Sunday, October 28, 2007

They're Done!

For the upcoming week I felt I should write lesson plans for each subject. It is supposed to be the start of my full teach, a three week period in which I take over as much of the classroom responsibilities as possible. My CT hasn't been indicating that she is ready to let me do this and after checking with my supervisor I discovered that this is actually OK. She and I can team teach if she feels it is in her students best interest. But, since she gave me the chance to show what I could do with the day she is to be absent, I decided to go ahead and make lesson plans for the entire week just in case she decides to let me teach everything.

So, after working on this for the past 2 days, all lesson plans are complete. At least they are on the submission form. I have the required two 5E lesson plans included. Actually I think I have 3 of them. Now I can rest a little bit. I still have to think about the questions and expectations I need to give the children. Also if I need any extra supplies or media readied in advance. But some of that has already been done. I've been waking up in the middle of the night again dreaming of giving lessons and talking to the students. Wow, I wonder if I am ever going to reach a point where I don't do that. I'm not sure I want a career where I don't get a good night's sleep for the rest of my life. I'm kidding! I think that after a few years I'll be very good at teaching and able to do the job with much more ease than I have now. My confidence will grow as my cache of strategies and understanding of how my students learn best increases. :)

And for the next few hours before I go to bed, I'm going to treat myself to a bit of well deserved rest and recreation. I'm not sure if I want to read, watch a movie, watch TV or just veg on a computer game. But...I know I'm going to do something fun.

In addition to the regular lessons I was also assigned to come up with a fun art activity. I based my choice on what I saw at the Fall Festival we held on Friday. What I plan on doing is teaching the kids the term "avatar" and have them decide what they would like for one and then draw it. I'll probably get a lot of transformers and princesses but still those are their dreams and what they want to be when they go out into the world. So I think it will be fun for them. I'll print out and take in two copies of different ones I've used for myself to give them a visual example. I hope it will be fun.

Peace, Hopes for a great Monday & Joy that I can now rest for a few!

New Meditation Link

I was looking for some peace this morning and started browsing through my own meditation links. Hamish Fulton seemed to be soothing but also not quite what I wanted. It was just a little too busy for my present need. So I went to handy old Google and typed in Meditation. Now my Google has Stumble Upon links to show what pages others have liked and a friend of mine had reported on two as being helpful in his meditation practices. So I went to them. The first was just a page on how to meditate and looked rather nice but not what I wanted. Then I found his Zen link.

Zen is a cool little website whose purpose is to teach you the beginnings of Zen and meditation. It is interactive and you just click your way through it. You should allow pop-ups for this site because they are part of the instruction and not harmful in any way. I found a couple of them amusing. Have your speakers on because this site also has sounds, such as those you might notice only in meditation and also a really nice gong you get to strike at the end of the process. I found this site soothing and helpful. There is even a short part on breathing where you can practice. If you are looking for a peaceful site please go check this one out. The link is on my side bar under Meditation at the top, "Zen".


Saturday, October 27, 2007

A Somewhat Nervous Time

My CT is going to be absent on Monday. When I spoke with her about it last week I made a promise and also got some directions. I promised her that if she told me what she wanted done it would get done. That's pretty reasonable. I actually expected a list of directions. Last time she was absent she wrote out 2 or 3 pages worth. This time she gave me just one page and told me to come up with activities for Reading, Math and Art. Wow! That's handing over responsibility. My stomach is tight again, I'm thinking nonstop about what I need to do. And I woke up thinking about giving a lesson again. A sure sign that the stress is on.

Math won't be too hard. The teacher who wrote the lesson plans gave an activity and it was fairly easy. The kids need practice doing place value settings. I'll just follow the lesson plan.

For Reading I chose a story from the basal text and asked her if they had done it. They hadn't so, we are reading "The Legend of the Persian Carpet." The book has lots of ideas to work with. I may use a few for a little direct teach, but most of it is going to be practice. I'm thinking characters, settings, and sequencing with cause and effect. Example: Tell me 3 things that happened on these 5 pages and for each thing that happened tell me why it happened. I think I'll break them into their reading groups to read the 5 pages. That means I have to manage 3 groups from one spot because the weakest group works with me at the table. The other 2 groups are on the floor at different ends of the room. Note to self: query children on the directions after you give them.

For the Art activity she requested in the afternoon I'm going to have them do an acrostic poem on their name and then publish it on a half sheet of manila paper and illustrate the poem. I asked the kids I sat in with during recess yesterday if that would be a fun activity and they said yes.

So this weekend I'll be writing lesson plans and rehearsing what I want to do and say. What my CT did, when she left me in charge of these things, I see as a vote of confidence and a challenge. I want to do well and am determined to put forth my best efforts. I just wish my stomach didn't hurt quite so much over the wanting of it all to go right. Prayers for calm and that all goes well would be appreciated.

