Monday, June 30, 2014

June 2014 on FB

June 3: The boys were discussing names for their soccer teams at dinner tonight. Kanyon's team is orange, and they're called the flames. Jonah & Micah's team is orange, but they hadn't come up with a team name yet. Kanyon said "maybe you can be called the cheetos". I thought he said 'cheetas'. I said "good idea Kanyon! Cheetas because they're fast!". He was irritated I said that and replied "No! Not fast cheetas! CHEETOS!!! Because they're ORANGE!" Right...good one, son. ;D

June 4: I just passed my Government/Constitution college class final!!! Woot Woot! 3 credits closer to getting my degree!

June 11: We are so blessed to have family members in other states--it's fun to visit them and become familiar with other places besides Idaho. We are also grateful because it also really helped out our boys on their state reports for school last month! A big shout out to Mack Fisher (tell Lisa!), Tabbi Perkins, and Gideon Tolman! Thank you!

June 12: I've read mixed reviews about Maleficent, so I wasn't sure I wanted to watch it in the theater...BUT I did, and I loved it! Thanks Kerry for going with me! Then we had to watch the original Sleeping Beauty cartoon, too!!! Classic!

June 16: I loved spending this weekend with my hubby and boys! On Saturday, Josh took the boys to the fishing derby and there was a woman who was there with her young twin sons named Jonah and Micah. Seriously, what are the odds that her twins have the exact same names as my twins?!!

June 18: I just passed my college math class final with a score of 96!! I am elated

June 21: Last night we hosted a super fun church dinner party in our backyard. Afterwards, some of the adults got brave and tried swinging across the ditch on the rope swing. My attempt at it totally failed, but there were some who aced it. I videoed Jason Linger's attempt, which ended up being a crowd favorite due to its hilarity (I posted it on YouTube. It's titled "Jason's Rope Swinging")

June 23: Had the best time at the pool today!!! Kids played with their friends in the water non-stop for 3 hours, and I had good mom company in the shade!! I am an anti-Monday girl, but this was the best antidote for that!!

June 25: Just got back from a fun camping trip to Craters of the Moon with Josh and the boys, and their cousins and friends. We walked/hiked/explored/spelunked until our bodies ached. It was divine! Thanks for the great idea & good time Jennifer!

June 27: Shout out to my husband Josh for being the best chauffeur around! I like the way he drives; he really takes me places! :)

Friday, June 27, 2014

My last show

The short story is I won't be teaching elementary music next year.

The long story is...well, really long. It ends with my final student show (Kindergarten Graduation) on the last day of school this year: This is that story:

Last spring towards the end of the school year, our elementary principal began implementing the "Leader in Me" Program in our school, and he asked me if I would create songs and teach them to the children for each of the 7 Habits during this school year. The program is based on Covey's 7 Highly Effective Habits. All the teachers went to 3 days of training to prepare to teach the habits and incorporate them into their current teaching curriculums. I thought all summer long about how I could effectively teach these 7 habits to all the students, grades K through 4th, and have each child interested in learning songs that corresponded with each habit. I finally got the idea that I would create each song based on a cartoon theme song, and find a cartoon episode that exhibited that specific trait. I spent a lot of extra {aka unpaid} time devoted to creating these songs and lesson plans to go along with them that I would teach all my students, but it was a project that I thought would greatly benefit our students so I was willing to give it my best effort.

The first habit is "Be Proactive", which means making good choices and being responsible for our own actions and the consequences of those actions and choices. "Be Proactive" has 4 syllables, which was the same amount of syllables as "Sponge Bob Square Pants". So, I found an episode of that cartoon that exhibited the Proactive Habit: the one where Patrick really wants to earn an award since SpongeBob has so many, so he starts copying everything SpongeBob does. But then he still doesn't receive an award for being just like SpongeBob, so SpongeBob helps him realize that being himself is most important, and at the end, Patrick does his best at being himself, and he earns an award. Then I created a new song set to the tune "Spongebob SquarePants" but I changed the lyrics to go along with the Proactive theme. I showed the students this episode, and paused it throughout the episode to discuss what was happening and if SpongeBob and Patrick were being proactive at different times. Then when the cartoon was over, and all the discussions were done about what it means to be proactive and how the characters had this quality, I taught the students the new Proactive lyrics to the highly recognizable tune. 

