Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Important things I learned today

Don’t repeat- when you repeat their thoughts you teach the other children they don’t need to listen to their classmates- just the teacher.

Emotion drives everything!!
Actions reveal a lot

Start with a compliment- starting each conversation with a compliment will make a child much more likely to listen to the “criticisms”. For example if you a child who can only do the first sounds of each word start with “wow look you knew the first sound of every word! Awesome! Now let me show you how to stretch the word to hear more sounds”

Idea on discipline: being humiliated in front of your class will only make you pissed off and not make you want to learn. Which will in turn cause more undesirable behavior. There is a reason behind what they are doing! Why are they doing these behaviors? Attention, too difficult, aggressive? What can you do to avoid the situation?

“Take a break”- take a breath, think about the problem, and come back to the group. If it continues there needs to be a consequence- if you cant sit on the rug then you will sit on a chair behind the rug but you wont be able to participate because you cant use self control.

“A bug and a wish”... "It bugs me when you…. I wish you would…"

Apology of action (when “I’m sorry” isn’t enough)- make a card, play at recess, etc…

Is what I’m doing making a difference?? Does taking recess away, make a difference? 

My brain has so many new ideas! -Miss Hansen

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Thank you for reading!!!

I am so sorry but I don't recognize the screen name "Sparkshap". To whom do I thank for all the advice???

Disney movies are scary!!

I have always been a chicken when it came to scary movies. My siblings make fun of me for leaving movie theaters before because they were too scary! This weekend I watched Disney's new princess movie, The Princess and the Frog. I thought it was a good movie (and you cant miss Disney's attempt at adding diversity to their list of princesses) but it was scary! It takes place in New Orleans and the "bad guy" is a voodoo man, "The Shadow Man". The Shadow Man sends dark shadows to find the frog prince and it is creepy as the shadows spread through the city!
This is certainly not the first scary movie by Disney. Think... Cinderella is a slave to her evil step mother, Snow White has to run away before her heart is cut out of her, and Jasmine is pimped out to Jafar. I don't think most children pick up on these plots. All they see is pretty girls with perfect hair, great bodies, and beautiful clothes!
So do children subconsciously like evil scary stories... or does Disney do that to entertain the parents forced to watch??

-Miss Hansen


In the past week there have been two shootings in the neighborhood surrounding my school. A week ago there was a rifle found in a car, when the police attempted to arrest the guy there were shots fired. Last Friday there were shots fired one street away from my school around lunch time. There were two shooters at least one was injured.
A teen was shot and killed this weekend. Police say it was a drug deal "gone bad". The boy was addicted to heroine and apparently came to the neighborhood for drugs.

I was at my school when the first shooting happened last week. We locked down the out side of the building and had to delay dismissal until the police were gone. It was crazy to know what was happening just out side our doors. The violence that is going on is happening in the neighborhood around us not in the school (which makes it a little better). But they are saying that they have not had this amount of gang activity in the area or the school in a long time. There have been a lot of problems in the upper grades and for the first time (in awhile) teachers are feeling "shaken" and some not safe at school. Its really hard to work and teach if you dont feel like you are safe at your work place.
There are a lot of comments on the news sites regarding the area and the shootings. Some comments sound ignorant but others (unfortunately) make a valid point.

I know I am going to come out of this experience with much more than just a college education.
-Miss Hansen

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Birth control and Seat Belts... Are they a "cultural thing"??

As i watch cars pull out of the parking lot of school i notice that the majority of children never put on their seatbelt. to make it better there are like 4 kids sitting next to each other in the back seat. There are children just old enough to sit up in the front seat just hanging out. Why would you not put a seat belt on your child???? 
Other question- Whats up with having babies every year????? I have one child who has 6 other siblings the oldest is in the third grade and to top it off... mom is prego again! There are several families that have a handful of children and the parents aren't even thirty.

So my question.. Are birth control and seat belts a cultural thing???

