Saturday, October 30, 2010

Obligatory Pumpkin Carving

I don't know about you all, but I always THINK carving pumpkins sounds like a fun idea until all of a sudden, it's the last week of October (two days before Halloween, in fact) and you realize you still haven't carved them. In reality, it's a lot of messy work and takes a good chunk of time to carve them. If you're like me, you can convince your husband to buy two pumpkins, have ideas of what you'd like to carve into them, and then ask your husband to do all of the cutting, tracing, and poking. :) The kids enjoyed cleaning them out this year, although Baylen decided he was not a fan of the "insides" and spent more time watching or playing with his cars. Brynn enjoyed helping me pull out the seeds and picking out the design she wanted her dad to carve into the pumpkin. Maybe next year I'll remember how much time it takes/work it requires and find those pumpkin decorating kits or we'll paint them...

Halloween Part 2

Another Part 2 today, but had to share updated, clear photos of my two superheroes. They went ToT'ing in the rain today and didn't mind it. Brynn and Baylen went into a haunted house and it was kinda scary for little kids, I thought. Anyway, Brynn said she wanted to go in and I think she was traumatized by the time she came out. I was with her, and I held her close to make sure she was okay. She did not like most of it. Baylen, on the other hand, was laughing, saying it was scary but wanted to see what was up next. He liked it!

Dj sprayed Bay's hair with some black hair spray and combed it so he really looked like Superman. It was awesome. The kids enjoyed walking around in their costumes. Round 3 of Halloween festivities is tomorrow with actual REAL houses to walk up to and ring the doorbell. This is actually the first time we will be REALLY trick-or-treating.

Lake pics...part 2

We took a few pictures w/ Dj's camera while we were in LC this summer. I was able to get them from Dj so I decided to post a couple of my favorites up. We are hoping to head to LC again this summer with the entire Fitz family if it works out.

Friday, October 29, 2010

What's the Difference?

Lately, a lot of people have been asking me what the differences are between teaching 8th graders and teaching 10th graders. What was my answer at the beginning of the year? "Not much." Truly, it wasn't much, especially with my boys in class. However, I do admit that as time has passed, they are coming around. I like high school kids. They are fun, they engage in a lot of the work and see relevance in it, they take more risks, are dependable, and they try hard. I can talk to them like adults and many of them are working through some adult problems.

Others have asked me what the differences are between my new school and my old school.

1. I am a different kind of tired when I come home from my new school. I am learning a lot of new content, teaching differently than I have in the past (which I am not a complete fan of at this feels too traditional for me in some respects), and have to be prepared for questions that I will have to answer that I might not know the complete answer to.

2. 98% of my students turn in work on time. That means I have a LOT of paperwork to grade CONSTANTLY. I am going to spend my entire Master's free weekend grading a shit ton of papers. This has been overwhelming and even though I had many kids who turned in papers in the past, these are more sophisticated and take careful thought on my end when I provide effective feedback. The class that is turning in the least amount? LEADERSHIP....the older kids are blowing off their elective a little bit. This is the case across the board in most afternoon electives. When they see their grades next week, some of them are going to freak. But I won't. They have had time to do this and they chose to waste time in class.

3. I have many more BOYS than I do girls. This does matter in my 3/4 block b/c man they can get wound up and loud fast. Girls chill out the boys. A few girls and a lot of boys=the boys all vying for attention.

4. Boys tend to be weaker writers than the girls. They struggle with explaining, justifying, analyzing and sometimes synthesizing. They want to write one-sentence answers and call it good and then don't understand why they don't earn full points. However, I do have some amazing male writers who do turn in better papers than some of the girls.

5. 96% of the kids care about their grades and care about doing well.

6. 98% of the parents care too. And I receive multiple emails a day inquiring about behaviors, improvements, work they need, kids who are sick, make-up work, grade questions, homework, and more. Man, these parents are ON IT. They get it and it's nice to have this much involvement, but it also can be overwhelming at the same time b/c we have so many other responsibilities too. Some parents are patient, while others are ruthless about wanting an email back from me right away. I guess they don't think I work w/ kids during the day at all...

