Saturday, November 17, 2012

Kitchen Science and Public Humiliation

Public Humiliation

Last night I had the pleasure of going out to dinner with about 20 friends.  Although Nathan was out of town at SICOM, I was super excited to get out, sans kids, with other adults and enjoy dinner without catching drinks, coloring place mats, wiping faces, and shushing whines.  One of the, um, older Sunday School classes at church arranged to watch all our kids while they prepped for Sunday's Thanksgiving meal, giving several of us younger adults a chance to go out together.

I really had a lot of fun!  We were loud, silly, and happy.  The food was fantastic.  I ordered shrimp scampi with fettucini alfredo.

But sometime between my last bite and the arrival of the checks, my head started to hurt.

By now I recognize this hurt.  It's not exactly a headache.  Before I even realize what I'm doing, I'll find myself rubbing my eyebrows.  Bad sign.  Then my tummy started to protest.  My hands started to shake.  And I started to feel far away from myself.  Auras danced across my vision.  I made several back-and-forth trips to the ladies' room, hoping to settle my stomach, but I knew what this meant: I was going to faint.  I down-played it as best I could, but it was clear to those around me that I was not well.  These sensations tend to ebb and flow, so I'd start to think I was through it, but then another swell would overtake me.

Feeling faint's bad enough, but if you've ever felt that way, you know your tummy doesn't feel great either.  Although blacking out in public is bad, I'm less worried about passing out in public than I am about hurling in public!  Eventually I laid down on a nearby booth, muttering apologies to the employees and fretting at how rude I appeared.  Faces hovered above from time to time, seeing if I was OK, waiting for me to be lucid enough to head back to the church.  I made it to a friend's vehicle, rolled down the window (it's similar to feeling car sick), and kept my eyes closed for the ride back.

I had tunnel vision by then, but I found my way to a couch back in the youth wing.  Tovi was worried, Oren was wound up, and both wanted to snuggle.  People occupied my kids, brought me Gatorade, and then insisted I stay the night with them.  Angola's about 30 minutes from our home in Garrett, so it was highly unlikely that I could get me and the boys home safely.  I didn't think I could even manage to RIDE that far if someone else drove us.  This family has 5 kids of their own, so adding my 2 wouldn't be too much of an imposition.  I still felt like a burden, but I was grateful.  I cranked the AC on myself during the short ride to their house.  Tahlia, a saint of a friend, set out jammies for all of us and got my boys ready for bed.  I texted Nate, then laid down with Oren beside me and Tovi in the next bed.

Although snuggling Oren overnight results to fitful sleep at best, I was so relieved to not have to be alone while so unsteady.  After being horizontal all night, I was well enough in the morning to enjoy some pancakes (thanks again, Tahlia!) and get the boys home.  They played in the playroom down the hall while I laid in bed.  I think God prompted especially cooperative behavior and positive attitudes. I'm still woozy if I'm upright too long, and experience says this sensation will probably stick around for a few more days.  But I'm improving.  Thank God for an easy work week coming up!

Kitchen Science

Under healthier circumstances, when Nate's out of town I try to do something special with the boys.  I had originally planned to make glow-in-the-dark slime with them, and around lunchtime I decided to give it a shot anyway.  The process is pretty quick, so I figured I could fit it in before being upright long enough to bring back the woozies.

I found the recipe here, linked on Pinterest.  We made some minor adjustments simply due to my curiosity when I discovered so many colors of gel glue (WITH GLITTER!!) at Wal-Mart.

Here's what we did.
-We set out one bowl for each color we planned to make.
-In each bowl, we poured 1 cup of warm water, 4 oz glue (I estimated--each bottle was 6 oz, so I eyeballed 4), and 2-3 teaspoons of glow paint from the acrylic craft paint aisle.  The original recipe calls for food coloring, but since we used colored glue, I used food coloring only when we wanted colors we didn't have paint for (like red--the paint was pink, so I added red food coloring).
-Then the recipe said to mix the paint, glue, and water.  We found you have to mix WELL or the recipe won't work.
-Next, in a separate bowl, mix 1/3 cup warm water and 2 teaspoons of Borax.
-Add 2 tablespoons of the Borax solution to the bowls of glue mixture.  The more of the Borax solution you add, the thicker the slime.  Less creates oozier, stickier slime.
-Stir it all together and watch it go from snot to Gak :)

My oldest is a texture-phobe, so I used enough Borax to make pretty thick slime.  Your kids may like it dripper, but it will be messier and will stick to hands and surfaces.  The thicker variety feels slick but doesn't stick to hands or surfaces.  We varied the amounts of Borax enough to make some slime oozy and some almost like foam.  It stretches if you let it hang, rolls into a ball, bounces, and breaks into pieces if you pull it.  Fun to explore!

