Thursday, May 31, 2012

Miss Read's First Interview, Sort Of

Hi everyone! I sort of had my first teaching interview yesterday! I say "sort of" because the interviewers stressed that it was just a screening interview. I'm not sure if that means everyone who applied for the job  was interviewed, or if they weeded out some of the applications ahead of time, or what. But either way, it was an interview!

One great thing is that, when I first applied, I was browsing around on the school district's website, and I saw a familiar name in the staff directory. The school psychologist at one of the district's schools (although not the one I'd be working at) was actually the woman who was the social worker at the school where I worked as a 1:1 aide many years ago. Back then we knew each other very well, because the child I worked with had a lot of behavioral issues and the social worker and I worked closely together to help him. To use a term that is used much more often these days, we "collaborated" frequently! So I emailed her, she emailed me back, we caught up, she said I could use her as a reference, etc. Well, when I got the call for the interview, I emailed her to tell her the good news. It turned out, the interviews were being done in the building she worked in, because that school is already out for the summer and the other schools in the district are not. And, to make matters better, the day of my interview was a day that she was planning to be in the building (even though this is technically her summer vacation) to help with an evaluation for in incoming student. (I actually met that student while I was in the lobby waiting for the interview. He was an adorable little guy who entertained me for the entire twenty minute wait by pretending to be various animals such as a cat, a dog, a bear, a snake, and a spider.) So... my friend actually went into the room where they were doing the interviews, and told the people that she had worked with me and that she highly recommended me. She described the child I used to work with and the things I used to do for him.

(In my very first blog post, I described "Tommy," a little guy with autism who I worked with from kindergarten through second grade. I was just barely into my twenties at the time and had never had this type of job before, although I'd worked as a general aide in several day care centers. Working with Tommy was probably one of the best experiences in my life. I loved that little guy. When you're a 1:1 you get very close to the kid you're with. He was an amazingly smart boy, and also very challenged by his frustration. So one minute he'd be hitting me and kicking me and pulling my hair, and ten minutes later he'd be sitting on my lap and crying in my arms. Its a really bonding experience. I remember feeling protective of him, as if he were my little brother or something. He had a bad reputation at the school because of the ways he acted when he was upset, but really the people who thought of him as bad were people who didn't know him well, like teachers in the other grades. All of the teachers and aides who worked directly with him, and the social worker, and me, loved him... he was really a sweet little kid who just got so overwhelmed sometimes. But I digress...)

At any rate, I got a personal recommendation from the school psychologist, which at least will make me stand out from other applicants. The screening interview itself was fairly easy. They didn't ask about standards and data and other complicated things. The questions were more designed to see how you really felt about kids and about being a teacher, why you wanted to be one, what you thought the purpose of school should be, your attitude towards parents, etc. I also had to go into another room, read a pretend case study, and write some IEP goals and objectives for the fake student. I am usually pretty good at writing goals, although I've found that different people want the goals written in different way. It seems like every class I took, I was taught a different way to write goals!

Here's an example of what I wrote for a kindergarten student who needed frequent reminders to complete his arrival routine. 

1. Given a visual schedule, Jason will independently complete his entire arrival routine, on four out of five school days. 
          A. Given a visual schedule, Jason will independently hang up his coat and backpack when he arrives in the morning, without teacher reminders, on four out of five school days. 
         B. Given a visual schedule, Jason will independently put his lunch box in the appropriate bin when he arrives in the morning, without teacher reminders, on four out of five school days. 
         C. Given a visual schedule, Jason will independently move his name tag on the attendance board when he arrives in the morning, without teacher reminders, on four out of five school days. 

What do you think? I'd love to hear how you write goals at your school. 

Oh yeah... the job, if I actually got it, would be teaching an all day special ed kindergarten class!

