Thursday, December 15, 2011

On the Eighth Day of Christmas

our pen pals gave to us......
Udderly Smooth lotion.  When they were posing for the pic, I asked the kids what should they say when I say "1,2,3".  They wanted to say "moooooo".  Here they are.  No more dry, itchy skin.

These kids are  so giving. A mother came in to drop off a present for the party.  She was telling me how she had a little extra money and wanted to treat her daughter to a surprise trip to Disneyland.  She was trying to drop hints and asking her daughter what she wanted for Christmas.  The girl told her mom that her teacher's husband was really sick and all she wanted for Christmas was for him to be healthy.  A ten-year-old girl, who could have a trip to Disneyland, only cares for her teacher's husband.  Their hearts are so pure.  This is even more touching when you know what kind of challenges they face.

Just this week, one of my students had a brand-new baby cousin born.  The baby died shortly after birth.  How tragic.  Another girl couldn't bring a gift to the party because her mom had to go to Phoenix.  The student's sister had tried to hang herself and had been life-flighted to a hospital in Phoenix.

Speaking of presents, we had our classroom party.  Remember Christmas morning growing up?  Some of you may have memories of when your little ones opened their presents.  Was it chaos?  Wrapping paper flying everywhere?  You can't hear anything over the shouts of joy?  Imagine a classroom with 26 kids who have just eaten their fill of sugar.  Do you imagine utter destruction?  It wasn't.  I pulled names from the cup and they came to pick out their gift, one at a time.  I usually instruct them to wait until everyone has selected a present, then to open theirs.  This year, I was a little more relaxed and didn't tell them to wait.  But, they did anyway!  They sat patiently, with the present burning a hole in their lap, watching their friends select presents. I can't tell you how much I learn from these kids.  I am so blessed to spend every day with them.  If they only knew.
I love these kids.  They have taught me the true meaning of Christmas.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Spelling Bee

A teacher is much like a proud parent.  We take pics of our kids, oops, I mean students.  We feel a burst of pride when they do something amazing.  And if you have the fortune to stick around a school long enough, you can feel this with all the kids as they go on to higher grades.

Today was our school spelling bee.  I, for one, am not a very good speller.  I am amazed that these children, little children, some 8 years-old, can spell words that give adults trouble.  But, spell they did!  They spelled their little hearts out.

I had the pleasure to send 3 of my current students to the spelling bee this year.  As I sat there, I counted 6 former students on stage as well.  I had nothing to do with their success, as I already mentioned I am not a good speller, but I was still proud to see them there.

Jay did very well.
Gerald did well.
As did Akima.
After 6 rounds, there were only two students left.
Akima and a third-grader.  After 15 grueling rounds of back and forth spelling...... a winner spelled her way to the top.

Congratulations Akima Hinton!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, December 12, 2011

On the Seventh Day of Christmas

On the Seventh Day of Christmas, our pen pals gave to us:
pencils
stickers
more stickers
glitter glue
and ball games

Friday, December 9, 2011

Gifts Galore

This week has been like the twelve days of Christmas.  Wednesday, we got notepads and pencils.  The kids feel like high school students with their mechanical pencils.  They sit up straighter and are taking notes on everything I say.  hmmm, maybe I'll have to give them mechanical pencils more often. 

Thursday, we got crayons.  We all know that girls love to color, but you wouldn't know that 4th grade boys LOVE to color too.  I had a few coloring sheets on my desk for Jack and Josh.  Some students saw them and asked if they were for them.  They love to color. 

Today, Friday, they will get Christmas pencils and FUN stickers!  I'll post that pic later.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Dictionaries All Around

Another wonderful pen pal knew of a foundation that provides dictionaries to each child for a very minimal cost. http://dictionaryproject.org/about-us/mission-statement-vision-and-history
I'll be honest, I didn't quite expect them to be so excited about a dictionary, but they were.  Just check out those smiles!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Warm Heads, Warm Hands

I have the sweetest students.  Just the sweetest ever.  They teach me everyday how to be a better person.

One pen pal had mailed 7 pairs of gloves.  I was holding on to them until Christmas.  But, it recently got cold.  It was 9 degrees at my house.  I figured that the gloves don't keep any hands warm in a closet, so I should pass them out and at least keep 7 kids warm.  I explained the situation of only having 7 pairs of gloves (for 26 kids) and that some kids would not get gloves this time around.  I pulled names out of my cup and two of the kids said that they already had gloves and to give the new gloves to someone else who did not have gloves.  I'll be honest, as a kid, I probably would have kept the new gloves.  Their generosity amazed me.  I went on and passed them all out.  Later in the day, I noticed the kids only wearing one glove.  I also noticed other kids (who I had not called) wearing the matching glove.  Those kids, those 9-year-olds, gave up one glove to a friend, so they could have a warm hand too.  I was astonished.  I don't think that even as an adult I would have done that!  Their hearts are pure.  They are givers and they think of others.  


