What I’m Reading and/or Planning to Read for the Summer

This is my Summer Reading List:

***New book added to the list: Reading Strategies for Elementary Students with Learning Difficulties (Strategies for RTI) by William Bender & Martha J. Larkin

  • Septimus Heap- Magyk- Book 1 by Angie Sage
  • Septimus Heap- Flyte- Book 2 by Angie Sage
  • Septimus Heap- Physik- Book 3 by Angie Sage
  • Septimus Heap- Queste- Book 4 by Angie Sage
  • Septimus Heap- Syren- Book 5 by Angie Sage
  • Septimus Heap- Darke- Book 6 by Angie Sage
  • Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
  • Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’ Dell (I know this is a classic, but it’s so boring)
  • Inkspell by Cornelia Funke
  • Inkdeath by Cornelia Funke
  • If You’re Trying to Teach Kids to Write, Then You’ve Gotta’ Have This Book by Marjorie Frank
  • The Homework Machine by Dan Gutman
  • The Homework Machine Returns by Dan Gutman
  • Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko
  • Maniac McGee by Jerry Spinelli
  • Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
  • Extra Credit by Andrew Clements
  • The Schwa Was Here by Neal Shusterman

How to Make a Classroom Family!

I was talking to my friend Nikki about little girls & waterworks. I mentioned the story about Donut Girl & Sweetie Pie with tears in their eyes as I walked into the music room. Even before I saw their tear streaked faces, I knew something was wrong because they weren’t sitting together and there was also much tension in the air. That’s when I saw it- tears on Donut Girl’s face & tears on Sweetie Pie’s face. There was also a fair amount of lip shaking and red eyes. I couldn’t believe it. These are two tough little girls. For them to be crying, it had to be something big. One of them probably said something about the other one’s hair or nails! (j/k)

“Oh, my gosh,” I said, “What happened? Why are you two little ladies crying?”

Nothing. Stone faces. I could see both of them trying to hold back the tears. So, I stood Sweetie Pie up and gave her a hug since she was closest to me. That’s when she let it all out. She just started crying. I knew I couldn’t leave Donut Girl out, though. But I knew they needed to remain separated. I walked down the hall, with Sweetie Pie at my side, as I wondered what two little girls could have possibly gotten into a fight about. That’s when CarBoy said, “Sweetie Pie & Donut Girl were fighting. They didn’t hit each other, but they were arguing.”

So, as soon as we got to the classroom, I called Sweetie Pie & Donut Girl to my desk and told the rest of the students to do MUST DO & MAY DOs. I had to calm them down first. Once they were calm, I got the story out of them. The boys came over and hugged them. We did a class group hug and things were better between them.

After I finished telling my friend, Nikki, the story, I rhetorically asked, “How can any teacher ignore those big alligator tears? How can anyone, who spends any amount of time with children, ignore their emotional needs?

“Well, that’s exactly what I do?,” she said. “I act like they’re not even crying?”

I told her that she could do that, but that was not the way to build a family. When you’re a teacher, you’re more than a teacher. You are a second mother, a counselor, a psychologist, and a whole host of other things. So, you have to act accordingly. You cannot let moments like that pass by without acknowledging them. Children have to be made to feel safe. That’s one of the ways you do it. You acknowledge their feelings. All the while reassuring them that their feelings are valid. Then you work out a plan to solve them. Although you will not reach every single student, you will reach most of them. And that, my dear sir or madam, is how you make a classroom family!

Ugggh, I Hate Cleaning the Classroom!!!!!

Ugggghhhh, the one thing I hate about teaching, is not teaching, it’s cleaning the classroom afterward. Much to my chagrin, it seems like every single paper I could not find during the year, magically appears. Today, I ended up tossing them. Well, I finally finished today. I took a few extra minutes to straighten out my outside closet so when I go back in August, it will be so easy to put my classroom back together. I didn’t want to do it, but a stitch in time saves nine.

The U.C.L.A. Writing Project

Yesterday I attended a writing workshop hosted by The U.C.L.A. Writing Project. It was absolutely fantastic. I got so much out of this workshop. For the first time I feel like I have the tools that I need to teach writing properly. I would like to go further with this program. I learned from the presenter that the Project has a 3-week Summer invitational. After which, the graduates are eligible to become presenters of the workshop I attended yesterday. If you would like to find out more about the U.C.L.A. Writing Project, here’s all the pertinent information:

UCLA Wriiting Project

1320 Moore Hall

Los Angeles, CA 90095


Contact number: 310-206-3544


African American Leaders for Tomorrow Program

I received this from a friend of mine. If you or someone you know could benefit from this, please apply or pass it on.

African American Leaders for Tomorrow Program Application Deadline: Friday, July 1, 2011 at 5:00 p.m. African American Leaders for Tomorrow Program (AALTP) is a week-long leadership training program for 50 high achieving African American high school sophomores and juniors from throughout California. Students are given tools to succeed in many areas including leadership, state and local government, financial literacy, and career exploration through intense hands-on training and workshops. Students live on campus at California State University, Sacramento (at no cost to them). They also participate in mock legislative hearings and interactive classes led by a wide variety of community leaders and elected officials. The conference takes place from July 23-30, 2011 at Cal State University Sacramento The AAYLP seeks to identify and help prepare the next generation to become community, governmental and organizational leaders in the African American community. The primary goal is to increase the pool of black leaders to address pressing issues of education poverty, crime, chronic health problems and high mortality rates in the lower socioeconomic communities. We seek to address these problems by supporting and encouraging high achievement in youth. These youth will receive advanced training, during which they are taught critical thinking and leadership skills. Collaboration in this program with lobbyists, community leaders, corporate leaders and elected officials will offer our participants direct access to a vast knowledge base with infinite experience. Students must be in good academic standing and have a minimum 2.5 GPA. For more information please visit the AALTP website: www.cce.csus.edu/conferences/aaltp/11/

Nice to Mr. P, Not Me!

