Friday, March 30, 2012

The Other Wes Moore

This week during STAAR testing I read a really interesting book. It is called The Other Wes Moore. It’s about two African American guys that grew up at the same time in the same area (the Bronx) with the same name.
However, one ended up a Rhodes Scholar and the other ended up in prison for armed robbery and first-degree murder. The book talks about how similar their lives really are but how drastically different they ended up.

I found several key points that I really could relate to my education world; points that I consistently feel like I’m trying to make to my coworkers. The first one is that we are a product of our expectations rather than our environment. Both Wes Moore’s were from the same environment; however, they did not turn out the same. I am continuously trying to tell coworkers that if we raise our expectations that our students will meet them. I have my experience from Waco to back me up and the Wes Moore that has climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro rose to meet the expectations that people in his life set for him. The Wes Moore that is serving his twelfth year of prison had no expectations to meet, so he became a product of his environment. I’m not saying I don’t agree that “our roots help to determine our routes”, but your roots do not have to define you. I think that’s what kids in low socio-economic areas have to realize. They automatically think their location leaves them with only one choice. That is definitely one thing I miss instilling in my Waco kids. I loved making them feel important and letting them know that I believe in them.

Here is my favorite line from the book.. it happens in the epilogue. I’ll leave you with that to consider:
 “I think the best we can do is give our young people a chance to make the best decisions possible by providing them with the information and the tools and the support they need.”

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Hooray for Diffendoofer Day!

The big day has arrived! I haven't seen my kids since Monday, but tomorrow they will be taking the 8th grade Math STAAR. I honestly can't wait to read over their shoulders. I'm so anxious to finally see all the hype. I am doing ok tonight.. I only think about the test every 10 minutes... when I was anticipating thinking about it every 2 minutes! ... but seriously. I didn't want to come home from school and think about it so I went shopping.. the container store.. every OCD persons favorite store. Then I came up with a new project once I found a sale in the Container Store so I went to Hobby Lobby (still didn't spend a dime.. thank you gift cards!!). Then I finally came home... and I went running (have to get in shape for a new committment that I will share later!). Then I started on my project... now I am cooking dinner and blogging simultaneously. :) whew. Anyway, back to the purpose of this blog:

I know I've talked before about the amazing people I encountered at Baylor University. I think the education department has some of the greatest professors in the entire state nation, honestly. And one of those people came to my rescue when they found out about that epic communication fail. Mrs. Smart (she is really smart, but that's really her name!) gave me the most perfect recommendation for my students: Read them a Dr. Seuss book. Not just any Dr. Seuss book... Hooray for Diffendoofer Day. Mrs. Smart told me I could check it out from a library or I could have probably found it somewhere... but I knew if she was suggesting it was going to be good. So I went ahead and just ordered it off Amazon and it definitely did not disappoint. It's a book about kids going to this crazy school with this crazy teacher! Then... all of a sudden they have to take a test!!! Here are the most important lines:

                   "All schools for miles and miles around must take a special test,
                    To see who's learning such and such-to see which school's the best.
                    If our small school does not do well, then it will be torn down,
                    And you will have to go to school in dreary Flobbertown."

But then they get their test and their teacher taught them all the right things!!! The best lines of the entire book:

                "You've saved our school! You've saved our school!" He jubilantly roared.
                "we got the very highest score!" He wrote it on the board.
                 Then we held a celebration, there was pizza, milk and cake.
                 Like everyone, I ate too much and got a bellyache.
                 We laughed and whooped and hollered the entire school day long,
                 then we all sang, triumphantly, "The Diffendoofer Song."

My kids loved it and each class cheered when I got to the end. After that we watched all our videos from the year (aka reviewing all of our major concepts!), then we said all of our rhymes and sang the rest of our songs that we did not cover. I know my kids are prepared... even if I had to prepare them in three weeks. 

However, that does not mean I won't be accepting any and all prayers between the hours of 8 am and noon tomorrow! :) 

I am so grateful that people can bless me even through this silly little blog that I really only write for my benefit. So thank you to everyone who sends me texts about it and I am especially thankful to Mrs. Smart for still helping a Baylor student out... even though I'm two years removed from college. Amazing.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

I said Pythagorean Theorem

In this last week before their test.. my kids were working super hard and they dominated the Pythagorean Theorem. They were, once again, subjected to one of my chants and they did an excellent job!! Take a look below... the first one is the original idea, the second is pythagorean style:

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Spring Break Project

I decided to undertake one project for Spring Break.. I've been needing to have something above my towel rack in my bathroom. There's an empty space and I just didn't like it.. So I saw a picture of something and decided I would do my best to recreate it! I'm pretty sure I like I how it turned out!

I started out with a canvas (duh!) and painted it. After painting it grey, I knew I needed to add something else.. so I mixed some gray and gold together to give it a little more of a shimmer. 

Then I began sizing out my flower petals.. I ended up printing a page of three different sizes not sure if I'd use any or all of them. I decided to just use the smallest petal. I felt it would look cooler if I had a lot more petals on the canvas. I picked out my scrapbook paper at Hobby Lobby (still not spending a dime thanks to gift cards!), and returned home ready to start cutting. At first I was using my exacto knife, but found I got a lot cleaner edges if I just used scissors! Easy for me! I used the picture I had as a guide of which flowers to go where (all yellow, all black and gray, or a mix). Then I slowly started mod-podging each petal to the canvas. Since I knew this was going in my bathroom, I put multiple layers of mod podge over it once I was finished. It has a glossy shine and I love it!! It's the perfect fit! Now just to decide if I want to center it with the wall or center it over the towel rack... decisions, decisions. :)