The same pen pal felt so touched by their generosity, she bought 24 more pairs of gloves AND handmade 48 beanies.  They were all different colors and styles.  She mailed them in and again I was waiting for Christmas.  Well, we had been hearing how a big storm was coming our way, with big snowfalls.  Again, I decided that they do no good in the closet.  I passed them out and we still had some leftover.  It sort of felt like the fish and loaves of bread.  I believe in letting the kids brainstorm solutions to "problems".  I posed the question of what to do with the extras.  One student took over and took suggestions from the students.  She wrote them on the board.  The suggestions were 

  1. give to parents
  2. give to homeless people
  3. give to teachers
  4. give to siblings
After debating and voting, they decided to adopt a classroom and give them to other students.  They walked around school finding out how many students were in each classroom.  Finally, they found a classroom that had the exact number of students.  We went in, gave the students new beanies, and read Christmas books to them.  Kids reading to kids is one of my absolute favorite things as a teacher.  Here are some pics.
 Gerald
 Beanies!
 Beanies AND Gloves!
Dominic
 Jennifer
 Shandell
 Akima
 Japheth, Kailaynei, and Preslie
 Seyon
 Noah
 Kristyn
Challisia

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Indian Day

Today was Indian Day.  You can read about the whole ceremony here.  Although I have attended 6 Indian Day ceremonies as a teacher, today I was a proud parent. 

Jack was selected as one of the Cradleboard Dancers.  His partner is his best friend, Caroline. 


After Jack did his dance, I went back to being a teacher.  My students looked so pretty and handsome today.

A fourth-grader getting ready for the hoop dance.

Second grade girls doing the Rainbow Dance (this was new this year).




Fourth-graders doing the Hoop Dance.  I'm so proud of all of them.  They did a great job.

Every year, the ceremony is dedicated to a teacher who has shown exceptional service.  This year, the ceremony was dedicated to four teachers/aides who are retiring.  Between the four of them, they have........wait for it........124 years of service!  I'm happy for the four of them, but what a loss for our school.  Such dedication.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Mom on the Cheap

Today, I was Mom on the Cheap.




It started with our cute, mountain town Fall Festival Parade.  When you live in a small town, half the residents are IN the parade and the other half are AT the parade.  Seriously, businesses shut down for two hours.  I got free water for dancing to the country music as the country radio station drove by.  The boys had a good time dancing to the music and running for candy.  If only the parade was closer to Halloween, I would have enough candy to give out to Trick or Treaters (Mom on the Cheap).  Way too much candy.




Right after the parade, we went to the county flu shot clinic.  We were third in line.  The boys got their flu shots for free (Mom on the Cheap).  Jack didn't even flinch, but Joshua just can't sit still to save his life.  As I was holding him, another nurse came over to help and she said, "I know him!  I did his shots a few years ago.  His picture was in the newspaper.  He's even on our promotion poster."  Sure enough, Joe had taken him 3 years ago and the newspaper photographer captured their picture.  They were in the paper.  And sure enough, we looked at the promotion poster.  There were Joe and Joshua.  He was only one-years old at the time, but she recognized him.  He's like a celebrity on the mountain.




We had heard that the Show Low Museum has a good model train track.  Today was the perfect opportunity as today is some national parks and museum day where admission is free (Mom on the Cheap).  The boys enjoyed watching the train go over switching tracks, through a tunnel, over a bridge.  The tunnel goes near a window and if you stand outside, you can see it go through the tunnel from the inside.  They can't wait to go back and show Joe.




Finally, we headed over to the Fall Festival.  I had read on their website that if you bring a decorated pumpkin, you get in for free.  So, the $6 I paid for the pumpkins, paid for our admission (Mom on the Cheap).  The boys went on the bouncy slide (for free) about 100 times.  They bounced in the bouncy house (for free) for about 30 minutes.  They pet the animals in the petting zoo.  We walked around the exhibits.  We ran into friends and chatted.  The boys played some game and won 2 goldfish; yippee for me (dripping sarcasm).  Then, the pumpkin judge saw us and told us that the boys had won!  They got $10 each!  On the way out, a lady walked up to Joshua and said, "I know him.  Where does he go to school?"  We never figured out how the lady knows Joshua, but I'm telling you.  He's like a celebrity.  Everyone knows Josh.

Now, we are at home.  Resting.  What a fun day.  Four great events and I came out $20 ahead!  Now that's MOM ON THE CHEAP.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Robot League!

A few months ago, our superintendent told us about a robot league.  Students do research, then program a robot to complete obstacles in a course.  I thought it sounded fun, so I looked into it.

Well, the entire program would have cost about $1,000.  We don't have that kind of money, so I called the coordinator and asked her if they had a grant that I could apply for.  She said she would speak with the Lego company, Microsoft, and NASA.  A few months later, she told me that we had been fully funded!