On my 2nd day of teaching this lesson (I have a block schedule, so the students come on M/W or T/TH), there was a student who said his mom wouldn't allow him to watch SpongeBob. I assured him that we weren't doing this for recreational purposes, that we were learning a lesson that all the students in the school were learning, that this episode was rated G, and that it was approved of by the principal (I can't show anything higher than rated G without getting parent approval). As I started the cartoon, he plugged his ears, rocked his body back and forth in his chair, and started yelling. So, I turned off the cartoon, and told him that if he was going to disrupt the class in this manner, then he could go to the principal's office. And he did. The rest of the class finished the cartoon, had the discussions about the habit, learned the new song, and then they were excused.

When class was over, I went to the office and talked to the student and told him that I was glad that he stood up for what he thought was right, and I told him that I would never teach him or subject him to something that was inappropriate in my classroom. I told him that I didn't appreciate the way in which he disrupted the class as I was teaching the lesson, and I told him that his classmates looked up to him, and followed what he did, and how important it was to make good choices, and then I excused him. Then I informed the principal of the entire situation, and he said I handled it correctly.

A week later, this student's mother approached me outside of school just as I was going to lunch and she verbally attacked me. She told me that I had no place teaching children. She said anybody who knows anything would never show SpongeBob at school. She said it makes children "more stupid". I told her that it wasn't for fun, that it was to help teach the concept of  being proactive to the entire studentbody. She said that she didn't care my reasons, and that she'd gotten several mothers to sign a petition along with her to have me removed as a teacher. She said that my own children used "such profane language and were behaviorally bad" because I allowed them to watch SpongeBob at home. I told her that I couldn't believe she took this to a personal level; I thought she was only talking to me as a teacher. She said I handled the situation all wrong, and then she yelled "YOU NEED HELP!!!" as she stormed off.  I immediately went back in the school and told the principal what had just transpired so that it could be documented. He said he would take care of it, and to not talk to her again without the presence of administration.

Within the following week, I discovered that her son made accusations about me: that I'd sworn, that I'd called him names, and that I'd thrown chairs in class. So the principal interviewed each child in that class separately, asking them if each of those 3 things had happened, and if each student liked music. He reported to me that every child denied each of those 3 things happened--all except one. It was at this point that I started getting a substitute teacher for that one class every other day. For almost a month last fall, I refused to teach the class since the student obviously was making up things about me and reporting the falsehoods to his mother. But, the students in this class began behaving terribly, and after 3 weeks, I couldn't get any subs to take the class for me anymore. I was willing to use up all my sick leave all year long to do this, but after a month, the principal said he felt like it was important to the rest of the students in this class that I be there. I informed him that I'd been wrongfully accused and I didn't want to subject myself anymore to the abuse of this child or his mother. The principal offered this student the opportunity to do something else during music instead, but his mother refused that option and she insisted that he come to music class. So the principal told me he himself would come with this class to music, and I stopped getting subs. He only came with them for one week, but everything seemed like it was better. Or so I thought.

After this mother complained about me to the principal, she went to the superintendent, who told her that I did nothing wrong. This wasn't good enough for her, and she called the Idaho state Department of Education, and insisted that it was wrong of me to teach children. 

When my position became available 4 years ago, the school district was in between superintendents. The 3 people who interviewed me were the high school principal, the elementary principal, and the high school music teacher. The principals had learned of other school districts in the state that hired paraprofessionals to teach non-core subjects at the elementary level with supervision from a certified teacher in that same subject. Due to a lack of funding from the state, the school district could no longer afford to pay a certified music teacher at the elementary level, so the school board instead included the funding for this specific job in the district's 2-year supplemental levy. But in order to still adequately fund the high school music department, the elementary music teacher's pay was set at minimum wage, making it a paraprofessional's job. 

Two years ago, the state made changes as to how grades were entered, and a non-certified position could no longer give grades to students (before that, report cards listed grades from me on the H-honor, S-satisfactory, N-needs help, U-unsatisfactory scale). At all the music performances in the spring of 2013, I announced to the audience the reasons why the students no longer received grades from me on their report cards because I felt like it was important that they know the facts. Those were the facts that I knew, so those were the facts that I shared. 

Well, when this mother called the state last fall, they in turn called our superintendent. The state said it is illegal for a para to be alone with students and they gave the superintendent a deadline to have this problem resolved. My music building is separate from the nearby elementary and middle schools. I have the only classroom in the building, and I am alone for the majority of the day. This year, I co-taught 5th grade with the high school music teacher, so he was with me every morning for one hour, but I teach all the remaining classes K-4th myself. We thought if video cameras were installed in my classroom that the problem would be resolved, but the state said that wasn't good enough; supervision had to be present, not just observed. The teachers and personnel had several brainstorming sessions, trying to come up with ideas to solve this problem (without any extra money to hire a certified teacher). For 2 months, I didn't know if I was going to have a job anymore or not. Every week, meetings were had, ideas were presented, deadlines were extended, stress was high, and life was unsure. Finally, on the last day of November, I applied to the state for an emergency hire teaching authorization. 

