the SLCC campus and Redwood Road I was passed by probably a dozen cars going out, and perhaps another dozen or so coming in.  None of them even stopped to ask if I wanted a ride.  Now don't get me wrong, it was a beautiful day, and I'm not opposed to walking.  It clears the head and promotes good cardiovascular health.  And my legs work fine, but it's the principle of the thing.  I think we Mormons can do a lot better at living our religion rather than just talking about it.

Cut to 8:30 that evening.

I had been to a gathering of friends downtown earlier and a friend had left her keys in my car.  I had to return them, so I, along with another friend, left my house in the pouring rain for a little jaunt back to SLC.  On the way we passed a woman walking down the road - soaking wet and hitchhiking for a lift to who knows where.  My experience from that morning - along with the current circumstances of weather etc. pricked my conscience a bit.  I stopped and picked her up.  She was headed only a short driving distance away, so we dropped her off and went about our merry way.

Two things:

1 - I had the opportunity to put into practice something that someone upstairs wanted me to learn that day, and in the process got an awesome - albeit sketchy - chance for service.

2 - I can now say that I've picked up a hitchhiker.  How cool is that?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

I need your attention in 3...2...good...

Being that it's the first week of school we're mostly just getting kids into the routine.  Teaching rules, procedures, habits etc.  Pretty much everything is new to these kids - even the ones that have been to the school before.  Partly because they're in new classrooms with new friends, new teachers, and new ways of doing things.  And partly because as soon as summer starts their brains fall out their ears and they forget everything they learned the year before.

To help them along in their remembrance of school rules - or to help them learn the rules for the first time, we enlisted the help of that world-famous super-hero:


Captain KYHFOOTY (pronounced ky-foo'-tee) (kyhfooty is a school rule that stands for "keep your hands feet and other objects to yourself).  

The kids loved it.  We'll see if they remember the rules...

Student 1 - Mr. B, what are we going to do today?
Me - The same thing we do every day - try to take over the world!
Student 2 - You can't take over the world, you're just a third grade teacher who's evil.

This is my plan book.  It looks so official doesn't it?  It's really just a comic strip I'm working on.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Go.

First Day = A tad overwhelming, but overall - AWESOME!  I told a friend today that I feel like there's so much to do and so little time, yet there's so little to do and so much time.  She agreed.  Maybe it's a teacher thing.

I kind of can't believe I'm actually a teacher.  Someone thought it would be a good idea to entrust the lives of 28 8/9-year-olds to me for 7 hours a day.  On top of that I'm responsible for their educational progression for the next 9 months.  I had a "What the hell did I get myself into?!" moment today, but it was just for a bit.  I think it's that new-job feeling.  It's just gonna take time to get the hang of things.

Highlights from the day:

Most of my kids LOVED the pirate theme.  It even works great as a reward/punishment system.  I could already tell they'd be disappointed to lose pirate treasure and/or points.  That's a good thing.  One girl, however, was not so enthused.  She didn't want to be a pirate, or even a princess - what else is there?, I ask you.

Math time was a challenge.  My kids struggled to count by tens.  Some even struggled with counting by ones.   I was helping a young man with this problem ( ___, 918, 919, ___) and he mostly just gave me a blank stare.  WHAT THIRD GRADER CAN'T COUNT BY ONES?!?!?!?!?!?!?! *sigh*

Nothing funny happened today though - unfortunately (well, aside from the myriad mustache comments from all sides).  Everyone's still on their best behavior because it's the first day.  But I'm sure the hilarity will be shortly forthcoming.  

I think the next few weeks (who am I kidding, the next several years) are going to be exhausting.  I didn't get out of the school until about a quarter to six today (I was the last person to leave besides the sweepers), which meant I went straight to the theater for a show (during which a cast member ripped out her dress, on purpose, by flexing her muscles - it was awesome.)  The show ends on Sept. 20 (shameless plug - come see me!).  During two of the next 4 Saturdays I have to perform in all three shows.  This week being one of those weeks.  I'm gonna be dead.  

