Thursday, March 27, 2014

Capitalization, 5-Digit Numbers, and Square Candies with 2nd Grade

I mentioned the other day that I subbed again in elementary school despite my belief that God truly did not make me to be a teacher for little kids! I used to work with little kids all the time at church and our summer retreats, but as I got older, I just lost my patience for it. My colleague who was (and I'd even say still is) my mentor teacher texted me on Monday to ask if I could cover 2nd grade since she was also handling elementary things that day even though she's usually only in charge of middle school. It was funny because she said, "Wanna be a pal and sub ..." It's so difficult to say no to someone who literally trained me how to be a good teacher and also provided a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on over the many years we worked together. Plus, I also knew the teacher was really sick as my mom's a para in that class.

The day started off with a bagel and some hummus. I read recently that it was a good substitute for cream cheese. Normally, I love avocado on bagels, but with the rising prices, it's not as easy to get them. The hummus ended up being perfect because the huge amount of protein that I was able to have for breakfast instead of just having carbs meant that I was able to last until lunch during 6th period without one hunger pang! That's rather amazing considering that even when I was used to a teacher's schedule, I could hardly wait to eat during the first lunch during 5th period!

All that energy came in handy so that I could do my best to manage the class and teach a large and sometimes rambunctious class! The teacher was so sick, she didn't have lesson plans prepared, so my mom showed me what the class had done the day before and where the materials were located. I knew that I had 2 periods to teach before they went to gym when I could prepare for the rest of the day, so I chose to cover phonics/grammar first then math because I'm most comfortable with those subjects.

When I picked the class up in the gym during morning line-up, we passed by the 8th grade class. They all screamed, "Miss L!" (they still call me Miss L, for the most part, instead of Mrs. F) and excitedly waved. That class always gives me a warm welcome, and it really makes me miss them SO MUCH! I had them for 6th and 7th grade, so it really is odd not to be there for their final year in the school. It was also cute because one of the 2nd grade kids asked why they all screamed my name, and another girl who has a sister in 8th grade said, "They all miss her."

Before the day officially started with lessons, I told them that if they behaved, I did have a craft project for them at the end of the day. I asked if it would make sense if a student who called out, misbehaved, and was disobedient deserved to do the project, and they said no. I crossed my fingers with hopes that the craft project would keep them in line!

During 1st period, I went over capitalization rules, complete sentences, and exclamation points. I wrote condensed notes on the board and had them copy it in their notebooks even though it was at the top of the worksheet they did afterwards. I knew it would take a little time, but I also explained to them that the more they hear/see something, the more likely it will become learned for good so repetition was beneficial. I know for a fact that that's how it is with me, and throughout my school years, I learned and memorized even more because my perfectionist side caused me to copy notes over after class to make them as neat as possible. The discussion and examples for capitalization must have stuck because a few periods later when the kids were writing, one of the boys said, "... and I capitalized the A in April because it's a month."

While I was writing a few bullet points, I heard a student say, "I can't see!" Regardless of the age group, there's always one kid or a few kids in each class who feel the need to ALWAYS say that. I replied, "I'm not standing here just so that I can block you; I'm here because I need to write on the board and when I'm done, I'll move." I don't know why I've also had to explain that to kids in 8th grade during my years of teaching!

The part of the lesson about exclamation points and questions marks was pretty fun for me. I called on one boy who read the sentence with the correct intonation, and I pointed out that's exactly how sentences with that kind of punctuation should be read. I said that we wouldn't say something in a monotonous voice like, "Ouch, that hurts. Help me." If I said that in the classroom, no one out in the hall would think anything of it. I gave a few more examples and really exaggerated it because I personally wish that all kids would learn how to read passages out loud the correct way. When I called on kids to read the sentences on the worksheet, one of the girls shook her head no, and I said, "It's okay; you don't have to read them the way I read them!" because they probably saw me as being beyond silly!

For the next period, we went over two-digit addition and subtraction. I was told that the previous day they were going over how to check answers to those problems, but when I gave 4 problems to start with, many of them were having troubles with carrying over, so I knew that had to be reviewed instead. I explained starting from the ones place before moving to the tens place and reiterated that rule over and over again. I also saw that many of them didn't write the number at the top of the tens place when carrying over, so I urged them to do that as well. A few kids at a time went up to the board to answer the questions, and I also went around to help kids individually. I'm hoping that maybe at least one kid will have a better understanding and more confidence in solving problems like that because of the time I took to explain it. That's really the joy of teaching, and even though I prefer the older kids, there's still something satisfying about teaching any grade.

I did challenge the kids with a problem adding two five-digit numbers! Some were like, "We're only in 2nd grade!" but I said that if they understood the rules that they should continue to do what they already know how to do. Before we went over the correct answer, I asked them to raise their hands if they think they got the right answer. The majority of them raised their hands. I then asked them to raise their hands if they're not sure if they have the right answer but tried anyway, and they raised their hands more confidently. I commended all of the students who tried because I think having the courage to try out problems that look too difficult on the surface is really the root of the problem. Even in 6th grade, students give up too easily when a word problem or longer math problem looks like it might be too troublesome. We went over the challenge, and I do believe that there were a few who were super close to getting it correct but were maybe off by one number near the end of solving it. Yay for them!

