Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Amazing Adventures of Snakewoman

Transcription (because the handwriting hasn't improved much from his loin project last year):
The Amazing Adventures of Snakewomen (Part 1)
On summer vacation Mrs. Malik went to the rainforest.  She saw amazing animals but one night she went to sleep in the rain forest.  In the tent a scaly slithery thing slithered in.  A viper pit bited Mrs. Malik.  On the morning she didn't notice anything, but in school everyone saw Mrs. Malik differently.  She had a scaly body.  Then she noticed she was half snake and half human.

to be continued

(Part 2/2)
When Mrs. Malik got home that day she used everything to get rid of the scales but nothing worked.  So after that she was [watching] the news then she saw a villen (villain) destroying the city.  When she went downtown she saw the guy.  He was faster than a speeding waistband more powerful than boxer shorts (a nod to the Captain Underpants series).  He tired to stop her but Mrs. Malik was faster than a speeding scooter more powerful than metal.  After she stopped the bad guy, she called herself Snake Women.  She had two jobs now: an ELL teacher and a hero.  She was happy.


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Oh THAT meaning

Once upon a time a fellow fourth grade teacher was approached by a new, VERY limited English student.

He said, "Give me rubbers!"  His teacher's eyes bugged out, and she hollered for an Amharic-speaking classmate.  "WHAT does he want?!?!," always fearing the worst of 4th grade boys.  Translation from Amharic to English.  "Um, he needs an eraser."

British English.  Gets ya every time.

p.s.  Brownie points if you knew Amharic was the official language of Ethiopia.  Bonus brownie points if you can name the country (and/or language) directly to the north that gained its independence from Ethiopia in 1991.  WITHOUT using Wikipedia or Google!  (I have several students from this country too.)

Monday, September 3, 2012

Welcome back

Tomorrow is the first day of school.  As a teacher I interact with dozens of children each school year.  We just got word that my elementary school has hit the 800-mark for enrollment.  That is a LOT of students.  I attended two elementary schools which had 175 and 200 students each, so my current school population baffles me sometimes.  Students can have one of eight kindergarten teachers and then end up knowing only a handful of students in their first grade class after they've been shuffled around.

On Friday, students and their parents came to school for a few hours to meet their new teachers and see their classrooms.  After a quiet week at school, I loved hearing the walls echo with the sounds of high pitched voices.  My favorite part of the morning though, was being able to greet the students by name.

My first year of teaching I stood in the lobby of the school, armed with class lists and eager to assist anyone who needed it.  I didn't know anyone, much less the names and rooms of the classroom teachers.  I was fairly useless short of a welcoming smile.

This year I knew many of the students and parents who walked through the door.  I unfortunately forgot a handful of names I should have known, but it filled me with joy to greet most of them by name.  I could ask about their summers, their new baby brother, if they were ready for 1st, 2nd, or 5th grade.  And I received many, many hugs.

I am filled with hope and anticipation for the school year ahead.  For the relationships to be formed and the opportunity to get to know these students.  Teachers often spend more time with students than their parents are able to.  That is a humbling thought and a huge responsibility-- I have the ability to help mold these young lives.

Whether you are in a classroom, a cubicle, or at the grocery store, do you take the time to value the people you interact with and the influence you can share?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

“Dear Sir: Regarding your article 'What's Wrong with the World?' I am. Yours truly,” 
--G.K. Chesterton

I tend to have a VERY long-winded answer to that question.  Mean drivers on the Beltway, my neighbor whose cigarette-infused apartment insults greets me every day, interminably slow clerks at the store, red lights, Capitol Hill, Westboro Baptist, the cost of gas in Northern VA, and my current supply of chocolate in the pantry. 

When everyone and every thing comes to mind first, I find myself trying to blame them.  Moi?  There are MANY things far worse than me.

This perspective makes a mockery of the Gospel.  If we claim that we've never sinned, we out-and-out contradict God—make a liar out of him. A claim like that only shows off our ignorance of God (1 John 1:10, The Message).  A claim like that makes me look foolish and does not accurately portray God's character.

Instead I need to have the conviction of Paul who writes in 1 Tim 1:15, "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners-- of whom I am the worst."

If I am the worst of sinners, I am in desperate need of a Savior.  Unless I live a life wholly dependent on Christ and his gift of the cross, my life is hypocritical and wasted.  I don't want to become complacent with the story of how Christ died for me.  I want to daily recognize my need for Him and cling to his mercy and grace.

Note:  While the validity of this quote is of some question, the message makes it worthwhile for me, so I'm choosing to ignore the fact that there is no evidence Chesterton wrote this.

Sunday, June 17, 2012


Dads are good at teaching you things.

Dads teach you how to ski.  In style.

Dads teach you how to sleep when its noisy (I've mastered this skill).

Dads teach you the value of homemade ice cream.

Dads impart their awesome music skills.  Ok, or perhaps just their appreciation of music.

Sometimes LOTS of music.

Dads teach you to love.