P. S. My classroom has no air conditioning.  It was 100 degrees today and I had 25 kids in my room. Brutal.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Set...

My classroom is done. 

Bulletin boards are up, colorful, and engaging - but not too feminine.
Calendar is up and dated - a bit girly, but I borrowed it from my aunt.
Names are on desks, desks are arranged to fit academic excellence and feng shui.
Books are organized, students are registered (but that's another blog in and of itself)
My name is by the door and school picture day is coming up.
I'm ready...I hope...







One thing you may notice in my pictures is a giant red dotted line running around my room.  That's my treasure map.  There will be, sometime this week, 9 different stops on the map - volcanos, islands, whirlpools etc. - that the kids have to get to throughout the year.  They do this by accomplishing things like memorizing multiplication tables, reaching benchmark reading standards etc.  I'm also going to have a class boat that sails to one destination a month.  I'm going to give group rewards in the form of treasure that goes in the treasure box at the end of the map, the end-of-year prize/party/amazingly-awesome-something-that-Mr.-B-gives-the-kids will be dependent on the amount of treasure in the chest.  Also, if kids pass off all of their math facts (basic addition, subtraction, and multiplication) they get to become a pirate captain.  They get their very own pirate ship and become a part of my pirate army.  It's gonna be awesome.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Ready...

Our school does SEP's (SEP=Student Educational Plan=Parent Teacher Conference) before school starts to get some paperwork from parents, give students and teachers a chance to meet and set goals, establish expectations, etc. etc. etc.  So, I had my first Parent-Teacher Conferences.  They were good.  Not much of anything out of the ordinary really.  I handed out paperwork, met a few kids, met a few parents, and had a good start I think.

I even had a good educational experience.  One of my student's parents was filling out some paperwork and while she did that I read a story to my student and her little brother.  I even stopped and clarified, used comprehension strategies, and had active voice inflection.  It was cool.  I hope I made a good impression on the parent.  Especially since I have a mustache.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Repentance

I forgot to mention one very important piece of my home redecoration - Lindsey Bird.  She's a profesh with the interior design and helped me with colors and ideas etc.  She's pretty much the coolest and I recommend hiring her to help you with your own redecorating projects and paying her inordinate amounts of money to do so.  She's worth it!  Thanks Linds!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Dress-up

My summer has been - to say the least - eventful.  What with career changes, vacations, plays, new friends, redecorating etc. etc. etc. I've hardly had time to think, let alone blog, but I've loved every minute of it, and once school gets going I should have some great stories to share once again.  Until then, here are some highlights from the last few weeks.

Policeman Greg, he's a policeman...or a porn star


I could totally be an international man of mystery

I'm turning into my father in a frightening way.  We look eerily like my parents did 25 years ago.

I just need to vent here.  This is from a pirate-themed murder mystery dinner I went to with a friend.  I'm a bit miffed for three reasons: A - They made me a merchant rather than a pirate.  B - I didn't even place top 3 in the costume contest though I'm sporting a full-on ponytail with a ribbon, a mustache, ruffled shirt, red socks, and a table-cloth-turned-cape.  C - the girl who won the costume contest was wearing a rented costume.  How lame is that?  It takes no creativity to rent a costume.  I guess I can console myself with the fact that I was quite possibly the most attractive person at the party rented costume or otherwise.  And the cape was fun to play with. :)

Nothing says happiness at a wedding like a pink ribbon in a ponytail.  Remind me to cut my hair at the first available opportunity.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Home Sweet Home

As many of you know my roommate/cousin recently got married (Congrats Annie and the Steve!) and moved - thus leaving me alone in my condo.  Because it's summer and I am basically jobless until the end of August, I did some redecorating.  Take a gander.

