Friday, October 14, 2011

Welcome To Kindergarten!

I'm alive :) I've made it through my first month of teaching.. and I'm still standing at the end of the day (...most of the time...)

Kindergarten has its own challenges, but I'm loving every minute of it!

What better way to sum up the last month than by pictures! I wont be posting pictures of my kiddos, of course, but you can imagine their bright, smiling faces! All 27 of them ;)

My plan book! (Thanks Auntie Dianne & Uncle Marlow!)

When I first arrived in my classroom--it was a disaster! The previous teacher got married and moved cross-country within two weeks after school ended! Needless to say, cleaning the room and clearing her belongings was NOT high on her list... which meant...

Lots of free teaching supplies for me!!!

Book Tubs...

Word works games & materials...

Books... but NOT that mirror. It disappeared! Not that I would even have a space for it..

This is what my room looked like before I took over:

You can't really tell, but there's a horrible poster above the green wall featuring a variety of animals holding hands. GROSS. First thing I did...take down the horrid animal friends border.

That door leads to nothing but a heater. The kids still think it's my secret closet...I wish!

First animal friends and now an entire wall for birthdays? Ugh. Don't even get me started!!

Maybe I'm not cut out for this cutesy land of kinder...

I'm happy to report that after many long hours, blood, sweat, and maybe a tear or two... my classroom is now the home of a wonderful community!

Mascot of the classroom!

Need I say more?

I thought I had a picture of the finished bulletin board outside my room--guess not! There are many more flowers that needed to be added. That's what happens when you find out you have 29 kinders showing up for the first day of school, and you were originally planning on 18!

My Desk.

Classroom :):):):)

Classroom Library (part of it!) Thank you to everyone who kindly donated books!!

LOVE my monkeys! So much better than animal friends...

Calendar (please note the "rotten" apple... how creative, eh?)

I spent hours sorting and organizing books for our classroom library. So thankful for all the generous friends and family who contributed!

Seems like all I do is deal with the darn laminating machine
aka:" That Fancy Plastic Machine" c/o Kindies :)

When I arrived at school on the very first day--this was waiting on my desk:

It was a great start to the day!

While I can't show you pictures of my kids, I can certainly show you how they perceive themselves!

First day: Self Portraits

Multiple personalities, perhaps? ;)

Even though I'm down to 27 kinders currently--those first few weeks with 29 were a doozy! I think some of the parents were noticing... they started bringing me coffee!

...Too bad I don't drink coffee...

I think that's against the law in teacherland:
I'll work on it, fellow teachers--you have my word!

This is a class hit! A dad built it, and a mom did all the sewing! It's fantastic!

Well folks, That's it for pictures sans kids!

Thanks for tuning in--hopefully I'll be back before long!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


I had big plans for this blog last year. BIG.

In case you didn't notice...those big, huge, mondo-sized plans didn't even remotely pan out.

But here's the good news:

Instead of blogging and updating invisible cyberspace on my adventures through grad-school, I was working my butt off to get my MAT in one year.

That hard work paid off and I am officially hired! I have an email to prove it, so there.

Kindergarten here I come!

I am making no promises to blog each day, but I will try my darnedest to be more consistent.

Stay tuned in the next few days & weeks for updates and/or follies as I begin my first year!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

PE: The Week We Walked Like Penguins

After our weeklong “term” of field science, we had a weeklong term of both math and PE.

There isn’t much of an update for math, other than the fact that the classes were once again jumbled between the three cohorts. Again, it was great getting to spend time getting to know other students in the program!

PE was intense! There’s really no other word to describe it. It wasn’t that we were forced to run laps for hours, climb the rope, or perform the dreaded pull-ups. Nothing even close to that! We practiced warm up activities, and chasing/fleeing activities, tag, dodge ball, etc.

It was a three-hour class, and we were constantly moving, running, hopping, jumping, skipping, and grapevining across the gym floor. After the first day I was exhausted. My legs didn’t want to walk up the stairs. It was the good, burning feeling after a good work out. You know, those good “toilet tag” workouts, or those thrilling “capture the chicken” workouts.

