Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Time off for the holidays...

It's been a while since my last post, but thankfully it's because I'm on winter break from school!! I have so many things left to accomplish before Monday in order to be ready for our third term...things such as grading the past few weeks worth of tests, entering the grades, writing out report cards, planning for the first couple weeks of the term, organizing new reading groups, creating morning work and homework for the first week, and MORE. So, while I technically have 4 more days of break...I'm afraid I will spend it trying to complete all this work!! And people say that teachers have "so much time off"....yea right!!

I hope you all have had a wonderful holiday season. More first grade stories to come on Monday!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


The fun never ends....

Today I had a boy in my class put one of his legs up on the back of his chair and begin to hump his chair while making loud, graphic sex noises...full on "big O" noises.  Where did he get this idea from?  He says his older sisters showed him some "stuff"...

Go ahead everyone...shake your heads in disbelief...I did! =)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Elvis lives....

Picture this...bright red headed 6 year old...looking over his shoulder at you...wide stance....wagging his right hand and finger saying, "Ms. Eklund...thank you...thank you very much."  du du duuuuhhhhh, du du duuuuuuuh....

Watch out everybody!!!  There's a new Elvis in town!!

Seriously...what a riot!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Funny from another teacher....(Erin's class)

Ok, so clearly I'm not the ONLY teacher out there that has funny-ass stories to share.  Here are a couple from my friend Erin's 1st grade class.  She really gets some gems =)
Here is a funny convo I had with one of my students:

In our small group we were talking about initial sounds (it's my group of 1's [lowest students])
Me:  "Ok, V, what is the beginning sound of the word CAT?"

V:  "Cat, cat, cat"

Me:  "Right, the word is 'cat', but can you tell me the beginning sound in 'cat'?"

V:  "Cat!"

Me:  "The word starts with a "C" (I point to the letter) and the initial sound is /k/.  Can you say that?"

V:  "CAT, CAT, CAT..."

Me:  (frustrated) "Yes, that's the WORD, but what's the sound??"

V:  "Meow!"

(Thank you ladies and gentlemen...) hahahahahaha

"She's HOTTTTT!"

said by one of my students as he opened the book "Sleeping Beauty".

(no joke...I about peed myself laughing)

I am thankful for...

My wonderfully brilliant little first graders who make me smile (and sometimes cringe) every single day. =)  I am thankful for my husband...the true love of my life!  I am thankful for my family, immediate and extended.  I am thankful for my friends - you keep me sane.  I am thankful for my health (which gets better with each mile walked/jogged on the darn treadmill!! ha ha).  I am thankful for having a job in these crazy economic times.  I am thankful for all of you who read this blog and enjoy sharing these experiences with me. ;-)  I am thankful for SOOO much more, but instead I'll share some of the things my students are thankful for....

"my family"
"homework" (wha???  this kid got an "A" - lol)
"my home"
"Barack Obama" 
"Grandpa and Grandma"
"my brother"
"my dogs"
"my cat"
"Mrs. Eklund" (ahhhh...I didn't even bribe them to say that...they just did!!)

So, once again, I have the sweetest, cutest class IN THE ENTIRE WORLD!  

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!!  My love to all!!!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

22 ego boosts every day...

Here are some of the reasons I love teaching...

"Ms. are sooooo pretty!"
"Mrs. Eklund...I like the way you smell."
"Ms. Eklund...could you come to my house to watch movies?...Saturday? Sunday?? Here's my call me when you can. Ms.'re "gorgs" (pretty sure he meant gorgeous..ha ha)
"Ms. Eklund, you're the best teacher EVER!"
"Mrs. Eklund, you make us smart!"
"Mrs. Eklund, thank you for making us learn."
"Mrs. Eklund, will you be my friend forever???"
"Mrs. Eklund, you have the softest arm hair ever!"
"Ms. Eklund, you have pretty lipstick and it makes you look lovely!"
"Ms. Eklund, you give great hugs."
"Ms. Eklund, you are really, really smart."
"Ms. Eklund, will you be my teacher in second grade? (No, sweety.) Then I don't want to go."

and my all time favorite...

"Mrs. Eklund, I sure love you."

Friday, November 7, 2008

"There's a lizard in my pants..."

Let me tell you...without this one particular student in my class, I think I would have somewhat of a boring class this year.  Not that all my students aren't funny and sweet in their own ways, but this one student seems to have the monopoly on funny in my class!  Today his table group earned their way to the treasure box and he chose a yellow, stretchy toy lizard as his prize.  Not 10 seconds later he comes up to me yelling, "Mrs. Eklund, there's a lizard in my pants...there's a lizard in my pants."  So, I turn around and look at him....sure enough...there was a lizard in his pants.  He had unzipped his zipper, put the lizard in half way and then zipped up his pants around it.  Oh my!!  So...yes, he did...he did have a lizard in his pants.  :)

I'm so glad it's Friday!  ;-)

"He did it! He did it!!!!"

