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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

P is for Planning

No, I'm not talking about the planning that we teachers do for hours to get ready for upcoming lessons. I've got SPRING BREAK on my mind and planning for lessons is not on my "to do" list right now.

I'm talking about planning for April Fool's Day. I've never really played any pranks on my past classes (especially not last years...Lord, thank you for getting me through that one!). But this year's class, oh yeah. They can handle it. In fact, they deserve it. They told me that I can't fool them...We shall see. (Need I remind you of the Leprechaun Trap day?)

Mr. TV and I started practicing today. While the rest of the students went to Music, Mr. TV and I worked on his AR goal (computer reading comprehension tests). He's the kind of guy who needs that extra, down-to-crunch-time excitement in order to meet any type of minimum goal. When he was done, we started planning. We put a fake snake in one dude's backpack (don't worry, we put a note). We added "Write your spelling words 100,000,000,000 times EACH!" to some people's homework. And then, we planned out some phone calls to make to various teachers tomorrow. We're ready with the "Is your nose running? Yes? Well you better go catch it!" script. On the way to pick up the class from Music he practiced..."THERE'S AN ELEPHANT IN FRONT OF THE SCHOOL!" to Mr. Ken. He improvised with Mrs. Burns, "THERE IS A SNAKE IN YOUR CLASSROOM!" And then he turned around and yelled "APRIL FOOL'S!" until a smart little classmate told him to say "April Fool's Eve!"

Besides Mr. TV's pranks, I've got a few up my sleeve to pull off. Tomorrow is P.E. Field Day and the kids are crazy excited. So, what do I want to prank them about? Why something about no Field Day of course!

First of all, I'm going to wear a foot cast and my arm in a sling. I'm going to wrap my head in an ace bandage and say I tripped on my dog and got hurt (they'll believe that...they know my dogs are crazy). That means we have to miss Field Day because I have to stay inside.

If that doesn't work, I've asked the Morning Announcement ladies if they will announce some shocking news. They will let the second graders know that, sadly, their SAT tests (standardized tests) were lost. They can't be found! So, the only thing to do is retake them. Today. During the time for Field Day. It can't be helped. If they don't believe me, surely they'll believe the Morning Announcemnt Ladies!

I am also going to have confetti is their Reading books, turn their desks around backwards, hide the chairs out the back door, and mix up their cubbies. It will be insane. Especially to Mr. TV. Don't worry, I'm sending them home for Spring Break with goodie bags and all my love.

By the way, I made the ONLY rule today: NO PRANKING THE TEACHER. It's simply not allowed. Any rule breakers will miss Field Day. No joke. (Insert evil laugh...mwah-ha-haaaaaaaa!)

(P.S. I am aware this graphic needs an apostrophe...)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

I is for Invitation

Dear Your Honorable...(that is how we're supposed to address our Representatives)

I have written previously, but I would also like to add an invitation. I would love it if you could find the time to visit our classrooms. I invite you to pop in anytime, unannounced, for as long as you can stay. You could pull up a chair and read with a child, help with math, or even do a science experiment. We would love the opportunity to show you what a real, Title 1 classroom is like. You'll see firsthand, the children we teach, the hours of planning we've put in, and the great opportunities we offer. You can see the kinds of teachers that make a difference every day and what great students we produce. You will also see that running schools like a business is not the way to support the children who will become our future. Thank you for your time!

I hope on the day they visit...(chuckle)...they hear Mr. TV yell something like this:

(When Coach did not let him add the stickers to the P.E. chart for the day)


(When he realized the 100th something day of school that his desk is in a "special spot" where he has less distractions.)

Monday, March 22, 2010

S is for Soapbox

Warning: This post is not meant to be funny. I am being serious. Do not be fooled by the sarcasm.

Okay, this is going to be me on my soapbox. I am not a political person. A shocker, I know, for those of you who know how opinionated I can be. Starting a Monday morning with a meeting is never fun, but when the meeting is about politics, I have to get up on my soapbox.

It seems that some geniuses (who don’t or have NEVER worked with children) somewhere out in Utopia Land want to pass something called Senate Bill 6. Aka,  they want to base teachers’ salaries on student achievement.

It means this: Each teacher will be given a classroom full of capable, motivated, well-supported children. Teachers will then have all the time in the world to teach them grade-level content (which they will all easily comprehend), receive homework back everyday from all of these students, and have ABSOLUTLEY no behavior problems to deal with. Oh, and all of the kids will be fantastic tests takers and will be in wonderful/relaxed moods on testing day.

