Thursday, April 26, 2018

The Gate

I'm at the gate for my flight.  I'm taking a day off, which will be tomorrow.  I'm going to meet up with 20 Something in a city that's one mile high in terms of elevation.  I needed to get away from The Thirdlanders for a day.  They're really acting oddly.  In the middle of something that I find fascinating, a 3rdLander will inevitably yell out, "When's the last day of school again?"  I try not to take it personally, but it was starting to wear me down today.  I don't usually do the count down thing at school.  Some people think it's great that we have 22 days left.  To me, I think.... geez, that's a lot of days dealing with people who are acting like mental ward patients.

I think this day off will be just the ticket to get me through.  We have a lot going on still in Room 200.  We've got stories to publish.  This weekend, I'm not going to think about that.  It's all going to be fine.  20 Something says we're going to go nuts in the city that's one mile high.  I know what that looks like because I'm working in the nuthouse right now.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

The Game

Western Tent Caterpillar     Photo Credit:  C. Butler

Fact: 3rd grade boys spend more time arguing than playing at recess. This isn't special to this year's group. It's a true fact about all groups of 3rd grade boys. It's a conundrum that will somehow be solved by the passing of time. I give it my best shot every year, on a daily basis, but there's rarely much improvement. Fortunately, the fourth grade boys just don't have the same kind of tension around their recess activity.  

Three third grade classes were out for recess on Thursday and the fighting began on the baseball field almost immediately.  I entered the fray and declared myself ump.  I know a good deal about baseball, which may surprise you. I was doing a bang up job with the umping and the game was moving along. A 3rdlander stood next to me and watched.  She kept asking me why I was making certain calls.  It was distracting, but I tried to talk to her and ump the game at the same time.  

"STRIKE!"  I yelled several times.  Every time, my sidekick would yell at me, "But he didn't even hit it!  He didn't even hit it."  When I would yell, "Four balls!  That's a walk!  Take your base!" she would holler, "He's running!  He's running! He's not walking!"

I finally stopped trying to explain the nuances of baseball and encouraged her to watch some games with her mom and dad. She needs to get up to speed with America's pastime.  The year's end is drawing nigh and there's only so much I'm going to be able to get done with these Thirdlanders.  Parents, the ball's in your stadium. 

Saturday, April 21, 2018

The Proxy

20 Something went on a boat this week.  For days after her boat trip, she experienced a rocking disequilibrium, as if she were still on the boat.  She called me to discuss the situation.  I stayed surprisingly calm while insisting that she get to a doctor STAT. While she was struggling to get medical attention, I began a few days of intensive research which involved reading as well as interviewing a boating friend.

Come to find out, there's a syndrome called "Mal de Debarquement" that happens to people after a flight or a boat trip.  75% of professional sailors have experienced MdDS.  My boating friend had MdDS for 3 weeks after a cruise once.  Luckily, 20 Something only had the debilitating syndrome for 2.5 days. She's fine now.  I was so nervous that she was going to have Mal de Debarquement Syndrome for 2 or 3 years because that has been known to happen and honestly, we've been on a bit of an unlucky streak around here lately.   I assumed her condition indicated some type of inner ear infection, but that's not so.  What happens with MdDS is your brain adapts to the rollicking waves and can't re-adapt when you're back on land.  You would think brains could do better.  Our brains really let us down when it comes to MdDS.

It is up to the person who has suffered with MdDS to determine if going on a boat again is worth the risk.  Obviously, I hope 20 Something decides to forego boats forever.  I've been somewhat stressed over the past few days and I'd prefer not to experience MdDS-by-Proxy ever again.  I suggest everyone stop going on boats because why invite trouble?

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The Doggedness

 The Thirdlanders are starting to storyboard their social narrative stories.  Most people who teach in a writing workshop would probably think I'm too directive and or suggestive  with these young writers.  One Thirdlander has had to restart two times in the last two days.  Another Thirdlander started ripping up her post its after I made some comments about her story idea being a bit same old same old. I try to be tactful, but I stay true to my editor identity. When writing fiction for our press, the Thirdlanders need to make sure their books are surprising and original and can get readers talking about social issues.