Dads teach you to enjoy the simple things.

Thanks Dad!

Thursday, May 31, 2012


She is a teacher
She has pretty blue eyes and brown hair
She is very nice

Ok, so she might have missed the seven syllable count in line two, but I don't much care!  :)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

4th grade boy's worst nightmare

Today I invited a couple of boys to eat lunch with me.  When girls eat lunch with me, we gab.  We talk about boys, clothes, and more boys.  When boys join me for lunch, we discuss Nerf guns, low riders, full tackle football, and slimy things.  One boy mentioned that he reeeeeally wanted to see the inside of a stomach and a heart.

I explained that in high school science class he would get to dissect a frog.  In middle school I even got to dissect a squid.  My 7th grade teacher was so kind as to fry up some squid for us to sample after we finished poking the eyeballs and stomach.

"Like, did she serve you the testicles?" one boy inquired. 

His eyes bugged out.  "I mean, TENTACLES!!!!!!!!!"

Damage done.  Try shaking that one off.  Yeah, not so much.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Rehearsal Dinner III

McDonald's and Grasses student presented me with this during hall duty this morning.  Ideas for my wedding:

Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Rehearsal Dinner Help II

Still looking for a restaurant.  The student with the helpful suggestion of McDonald's spends Tuesday afternoons in my classroom while his younger brother participates in after-school chorus.  Said student usually does homework or plays games on the computer.  Noting my laptop with a restaurant website pulled up, he asked if I was still looking for a place.  Yes.

"You have many classes (rooms) in your house?  Or you have short classes?"
"Well, no.  I live in a small house.  And I am getting married in Richmond."
"Oh.  You have big field at the church?  With lots of grasses?"
"There is some grass.  What should we eat?"
"Hmm.  Maybe turkey.  Or something."

I need to hire him as my event planner.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Rehearsal Dinner Help

I sighed in frustration, reading an email from Mom informing me that yet another restaurant was unavailable for the rehearsal dinner.  As I sat down to start my pull-out class (5 rambunctious beginning English 4th graders), they asked me what was wrong.

"Well, when people get married in America, they usually have a big dinner the night before the wedding.  The restaurant I wanted is not available."

"Oh.  Well, what about McDonald's?" a helpful student asked.

"Yeah.  Grown ups don't even need toys," another replied.

Thanks for the suggestion guys!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

"We're going to study some new suffixes today.  The first one we're going to learn is -ful."

Wellllllll.  Thank you English language, for having an exception to everything!


Friday, March 30, 2012

Romance and Sacrifice

I was talking with a co-worker today about America's view on money, its sense of entitlement, and sacrifice.  I was reminded of this story and what a beautiful and wise picture it presents of all three ideas.

In My Shoes: A golden moment for silver aniversary

By Beckey Watson

Twenty-five years is a long time to be married.
We had been dreaming of ways to celebrate our silver anniversary — a cruise, a trip abroad — but as we grew older, our family grew larger, our savings smaller, and a simpler plan evolved.
We would spend a weekend at a bed and breakfast. And we devised a sort of trivia game to review our years together and test our memories. This would be our gift, a walk down 25 years of memory lane.
So on our anniversary celebration weekend, we set out for our destination, the historic Henry Clay Inn in Ashland. We walked across the street from the inn to have dinner at the Iron Horse Restaurant. We ordered wine, then dinner, and after a toast to ourselves we started asking each other trivia questions about our life together. We took our time, each stumped on one or two, realizing that 25 years was indeed a long time. I finished asking all my questions, and he asked the last one.
"What is the longest I've ever been able to keep a secret?" he asked me.
"Five minutes!" I shot back quickly. (I'm married to a man who has given me a birthday present early because he couldn't wait after it arrived in the mail.)
But seeing his slightly hurt look, I amended my answer to 24 hours, thinking I was being generous.
"You're wrong," he said, "the answer is five years."
I was shocked and a bit unsettled. My mind raced. What could he have kept from me for five years?
He handed me a velvet pouch. Inside was the most beautiful diamond ring I had ever seen. And I had seen it once before.
It had been shortly after our 20th wedding anniversary. We went to the jewelers to pick up a watch that was being repaired. While waiting, my eye caught this lovely diamond ring. I gasped; I said it was just the kind of ring I would love were I the kind of wife that craved diamonds. The gold filigree setting was intricate, the five diamonds in a row were modest. It fit perfectly on my finger. It was on sale.
My husband tempted me to get it, but I gave him plenty of reasons to put it back in the case: We didn't have the extra money. Twenty is a great anniversary, but we never purchase gifts. Something that special should be saved for a silver or gold anniversary.
I can tell you honestly, after I took off that ring and gave it back to the sales clerk, it left my mind. I knew it wasn't meant to be. We left the jewelers with the repaired watch.
I would recall later that after arriving home, my husband went back out to run an errand. But I didn't know he did something much, much more.
He called the jewelers, and they agreed to help him with an extreme layaway program. He scrimped on lunches, used money from his birthday cards or an occasional bonus from work. He never charged a dime on a credit card. He paid it off, and the real challenge began. He put it in his sock drawer. For years!
He then carried the ring in his pocket as we set off on our silver anniversary weekend. And then he finally, finally , gave it to me at dinner.
Yes, I remembered the ring instantly. It fit perfectly on my hand. I still think it's the most beautiful and unique ring I've ever seen.
I sat there in the restaurant ignoring a perfectly good meal while his tale unfolded. I cried. He cried. I kept repeating over and over, "I can't believe you did that!"
I couldn't imagine that anyone would have the strength to keep such a secret from me, our parents and children, neighbors and co-workers for five years.
Our budget was never compromised, although he made many personal sacrifices to accomplish his goal. I didn't protest that he shouldn't have; I accepted it for the beautiful gift it was meant to be.
But the wonderment of what he had done for me was the true gift. My husband had managed to wrap up every example of our 25 years of marriage in the gift of the ring — commitment, perseverance, sacrifice, love and beauty.
It was more than a diamond ring. It was like holding his heart in the palm of my hand.

