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Summer Cleaning

Dunno about other people, but spring cleaning is not for me, there is too much other stuff going on in that season. Summer, however, is my time to try to make the house a bit more streamlined, organized, feathered, etc. So cleaning out, I realized we have a ton of baby/toddler stuff we have grown out of. Last time I post this list; next week it goes to Goodwill or some organization that does pick-ups. If you are interested, or know anyone who is, all we ask is for you to pick it up (unless you know you're seeing us this weekend) and give it a good home.

Graco Playpen
Double Stroller (both seats independently face backward or forward)
Jumping seat that hangs from a doorway (it clamps to molding on top)
Box of wooden blocks
Radio flyer trike with adjustable seat
Two umbrella strollers
Two potties

There may be more I haven't uncovered yet or forgot about. Knowing our house, chances are if you ask, we have it and don't need it :)

Where did the winter go?

Вчера сидим с детьми за обеденным столом, я Алише говорю что-то вроде, "не знаю как с 6и-летними детьми, у меня старшая дочка которой только пять с половиной. И с 8и-летними не знаю как. И с 10и-летними. А вот пятнадцати-, шестнадцати- и семнадцатилетних у меня целых 125 штук." Алиша на меня смотрит сначала удивленно, потом чуток обиженно-задумчиво, потом смеется. "Я сначала думала что у тебя есть другая семья, а потом разобралась что ты про учеников!" Я похихикала. ОК, поржала. А сегодня думаю, ведь оно так и есть, и иногда моя другая семья достает, а я на бедных клопиков гавкаю :(

The dinosaur

The calculator I use in class is my trusty TI-82. Yep, the one I bought in high school for pre-calc, in the late 1990's. Actually, it's bloguser's; mine needs the button battery replaced. The screen plastic fell off some time in September, but it works just fine!. Absolutely fine. My darlings came up with a name for it, having made fun of the old gray lady, compared to their shiny yellow, blue, white, pink, you name it, slick and slim TI-85s and such. "What is that, a TI-1?" they asked.

Oh, and my car reached exactly 100,000 miles as I pulled into the driveway. I wonder which one I'll have to get rid of first.


Alishka's second report card

Got a note and Ali's second K report card. The teacher said she writes very well, but has "her own pace". This pace, she said, is more or less OK in terms of schoolwork, but at other times, like cleaning up and getting ready for lunch, is much slower than would be ideal. So she said she is worried somewhat for her being able to do transitions in first grade. For example, they get a half-hour for lunch, and then the aides shove them out. She also said her own son did not eat lunch the first three days of school :)

She also made some suggestions, which we've already started using, like giving her a timer for a certain task. And today, I got attitude from Ali after lecturing her on the "hurry up" topic. "I Knoooooww-uh!" Meantime, the timer is going for her evening toilet routine, and she's dancing in her underwear. I think she doesn't have a clear path of actions in her head, like a plan of what needs to be done next. She'll get into the car and sit or squirm around, despite my having told her the bazillion proverbial times to buckle up, then fidget. Or she just gets distracted by the tiniest thoughts flying through her head, and cannot get back to the plan of action.

Other than that, she "meets expectations" on most items in the report card, even though verbally and in the note the teacher said she made great strides. Will ask how she is evaluated, and whether "exceeds expectations" is likely to be noticed at this point.

Oh, and the K class made each other friendship books, in which everyone wrote and drew about each of the other students. It's awesome to look at, and also is a good way to sneakily compare her to her peers. The writing really is one of the best, although she often mirror-images letters and numbers. I wonder if it's worse for her because she's left-handed.

Science Fair

went to the annual science fair last week. This year I also judged, so I got a close look at the five projects that wanted to be judged and go on to regionals. This was five out of about 80 or so. All science AP students were required to do a project, though they could choose to work with partners.

Because school let out early because of I WON'T EVEN SAY WHAT at this point, I only had barely enough time to judge those five, and didn't even get to look much at everyone else's, including my students'. Afterwards, I made them tell their respective classes about the projects, since they didn't get nearly enough recognition, and need to be encouraged even if the projects are trite.

Out of the projects I saw, the best was quite good, well-designed, well-researched, well-implemented and well-written. They looked at dye-sensitized solar cells, but instead of using the expensive industry standards, used different fruit juices, to see if they could make a cheap alternative. They may do fairly well at the regionals. There was an obvious fault in their study, but they figured it out, took a lot of notes from the judges, and will be able to explain the error as a topic for future research. Quite scientific minds.

