October 15, 2009

Dear Parents…..

Yesterday Jacob brought a letter home from his teacher in his Parent Folder. I read the letter and when I was done, I was a bit confused and surprised by what I read, so I read it again. Here's what the letter says:

Dear Parents:

Every other week your child will receive a spelling list of 15 to 20 words. The left hand column of words is his/her core words. These words follow a spelling or vowel sound pattern. The right hand column has words that your child should know how to spell in his/her writing.

Here's where I need your help. Every other Monday, please give your child a pretest. This will help your child focus on words that are difficult for him/her. On the following Thursday, give your child the spelling test at home, grade it, and send it to school on Friday. This should only take approximately 10 minutes and will save us a lot of class time. I have attached the spelling test that you will use on Thursday. I appreciate your support.

Thank you,

Ms. Peters

Ok….so here is where I was confused……What? It's Tuesday and I am supposed to give my child a spelling test on Thursday, grade it and send it back to you on Friday? When was the interview for this job that I just got hired for?

Here's where I was surprised—"This will only take approximately 10 minutes and will save us a lot of class time." I guess I didn't know when I was in the classroom that it was even an option to pass my job off on the parents! Man I could have saved HOURS of class time if only I hadn't had to give those darned spelling tests, AND grade them!

Also, I don't know about you but I would have been a bit suspicious when all of my kids had shown up with grades of 100 every other week. I mean, really? Does she think that parents are going to let their kids turn in a failing grade on something they did at home? Or this….."Hey, Johnny! Here's your spelling list. Write these words on your paper and I will grade it in a minute when I am done cooking this chicken. Yes, I know I am "supposed" to call them out to you, but I am really busy so just copy them. You are still learning how to spell them when you copy them."

Just so you know….I am NOT against helping the kids out. This is my child and I want him to be successful. I help with homework, math facts, AND spelling words throughout the week. I just didn't sign up to homeschool, and I don't want to feel like I have to remember every OTHER Monday to give a pretest and then a REAL test on every OTHER Thursday, then grade it and send it back to school. What if I get busy and do forget? Does my child get a failing grade because I didn't do the teacher's job?

And just WHAT IF all of the kids come to school with a 100 on Friday? Does she overlook that because she is so busy doing the happy dance that she actually got all of the parents to participate and grade the home given tests and send them back?

October 14, 2009

No Talking In the Library!

1982......It is a hot summer day and I am in my bedroom "teaching" my class of kids. There is a chalkboard against the wall and 5 dolls (my class) lined up against the bed. Each "student" has a paper to work on (thanks to my Aunt Melony--the teacher I always wanted to be like even if she did throw erasers at her students!), and I have a grade book to keep their attendance and grades in. Wait, what is that? Is someone talking while I am teaching? I chastise the student and put HIS name on the board....the girls in my class never got in trouble. We all know it is the boys that act up in school, and even as a 7 year old teacher I knew that! The boys hope I don't make them write lines during recess, but I don't make any promises! Outside my bedroom is my dad listening to me talk to dolls and teach them how to add. He is smiling because he is so amused by the fact that I am entertaining myself with this imaginary play time. To me teaching came naturally--even if I did fail all of the boys just for the mere fact that they were boys! It was something I always wanted to do and I knew I could be good at.
Fast Forward 27 years......I now have a 7 year old daughter who wants to be a teacher and she tells me almost every day after school! She sits in the sunroom and carries on the same type conversations with her students as I did with mine. She has the same type of imagination as I had at that age, and I do find it amusing!
Last week I decided to finally open up the boxes of books that had been sitting in the sunroom for a year now. We got a bookshelf from a family that Ben was moving, and I wanted to get the kids' books out and on the bookshelf, so we set to work. During the process of moving books from boxes to the bookshelf, Annalisa got very excited...."OOH! I have an idea! We can make this like a liberry and I can teach my class here. Mom, do you know how to make this look like a liberry?"
I gently corrected her, "The word is liBRARY....not liBERRY....it isn't a fruit. And, yes I think it is already looking like a library."

"Well, what if we get a book and don't know where to put it back? Can you put numbers on the books like in the liberr....library?"