Richmond Times-Dispatch © Copyright 2012 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General company.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


My self-contained 4th grade class (low-mid English level) is doing a research project on our favorite animals.  By research I mean that I pre-select the website, then bookmark the encyclopedia article, and check the corresponding book out from the library.  But they are learning how to use a variety of sources and how to synthesize information into their report.  However, the graphic organizer below is what I must deal with on a daily basis from one student.  Sadly, I can read it without much difficulty.  Any guesses to his country of origin (or alphabet)?

Also, be sure to watch out.  Lions prey on humans.  I better double check that book...

And, in case you were wondering, here is the finished copy!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Double consonants are key

Once upon a time 4th grade wrote realistic fiction stories.  We had street races remarkably similar to Fast and Furious (your OWN story), shark attacks, snowboarding competitions, and tornadoes.  You know, the usual stuff you'd expect for everyday life.  One of my new students from Sierra Leone pours her heart and soul into her work.  However sometimes you still need to work on the finer grammar points.

Don't worry.  I kindly pointed out her error before she presented to the class.  I look out for my kiddos.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Vignettes From Class

Today's lesson: Writing Biographies of Famous Virginians.  
Tomorrow's lesson:  Fact Checking

In other news, I taught this student how to use the space bar AND the enter key.  His biography of John Smith was forever changed.  And now readable.


New vocabulary word: fiance.
New homophone: right.

But I love them so!

E: (entering my room with a teacher in tow) "Hey!!!!  Ms. A!!!!!!!!  I miss you.  You're the best teacher ever!!"

Other teacher:  "Oh THANKS."

E: "Sorry!  I wasn't trying to be hurtful!"

Monday, January 30, 2012

Oh. THAT'S how you pronounce that...

Today in writing, we veered off topic by discussing how English has a lot of silent letters or swallowed syllables.  E.g. February, interesting, everyone.

One student shared that his middle name had a silent letter.  He began to spell, J-A-C-Q-U-E-S.


The "c" is silent.

The whole country of France is crying.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Tardy much?

First grade, where all the funny stuff happens.

Co-teacher: "Ok, so how can we put this in a sentence?"

Student A: "We allll come to school... together."

Co-teacher:  "Do we all arrive at the same time?  Together?

Student B: "Not MEEEEEE!  I'm late!!!"

Tomorrow's lesson perhaps?  The importance of punctuality and school attendance.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Big things have been happening in the life of well, me.  Hence my absence from blogging world.  In addition to ten glorious vacation days away from school, I also received one rocking Christmas present.  (Disclaimer: my siblings one and two gave me great gifts.  It's just hard to beat the other one I'm about to tell you about.)

Christmas Day:  My family went to church in the morning, marking three Christmas/Christmas Eve services in 18 hours.  Hard to believe, but it's not the record in our house.  We retreated home to lounge pants and presents and all the usual Christmas festivities.  After all was said and done, Dad mentioned he had forgotten his clarinet at church (in retrospect he has never ever forgotten an instrument).  We kindly volunteered to go claim it.  When we arrived at church I was feeling nostalgic and proceeded to give Shaun the GRAND tour of church.  I showed him the Children's Library where I read almost every book, the Youth Ministry, and the Parlor.  Poor guy was sweating bullets and trying to keep me away from his left pocket.

We arrived in the sanctuary and promptly retrieved Dad's clarinet.  Since we had a quiet sanctuary to ourselves, Shaun suggested we take some time to pray together.  As we finished praying, I opened my eyes and saw a red box.  With a RING!

I was so flabbergasted I laughed.  And then I cried.  And then I laughed some more.  Somewhere along the way Shaun got down on one knee, said some very sentimental things, and asked me a big question (I can't recall the details exactly.).  And then I managed a yes.

Shaun spun me round in circles, we kissed, and I haven't been able to stop smiling since!

Get ready!  July 7th is right around the corner!!  And we can't wait!