I have 17 students in my class this year. Not 15. Not 12. Not 18. 17 students!

Last week though my class couldn’t catch a break. We started the week down 2… one recovering from getting tonsils taken out. The other with a fever.

Then a grandmother passed away and a student traveled to Chicago for services. So at a maximum by Tuesday afternoon I had 14 students. Between doctors appointments and pullouts by other school personnel and bathroom and nurse visits, I was often at 12 students.

Today shocked me though. So much so that when we had a fire drill I had to count several times. Phew! 17 is much more than 12, especially when they don’t stand still. 17 students were accounted… for all day long (and hopefully all week too).

Fridays are for…

Fridays are for happy hour! All week last week it was was gorgeous… a sign of our first outdoor happy hour in the warm sun at a favorite Mexican restaurant in town. We could not wait for their veggie nachos. They are THE BEST! Each day we talked about them.

As Friday drew near though it changed. Only 2 of us could make it. It was cloudy but warmish. Should we postpone our outing? But as the final bell rang… the sun came out. Off to Vivas we went! And the nachos were just as good (if not better) then we remembered!

Ingredients for Mothers

As a 2nd grade teacher I have to be on top of a lot of things. The lunch count and attendance, morning work that is meaningful but not meaningful as kids arrive anywhere between 8:45 and 9:15 these days, specials, academic plans, holidays and much more.

Last week we had to prepare for a special holiday, Mother’s Day. My team and I decided on making a bookmark out of thumb and fingerprints to go along with a book that the children wrote about their moms. Each page was a different slice about their mom… a portrait page, all about my mom page, and acrostic poem page, a simile page and a recipe for a perfect mom page.

The first 4 pages of the book were easy for the kids. They had experience with writing these during our poetry unit. But the recipe was a but more difficult and needed some more teaching. We brainstormed measurements (cups, tablespoons, etc), before moving on to the ingredients. “What ingredients would a perfect mom have,” I asked the class before giving them time to think, talk to their peers and write some ideas down on whiteboards.

“Kisses,” Hannah yelled.

“Hugs,” Terry added.

“Um…smiles,” Angelina said shyly.

I continued to call on student after student. Our list of ideas was getting big. JT could not contain his excitement so I finally called on the outstretched, waving hand. JT often responds off topics. “What would be an ingredient for a perfect mom, JT,” I asked to remind him of the question.

Loud and proud he says in a singsong voice, “makin love!”

I was baffled for a moment. Did I hear that ingredient correctly? I glanced at the other 3 adults in the room. They were all trying hard to contain their laughter. Nope I heard it correctly.

“I mean a makin love cake,” he continued in his singsong voice oblivious to my lack of response.

Needless to say I moved the class to their seats to work independently after that. Kids say the darnedest things!

The Challenge is Over

On Friday at 8:45 the students flocked to the library for one last morning of slicing together. Some were there for their 5th slice of month, others 15th, and still others were there to finish their 30th slice.

We gave them time to write but then we couldn’t help but celebrate the amazing work they had done in April. We called them each up one by one to receive their certificate and a journal to keep their writing going. They applauded each other, turned to have their picture taken and said thank you for this experience.

When the time was up we had to force some students to leave. They didn’t want to. They enjoyed this time together. Meeting new faces, learning about each other through writing and being inspired.

Each of the 60+ students achieved their goal: they wrote more than they had to… they wrote more than what their teacher assigned me.

And to me, that’s AMAZING!

What’s Cookin’

Did you ever play “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego” when you were little? I honestly can’t remember much about the game but attribute it to me saying things to my students like “what’s up, paper cup” or “where to gumshoe?” Hopefully I’m correct with even saying I got these ideas from the game.

Today, our first day back from spring break, I ran into a bunch of kids and of course asked “how was break?” Or “where did you go for break?”

Late in the day I ran into Henry who I had for only a few months last year and don’t see often this year, and without thinking said “What’s cookin'” (thankfully stopping myself from the rest of that one… “good lookin'”).

Henry looked at me from behind his mask, tired from the long day back at work. I could see he was thinking how to answer. After a long pause he replied, “I don’t know what I’m having for dinner…(long pause)… if that’s what you mean.”

I smirked and told him what I meant and he immediately launched into his trip to Boston.

Oh how I love kids… especially this one for not making fun of my quirkiness!

Finally… more information

A few weeks ago I heard about the Water Challenge. I guess I didn’t really find out about it because besides that I didn’t know what it entailed.

But today, I did find out more information. Someone gave a sneak peek on our Slice of Life Classroom Padlet.

I’m left wondering though…

  • Who were the participants?
  • Where did the test take place?
  • What bottled water was used?
  • And most importantly… what were the results?

I can’t wait until after break to find out!

Classroom Slice of Life

5+ weeks ago the chatting began of “do you think we can offer the writing challenge to 4th and 5th graders?”

3 weeks, with the help of colleagues, the logistics of this challenge began.

1 week ago the challenge started.

Today I take a moment to sit back and watch. A good majority of the students who signed up are still coming to the library to write. They are commenting on other students writing verbally. They are getting ideas from shells and art cards. From their home lives and school lives. From the world around them.

As our time comes to a close for this writing session I ask “What do you guys think? What’s been working? What’s been hard?”

  • “I’ve written mostly poems because they are short and manageable”
  • “Some days I have so many ideas (like today and rehearsing for the play) and other days I’ve got nothing.”
  • “Wait, but when I had no ideas… I just wrote about having no idea. That was fun!”
  • “I’ve enjoyed coming to the library in the morning for a different place to get comfy and write.”
  • “It’s hard to publish a whole piece in a day!”
  • “I really like reading other people’s writing.”

This feedback was pouring out of them. I ended with some feedback of my own: “You all took on a challenge. Some wanted to write everyday, others only during the week. And others something even different. You are all trying to write more than you usually do. You are being creative in your writing! What has impressed me the most is that you are showing up and writing! I can’t wait to read even more!”

We Made It!

We came up with 31 ideas.

We drafted 31 pieces.

We revised 31 stories, poems, lists and more.

…many times, more than once.

We published 31 slices from our lives.

We cheered each other on with comments.

We motivated each other by posting day after day.

So, thank you! Thank you for this challenge. Thank you for sharing your ideas. Thank you for your slices. Thank you for your comments.


Chocolate Milk

Dear Priscilla,

Thank you for reading my slice earlier this month about Chocolate Milk and how much I craved that childhood memory. How did you know I haven’t made it out for breakfast yet to get this cold, tasty, sweet treat?

As I sipped this deliciousness at lunch I was brought back in time. To breakfast after church with my grandparents. To the smiles and laughs we had. You made my day delivering me this special gift. THANK YOU!!!