Before (now these pictures are from when we first moved in last September, so there have been several decorative phases since these were taken, but you get the idea.) And after. :)




I'd just like to pause and point out a couple of things here.  First - the light fixture.  I installed that all by myself.  This may be shocking for some of you to read, but it's true.  In fact in all of the redecoration I received help in only two things: 1 - My friend Toffer painted the second coat on the giant yellow wall.  2 - My dad installed the microwave.  Everything else was done by yours truly.  Now if that's not something to be proud of, I don't know what is.  Secondly, the drawers are decopaged.  I think they look really cool.  And now for more pictures :)  These don't have any before versions.  The loft was used mostly as storage til Annie left, so there was no reason to take a picture of it.  This one doesn't really do justice to it's current awesomeness, but it's the best I could do.  The bedroom used to be Annie's, so no before picture there either.  Just imagine that the walls were all that same beige color and there was a bed and dresser.  These pictures also don't quite capture the breathtaking nature of the room, but there's limited space there.  You'll all just have to come over and experience it live.





Pretty cool no?  I sure love owning a house. 

Sunday, August 3, 2008

A bit cliche, but who isn't at times?

3 packs of #2 pencils - $2.76
5 packs of glue sticks - $1.10
2 packs of neon pencil-topping erasers - $1.94
4 boxes of markers - $3.52
30 boxes of crayons - $6.60

Making the first purchases for what promises to be the coolest classroom in the history of the world - priceless.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

It's good to be bad, and yet...

So, in this play I'm involved in I happen to be the bad guy.  And the play is set in the 80's so that means I'm creepy.  When we did the Utah reception line at the end of the play I had all of three people say anything to me.  Most people didn't even look at me.  September 20 is seeming farther and farther away.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Busy? Me? Never!

I'm am sorry readers to have been remiss in my musings.  There are several reasons for this, not that any of them are good reasons, but they are reasons nonetheless.

Reason number 1:  My cousin moved out of the house and I've been busy reorganizing things, getting ready to paint, buy new furniture, move my bedroom, and make a picture frame.

Reason number 2: I'm starting a new job this fall, and despite being ecstatic about the possibilities, it's a bit daunting, and I'm admittedly nervous about the whole prospect. 

Reason number 3:  For the last two weeks I've been in Ecuador on a humanitarian trip with Charity Anywhere, some peeps from my hometown of Richfield, and a pretty cool gang from Reno.  It was an AMAZING experience.  Along with being a translator, dental assistant, pharmacist, professional adhesive bandage applicator, office manager, donation supervisor, child restraint engineer, and crowd control specialist, I found time to rock the karaoke bar, go horseback riding, hike a waterfall, mountain bike down an active volcano, barter with local sellers at the market, eat amazing food, have a conversation with a nun, receive a friendly pat on the butt from a toothless mute woman in the plaza of San Antonio de Ibarra, and get in a little bit of booty shakin' with the dental hygiene students and the nurses.  It really was awesome to go help the people in Otavalo.  I will definitely be looking into other service opportunities for the future.  Here are a few pictures from the trip if you're interested.  Some of them are a bit gruesome, so be forewarned.

Reason number 4:  Sometimes relationships between people are more complicated than one would like them to be and I've been a bit distracted with such issues lately, but I think I'm figuring things out on all fronts, so no worries.

Reason number 5: I'm in Big: The Musical at Hale Centre Theatre (MWF cast for those interested in coming to see it) and as many of you know, being in a play can be quite time consuming - especially when on misses the last two weeks of rehearsal to galavant around another continent.

Now that many of these things are coming to an end, or are calming down, I should have more time to share the mirth and levity that permeate the very fibers of my existence.  Also, in two weeks I hope to have my house done i.e. everything painted, new furniture bought and placed, decor up, and things in ship-shape condition, so I'll be posting pictures.

Now, does anyone know where I can find a good massage therapist?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Say What?

For one of my ESL classes we had to do a group presentation.  Our group did a presentation on idioms and slang and their importance/use in language, and some ideas about how to teach idioms.  Here's a little scenario that Michelle - a first grade teacher - put together as our opener.  I thought it was rather clever.