During this same time, I decided that it was time for me to go back to college and get my teaching degree. I always said I would go back when my youngest was in school full day, which was this year since Kanyon was in 1st grade. I got in contact with a local education counselor, and I applied at Western Governor's University. I got my SUU transcripts and AP tests transferred, I took a 3-part application test, and I applied for financial aid. I was admitted to the university in December. 

In February, I began my first semester at WGU, and two weeks after starting my online classes, I got my acceptance letter from the Idaho state board of education saying they approved my emergency hire provisional authorization to teach only until the end of the school year. 

I was hoping that if I worked really hard this summer taking the required 12-week pedagogy course and taking and passing the state-mandated Praxis II test, that the state would allow me to continue to teach as long as I was enrolled in college and actively working towards my teaching degree. I found out in April that the state wouldn't accept this: I had to already have a Bachelor's degree of some sort in order to continue teaching music. I discovered at the end of April (not officially, but through the grapevine--which bothers me) that the school had a replacement for me and I would be transferred to a different department next year (which I still have no idea where).

This whole process has been extremely difficult for me, and it all started with an angry parent who would take nothing less than having me removed from my job. She got what she wanted, and I lost big time. I learned a lot of hard lessons along the way, like: which teachers would throw me under a bus in order to comply with requests, and which parents follow misguided people rather than stand up for what's right. 

On the opposite side of that spectrum, though, I've also been blessed to know some good-hearted people, like a superintendent that stood by me even when it wasn't popular, a district secretary that called the state and relentlessly tried from every angle to have me keep my job, a citizen of the community who called and expressed her admiration and praises for what I've done for the music program in the last 4 years, and for good teachers and kind parents who've expressed their appreciation to me for bringing fun and love of music to the children. 

At the last music concert of the year in May, the high school music teacher (my friend John) presented me with a gift of flowers and chocolate, and publicly acknowledged his appreciation for my help this year in teaching 5th grade band with him. He had the audience applaud for me, and I teared up. I felt so loved and appreciated and emotional. Afterwards, a lady approached me. I teach 3 of her children, and I know who she is, but she's never talked to me before. She came up to me during the middle of the high school concert and told me how much she appreciates me teaching music and how her two younger children have really showed an interest in it, and how they love going to music, and how they have been more confident this year because of my music class. It was a moment that I will always treasure. It's also the moment it all became real to me.

I feel sad that I won't be able to continue teaching music next year. I feel like I've been wronged--I willingly accepted a request by my principal to make and teach songs to better the students' leadership abilities, and in doing so, my job ended as a result of it.  

I will say, though, that I did not give up on my teaching of the 7 habits, despite the feelings of failure I had in teaching the first one. I was determined to finish what I started, and I taught one habit a month to all the students until May. For each habit, I showed a cartoon clip, taught a lesson about the habit, and had the students sing and memorize the song I created to go along with the habit. In addition to that, the new habit was highlighted each month at the school assembly: chosen classes sang the new habit song and presented a habit skit to go along with it (that I wrote). Despite having one student and one mother who despised me, the vast majority of the students understood the concepts through cartoons. They loved these lessons, loved the presentations at the assemblies, and loved learning and exhibiting the leadership habits. 
Every time I taught a habit song, I added that habit
on my office door in the hallway that the students
pass as they enter the music room.
Even though I have been relieved from my position as a music teacher, I feel like I have been a success at what I set out to do: teaching students that music is fun, music is meaningful, and music is important in all aspects of life. I know that as long as the 2-year levy passes in Salmon, there will be music in the elementary school. Even though I found out in April that I wouldn't be teaching music anymore, I didn't share that information with the students or parents. I didn't announce it at my spring musical programs because the levy was coming up again in May, and I didn't want the announcement to negatively affect the outcome. I think music and P.E. are important for the students to have in their daily curriculum at school, and I don't want the students to lose out on that, regardless of who teaches it. 

There have been a lot of changes in the school district this spring... We found out the middle school would be closing this summer, and with that, my music building too. We found out that 6th, 7th, and 8th graders would now be attending the high school next fall. We found out that a portable would be brought in at the elementary school to house 5th graders, and portables would be added to the high school for the 6th graders. We found out that the elementary roof would be replaced over the summer. We found out the school board president resigned (due to a petition with the same person on that committee that wanted me removed as a teacher). We found out the superintendent and the elementary principal resigned. It's a lot of changes all at once. EVERY teacher in the middle school and elementary schools had to box up everything in their classrooms by the end of school. Boxing up my teaching materials forced me to say goodbye to teaching as well as goodbye to my classroom and stage. 