7. I felt our Professional Learning Community was much more developed at my old school. At this one, it's like pulling teeth to get people to try something or work together collaboratively. :( It's kinda sad. And soon enough, I won't be able to keep my mouth shut about it.

8. There is less support for our struggling students...this is b/c we are a small school with limited funds.

9. I'm not coaching. I'm not coaching. I'm not coaching. I miss this...I do, but not as much as I thought I would.

10. ASB: it is a big time suck. And it has been full of drama already this year and is guaranteed to have more drama as the year progresses. Regardless, it is fun and I do have a good group. It is hard to get everyone together sometimes w/ all of their job schedules and outside of school responsibilities. I do like it though, and feel like I am "in the know" about what's going on regarding activities at school. I feel like people appreciate all that I do even though a couple of older teachers are total schmucks and are fun-haters.

11. I came from a school where I developed a lot of ideas for my classroom and my kids. I had samples, I knew how to get kids to the level I needed them to work at in order to produce that final piece well. I knew how to scaffold and give them the right steps to take. I gave them the tools to build their "product."

I went to a place where I did not develop anything until I started meeting with my partner. The curriculum work I did was great and we used it. However, I don't feel like I have as much flexibility or time to teach it the way I want to. I feel like I have to abandon some of what I want to do in order to meet the same deadlines as my partner, which I don't like. I am not good at sticking to a calendar. If my kids need an extra day to learn a new skill or practice a strategy for another day, I want to give them that extra practice. But apparently at the new school, there isn't much flexibility in our calendar right now. I do feel a little constrained b/c of that. I also feel like I am going into a lot of the content blind. I have asked to see several samples of the work the kids are doing (final drafts, etc.) and apparently, my partner doesn't keep any of that stuff. The kids are all complaining how they don't know how to do a project but part of that is because none of us know what it should look like or sound like. Best teaching practices prove that using mentor texts, teacher texts, and samples can help students produce higher quality work. Um Yeah. That is why I always saved my best samples and some of the worst so kids could see the difference and recognize the quality I was looking for in a project. So that has been a bit hard too. But I am trying my best to stick with what is given to me.

Happy Halloween

This picture is not the best, and I hope to post better ones soon...the kids the morning of their Hallween Party at school yesterday. They had a great time. I had to fix Brynn's wristbands so they wouldn't fall off of her by re-sewing them and tomorrow I need to fix her headband b/c it's way too tight. She couldn't wear the boots that came with it b/c they were wayyyyy too big. :( I could probably try and re-sew those, but I found red tights at Party City that work just as well...although the boot/legging/shoe cover things are much cooler.

Tomorrow we have a few more accessories/plans in store. :)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

My Husband is the best

he bought me Usher tickets. :) geeeeeeeeeee!

Christmas Lists...

Ahh I love that as my kids get older, they want more and more for Christmas. When I was asking Brynn what she wanted for Christmas, she said, "I want a REAL firefighters costume with a REAL mask and REAL boots." Then she added, "Mom, do you know firefighters save peoples' lives?! Yeah, they go inside houses that are on fire and they pull people out." Then she said, "Oh and when there is smoke, you crawl on the ground under it so it doesn't get on your clothes." Finally, she added, "And if your clothes catch on fire, you stop, drop and rollll." haha

haha (the firefighters came to visit daycare today)

Monday, October 25, 2010


My son is throwing tantrums non-stop. All.of.the.time. It started about two weeks ago and hasn't stopped. It is driving me nuts. This child has been in multiple time-outs, sent to his room to cry it out, and still we are struggling. I gotta say I"m not liking this 2.5 age of his if this stuff sticks around. He kicks. He ignores. He screams. He cries super loud. He throws himself on the ground. He yells. He growls. He runs everywhere, bulldozes everything, and has forgotten his inside voice exists. Yep. Fun times. :0

I miss that ornery but sweet little boy from the photo above. :) Hopefully he'll come back soon.

Baylenism #3

Bay: "Mommy went to Iowa State. Daddy went to Iowa State. I want to go to Iowa State."

OH YES! :) No brainwashing there, this child came up with that statement on his own. Brilliant! :)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Brynnisms #20

This girl: so analytical these days...