Whiteriver Elementary now has their own robot and the students are in the robot league.  They have named themselves the "New Explorers" and they have named their robot "Bob". 
The name of the robot has special meaning for me.  My late grandfather's name was Bob.  He had a lucrative career in electronics.  Very cutting edge stuff.  I am excited to see his legacy live on. 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Beauty From Ashes

I recently heard about a special program that Disney is doing called Disney Planet Challenge.  Since I teach Science, I thought it would be fun to enter the contest and see what happens.

Well, then Disney sent out a message on Facebook that they will fund the first 100 projects that sign up through DonorsChoose.org.  I signed up this weekend and woke up at 5 am to be one of the first 100 teachers to register.  Then, I prayed.  I prayed that God would bless these kids.  He gives them Beauty for Ashes.

At about 11:00 I received word that Disney would fully fund our project!  Hallelujah!  To Him goes the glory.  Click on our site to see what we are up to: http://www.donorschoose.org/rodriguez

***I received word the other day that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation want to donate $100 to my classroom project.  But since Disney has the paid the bill, I should make a new project.  I'm thinking Math this time.  Any suggestions?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Quick Trip to Flagstaff

I worked pretty much all summer.  So much for that old addage, that teachers love June, July, and August.  We didn't get a proper summer vacation, but we were thinking of going camping.  I came home from running errands one Friday and Joe said to get packed.  We were going to Flagstaff!

When we pulled into town, we went to the historic downtown part of Flag.  The Amtrak station is there and the boys wanted to see the train. 
Then, we walked around downtown.
There was a store with 100 candied apples in the window.  They looked so yummy.
The next morning, we went to the Pioneer History Museum and saw their train.
We also went to the Museum of Northern Arizona.
They have a dinosaur room where the kids can look at fossils.
Look at Joshua's shirt.
They have a trail outside, going down to the river.
This is one of my favorite pictures.
We went to the Arboretum
The boys wanted to do the Tree Ring Maze.
We finished our trip at Walnut Canyon Cliff Dwellings.

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New Life

Being a teacher is the best job.  Every year, we get to start over.  New life.

Last year, I took my kids to the burn zone.  Once, before the fire.  And once, a week after the fire.  There was devastation after the fire.  The mountainside was covered with burned trees, plants, and cacti.  We got very dirty and ashy that day.

This year, I am still focusing on the Arizona State Science Standards of Weathering and Erosion.  It's hard not to, when you have the state breathing down your neck to raise test scores.  But, I am also in a grant program for Science teachers.  I thought I would use my Weathering and Erosion unit for the program and kill two birds with one stone.  Then, I heard about the Disney Planet Challenge.  We selected the fire as our environmental problem that we want to try to fix.  So now, the Weathering and Erosion unit is for three purposes!

I didn't have ancillary yesterday (to be honest, I didn't get a break ALL DAY as I also had recess duty), so instead of sit around the classroom, we would investigate the burn zone.  A co-worker told me that we had student digital cameras.  When I inquired in the office about the cameras, they told me the cameras had never been used! Brand new!  A whole class set!

I did a short lesson on how to use digital cameras and how to frame a picture.  The cameras are not the highest quality and they don't have auto-focus.  So, I taught them about shooting too close or too far away.  We went to the playground and took preliminary photos to talk about the focus and lighting.  And then....we hit the burn zone.  The fire was a little over a mile away from school.  All twenty-five of the students stuck with me (no adults would go with me) and were very respectful.

We noticed a lot of new life once we hit the burn zone.  There were cactus growing on top of dead cactus.  Trees that appeared dead, now had green leaves.












The kids had a heyday, running around and spotting all the life; which included about a dozen horny toads.  We also spotted a rabbit run by and many butterflies.  New Life.

They found a lighter and hypothesized that it might have started the fire.
In fact, they were full of hypotheses.  I can't wait to really dig into this project!  New Life.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Field Trip to the Burn Zone

A few months after we hiked up Old Alchesay Mountain, it caught on fire.  The mountain is very close to our school, so we took the kids out to the field to watch it burn and to watch the fire planes put it out.  A week later, we went back to the burn zone to see the damage.

 When we got to the site, a hydrologist showed up and wanted to talk with the kids about the impact the rains will have on the slope.
 They noticed that some plants were still alive.
 They noticed that the cactus was charred, but still alive on the inside.
 They observed that the ash was just on the surface.
 Another cactus.
 They named this "powder rock".  As soon as you touch it, it turns to powder.  We still don't know exactly what it is.
 More "powder rock".
 Aluminum formations.  They hypothesized that they were formally pop (or beer) cans that had melted in the fire, and re-solidified into these formations.
The new class pet.  Even after the devastation, they found a horny toad, crawling along.

where Glory meets my suffering