The class was so fun, don’t get me wrong, but we were all so unbelievably sore it was crazy.

One day we did this warm-up around the gym where we broke into four teams, and there were four cones placed in the four corners of the gym. Are you visualizing this? You’re going to want to—I’m about to embarrass myself, get ready folks. We started at one cone and it said, “skip,” so we skipped to the next cone. The next cone said to power walk, and so on. After a few rounds we were side-stepping. The team behind my own was gaining and I was getting nervous. I can’t remember who it was, but the person in front of me stumbled a bit and I watched them catch their footing. Relieved, I continued at full speed. Unfortunately, the excitement/relief of the situation made me lose my own footing. Immediately after the person in front of me caught their self, I lost control. I knew I was going down and there was no hope of catching myself. This one guy (He shall remain nameless) watched me fall, but then forgot to pay attention and suddenly he was on the ground with me. Not only did I fall, but also I slid across the gym floor. My teacher came running over, but alas, we jumped up and continued the warm-up. I, with a slight limp, hid the pain on my face but the floor burns on my knees couldn’t lie.

Didn't look too bad the first day

The rest of the week everyone limped around campus and walked like penguins. Actually, it was extremely amusing to observe.

A few days later...ouch
you can't tell, but it's extremely bruised as well!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Field Science & Adventures With Poison Oak!

After our intense, six-week term this summer we were split up and shipped off to different locations for a week of field science. This was our first experience in mixed classes with the other two cohorts. Half the program spent their week in Beaverton and the surrounding areas, and my half of the program went to Sauvie Island.

The week was filled with sunshine, mosquitoes, and nature. We didn’t learn a whole lot, but the point of the class was evident. Place-based education is important in giving meaning to a child’s learning. Connecting on a local level is more powerful than imagining far away lands. There are times and places for both types of learning, of course.

We spent hours at Lake Wapato, in our quiet spots. Here’s the thing… I love being in nature, but it’s just too nerve wracking for me. I was being eaten alive by mosquitoes each time we stepped outside. My quiet spot ended up being near a beehive, which was terrifying each time they buzzed by. I never felt “one” with nature, and I typically just wrote in my journal about how I wished quiet time were over.

I had these horrible bug bites on my legs, and I was extremely itchy. The moments of self-control were seldom, as I typically gave in and scratched to my hearts content. This week the Billings were in town, and one night we were having a big BBQ for friends and family who wanted to also visit with Sue, Bob, Alison and Van! That night I felt horrible. I was light-headed, I felt nauseous and shaky, and my bites were itching uncontrollably. I went upstairs to lie down for a little while, when I leaned down to scratch my ankles. Well, something had happened to my alleged bug bites. They were suddenly extremely swollen and blistering. I didn’t know what was going on, but I knew these weren’t ordinary mosquito bites. I started googling different scenarios: West Nile, Mad Cow (why not?), etc. and nothing seemed to fit the bill. Eventually I searched poison oak, ding ding ding! My calves and ankles were covered in poison oak.

How in the world did this happen, you ask? GREAT question. Everyone in my class was going off the trail for their quiet spots and I sat smack dab in the middle of the trail, avoiding any more unwanted creatures/insects than absolutely necessary! I’m guessing I stepped in it at some point, and when I sat crisscross applesauce it must have spread. Clearly I’m quite allergic to such plant. Lucky me!

I couldn’t miss the next few classes, so I suffered and went to class. I had been taking medicine and applying cream in the most discreet way possible—I wasn’t about to show off my “oozing blisters,” to anyone. Yes, that’s disgusting. You’ll survive. It’s better than me posting a picture, right?

On the Island!

The last day of class we headed to the coast. A bunch of people camped, but it was becoming dramatic. I was planning on carpooling with some girls from my class, when I decided to drive to the coast Thursday night and stay with Alison and her family for the night! It was so great getting to spend even a few more hours with her J Their trip was certainly way too quick.