Now we're nearing the end of this story. The final day of school was my last student musical show: Kindergarten Graduation. I've always created the musical program myself for this event, tweaking it every year to make it different and new. This year, I added each of the 7 Habits songs to the program, and had 3 different students talk for each of the 7 habits and what they learned about that habit. Then all the students sang a fun & popular song about something they learned in Kindergarten that incorporated that habit. The Graduation included 16 songs, and was broken up into 7 sections--and yet the musical portion of the program still only lasted a half hour! (If it lasts any longer than 30 minutes, the young students have a hard time standing.) For example: 3 students talked about what it means to be proactive, then we sang the proactive song, then we sang "Wheels on the Bus" because the students learned to be proactive on the bus. Then 3 more students talked about the 2nd habit, we sang the 2nd habit song, and we sang a fun song that incorporated that habit into their kindergarten learning, and the process was repeated 5 more times.
Miss Jane is a school volunteer who sings songs with the children
as she plays her guitar. She joined us for 2 songs in the K grad. program.

The following are the 7 Habit songs I created that were performed at Kindergarten Graduation (they were also sung at the monthly school assemblies throughout the year, but this is the first time they were performed for the public).

**The first 3 habits focus on individual behaviors, so the cartoons showed individuals exhibiting the specific trait.**
(to the tune of "SpongeBob SquarePants")

When you have a choice between right and wrong,
If you can't decide, just think of this song,
You are responsible for actions you choose,
So think win-win and no one will lose!
Be Proactive, Be Proactive, Be Proactive, You're in charge of YOU!
da-na-na-na-na-na-da-na (imaginary whistle on nose) 

(to the tune of "Popeye the Sailor Man")

Begin with the end in mind! {toot toot}
Begin with the end in mind! {toot toot}
Step 1 is the vision, Step 2 is the mission,
Begin with the end in mind! {toot toot}

Begin with the end in mind! {toot toot}
Begin with the end in mind! {toot toot}
A plan I do make, An action I take,
Begin with the end in mind! {toot toot}

Habit #3: PUT 1st THINGS 1st 
(to the tune of "Whistle While You Work" from Snow White)

I work before I play, I put 1st things 1st.
I choose to grin, then start right in, to get the hard work done.
I work before I play, I put 1st things 1st.
I do my best, then take a rest, to play and have some fun. Yay!

**The next 3 habits are focused on being team players, so the cartoons showed groups working together exhibiting the traits.**

(to the tune of "Chip & Dale's Rescue Rangers")

Th-th-th-think win-win, when there's conflicts.
Th-th-th-think win-win, don't fight; help fix.
No, no it never fails when I'm involved,
I know the problem can be solved.

Th-th-th-think win-win, we're a team.
Th-th-th-think win-win, be nice; not mean.
No, no it never fails, let's have some fun,
And find a happy solution.

Th-th-th-think win-win. Th-th-th-think WIN-WIN!!

(to the tune of "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles")

Seek 1st to understand, Seek 1st To understand, Seek 1st to understand,
Then to be understood. Listen Up!

Listen with your ears and eyes and heart,
Understand what's being said before you start.
When you hear before you share,
You send the message that you care.

Seek 1st to understandSeek 1st To understand, Seek 1st to understand,
Then to be understood. Listen Up!

(to the tune of "Smurfs Song")

Lalalalalala We can Synergize!
Lalalalalala Teamwork Unites!

Lalalalalala When we cooperate,
Lalalalalala Sharing ideas is great!

Lalalalalala Together we create
Lalalalalala Better ways to communicate.

Lalalalalala We can Synergize!
Lalalalalala Team-Work U-nites!!

**The last habit is about bringing enjoyment to one's life**

(to the tune of "Everything is Awesome" from the Lego Movie)

Everything is awesome! Everything feels good when you sharpen the saw.
Everything is awesome when you take time to renew.

Everything is awesome! Everything feels good when there's balance in your life.
Everything is awesome when you do things that you like. 

Everything is awesome! Everything feels good when your bucket is full.
Everything is awesome in your heart and mind and soul.

I cried during their graduation; they did such a fabulous job and I was thrilled with their performance! It was so sad for me knowing that this was my last show, but it was truly a good one to end with! I was just so proud to be their music teacher! The Kindergarten teachers had the students present this to me at the end of the program, which made me cry even more!