I'll keep you updated on whether I get called back for a second interview.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Miss Read Tries To Become Bilingual

Hi everyone! Its been a while since I last posted! While most of you who are already teachers are finishing up your school year, I am floating around in limbo with nothing much to do. I've been spending a lot of time looking for jobs, both for the summer and for the fall. For the fall, I've been applying for just about any special education teaching job I come across, and I've also sent my resume to a few private therapeutic day schools in the area even though they didn't advertise for job openings. I've sent out about 35 applications so far... and people have been telling me that a lot more jobs will start cropping up sometime in July. I've also been working a lot on getting my professional portfolio ready, in case I do get an interview!
For this summer, I've been applying everywhere! I've been applying at day care centers, schools with ESY programs, summer day camps, health clubs with child care rooms, and more. The only reason it is somewhat difficult for me to find jobs is because I'm leaving town for a while during the first week of August, and many jobs want you to commit to the entire summer without taking time off. :(  I also made profiles on a few tutoring sites. Even though its summer, some people want to get tutors for their children to keep their brains sharp for next school year! 
I like to have a project to keep me busy when I have a lot of time off. One thing I've been trying to do is learn Spanish. I found this app for my Kindle Fire, called Spanish In A Month. Its an app that tries to teach you Spanish without involving any English at all, basically by showing you pictures and saying the Spanish words, and then quizzing you. Each lesson starts out easy by showing you pictures accompanied by one Spanish word, and quizzing you on six pictures at a time. Then it starts showing pictures with two words, such as a word and a description or action. For instance, "red dress" instead of just "dress." Pretty soon its giving you short sentences, like "The girl is wearing a red dress." And finally, towards the end, you're getting quizzed on long sentences such as, "Is the girl wearing blue pants? No, she is wearing a red dress." If you try this app, you'd be surprised at how fast you start understanding the sentences! The only problem is, although I can definitely read and understand many sentences and words in Spanish now, it is much harder for me to understand sentences I hear, and even harder to actually speak in Spanish off the top of my head. 
Another thing I've been doing to try to improve my listening comprehension and spoken Spanish is watching Spanish TV shows. I've Tivoed the Mexican version of Sesame Street... Plaza Sesamo. Stop laughing! Its very entertaining!
I've also been watching an old telenova called Carita De Angel. When I lived in Colorado, I was close friends with a Mexican family. We would often watch Carita De Angel at their house, and they would sort of describe what was happening, in English, so I could enjoy it too. Its a very cute show about this little 5-year-old girl named Dulce Maria, and her family. She goes to boarding school, but she also spends time at her dad's house, and even visits her deceased mother in Heaven. Also she has a puppy called Chipira. And the puppy talks.  Its adorable! I've been watching one episode each night, and trying to understand as much as I can. Its still kind of hard, but I can usually at least figure out what is going on! Its easiest to understand Dulce Maria because, being a little kid, she sort of uses easier words and talks more slowly, and more animatedly. She has the hugest brown eyes, and she's always rolling them!
I thought I'd show you a clip from Carita De Angel so you can see what I mean... maybe you'll get addicted too! 

For anyone who didn't catch that, Dulce Maria and the rest of the family have been hiding the puppy because the dad doesn't allow pets in the house. While Dulce Maria visited her mother in Heaven, her mother told her to name the puppy Chiripa, and that it would make her dad agree to let her keep the puppy. So in this part she's introducing the puppy and saying she's going to call her Chiripa, and the dad flashes back to a dog that he and his deceased wife had together, whom they had called Chiripa. He asks Dulce Maria where she heard that name, and she says she saw it in an old diary. So he lets her keep the puppy! (And did you hear the puppy talk?) In the bedroom scene he's telling Dulce Maria she can't put Chiripa in the bed, because pets shouldn't sleep with people, but Dulce Maria talks him into letting the puppy sleep in the bed. :D

Anyway... that's all for now! Let me know if you have any suggestions on how to learn more Spanish! 
Anyways... that's all for today! Thanks for reading! 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

A Visit From Miss Read

Hi everyone! I am now into my second week of being all graduated up with no where to go! I've been spending most of my time searching for jobs and filling out applications, both for the summer and for this fall. I think I've filled out about 35 applications! And its only the middle of May! Every single day I log onto to see whats available in my area. There is usually at least one opening that fits my qualifications. I hope that's a good sign!