"No, I am not going to put numbers on the books. Just as long as you get them back on the shelf it will be fine. There isn't a 'right' place for them."

"OOOH!! I have another idea....have you ever seen in the library how there is a chair and a place for the teacher to read a book to her students? Well, we can move this chair [enter Ben's photography chair] over by the window and I can read to my students in the library."

"Ok, that sounds good."

"OOOOHHHH!! Then you can hang a sign in the library that says 'Newton Library' so people will know they are in a library. Do you think you can do that, Mom?"

"No, Annalisa I can't hang a sign from the ceiling...I can't even reach the ceiling!"

"Well, I am already making a sign for our library that says it is the Newton Library."

I think during the time that we moved books, she said the word "library" close to 100 times. I have come to the conclusion that she loves to hear herself talk, and in order to hear herself she must make her conversations longer, thus the reason for repeating non-essential words!
Here is the sign she made......do you see any repetition?

And here are a couple of pictures of the library:
Once she got her class up and running in the LIBRARY :-), she decided to start a good conduct chain. Most teachers use these as an incentive for the kids to be good when they are in other classes, the hallway, or when the teacher steps out of the room. The premise is to get the chain to reach all the way to the floor and then you get a party. Annalisa is doing a paper clip chain and I know I can't wait until the day of the party! Here is her chain.....

When I asked her to come help me unload the dishwasher the other day, she asked me, "Mom, how many paper clips do you think my class should earn if they are quiet while I am gone?"
"Oh, I don't know...2? I think 2 would probably be good." She agreed that 2 would be good and continued to put dishes away. A few minutes later she stood up and looked shocked, "Did you hear that, Mom?" I didn't hear anything, but before I could answer she said, "Did you hear HIM talking while I am gone? HE is going to ruin it for everybody!"
Oh well! I guess even my 7 year old knows it is the BOYS that ruin it for everybody!! ;-)

October 1, 2009

"Yes, Ma'am.....I did."

I have come to the conclusion that any and everyone who has more than one child undoubtedly has one that isn't--let's say "the most organized". My second child falls into this category. In the past, as I would wash clothes on Saturday I would realize that he only had 1 pair of dirty underwear for the prior week and 1 sock....who wears only 1 sock at a time?? Also, he tends to believe that shorts and pants never need to be washed, so there were minimal amounts of those in his hamper. When I would ask him if he had given me ALL of his dirty clothes, his answer was always, "Yes, ma'am....I did." Upon further inspection of his room I would always find more dirty underwear, socks (actual pairs) and shorts/pants stuffed or thrown in various places that escaped his vision. I am wondering what the parameters of peripheral vision are for a 9 year old boy.
In order to help him be more organized, we bought him crates and labeled them Monday, Tues, Wed, Thurs, Fri and Weekend. At the end of each day the corresponding crate should at least have a shirt, socks (2!) and underwear. We still haven't accomplished having this done correctly at the end of each day....somehow the socks fly off of his feet only to be forgotten, and the underwear.....well who knows where that goes 90% of the time?
Because I know this to be true, I stay out of the basement (boys' room) as much as possible because it only stresses me out to see the mess. Yes, it stresses me out! I just don't understand how they can't SEE the dirty clothes on the floor!! What's more....if I only had a short-span memory Jacob would get away with wearing the same shirt multiple times in one week... most likely because it is already laying on the floor by his bed when he wakes up. He often tries to get away with it!
Well, today I thought I would bite the bullet and go down there. After asking Jacob multiple times last night "Are your dirty clothes where they should be?" and getting the response "Yes, ma'am....they are." I have decided that is the wrong question! Apparently the floor is "where they should be" in his mind. I should ask if the dirty clothes are in the correct crates. I can't believe I have been a mom this long and I still don't know how to ask questions to my kids!

"Jacob, did you clean your room?" "Yes, ma'am....I did."

If you look closely you can see 4 random socks....1 is by the bookshelf!

My mom wouldn't have let me leave the house with my bed looking like that!

These are his crates....with dirty clothes on the floor beside them!

Such a mess!!

I collected 2 bags and 1 box of toys that weren't put away.

The pile of dirty clothes I collected while cleaning.
This is what his room should look like!

The theme song around our house is "He's still working on me!"