Me: Brynn, what are you going to take for Show and Tell this week that starts with a C?

Brynn: about a cow?

Me: Yes, that would work. What else could you take?

Brynn: about a cah-cah-cah-car? That starts with the letter C.

Me: True, but don't you think one of the boys will bring that?

Brynn: Yeah...hmmm...I know! How about cah-cah-cah-Cammy our cah-cah-cat?

Me: She does start with the letter C and I bet no one else will bring a real cat!

Brynn: Yeah, but will she stay in the car? Does she like to ride in the car? What if she tries to jump out?

Me: True..maybe we better leave her at home.

Brynn: Yeah...but then can we bring Zoey cah-cah-cat instead?


Friday, October 15, 2010

Sassy Pants

"But Mom, they aren't leggings, they're PANTS!"
"Brynn, are you arguing with me again or are you making a statement?"
"I'm making a statement!"

Brynn turned 4 and with that came a whole lot of sass. Seriously, overnight, she has turned into this little Miss Opinion about Everything and acts like a little Miss Know-It-All. She will argue with me about EVERYTHING just to argue, I swear. I will ask her or tell her to do something a certain way and she will argue and tell me she needs to do it a different way even when she has no clue. We are threatening the Sassy Sauce much more often these days and eventually, I'm going to have to follow through on that.

She cares about what she wears. She cares about how her hair is pulled up or what bow to put in. She has an opinion on the shoes she wears and which toothpaste she wants to brush her teeth with. She informs me what jewelry she'll put on and what presents to buy her friends for their birthdays. Sometimes she even tells me how to drive. Go figure.

Little Sassy Pants has also claimed perfection about a million times especially when it comes to comparing herself to her brother. This earned her the name "Miss P" and we will call her that now and again and she gets a little irritated, but I think she understands that it's not always okay b/c Baylen is a different kid than her.

Brynn has many funny expressions and uses them whenever possible, such as "I'm bored." or, "This is boring!" Seriously? Thanks, older kids at daycare! LOL At the dinner table, she's getting more vocal too, declaring things are "gross" or that she doesn't like them and won't eat them. Bee claims things are "so awesome!" and uses the phrase, "That's weird!" constantly. She begs me to tell her stories at night while she's lying in bed (mostly to waste time so she doesn't have to go sleep) so I will think of funny made-up stories to tell her. One night I told Brynnie a story about a frog family and after I finished, she goes, "Mom, that was a WEIRD story." LOL I was cracking up!

Miss P has rediscovered her love for puzzles, and now, she can put together 30-piece and some 50-piece puzzles. She is really good at figuring out how they fit together and seems more interested in them than playing games. Whenever we read books, I tend to ask her about the story at the end to make sure she's comprehending. Now, when I read, she will interrupt me in the middle of a page and make some statement about an observation she's having why something in the book doesn't make sense or inquire why it's happening in the first place. She's a thinker.

Finally, Miss Sassy and I have had some pretty interesting conversations about what she is learning in pre-school. She can tell me what they learned about and will also tell me if she answered any questions or if she volunteered to help the teacher. Last week, she was picked first to use the Smart Board, showing the kids how to match, and she was pretty excited about that. I told her I was so proud of her for being a good girl in pre-school and her comment, "I try really hard in school, mom." I'm not sure where that came from, but man, this girl is definitely a first-born child of mine. :)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Brynnisms #19

I was reading the book, I'll Love You Forever to Brynn tonight and I turned to the page where the mom "picks up that 9-year-old boy and rocks him back and forth, back and forth, back and forth..."

Then Brynn interrupts my reading and points out, "But mom, you can't rock a 9-year old! They are TOO BIG!"

Also, anytime she hears an Usher song on the radio, she goes, "Hey Mom, it's Ushern, your second husband!" And then I say, "Yes it is, dear it sure is Ushern!" LOL

Funny stuff!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Brynnisms #18

Brynn: Mommy, Elsa said she would be my friend forever!

Me: Well, that's a long time, Brynn. She is a good friend.

Brynn: Yeah, she said she would be my friend for the whole week!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Sneak Peak

At the Halloween Costumes...the kids are super excited about them. :)