Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Data Proves Me Wrong

I have been fighting the issue of homework since the beginning of school. Students have homework every school night. They have to have their planner signed, read their reading paper with their parents and have that signed, do their 1 minute reading fluency and have it also signed. Our homework policy is that if children do not return their homework every morning signed they do not get a recess. They have to stand "on the line" for the entire recess. I do not like this policy for 2 reasons, 1) the majority of our parents do not participate in their children’s education at all. Several have even told us "they won’t be signin nothin". 2) Children need chances to run around and get their energy out. We are constantly telling them to be still, but then take away the one time they are allowed to move around.
Why do we continue to punish the child when their parents refuse to follow through and why make both the child's day and the teacher’s day more stressful by not letting them get their energy out??
But... According to the data I have collect... I am wrong.
More children bring their homework when there is a consequence of missing recess.
While this KILLS ME, I can not deny that my theory (at this time and with this class) is faulty.
So we go back to standing on the line. Hopefully the number of homework turned in will increase with the reinforcement of a consequence.
- A sad/ frustrated/ disappointed/ humbled Miss Hansen

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Jerry! Jerry! Jerry!

Apparently my children are Jerry and Maury fans. Great! A 7 year old girl was able to tell me that "girls be fightin all the time cause people be cheatin". She is 7.
A boy chimed in with "they be talkin on Maury bout cheatin too"

- :O Miss Hansen

Time for a classroom meeting

After lunch today I was DONE with mean words! I told my children we were going to have a class meeting about some of the things that I had been noticing in our classroom. I told them I had seen a lot of
- Mean words (you ugly, that’s not right, and the most popular you a fast cheeseburger"
- Tattle tailing (with NO other purpose than trying to get peers in trouble)
- Whining
- I can't I can't I can't- drives me CRAZY

I asked what they thought and if they were seeing the same things that I did. They all said yes, and that they didn't like when people said mean words because it made them angry and sad. I tried to explain to them that if children feel scared at school and are worried about what their class mates are saying about them they won’t be able to learn.

I feel like as much as first graders can they listened and they understood what I was talking about. I told them my moms rule always was "treat others like you want to be treated". Hopefully this will make a difference in our classroom atmosphere!

- A sick of whining Miss Hansen

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

First graders invade UC!

I am working on planning a field trip for the first grade students to visit The University of Cincinnati’s campus in April. We will start by meeting several UC Football players in Nippert Stadium to talk about how important it is to stay and school and attend college. They will have time to ask the players questions and play ball on the field.
Next we will tour UC’s recreation center stopping in the basketball courts to play basketball.

After the tour we will eat lunch in Annies Law Conference room in Teachers College where the students get to sit at “big tables” and swivel chairs (this will be what they talk about for a week ☺). Finally we will spend time in a large classroom. The children are going to do some “work” and we will finish with something like, “you saw all these fun things that you get to do at college, but in order to get to college you have to go to school”. To follow up the activity the children will write thank you notes to the players and answer the question “when I grow up I want to be”.

I feel like too often children aren’t really introduced to the idea/ the importance of college until close to the 8th grade. Why not expose children at a young age to college and get them excited about education while they still have a love for education.

- An excited Miss Hansen

"You a fat cheeseburger"

Lately my children have been mean! This is the newest phrase going on in my classroom. I have one child who is overweight and has been having issues with peers calling him names. Whenever we hear this happening we address it on the spot, but it is hard to monitor this outside of the classroom. Recently there has been a lot of problems happening in the after school program between several first grade students. I want to address the issue but I don’t know how to get the point across when in their culture it is “ok or normal” to use these disrespectful words.

- A concerned Miss Hansen

He be "perpin"

I am constantly learning new “words” in my classroom. On a weekly basis the children use a word that I have never heard before and I have to ask for clarifications. The children love that they get to “teach Miss Hansen” something for a change. Today I was speaking to a child’s grandmother and she said “he keep saying he don’t feel good but he just perpin”. “HUH??” I politely responded with “I'm sorry but what does perpin mean?” apparently it means lying or fibbing.

I told her I am always learning new slang around here! She laughed and said “you know one time I was workin at another school and this fine white teacher (I'm not racist I'm just sayin he be white) and he kept telling me “you so hot”. I didn’t understand what he was saying! I just said, “thank you” but I couldn’t figured out what I had done. Do you know what that means?” I informed her it meant she was sexy!! She was so surprised the guy was hitting on her it was hysterical! It makes me feel better that I'm not just “the white girl” that doesn’t know common slang!

-Miss Hansen

Interacting with Parents

In the 8th grade I got my first hand-me-down cell phone. I was only supposed to use the phone if I needed to talk to my parents and to play the game snake. As I got to high school I got my first new phone and it became more ok for me to make calls to my friends. I will admit that I have always had unlimited minutes and text messages because I was on my dad’s plan. I never had to worry about getting in a situation where there is an emergency and I was “out of minutes”.

I cant tell you how often we call students parents only to discover they are “out of minutes” for the month. So now we are in a situation where they don’t read their child's planner, because of laziness or they are illiterate, so they don’t see a note from the teacher and they cant be reached on the phone. What are teachers supposed to do when you kid is sick? Or failing first grade? Or got in a fight and is now suspended??

- Miss Hansen

Teaching 1st graders about money is stressful!!

My unit plan this quarter was teaching children about money. The first grade standards focus on identifying the value and name of a coin, adding small groups of coins, and showing different combinations of coins for a set value. My unit was scheduled to take 6 days but ended up taking 12! The children needed a solid 4 days of review and practice before they started to feel more comfortable adding small groups of coins. Today I did my final assessment. There were two parts to the assessment, one a written “test” where the children had to “count on” and write the value of a small set of coins and the other was an oral and hands on assessment. I told the children they were going to a candy shop but in order to buy something they had to show two ways to use coins to make up the set price. It was very clear which children understood the concept of adding coins and who did not! I feel frustrated that not everyone got as much out of the unit as I had hoped but I think some are just not ready for it. We will be starting measurement next week but will continue to give them opportunities to practice their new skills.

- A stressed out Miss Hansen

One Size Fits All- Reading Programs

Every teacher would agree that children learn to read at their own pace and in their own ways. Techniques like chunking, context clues, and sound words out are popular ways of teaching children the basic skills needed to learn how to read. So if we all know children learn differently and are all at different levels, why do we use reading programs that’s “one size fits all”.

At our school we use a reading program called Voyager. The first grade theme is about a group of children who learn about the sea. Through the year the children are exposed to a variety of literature genres and are able to make connections with the characters. However, while I like the repetition the program supplies, asking our high reading group and low reading group to read the same thing is just silly. I have children who should be learning to read chapter books and others who should be learning their sight words and letter combinations. It is just painfully slow and so frustrating (for everyone involved) for the low children to get through the reading each day.

I feel that the Guided Reading set up (where books are selected for children based on their reading level) would give children more of what they need to excel. I try to differentiate the lessons based on level, for example asking the high group more abstract questions and giving the low group opportunities to succeed.

- Miss Hansen