Friday, June 11, 2010
I have enjoyed my first week of summer break. I have been working with a nice lady who enjoys children but who isn't an educator and my 14 year old daughter Marissa for part of the morning. We have 11 children enrolled--I moved 2 of them to a group doing recreational programs because their age and reading ability made our group a bit too easy for them. It is a different type of group than I have taught at the church previously. There are a couple of very young children without any school experience and several kindergarten graduates, then two children headed to second grade--1 is a pretty good reader and fits nicely into the group of 2 second graders that I have.
I set up a morning program that fits in between the free breakfast and lunch program our church does for any children between ages 1 and 18. My program works in conjunction with the Summer Club our church does for children ages 8-12 that provides activities in citizenship, self esteem, fitness, health and nutrition. That program runs until 2 PM, so my children go to lunch and then join them in the afternoon. They have three programs that we participate in--or will participate in. One is the Girl Scouts are meeting with all of our girls from 10:50-11:50 on Wednesdays. Another that is really exciting is a local group called "River Music Experience" is doing a drum/percussion group with the kids. This week as an introduction, the musician brought about 30 different percussion instruments, everything from drums and bongos to maracas, tambourines, and anything that you can shake or pound on to make musical sounds. The kids got to play each instrument and did some fun with copying a variety of rhythms. It even sounded pretty good to listen to. Starting next week, there will be field trips to a variety of recreational activities and I'll only see my kids for a short while before they leave on the buses. (I decided that I didn't want to go along--I am using a walker and some such activities don't match what I can do very well. Climbing into a bus would be tough for me and since I didn't ride the bus to the end of school event, I am certainly not going to try this either.) They will be great activities like skating, bowling, swimming, etc...
I let the kids come down to our room as soon as they finish their breakfast which is served at 9:00--breakfast has a milk, fruit, and bread--then some days extras like eggs or sausage or something is a part of the meal as well. Today they had cinnamon applesauce and donut holes with milk. I ate the applesauce myself, it was yummy. As I mentioned on a previous blog, I got reading levels from the children, their teachers, or I assessed them rather loosely--and I set up a basket of books for each of them with books at their current level so they can practice reading independently. Each of the kids have about 20 books--and sometimes during this time, I take the youngest students and help them all to really do one to one matching and read and understand an easy book. At 9:45, I bring the kids to a corner where they sit on the carpet and I use a big book with them. I started a silly new book with them today called "Cat and Mouse." It has the word "went" on every page--and that is a tricky word for children to learn. It is also full of prepositional words like "in, up, through, down, across, and over." today, I had them demonstrate those words using a ball while making a sentence using the word appropriately. I have picked animal themed books to use for this time--we just finished a big book called "Guinea Pig Grass" which was a funny story about a guinea pig in search of grass. At the end of the story, a kind and knowledgeable rabbit helps him to find grass. I brought a bag of alfalfa that we feed our guinea pigs and bunny for them to check out and we discussed the smell. Then, I brought a couple of our pets--"Tweak" the guinea pig and "Jerry" the rabbit for them to meet. I wish that I had brought my phone or my camera because it was fun to watch. We noticed that Tweak's hind foot was a bit bruised, so I left her in the cage for them to watch--and bless her, she munched that grass the whole time. The kids got to see why it was so important to the guinea pig in the story. They all had a turn holding Jerry--he did a little nervous thrashing around at first, but he calmed down and put up with being passed around. It was a top-notch learning activity because these were not animals that the kids knew much about. (Next week, if there aren't any allergies, I'm going to take the two kittens we have.) Anyway, we have 40 minutes for guided reading lessons where I have chosen a book for each group at the closest level I have for them. I teach the things that the children need in order to read the book successfully and anything that might come up as we read. (That's why it is called "guided" lol) We take a break and go outdoors for some movement--today we played freeze tag, tag, and "Duck, duck, goose." If any of you know some other games that such young children can enjoy successfully, please let me know--my repertoire of this sort of thing is a bit limited. I am going to get some hula hoops, balls, and jump ropes on pay day next week. When we come back indoors, we have center time. I lead one activity, my helper leads one activity, and the third is independent--my daughter is gone helping to distribute lunches at a satellite station at a school, park, or religious site that our church provides food for. Today, I helped the children to write a story that started with "I like" and to illustrate it. I was going to make it into a class book, but I may hang them up in the hallway near our room instead--some are very clever. My helper played sight word bingo with the kids and at the third group, my youngest son, Micah came and helped them to play a consonant board game. We stop 10 minutes before it is time for lunch--and we fill out a chart I have that lists what we have done today. We also share which activity was the most "memorable" to them. We end our day by playing "beach ball volleyball." This is a team building game where the kids are trying to see how many times we can hit the ball and keep it going. I am the official counter and we write our number on the board. Our goal is to do better each day. We have been stuck at 13 since Wednesday, but I noticed that they were figuring out that if they hit the ball to someone, it might stay up and that the really hard hits don't work so well. By the end of 6 weeks, they should be good team players. (The beach ball is safe indoors--it won't break things or knock them down.) The kids leave with smiles on their faces each day and that leaves me with one as well.
