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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Thank you, my dear chap

As I was passing out folders at the end of the day, I called one boy's name, and he replied, "Right here, my good man!"
I asked him, "What did you say?" because I wasn't sure if he had really said what I thought I had heard! He repeated it and then added, "I learned that from tv! A spy movie!"

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

You do the math

Today we gave the very first ever 3rd grade STAAR test. (The extra A is for Avocado!)  Today's test was the Math test, so I was pretty understandably stressed and worried about how it would go.  One of the few changes that teachers actually KNEW of was that children would NOT be allowed to have all day to take it (4 hour time limit for most).  We also had heard that it would be much more rigorous (read, ridiculously harder) than the old TAKS, but since nobody had ever actually seen any true STAAR questions, we didn't really know what to expect.

I certainly wasn't expecting to see the level of difficulty that I saw today.  Without going into specifics, because I don't want to get in trouble, I'll just say that there were LOTS of questions that involved 2, 3, and even 4 steps before arriving at the correct answer.

I can't directly quote any of the questions, but I'm going to write my own problem below that generally sums up what most of the questions were like today on this THIRD GRADE test given to mostly ENGLISH as a SECOND LANGUAGE students..

Talukadiah arrived home at 4:55, after a long day of planting magic beans on his 449 square foot plot of property in Northern Gnome, Alaska.  He read that there had been 13 inches of snow fall that night, following twice as much the week before!  His 3 brothers and 5 sisters each had planted 45 magic beans, with one of those sisters, Groznzk, then planting 12 more.  After a nice 3 course meal, Talukadiah and his family, minus one brother, compared their earnings.  In all, they had made $450.  The older brother got to keep 1/9 of this, while the older sister got to keep 1/10 of the remaining money.  Talukadiah normally put away all but $5 of his earnings in a bag under his mattress, but only weeks ending in an even-numbered day.  He looked at the calendar and saw that it was Wednesday, December 4, that it was 14 degrees F outside, and that 25 minutes had passed since his arrival home.  If Talukadiah is 8 inches taller than his younger brother, how much money is in the bag underneath his mattress?  Also, Symmetry.

Tomorrow is round 2, the STAAR Reading test, and hopefully there won't be any stories like The Hare and the Pineapple.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Got the analogy!

For some time now, I've been trying to think of a valid analogy to use that expresses to my kids the importance of showing their work BEFORE choosing an answer and the ridiculousness of going back and circling words and showing work AFTER they've already filled in an answer bubble.

An AGE-APPROPRIATE analogy.  While I love Tim Allen's stand-up line, "What, do you wipe your A-- THEN take a S---?" -- it's hardly safe for the classroom.

A couple of weeks, it finally came to me, right in the middle of a small speech reiterating the comments made in my first paragraph.  I've shared it with both classes now, got laughs from both, and it's a keeper.  So here it is...

You wouldn't spend all day playing or swimming out in the sun and THEN come home and put on sunscreen, would you?  No, that's backwards!

Then of course I relate the sunscreen to work shown, playing or swimming to taking the test, and turning a lobsteriffic shade of crimson to getting the question wrong.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Not so easy?

Yesterday, one of my girls told me that 5+3=7, and when I asked her to try again, she moaned, "It is so hard..."
With only one school day left until the STAAR Math test, I was just too exhausted to even reply to that, other than to hang my head...

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


The rush for science projects has begun, and despite my insistence that a project has to be based on a testable question, I have a class full of kids who still believe that merely saying the word "Volcano!" will fit the bill and give them an A.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Lookin' Good!!

I just passed some kids putting up a bulletin board display in the hall. One of them asked me, "Does this look good?"
I replied, "Yeah! It does!"
As I walked away, he told the others, "Yes! We got a compliment!"
And I heard a girl respond, "Yeah, because you ASKED for one!"

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Park it!

There's been a big deal at my school lately over some newly painted assigned parking spots. One of them, brand new, reads "Employee of the Month."
I parked there today and will again tomorrow. I mean, until someone tells me otherwise, I see no reason not to assume that I AM the Employee of the Month.

Friday, April 06, 2012


The newest Carnival of Education is out on Bellringers, and I am honored to have a post listed. Thanks to Carol for continuing to put this together! Go check it out!

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Makin' copies!

One of my kids copied the homework from someone else.

Literally. He took her homework, took it to a copy machine, copied the front and back, slapped his name on it, and turned it in.


Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Say cheese!

Picture Day was today. After the events of yesterday, I almost wanted the kids to be photographed in the duck and cover position.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Twister -- Non-Milton Bradley Edition

Well, THAT was a new one!

I experienced something today that I hadn't experienced in 9 years of teaching (or all the years of schooling, as far as I can remember). We had a tornado "drill" that wasn't really just a drill...

Last Friday, we had a scheduled tornado drill, which is always a major pain in the buttocks because we have to cram about 250 kids into a hallway and then convince them all to put their noses on the floor, their butts in the air, and in many cases, their heads right behind another's butt. Very few of the kids take these drills seriously, instead seeing it as an opportunity to yell into the floor, giggle uncontrollably, and play the part of the mole in whack-a-mole, constantly popping up from the "assumed position."

I told a buddy and colleague on Friday that if they ever did a remake of the movie Twister, they should have a scene set in an elementary school with the kids ducking and covering during a tornado. The iconic scene of the movie would be where the class nitwit tries to make everybody laugh by making a huge farting sound -- and then gets taken out by a falling tree branch.

Well today was NOT a scheduled drill. Third grade had come in from a truncated recess due to a light rain beginning. About ten minutes later, my next door neighbor came into my room to show me a message she had gotten from a friend saying that 3 tornadoes had been spotted in the Dallas area. Soon after, the "drill" began in earnest.

At first, the kids were their usual silly selves. We had to keep telling them that there HAD been tornadoes spotted and that they needed to take it seriously. All the while, wondering ourselves where WE would duck and cover if the need arose. And all the while the administrator in the hall saying again and again that we needed to have our grade books with us.

I almost committed a CLM (Career Limiting Move) by saying out loud my thoughts that if indeed a real tornado hit, that grade book would be the FIRST thing I rid myself of.

So the kids ducked and covered. And ducked some more. And covered even more. And ducked. And covered. And in what seemed like 3 hours, an hour had passed. (at about the 40 minute mark, it was decided that the kids could sit on their rumps -- though the punishment for fooling around was going back into the prone position).

At 2:45, we were finally allowed to go back into our window-laden classrooms. But then a little after 3, we were told to stay away from the windows but to assume the position again INSIDE the classroom. I don't understand the point of this, as it seems to fly against all practice and previous drilling. Nevertheless, my group of 21 kids was perfect during the 15-20 minutes that they ducked and covered again.

After awhile, when even the sound of the rain had subsided and it seemed to me like the imminent threat had passed (and knowing that no announcement would EVER be made that the kids could UNassume the position), I let the kids grab their books again and (staying away from the windows) read quietly. By this time it was almost 4, and one of the girls asked, "Are we going to have to sleep here?"

I told her, "I sure hope not, because this floor is very uncomfortable, and I didn't bring my pajamas."

Interestingly enough, one of my kids was still assuming the position at this point in time, because he HAD fallen asleep.

To make a very long, torturous story shorter, the last bus carried the last kid away at 5:15. This, after a mind-numbing litany of kids being called over the loudspeaker to come meet their parents at the front office.

Like I've said before, there is never a dull moment in teaching...

Monday, April 02, 2012

No Foolery today

Several kids asked me sincerely this morning if today was April Fool's Day. I told them that YESTERDAY was their day to be a fool, not today.