This morning, a friend came to me and asked me about a writer she's working with.  I taught this kiddo and he was a hard sell on social justice writing, but he ended up writing a bestseller about gender stereotyping.  This week, he is writing about atomic farts.  She said, "You would say no to that, right?"

"Yeah, I would. He can go home and write about atomic farts all he wants.  He can hammer out pages of atomic fart comments in his writer's notebook if that's his thing. But when he's working on a publishing project for the classroom press, he needs to develop a theme that highlights a social justice issue."  Worrying that I was coming off as overly strident, I added "I know. I'm bossy."

She said, "I don't think you're bossy.  I think you help kids produce some truly amazing writing." So that was nice.  Even though the editor mindset isn't for everyone, I'm loyal and true to the Back and Forth of classroom publishing.  We've got a lot to do in the next month.  Rolling up sleeves and getting the job done in Room 200.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

The Adventure

I listened to a podcast today about how everyone should have adventures.  The podcaster travels all over the world with her 3 children and her husband.  They each have one bag and they climb mountains and tour pyramids and jump off bridges into pools of migrating manta rays and surf down volcanos on top of molten lava.

If I could see this person in person, I'd be tempted to inadvertently elbow her in the rib cage. Then I'd apologize like it was a big accident.

I probably need to start planning an adventure soon.  Because that podcast really stuck in my craw.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

The Thirteenth

Yesterday we went outside with our iPads.  After talking about First Nations in Indiana, we went out to photograph the resources out there that we would use if we were living out there, in the playground wilderness.  Their photos were terrific.  There was some squabbling, but in the end, we all had a good time.

While we were outside, a friend's class was catching minnows in the creek, so we watched them for awhile.  Most of the minnows out there are called chubs.  They can get quite large.  They're going to free the chubs later.

This same friend's class found a wolf spider in their classroom earlier in the week.  They put it in a jar and named it Webby.  Their plan was to release it later in the week when the weather warmed up.  I offered Webby one of our crickets from Harriet's tank.  Friend Teacher popped it into the jar and Webby jumped on that cricket in a heartbeat, sucking out its inner organs like a pro.  Thankfully, my friend got a great photo of the meal in progress.

One Thirdlander who is normally quite cheerful was cranky when we got back to class.  He wanted to go to the health office because he said he was sick to his stomach.  After awhile he returned, still glum.  As I was reading to the class, he walked up with a post it that said, "Read at home" on one side.  I immediately turned it over to read the back.  It said, "My iPad cracked.  I dropped it outside.  I'm sorry.  It still works though."  I looked over at him and whispered, "It's fine.  Don't worry about that any more."  He perked up after that.  I wish kids would tell me stuff when they're freaking out. I can make many things better when it comes right down to it.

The power went off at 1:20, in the entire school yesterday afternoon.   A tree had fallen outside somewhere, cutting off our power.  I told the kids about Friday the 13th.  Some of them had never heard of the legend of unluckiness surrounding this day.  A Thirdlander asked,  "Is it all the Friday the thirteenths or just the ones in April?"

After we cleared that up,  I convinced the Thirdlanders that we could still get work done in a darkened room.  Our room is super dark because our windows face the atrium, and not the outside world, so this took some doing, but we all got to it and I didn't mind the lack of light so much. After some reading workshop, we decided to get out the knitting looms and just work on our knitting projects.  We talked about our weekend plans.  It got pretty loud with all the cross talk, but that's how it goes sometimes.

The weekend arrived at last, and off I drove to Irish Lion.  I sat outside with Sandra and we ate some Blarney Puff Balls.  Take that, Friday the 13th.  You tried to bring us down, and yet you failed.  Better luck next time. See you in July.

Friday, April 13, 2018

The Elk

I pulled the ELK medicine card this week.  It's a good one for teachers.  ELK medicine is all about stamina and setting your pace so that you can maintain energy over the distance.  On Tuesday afternoon at bus duty a student teacher asked me how I build up teaching stamina.