Peace! Hope! & Joy!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Another Puzzle to Share

Jigzone had another cute kid appropriate puzzle today and I feel like sharing it. As a reminder if you go to the web page to work it you can change the number of pieces and also their shapes to make it more fun and challenging or easier. Hope you or your kid enjoys this one - Butterfly.

Click to Mix and Solve

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Pleasant Close to the Day

The school library is setting up for the twice annual book fair. I think that teacher browsing starts tomorrow but lots of folk are sneaking in, as I did, to check out the shelves. While I was wandering through the place I ran into a student and her mother. The child had been in the kindergarten class that I worked with when I was doing my first set of "approaches" which is to say I got to gain experience in a classroom and teach 2 or 3 lessons.

We said, "Hi!" and the little girl, not quite so little now, remembered me as the lady who read "The Dragons Are Singing Tonight" by Jack Prelutsky. This is one of my all time favorite children's books and it always delights the kids too. They ask for certain poems over and over again. It felt really nice to be remembered for this. The child told me she had heard it not only in kinder but also first grade. Then the mother mentioned that they had borrowed a copy from someone else too just to read at home. This felt so good that I took care to thank the child specifically for remembering me that way and told her how good it had made me feel. We all smiled then and went on our ways.

It probably isn't an everyday occurrence when something like that happens. But, I hope that, as I become a teacher and get to work more and more with children, this type of moment will continue to happen. It was a really nice way to end the day. I left with a smile on my face and in my heart.

Joy all!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Almost Day

Sunday I missed church. All 3 sessions of it. I woke up stressed from struggles with student teaching. I decided I needed to work on lesson plans rather than go to the early service because I had plans on attending the later, 4:00 PM, dedication of our labyrinth. During the morning I did some lesson plan writing, tried to eat (somewhat unsuccessfully), and cleaned up my apartment. It is much less cluttered now.

There was supposed to be a new friend coming down from Austin to get together with me at the dedication but God had other plans. The friend called and canceled for the best of reasons, financial survival. And it turned out he was right to do so. God put in his path 2 jobs for the afternoon and he made some much needed cash from this. I'm thinking that God had other reasons for this too.

After the cancellation call from my new friend I took a nap. It was about 3 or 4 hours long. It didn't help with the stress but it did give me more energy to express it. I then called 3 people looking for support and was rewarded with responses on all counts. My friend JS's wife called and we chatted briefly but she is dealing with her own energy stuff thanks to a cold. I still appreciate her calling and listening for a bit. Thanks! My friend Jerry, a nurse, called and gave me a pep talk and some good advice. After his call I took an extra anti-anxiety pill, a hot bath, and a cup of tea. I was then able to finish working on the plans I had neglected for most of the day. That evening as I was getting into bed my sister returned my call too. She gave me some more good advice and loving emotional support. She has been where I am and knows how hard it is to grow in a situation you are having a hard time with.

Now that's a new, but echoing JS's, response to perseverance. It is indeed as hard as hell but I'm keeping on. I can't do anything else. To do less would be to admit and accept defeat. It's scary but sometimes I see bits of things I'm proud of. Now if only I could get that long vision to shine like those little moments of pride. :)

Peace & Hope everyone! And Thanks for the support my friends!

Oh, the reason I titled this The Almost Day is because everything I attempted "almost" got done...never completely finished but almost is still progress. It is also a bit of frustration with myself showing my own perfectionism. I really need to stop doing that. God has been showing me lessons against perfectionism for over a year now. Time to move one from that message. Ah well, changes come hard. :)

Monday, October 22, 2007

Puzzling Scripture

Based on a post written by Martin, I'm revisiting an old assumption/belief that I acquired concerning the sanctity of unbelievers. The scripture in question is in 1 Corinthians 7: 12 through vs 14. And it is in vs 14 that I run into a problem between me and what I'm assuming is mainstream thinking.

You see the verses in question talk about marriage to a unbeliever or one how isn't Christian. But it cautions the believer to stay married to the unbeliever because the unbeliever is sanctified by his marriage to the believer and their children are considered holy too because of this union. If they don't stay marred the children become unclean.

I've always assumed this was an extension of the goodness of God towards those who are loved by the believer whether they believed or not. I'm sure there are all other kinds of structured rules such as who in the family is responsible for those under him/her be they slave, servant, or children, and so on.

It seems to me that if the children and their father are holy because of their connection to a believer then perhaps it can go farther. Perhaps anyone who is loved by a believer is in a state of grace as long as the relationship exists. No one can guarantee this is or isn't so. The scriptures don't exactly say, or at least no to my uneducated years. But if God loves us, and he loves those in our family that we love, then what's to say he doesn't love anyone we love and are busy praying for. I don't think this stops with immediate family. I'm not even sure that it stops with those we consider extended family. What I do think is that if you are in love with and loved by a Christian, then you are given a grace which will make your life better and, more importantly, make it into heaven.

