Monday, May 30, 2016

Inspiration Projects

So my colleagues think I'm crazy, but I have several projects I do the last few weeks of school. One of them is our inspiration projects. We walk around the campus and the students are looking for a picture that represents something at school that inspires them. They take the photo themselves, they paint a replica of their picture with watercolors, they make a collage of that picture and they write about why they chose that particular item. I don't have a lot of pics, I'm not sure why. It is an optional project so not everyone wanted to do it but there were also ones who took pics of the front of the school, the flag, books, computers and trophies. Here are the others that I do have pictures of.

This student chose me-notice the detail of the purple fingernails! :)

This student chose a bulletin board of hands.

It inspires me because they must of taken their time. It inspires me to keep trying to do good stuff
like the 5th Graders.

The Sky.

The sky inspires me because it helps the trees grow and the flowers grow and grass and some fruit and plants too.

This child chose the map of Asia.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Well, I Survived!

It has been quite a year! Diagnosed with breast cancer in June. Had surgery in July. Started chemo in August. Radiation for 7 weeks in January/February. And 15 boys in my class this year! Whew. There were certainly days I did not think I was going to make it and I don't feel like I did my best this year. My students met me for Meet-the-Teacher wearing a headscarf because that week I had started to lose my hair. When I stopped wearing them in March because my hair had started to grow back-they didn't recognize me anymore. My students didn't know, they are so little I didn't want them to worry-to them I was just a regular Kindergarten teacher.

It may be the teacher in me, but I view everything as a learning experience. I think we are thrown obstacles in life for a reason. Here's what I learned this year:

1) We judge each other as colleagues WAY too much. For years I have heard people make comments like-she leaves every day right at 3:30. My own team would make those comments to me-and they knew I was leaving to crawl into bed because I felt like I had been run over by a Mack Truck. I have a really good work ethic, it hurt me so much to hear those things. Why judge people like that? It's like I tell the kids, worry about yourself. It didn't affect them. So in the future, when I hear those conversations-I will not participate in them.

2) Empathy-most people do not have it. :) I have included this in my mental lesson plans for years to teach my Kinder students. Now I teach it much more consciously. My students know what empathy means and most of them are leaving me with more than they had when they started. In my own life-I am much more cognizant of how I respond to people who are complaining to me about something. In our world today-either on the internet or in real life-our knee-jerk reaction is to relate to what someone is saying. So if someone would ask how I was doing and I would say, "I'm just tired." And they would respond-"oh me too-I was up until 10 last night grading papers". Whenever I would talk to my sister she would say-oh yeah, I had that when I was pregnant. I'm sorry, but that's just not the same thing. It would have been more helpful to me if people would have just said-"I know, that must be hard." That's what I will do in the future.

3) Support comes from places you just do not expect it. I didn't really expect support from anyone at my school. We have just never been a school like that. We just pretend nothing is happening. :) One of the grade levels went way out of their way for me and even had students write me notes of encouragement. Another colleague who I barely even know made me a pink wreath for my door. So thoughtful. But even those who would just genuinely ask-how are you doing? Or can I help with anything?--would just make my day. I tried to still put in 110% so people would not know how awful I was actually feeling, But those who went out of their way to check on really meant a lot.

I share these things not to complain or be judgmental myself, but because you may one day know someone in the same situation. Now the 15 boys in your class-I'm not sure I even have advice for that! I'm not sure that I even figured that out this year. One thing at a time! :)

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The ABC's of Retirement

So one of my beloved colleagues is retiring after teaching for 35 years. I wanted my class to make something for her. We made the ABC's of Retirement-I assigned  each kid a letter and asked them to come up with something that began with that letter a grown-up could do with a lot of free time on their hands. These were their best ideas:

A is for app shopping.

I is for internet (I liked this because I thought for sure he'd go for the obvious "ice cream".

K is for Kangaroo-I love this one because she drew the teacher in the pouch! :)

Live-so simple. Just live.

Be Queen of the castle

R for Read-this illustration made me think of Charlotte's Web which ironically is a book
this particular teacher would read with her students every year.

Sign autographs. How's that for an original answer!

I hope she likes it and that it gives her some inspiration for what to do with all her free time now. :)

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Painting Like Michelangelo

We are winding our school year down. Next week we have 3 days and then our year is over for the students. I am trying to do some activities these days that are still structured but are also fun, because for many of them the attention span is just not there. They are excited about summer break and deservedly so.

This is an activity that I have posted about before. Quite often I get responses from people saying the Michelangelo did not really paint this way, that it's kind of an urban legend. Whether it's true or not, it makes for a fun, creative activity for my students. And he painted that ceiling somehow!

I introduce my kids to the artist Michelangelo (not the Ninja Turtle :). We talk about how long ago this ceiling was painted and I show them a picture of it and ask them to theorize how it might have been painted. Many suggested maybe he painted a painting and then adhered it to the wall like wallpaper. I show them pictures of scaffolding and we talk about what that word means, and then show an illustration of an artist painting on their back to paint a ceiling.

I put the kids in pairs-one will paint first the other will serve as the assistant. I use watercolor paints because I think they are the least-drippiest and then I get under a table and show them what to do. We tape the paper to the underside of the table, they decide what color to start with and their assistant hands them the paintbrush that has been dipped in that color. When they are done, they switch roles.

I loved to hear the conversations that took place-look the water is green now. How do I make purple again? Oh that looks beautiful. I let them paint whatever they want so I think this is a great exercise in both creativity and cooperation-they have to work together.

This is what they painted under there:

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Future College Funds

I find inspiration everywhere! I was talking with a wonderful parent recently and she was telling me what her mother (a Kindergarten teacher for 30 years) would do for her students. She would give them a piggy bank stating that it was the start of their college fund. She said for many parents, they had not even thought that their child might be able to go college before that gift.

I work in a Title 1 school. We have almost 90% of our students who qualify for Free/Reduced Lunch. Many of our families are living in poverty, for some English is a second language and for some no one in the family has attended college. My students right now have dreams of becoming doctors and veterinarians and photojournalists and scientists. I want them to hold on to those dreams.

I will do a better job next year-I was under a time crunch because I wanted to have everything ready for our end-of-year awards ceremony (which is tomorrow-thank goodness for Amazon's fast shipping). But this is what I'm doing. I've decided to give them a dollar in change and a lucky penny to get them started. I'm including a note saying I expect to be invited to their graduation ceremonies.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Dad's Rock Celebration

Here in the South school ends before June starts. So we don't have an opportunity to celebrate Father's Day. Since we do a Mother's Day Tea, I think it's fitting that we also celebrate the Dads in the lives of our kiddos. We wrote diamante poems describing our dads to read aloud. The kids dressed up like rock stars and we decorated with a similar motif.

Here are some of the activities we made for our dads. I asked them to fill out a questionnaire-what does dad like, not like (many do not like the family dogs apparently :). I also asked them to make a collage picture of their fathers and write a simile to describe them. 

My Dad is as strong as a gorilla.

My dad is happy as sunshine.

My dad is as loud as a lion.

as tall as a moose

is as cool as a penguin

is as tall as the sun

cool as a rock star

handsome like Prince Charming

silly as a clown

I think it was an enjoyable morning. We had a great turnout. I do my activities first thing in morning and keep them brief, so if my parents do work, I'm hoping they can go in an hour late.