SOL 19: Kindergarteners Say What They Think

March 19, 2011

This past week, I just kept cracking up at the innocent things kindergartener students kept saying. I would share my  little story with different staff members, creating delight and laughter. So get ready to smile.

Thursday, I entered Mrs. B’s kindergarten classroom to work with two of her boys. Mrs. C, the assistant, had just walked in behind me. Being St. Patrick’s Day, Mrs. C had on a green sweater. I wore my bright green designed shirt. As Mark came towards me, his eyes grew big in amazement.  I could tell he was thinking of something special to say. “Why, Mrs. G, you have on a green shirt like Mrs. C.” I chuckled to myself and smiled. He didn’t realize it was St. Patrick’s Day and green was everywhere. 

On Friday, another kindergartener saw me and called, “Mrs. T, Mrs. T.” When I didn’t answer, he came over and said, “Mrs. T, I said ‘Hello’.”  Mrs. T works in our school office.

“Hello, Brad. Remember, I’m Mrs. G, not Mrs. T,” I corrected. Brad looked at me from head to toe and proceeded to say, “Ohhhh, well you look like Mrs. T.” Brad paused for a second and added, “I guess you are Mrs. G when you are not working and Mrs. T when you are.” I stared back, chuckling. What did he think I did all day? Change disguises?

SOL 14: Lucille Ball plus Junie B. Jones

March 14, 2011

This past week, I was involved in an RtI meeting (Response to Intervention), brainstorming ideas to help a young fourth grader. The mere mention of C’s name causes an immediate empathetic, “Ohhh”. All of her teachers color their hair due to the persistent manipulative personality of this young lady. C craves adult interaction. She is an attention-seeking addict, controlling her turf. Life outside of school is chaotic, unpredictable, and abrasive.

Focusing on her strengths, C is smart, an excellent reader, and definitely a great vocabulary handler. She’s humorous, tugging smiles and chuckles from those who interact with her. Her teacher is amused by her antics, yet simultaneously annoyed. C uses her skills to get what she wants from others. With her adult-like speech, C articulates like a lawyer. She clarifies and twists the boundaries of what has been asked of her.

I’m intrigued with this young girl, yet dumbfounded. C is queen of the class:  “Manipulation 101”. We struggled coming up with interventions to help C succeed within the boundaries of school rules and social graces with her peers.  Our hope is that we can make a difference with C. Our diligence will be the evidence.

As the team was reviewing C’s plan, her teacher summarized C’s personality with the following equation:

“Having C in my class is like having a mixture of Lucille Ball plus Junie B. Jones.”

Spring break – where are you?


SOL 9: Normal?

March 9, 2011

I entered a first grade class today to work with one of my students. E is a little squirrelly and often does not pay attention in class.  Well at least E is not paying attention to the teacher instructing. He’s usually paying attention to the laces on his shoes or the curls in his neighbor’s hair or the pencil rolling on his desk.

When we were walking to my room, I asked, “How are you today?”

E promptly answered, “I’m mostly normal.”

Enough said.


SOL 8: Kindergarteners Learning Chinese?

March 8, 2011

Kindergarten children are so spur of the moment. Their outlook on life is so innocent, free, and often times funny. They are sponges soaking in their learning and trying to decipher little marks, translating meaning within the lines.

As an interventionist, I work with 5 kindergartners each day. They are struggling with learning the letter sounds and sight words. They are learning to connect the sounds they do know with the letters those sounds represent.  Simple, you might say, but for kindergartners, I think our alphabet looks like Chinese characters.

Through this process, the kids say some of the funniest things. I usually try to just smile, but inside I’m cracking up.

Today, one little girl, K, announced, “I am going to read a book to my mom tonight. Not a hard one though (her face was so serious as she was shaking her head).  Just one that has these letters (pointing to the book in her hand).”  I thought to myself, what other letters are there?

Gotta love them.

SOL: April Fool’s Day

April 1, 2010

I had a fun experience today at school.  One cook, S, and our day custodian, M, play friendly pranks on each other.  In February, S asked me to join in the fun on M’s birthday.  On the morning announcements, I asked the students to wish M a happy 51st birthday.  Now, M is in his early fortys, and keeps to himself.  Last year, I had made the same announcement, except that he was 50 then.

When I saw M in the hallway, I was timid and stated that it wasn’t my idea.  “Oh, don’t worry.  I know it was S,”  M said, smiling.  “The only thing is that we had made a truce this year.  I was going to do something to her on her birthday, but didn’t because of our pact.  Now it’s too late.  Her birthday is six days before mine.”

We continued walking down the hallway when a thought hit me.  “M, April 1 is coming.  You could announce that it’s her 50th birthday then.”

M beamed.  “Great idea.  Will you do it?” How could I say no?

M added, “And you can say, ‘April Fools, she’s really 55!”  We laughed.

The month went by and M didn’t mention the prank at all.  I thought he had forgotten about it, until he stuck his head in my room on Wednesday and said, “Now you are going to make the announcement aren’t you?”  I laughed.  “Okay.”

This morning, I got on the PA and wished S a happy 45th birthday and encouraged all the children to mention it when they saw S going through the lunch line.  I then added, “April Fools – she’s really 50.”  (I had to say 50; I didn’t want S to be too mad.) I heard laughter spread in the office.

Later in the morning, S sent me an email, “You traitor.  You belong to the dark side now….watch your back.”

I replied, “S, I love you both.  I couldn’t help it.”

S replied, “Ok.  I must admit, that was a good one.”

April Fools Day – a crazy, pranking day for children…and adults alike.