Learning Styles

I read an article yesterday from my KDP (honor education society) about helping children discover their individual learning styles. There are apparently 20 or so elements that effect ones ability to learn. Some of these include the lighting, background noise, group size, and timing of the day. Over the years I have been able to discover some of these aspects that definitely affect my learning. For example I prefer light from a lamp over large over head lighting, I like background noise and I can’t learn anything between the hours of 10PM and 8 AM. If my homework isn't done by ten or so it’s just not going to happen.
Knowing how much these things effect me makes me think of all the aspects in the room that might hurt a child’s ability to learn. I have one child who becomes very frustrated when children are talking around him and he is trying to work. Another child likes to stand by his desk while working. Most of a time it’s not a problem until he starts making noises and disrupting the class.
At UC we talk about ways that teachers can make accommodations to the room to help children learn. Having alternative chairs, quite areas, areas with background noise, lighting, and working in different size groups are all ways to help make the room the most desirable environment for each child. This is a great idea in the perfect world and maybe possible in some schools, but at my school making the environment cater to the children is not a priority. I wonder how I might set up my classroom differently knowing the learning style needs of my class.

-Miss Hansen

Fresh Fruit and Veggie Program

I am currently watching some of the faces I have ever seen made by my children! Every Tuesday the children get to try a new fresh fruit or vegetable thanks to a Grant we receive. Today we are trying a "tropical fruit medley" consisting of mango, papaya, and pineapple. We started with the mango and I watched a little boys face look like he was trying sludge. His nose wrinkled up and his lips got all funny looking. Others looked like they were experiencing something super awesome!
I absolutely love that they get the opportunity to try new fresh fruit and veggies because most of them have no idea what it looks like if it’s not in a can.
They just tried the papaya and I got a lot of "ewwww that’s nasty" Pretty funny!!

- Miss Hansen

Monday, September 20, 2010

Apperently I'm too nice

So on the first day of school one of the other teachers told me the best advice she had ever received was "don't be nice in the beginning be as mean as you can be, because if you start out being nice your screwed". I understood what she was saying and it made sense so I tried to be strict on the rules and show the students they couldn't walk all over me. But being me I try to make connections with students and get to know them to form a relationship. I have three boys and one girl in particular that needed some attention and needed a teacher to help motivate them and help them form some self confidence. I would say 2 of the 4 have been named "trouble children" so they often get blamed for bad behavior before the teacher even knows what’s going on. So I wanted them to feel like I was on their side and they could trust me.
It has worked wonderfully for the most part. The children feel comfortable talking to me when they are frustrated and seem to really trust me.
I like to do silly things with the kids. Like to teach the difference between flexible and rigid during science we made our arms wiggle and then be hard. I think kids enjoy the silliness and sometimes remember the information better. But when it comes to getting everyone’s attention and getting them all quiet I seem to have screwed myself! I was trying to get their attention to tell them what to do for journal and they just don’t shut up! I found my self really frustrated and feeling defeated. I like my style of making them laugh and doing full body movements, but I can’t compromise my authority.
Where’s the line???

- A somewhat defeated Miss Hansen

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Its like a whole different world... less than 20 miles apart

After I left school yesterday I went to pick up the boys that I often babysit for. I have been to school a hundred times but never really noticed how different it was compared to my school until having now. When I walked up about 10 minutes before they were going to be dismissed, all of the parents (either sitting in their fancy cars or standing by the play ground) were chatting and eagerly waiting for their children. As the kids came out they ran up to their parents, most giving them a hug, and often throwing their backpack on the floor and running off to the play ground. As I looked around most of the parents are mothers, with their spandex shorts on and jogging strollers.
There are five buses pulling out and as I looked in the window I noticed that 4 out of the 5 buses had no more than maybe 20 children on them, one only had about 7. Do we only have one bus because most of our kids live close enough to not need a bus or is it funding?
While I watch the boys on the play ground playing Star Wars I realized that I am not near as worried about them talking about guns because its more likely their imagination or something they have seen in a movie, than what they see at home in person.
At their school parent involvement is school. It is not uncommon for parents to volunteer on a weekly basis in the classroom. I'm not sure if most of our parents could tell you the names of their teachers let alone where the classroom is located in the school.
I felt a bit of resentment and bitterness towards these people as I watched the blonde hair, pointy tail mom swapping recipes on the play ground. They have no idea what the city looks like a mere twenty miles away. Not that I think that they should "feel sorry" for my neighborhood, and it probably wouldn't even change how most of them live their lives, but from the outside it looks like they live in their own little happy white, upper class, suburbia bubble.
I found an appreciation for the siblings at my school when I saw two boys fighting like crazy over something dumb. Not that my kids don’t do that for sure but the majority of siblings at my school are protective of the younger ones. The older sisters often ask if the sibling has homework or if they were misbehaving in class. There is a need to feel protected and to have some consistency in life, which I think is often found between siblings.
            I don’t want to sound like I’m just bitching and complaining but its hard when you see kids everyday who don’t have a lot and then see those who have everything they want.