When I left Tree Elementary, I promised the students that I would come back and visit them at least a couple times before school ended. Last week, I had emailed Mrs. Eagle to ask when would be a good time to come visit, and she suggested Thursday at 2:00. So, today I showed up at the school at 2:00... and the kids went wild! As soon as I walked through the classroom door, a bunch of them came up and hugged me, and everyone was yelling, "Miss Read! Miss Read! Miss Read!" Starling and Rosella demanded to know where my dogs and cat were. When I told them my pets were at home, Starling asked, "They're sick today?" (Of course, because why else wouldn't my dogs and cat be at school with me! LOL!) Jay was tapping me frantically on the arm to ask me what kind of makeup the members of the band Kiss wear, and why they wear makeup when they're all men. Martin was shimmying across the room, showing me his new dance moves. Triller was just standing there grinning at me. Towhee was informing me that I was five minutes late. Kite was hugging me from behind in an attack bear hug, and Oriole was asking if I had started teaching my own class yet! And then, they all started handing me thank-you cards they had made for the books I had given them on the last day of school! It was so noisy, and everyone was talking, and  I was trying to answer everyone at once! 

Finally Mrs. Eagle settled them down a little by telling them we could make ice cream sundaes. After that, they had free time. So I got to watch Starling play with the iPad, and I got to answer 50,000,000,000,000,000 more questions from Jay about vampires and Kiss and baseball. 

I also got to play kind of a cool game with Kite and Towhee! The kids learned this game during the school's Multicultural Week, which was the week after I left. This game is an adaptation of a game called Sapo, which is popular in Peru. If you follow the link, you can see what the real game is supposed to look like. But in our class, the kids were playing a home made version. Unfortunately, I didn't take a picture, and I can't find a picture of anything similar online. But I can probably describe it to you! 

All you need is a muffin tin, some small pieces of paper or labels, and some pennies. However many compartments your muffin tin has, you should number that many pieces of paper. For instance, we had a 12-cup muffin tin, we had 12 pieces of paper, numbered 1 through 12. Put one number in each compartment. Set the muffin tin on a desk or table that is about waist high. 

Now, the players take turns tossing pennies at the muffin tin! You will have to decide for yourself how many pennies you'll use for each turn, and how far away to stand. When we played, the kids got ten pennies each turn, and they stood about six feet back from the muffin tin. 

When it is your turn, you take all of the pennies, and you stand wherever your group has decided will be the standing spot. And all you do is, toss the pennies at the muffin tin! You can toss all of the pennies at once, a few at a time, or just one at a time. When you've tossed all of your pennies, you look into the muffin tin to see where they landed. Add up the numbers of the tins the pennies landed in. There's your first score! This is actually harder than it looks. The pennies don't necessarily go anywhere near the numbered compartments. The kids have been playing it every day, and are getting very good at it. But, my first time playing, I scored two. TWO! Only one of my pennies landed in a compartment! 

You can keep playing as long as you want, letting each person's score get higher and higher until you have to stop playing. If you play like that, the person with the highest score is the winner. Or you can decide ahead of time on a goal score, like 100, and the first person who reaches it is the winner. 

I like this game a lot because it combines hand-eye coordination, math, and fun. I'm definitely going to remember it! 

I was kind of sad to leave again at the end of the day. The kids kept asking me if I'd be back tomorrow. Some of them thought I was just back, for good! I had to tell them no, but I promised I'd visit them again. It was so weird going back, as a visitor! I'm glad I did though... I never had such a warm welcome in all my life! 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Alphabet Bottle Game

I've just about covered everything I did at Tree Elementary. But there's one more thing I wanted to share! 
During Reading, the kids worked in small groups or individually, with teachers or assistants, depending on their level of learning. My reading group consisted of Starling, Rosella and Triller. Their curriculum was Early Literacy Skill Builders, which is designed to teach phonics and site reading to children with moderate to severe intellectual disabilities and/or moderate to severe autism. It uses a lot of pointing, so kids don't even have to be verbal in order to participate. Kids who don't have control of their hands or legs for pointing can even eye gaze! Its a great program and it really works... but its very scripted. There are about seven different units consisting of five lessons each (although it takes us about a week to get through one lesson) and they all consist of the exact same five or six activities. Only the letters and site words are changed. For instance there is one lesson where you show them four words, you point to a word, and then they point to the same word. This activity is repeated in every single lesson, every single unit. This is great because many kids with special needs thrive on repetition, and after the second or third lesson they know exactly what to do\, which builds up their confidence. However, it is also easy for kids to get bored and antsy. Especially if your name is Starling, Rosella, or Triller! 