It's been a good run. I've learned a lot over the past 4 years, enough to know that I enjoy what I do and I'm good at teaching. It's going to take me about 2 years to finish getting my teaching degree, and then I will be back doing what I love!!!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Fun Games in exchange for Child Labor

Twas the night before the last day of school in May, and my children were whining that they wanted to go play on the bounce houses and laser tag games that the Middle School got to have at their school party that day. 

There was a fundraiser after school using these games & toys, and I told the boys I would take them to the activities and pay for them to play AS LONG AS they would help me in return afterwards.

The following morning was Kindergarten Graduation, and I needed to set up about 180 chairs in my building that night, but I had to wait until Laser Tag was over, because it was set up in the same part of the building that a majority of the audience chairs would be (there's a sliding wall that opens up between that extra room and my music room). 

I thought it was a brilliant idea: they would get to play, and I would have some slave labor help assist me in setting up all those chairs. I took the boys in, and they played for about an hour.

Kanyon getting ready to play Laser Tag with Abby

Kanyon jumping in the bounce house outside.

Jonah & Micah getting ready to turn
themselves out around a giant steel frame.

Halfway to being completely upside down!
The wind had picked up that afternoon, so the inflatable obstacle course was taken down by the time we arrived. Jonah and Micah were sad that was gone, because they'd been looking forward to playing on it. The boys spent more time waiting in line for the activities than actually playing, so they disappointed by the time the fundraiser ended. I took them to Burger King for ice cream cones as an extra incentive to feel like they got a good deal before helping me out.

Putting up chairs with them ended up not being the best idea. They were still whiny, and tired, and I think I spent more time getting after them to help me than just putting up chairs myself. I was getting increasingly irritated because I'd kept up my end of the bargain by paying for activities they wanted to do, but they were failing their end by not making setting up chairs easier and faster for me! In the end, all 185 chairs were set up, so it wasn't a complete failure, just a frustrating one. 

This was a good lesson to me why it's always better to put work before play!!! Then the playing would've been the reward instead of the uneven barter!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The last graduating class

The last week of school was a busy one for Ammon. After completing testing in his classes, though, it was a fun kind of busy! 

The music concert was the night of Thursday, May 22. The Savage Band played 3 songs, and he was a soloist in one of the songs. He was so glad the day he found out that he'd have a solo part. He did a good job, and we were so proud of him! Unfortunately, I'd forgotten my camera in the car (long story), and his band was the first group to perform and the song he had the solo in was the first song at the concert, so I didn't record it. During the 2nd song, though, I ran out to the car and got my camera, and took a photo of the band playing during their final song. It was an awesome concert! We enjoyed listening to every group perform!

The 8th grade went on a field trip to Discovery Hill in Salmon the last week of school. He brought his bike from home, and the students all rode their bikes on a trail up there. They were provided with a hot dog barbecue for lunch, and then they played frisbee golf on a wild hillside course there that afternoon. He said he had a fun day, but it was super hot, and the kids had a water fight after lunch with all the drinking water, and by late afternoon they were regretting it because they all got super thirsty!

There was a middle school party the day before school got out that lasted all afternoon at the school. There was a barbecue lunch, a softball game, inflatables, and laser tag.

On the morning of the last day of school, the middle school had an awards assembly. Ammon received an award for having a 3.9 or better his entire time at SMS. There were only 5 students in his grade that received this award, and we are so proud of him for working so hard to achieve this academic success!

School was out early on the last day, and the final event for his last week of school was 8th grade graduation. This is the last graduating class from Salmon Middle School. Because the bond attempts have failed for so many years to build a new school, this school is no longer safe and usable and will be torn down. Portable buildings are being brought in this summer to add to the high school and the elementary school. The high school will now become a Jr./Sr. school with students from 6-12 grades, and the 5th grade will be added to the elementary. So this 8th grade graduation included many "lasts".
The last graduating class from SMS.

The night before graduation, Mrs. Cook (the principal) called and ask Ammon to be one of the speakers. She asked the 3 valedictorians (who had a 4.0 GPA during their 4 years at SMS) to speak for a few minutes. Ammon wasn't sure he wanted to do it, and he told Mrs. Cook that he's not a good public speaker, but she told him he was a leader and that he only had to speak briefly for a minute. Kaitlyn Burgess & Jett Kauffman gave the other "valedictorian" addresses.

He gets his mumbling speaking abilities from his father. Unfortunately, Josh wasn't able to attend the graduation because he was out of town. So, I recorded Ammon's brief speech for him...but it's hard to understand what he's actually saying during this 30-second talk (the sound system doesn't help much, either: it's too small for the giant-ceilinged gym). 

