Sunday, June 25, 2006

Which one of these dresses doesn't belong?


Yes that'd be the white one that's just barely there and looks like it went through a shredder. (I'll just say she flashed her underwear more than a few times that night.) And what you don't see in the picture are the red stiletto shoes with ribbons tied around her ankles that she couldn't walk in and had to ditch as soon as she got inside.

Apart from this unfortunate costume, most of the girls looked lovely in their ball gowns. The boys for the most part looked like pimps (literally, of course). Canes and top hats were popular accessories. And then there was the one guy who was straight out of Miami Vice with his peach linen trousers and peach shirt unbuttoned with white t-shirt underneath, gold chain, shades and all.

The kids had a blast at the dance. And, they were actually really good for the entire evening. We had no problems at all. Even the dancing didn't get too out of control.

It was funny because the kids were so excited to be dressed up and to see all of their friends that they didn't even notice that there was no music for the first hour of the dance (the DJ's van broke down). There was also a really nice buffet that the kids didn't touch all night until the last half hour when a few of them grabbed a piece of cake or a chicken strip.

Overall it was a very good night. Even the teachers enjoyed themselves.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Dual Language. How Cool!

Today I went to my Region's First Annual Dual Language Conference and Showcase. It was actually one of the more enjoyable ESL functions that I've attended this year. Probably because it wasn't a useless PD but actually, for the most part, was different schools in the Region presenting their Dual Language Programs, how they started, their successes and challenges, etc. (We did of course have to first sit through about an hour of our Regional staff giving self-congratulatory speeches about how great and talented they are--oh, and how great the teachers are for working for our kids.)

For those who aren't familiar, a Dual Language Program is a class that has half native English speakers and half native Spanish speakers (or Chinese or Arabic, or whatever). Instruction is 50% in English and 50% in the other language. The goal of the program is for all students to become proficient in both languages--so the program is just as much for the native English speakers as it is for the ELLs. (This differs from a regular bilingual class where the all of the students are learning English and although instruction is in both languages, the native language is eventually phased out. The goal of a traditional program is for students to become proficient in English only.) Kids generally enter the DL program in Kindergarten and stick with it all through their schooling.

I love this program so much! I am so for kids growing up bilingual. (Hopefully when I have kids they'll grow up bilingual because I'll speak to them in English and their father will speak to them in [insert language here]. I've already thought about the method I would use and everything. Then in school they would learn a third language. B ut since I'm not even dating someone who speaks a another language right now, let alone thinking about having kids, I guess this is jumping ahead just a tad bit. My second choice would be a dual language program though.) And not only do the native English speakers acquire a second language but the kids learning English retain their native language and they feel like it is valued and appreciated. How cool is that?

So, hearing about all of these programs made me so jealous. I would love to teach in a DL program. All of the teachers were young and energetic. They were full of innovative ideas and you could see their dedication to their kids and the DL program. The other thing that was evident was that these programs were in schools that had supportive administrations and generally favorable school environments. (One teacher sitting next to me asked what the kids at my school were like. I asked what she meant and she said "Well, our school shares a building with another school and their kids are always running wildly up and down the halls and it makes it harder for us to teach our kids that they can't do that." I said, "Yep. That sounds like my school.") I loved one small school that was completely DL and had a strong focus on the arts. They believe that kids learn language best through the content areas and the arts is a way for kids to express themselves as individuals. Because no two students produce the same work, they have reason to engage in communication about their art. (Honestly, I think that the only thing that my school believes in making sure everything looks good so that we don't get in trouble when the region comes.)

I feel like I could be really interested in working in a Dual Language school for a few years and then moving on to a new school to help start up a new DL program. Maybe if I am lucky my new placement could be the start of that. (I still haven't heard any news of my changing schools yet.)

Monday, June 12, 2006

End of the Year Activities

Last week during our first half day we had a little faculty meeting in which our principal lectured us about instruction continuing all the way up until June 28th. Funny because since then I've witnessed quite a bit of administration sanctioned activity that doesn't involve instruction at all. Here's a sampling:

*daily, unscheduled assemblies
*field trips (one of which involved taking Kindergarteners to the mall to walk around)
*Two periods of graduation practice daily for grades K, 5, and 8.
*rehearsal for the "Early Childhood Celebration"

Seriously, these last two weeks are a joke.

I'm trying to get all of my end of year assessments done so that I can report back to TFA on whether or not I made "significant academic gains" with my students. (I didn't by the way. The best I did is a bit over a year--not the 1.5 to two years we are supposed to make.) Also for the rest of the year I have a "Dual Language Conference" to attend, Eighth grade graduation, yearbook signing party, and a field trip--all of which will be taking days away from actual instruction.

Summer is so close I can almost feel it. (And yet at the same time I almost can't believe that in two weeks I will be FREE!)

It's almost yearbook time

Yearbooks should be arriving on Wednesday. We would have gotten them sooner but we learned today that they had been mistakenly shipped to a school in Newark when we got a call from their yearbook advisor today. Interesting that that could happen considering our school address was on every piece of paper that was sent into the publishing company. Luckily our AP didn't flip out. She must have been having a good day today.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Kids Art Day 2006/Brooklyn-Queens Day



Being that it is my first year teaching, I never got to experience the joy of having a random day off for Brooklyn-Queens Day. Today with out the kids though was pretty good anyways. Actually, I was really lucky. I got to go on a parent/kid field trip for Kids Art Day at the Rotunda Gallery in Downtown Brooklyn. The trip was the culminating event after a series of Saturday workshops that were put on by a grant from Parents as Art Partners. I wasn't a part of the workshops but I volunteered to go on the trip to be the photographer.



The gallery was very nice and they work done by the kids was great. The piece done by the kids and parents at my school is called "Drawing Family Ties." It is a mural of people and family in our neighborhood. They did a really nice job on the project and both the kids and parents were thrilled to see their work in a real gallery. The exhibit will be up until the 17th but today was officially Kids Art Day so they had stations set up where kids could make books with different kinds of paper, stamps, markers, etc., and they also had a DJ spinning records. The space was a little small (our group had 37 people alone) but the kids didn't seem to mind.





Thursday, June 01, 2006

Nearing the End

I can't believe that it is already June and my first year of teaching is almost over. Even though there are less than four weeks left of school, the year is pretty much over for me (and it has been for a few weeks now). When I say over, I mean that I'm really not going to be working with my kids and pushing them towards their goals for the end of the year.

Last month I spent two weeks administering the NYS*ESLAT tests to all of my kids. Then, last week (my first full week with them in ages), one of the coaches that I share a room with essentially kicked me out of our room so that she could administer some test of her own to students in danger of failing. Now today, June 1st, marks the first day of NYS*ESLAT scoring in my region. That should keep me busy for the next week. When I finally get back to school there'll only be about two and a half weeks left. I'll pick up my kids as much as possible but with graduation practices, field days, half days, and all of the other end of the year activities going on, I know that I won't actually be seeing them much. That's too bad because I really wanted to use the last weeks of school to bump each up my students up a level in reading. (Not to mention that scoring the tests is soooo boring. I can't believe I have a whole week of it!)

* * *

So far I don't have many plans for summer break. I did sign up for a *paid* five day ESL workshop from the 17th to the 21st of July. Then the following week I will be in Philly for a four day workshop held by the Children's Literacy Initiative. They reserved ten paid spots for TFA teachers and I got one of them! I'm really excited because I feel like that is one area that I could really improve on.

Apart from the PDs I'm sure I will head to Arizona for a few weeks and then possibly visit a friend in Santa Barbara.

I can already see it . . . Two months is not going to be enough time at all!