I had a request to tell about the program--so that is it. Last year, I noticed 4 children in my school who we had worked with--none of them needed my service for the year, one did work with the reading para. We seem to accomplish a lot and the kids grow pretty fond of us. This year, I have a lot of children who are much younger than before, but if I can get them a good start on reading, that should give them a much more successful year in school. I love doing this--the atmosphere is awesome and everyone is glad that we are providing this. I bring a lot of my books to the church and everyone there is happy to see them. It makes the summer more organized and structured for children who might not have much to do--many who might not eat anything healthy as well. Today for lunch, they had a turkey sandwich, baked cheetos, canned peaches, and an apple along with milk. They have had chicken, pork, beef, along with carrots, tomatoes, potato salad, fruit cocktail, and oranges this week. I talked to the nutritionist our church hires and she has a tough job of selecting foods that children will eat while keeping things healthy. She told me that each day, she puts a "high interest/profile" food like today's baked cheetos with the meal to keep them coming. Staff gets to eat and I find several items that fit into my plan. Today, I brought my banana and I had applesauce and a half of a banana for breakfast with milk. I ate half a turkey sandwich for lunch with peaches and had my apple for afternoon snack. (My second oldest son who will be teaching the nutrition program for them starting next week had the other half of my sandwich along with the cheetos and an extra apple I had gotten--I gave him my milk this time too.) It worked out well--he is also watching what he eats, but he runs 2-3 times a day and is walking like crazy as well.
Our pastor blogged about this program and I will share that link--I'm going to try to include a photo he took of our group as well--but you all know that I haven't done well at including photos lately.
OK--it gave the link to the photo in the blog. The entire blog is at: http://churchofpeaceucc.org/site/blog/summ
Please stop by and leave him a comment. We are doing good things and I am proud of our efforts--at least 11 children will be stronger readers when school starts in late July or early August. (You think I'd know the date, but I am focusing on having some fun more than anything right now.) It has been a revelation to me that I love my work and it is fun. I am sure glad that I haven't made the decision to retire because I now am sure that I am just not ready to do that yet.
As for the rest of my day/ week... I had a doctor's appointment, a mammogram, and an appointment with my therapist this week in the afternoons. I am slowly catching up here at SP and have had a couple of naps too. I have been to the pool each night this week, generally with a different group of my children. I have been working on organizing some of the things on my porch and am getting ready to take a few of them to my new classroom--we have been given the go ahead to move some things in--we just cannot unpack anything yet. That will help the heap on our porch!! I have also read some magazines, did some puzzles, and talked to my kids more. It is a good time--the weather is nice and I am getting better and better. Our garden is starting to look pretty good--it needs some weeding and the lawn needs mowing and that is on the kids' agenda for t he weekend. I will get to walk my bassets by the end of summer, I have no doubt that I will reach that goal as well as my other goal, to dance with my husband.
Life is good!!
Tuesday, June 08, 2010
Wow, did I sleep well last night! I mean, it was one of those nights that I fell asleep with the laptop (sometime around 11) --and someone took it off of my lap and I didn't wake up one time until 7AM this morning. I cannot remember sleeping like that, well ever, it's been so long. It was awesome to wake up and feel rested AND to be happy and excited to head off to teach, I was told that I would probably "have to take some pay for my work," because of the grant that was received for the program. Oh my, with the serious lack of pay I have received from my job since I ran out of sick leave in December, this will help us a lot. Funny thing, I didn't even pray for financial help--God does know what we need.