It was a nice graduation, complete with an excellent speaker (Mrs. Burgess), a nice musical number by the SMS choir ("For a Moment"), a talk by the principal Mrs. Cook, and a slide show set to music of all the classmates. The slideshow included these two pictures:

Then all the students received their diploma certificates by the school board president and retiring math teacher Mr. Goodell.

The 8th grade cheering at the end of graduation!
This is a unique class, with a lot of excellent kids. We are so glad that Ammon has been able to grow up with such a great group of kids. Through the years, lots of good kids have moved to Salmon, and we are so blessed that he has friends like these:
Hunter, Jett, Ammon, Garrett, Ethan

I can't believe my oldest is now a high schooler!!! Also, he just won't stop growing taller: he's going to be tall like his dad (well obviously he didn't get his height from me because he's already surpassed me!).

Congrats to the last graduating class from Salmon Middle School! (Can you find Ammon's signature below?)

Monday, June 23, 2014

Their last side-by-side schooling

Jonah and Micah were both in the same school class again this year--which we decided would be their last time together. Up until now, we've always requested they be in the same class together, and they have been ever since they were 3 years old in pre-school.  It's just so much easier for me this way: to volunteer as a room mom in just one room, to schedule parent/teacher conferences with just one teacher, to go on field trips with just one class, to help with homework that's the same, etc. But as 5th graders next year, they won't have the same teacher all day long anymore; they will have a home room teacher in the morning, then have a class schedule rotating between 3 teachers throughout the day, and we aren't requesting they be in the same home room class. I think it will be good for them to have a change, and to not always be in the same class as each other. Also, it's okay for me too, because I don't like volunteering weekly to help with 5th grade and above: I have learned that scheduling becomes too difficult and it's not as much fun when they get older.  

Jonah and Micah had a fabulous 4th grade year. They had Mrs. Baker again (they had her in 2nd grade too), and they loved her! They both told me on multiple occasions throughout the year that 4th grade was the best year they had at elementary school, and that they were so happy that they got to have Mrs. Baker as their teacher again. 

They had a fun class, and made some new friends this year, too. They both did very well on their academics: especially in reading and spelling. Math became harder for them this year, and they really had to work at it in order to maintain an A grade in the subject. Micah got really frustrated occasionally with his math work, and both he and Jonah started bringing their math work home for Josh and I to check their work and to help them better grasp the concepts. They both enjoyed learning about Idaho history, which was a new subject this year. They also learned Science, which Jonah finds more interesting than Micah. But Micah found a new passion for art, and Mrs. Baker did lots of art projects that he really, really liked. Often, he would come home and continue the art project because he enjoyed it so much. They both of course loved P.E., and they liked music, too--Micah especially liked learning how to play the ukulele in music class. 

I got to volunteer once a week reading to their class all year long, which I truly enjoyed. I loved reading the longer chapter books to them, and using voices for the different characters. I read several books to them throughout the year, including 'Frindle', 'Nim's Island', and 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory'. I just LOVE Roald Dahl books! I finished the Chocolate Factory book the very last week of school, and I brought the kids all a piece of real chocolate from England (it is SO much better than American chocolate!). Josh's friend Sam sent us a package from England with some unique chocolate bars in it, and I split up the chocolate bars into little bits (just like Charlie would eat his special birthday chocolate once a year) and each child got to have a piece. Then they watched the original movie, and discussed the differences between the book and the film. I will miss reading to these kids--I've been a guest reader in Jonah & Micah's classes ever since they were in 1st grade!

The 4th grade track meet was at the high school field a week before school got out at the end of May. Jonah and Micah had been practicing in P.E. class and running at home to prepare for this meet for almost two months. I took the afternoon off work, and Josh came over to watch them, too. The weather worked out perfectly--it was sunny and beautiful. Their P.E. teacher Mrs. Kirkpatrick was so organized, and the track meet took several hours and everything ran smoothly! They were in multiple track and field events.

Jonah did the 4x100 relay race. His team members were Mason, Nathan, and Colter. Jonah ran the 2nd section of the relay. He's wearing a blue/green shirt and an orange hat, and he's handing the baton off to his teammate Mason (wearing the orange shirt) in this photo:
It was a close finish between them and another team, and they ended up winning!

Micah ran the 400m. He had a good race, and it was a close finish. Tyler just barely beat him by 1 second.

Micah also ran the 100m, which had the most entries in it due to its short length!

Jonah ran the 200m, and he also ran a great race. It was another super close and very exciting finish, with Toby just barely beating him!