I had the kids copy 4 subtraction problems that required borrowing before I took them to gym. As I checked their notebooks to see that they were written down, I allowed them to line up. By the time most of the kids were waiting to leave, it had gotten loud, so I made them all sit back down so we could do it again. One boy said, "SERIOUSLY?!" I guess he didn't appreciate the possibility of cutting into gym time, but I didn't appreciate their chatter! I told them that if they were noisy on the way to gym, I'd make them return to the classroom to do it all over again. Thankfully, they were quiet, so I quickly returned to the classroom so I could plan the rest of the day.

After I picked them up from gym, they were obviously a little bit riled up, so it took more energy to get them back to doing math. We worked on solving the 4 subtraction problems with borrowing/regrouping, and then I knew that they were really done with math. I wasn't going to push it, so I switched to Bible. The lesson was about Daniel and his 3 friends refusing to eat what was forbidden because they chose to stay faithful to God's law. I wrote the names that Nebuchadnezzar gave them so that they could visually see it instead of just hearing me say it, and one of the Daniel's in the class said in reference to Belteshazzar, "Oh, so that's my other name." Haha, that was kind of funny.

The last thing we did before lunch was read 2 chapters of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory really slowly. Well, I did my best to read slowly. In the past, I've had 8th graders point out that I read too quickly, and when I first started teaching, one of the things I needed to work on according to my formal observations was slow down my speech. Haha, I can't help it, but I do my best to force myself to slow it down. I was really excited about the story though because it was my all-time favorite book in elementary school! Though I liked it as a kid, I liked it even more when I got older because I actually understood all of Willy Wonka's jokes. I think they typically read just one chapter a day, but the one about all the doors in the corridor was really brief, so I read the next one, which was also extremely short. Plus, I wanted to read about the "square candies that look round." At the end of the day when I was explaining the craft project, I referred to the center square of the cardstock as a circle. When I realized my mistake, I made a quick joke about seeing things the way Willy Wonka does, and only one student chuckled. Though teachers shouldn't have favorites, I admit that I always appreciate the students who listen to every word and can catch my quick quips. There's always one or two in each class from my experience!

I was happy to get another break with lunch. It worked out that it was two periods of teaching, a break, another two periods of teaching, lunch break, and then the final two periods of teaching. The elementary director bought lunch for me because she felt bad that I had to sub without plans. It was a really nice and unnecessary gesture, but it definitely made me an extremely happy camper to have a special meatloaf and mashed potatoes lunch! Plus, there was so much food that it was part of our dinner of leftovers that night since I had absolutely no energy to cook.

There was actually a faculty conference that day, so I asked if I should leave, but it was okay that I stayed. Even though I feel like an outsider this year, I guess they don't see me as one otherwise I would've had to eat elsewhere! Once I finished eating and put the rest in the fridge, I went to the classroom to make sure I was ready for the rest of the day. Then I went to the gym where the kids were having recess to talk to my mom since she's always watching her kid.

When we returned to the classroom, the kids continued working on the writing assignment I had them start before lunch. Based on the chapters, I told them to write about an invention (something edible) they would make if they were worked in Willy Wonka's factory since we had just read about "Eatable Marshmallow Pillows" and "Lickable Wallpaper." The kids had some interesting ideas. There were 3 of them that were thinking in terms of phone apps! What a different world we live in nowadays, right? They also had some time to illustrate their inventions since I was getting tired and wanted to kill some time.

The last school-related assignment was to write their 10 spelling sentences that was actually for homework that night. Some of the kids already did it, so they were allowed to read. The kids were excited that they were allowed to do it, but I was just happy that the majority of them were quiet and focused.

The last thing of the day was the craft project. I had used my We R Memory Keepers gift box punch board to cut and score cardstock. They decorated the paper and then I gave them 3 slips of paper with Bible verses on them. I told them they could keep scripture in the boxes to keep as encouragement. I had to go around and help them fold it because it was a little difficult to explain. The funny thing was that the first step of just folding on the scored lines seemed easy for most of the girls, but there were a few boys who just couldn't do it. I told them to fold where there were already lines and not make any new ones, but a handful still found a way to mess up the boxes, haha. There were two kids out at that point, so I had extras anyway.

I admit I was a lot more lax in keeping them under control during 8th period, but my throat was sore from speaking all day, and I was feeling the exhaustion. A few of the boys were talking about diamonds, and a boy looked to me to verify that diamonds did indeed come from coal. I explained the little I knew before they started telling me obsidian is formed from lava and water. I said, "Oh, I didn't know that" and one of the kids said, "Learn something new every day," which made me laugh inside because I say that ALL the time and here was this little 2nd grader saying it to me! Then I asked, "Did you learn about obsidian from science?" and they replied, "No, from Minecraft!" It was cute though because there was one boy who was talking to me a lot, and it was extra adorable because he had never really spoken two words to me beforehand because he was always shy!

Though I was definitely tired, I still had adrenaline running through my system. I was thrilled that I was able to make it through the day, but my mom and I were also thankful that it was time to leave. We didn't stop anywhere except for CVS so I could pick up the free paper towels for this week. My mom's store was out of the right brand, but they were substituting another one. The CVS by my apartment still had the advertised brand there, so that wasn't an issue. Yay for not spending any of that day's money like I definitely have done in the past!

Oh wait, I spent it yesterday when I ordered sweaters from Kohl's ...

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