An Idiomatic Tale of Two Bachelors

1: What's shakin'?
2: Oh man, I've got a doozy.  I asked Melissa to tie the know.
1: Are you pulling my leg?
2: I'm not joshing you, and she's the spitting image of Audrey Hepburn.
1: Hot dog, that's over the top!
2: Yeah, I had to eighty-six Brittany.  She was always chewing me out, said I wasn't playing with a full deck.
1: C'mon, you were head over heels for her!
2: Naw - she's used to living high on the hog, and you know that since I've hit the books my nest egg has gone to hell in a handbasket.
1: Well, break a leg buddy.
2: What?  You got a chip on your shoulder?
1: It's just that...
2: Stop beating around the bush and spit it out.  Cat got your tongue?
1: It's just that I smell something fishy.  i know you're chomping at the bit, but I think you should hold your horses.
2: Com again?
1: Keep your shirt on, man.  I don't want to let the cat out of the bag, but she's a loose cannon.  She'll pull a fast one on you, and you're turning a blind eye.
2: But I"m on cloud nine.  You think maybe I shouldn't wear my heart on my sleeve?
1: Yeah, because with her, still waters run deep, and you can't always judge  book by its cover.
2: I guess we're on the same page.  it's not like I'm in a race against the clock.
1: Yeah, time is on your side.  You know, girls like her are a dime a dozen, and you, man, are the cat's pajamas.
2: Wow, I really dodged a bullet this time.  Thanks for keeping an eye on me.
1: We could talk about your girlfriends 'til the cows come home, but it's like beating a dead horse.  Let's pig out instead.
2: Then I've gotta hit the sack.  Gonna put my nose to the grindstone tomorrow.
1: You crack me up - the way you lose your head over a pretty face.

Forbidden

Conversation with a friend:

Friend - "So I was dating this guy...and then I found out he was married..."

Me and other friend (insert surprised/amazed/bemused laughter)

Friend - "I know!  This is what I'm saying!"

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Stick it to the man.

Bumper Sticker:

"Gas was $1.46 when Bush got in, but go ahead - vote for McSame."

While I understand that the President actually has very little to do with the state of gas prices, I thought it was funny.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Nobody's got no class

To get a jump-start on my certification I'm taking some classes this summer.  To be perfectly honest, they're mostly pointless.  They're ESL endorsement classes (I have to be endorsed or they can't put ESL kids in my class.  Forget that I'm fluent in 2 languages.  Chalk one more up for the government.) so I'm not getting much out of them - though I am learning a little, so they're not completely useless.

My basic schedule involves getting to class at 7:30 in the blessed a.m., sitting in class for an hour or two during a lecture, then we have time to work on homework etc.  Following that is computer time to have a "language learning experience" i.e. learn what it's like to learn a second language.  The computer program we're using only teaches Spanish, so it's kind of pointless for me.  Following that we have lunch, more wasted time, a lecture involving the finer points of basic English grammar, and then we go home.  Today I felt like stabbing my eye out.

On a brighter note, my lunch break today was kind of awesome.  There's a quaint little Italian deli just down the street and around the corner from the school (roughly 39th and State for those interested in checking it out, which I recommend) that I wanted to try, so I did.  On my way - I was riding my bike - I noticed another man riding his bike in the middle of the street - as cyclers are sometimes wont to do.  He was in the left-hand turn lane and waving quite a bit.  I thought maybe he just wanted to get the other drivers' attention so as to avoid death.  I was wrong.  He turn left, but went up onto the sidewalk and continued to wave like he was the reigning member of some small-town parade royalty.  Weird.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Cover to...

I'm writing a book.  Some might think that's crazy.  I like to think of it as ambitious.  As much as I love my career, I don't want to be a penniless teacher for the rest of my days.  I'd rather be a ridiculously wealthy teacher - thus...