Now, I'd love to hear other people's opinions on this subject. I don't profess to be all knowing or even scholarly. But if you have an agreement or argument and scripture or really sound logic to hold it up then I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Peace! Joy! & Hope!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Riffing With My Friends

Riff-Raff Tag-about

Original: Vineyard, Root, Rescue, Perseverance, Divided

Vineyard: Memories of scraggly plants in dry soil seen while on vacation as a child. Thoughts of sour wine when a winery didn't have good grapes planted in the vineyard. Also the movie "A Walk in the Clouds" which is one of the most romantic movies I've ever seen.

Root: the root word of a multisyllabic word which has a prefix and a suffix. Longest word I know is "antidisestablishmentarianism" which was popular among the hippies in the 70's. It impressed me simply because it had so many letters and I was actually able to decode it without looking in the dictionary because I had been listening when they gave us roots, prefixes, and suffixes in English class. The reason I listened was because I liked Greek mythology and there were lots of Greek and Latin words in these lessons. If you want to look at it a different way when I learned this word I was rooting about in the letters, and meanings. (g)

Rescue: a sometimes word. Sometimes you should rescue and sometimes you shouldn't.

Perseverance: sticking to it. Doing it till you get it right. Fortitude and/or stubbornness. Determination!

Divided: my feelings about spelling in 3rd grade right now. Kids did horrible on Friday's spelling test. I checked the words in the sentences I used online. They seem to be in line with appropriate grade level vocabulary. I repeated each sentence at least 7 times. More than half the class failed. I'm wondering what I did wrong and why they didn't get it. I forgot to say, "practice your words at home." Mea Culpa! But some kids did it anyways! Good job! So my question to the class will be, "How can I help you learn to spell the words?". Maybe they will have some ideas. Of course one child is in big trouble with me. She didn't follow the given procedures for a spelling test. She decided to push the limits and only write the word she thought was the spelling word. Sometimes she was right and sometimes she was wrong. Sometimes the word was spelled correctly and sometimes it wasn't. But, whether she spelled the word correctly or not, she got a zero for not following the procedure for taking a spelling test. I plan on keeping her in from recess next week and giving her a sentence to write over and over again. "I will follow the rules in school." Of course this child may say, but you didn't give those directions. I think she should already know the procedure and will be held accountable for doing what she knew she should be doing instead of what she did. The rest of the class did it.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Debit Card Fiasco Update

The awful experience of finding my debit card had been charged twice continues. I never heard back from the store on Sunday. So on Monday I called the store the second time and spoke to a different manager. This one looked and couldn't find two charges on his records. He only found one. So at his request I brought down copies of my bank records showing both charges. He believed me and graciously credited back one of the charges. I went home happy and thought that would be the end of it. It wasn't!

When I got home from school today I checked my bank account again expecting to see the charge credited back. It wasn't. I called the store again to see if there was to be some delay in the refund. The manager told me it usually takes about 24 to 48 hours. He asked me to call my bank and see if there was anything coming through. This is where it got horrible.

On contacting the bank I discovered that there wasn't a credit coming through. Instead there was the 3rd time they had tried to run the card and that charge would hit my account tonight. I panicked and asked for the Dispute department. They got on the line and a nice lady told me what was going on. She also told me she didn't see the credit coming in but she could dispute one of the charges for me. I was happy with that idea but also concerned that my account would go overdraft in the mean time. She told me that sometimes companies take a couple of days to credit refunds and sometimes up to 10. That last was totally unacceptable so I asked her if she could call the manager at the store. She said she would. After I gave her the info I had a better idea. Would she set up a 3-way call so that I could talk to him at the same time. She did and he was very gracious about the whole thing. After she explained to him how the 3rd charge would come through tonight, he told me to come down to the store and he would credit the me the other extra charge and hopefully that would take care of matters. I asked the bank lady if they could do anything to insure that my account didn't go overdraft tonight. She said she would make sure that didn't happen. Whew!