I decided to start bringing a reading game, as an incentive for the kids to sit and pay attention throughout the entire lesson each day. I would write their names on a piece of paper, along with the numbers 1 through 4. For each activity we did, they would get a star if they participated and paid attention and stayed in their seat, and an X if they were out of their seat, disrupting, putting their head down, laying with their head and torso on the table and their feet on the back of their chair and their legs in mid air, etc. If they got no more than 1 X, they could play a reading game after the four ELSB activities. I think I mentioned the first reading game before, where they each had a pile of letter puddles, and when I showed them a flashcard with one of their site words, they'd have to work together to "build" the word. They loved that game, but after a while even that made them antsy. So I made up a new one. 

By "made up," I don't mean I thought it up out of the blue. I have seen variations of this activity in different blogs and on different websites, and I just adapted it for my kids' needs. First, I colored some rice. (You can do this by putting a cup of rice into a zip lock bag, adding about a teaspoon of either alcohol or vinegar, adding a few drops of food coloring, sealing the bag, and then mushing and mashing it around until all the rice is covered with color. Do one of these for each color of rice you want to make.) I also had some tiny alphabet beads I bought at a craft store. Once the rice was dry, I put it and the beads into an empty soda bottle that I had peeled the label off of. (The best way to do this is to use a funnel, or roll up a piece of paper in the shape of a funnel. Its also best to add a little rice, and then some beads, and then more rice, and then more beads, so they will be more mixed up.) My final step was to squirt glue into the inside of the bottle cap, before I screwed it very tightly back onto the bottle. This way it is very difficult for mischievous kids to take the cap off and get rice everywhere. 
I then made a worksheet to go with the "alphabet bottle." I drew 26 circles on a sheet of paper, and wrote a letter of the alphabet in each circle. (Later, I found some fun printable worksheets online that would be excellent for this game.)

You can probably guess how the game went, but I'll tell you anyway! The kids took turns shaking the bottle and finding any letter they wanted. Once they chose a letter, they had to name the letter and make the sound of the letter (sometimes accompanied by the Jolly Phonics motion!) Then they could mark that letter on the worksheet. Sometimes we used stickers, but they also loved using Do-A-Dot markers. Another thing I would do is write the letters of each player's name, in circles, underneath the alphabet. Then the students had the chance to find the letters of their name as well as the regular letters, but they couldn't stamp the letters in anyone else's name but their own. They loved having letters that "belonged" to them! 
If you're wondering about the black circle in the middle of the bottle, I was originally going to have them get a letter into that area of the bottle and then name it. But this was kind of hard for them, so I started just letting them pick any letter they could find. 
At first I would let one student choose which game to play, either the letter puddle game or this one. But everyone kept choosing this one, so eventually we just played it by default. They loved it so much, and even the other kids who weren't in our group would come and join us when they were done with their own reading work. In fact, they often requested to play this game during free time, and of course I let them! After my last day, I left the game there for them to play on their own. I can always make more! And I definitely will make more, for whatever class ends up being mine. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Earth Day

You thought I was done writing about what I did at Tree Elementary? HAHAHA! I still have one more unit to write about! Well, this one was just a mini-unit. Earth Day fell right in the middle of our egg unit, so I did a short, one day unit on it. We learned about the importance of recycling and taking care of our Earth. 

I read the book Earthsong, by Sally Rogers. The book is actually an illustrated version of Sally Rogers' song, "Over In The Endangered Meadow", which in turn is based on the old song "Over In The Meadow." (If you've ever had or worked with young children, you may be familiar with Raffi's version.) The book has adorable pictures of mother and baby endangered animals. Before reading, we talked about the fact that, when we make our Earth dirty and use up its resources, we take away homes and food that animals need. I reminded them of what happened to the dinosaurs, and asked them, "You know how we'll never see a real dinosaur? What would the world be like if we could never see a real tiger, or a real penguin, or a real parrot, again?" We then read the story. 