My room at the church looks pretty cute. I'd like to hang a few more posters up, but we're having some problems getting things to stick to some of the walls. We have 12 children in our group, with 3 more signed up who haven't come yet. I talked to someone about possibly moving 2 of the kids to one of the groups of older kids because they both are pretty solid readers and our activities seem to be boring them. another leader took the group after lunch and made the decision to move them--and then came to talk to me about it. I agreed, so we will do that tomorrow. There are two preschoolers getting ready for kindergarten in the fall, several are going into first grade--including one child from Africa, (He speaks very good English, but I am not sure what he understands. I guess his father speaks French as well as english and insisted that his children learn English. He seems to take a while to respond when I talk to him and is a very nice boy.) and we have a few children entering second grade. They are a nice group of children and I think that we can help make a difference for them so that reading is better when school starts. One thing I do with all of my students is to make a basket of books at their reading level for them. I started the kids today with 20 books in their baskets --they decorated cards yesterday and put their names on them to label their baskets. Anyway, they were really excited to have their baskets and they read for much longer than I had planned for today--I let them. I have made a theme of animals for the whole group lessons and we are starting with a funny big book called "Guinea Pig Grass." I am planning to bring a guinea pig and a rabbit in to visit us in a couple of days to go along with the book. I won't be able to bring visitors with all of the books, but we have enough pets here to give them lots of loving animals to enjoy.
I spent most of my last two afternoons getting things ready at church for our reading program. I won't need to that much longer--I have a nice little form for lesson plans that goes along with the schedule I made. I am learning about the children and how they work together which really helps. A few of them are from our school and they are so excited that I am there. I have to admit that these are the things that I love about my job--that is why I have been walking into a classroom daily for the last 24 years and fortunately, it is easy to let go of any other issues when children become the primary focus. I am going to have fun with this and my children are helping me in a variety of ways. Mason works at the summer feeding program our church does. With a grant from the state, we provide free lunches for anyone up to age 18 throughout the city. It is a lot of work, and much is done with volunteers--but feeding hungry children is a good thing for our church to be doing.
We are getting ready to go to the pool. I am going to try and start checking into SP earlier in the day, so that I can actually get done with the things I need to do. I find that when I come home from the pool, I am comfortable enough to help me to fall asleep these days. It is a wonder what getting out from under a massive pile of stress will do for you. (Speaking of, we were told today that we can take items to the new school before 1:30 each day, but for several reasons, we cannot unpack anything. Even though our porch is absolutely covered with boxes and both of our vans--that aren't running--are filled to the roof with boxes, I am in no hurry to start a new bunch of work. My things from the morning school were gone before lunch yesterday, but my things from the afternoon school won't be moved until the end of the moving plans. Personally, I am so sick of boxes that going into a room with boxes that I cannot unpack doesn't seem like much fun. I am wanting a month of fun after all I've been through. That's my plan and I'm sticking to it!!
Have a wonderful June--summer is on its way and I love it too!!
Sunday, June 06, 2010
It has been a very beautiful day in so many ways. It started with a wonderful church/ communion service. They recognized Sunday school children and their teachers (which included me for the work I do in Children's Church). They also had our 2010 grads talk about their plans and they were given a special pin from the church. (I still have mine--it was a charm back then and I have the bracelet it is on.)
Mason's graduation was comfortably short and pleasant. There was a nice breeze and they had the doors all open so we could enjoy it. Our oldest daughter bought the food for dinner and prepared it while Mason and I took some things I need at church with us and we went to my morning school and finally picked up the rest of my things to come home. I am now completely done with those two schools and all of my packing and lifting and the work that has tormented me over the past month in particular. It took 3 extra days to get it done which had weighed heavily on me, but I am now completely done with the moving. I have to organixe what has been brought home. It is all over my porch and I started doing just that last evening when it started raining, so I had to quit. I was going to work on it tonight, but I took a short nap and have been visiting some of my SParkFriends. If I haven't been by your page or blog in a while, I will get "caught up" on all of the news soon. I even forgot to weigh in today.
I am in a different place tonight. I have one final school related frustration and that is about bookcases. The thing I expected is exactly what happened. They moved three short (but two-sided) cabinets with my things. That is in place of three very tall cabinets and 4 shorter cabinets that she said I couldn't have at the new building because they are metal. I knew that I was going to be short-changed. My friend in administration promised me that he would take care of that, so I will not fret right now. We won't be able to start unpacking until after July 1, so I am going to straighten up our porch and let this all go for now.