-Miss Hansen

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

ADHD.. real or over diagnosed??

In class we learn about how over diagnosed ADHD can be. It tends to be the "explanation" for a misbehaving child. I have both sides in my classroom.  I have one child who's mother insists that she get tested for ADHD because "she likes to talk in class". I know this child well and yes she can be distracted and she does talk occasionally in class but I would not say that it is so much that she has ADHD. I have learned that some parents have alternative motives when it comes to having their child observed because if the child is diagnosed ADHD they will receive money through the Supplemental Security Income.

"Getting awarded social security benefits for ADHD

For children (3-18) to receive SSI disability benefits based on this disorder, they must---in addition to possessing 1. marked inattention, 2. marked impulsiveness, and 3. marked hyperactivity---have at least two of the three following conditions, resulting from ADHD:

1. Marked impairment in age-appropriate cognitive/communication function.

2. Marked impairment in age-appropriate social functioning.

3. Marked impairment in age-appropriate personal functioning.

For each of these marked impairments (conditions resulting from ADHD is a good way to think of them), there must exist supporting documentation. " (

If there is a working parent in the house one child is eligible for between $2,000- 3,000. For household where the income is not earned they are eligible for $1,000-2,000.

It seems so crazy to say that parents tell their child to misbehave and act out because they want the money.. but it happens.

I have another child who is definitely ADHD! When he takes his meds he gets his work done and might act out some but nothing more than a typical first grader. When he doesn't take his meds... well we know its going to be a looooong day! He is all over the place! He gets nothing done and has a really hard time controlling his body! I have never seen a child who benefits more from medication!
I think its really important for teachers to help children who need it get help, but also watch out for when parents are trying to misuse the system.

-Miss Hansen

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Letter "N"

"Give me a word that begins with "N"
"nap" "nit" "knock" "nipples"  (Miss Hansen trying not to laugh)
"Those are all good words!"

-Miss Hansen

Monday, September 13, 2010

Solids Science Unit!

I started my 4 day unit plan on solids this morning. Today's goal was to introduce the idea of solid, liquids and gases. The intro went over really well. They told me "how they knew" it was a solid/ liquid/ gas and what they already knew about them. Then I gave them each a metal screw and a plastic tube. We made observations about the two objects and described their properties. The children knew a lot more properties than I had expected which was such a nice surprise! We had a great discussion and everyone participated. Then I wanted them to write down 2 properties for each object.... this didn't work! Even if they could describe to me what the properties were, they couldn't read it off the list on the board. So we did it as a group and it worked a lot better!
Tomorrow they will get five more objects and learn some more vocabulary for properties. After today I am changing my plans for tomorrow because I had planned for them to do a lot of writing on their own. Instead we are going to do it as a class and have most of it be discussion. I learned a lot about having a back up plan and being able to go with the flow today!!

-Miss Hansen

Friday, September 10, 2010

I am so frustrated!!!

I have a little boy who does NOTHING. Like literally does nothing all day long. UNTIL everyone leaves for specials then he gets everything done in like 7 minutes! So he is very capable of doing the work he just doesn't. To make it better he says "Miss Hansen" 1,000,001 times a day! When we put a note in his planner yesterday he said his mom hit him in the stomach. So now we don't want to send notes home because he gets beaten but he does nothing! So how do you motivate him? Well we attempted to bribe him with a toy car (loves cars) and maybe it worked a little but he still got close to nothing finished!
I feel like he is just going to sit here all year then end up repeating next year. What a waste of time for him, his family, and his teachers!

