Saturday, August 30, 2008

Three straight days

...of doing the following:

Open Court decodables - it's like "The Song that Doesn't End," except with more paper cuts

And there's more here.

I actually think some of these poems are exact copies, pictures and all, of what I used in elementary school.

I swear the school's laminater can cover anything in plastic - paper, cardboard, jeans, cutlery, tennis shoes, etc.

So it doesn't look like much, but it really did take three days to finish. I too, was surprised at how long it took to get just this stuff done. No wonder teachers complain about clerical work overload.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

It's a wonder

You know this post? Well, I've eaten my words and pooped them out again within an 8 hour period today.

It's a wonder anyone in their right mind would want to become an American school teacher (note: very different from an American "schoolteacher" - if only I had these verbal skills during the SATs, no?).

It's a wonder I'm able to leave the house properly dressed each morning. The things I forget and then finally remember when I'm already half-way to my destination!

It's a wonder American students are able to do as well as they do when they have so much to do in so little time. And it all has to compete with ipods, video games, TV, and popular culture in general.

It's a wonder anyone with any kind of life at all and/or who supports themselves/their families financially survives the California teacher credential process.

There were times this summer when I felt that I was the laziest person on earth. Apparently, the time has come to balance out that inequality.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Activity of the week

Name: Group juggling
Materials: one tossable (ex: beach ball, frisbee, ping pong balls, scarves, etc) per player
Number of players: 2+. The more the better in my opinion, but I would cap it at 10 for littler ones. Older students would find 20+ an enjoyable challenge.
Space: Indoor and outdoor. Preferably in a coned off space, but not necessary.

How to play:
1. All players stand in a circle, arms held wide, fingertip to fingertip.
2. Each player chooses a "passing partner," the person they are going to pass to. The Starter (usually the teacher), says the name of his/her partner, 2nd player says name of his/her partner, etc. Until the Ender, who will always pass to the Starter.
3. Starter passes tossable to his/her partner, keep going until all tossables are in the air.
4. Keep going for as long as possible.

This is one of my favorite group games from SPARK! It's fun, allows catch-and-release as well as communication practice (players have to get the attention of their partner before tossing), and teaches kids to be aware of their surroundings as well as focus on one person at a time. This is harder than it looks for young kids.

Note: When I say young kids, I mean 2nd grade and below usually.

I played this with water balloons last week. It was tough since I had a range of 1st grade through 6th, as well as low to high athletic abilities. But this activity is meant to be low-stress: no competition, just trying your best to keep the items in the air, so it's a lot of fun too.

Photo: qesnrecit

Thursday, August 21, 2008

That "I'm gonna hurl" feeling

I met my co-teacher yesterday. She is very nice and much younger than I expected. But then, I expected her to be rather older, since her name is old-fashioned-sounding, like “Ethel,” or “Martha.”

I like how organized she is. In many ways her classroom philosophy aligns with mine, which was how the program coordinators matched us up to begin with. Props to them for a good job doing that, at least in my case so far.

I like how she referred to everything as “ours.” It made me feel less awkward. I was probably not as out-going and initiative-taking as she might have liked, however I do have a valid excuse. Being introduced to so much in such a short time was definitely overwhelming. I have enough confidence in my capabilities to know I’ll learn the ropes like second nature in the future, but right now it’s nothing but @~@.

Our classroom is dinky; can’t be more than half the size of a typical elementary classroom - I would say even bordering on a third of some affluent school’s classrooms (*cough*Brentwood*cough*). We’ll only have about 18 students, but even if I weren’t a natural organizing maniac, that room would force me to become one.

SCUSD uses Open Court. A lot of people have a lot of issues with scripted curricula, but I think it’s decent as long as it’s used in an appropriate way. Besides, it takes out a lot of the boring research tasks so that you can focus a little more on the fun stuff. Cons: this thing is H. U. G. E. As in Highly Useful for Gaining spinal Erosion. The photo above is just for unit 1 (i.e. about a month’s worth of curricula); there are 11 more of these babies, each thicker than the previous one. Obviously, parts must be skipped as there are just not enough hours in the school day. And some people wonder how on earth our students are failing standards - because technically, they are not failing. They learn it eventually; just may or may not be according to the timeline the government mandates.

Ms. M is highly focused and highly goal-oriented, but I think she also understands that not everyone is like that. I’m glad. I’m willing to push myself and take on challenges - might was well do it now and make as many mistakes as I can (so I can learn from them) when I have a huge network of teachers, professors, and classmates to lean on. So when I’m really solo, I’ll know how to avoid mistakes, and look for answers myself whenever they do come up. We are supposed to work our way up to at least 2 full days of SOLO (in caps of course) teaching, with many milestones marked by papers and supervising faculty evaluations, by the end of the semester.

Thus, I’m taking the read aloud responsibilities, plus the transitions surrounding them, starting on day 1. Ms. M reads to her students at least once a day, which is so great for the 1st grade level. Reading aloud was really awkward for me in the beginning, the adult audience wasn’t so encouraging either. But when you read to little kids, it’s so awesome to see them get involved and laugh and do all sorts of interaction with the text. It’s also fun for me to act out the voices and make a fool of myself in general. Puppets are also the l33t, believe it or not. In this age of ipods and video games and electronic “learning equipment,” nothing beats a good old sock with eyes glued on. I’ll probably record myself during practice - put that spanking new webcam to good use.

Despite that feeling in my stomach that I’m going to hurl all over these poor, unsuspecting 1st graders (THAT would make for a memorable first day of school), I’m looking forward to it all.

The big move from this side of cyberspace

I've been a long time user of blogger, but just finally made the decision to move here from there. Mainly because I like Google, and party because there seems to be fewer glitches here.

We'll see how it goes.