Oh. No. Wait. I’m sorry! That only works for the teachers and students who also live in Utopia Land. Hello Dudes! We have REAL KIDS! We are NOT MIRACLE WORKERS. This is NOT a business in which we crank out little perfect people and we can’t throw out the ones that don’t meet the inspector’s criteria.

The reality is more like this: We are given a classroom full of students who come to us from a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds. Some deal with abuse, hunger, fear, depression, and learning disabilities. They may come from families where they are the best readers. We have to teach them no matter what they need…on, beyond, and below grade levels. We sometimes get no support from home and fear that students backslide over the summer. We have a certain amount of time each day to teach each subject (with accommodations/modifications) and we deal with behavior problems that cause severe distractions. We even teach some kids to speak the English language!

As educators we are also babysitters, counselors, food providers, police officers, referees, and sometimes a parent to the kids we are given. What if we were paid for doing all of those jobs too? Where’s the pay for those “performances”?

If teachers’ paychecks depend on their students’ performance, we will have really big problems. Will it be the poorest of us in Title 1 schools with the kids with learning difficulties? Will we turn into pressured, burned out people in our first years? Why would anybody want to pay for years of college to never be called a professional?

I understand we have some not so great teachers. But, you know what? We also have some really crappy legislators. People who make decisions for us, but have no idea how it will affect us. Maybe if these brainiacs were paid based on the success of their decisions, they’d start to think more about the pros and cons. Yeah, and maybe they would have to take a few achievement tests, too.

I’m just saying that us teachers do our jobs because we LOVE the students we teach. In a world where we can make loads more money in other jobs, we CHOOSE to do the one that CHANGES LIVES. Please explain the seriousness of Senate Bill 6 to your friends and family. We need to show these decision makers the real world.

The end. (Stepping off the soapbox until the next ridiculous political issue. )

I have seen this comic in several places. We need to make a billboard or a commercial of it.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

L is for Leprechaun Invasion!

That's right! Leprechauns invaded the classroom today. In fact, they invaded quite a few classrooms. The strange thing was that each room's leprechauns did their mischief differently. We decided it's because the troop of leprechauns split up to get the job done faster. Even stranger was that they kept the mischief up all day, even though we didn't see them!

The sad news is that, even though we did our best, but we did not catch a single one. We know they were there though.  I saw a lot of cool traps around the school, but almost all of mine were made with things from around the house. We did learn a lot about reusing last month.

Only one of them said, "Leprechauns aren't real. Ms. Buckler did all this." I think I gave him enough evidence to make him think twice...

Here are some leprechaun traps:

The smallest of them all. Designed to catch the leprechauns with a net.

The classic bait. Loved the rainbow painted cotton balls.

Reverse psycology. Sometimes works...sometimes doesn't.

Very clever. More effective outside? The doorknob is shiny. Leprechauns like shiny things.

Cute! Lucky Charms were glued down to entice the leprechauns.

 This one was great! Very good use of household items. The leprechauns broke the net in the top left.

This one was fancy inside.

Love the use of beads she just got at the parade.

I had to be taught how to set this one up. Cute, cute.

This one had a fancy gold cross necklace as bait.

Maybe the 'Lepercauns' were confused. Or put off by the bars on the windows. Or that it is 'Sait' Patrick's Day.

This one requires you to "use your leprechaun hands" to catch them. I was unaware that leprechauns like unicorns until this.


So get this...the leprechauns sprayed silly string all over the room! Everyone knew that real leprechauns did it because "Why would Ms. Buckler ruin her own room with silly string?!"

And they left us a note!!!!

And some Lucky Charms and gold!

This guy's didn't work so well inside...

So we set it up outside while we went to Music.

No luck...

Told you those leprechauns were good...

We also graphed some leftover Lucky Charms.

They were rather sticky...

We also gave the St. Patty's Day treatment to the restrooms.

Several boys commented, "Eww! They just went in the Ladies' room!" It's Lad-dies dudes...geesh!

Not quite sure why the Leprechaun lassie has a beard. Must be an Irish thing...

The leprechauns messed with the student chairs.

But knew better than to mess with the queenly throne.

We are reading about toads this week and Mr. TV did this:

It says: "My toad's name is Franken Booger."


Me: Oh, okay. Then Franken Booger's boogers must be REALLY green.


The teacher may have lost her mind...

But at least she wasn't alone.

Happy Saint Patrick's day!