Here is a rough draft of the first two chapters, let me know what you think!  Presenting, Mr. B. and the Double-Wide:

Chapter 1

Every city, every town, every village, metropolis, hamlet, suburb, and burg in the world is famous for something. Venice, Italy, for example, is famous for having streets made of water where people glide around in long boats and live lives of mystery and intrigue. Wenzhaun, Tibet, is famous for having the highest elevation in the world – 16,730 ft. above sea level. And the town of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania is famous for being the home of Groundhog’s Day’s official groundhog – Punxsutawney Phil.
But the small outcropping of people known as Mackinack was famous for an entirely different reason. To explain Mackinack’s claim to fame we must travel 17 and one half years into the past – the year they split the school.
Mackinack had, at that time, a population of 59 people, 23 dogs, 16 cats, 2 gerbils and a parakeet named Mo. Mo lived in a cage that hung in the window of the local convenience store; which was located – conveniently – across the street from the one-room Mackinack Elementary School. He was a dusty shade of green, had only one eye (the result of a run-in with cat number 12), could talk, but only to give non-existant sale prices for dairy products, and had been a witness to everything that went on at the school from the day little Polly Perkins was hit in the face with a water balloon during the school carnival, to the great swing-set caper in the winter of ’24, to what has become known amongst the locals as “The year of the double-wide.”
Which is exactly where our story begins. That also happened to be the year the elementary went from having 13 students to having 18 students. The schoolhouse was only big enough to house 14 people comfortably, and with 18 students, a teacher and a class pet (one of the town’s gerbils), there just wasn’t enough room. Unfortunately there also wasn’t enough money to build a new school, and there were no portable classrooms available, so they had to use an old dilapidated double-wide trailer that someone had abandoned on the outskirts of town. They hauled it up next to the schoolhouse and put a sign on the door that read, “Room 8.”

Chapter 2

The first day of school dawned hot and dusty – which was somewhat remarkable considering Mackinack was located in a temperate zone.  Nevertheless, the 7 students who would be using “Room 8” stood outside the door of the trailer waiting. The looks on their faces resembled one you might find on a person alone in the woods facing a pack of rabid wolves, or clowns.
These seven students were known as “The Smart Kids” – and they were. The un-smart kids, who had given the nickname, were also not very creative.
Hank Spackert was the oldest – 16. He stood 6 feet, 10 inches tall, had flaming red hair, too many freckles for his small face, and a constant look of surprise like he was seeing the world for the first time every day. He was somewhat clumsy, but never let that stand in his way.
Next came the triplets Mariana, Mariella, and Butch Van Pandeller at 15 years, 3 months, 4 days, and 1 minute, 4 minutes, and 7 minutes respectively. They stood about 5 feet tall, all had hair the color of graham crackers, bright blue eyes, and looked like they were always about to get into trouble – and usually they were. They told everyone they were identical triplets, though that was clearly impossible.
Tara Osgood and Victor de la Cruz were 13 and had been best friends since their first day in school when they’d discovered they shared a love of play-do, origami, and David Hasselhoff – which made for some interesting arts and crafts sessions over the years. Tara was short, about as big around as the pencil she kept in her ear, and had a head full of curly hair that looked like it might attack you if you said the wrong thing. She was spunky, had a witty comeback for everything, and was never seen without a book in her hand. Victor was equally witty and well-read, though he liked to conceal that fact to preserve his pretty-boy image. Victor was nothing short of beautiful – perfect olive skin, silky black hair, and eyes that gazed straight into your soul. It was rumored that he had once gotten a free meal at the local diner by just winking at the waitress. He was one of those young men destined to end up in a cologne commercial, or on the cover of a dime-store romance novel.
Then there was Greg Eggleman, an exceptionally bright 9-year old. A natural-born leader who the other kids looked up to, despite his small stature – he was even short for his age. His blond hair stood straight on end making him constantly look like he’d just been electrocuted. He had sharp eyes and wore glasses – which he always removed and polished when he was explaining something to someone older than himself.
So there they stood – a motley crew of mismatched youth united in a common dread of what lurked behind the thin screen door now hanging innocently in front of them.
That same door abruptly swung open and a happy-sounding voice said, “Come on in!”
The kids cautiously entered the trailer, which would probably be more accurately described as a double-long trailer, and were faced with a somewhat dismal scene. The classroom only took up one side of the trailer and half an old billboard declaring, “$29 a ni” had been propped up against the wall at the far end as a makeshift blackboard. The desks consisted of three garbage cans, a toilet, two old engine blocks, and an upside-down shopping cart. There wasn’t so much as a book, pencil, or sheet of paper to be found anywhere. Light shown through the one window illuminating the dust, the make-shift desks, and a lone figure standing in the corner smiling like he’d just baked the most delicious cookies in the history of the world and wanted to share them, which he had, and did.
“Good morning class, my name is Mr. B.” Said Mr. B, passing around the plate of cookies.
He was a young, average looking man with slightly unkempt hair that seemed to be fighting a losing battle against an encroaching forehead. He had straight teeth, a freckle just to the left of his nose, and a twinkle in his deep brown eyes that seemed to hint at more wisdom than his youthful appearance would indicate.
“Go ahead and choose your own seats and we’ll jump right into things.” He said cheerily, not seeming to notice the bleak nature of his surroundings.
“You’ll notice we don’t seem to have real desks, and no supplies to speak of, but we’ll have to make due. Also, the other half of the trailer is inaccessible at the moment, no one gave me a key to that door."
He pointed to a door which stood in the left-hand side of the wall separating the two sides of the trailer.
“So, you’ll have to run to the schoolhouse if you need to use the restroom, I’m afraid that toilet doesn’t work.” He half-lamented, indicating the seat Hank had chosen. “Other than that little hitch,” he continued with a strange sparkle in his eye, “this should be the most amazing school year of your lives.”
Little did The Smart Kids know, he wasn’t exaggerating.