Those were the words of my students on Wednesday, November 5, 2008 as we discussed who won the election.  The one student who realized that he was "just" like Obama, came up to me and said, "It's true, huh Ms. Eklund?  I could really be president some day now!!"  It was SO neat to see my students excited about the election.  Another wonderful thing happened right after I told the students who won...all the students that voted for him during our classroom election started jumping up and down yelling, "We won!  We won!  I voted for the person that won!!"  

I hope they remember someday how excited they were in first grade over our first African American President! =)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Voting and the Presidential Election...a first grade point of view....

You might think that first graders don't know too much about what's going on this year, but you'd be wrong. This week I've been speaking to my students about the election, giving them unbiased information. ( matter how hard it's's the right thing to do.) I've answered their questions, read biographical information about each candidate and used the big maps; we even held our own classroom vote. It has been a wonderful journey to take with my students. You get a wonderful insight into how their parents are voting through the questions they ask and the statements they make. You even see how these kids can take both sides in and make their own decisions (sort of - ha ha) Here some of the comments so far...

"I'm not voting for Bobama, because he wants to take away our guns."

"I'm not voting for Obama, because he wants to get rid of our military."

"I'm voting for Obama, because he cares about us."

"I'm voting for Obama, because he looks nice."

After clearing up some misconceptions in their comments and answering further questions, inevitably I rec'd this question.

"Who are you voting for Mrs. Eklund?" (You're probably wondering if I answered them...of course I did! These students need to know that it's ok to disagree with someone, and that even if the person you want to win doesn't, it's still your responsiblity to work together for the common good. So, of course...I made it a teaching moment and answered them honestly. I said, "Well kiddos, I believe that Obama is the right choice for our country." I received a couple of "ooohs" and "ahhhs", and one or two "I'm telling my mom." ha ha ha...

Then there was a comment that really struck me and it actually brought tears to my eyes. We were discussing each candidate and how regardless of who wins, that this election would be historical. If McCain wins, it would be historical for two reasons: 1) he'll be the oldest person ever elected president, 2)with Palin as his VP, she'd be the first woman elected to an executive position in our country. For Obama, if he wins, it would be historical because, he'd be the first African-American person ever elected president. When I was describing this to my students, I explained that Obama is African-American, but that he is actually half-white (Caucasian) and half-black (African American), which makes him Mulato. When I said the word "Mulato" one of my students spoke up and said, "Hey...that's what I AM...I'm Mulato. My Mom is black and my Dad is white. So, he's like ME and he could be president!!" He said this with such amazement and kind of left me speechless. So I looked at him and asked, "Well buddy, how does that make you feel knowing that someone just like you could be president of the United States?" He replied, "Like I could be President some day...just like I could be President."

So, here you have a little kid, a first grader...who gets it, he really gets it. He's a poor kid from the wrong side of town. His Dad has instilled in him an amazing work ethic, he's truly wonderful and he understands what the US is all about. He understands that anyone who works hard enough can become anything they want. I'm not saying that at this moment, at 7:36pm on Nov. 4th, that we know Barack Obama will be our next president, but we do know that the mere idea of it is inspiring hope in people as young as 6. And if...just if Obama really does become our President, then we really do know that anyone can become anything they dream of in the US.

I love teaching. I love moments like this...I love the hope, the inspiration and the wonder.

So, whatever your political affiliation, just keep in mind how important all of this really is...BOTH sides.

Oh - and if you're kids voted 13 to 9 for Obama. =)

Monday, October 27, 2008

The crush...another inevitability of first grade...

Last Friday was sweet for many of them being the realization that one of my students has a crush on me.  First grade crushes are normal, after all teachers spend more waking hours with their students than their actual parents do!  So, it stands to reason that eventually someone is going to go gaga over his/her teacher.  Last year it was a little boy who drew me a picture of the two us holding hands and he wrote on it "I love you Ms. Eklund", and he would get really jealous when Eric (my husband) showed up for a visit.  This year I knew the crush was there when one of my little students came up and wanted to know if I would "go to the movies with him, at his house."  He asked if I could come over and watch the new Indiana Jones movie with him.  When I told him that I couldn't, because my mom (mother-in-law is too difficult of a concept to explain to first graders) was coming in to town, he asked if I could come over on Saturday then.  Again, I told him no, so he proceeded to ask about Sunday!  When I had to tell him that there was just no way I could come over to his house to watch a movie, he went back to his desk and wrote his phone number down on a piece of paper and brought it back to me saying, "Well, Mrs. Eklund, when you CAN come over, would you call me???"  A little later he brought back another piece of paper with, "Ms.'re 'gorgus'", which I'm hoping means "gorgeous"...ha ha ha  Keep in mind, this is the little student who tells me how soft my arm hair is and kisses my arm.  