As a special treat, I had bought the mp3 of the song "Over In the Endangered Meadow" on Amazon for 99 cents.  I brought in my iPod and speakers. After I read the story once, I turned on the song, and turned the pages as the song lyrics went along. I soon discovered that the song isn't exactly like the book. The book has more animals, and I think the song has one or two animals not seen in the book. If you are going to do this activity with your students, it would be a good idea to listen to the song first, and mark the pages that are mentioned, so you can flip to them without having to search around and skip pages. I didn't think to do that, but luckily my kids didn't notice. They love music and rhymes, and they asked me to play it two more times before we had to leave for lunch! 

For unit, we talked again about why it is bad to let our Earth get dirty, and to use up all its resources. I explained to them that when we throw things away, they go into a landfill, which keeps using up more and more space on Earth, and which also puts nasty things into the air and soil. I told them that they can help save the earth by either recycling the things they use, or finding new uses for old things. For instance, if you needed a pencil holder, would it be better to buy a new one, or find something old that can be used as one? I had brought in a giant garbage bag of, well, garbage. (Such as toilet paper tubes, oatmeal containers, cereal boxes, soda bottles, etc.)  I also had colored tissue paper, masking tape, string, stickers, and other random materials. I asked the students to be creative and make something new out of these old things. I provided them with a few books about making crafts out of used items, but reminded them that these were just ideas. We wouldn't have all of the exact items used to make the items in the books, but they could use the things in the books as starting points.

The day we did it, Martin, Kite and Triller were absent, so there were really only five kids doing it. Of those five, Rosella had a really hard time with it... she kept on taking more and more items but wanted to sneak them into her backpack and take them home. She has a slight hoarding issue! (The other day she came to school with the Yellow Pages book in her backpack. Another day she showed up with a whole bunch of dirty clothes belonging to various people in her family. Yet another day, she came with her mother's cellphone. Since they don't have a land line, we had no way of calling her mother to let her know we had her phone... because we had her phone!) Jay had an awesome idea to create a solar system out of container lids, but he kept daydreaming about outer space and didn't manage to finish. Starling didn't want to do it at all, but finally agreed to make a picture frame out of a meat tray. But two people, Towhee and Oriole, got really into it! They didn't want to stop. They even ended up taking home a few extra pieces. (Although I didn't let Rosella take any garbage home, I let Towhee and Oriole take things home because they actually had ideas on what they would make, whereas Rosella would have just tossed them into her bedroom!) 

Take a look! 

Rosella did make this pencil holder.

The beginning of Jay's solar system. (An adult cut out the sun shape for him!)

Starling's picture frame. (She's supposed to paste a photo in the middle when she gets home!)

Towhee's truck. He even used cellophane tape to make a realistic windshield! 

Oriole's pickup truck. Its kind of hard to see because his hand is covering some of it, but you can tell he worked hard on it! 

I absolutely love activities that allow kids to be creative and use other parts of their brain. Towhee has ADHD and a learning disorder, Oriole has an intellectual impairment, and both are far below grade level in reading and math. But, given an activity that didn't involve any reading, writing, or written math problems, look at what they did! They worked so hard and put so much thought and effort into their projects. I think they did as good as, or even better than, some of the students in the school's gifted program would have done! This type of project gives kids like Towhee and Oriole a chance to shine. 
I think, next time I do this, I might allow a whole week to work on things. This time the kids managed to crank these things out in the half hour before gym class. If they had half an hour or more each day, for a week, imagine what they could come up with! 

Friday, May 11, 2012

A few more egg unit projects

Hi every one! I still wanted to show you just a few more egg unit things we did. These ones are more Language Arts related. 

Most of the kids had reading comprehension IEP goals, so I was always trying to find new ways of practicing reading comprehension during Language Arts. By the end, I was starting to repeat some of the activities! I did come up with a new one... a giant crossword puzzle! I first did it after reading The Egg, by MP Robertson, because I found a printable crossword puzzle online, so I just reproduced it on a poster board. 

The kids liked it so much and asked to do it again, so I made my own crossword puzzle for A Chick Called Saturday, by Joyce Dunbar. For the second one, I used an online crossword puzzle creator, and then again reproduced it onto poster board. The kids worked on this as a group. Every student had a turn to hear a clue and write in the answer, but he could ask the others for help. Check this out!