Back on the bus

I started a couple of classes today to get going on things toward my certification.  Of the 8 hours scheduled for mind-expanding intellectual experiences, I think we used maybe an hour in a productive manner.  I used the rest of the time to finish the homework assignments that are due tomorrow - which included 42 pages of reading, and 2 pages of typed responses, work on my book, and eat lunch.  And I was still on my way home a full 2 hours before the scheduled release time.  It's going to be an interesting couple of weeks.  Hopefully my eyes will still be in my sockets when all is said and done.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

What's a peck anyway?

I own the Viggetales 10 year anniversary CD (don't judge me, it's freaking awesome) I sometimes listen to the music from it on Sudnays...I think that's appropriate. This song popped up today and made me laugh. Especially the end.


boomp3.com

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The end of the beginning

This week brings about an end to certain things - summer school, the 2007/2008 school year, my life as a part-time worker.  It's all very exciting really.

It's also a beginning.  I began my life as an official teacher with a little training.  And so it begins.  I have more trainings, and I have some classes coming up, then more training, and school starts and it's all over but the singin'. 

I came up with a cool idea for measur
ements.  I'm gonna have my kids make paper airplanes, then we'll throw them and measure how far they go.  It'll be fun.

I'm worried about my kids.  I give them a worksheet to do every morning to start out the day.  Here's a question that most of my kids got wrong:
The question was, "At what temperature does water turn to ice?"  I just had to shake my head.  I went over the question with them.  I drew the diagram on the board, and read it out loud to them while indicating the temperatures, then asked the question and I got answers like, "Zero!", "One hundred!", "Winter!" *sigh*

Then I had a boy ask me, "What does 'before' mean?"

Nevertheless I'm excited to be a teacher.  I start some of my certification classes next week.  I have 8 hours of classes for two straight weeks.  I think I might be a bit overwhelmed when all is said and done, but it's gots to be did!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

WHAT?!?!?

I had a parent call me Mr. B.  That was sort of a surreal experience.

I also signed my contract for next year. I'll be making more than I thought.  Woohoo!  But I had to pay more money in the process.  Boohoo.  But I get benefits - woot!

My level of love for children is sometimes equal to my level of annoyance, shock, and frustration with their parents.  One of my 2nd graders today asked us (us being me, and the 2 aides I have in my classroom) if we'd seen Freddy vs. Jason.  I was surprised (somewhat) to know that she even knew what that was, and utterly appalled to find out that she'd seen it.  SHE'S 8 YEARS OLD!!!!  Oh well, ya can't save 'em all.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Matters of size

Somehow a bird got trapped in my classroom over the weekend. So when I showed up to school Monday I found little presents smattered about the room. Delightful.