We all hung up and I headed straight down to the store. The manager was as good as his word. We both seemed to feel rather sheepish about the whole thing. Refund in hand, I thanked him and left. Home again, I checked my bank records. The lady from the bank had refunded both charges. Whew! My account now has a nice safe balance. The actual transactions will still take a couple of days to hit my bank. No matter how fast electronic banking is, human handling always slows things down. That's fine with me. The manager did his job. The bank lady did hers. I did what I needed to do and am now feeling in control of things somewhat. Yay for knowing who to call and how to deal with this. Boo for having to make 3 trips to the store for one purchase. Oh well, life goes on.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

A Lucky Shopping Trip....Or Maybe Not

To complete my classroom lessons for the upcoming week I needed some things so I went down to Office Max to get them. One of the things I wanted was some thick construction paper or something else to mount some pictures on. I didn't really want to deal with poster board. I liked the idea of card stock better but it wasn't the right size and was kind of expensive. What I ended up buying wasn't much cheaper but I think it will work wonderfully well. I found in the art supplies a pad of watercolor paper. This is really thick and the dimensions are big enough that I can easily mount a full page magazine photo on it to show the kids. Yay!

When I got to the register they were having trouble running my card through because of network problems. So finally they just ran it and I signed for the stuff. More on that later...

Then I went across the street to Barnes & Noble. I was sort of nervous about going in there because I had just spent a bunch at Office Max, but I had a coupon I wanted to use so I bolstered my courage and went in. As I wandered down the aisle I came across a display that had books for teachers. There was a lady looking at them and I stopped to look and we chatted for a moment. Then I noticed it. Just the book I needed. They had copies of 6 + 1 Writing Traits. The school district I'm student teaching in uses this book. So I slapped my coupon sticker on it and delightedly walked off with a copy. As I thumbed through it I found tons of ideas to write into my lesson plans. Yay! Teaching just got easier!

Then I ran by the grocery store on my way home where I bought some much needed supplies. Some of them were paper products. I've been fighting a cold all last week. I'm finally getting better now. Praise God! My debit card didn't work at the register so I had to use my credit card. I was worried about that because is should have. I hadn't gone over the balance in spending. At least I didn't think I had. I decided I'd check the bank balance online when I got home. On the way out of the store the carryout help turned out to be a real klutz. He ran the cart into the back of my ankle. I wasn't badly hurt but it wasn't a pleasant experience. He tried to make nice all the way back to my car. He even held the door for me and shut it after I got in. Nice kid. Then he tried to take the cart between the cars promptly running it along the door so I have a few new scrapes on the trim. Sigh! They aren't horrible but it doesn't help that I can't afford to get them fixed right now. I hope a good wash and wax will take care of it.

When I got home I checked my banking as I'd promised myself I would. Sure enough, with all the trouble running the card at Office Max the charge had gone through twice. No wonder my card got declined at the grocery store. So I called the store and the manager is going to look into it and see if he can't get accounting to reverse the charge. He is supposed to call me back. I hope he does. If he doesn't I'll have to call my bank and have them take care of it. I'm really lucky to bank with a good one. They've reversed double charges before. It's pretty obvious when the charge is the same amount at the same store and goes through twice within something like 15 to 20 seconds.

All in all it hasn't been a bad day. I found out earlier this week that I can't go to the retreat next weekend. I need to have access to a computer and the web to do lesson plans. They don't have that kind of resource at the retreat and I don't have a laptop to take with me to use the ones they do have. Oh well, I'll take myself on a different retreat later after the enormously stressful semester is over. Hopefully I'll have a job by then or at least the makings of one. Now, I'm going to go and heat up one of my frozen dinners the purchase of which got me a free half gallon of really good ice cream. Yay for sales!

And now that I've gotten this post written I have one more thing to do. Blogger has put up a link on their blog page which plays the pictures that are being loaded to the web in real time. As they so accurately said, "It's pretty cool and endlessly fascinating." I'll put a link on the side bar to it. It will be under the Links heading and will be entitled Play.

Happy Sunday and have a good week all!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Winging It

I was Lay Eucharistic Minister (LEM) at tonight's healing service and it was my first time. Even though I'm familiar with all the other services, I almost never attend the Wednesday Healing Services, so I was totally unprepared for it.

When the priest appeared, shortly after the 6:00 PM starting time, he gave me hurried instructions on what to read. He also gently guided me at certain points in the service. It went fairly smoothly. It wasn't perfect by any stretch of the imagination. Instead it had one of those feelings of comfortable familiarity, as in a group of old friends who have known each other for years and don't have a problem with minor changes in the routine. I liked it. So did everyone else.

As I was driving back home after the service it occurred to me that I had "winged it." I knew the general direction I was to go in, but the path I followed was one of faith and God's will. It occurred to me that it was very similar to what was happening in the classroom I'm student teaching in. It is something all teachers experience. We make our lesson plans, prepare our props, script our lines, and when push comes to shove sometimes you just get off script. Things usually work out anyways. You can always go around again in the classroom. So sometimes, as my CT does, I'll be winging it in the classroom. That kind of idea used to make me squirm. I don't feel like that now. In fact, I feel pretty calm. Maybe this experience with the service was a gentle reminder from above to "go with the flow."

Peace! Hope! & Joy!