The beach was a great break from the Island, I was thankful to have no contact with poison oak!

First we were given time to explore!

Then we made sand maps of Oregon in teams

To study the tide we threw oranges in the ocean and observed, then tried again once they washed ashore!

We ended the day with interpretive dances that included animals and plants we studied

But best of all, no poison oak and fun times with friends!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Coming up next on Totally Teaching...

Life is absolutely crazy right now... I almost can't handle it.

I'm trying to take on a few extra responsibilities, and I just might have to give them all up. What a bummer. I'll explain more soon!

In my brand-spankin-new planner, where I was writing all my assignments, meetings, and orders of business--I've had to add in "BLOG!" into each day's agenda. When something is written in my planner, I MUST do it! The joy of crossing out my tasks is indescribable!

So here I am...blogging! [check]

I'm on my way out the door (story of my life), so more details must wait!

On the docket for (hopefully) tomorrow morning:
1. Field Studies & Adventures with Poison Oak
2. PE...the week we walked like penguins
3. In-service week--Hello, Miss Ketchup!
4. The Squirmy Kinders
5. Back to the grind!

*Titles are subject to change.. ;)

See you soon!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

I'm Stoked, Pumped, Amped, & Ready To Go!



ps. stay tuned for the drama of Field Science and PE!
...but not tonight. I'm tired...

Sweet Dreams :)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Well Shoot...

Gosh darn it, I did it again.

Life got crazy for awhile there... between finishing up my first 6-week term, preparing for the two mini terms, family visiting from Canada and the Billings in town from North Carolina...I sacrificed the blog. I do sincerely apologize--you haven't missed anything too extremely important, but I'll back pedal for those of you who wondered where I've been all month! And well, because some of the things that have happened you just wouldn't believe.

Let me wrap up the first "term" (the six-week term: science, child development, art, and social/ethical perspectives)

We pretty much covered Science, but on our last day of class we had a bunch of different experiments to do. One was observing pill bugs that Kip brought in. Under a microscope we saw that one of those pill bugs was actually having was disgustingly, the coolest thing I had seen yet. I tried to take a picture to share with you, but it's blurry and looks plain strange. So here's this instead:

Kalysta :)

ART with Children:

Okay...I like art. I'm not good at it, but I like it. Well, this class was awesome and first and I really had high hopes for it but I didn't end up learning as much as I had hoped--and it's possible that that was my own fault. The book assigned was the driest art book you could have imagined, which made it near impossible to read. The information wasn't nearly as important as what we were reading in other classes so I often opted for "skimming" (aka not reading). This never got me in trouble, because we never really discussed it. So, what I'm trying to say is: I wasn't motivated because I wasn't being held accountable for the material. Kind of a lame excuse for a grad student, eh?

Here's where art got really complicated. We had a professor, who was a sweet lady but she exhibited all stereotypes of that crazy art teacher--you know? the scatterbrained lady who didn't quite know what was going on, but was talented? So, in addition to her we had a "student teacher" (aka an elementary teacher who was eventually going to take over the art classes at LC) who was supposed to be teaching our class (and observing our other professor for the other cohort's classes) This isn't exactly how it worked out. And while no one would ever say it...there was a power struggle of teacher and it was painful to watch. But, it was certainly a nice break from a days of heavy classes and mind-blowing material.

What really made me mad, however, was one day at lunch. A group of us were minding our own business, eating in the student center when some girls in our cohort approached the table saying, "have you heard what cohort 2 is saying?" We hadn't so we asked what was going on! Well, all we were told is that in Art we were going to watch a movie (okay? so, what?) The movie will not be explained before hand (uh, it's Art...I think I can figure it out?) and we will not debrief afterwards (ooh, do we get out early?). This is all we were told. We head to art and on the board says, "War Dance," the screen was down and she was ready to press play. When everyone was seated she said, "we're going to watch War's a moving film...some of the other classes got upset..." Then the movie began--it was about the war in Uganda, which is already something I've been invested in (by way of rallies and fundraisers..) and it breaks my heart.