-Frustrated Miss Hansen

"I'm gonna get out of this neighborhood"

Logan and I had a "debate" the other night about the ability to "get out" for  families in neighborhoods like mine. His opinion is that everyone (no matter where they live or the color of their skin) has the same opportunities. He would even say that blacks have more resources than whites because companies and schools are trying to meet requirements for race and gender.
My point- when you live in these conditions with your parents not working, spending time in jail, and having babies all the time its hard to think of what "getting out" even looks like. Most of these children don't have any idea about what it takes to get to college or what having a career (other than McDonald's) looks like. Its hard to get a good education if you miss school a lot or are moving around from one subsidized housing neighborhood to another on a yearly basis.
I think it is easy for upper class whites to say "if they would just get an education and a job and stop living off the government they could support themselves." But you really don't have any idea what you are talking about till you understand what they are going through. Don't get me wrong I would love to not pay for their housing and their food, but it is hard to break this cycle!
Having role models that are successful, law abiding, contributing citizens are SO SO SO important!!

-Miss Hansen

Thursday, September 9, 2010

What does "famous" mean??

Child-"Someone who everyone knows"
"Tell me someone who is famous"
Children- "Beyonce" "Obama" "You Mrs. ____"
"Well you might think I am famous because you all know me... but do you think everyone knows me??"

Its pretty sweet to be compared to Beyonce, Obama and Michael Jordan!

Birthday Circle

I got to sit-in during another teacher's "Birthday Circle" yesterday. I had never heard of a teacher doing this before! She invites the parents in and any siblings that attend the school. The child sits in a chair in the circle and gets a crown with paper candles on it for their age. The teacher lights candles (for real!) and sings a song while he blows out one at a time. Yesterday the boy turned six so the song went something like "there are 6 candles he blows one out now there are 5..." and so on. After all the candles were blown out she lit them again and he got to pick a song for every candle. He could pick any song they have ever sung! He chose the Hokey Pokey, ABC song, and Captain Kind. If you have never heard of Captain Kind it is a comic book charter that fights bully. These kids knew every word to the song!!

After the birthday circle (which lasts about 30 min) the children wrote "happy birthday ___" in their planner and the parents passed out cupcakes and juice.

I personally don't need to do such an elaborate thing for every child's birthday (they have 2 more birthdays next week) because it took up a lot of time and if a child's parents were unable to bring in snacks or come in it would be very obvious. But I definitely liked giving the child some special attention for their special day!

-Miss Hansen

Quality Worksheets

We do a lot of worksheets here. Most of the curriculum uses programs such as Voyager for reading and a math book. We do seat work every day which is usually a worksheet that they do then color, and some times they have to cut and paste. At UC they don't like worksheets at all! I think that they are good and necessary to use sometimes as long as there is other types of work also.

This morning the children had a math worksheet to do after they wrote in their planner. We are working on basic addition using pictures. This worksheet had ____ + ____= for the children to fill in. But the pictures that they were supposed to be counting were not lined up with the lines at all! The first group was over the first line and the second was over where the = line is. This was super confusing for them! They new to write the number of pictures on the line so we got 2+6=4 rather than 2+4=6. It was obvious that this was not a quality worksheet and should not be used again.

I wonder if other schools use worksheets as much as we do??

-Miss Hansen

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Guns, guns and more guns...

Over a period of about a week it was brought to our attention that one of our children's family (the boy, mom, and his siblings) were threatened by his father who just got out of jail at gun point. The dad threatened to kill the whole family right in front of his kids. The cops were called and the dad was arrested. Turns out that mom is on house arrest and is somehow managing to care for her five children? To top it all of he spends time at his grandmother’s house who hits them with shoes when she is mad. But don't worry "When she his me I hit her back so hard she cries"- First Grader

Over the weekend one of my children’s grandmothers was shopping before a family BBQ when the store was held up at gun point and the grandmother was shot. She died.

I learned about gangs from watching movies. Growing up my idea of a gang was something like from West Side Story, where the boy falls for the girl but cant have her because she is from the "wrong" family. That may be true and all but around here being in a gang is a bragging right. Students get in trouble for wearing anything gang related or talking about it. But the sad part is when the little ones are bragging about their siblings getting in trouble. It is hard to stop the cycle if they think it is cool to be getting in trouble.