I was exhausted so I said, "You don't.  It's an exhausting job.  You'll be completely wiped out at the end of the day for the rest of your life."

She looked so crestfallen and her supervising teacher said, "Well, that may be a little extreme."

There's probably a good reason why I never work with student teachers.  Even so, I pulled it together the next day and thought about maintaining my energy throughout the day.  I worked on crocheting during morning meeting.  We had an extra recess.  When we transitioned from one activity to the next, I didn't let 15 Thirdlanders come up to tell me their random stories.  This last one is a hard one because it seems rude to cut people off when they have a story to tell, but enough is enough already.  We have a lot of time to chat during the day.

I played some Bob Dylan music in the background and put on the barred owl web cam.  At the end of the day on Wednesday, I revised my statement to Student Teacher and talked to her about how important it is to set a reasonable pace and allow yourself room to protect your energy.  "I feel pretty good today," I told her.  Her supervising teacher nodded in approval.

But then on Thursday, I was wiped out again.  So was Student Teacher.  We were almost leaning on the bus at bus duty.  So, it's one thing and then another.  Today I'm calling on ELK to help me go the distance.  Come on, ELK.  Give me some of your Friday medicine.

Saturday, April 07, 2018

The Inflammation

Yesterday a 3rdLander told me that tests are sometimes given more importance than they should be given.  I agreed with this clever kiddo wholeheartedly.

The 3rdlander continued, "My cousin picked at an inflamed pimple one time during a test in elementary school and then he couldn't get into the higher classes in junior high TWO YEARS LATER!"

I agreed that the whole situation was unfair and ridiculous. Let's put things into perspective, People.

Thursday, April 05, 2018

The Ninjas

We're in spirit week right now.  Today was class color day.  Everyone was supposed to wear the same color.  We had a vote a few days ago and BLACK won.

We were all dressed in black today and we looked awesome, just like ninjas.  Before school started, I  put the Mission Impossible theme song on so we could walk stealthily around the classroom and act like ninjas.  Creative Thirdlander gave me a badge that he made with the letters NB on it.  Ninja Boss.  I was really acting out the ninja part with verve as the music played because I love that song.

One Thirdlander found a way to perch himself under one of the tables. He looked very much like Tom Cruise in the Mission Impossible movie where he was hanging 6 inches above the floor in that room with the all the lasers going everywhere.

After others started trying to copy this move, I decided that maybe we should tone down the whole ninja thing and just move into morning meeting.  I felt badly for being kind of a buzzkill in the end, but   10 minutes of fun is better than none when you think about it. One more day of spirit week.  I will survive.

Sunday, April 01, 2018

The News

We read an article about the Little Rock 9 in Time for Kids recently.  2017 was the 60th anniversary of the brave heroism of 9 teens who integrated Central High in Arkansas.  After we read about the LR9 in the weekly news magazine, we read another article in a mainstream newspaper, designed for adult readers.  We also watched a few of their videos.  The Thirdlanders were pretty shocked to read, in the mainstream text, about the resegregation of public schools in the U.S.  We will look at some statistics about that.  We then tried out a simulation, where 3rdlanders took on the roles of assistant editors at the weekly news magazine planning a follow up article about the Little Rock 9.  One group of editors want to send some reporters to talk to the students at Central High, as well as the principal, to find out what Central High is like today.  Others want to include some maps of Little Rock, Arkansas, in the next piece.  Another group wants to include photographs of the statue commemorating the Little Rock 9.  Another wants to focus on Jefferson Thomas, a member of the Little Rock 9 who died in 2010. We all want to include some information about resegregation about our public schools in the follow up article, since this was a sad surprise for these readers.  PBS has some great graphs about resegregation and I will share some during math class this week.  
The simulation allowed the Thirdlanders to focus on the design of future articles as well as content.  Their conversations were lively and enthusiastic.  The Thirdlanders enjoy discussing current and historic news topics. 

The Crawfish

A few crawfish are coming to live in Room 200.  Not sure what to do about that.  They've donated their lives for science education.  I...