The movie was set in the Pantango Displacement Camp where the Acholi tribe has been moved. It is this people group that has been severely affected by the LRA (Lords Resistance Army). The children are abducted and forced to become child soldiers, the women are abducted to become sex slaves and everything is just so far for humane. Well, the people in the camp are somewhat safe and are under the government's constant armed watch. The movie follows the lives of young children who have been orphaned, or torn from their family, or who escaped from the LRA as a soldier, etc. Our professor was right about one was extremely moving. The children, with such raw emotion, explained how they watched their families get murdered or how they were forced to kill strangers.. To say the least, our entire class was in tears. After probably one of the most vulnerable moments of the film the screen turns blue and the lights were flipped on--break time. What? Now? We don't want to look around and see everyone's red, puffy eyes and hear the sniffles. If we weren't close before, we certainly were now. After the quick break we were told the movie got better, more motivating and encouraging... HA. Certainly not. The film's underlying plot was that these children were preparing a dance for the annual Ugandan Music Festival. They were the underdogs, the war children and not even expected to show up. They end up winning an event, but it's certainly not gratifying enough to erase the previous two hours of the documentary. The film ended and class was over. No one knew what to do, or what to say. We just walked out in a silent daze. That was that.

We didn't have class until the next week (because of a holiday), and by that time we were over the dance part of the film (the part that was appropriate for class) and we wanted/needed to discuss the actual tragedies that these kids were suffering. Oh, and we might have mentioned a time or two that this movie was completely ridiculous to show in an Art class with no warning or debriefing on what we should focus on and take from the film...

Now that it has been a few weeks, I find it kind of silly--But it was also an important part of my summer so I figured I should blog about it.

The term ended with some fabulous (and by that I mean, horrendous) puppet shows, with puppets we created. Have I mentioned I'm not creative?

Meet Tamara (her twin Tia, not pictured)

Please don't have nightmares!

Social, Historical, & Ethical Perspectives

There's nothing too profound to say about the rest of this class. I enjoyed the discussions in this class, and the amount of small group work. My literature group read a book about Dewey and applying his theories in classrooms today, it was quite interesting and I think there are some things I'd like to do in my future classroom with his hopes and dreams for schools in mind :) My professor for this class was great. I loved how personable she was, her passion for teaching future teachers was so prevalent. She over-planned each day to the point where our syllabus was entirely incorrect. It was refreshing, however, to watch her model the trait of modifying her lesson plans to fit into our 2.5 hour classes. She also modified homework, which was heavenly. This was a great class, and I know we will all be better teachers having looked at these different perspectives of teachers, students, and teaching in general.

Child Development

This has been my favorite class out of all eight summer classes. It was one of my harder classes, workload wise, but I loved going to this class. It's possible that I loved this class so much because of the teacher. Nancy Nagel. What an amazing women. I have to admit, when I first met her--in the Halls of Roger Hall before the program began, I was a bit intimidated. Not to mention, getting her long emails of readings and assignments to be completed before the program even began! I kept thinking, I'm in for a rude awakening! Oh, how wrong I was! Nancy is the sweetest teacher, and if anything her passion for teaching future teachers surpasses anyone I've met so far. With only a few classes left, Nancy explained that she was retiring and our last class would be the last class she would ever teach. Everyone was so sad to think that we only had a few more days with her, when we expected to see her around all year. The last few classes were a bit emotional for her (which of course made us all emotional), but I'm so thankful I had the opportunity to have her as a professor and get to know her as a friend.

This is on the last day! Not the entire class, but a good number!

Remember how I said I wasn't creative? This is what I came up with for my final project in Child Development. It is supposed to represent where I was before the program begin, where I am now and where I hope to be in the future. Well, this is as good as it gets--and it probably took me WAY longer than you can imagine.