Friday, March 12, 2010

F is for Facts

I asked my students to write down some facts on sticky notes as they were watching a video. Some of them wrote interesting interpretations of the truth.

First, think of the movie Jerry Maguire. Now think of when Jerry and Ray were exchanging facts in the car. Ray tells Jerry, "the human head weighs eight pounds." Hilarious. Imagine Jonathan Lipnicki as a little girl (keep the glasses and smooshy cheeks, get rid of the spiky hair). Stay with me here...

Now, imagine that cute, sweet, soft-spoken little girl saying this:

That is a fact we learned from The Magic School Bus Sees Stars.

A fact I was reminded of:
All kids crack up when someone says gas. Every. Single. Time.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

R is for Revolving

I’m thinking of changing the title of my blog to “The Year of Mr. TV.” If I were to take the time, I’m sure I could find the percentage of blog posts that include a Mr. TV story. I think it’s somewhere around 80%. If you don’t find Mr. TV entertaining, then do not read on because this one revolves around him. And it’s a long one. Just like my day.

In fact, I think it’s safe to say that 80% of my school day revolves around him. The other 20% being this:

5% -- Mr. TV is in the computer lab (not because he needs it, because I NEED IT!)
5% -- Mr. TV is at lunch
5% -- Mr. TV is in his gifted group
5% -- Mr. TV is in Specials

But oh, that for that other 80% he is RIGHT THERE with me. If you know of him, you know he has a few ‘quirks’.  Anyone who works with him should get an extra pat on the back. His last year teacher tried to warn me by telling me that some days she locked herself in the bathroom and cried. I will say he’s come a LONG way and the other students (for the most part) can tune him out. Actually, some of them help me give him reminders to follow the rules. He’s one of those kids that the whole day seems different when he’s absent.

As many of you know, this week is FCAT week. For us in the Second Grade this means:
*Our Specials time switches from “last thing of the day” to the “first thing of the day”
*Our school is a “Quiet Campus” which means we are supposed to be SILENT in the hallways as we pass the intermediate classrooms.
*Computer labs are closed (see 5% at top)
*We spend 3 uninterrupted hours in the classroom after lunch (Even a first year teacher can tell you that the focus of kids goes down after lunch.)
*Our whole daily schedule is wickety-wack.

To Mr. TV this means:

These are some highlights of the day:

First thing this morning…

Like I mentioned, it’s FCAT week. We are supposed to be quiet in the hallways. When we are leaving first thing in the morning to get to specials. Mr. TV made it to Music kinda-sorta quiet. On the way back? Not so much. He just couldn’t do his pelvis thrust/skip/ dance moves quietly (AKA the way he walks). Not to mention he was tripping on his untied shoelaces. My solution? I removed the shoes and he pelvic-thrusted/skipped/danced in his socks right on down the hallway. At least his voice was quiet. And I have to pick my battles…

Before lunch...

I was answering questions about Native Americans and how they used natural resources to meet their everyday needs. (Some of you may remember that when I asked them who they first Americans were last week I got “Charlie Daniels” as an answer…So, we’re spending some extra time to clear up some misconceptions.)

Ms. Giggly: Ms. Buckler? How did the Native Americans use the bathroom?
Me: Well, I’m pretty sure their bodies worked like ours do now…
Ms. Giggly: Yeah, but where? (giggles from them all)
Me: Maybe they used the woods, or had a certain place just for that reason…

I lost them to the hilarity of that image and his tone. I even had to take a minute to hide behind the easel and take a few deep breaths. I may or may not have laughed a little.

Going to recess after lunch...After his time-out in another room #1…

Me: Mr. TV, have you been making good-choices so far today?
Me: How many interruption tallies do you think are in your planner?
Me: Maybe. Where would you like to spend your time-out? On the playground or in another teacher’s room?

(Now I know what you’re thinking…this kid needs recess! But I tell you that all the walking around my classroom and pelvic-thrust/skip/dancing he does is plenty of physical activity. I COULD NOT let the other students see him getting recess when they would NEVER get recess if they did what he does. It’s the principle of it.)

Me: I’m sorry, Buddy. But there is only a choice A and a choice B. Make one quickly.
Him (screaming down the hallway): I DON’T LIKE EITHER OF THOSE CHOICES! YOU MAKE MY LIFE SO BORING!!!!!! (Then horrible Sponge-Bob sounding cries echo through the halls)

Note: He made it to the playground five minutes later and lay down in the grass and read his book silently.  It was Captain Underpants so that was to be expected.