I even added some of my own artwork at the bottom:

Another thing we did was read Chickens Aren't The Only Ones, by Ruth Heller, and then brainstormed a list of oviparous and nonoviparous animals. The kids usually like brainstorming activities, and it is good exercise for their brains. Each student had to come up with one oviparous and one nonoviparous animals, and at the end it was kind of a free for all where they could just toss in any ideas they thought of. Here is our brainstorming board:

And now, for the best part!
We were doing this whole egg unit because of the eggs we were trying to hatch in our incubator. Well,  during my final week at Tree Elementary, our eggs hatched! I actually got to see one hatch before my eyes. It really was like a miracle! I was even more excited than the kids!
Five chicks were born healthy. One was born sort of unhealthy. He was just laying on the ground and not moving. After some research I figured out that he was born with splayed legs, which could be easily fixed with a bandaid around his legs. I wasn't sure how to do it so we thought we should let the people at the farm take care of his legs. (Our chicks go to a no-kill farm near by, where they make more eggs for more schools to hatch.) The splayed leg chick wouldn't eat or drink, because he couldn't really move around. I ended up caring for him by mashing up bird seed in water, smearing it onto my hand, and then holding the chick in my other hand. If I held my seedy hand in front of him, he would peck it and eat the food. I gave him water by just sort of spooning it into his mouth. I got kind of attached to that little guy! I really hope they were able to fix him up once he got to the farm!

I totally want a pet chick now. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Oviparous Animal Reports

Hi everyone! I'm back with even more activities we did for the egg unit!
A few weeks ago, I shared my oviparous animal report template, which was really just a simple concept map for kids to fill out. Last week, we used them. I wrote up one-page information sheets on ten different oviparous animals, including fun facts and photos on the pages. Each student had to pick their favorite oviparous animal, and use the information sheet to fill out the animal report template. We hung these on the wall in the hallway to share what we'd learned. The  kids really liked doing this, which was surprising to me because they complain about writing assignments a lot. Some of them (especially Kite) actually asked if they could do more!

Here is how our reports turned out. 

Here is Starling's. I actually helped her with a lot of it, because she came in late and missed a lot of the lesson, and because, well, she is Starling. I differentiated it for her and some other kids by including small pictures on the information sheet that they could glue onto the correct spots in the concept web, and I helped her find fun facts to include. 

Duckbilled Platypus
Lives: In Australia, near rivers
Eats: Snails and shrimp
Egg size: Smaller than your thumbnail
Number of legs: 4
Fun facts: Is one of only 2 mammals that lays eggs.
               Swims with its eyes closed.
               Is smaller than a house cat. 

Next is Kite's.

Sea Horse

Lives: On the bottom of the ocean
Eats: Loves to eat shrimp
Egg size: Very tiny
Number of legs: 0
Fun facts: They suck up shrimp through their snouts like a vacuum.
               Baby sea horses are on their own after they hatch. 
               They like to change colors to blend (into the) background. 

Oriole enjoyed doing his, although you can see the difficulties he has with writing. He puts all the words there, but not necessarily in any particular order.
Mallard Duck

Lives: North America and Europe
Eats: Fish and tadpoles
Egg size: A little bigger than a chicken egg
Number of legs: 2
Fun facts: A mallard duck will lay 300 eggs in a year. 
               If you hear a mallard duck quacking it is probably a female. Male ducks only make a raspy       coughing noise. 
               A mallard duck can fly up to 70 feet per second!

Here is Towhee's...
Adelie Penguin

Lives: Antartica
Eats: Fish 
Egg size: 2-4 inches tall
Number of legs: 2
Fun facts: Adelie penguins eat snow.
               Adelie penguins build their nests out of stones.
               Thee penguins are seen in the movie Madagascar. 

Next comes Martin's. He picked the wolf spider, but then he got sort of freaked out because he's a little afraid of spiders, and he didn't even like looking at the picture of one! He conquered his fear enough to finish this, luckily. 
Wolf Spider

Lives: Forests, meadows and gardens
Eats: Mosquitoes
Egg size: Tiny
Number of legs:8
Fun facts: The mom carries her babies.
                Lives on the ground.
                They have 8 eyes. 