Jonah did the softball throw, which was another popular events among the 4th grade boys.

And Micah had a strong long jump!

Jonah and Micah both did the gunny sack race, an event they both love and one they've done very well at the last few years.

The last individual/group event was the 3-legged race. I tried to convince Jonah and Micah to be a team, because they'd have a great advantage over the others: they're the same size and they live together so they could practice. But, neither one of them wanted to be on a team with each other. Jonah teamed up with Mason, and Micah didn't participate in it.

They both did well at the track meet, and each earned two placing ribbons. Jonah's team got 1st place in the relay, and he got 3rd in the 200 meter with a time of 39.16 seconds. Micah got 3rd in the 400 meter with a time of 1:33 and placed 4th in the long jump with a distance of 8'7". 

The last week of school was a busy one for them. They had class parties, assemblies, and class field trips. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to attend very many of their happenings, but I'm glad they had so many fun opportunities.

At the final school assembly, they both earned Terrific Kid awards for earning all A's on their report card, which they worked hard to get. They both also received the 100% Attendance award for the entire year! They had a goal to receive this again, and were so glad to earn the award which comes with prizes to local stores.

Their 4th grade class went fishing to Kid's Creek Pond one morning. They took their fishing poles to school, and Jonah came home with two fish!  

They went ice blocking on the high school hill for their final AR goal reward, and although they said they had a numb butt and cold fingers by the time they were through, they had a great time!

They attended a 4th grade talent show, but chose not to participate (although Micah said if he'd learned a ukulele song before the auditions had been done, he would've done it).

They watched movies and had treats in their classroom, and had extra recess time with Mrs. Barningham, too.

On the last day of school, their class had a special brunch. Several of the parents brought in food for the kids, and they had a yummy feast celebrating their final day of 4th grade.

I'm so glad they had a wonderful experience their 4th grade year. They worked hard, but they had a lot of fun, too. Mrs. Baker did an excellent job teaching her students about the 7 Habits, and they were all given opportunities to be class leaders throughout the year. Jonah's job was the class Secretary, and he had to deliver messages to other teachers as needed. Micah's title was Grounds Crew, and he was responsible for checking the cleanliness of the room at the end of the day and the students couldn't leave until he gave the final approval. Mrs. Baker had the students all keep track of their goals and progress for each school subject in individual binders. They also attended Parent/Teacher conferences and showed their parents the binder and gave overviews of what they were doing and how they were doing in school. I was impressed with the way Mrs. Baker taught them to be self-sufficient leaders!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The last 1st

Kanyon had a great year in 1st grade. He really loved his teacher Mrs. Born, and we were so lucky that he had her! She is fun, creative, has a great sense of humor, is knowledgeable, and she has routine and schedule in her classroom, which is what Kanyon thrives on. This is a photo of Kanyon with his teacher by his cubby.

Above the cubbies, you can see some of their last art projects of the year on display. They made self-portraits, and framed them using noodles, glue, and spray paint. They also created poems about themselves that were hung next to their drawings. 
I love that Kanyon's frame included placing the macaroni in a certain pattern. He is a lover of patterns, which I appreciate (he gets that from me!). Also, I thought his poem was hilarious. When I first saw it hanging in the hallway, I stopped and read it and when I got to the 3rd paragraph, I laughed out loud for several minutes!

Kanyon has done so well as a first grader. He liked going to full-day school, and adjusted very quickly to the new longer schedule (which includes THREE recesses!! (in kindergarten there's only one recess for half-day school)). He's really advanced in his reading abilities, and he continues to excel in math. He did better this year with art projects, too--they really frustrated him last year because he could never create on paper what he could see in his mind. He loved P.E. and music class--he's always humming or singing something. And he liked when he got to be the student of the day because they're the line leader, and the calendar leader, and they get to bring show-and-tell items.

I read to Kanyon's class for 20 minutes every Monday, and I really enjoyed it. I was glad for the opportunity to read young children's literature to his class. I like being involved in my children's classrooms because I get to know their peers better, too. I'm sad that this is the last time I will have a 1st grader--I really like 1st graders: they're young and naive, they're funny and excited to learn, they're becoming independent readers, and they have very active minds and bodies.

I missed Kanyon's first field trip this spring because it was the same day as the twins' field trip to Montana. His class walked to the city library, and he received his official library card and checked out his first book! His second field trip was one the entire 1st grade went on together. A bus took them all up to the CDC park for picnic and play time. I went up that afternoon for about an hour and a half, and was so glad I did! It was a warm, sunny afternoon and the kids were having such a good time!