The paint is light-activated, so we had fun holding the containers under the lamp and then running to Tovi's room to open them under the bed.

We're planning to bring these along to Thanksgiving this year to give all the cousins something to do :)

Cheap, easy, memorable fun!  Enjoy!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Some Classroom Freebies

Thanks to my slightly off-the-wall, kooky, active teaching style, I've generated a sizable repertoire of unexpected learning activities.  I've found that if I can hide the learning inside absurdity, humor, and fun, my students learn more and actually enjoy doing it.  So here are some activities we've done lately.

Verbs with AFV!
To build anticipation for and gather some quick formative assessment data on what my students already know about verbs, I used the hit show AFV.  I streamed clips of America's Funniest Home Videos (but you could use any clean, funny videos) and had the students write a sentence describing what they saw happen in each clip and then identify the verb(s) in each sentence.  The kids LOVED it, I got the data I needed, and we all had a good time.  MUCH better than a worksheet!

Checkers for Worksheets or Review

For this one, you'll need a checker board (and checkers).  I labeled each square used in play with numbers (there are 32 squares played in checkers, but my worksheet had only 27 questions, so I labeled 5 spaces as free spaces, similar to those used in BINGO).  Because I wanted to use these checker boards for other activities, I used Post-it strips to number the spaces, but you could easily write directly on the board.  I wanted students to turn this worksheet in, so I made copies for each student.  However, you could laminate your worksheet or use page protectors and rotate kids through the activity, reusing the same sheet with dry or wet erase markers to save paper.  My kids have iPads, so they could even snap a picture of the page and email it to me (though most of my kids have iPad 1's, which don't have cameras...).
OK, here are the rules of play:

Checkers Review Game o  Set your checkers up as you would to play a normal game of checkers.
o  Move your checkers as you would in a normal game.
o  When you JUMP your opponent, look at the number you LAND on.  You must answer that question correctly to take your opponent’s checker.  If you answer incorrectly, your opponent’s checker stays.
o  When you move your checker in to be KINGED, you must answer the corresponding question correctly.  If you answer incorrectly, your checker is NOT kinged.
o  The player with the most opponent’s checkers at the end is the winner.
You get the same information a worksheet would provide, but you're also breaking up the monotony and allowing learning to happen in an unexpected way :)

4 Corners
You've probably already heard of this one.  Label 4 areas of your room, one for each term or concept you're covering (we did the 4 types of sentences).  Then you give an example and have kids WALK to that area.  You can also use this activity as an ice-breaker or time-killer ("Your favorite zoo animal: tigers, lions, chimpanzees, or alligators--go!").  Cheap, quick, and easy!  And the kids LOVE it and tend to remember the concepts because their BODY was there.  When we did the types of sentences, kids connected the type of sentence to where they had stood in the room and used that to help them on the final assessment.

Voting Paddles
These are great for yes/no questions or any question that can be answered with one of two answer choices (think math--positive or negative or opinions--agree or disagree).  I made mine very simply: laminated paper and craft sticks.  That's it.  Then I have the students use wet-erase marker to write our answer choices for the day so we can reuse the same paddles for other activities.  I ask questions and have the students quick vote with their paddles.  Students can also poll each other that way.  Again, quick, fun, easy formative assessment!

Give me a ., !, ?
I'm using this one currently for our reading log.  I have the students give me a brief statement summary (.), one thing that surprised them (!), and one thing they're still wondering about (?).

Adverb Charades
You'll need strips of paper or index cards, two different colors.  One one color, have the kids write one verb that could be easily demonstrated.  Then have them write one adverb on the other.  Gather the cards in separate stacks.  When a person is "it," they draw a combo and act it out.  Students then guess the combo.  I usually quickly write a word bank on the board as I gather the cards.