My corn blower is gone. Apparently their family is having some difficulties, so they won't be coming back to summer school, and they're going to a private school in the fall. Part of me is glad because he was a handful, but I'll miss him at the same time.

On the bus-ride to the zoo: "Let's see whose is bigger!" Don't worry, they were just talking about their name-tags.

One of them asked if we were going to the Hoagie zoo.
The zoo was awesome. We saw animals, climbed animal statues, contemplated buying animal souvenirs, ate ice cream - which has very little to do with animals at all, but is extremely delicious - and I ran into an old high school friend (Hi Jill!)
I love kids. I think I may have mentioned this before. I think we can learn a lot from them. Today my lesson was to recognize the wonder all around us. We took I-215 to the zoo for a fieldtrip today. I think about every other minute the kids were shouting, "Whoooaaahhh!!!" At some thing or another - the view of the valley, the big houses on the hill, the canyon we passed. Then they would do the arm-pump every time a big truck passed us and got the biggest kick when the driver would honk their horn. Love it.

In closing I'd like to say that I don't know if there's much of anything more adorable than a sleeping child. Too cute.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Summer...what's that?

I was introduced this morning as the member of the summer school faculty - that's right, faculty - in charge of 2nd grade.  I have 26 kids registered in my class, but only about half of them show up, so it should be a fun three weeks.  We've got daily computer time, read naturally lab, small group time, lunch, and 3 planned field trips.  I don't think there's going to be much time for actual teaching, but I'm sure it'll be a blast.  

Because summer school is for the kids who need an extra boost, I think it'll be ripe with opportunities for "Is what I just heard really what you just said?" moments. Like this:

I have a rather special young man in my class for the summer who has the attention span of a small kitchen appliance. I let him leave to use the bathroom. I left the classroom several minutes later to see him walking out of another classroom. I just looked at him and didn't say anything, then the following short conversation occurred:

Boy: Well, sometimes I have diarrhea and corn comes out. I just had to tell my sister.
Mr. B: (confused look) Ok.

His sister happens to be the girl in 3rd grade who reads 16 words a minute.

Or this:

I was working on an example for our art project today and overheard a few of my kids who were working with one of the aides.  They were doing timings on groups of words.  One of their words was "milkshake."  After his timing on of my little cherubs innocently - or perhaps not so innocently - declared, "My milkshake's better than yours."

There are some kids I just don't get.  No matter how many times you tell them something they seem to end up doing their own thing.  Total space cadets.  Oh well, I guess the world needs cosmonauts too.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Last the best of all the game

Alright, recap of the last week of school.  Try not to be too jealous of my amazing life.

Monday:
Field Day.  I manned the inflatable water slide which made me even more popular than before - if that's even possible.  I'm still waiting on pictures...

Tuesday:
Talent show.  It started off with the 4th grade faculty playing rock band (this is a talent?).  They failed miserably, but the kids seemed to enjoy it.  There was some horrible lip-syncing, and then there were actually some pretty cool talents.  One 1st grader did some karate, another jumped around stage on a pogo stick, a couple students played instruments, and one completely adorable 2nd grader did a traditional Venezuelan folk dance.  I was coerced into a surprise musical number to tie everything together.  The gym went crazy when they heard I was up.  That's a good feeling.

Wednesday:
6th grade breakfast.  I got free breakfast.  
6th grade vs. Faculty Softball (which turned into indoor volleyball because of rain.).  The faculty wasted the 6th graders.  It was our last opportunity to exercise our authority over them.

Thursday:
I did absolutely nothing productive.  I mostly signed kid's books, ate random snacks, and got SUPER excited about next year.  Then they fed us lunch.  It was a day filled with levity and mirth.

Just so you don't think I coasted the last week of school, I did have to take kids to the computer lab and supervise them for several hours each day.  One day my boss even assigned me to work with Mary.  She did give me a break though because in her words, she didn't want me to go to prison.  But still, I think this week pretty much rocked!