Category Archives: Teaching

Reading and Writing, Arithmetic Taught to the Tune of an iPad?

Today was a good day. The sun was shining as a warm breeze blew. Sweet G and I sat at the kitchen table doing school with the back door open letting the glory of springtime fill the house.

I am amazed at the progress Sweet G is making since we bought the iPad for him. He sits and “plays” on it for hours. Today he worked on two new apps we bought over the weekend. One of the apps helps with phonics. The iPad calls out a word, gives three boxes for the child to put the correct spelling in, and calls the individual sounds of each letter. This has always been a very difficult thing for G but today he amazed me with the ease he displayed while using the app. He also played with an app using sight words. It has 1000 most commonly used words in the English language. G worked through the first list today and loved it.

G also worked on a math mastery app. He was practicing adding one to the numbers one through ten. This has been a difficult area for G also. I noticed that as we were playing it together that G kept looking up. I knew what he was doing immediately. He was using the hundred number chart to get his answers. Some may think that is cheating but I don’t. He is learning to use tools to assist him. I didn’t tell him to do it, he just made the connection and saw what adding one means.

Teachers in the past have said he is incapable of doing any of this work. Psychologists have given us some very bleak predictions as well. Independence was one of the main goals of the school system for G but they were never able to help him achieve it. A $1,000.00 piece of technology has opened up the world of learning to G. Independence is no longer an issue. I tell him which activities he is assigned and he completes them. He always goes above and beyond what I have planned for the day.

G never fails to watch a Brain Pop video. Most of them are far more advanced than he needs but he watches them and he learns. Yesterday he watched one on autism without me. He told me afterwards that they talked a lot about brains. Today the video was about Maya Angelou. He learned that she read one of her poems at President Clinton’s inauguration, that she had a hard childhood, and about the effect segregation had on her life. G made the connection of Maya Angelou and segregation to the movie, Driving Miss Daisy, that we watched on Saturday. “That’s why the man couldn’t use the bathroom at the service station isn’t it Momma?”

He is one smart little boy. There is so much potential just waiting for a way to come out but trapped somehow. $1,000.00 is nothing compared to the cost of most of G’s technology needs but just look how much it has already accomplished. I am excited about the things that little boy is going to do! Lord, use him to confound those who look at him and only see limitations. Glorify yourself through the achievements of our Sweet G.


Back in the Hallway

Since it is now 12:30 a.m. it is officially the last day of my student teaching. I have spent the past two days assessing my students individually and have really enjoyed having a few minutes to enjoy each of them without the distraction of 15 other children competing for my attention. Each one of them has a unique personality and I love them all for different reasons. Some of them have personalities that scream “leader”. Some are sweet and quiet while others are loud and active. I giggled at the way some of them squirmed around as they read to me. I caught myself before I told them to sit down and be still. It was if God was saying, “let them be who they are and observe the way they learn.”

I know that I should be ecstatic at the thought of graduating but to be honest I am not. I have had a goal before me for the past three years. I knew that at the end of each semester I would be registering for different classes but they would still be classes all the same. I thrive when I have direction. I love to have a clearly planned path to follow. When I vacation I spend weeks researching and planning an itinerary. I know it sounds crazy to most people but my vacation lasts much longer than most people’s do. I get to plan and dream for weeks prior to even packing the first thing! I know the things I want to do while I am there and rarely come home to discover there was something I wanted to do while I was at my vacation destination that I missed out on. That is just the way I roll. I am a list making, over thinking, schedule oriented individual.

I am having panic attacks because suddenly I feel that I am drifting with no sense of direction. I am in one of the hallways of life. The hallway is filled with many doors. Big doors, little doors, elaborate doors, plain doors. Some doors have signs hanging outside them but I cannot tell if they will open if I try them. There are other doors that seem to be cracked just a little but there is not enough light coming out to tell if that is a hopeful place to go. So I stand here in the hallway, waiting. I am trying to wait patiently without stomping in frustration. I am seeking direction from my Heavenly Father and trusting that He has a plan that is infinitely greater than I can imagine. I follow a blog of a lady that is going through much more serious issues than I face but I agree with her when she says, “It’s Hell in the Hallways!”

Kids Say the Darndest Things

Anyone who has ever spent any time whatsoever with a small child knows that they can say the most precious things. Sometimes they use a word in the wrong context, mispronounce words, or just simply say whatever is on their mind. They have not learned that you shouldn’t always say what you think, or that every question does not require an answer. These are some of the funny things my children or children I know have said in the past.

Several years ago G’s preschool teacher asked, “What do you want to do?” She then named three things he had to choose from. G replied, “I don’t want to do nothing.” He had to sit in time out for that one.
 G’s walker was making noises and he told me, “Momma put some medicine on my walker.”

One of his favorite things to say during his game show network phase was, “I can’t tell you, ERNK.” (The ERNK was his attempt at immitating a buzzer.)

Recently G said, “Ms. C is not my teacher, Mrs. H is my teacher. Ms. C is just my parapro.”

G worked on letter identification several times trying to get faster each time. He only had to do it once each night but he kept trying. When he began to work on the lower case letters I just went over them with him without timing. He was so proud he said, “Daddy, I finished them all!” He didn’t realize that I had stopped timing him. He was so determined to beat his time.