Another picked a somewhat boring topic, but did it well, applied the scientific method perfectly, and got strong consistent results. I think she looked at cleaning ability of a "green" cleaner vs a regular one. She is a model student, and it was obvious she had not much interest in finding a unique topic, but wanted to do something that would be easy to study and is a "hot" issue.

Another couple projects were kinda lame, not following the scientific method very closely and with poor controls and very shallow understanding of the results.

And then there were the drunken spiders. Titled, "The effects of alcohol on spider behavior" they bought some spiders, stuck them in two clear plastic boxes, and gave them flies, having sprayed one box' flies with Keystone Light. They then looked at how the spiders' webs were spun, "good" or "bad", more or less, and couldn't agree if the chart showed the number of dead spiders in each box or the number of live ones. It also didn't occur to them that counting the total number of webs when the number of spiders became different in each box did not lead to correct conclusions. There were so many things wrong, my fingers would get tired listing them.

I believe there were a lot of great projects that didn't want to be judged, because the regionals would require more work, and are close to AP test time, the week before, in fact, so who could blame them?


Ali's first book report

I can't explain how amazed I am that Ali is really reading, both by sight and sounding it out as needed, and can express herself in written form. It seems a magical thing to watch her suddenly be able to decode such a huge, previously incomprehensible part of our world.

Here is her first book report, on "The Digging-est Dog", which we read together. Speed is a focus right now, but she is able to read and understand most of the words and the deeper meaning, given enough time. The topic of the report was "Did you like the book and why/why not?" (We as parents are required to support their efforts at kindergarten spelling, which is phonetic.)

"I luyk it beeobekus it stortch sad and it end hapee."

Some of the letters are backwards (d vs b, p vs q, a etc) but she begins each sentence with a capital letter, has a punctuation mark at the end, uses her pinkie as a spacer between words, and the size of the letters is quite similar and written neatly without jumping above or below the line.

I'm sure I'm making way too much of this, and it's perfectly normal for her to be able to do this, but like taking a first step, it's one of those amazing developmental leaps to me.
[sung to a tune familiar to some]

So we figured out at work that we hadn't had a full work week since two weeks before Christmas break. And no one is happy except teenagers and other short-sighted folk. By contract we can't go past June, so at least there's some relief there. Meanwhile, kids and teachers who face serious deadlines like AP tests are really screwed. Everyone else isn't able to plan properly either, stretching out lessons and tests because the kids are either waiting for school to close, school actually is closed, or it's open on a Friday after a snow day, and no one can focus at that point. And spending all of June with squirming 18-year-olds who almost have their freedom is going to be interesting.

At least they were nice and focused for the most part today. Maybe the D's hit the spot!


Can't tell

If my kids are just trying to annoy me by letting me know every five minutes of every class that it's too warm in the room, or they are in wonder at the fact anew each time. I tend to think toward the latter. And feel sorry for these near-adults who cannot control their bodily needs and wishes to this extent.


The hostility was palpable

when I gave back the final to the honors class. "It's your fault you didn't make us study hard enough!" I wonder how many parents will be calling my boss. This shuffling of responsibility is as much of a problem with the honors kids as with the "regular" kids, but at least the "regulars" sometimes admit they are lazy or have other priorities. I really do dislike disingenousness.

Meanwhile, I've realized I'm not teaching them enough flexibility in their knowledge. They want a problem to which I've shown them a solution, and then switch out the numbers and do the same exact thing on the test. I don't think of that as physics. On the other hand, I kinda didn't take my physics classes seriously in college - is this what you do?
I figure you put together different relationships to find an unknown quantity in a series of steps, not just plug in two variables into an equation and solve for the third. That's algebra, and while I do have my students practice it some when we learn a new equation, it's not the end in itself.

I guess I have high expectations. But I'm not making it up, I'm asking questions (sometimes) from the text. OK, now I have the second quarter slump. Back to grading the finals.


A case of the Tuesdays

This year the two days I teach 5 classes and have only one prep are Tuesdays and Fridays. Fridays aren't as bad, since I have 3 in a row in the morning, lunch, prep, and two short blocks left. Tuesdays, though, I have two long blocks, prep, lunch, and then 3 in a row. And I'm usually pretty pooped by the time I leave, since it's also Science Club day (today was also end of term because of snow days) and then I take Ali to gymnastics; we're home hopefully by 6:15, and it's nearly time to eat & sleep.

And I had a hard day today, since some block 7 cherubs were being total butts and pressed my buttons. So I feel all achy for some reason and can't get the grading I should be doing done, which will only make tomorrow harder. And I'll have to tell one of the blocks I don't have their exam grades, and 'I'll have it tomorrow', and they won't believe me and be all pissy.

I hate Tuesdays.