Thursday was a very emotional day for me. It was the second to the last day of school, so the parents arranged for the class to have lunch. I will get to that. However, I want to discuss my students being nice to the substitute, Mr. P., the day before when I was absent because I attended the graduation of David & my niece, Melanee. I tried to arrange for them to have a sub, Ms. L, who is kinda’ boring and doesn’t let them get away with anything. Well, that didn’t happen. For whatever reason, that didn’t happen. They were given another sub who they behaved very well for. I was a little upset that they would behave for someone else. They also kept telling me how nice he was.

“What am I, chopped liver?” I said.

So, that was the journal question for the day for the five students who don’t normally behave well, who behaved well for Mr. P. For the other students who usually behave, their journal question was, What am I proud of accomplishing this year?

I didn’t know what to expect. I just wanted to know what they were thinking. I had to say that I was pleasantly surprised yet again. They are always surprising me. So, I set the timer for 15 minutes to give them time to really think about their answers. I have to say that they did put a lot of thought into their answers. Two of the students apologized, while two made excuses. The one that made my day year was when Olive Boy read his letter to me (because I couldn’t read his writing). I was, at once, flattered and convicted. I’ll talk about the reason I was flattered in a minute. The reason I was convicted is because I felt like I could have done more. I almost gave up on him. I came soooooooooooo close. Even though almost doesn’t count, I feel really bad about that.

Now, the reason I was so flattered by Olive Boy’s comment is because he wrote, in his journal, that he behaved so well with Mr. P was because he was afraid he was going to be like the other teachers he’s had that treated him so badly in the past. He told me that he misbehaves with me because he knows that I will forgive him and not be mean to him. This nearly reduced me to tears. I felt so happy and privileged to be honored with his trust.

You know you learn something new everyday. He will be a lesson to me to never, ever, ever entertain the idea of giving up on ANYONE. Everyone deserves someone in their corner. Hopefully I can be that for my children, my family, and others I come into contact with.

To get back to what I was saying in the beginning, the parents arranged a class party. There is always more than enough food. We had Guatemalan pupusas, which I’m told are different than other pupusas, that were absolutely fantastic. I’m hungry so I won’t go into a description of the other food that was there. Just know there was a lot of food there. Anyway, what really made me emotional was all the thanks from the parents. They thanked me profusely because they know how far their children have come. It was a great day. I’m surprised I didn’t cry. Thanks for listening. That’s all I have to say for now. Bye!

Congratulations are in Order!

I am not at work today. I took off for a special occasion- David’s graduation. So, I have to say Congratulations to my little graduate. I cannot believe he is graduating from the 8th grade today. My baby is going to high school. As I always say, where did the time go?

Tips on Stocking A Classroom Store

If you are a teacher, chances are you have a classroom store or something similar. Well, I’ve discovered the hard & expensive way that, even though I want to, I cannot afford to spend as much money as I want. So, I figured out the cheapest way for me is to:

  1. Only let the students buy twice a month, as opposed to weekly,
  2. shop @ the discount stores. I rarely ever spend more than $1 per item,
  3. buy multiple items. I’ve found that students love erasers. I’ve bought some as cheap as 12/$1.
  4. Buy it when you see it. Do NOT wait for a better time to buy it because chances are, it’s not going to be there when you get paid.

DO you have any tips you’d like to share? Feel free to leave a comment.

“I Don’t Like Mexicans,” He Said.

“I don’t like Mexicans,” said one of my Guatemalan students (Car Boy).

“Why do you say that,” I asked.

Well, this kid, that I don’t like, kicked me in the ‘nads yesterday.

“Ok,” I said, “What does that have to do with Mexican people.

“Well, this kid is Mexican,” he said.

“So, let me get this straight. You are saying that you don’t like all Mexican people just because one kid, who happens to be Mexican, kicked you in the ‘nads? Is that what you’re saying?” I asked.

“Yes, I can’t stand him.”

It was at this point that my student from El Salvador (Warrior Boy) echoed the same sentiment. He was harboring resentment regarding Mexico’s refusal to admit El Salvadoran refugees in the late 80’s. I told him I know that Mexican officials wouldn’t let El Salvadorans into their country during the war in El Salvador, but that was a long time ago. That was before he were born, but his family keeps the tradition of hating Mexico alive & well.Read More »

Teaching Confession, Part 1

Here’s my confession. I’m not sure if I shared this before, but here it goes. Sometimes I feel like a fraud; like all the students I’ve had (or thought I had) success with are some how going to revert back to their former selves who didn’t know how to read or who behaved very badly.

Google’s Ode to Les Paul

I have to hand it to Google. They have the best home page. They are even interactive. Right now, as an ode to Les Paul, they have an interactive guitar that you can actually play and record. Once you’ve recorded it, a link appears for you to click on and hear. You have to go there right now. I’m not sure if the link will work past tomorrow. It’s really nice. So, if you’re interested, here’s the link:


Out Of Gas! Part Whatever

Dear Readers,

I am out of gas. I have no energy. Thank God it is the end of the school year; or maybe it’s because of the end of the school year that I don’t have any energy. Whatever is going on, I don’t have any energy. People are constantly telling me that I look tired. I need to get some rest. So, on that note, I am going to cook & go to sleep.

Bye for now!