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Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap

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Feb 21 2013

Life Lessons from Basketball

Last weekend was our last elementary school basketball tournament. Our boys had some issues, because they are actually way more sensitive than our girls. This happened last year too. When the girls encounter difficulties, they toughen up and prove they aren’t scared by playing harder. It takes a lot more to break our girls. The…

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Feb 15 2013

Ughhhhhhhhh

My kids had to take a Nation’s Report Card test today. It was a disaster. First of all, no one met with us or gave us any information about what we should do to prepare things. They said they would take care of everything. But then they got here and it turns out we need…

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Feb 02 2013

Rough Day.

Here are some stories my kids told me yesterday: From my kid who has been sick for two days and got back yesterday. She kept complaining that her legs really hurt (which, as someone recovering from the same bug, I know is really painful) but stuck it out for a while. Then she started being…

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Jan 16 2013

Let’s Jazzercise!

I don’t want to talk about the awful mess of crud that made me sad today. So instead let me tell you about the spectacularly subpar aerobics class I went to Monday. So this was at the gym in Gallup, which is totally decent. There’s some weights and some cardio equipment and way around the…

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Jan 02 2013

Thoughts from suburbia

I just watched a short HBO documentary called, “I Can’t Do This but I Can Do That,” which is about 8 different kids with learning differences, generally ages 9 to 14. They’re talking about what school is like for them, how they’ve been dealing with their academic issues, how it feels to struggle with school,…

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Dec 19 2012

My students are brilliant.

Today we discussed metaphors and similes in Walter Dean Myers’ “Love That Boy.” Nearly every student was engaged, excited. They smiled and giggled when the poem said the boy “grins like his Uncle Ben,” connecting it to when relatives say they look like their mothers or fathers. I was blown away when we got to…

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Dec 12 2012

I <3 Robert Frost

After winter break, we are going to be reading a poem-based novel that refers to a lot of poems, so we are previewing these poems with the kids to get started. We’ve read “Dog” by Valerie Worth and “The Red Wheelbarrow” by William Carlos Williams, and the kids wrote their own wheelbarrow-style poems which I…

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Dec 09 2012

Snow Day?

Secret we don’t admit to our students: most of the time, teachers love snow days EVEN MORE than kids do. It’s supposed to snow today. I mean, 40% chance means supposed to, right? It could be inches! Feet! So much we couldn’t possibly go to school tomorrow! There is next to no chance we will…

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Dec 08 2012

Chronic Absences

I have three students who have missed 11, 11, and 13 days of school each. This is 14-17% of the school year. Situation #1: Kid is incredibly smart, would probably be making all As if he were here everyday. He misses school for a bunch of reasons (meaning that his mom tells me different reasons…

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Nov 18 2012

Fluency Palooza

I am so proud of my lowest readers. We finally got our DIBELS materials in just before break let out (this is a really quick basic test of reading fluency, or how many words they read correctly in one minute) and I quickly tested my lowest kids. Admittedly, I did this because I want to…

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Nov 17 2012

Scary Thing #2

Here’s the other scary thing I’m doing with my kiddos (again, scary for me, not them). We’re reading a book. Now, last year this would have been scary because it would mean we weren’t reading our basal reading curriculum. But this year it’s scary because of the book I chose. We’re reading Never Say Quit…

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Nov 14 2012

Thanksgiving

I’m trying to do something scary with my kids. Actually, two somethings. And it’s not scary for them, it’s scary for me. Here’s something number 1: This is the last week of school before Thanksgiving break, and I’m allowed to read whatever I want (let’s be honest, I’m pretty much always allowed to read whatever…

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Oct 21 2012

Beauty.

I drove two of my students home the other day after afterschool tutoring. One of them turns out to live all the way out almost in Arizona, which was a little farther that I had bargained for. We pulled up to see her little barefooted 3-year-old brother trying valiantly to push the baby around in…

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Oct 18 2012

Please send your kid to school!

Between my 19 students, we have missed 11 days of instructional time this week. And it’s only Thursday. 2 of those days are In-School Suspension for messing around on the bus and hitting another kid in the head with a jacket (which I don’t think merits 2 days ISS, especially when another kid got in…

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Oct 10 2012

Language Learners

Here’s what it’s like teaching kids who pretty much have no first language. That means the kids who speak no language other than English, but who missed out on enough language exposure as a little kid to speak even conversational English proficiently. All of my kids are English Language Learners for academic English, because most…

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Sep 25 2012

Little cuties.

My kids are so cute when they get into books. My intensive kids (i.e. my lowest readers. They range from a mid-first to a mid-second grade level but all have decoding and fluency issues) started a new book today. The target audience of this book is 6-7 year olds, fully 3 and 4 years younger…

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Sep 22 2012

I wish I could help more…

One of my girls is having a rough time right now. She apparently had a lot of behavior issues last year and would have hysterical yelling or crying episodes because she felt like her teacher was being unfair and not treating her well (I know this teacher, and in all honesty he might have been).…

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Sep 17 2012

Cheating.

One of my kids cheated today, and it’s making me really upset. It was on a little nothing assignment. We do multiplication facts every day for 5 minutes. They work on a sheet of 100 facts with all one number (i.e. all the 2s problems) and they have 4 minutes to finish it. If they…

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Sep 12 2012

Wishing on Eyelashes

I’ve always made wishes on eyelashes. It’s a silly, childish thing, where you find an eyelash on your face, hold it on your finger, make a wish and blow it off. I’ve always made eyelash wishes, ever since I was little, and over time it’s become an instinctive thing I do without even thinking, like…

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Sep 04 2012

Soooooo sneaky…

I made my kids have totally stilted conversation today. We had a whole class conversation over Morning Meeting about what we did over the long weekend, and whoever was the designated Responder had to ask the Sharer what they did. The Responder was then required to make one response (Wow! That sounds fun! Interesting. Oh.…

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I know I said yesterday that I wanted to move to China, but today I’m really glad I didn’t. They were AWESOME! Relatively speaking. They worked hard, they mostly focused, they used transition words to write How To essays in 30 minutes (whaaaat??? That’s lightning for us!), they checked their answers with the inverse operation.…

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Aug 29 2012

I Want to Move to China.

Today I want to move to China and try something easier for a change. Like curing cancer. While riding a unicycle. And juggling flaming batons. Math almost made my brain explode. We’re working on subtraction with regrouping, because two thirds of my kids couldn’t do it (yes, they should have learned this 2 years ago.…

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Aug 24 2012

Potential risks of sliding on slides

It’s been a long week and I’ll tell you about it later, but here’s my favorite thing that happened today. I was on playground duty and one of the sweetest kids was chatting with me. He’s in first grade and was pretty much not talking at all when he started kindergarten last year, so it’s…

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Aug 18 2012

Save the bug!

One of the (many) benefits of not being a first year teacher is that I know a little bit about my students this year because I saw them around last year. For example, I know that they were very cliquey last year, that the girls were really sassy and would spend 15 minutes in the…

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Aug 17 2012

Week 1

Phew. Week 1 is done. I’ve been thinking about writing something all week, but I didn’t want to write a post that was only ranting about how difficult my kids are, which is pretty much how I was feeling by evening every day, so I held off. Today, for the first time all week, I’m…

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