It has been a gorgeous day with closure to some painful times for me and the successful end to our 18 year old's public school career. He has time and the entire world ahead of him. That's a great place to be and he is kicking it off with a final show chor trip to Cedar Point and the amusement park. They will both perform and have unlimited fun together one more time. Good for him.
Good for all of you too. We have a lot to look forward to as well. Thank you all for mbeing my friends and being my support. I try to do the same for you and am glad to have time to be back with everyone.
Thursday, June 03, 2010
I really tried hard yesterday, but with everyone else's busy schedule, I couldn't get the packing and the moving things home done. It didn't help that the air conditioner dumped water all over my floor at my morning school--thank goodness my oldest son was there to help me when that happened. We had about 7 (heavy) boxes to move out of the way of the water. It also took me well over 4 hours to do the paperwork that I couldn't finish, so I could turn it in on the date it was due. I gave it my best.
Today, I will get it done though. I am going to go to my afternoon school in just a few minutes with Mason and he is gping to load up the truck with what I have there that needs to come home. He will drop me off to pack the final boxes at my morning school and Mitchell will come to pick me up for my annual gyne exam. After that, I also have an appointment with my therapist. When I'm done with that appointment, I'll come home and meet my husband. He and another of my sons will come to my morning school and load up the truck with the things there that need to come home (so that I don't have too many boxes getting moved to the new school...I am also bringing home the metal bookcases because I can't let myself be shortchanged in whatever game is going on. I always bring my little fridge home with me because I want it to be treated kindly. I like being able to have enough healthy food at my fingertips when I'm at work, it is one way that I make sure that I can stay away from the kinds of food that end up in the teacher's lounge.) Then we'll have dinner and I'll go to the pool one more evening. Actually, the pool was calm and quiet last night, the hot tub is still not open. It sure has taken a long time to get the final inspection finished.
My guys had a god time in chicago yesterday and they brought home a lot of photos and videos from Brookfield Zoo to share. Micah, my youngest son was a tired young man last night--very crabby and definitely not a lot of fun last night. We are struggling to get him up and going this morning. I'm not getting going so fast myself. I'm going to get going so that I can devote Friday to setting up my room at the church for our summer reading program...and getting ready for the camping we didn't get to do last weekend. We will have to come to town a couple of times--and I will log in here at SP for a little while then. I am so glad to be on summer break and the schedule of my choice with the people I love most.
Wednesday, June 02, 2010
I have an entire set of mixed feelings as I get ready for work today. I fell asleep in the middle of a message board post and woke up with the computer on my lap and lines and lines of slash marks (//////) to delete, lol. I got to go to the pool last night after two days off for the holiday weekend, and I sure needed it. I tried to stay in the water, but alas, it was time for the pool to close, lol.
I worked hard yesterday and I think I see the end in sight. I finished my report cards yesterday and got the paras to help me to get them all distributed to the teachers and the kids records. I had a meeting with my friend from downtown and it seemed appropriate, so I gave him the note from my doctor and he was distressed that things had gone on at school that caused my doctor to write such a note. It was going downtown to be placed in the hands of our HR guy. My friend was very supportive and we discussed everything from bookcases to yard work. He is on my side and promised me that he wouldn't let me do without things I need and that he has already scheduled a helper for my unpacking. When he left, I felt better than I have for a long time about a lot of things. He did tell me that I was "too young" to consider retiring and that the district needs me and the hard work I do for our children. He also reiterated that everyone knows that I am a "wonderful teacher." It is good to hear that kind of thing, especially given the type of year and the issues I have been dealing with day after day.
I am keeping this shorter than usual because I need to get my pain medicine and get ready for work. (Arthritis people know how long it can take for our bodies to "unstiffen" after sleeping and get going!!) It is a big day for me and my family. My youngest son has his big 6th grade trip to Chicago today and my second oldest son, Mitchell is going with him. They are going to Brookfield Zoo and possibly one of the big Chicago museums as well. My daughter is preparing for her finals today and my son who is a senior has another day off--the entire week, actually--before Sunday's graduation. We are going camping this weekend after struggling for so long with so much around here. Summer break from school means a lot to all of us. Many of us will be doing outreach work at our church this summer--and I will be teaching reading in a warm, friendly environment that will make me very happy.
I need to go--take care everyone. Today is the day and I have a lot to do, but the motivation for finishing packing and getting this work done id high! I will do this, just watch and see.
Happy June, one and all!!
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