Those are all the reports I have, since Rosella, Jay and Triller were out of the room and didn't get to do it. I was really proud of their projects! It seemed like they put more effort into these, and were able to learn more and use more of their drawing talents and thinking skills, than in other writing projects. I'm going to have to remember this for the future!

There are still a few more things I have to show you, so stay tuned!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Egg Lessons

Hi everyone! The good news is, I finally graduated on Friday! I am officially done with school, and will receive my certification over the summer! The bad news is, of course, that I really miss my class at Tree Elementary!

Even though I'm done student teaching, I have to catch up on posting the things I did in the last few weeks. So today, I thought I'd share some of the things I did during our Egg Unit! 

The unit was actually kind of scrawny, because by the time it started, we had so many other things going on. One week was only a three day week because of conferences, and the next week we had two field trips! However, here is what we did manage to do. 

On the first day we did something the kids really enjoyed, although I don't have pictures of it. I dissected a raw egg! I didn't let them do it themselves because this particular group has a lot of kids who stick everything in their mouths, and I didn't want them getting salmonella. But they did watch very closely, and they liked it a lot! 

First, showed them an egg, and we talked about the differences between the eggs in our incubator, and the eggs in the grocery store. A lot of the kids thought that the eggs in our incubator came straight from the grocery store, and that if they ate eggs they were eating baby chicks. I explained that the grocery store eggs are just "practice eggs" that were never fertilized and do not have chicks in them. 

Next, I asked them what they thought would happen if I squeezed the egg as hard as I could. They thought it would break, of course! So I took the egg and squeezed it (over a bowl, just in case) with all my strength! It didn't break! You can try that at home if you don't believe me. The shape of the egg makes it really strong, so that they don't break under the pressure of the hen sitting on them. 

Next, I took out a safety pin and chipped off some of the egg shell, so that they could see the membrane inside. They were very interested, because they never knew that an egg had this part. I explained that this membrane protected the baby chick from germs. After that, I actually broke the egg open into the bowl, so that we could talk about the parts. I peeled the membrane away from the inside of the shell so they could see it even better. We talked about how the egg white is actually called the "albumen" and that it acts as a cushion for the yolk. The yolk provides nutrition and water to the chick. We talked about how the chick doesn't have a little fork in there to eat the egg with, but the nutrition is absorbed through his skin. I showed them the little spot where the chick would be, if the egg was fertilized.  

I had an extra egg with me (just in case I messed up the first one) and, at the kids' request, I broke that egg for them to examine as well. They really loved the lesson... I heard lots of "Wow!" and "Whoa!" and "Cool!" The best part was, my professor was there observing that lesson, so it looked really good that the kids were that into it! Afterwards we did a little art project where they colored, cut, and pasted the layers of the egg on top of each other, so they had their own little egg diagrams. 

Okay. So that was kind of the introduction to the lesson. Another thing we did was play the game, "Chicken, Chicken, Where's Your Egg?" This game is played exactly like the old "Doggie, Doggie, Where's Your Bone" game that many of us played in elementary school. One person goes out into the hallway, while the rest of the group gets into a circle and chooses one person to hide the egg. (We used a plastic Easter egg!) Then the person in the hallway comes in and stands in the middle of the circle. The traditional poem goes, "Doggie, doggie, where's your bone? Somebody stole it from your home! Guess who? Maybe you! Maybe the monkeys in the zoo!" For the purpose of our Egg game, I changed the words to "Chicken, chicken, where's your egg? Somebody stole it from your nest!" I just stuck with those two lines, so it would be easier for the kids, many of whom have speech delays and short term memory issues, to say. (I also made a poster with the words, along with little pictures, to help them remember the lines. The person in the middle, aka the chicken, has to guess who is holding the egg. Traditionally, the person gets three guesses before they have to give up and be "out" or start over. But for our group, they had unlimited guesses. Otherwise probably nobody would have ever guessed correctly. We played until every kid had a chance to be the chicken and the hider. For the final turn, Mrs. Eagle got to be the chicken! The students loved it! When it was their turn to be the chicken, they would flap their arms and make clucking noises! It was a nice exercise on working together and problem solving. 