We have had 2 incidents where there were suspected guns in the school. The police come and do random searches for the upper grades. It was scary the first time I saw them with their wands in the hallway but now it doesn't seem so weird. Last week we had a girl bragging about having a knife to little kids, she was over heard in the hallway and I believe was suspended. It is shocking how often students are suspended or getting disciplinary actions! Seems like on a weekly basis there is a list :(

-Miss Hansen

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Please comment!

I would love to know what you think about what is happening in my school, my thoughts, or if you have an idea!

"You should brush your teeth before you go to the park and your grandma's house"

We are learning about our community and the places and workers that are important in our community. During our discussion yesterday the children made a list of places they like to go in the community. Our list included: School, grandma's house, park, Golden Corral, zoo, and the swimming pool. It was very cute to listen to hear what places they find important in their neighborhood. We also talked about the workers that work in the community. They decided the most important workers are garbage man, doctor, our principle, our security guard, and their grandma. (If you haven't noticed the answer "grandma" is very common!)

When we started talking about the dentist we discovered we have 3 students who have never been to the dentist. Many of our children have cavities already :( When we asked them when they should brush their teeth we got "before you leave the house to go to the park or to school" "before you go to grandmas" "when you eat". It took probably seven answers before we got to "every morning and night!!" My teacher made them raise their right hand and repeat "Mrs. ** I promise to brush my teeth every morning before school and every night before bed". They laughed when she said she didn’t like having stinky breath coming towards her at her reading table.

It seems silly to go over what a doctor and a dentist do but it is important for them to learn about personal hygiene!! It is very obvious who got a bath last night and who didnt... sometimes I have realllly stinky kids!

-Miss. Hansen

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

New drug house on the block??

There is a rumor that the new drug house in the neighborhood is home to one of my children. I have to say that there are a few that we wouldn't have been as surprised to hear this about but this little girl is more or less "normal". She has her moments when she doesn't pay attention or doesn’t follow directions, but what first grader doesn't!

Yesterday a child came in the room and excitedly told me "Miss Hansen me and my mom sat outside the jail last night (my mind is racing with "omg what is he going to tell me") cause my uncle came home" I turned to my teacher and my jaw dropped. She steps in and says something like "wow I bet he was really excited to see you". It took me a minute to regain composer until she said "that’s not an uncommon thing to hear in the morning". I feel like I say this a lot but... That shit really happens??????

Today a child told me "my dad drank too much beer to sign my homework" (picture me melting). I say "I’m sorry that happened but it’s your responsibility to get your homework signed". I know that’s what we have to do because if we said "ok ill count it" every time a child said "my parent was drunk" or "my dads in jail he cant sign it" we would have missing homework a lot.

It is so hard to not feel sorry for these kids and let them get away with things. I experienced nothing even remotely like what they do at that age. I just want to hug them and say "it’s going to be ok, your parents will get their shit together soon" but that won’t help anyone. These kids need someone to care enough about them to make them try their best and help push them to excel.

It is going to be very difficult to not become emotionally wrapped up in all of these children's lives!

-Miss Hansen

When I feel like no one is paying attention... She raises her hand!

I have a little girl who came in the first day of school looking totally lost. It was her first year here and she was very shy. She had trouble following directions and was taking FOREVER to get anything done! We were very frustrated in the beginning and I was worried it would be like this all year. I started working with her one-on-one more, helping her stay on track. It took maybe two days before I realized she was very very capable of getting everything done she just needed a little motivation. It was obvious that she was getting no praise or recognition at home and she craved it.

As she started to get work done faster and faster I pretended to be shocked! I would say "did you do this by your self?? Realllllly??" She looked so proud with a huge smile on her face like "duh Miss Hansen!"

In the last 4 days she has become much more social, raising her hand to answer questions and "writing" sentences on her work. Every day I walk into the lunch room and say "I know I say this every day but I am just so excited about ***". It is awesome to see a child so excited and proud of herself!!

I love that I have created a bond with her and she feels comfortable with me. She even came up to me yesterday and asked for a hug. :)

On the other hand I have another child who is not getting anything done. I don't even know what he does to occupy his time but he is always the last one finished. To try to motivate him we have started saying things like "if you don’t finish you don’t get to go to gym". I hate to take away time like that especially when so many students need those specials as a way to express themselves but nothing else seems to work to motivate him.

-Miss Hansen