G has recently been passively defiant with one of his teachers. He has come home daily telling me that she is just not being nice to him. “I am nice to her, I don’t know why she isn’t nice to me.” We were at the Chiropractor last Friday and he was talking to our Dr. about his school woes and he began to tell him about Ms. B and his objections to her determination to make him complete his work in a timely manner. He looked at Dr. P and said, “What is wrong with that woman, don’t she realize she is talkin to a man?”

Recently we were studying spring weather and made a lion craft to tie in March’s ability to come in like a lion and go out like a lamb. One of my precious babies said, “Look Mrs. Norton, I made my lion embarrassed. He has temples (dimples).”

Fruit Loops

Today was the 100th day of school. You might think, “big deal.” Well in Kindergarten it is a very big deal. Kindergarteners celebrate the 100th day of school like some people celebrate the 4th of July. We popped 100 balloons, counted to 100, made hats with light bulbs that said, “I’m 100 days brighter”, read The 100th Day of School, sang Happy 100th Day of School, ate a 100th day of school cake, dressed up like 100 year old men and women, and the biggest project was the Fruit Loop necklace made by stringing 100 fruit loops on a piece of string.
It may not sound like a big thing, but believe me, being able to live and tell is like surviving a hurricane. Just imagine 16 five year olds with piles of fruit loops all around them. Fruit Loops are falling to the ground and getting pulverized into the floor. The air smells fruity delicious to the point of being nauseating. 16 little voices are counting out loud and every student is getting mad at their classmates because, “You are making me mess up. I can’t count when you are talking so loud.”
The instructions have been given: “Do not pick up your string of fruit loops when you finish stringing them. We will tie them for you so you don’t drop all 100 of your fruit loops.” We almost make it through the entire project when it happens. One little girl jumps to her feet proudly holding each end of her fruit loop string. The teacher says, “Don’t drop it!” But alas, she speaks too late and 100 Fruit Loops scatter across the linoleum floor. One sad little face causes me to smile and I can’t help but giggle. It was bound to happen, we all knew it would, it happens every year. So, the counting begins all over again. On the other side of the room sit four little ones who play by their own rules and march to the beat of their own drum. Three of the children have had assistance in correctly counting out all 100 of their Fruit Loops and instructed to gather them into one big pile and laced onto their string. A child who has been out of the room enters and I begin to explain the activity to her. She starts counting out her 10 sets of 10. I turn for a split second to tie a knot in the child’s necklace who has worked diligently counting and stringing his cereal necklace. When I turn to check the progress of the child on my other side I look just in time to see her stretch across the table and reach into the pile of already counted Fruit Loops of another child. So once again the counting starts. These two children intermittently share Fruit Loops and string and unstring their necklaces. Finally one of them tires of the game she has been playing and decides she is finished with her necklace. “This is all I want on my necklace,” she says as she holds a string of 15 Fruit Loops proudly into the air.
By this time I surrender to the madness and decide I “must” have a necklace of my own. This is an experience I hope I never forget. Although there were times I almost felt tears well up in my eyes, this experience was precious to me. I helped teach the students to count to 100 but like so many other times they taught me so much more. I learned that being a teacher can be the most rewarding experience if only you stop and enjoy the madness that is bound to occur, and never cease to love those precious children you have been blessed to teach. When I left school yesterday I smelled like and felt like a Fruit Loop. Today I look back at the experience and am very grateful that God blessed me with the experience.

If Only I Had a Green Nose

Today my cooperative teacher read our class the book If Only I Had a Green Nose by Max Lucado. I have always loved his work especially his children’s books based on Eli and his creation- the Wemmicks. For those of you who are not familiar with these books I will elaborate. The main character in this series is a wooden man named Punchinello. He is forever getting sidetracked and worrying about what the other Wemmicks think and forgetting that his maker, Eli’s opinion is the only one that matters.

In this particular book Punchinello starts out in Eli’s workshop. He and his two friends are looking out the window of the workshop at the scene in town below. The Wemmick’s are all lined up waiting to get their noses painted green because it is the new fad. At first Punchinello and his friends think that what the other Wemmicks are doing is silly but in time they fall to the pressure to conform and they too end up with noses painted green.

They begin to walk around town with their noses high in the air. Not only does this make it impossible to see where they are going; it is also very painful. Those things don’t change Punchinello’s position on the importance of having a green nose like everyone else.

Soon green noses are out and in come red noses, followed by blue, yellow, purple, etc, you get the picture. One day Punchinello runs into a friend that reminds him how silly it is to change yourself to try and be like everyone else. Eli created each Wemmick with his own unique characteristics and those things are what make each of them special. Punchinello returns once again to Eli’s workshop embarrassed for his foolishness. Eli lovingly begins to sand away all the layers of paint that Punchinello had applied to his nose. The sanding is painful but Punchinello knows that it is necessesary in order to once agian be exactly like Eli intended his creation to be.

This book made me think about all the times I have let myself become consumed with the latest fad and ignore the unique person that Christ created me to be. I may not have the perfect nose (even though I had plastic surgery), I don’t have the perfect body (I like to eat and hate exercise), I let myself become obsessed with whatever catches my attention at the time (felt foods, etc), and I fail to go into the workshop of my maker and just sit down for a chat. I forget to spend time with the person who loves me more than anyone else. He loves me so much that He sings over me and I don’t even consult Him when deciding what improvements I need. He designed me to worship Him, to praise Him, and that is the last thing that comes to mind on some days.

God help me to stay continually focused on You. Remind me to seek the things You want to do in me. Help me to become the person You want me to be. Fill me until my life overflows and Your spirit begins to splash out on everyone around me.