At the end of the day, when adding up his interruption tallies and discussing his goals for tomorrow…After time-out in another room #2…(Love you Mrs. Rood!)

Me: Mr. TV, do you think I would look good bald? Because you just might make me pull all my hair out if you have this many interruption tallies again. Maybe we can see if you can meet the goal of “Get fewer tallies than yesterday” and then how many days you can hold that record.
Him: Yeah, you’d look funny bald. But then it would be easy to grow it back as a mohawk.

To ease your mind about the loss of recess thing…He got to be Saturn at the end of the day when we were demonstrating how the planets rotate while they revolve around the sun. He did it happily while the whole time yelling, “LOOK AT ME! I’M SATURN! I HAVE RINGS!”

Now I know that you guys are probably looking at the things I say and can come up with a whole list of suggestions. Depending on my mood I may thank you for it. But, I’ll just bet you…whatever you suggest, I’ve tried it.  We just take one day at a time in my classroom. And laugh most of it off. Is it wrong if I ask God to give me an extra rung on my ladder to heaven if I make it through this year?

And on and unrelated to Mr. TV note, I got this envelope in my mailbox. It is from one of my darlings who was absent today.

It clearly says:

To Elementary School
To Ms. Buckler

It was a picture of Leprechaun Boy in a tree. Warning: Leprechaun Trap post to come!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

C is for Confession(s)

Confessions are what I got today. Yep, that’s right. The little boogers fessed up! After threats of Resource Officer visits and fingerprinting, taking away Star Cards completely, and NO GREEN EGGS AND HAM, I think it got to them.

And guess who. It was Freckles. Cute little Freckles. He’s one of those sneaky ones that you have to keep your eye on. One of those that is fine for me, but gives his other teachers a hard time. I had just gotten a note about him on Friday from the substitute.

It all went down during reading groups today. We were in the middle of sight words.

Freckles: Ms. Buckler. How much trouble will the Star Card person be in?

Me: Well, it depends on when they tell me and how they say it.

Freckles: I did it.

Me: Okay, thanks for telling me. We’ll talk about it after reading group.

I then asked Freckles to stay at my table and talk. He asked to go outside so no one could hear him.

Me: So when did you do it?

Freckles: The other day when that big guy was here (Translation: Friday when the substitute was there.)

Me: So you jumped up to the top of the t.v. stand and got the star puncher?

Freckles: MMhhmmm…but EVERY Friday dude made me do it! And Mr. Jokester and Cheeky also had a plan.

I finished my lecture on safety and responsibility with Mr. Freckles and handed out his punishment. He dutifully went inside to write his apology letters.

I pulled the other three amigos outside. Cheeky instantly started to cry.

Me: Okay guys, I know you did it. But now I need to know why. Mr. Jokester, I’m surprised about you. You’re always so responsible.

Mr. Jokester: I just went along with it. It was all EVERY Friday dude’s idea. I thought it sounded like a good idea at the time. (Sad face)

Me: And you Cheeky! Not you! You were just Student of the Month! What do you have to say for yourself?

Cheeky: (Cries harder. No words.)

I repeated a similar lecture to these three and hand out punishments. On the way in, they had more confessions.

EVERY Friday dude: Oh, and Ms. Buckler, Cheeky had nothing to do with it. We punched it for him.

Mr. Jokester: And we stole those cookies on Valentine’s Day, too.

Me: Thanks for being honest guys. Cheeky! You’re off the hook! I knew you were a good man!

My apology notes contained ‘soree’s and I’ll never do it ‘agin’s. Oh, and ‘you can take away our recess for a month’. Yeah, thanks for the permission guys…

So, I have no idea if it was my threats, the loss of green eggs and ham and recess, the peer pressure, or just Freckles conscience.  But I DID get to the bottom of this. Case closed.  You can now rest easy.

Monday, March 1, 2010

I is for Invisible and Innocent

Invisible things can be fun. Invisible friends are very common for young kids to have. This requires imagination, though. And as I've already proven, my class has a little bit of a problem with using their imaginations.

So, me being the person I am, I found a way to encourage a little creative, imaginative thinking. In my W is for Wildlife post I discussed the various critters we've had and explained that my class has been asking for a pet. Are they happy with those critters? No! They've wanted a REAL class pet since the second week of school and we read a story about a class with a pet. We voted on what kind, wrote ways we would take care of a pet (not me!), discussed who would take it home on weekends and holidays (definitely not me!) and if anyone was allergic. Did I get a class pet for them? Nope.