He laid in the shade and said "Take of picture of me, mom!"

So then I said I took the picture he wanted, now he could take a picture with me!
He was so excited for this field trip! I took him shopping the night before so he could pick out items he wanted in his lunch. Then he woke up early that morning and packed his lunch all by himself! I was impressed! It was just an affirmation to me of just how much he's grown up this year!

Rolling down the hill (on a full stomache, too!)

Giving a piggy-back ride to his friend Marisa.
His friend Wyatt is giving a piggy-back ride to Abby.

A group of fun first graders and Mrs. Born, too!

Kanyon and his best friend Keegan.

Kanyon with his best buddies: Abby, Keegan, & Wyatt.
It's bittersweet watching children grow up!!!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Natives and Nature

A majority of Jonah & Micah's 4th grade Social Studies curriculum this year was learning about Idaho history. And in the part of the state where we live, there's a lot of history about Lewis & Clark, Sacajawea, and the Nez Perce Indians. So, as part of their learning experience, they got to go on two field trips this spring to places that taught them more about the local Native Americans' history.

In the middle of May, they walked over a mile to the local Sacajawea Center where the Bigleys instructed them at the Outdoor School. I went over there for about an hour and a half on my lunch break, and enjoyed watching them learn about the culture of Native Americans. When I got there, they were digging for artifacts:

Then they showed each other what they'd discovered during the dig, and they were allowed to keep most of the items they found. They found some arrowheads, clay pieces, animal bones, coins, and other small items.

Then they learned how the Indians would receive their names when they were of age: about 9 or 10 years old. They had a little ceremony, and each of the children received a new Indian name.

the children took turns playing the drum during the ceremony

After that, they learned how to make arrowheads and different types of food, but I had to leave and go back to work at the school. The students also had a trade blanket, and each child brought different items to trade with others in the class (it was just their class that was there--each 4th grade class went separately that week). They were there all afternoon, and got a bus ride back to school before the end of the day. They had a good time on their first field trip!

Their next field trip was a week later. This time, the entire 4th grade went on a bus together to the Big Hole National Battlefield near Wisdom, Montana. It's the site of a battle in 1877 where 90 Nez Perce Indians and 30 U.S. Army soldiers died. It's about an hour and 15 minutes northeast of Salmon, just over the pass.  I took the day off work to go with them. Because there was only one bus, and over 60 kids and lots of chaperones, I opted to drive myself there so that I didn't have to share a seat with two kids! It was a good call, and I enjoyed the quiet time! When we first arrived, we were a little early, so we got a few group pictures.
The whole 4th grade

Mrs. Baker's 4th grade class
We rotated between 4 stations learning about different Indian traditions and stories. The outdoor station at the tepee was interesting--the students learned how every piece of a buffalo was used by the Indians--even the bladder bag was used as a water carrier!

The students got to try and buffer out part of a buffalo skin. It was hard work!

The other 3 stations were in garages where the workers live during the summer. The kids listened to 3 different Native Americans talk about their history and tell stories.

Then we had a picnic at the lower part of the site, and then the students became involved in an army re-enactment. The leader was loud, and very directive, and funny! Everyone had to march in two lines around the parking lot together.

We were then split into groups again to go around and listen to park rangers talk at different places in the park about the battle that happened there between the Native Americans and the U.S. Army. As we were walking to our first stop, we saw a few animals, including these:
There were a ton of ground squirrels running around. They were fascinating! As we were walking, a moose ran about 20 feet in front of us as well. The tour guide made us all stop, as moose charge humans (I had no idea!). That was extremely cool for the kids to see the large animal so close! We spotted it again after we reached our first destination.

Our group's first outdoor location was at the site of the Nez Perce camp. There are empty tepees there now to memorialize those that lost their lives. A park ranger went over the history of the battle from the Nez Perce side. Then the students got to hang a ribbon on a tepee of their choice.

Then we walked to our next station. It was a beautiful day among peaceful surroundings.

At the next stop, another park ranger talked to them about some of the differences between the Indians and Soldiers.

Our next stop would've been to go up on the hillside and learn about the battle from the soldiers' viewpoint, and see the army monument, but we had to leave in order to make it back to the school on time. The kids were all disappointed that we didn't get to spend more time viewing the outdoor places. I had seen it before when I went on this same field trip with Ammon when he was in the 4th grade, so I told the boys we would go back there sometime as a family so they could see the rest.

The boys were happy to spend the whole day away from school, and we were glad it was good weather while we were there, too. Their favorite part was seeing the wildlife animals and hanging a ribbon on the tepee.