Tuesday, January 20, 2009

What a Birthday Bash!

Yes, today is my birthday. The big 39. Although 39 doesn't really feel any different than twenty nine which didn't feel different than 19. Aside from a few gray hairs, creaky knees, flab rolls, and laugh lines, I feel as I always have. As far as birthdays go, it was different, however. Today was also the inauguration of Barack Obama. At school we had a little Inauguration Celebration. My poor class has heard about elections and inaugurations since September. It came to a completion today. The 2nd grade celebrated by having a pizza party for lunch and watching the events on TV. One of my very cute, but not so bright students said, "Mrs. Grant, why don't they do a parade for your birthday every year?" And another student, who is very quick, and very bright said, "Because if they did she would become too conceited." Tee Hee. I thought that it was funny. I think most of them understand that the speeches and parades really have nothing to do with my birthday.
We had a fun day and we were grateful to be part of that history. My kids loved it and I assume that by the time the next election comes around, they will be so smart about the process and the events. I can't wait to talk to their 6th grade teachers.
I remember the inaugurations of Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, and W. Bush. Those are all important parts of my birthdays. It is fun to have those memories and parts of history be a small bit of my birthday.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Birthday Surprises

Today is my dear friend's birthday. I love her birthday. It is fun to surprise her on this day. First, she doesn't think that I'll remember. And, second she never knows what to expect when I arrive. For instance, when she turned 40 I gave her a bouquet of "prune" roses and prune juice. It really was beautiful. I'm not joking at all. I think that made her feel better - tee hee. She held on to the prune juice forever. I think that she has finally thrown it away. Maybe she drank it.
One thing that we like to do together, besides gossip, is kayak. She let me talk her into going with me a couple of years ago and she became hooked. So last year she bought a kayak. We tried to go at least every week. About July, I got an idea for her birthday, something that she needed and would make kayaking even more fun. I have held onto that idea ever since (an amazing thought since I can't remember anything for longer than 10 minutes). Anyway, today finally arrived. When she opened it she squealed and I cheered and her family looked at us like we were freaks. We're not freaks. We are just two "old" ladies who get excited over very silly things - like dry saks!

Saturday, January 10, 2009


I think sometimes a bad thing started out as good thing but as it evolved it became a monster. I believe that is the case with NCLB - No Child Left Behind. This is the act that was introduced by George W. Bush early on in his presidency. The thought is that by the year 2011 (I think) all children will be able to read proficiently, at their grade level. That is the only thing I pay attention to because that is what my teaching is judged on. For instance, in 2nd grade, an exiting student will be able to read 96 words per minute correctly. There are many other aspects to NCLB, including math and sciences. NCLB is a great idea, and completely possible, if all children came from the same mold. Unfortunately, that is not the way the real world operates.
Next week, we will have our second IRI (Idaho Reading Indicator) assessment of the year. All the teachers at our school are STRESSED. Why? Because if all your students don't get a 3 on the test (the highest score indicating proficient) you as a teacher are a big failure. It doesn't matter if a student entered 2nd grade reading 4 words per minute and now can read 34 words per minute. Each student was supposed to be able to read 82 words a minute as of January and yours didn't. Now you are a big failure. Well at least that is how you are treated by the administration. Our teaching has become consumed by it. We are teaching to a test - not teaching to an understanding of the concepts. Its like cramming in college. As soon as we teach it the concept is forgotten because we didn't really "teach" it - we just crammed it in.
One thing that the "powers" have forgotten is that kids aren't all consumed by improving their reading speed. Some are concerned with where they are going to sleep tonight or where they slept last night. Some are wondering if they will have any food over the weekend. Others wonder if they are safe. I have one boy that worries if his medicine is going to work or if he will attack himself or his family members uncontrollably. Only a handful come from families that actually care if their child reads or not - sometimes because they can't read. All of these factors have a great impact on how the student will perform. The pressure isn't just coming from local administrations. It has come from the big W. in the White House and trickled down.
I only hope that with a new president some things will change and I can become a teacher again and not an administrator of progress monitoring and tests. Until then, good luck to all of us.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Things to Accomplish in 2009

I'm not very good at setting resolutions. Actually, I'm really good at setting them. I'm just not so good at following through. So, I've come up with a new strategy. These are things that I would like to accomplish this year. Resolutions sound like such formal snotty things. Accomplishments sound easier to me. So, here goes a list of things to accomplish.

1. Lose 2o pounds (without getting pregnant - the only time in my life I've lost weight).
2. Go camping (outside, not in the living room) with my family.
3. Run a 10K or a 5 K depending on how I'm doing come July.
4. Whitewater rafting.
5. Read the Book of Mormon again.
6. Grow a beautiful (and plentiful) garden. This is unlike any I've ever grown.
7. Play at least one song on Guitar Hero on the hard level.
8. Hike to Table Rock and Union Falls.
I'll add to it as I think of more. This gives me a good start. I've noticed that is a lot to accomplish during the 3 weeks of summer that we have here. I wonder what I'll do during the rest of the year. Hmmm?