Slice of Life: Kindergarten Round Up

March 26, 2010

Yesterday and today I was involved in Kindergarten Round-up.  Our incoming kindergarterners go through some formative activities to help the teachers have a better understanding of the child.  We introduced this style of Kinder Round-up last year and found the information to be very helpful.  Students needing immediate intervention where able to receive that within the first week of school.  Students identified as high ability were able to be provided with higher level activities.  Our speech and language pathologist was able to project some possible students for the fall.  Parents received important information from our principal.  They were able to view a video of activities their child would be involved in for the coming year.

My role – I’m the “holding pen” supervisor.  Everyone chuckled when I stated that, but the preschool room provided activities for the children waiting their turn.  Each one rotated through the stations.  It was rather animated watching fourteen children share, pretend, and interact with each other.  I survived.  My body is tired and I seem to be on neutral with my thinking.  The energy of young children – their amazing.

All day I had my notebook, jotting down little comments the children said or I observed.    One bright, verbal,  little girl, soon to be five, said, “I have been waiting for this day my entire life.”  Her eyes were wide with anticipation and sincerity.  We chuckled.  Below I have tried to summarize the Kindergarten Round-Up with a simple poem.

Kindergarten Round-Up

10 volunteers to help with transporting the children from one station to another

9 testers, including our school psychologist, to administer the informative activities

8 animal crackers as a snack

7 stations for the preschoolers to rotate through

6 times 10 (that’s 60) preschoolers attending the round-up

5 sessions offered in the two days, including an evening session

4 rooms for the round-up to be successful

3 Kinder teachers leading the way

2 hour sessions allotted  for each child

1 Holding Pen, where they play.

Slice of Life: Trust for Reflection

March 15, 2010

Today I was able to meet with several literacy coaches within our consortium.  I have the privilege of riding with a fellow lsols2literacy coach, but more importantly my friend.  I love sharing and reflecting with R.  She is insightful and thinks deeply about teaching reading and writing.  She makes me see another perspective and challenges my teaching.  We swap stories about coaching and brainstorm ways to collaborate.  We also swap stories about our family and give encouragement as mothers.

I appreciate the respect we give each other.  Our level of trust is high.  I can share my thoughts about coaching, knowing that I will get an honest answer.  Sometimes no answer is needed; just a listening ear.  R has helped me to be a better coach, a better teacher.  I need to reflect verbally with someone, someone I trust.

“Thanks for the rides, R.  You are the best!”

Slice of Life: First Graders

March 5, 2010

sols2 Two first grade boys just came to visit.  I had to stop and write to capture the cuteness of the moment.  Being a young forty-year old, I found this exchange to be amusing and wanted to share.

“Mrs. Gensch, is that you in that picture?” Kyle asked, pointing to a portrait of my husband and I.

“Yes, it is,” I responded.

The six-year-old stared at the picture a while with a quizzical look on his face.  “You sure did look different back then, Mrs. Gensch,” he finally responded.

“How so?” I inquired, wondering what was buzzing in his mind.

“Your hair was longer.  I don’t know.  You just look soooo different back in them olden days,” Kyle stated sincerely.  He smiled and left for class.

Them olden days,” I thought.  I wonder what he would say if my mother was here.

Slice of Life 4: The Creativity of a Young Child

March 4, 2009

Slice of Life Challenge hosted by TwoWritingTeachers

I have been working alongside a fellow literacy coach this week.  She’s a breath of fresh air.  I love being a learner  as a teacher and sharpening my skills as coach.  Today, I learned that the creativity of a young child can sharpen me more.

My friend, Miss Hamman, reintroduced herself to a kindergartner; we’ll call him Tyler.  Tyler is reading at a high level for a kindergartner.  Our goal was to see what strategies he was using when decoding new words and where to take him next.  As my friend introduced herself, she and Tyler had a casual conversation.

The conversation lead to Tyler writing her name.  “I tell my students that you can see two words – ham and man – so it makes it easy to spell.  Can you try that?”  Tyler did and then added, “HAMMAN – super hero.”

“Super hero?  Wow.  I’ve never been called a super hero, ” Miss Hamman replied to Tyler.  I was wondering where super hero came from.  Had he been reading a Superman book?

“You know.  You’re a super hero –  Ham Man – a man who shoots out ham,” Tyler matter-a-factly stated.  He then proceeded to make motions with his hands as an imaginary weapon shooting out hams.

It took me a moment to process what he had just said.  Ham Man.  A man who shoots out ham – who would have thought that?  Only a young child full of creativity and in a supportive learning environment.  An environment that promotes risk-taking and thinking beyond the literal.  An environment that applauds creativity.  A classroom.

Slice of Life 2: Kindergarten Innocence

March 2, 2009

I love remembering fun moments in the day.   Watching young children, they often enjoy life and are easy going.  I can learn a lot from them.   We’ve been working on community and helping each other through the learning process.  We celebrate each others learning.  This slice of life will bring much laughter to me each time I think of these boys.

I have been working in a kindergarten class as a literacy coach this past week.  This one particular day, I had finished the mini-lesson and was dismissing the youngsters to their seats.  Wanting to reinforce the colors they had been working on, I began by saying, “Girls with brown hair may return to their seats.”  A little boy, Max, was  sitting next to a colleague’s son, Brian.  Max innocently turned to Max, pointing to his hair and asking, “Is my hair brown?”

Without missing a beat, Brian gave him a quizzical look and said, “Dude, your not even a girl!”  I couldn’t help myself.  I began to chuckle.  Oh, the innocence of kindergartners.