That is, until a few weekends ago. 

It was on sale at 70% off. At $6.99, it is the best class pet you can get. Clean, quiet, well-behaved. 


If you look closely, you will see Rover. Our new class pet!

Rover wears his harness and leash all of the time. He sits quietly while we work.

However, sometimes he needs to "go on a walk" and only the most-behaved, quiet workers get to take Rover on a walk. Do they mind the stares from students in other classes? Nope.

Today, Mr. Jokester was out there for a while. 

Me yelling from the doorway: Mr. Jokester! Bring Rover in, we've got to go to Music!

Mr. Jokester: I can't help it that Rover pooped everywhere! He also needed to sniff every tree!

Me: Well, did you pick it up?!

Mr. Jokester: Pick what up?! 

Me: Rover's poop!

Mr. Jokester: No, but I think I stepped in it...


Mr. T.V. (amazingly) got a chance to walk Rover while waiting for the bell. He had him at about waist high. 

Me: Do you know how long Rover's legs would need to be for him to be that tall?

Mr. T.V.: He's one weird looking dog!

Freckles: Can we get a real class pet?

Mr. T.V.: Rover is real, can't you see him?

I have no words for that.


Innocent is what some of my little people proclaim they are. But, I know better. I didn't just fall off the turnip truck yesterday...

Either we have a ghost in my room or someone is being really sneaky. After Valentine's Day, we had leftover cookies and a few were mysteriously missing the next day. I shrugged it off thinking maybe it was a fellow teacher after school looking for a snack.

But, the sneakiness has escalated. In my class, students can earn a star punch on their Star Cards if they've had a good day. When they get 8 star punches, they can turn it in for a reward on Friday. They can choose a trip to the treasure box, a no-homework pass, extra computer time, or lunch with me (the coolest). I need to point out that we had a substitute on Friday, and I left instructions that I would do Star Cards on Monday.

Well, I've noticed that one little dude seems to have a full Star Card EVERY Friday.  I may not be a genius, but there are 8 stars on the card and 5 days in a week. Now, even I can do that math. I haven't said anything about this either, because there is no way he's climbing/jumping to the top of the TV cart to get my star puncher. No way, right? Right? And, I'm not the best at keeping track of the actual weeks he really does redeem one. But it's rather fishy...

I just found some, though, that I'm POSITIVE have been counterfeited. As evidence, take a look.

*The names have been blurred to protect the rights of the suspects...

This is a Star Card that has been redeemed. You can see the date (tomorrow since that's when we'll eat lunch together) and the circled L. This stands for 'Lunch'. This student chose lunch with me.

 I especially need you to notice how the punched stars are right on top of the printed star. This will be important later...

I've gotten Star Cards with these corners cut off, but that didn't fool me...

This didn't either...

I looked at this one twice. And I said to myself, "Self, you must have been lazy with this one. You didn't even punch on top of the star.

Then I got this one...

And I said to myself, "Self, you DID NOT DO THIS!" Red alert! Red alert!

I took three suspects outside with me. The two sloppily punched Star Card owners and my dude that has a full Star Card EVERY Friday. And after five years, I'm still not good at conducting an interrogation...

Me: So which of you is responsible?
Them: Not me!

            I didn't do it!


Me: Oh, so we must have a magical star puncher that felt like punching your Star Cards over the weekend?
Them: Maybe...


           It was HIM! (Pointing at the EVERY Friday dude)

 This went into "did not!" and "did too!" for a few seconds while the third guy started to cry. We all came inside and I addressed the whole class. I told them we weren't going to blame each other. I expected the culprit to be honest and come to me with the truth. I even said they could write it on a note to fess up. I said the person would be in more trouble if I found out on my own because I WILL FIND OUT! Someone suggested we call the Resource Officer and have him dust for fingerprints.

I heard them talking while waiting in the bathroom line..."Just tell her. She'll be REAL mad when she finds out. She's really smart." "Someone needs to tell her, but maybe they'll go to Juvie." "It's not fair, I love eating lunch outside, and we're never going to do that again!"
I got my three suspects alone at random times today and asked, "Why did you get down the star puncher and punch those cards?" Even reverse psychology failed.
I told them there would be no more Star Cards until I get to the bottom of this. I still wait on that confession because those sneaks are good! Real good...
I mean it. I WILL GET TO THE BOTTOM OF THIS! Wish me luck.