And one last instructional freebie: If you haven't yet checked out the site, you need to! It's a free, online classroom management site that lets you award or deduct points for any issue (you can input your own, positive or negative) and keep running totals and even email reports to parents!  I LOVE this site, and it's motivated my students like never before WITHOUT creating more work for me!  Woot!

Finally, I try to do things on open house or conference night to make my room as welcoming as possible.  Sometimes parents and/or kids are nervous, younger siblings are squirmy, and everyone is tired and frazzled.  I appreciate that parents take the time to come in, so here's what I do to make the whole experience a little more enjoyable:

And since our conferences are student-led, students often sit there uncomfortably unsure of what to say while parents impatiently flip through page after page of old homework assignments.  This year I developed a conversation guide to focus the time.

Name__________________________________________Student-Led ConferencesDiscussion Guide1) Thank your parents for taking the time to come in. 2) Show your parents your 1st Quarter grades on PowerSchool.  Go through each class and take the time to answer any questions they have. 3) Show your parents your agenda.
Do you fill it out each day? _____________________Do you take it to every class?_______________________
Do you look at it at home to see what you need to do for homework? __________________Do you show your parents your agenda each night? ______________________________________ 4) Go through your accordion folder.
Have you kept your folder organized? ____________________Have you shown Mom and Dad your graded work, notes home, etc? ___________________Are you keeping ALL your important papers in your folder? ____________________________Are you as organized as you need to be? _____________________________________ 5) Homework:Have you turned in ALL your assignments on time? _____________________________________Are you doing homework at home? _______________________________________Are you taking the time to do it well? _________________________________________Does any of your homework feel too difficult? _______________________________________Do you have a specific time and place at home to work on homework? ________________Look back through your grades on PowerSchool.  Are there any marked as missing, late, or zeros? _________________________ 6) Studying:Do you tell Mom or Dad when you have a test coming up? ______________________________Be honest.  Do you REALLY study? ___________________________________How much time do you typically spend studying at home for a test? ___________________Look back through your grades on PowerSchool.  Are your test grades above 70%? ________________________What could you do to better prepare for tests 2nd Quarter? _____________________________ 7) Attitude:How do you feel about school? __________________________________Do you like coming to school? __________________________________What do you like best about school? _____________________________________________________Do you get along with your classmates? ____________________________________________What do you need to do to improve your attitude or behavior? ______________________________________________
  8) Goals:Did you give your very best 1st Quarter? _____________________________________________________What do you want to improve most for 2nd Quarter? ___________________________________________What will it take to accomplish that goal? ___________________________________________________ 9) Read180:Show your parents your rBook and talk to them about each of the workshops we’ve done so far (1, 2, and 6).  What was your favorite? _________________________________________Look back at your Read180 and English class grades.  What were some assignments you think you really gave your best on? ______________________________________________Explain bell work, daily trivia, journals, reading rotation, etc.Go over your Reading Fluency rubric.  What did you do well? ______________________________________What did you need to improve? ________________________________________________Go over the rubric for your Halloween poem.  What did you do well? _____________________________________What did you need to improve? ________________________________________________Explain Class Dojo and how you’re doing.Make sure you SHOW them your poem too!You can show your parents the software, the different areas of our room, etc. 10) Math (if you have Mrs. Powell for math)Go over your math grades.  We covered whole numbers, story problems, integers, and decimals this quarter.  Which of those skills was your best? ___________________________________Which did you struggle most with? ______________________________________________Do you typically take the time to check your work? ______________________________________Do you SHOW all your work? _______________________________________________Did you take advantage of the chance to re-take or redo tests and quizzes? ________________________________Did you do all your homework assignments? _____________________________________________How do you feel about math? ____________________________________________________ 11) Social Studies:Review the things Mr. Weimer told you to review.  Use your data notebook app. 12) Science:Review the things Mrs. Kreienbrink told you to review.  Use your data notebook app. 13) What is one thing you wish your parents knew about you or school? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________14) What is one thing you really should thank them for? _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________If you or your parents have questions to address with other teachers or you’d like to stop in to see them, you can go visit other classrooms.LOCKER:Show your parents your locker.Is it organized? ____________________________Take a moment to tidy it up.

So there ya go!  Feel free to add your own activities and resources in the comments!