For the sake of not making this blog entry five hundred pages long, I'll cut this short for now, and continue the egg unit description later. Thanks for reading! 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Saying Goodbye, and a cute chick project

I cannot believe tomorrow is my very last day of student teaching! :(
Since tomorrow we are going to the zoo, we had a little goodbye party in the classroom today. Yesterday Mrs. Eagle had mentioned that she'd bring in a treat for the class, to celebrate. She ended up bringing potato ships and juice boxes, because things tend to go poorly when we give the kids really sugary snacks. They go bananas. (She also brought red velvet cupcakes just for the teachers!) But the sweetest thing ever is that Kite went home, remembered that we were having a goodbye party, and asked her mother to buy cupcakes for the party! It meant a lot to me that she thought of me! You should have seen the cupcakes. They were all different colors, bright colors, like red and yellow and blue and orange and green and purple. The kids sure loved them! And you could tell what color cupcakes most of them (especially Starling and Jay) had, by the colors of their lips, cheeks, and noses! How they managed to get frosting on their noses is beyond me.

The kids all gave me cards that they made. They were so excited to give them to me, and crowded around me waiting for me to read every single one! And Mrs. Eagle and the assistants gave me a gift certificate to a local teacher store, a package of 700 stickers, and some cute notepads, for my future classroom! Also, one of the assistants, who is from Mexico, made me some authentic, delicious flan. I LOVE FLAN! 

I'm going to miss them all so much. I'm sure I've mentioned that before. Remember how attached I was to my preschoolers at Sky Elementary? I've spent four times as much time with the Tree Elementary kids, and a lot of that time was actually teaching and interacting with them, so I think I am at least four times as attached to them! They are attached to me too. Jay may be the one who will miss me the most. He's a lonely little guy, who is always a couple steps behind the rest of the world, because he's usually daydreaming about things like outer space or Superman. I read him his Planets book every day during silent reading, answer his endless questions about outer space (although half the time my answer is, "I don't know!"), sit with him on the bus whenever we go on a field trip, talk to him when he's nervous about going to an afterschool activity or an assembly, help him with his spelling, and more. He's taken to walking up to me and spontaneously hugging me. I think my being gone will be weird for him.

Martin will probably miss me too. Every day when he comes into the classroom, the first thing he says is, "Hi Miss Read!" Even if there are other teachers in the room, for some reason he singles me out. Throughout the whole ten weeks he has asked me, "Are you going to be here on May 4th?" because he knew that May 3rd was my last day and he was trying to get a different answer. Martin is really good with dates. He has everyone's birthdays memorized. 

I'm sure Starling and Rosella will miss me, too. Who is going to play the rice bottle game with them during reading? 

I really am planning on going back to visit, though. I sure wish the school had a job opening for a special ed teacher, because if I had the chance, I'd stay! 

Even though I won't be in a classroom for a while, I'll still be blogging. I have a lot of things to catch up on in this blog. In the mean time, here's one of the projects we did during egg week! I found something like it on Pinterest, but it was only a picture and no instructions. Its pretty easy to figure out though. I used fun foam to make it more durable, but you can also use colored paper or card stock. Just cut out an egg shape, draw a jagged line on it in the middle and cut along the jagged line, and cut out the shape of a chick. Decorate your chick however you like, by adding things like googly eyes and a beak. Take a clothespin. On the side of the clothespin that is meant to pinch the clothes, glue half of the egg to the top and half to the bottom. Its best to glue just the edges of the egg halves, so that the rest of the halves stick out past the end of the clothespin. Then turn the clothespin over, and glue the egg to the bottom part of that side. Glue it face down. It works best to just glue his left wing to the clip, so that the chick also sticks out past the end of the clothespin.
If you are using Fun Foam, it will take a long time to dry, and you should really put something heavy on it and then not touch it for about 24 hours. If you use colored paper or card stock, it will probably stick better and dry faster. Anyway, here is what you end up with! 

How it looks when you just hold the clothespin normally:

How it looks when you pinch the clothespin open:

Pretty cute, right? This is great for an egg unit or a bird unit. There's a lot of fine motor work, so you might have to really help some students. Also, I used cheap Dollar Tree clothespins that don't open very wide. If you get regular clothespins from Target or someplace, they'll open wider and make it look even cooler! 

Thanks for reading, everyone! Come back soon!