Truth be told, I doubt I broke his heart, as I've heard no mention of the movie today.  Ahhhh...first grade crushes.

Monday, October 20, 2008

I'm a nicer teacher this year...and more self-reflections...

Just to keep myself on track emotionally and mentally, I check with know...just to see how things are doing from time to time.  Well, my latest "check-in" had to do with how I feel my teaching has evolved over the past couple of years.  Now, I've been told I'm a "natural" at this...that things just seem to "flow" in my classroom.  And while I'd like to tell you that it's easy, it really hasn't been.  I spend a crapload of time planning each week...probably on average, 10-12 hours of planning...and then even that doesn't feel like enough sometimes.  And you might be thinking that I need to find a way to streamline that...and you should know, THAT IT IS STREAMLINED.  Last year??? oh man...I probably spent 20 hours a week planning.  So, anyway...back to this whole check-in thing.  I realized that one of the biggest changes I've made this year is that I actually feel that I'm a "nicer" teacher.  How SAD is that?  Just to say it implies that last year I was a "mean" teacher...and the sad reality is that I probably was!  I was overwhelmed with everything...and I do mean everything.  No college class prepares you for what real life teaching is all about.  Theory and practice rarely's more like they're on completely divergent paths altogether, so you're left to sort of figure it all out on your own and hope that what you come up with is good...and some days you just hope that it's "good enough" to get by.  Last year was a rough was awesome as well, don't get me wrong, but it was rough.  I had kiddos in my class you would be amazed at...swearing, hitting, punching, kicking, screaming, homeless, no English, prostitute/drug dealers for parents, hate crimers, and the like.  Not just one or two kids, but ALOT of my class had issues.  So, when I think about it, I feel like I was a "meany McSweeny" to them...or I guess I could get by with saying I was really, really tough on them at times.  Thank goodness they're resilient little twerps and that they'll forgive you in an instant.  BUT...I know that they made me a better teacher for this year.

This year many things have changed.  I'm no longer a first year teacher (amen) and I know alot more about teaching than I did last year.  I'm calmer in tough situations and have many more "tools" in my proverbial teaching toolbox to help me get through a variety of situations.  I also have a tremendous almost disgustingly perfect class...maybe even borderline boring at times class.  They are, as a whole, SO good that it's scary.  Other specials teachers are choosing my class as they class they want to get observed with for their formal teaching observations.  That's pretty wonderful considering last year they kicked students from my class OUT of their classroom half the time.  The poor music teacher last year almost cried one day!  So...I may think I'm nicer because I have a better-behaved classroom, OR because I'm just a more experienced teacher...probably a little bit of both I guess.  I'm hoping that next year I can reflect back and continue to think that I'm getting better at this...that I'm growing and learning.  I guess if I ever reach a chance where I don't feel this, it will be time to stop.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Did you know I'm a good teacher? ;-)

Well, I am...the best in fact!  Ok, that last statement might be stretching it a bit...I mean, I haven't met ALL the teachers in the world, but according to a school district representative today, apparently I'm pretty darn good.  Which is kind of funny, because I say a lot of cuss words in class, you, "Get your f***ing work done...", "Quit talking da**it!" and "Are you really that stupid??"  But I guess that's what they want teachers to do know...make kids feel really horrible about themselves and talk to them like their parents do at home.

I'M KIDDING!!  I feel like I should probably stop here, before you all think I'm being completely serious...I'm only kidding about the cussing and stupid parts tho, the part about being the best teacher EVER is completely true.  (insert extreme smile here)

The reality of the situation is that yes, the district sent a representative to our school today to observe every classroom in preparation of the AZ Dept. of Ed's visit either tomorrow or Friday.  AND, the reality of the situation is that yes, I was told I'm a pretty darn excellent teacher dontcha know, a regular Josephine Six-Pack of teachers ( sorry - Sarah Palin somehow took over my blog...I HATE it when that happens).  ANYWAY...I'm in a fantastic mood now, because I've spent the past forever (really - it feels that long) getting my room up to state "codes"(having the right state standards posters up, taking down the cute sh** so that I would have room for the state standards posters [I wish I was kidding on that one, but I'm not...we were literally told to take down the cute sh** to make room for these posters...cuz, you know, first graders don't NEED cut sh** to learn, right??], so to know that I can actually leave to go home tonight and not have to stress about anything is a pretty good feeling.  It's not even 2PM and I'm heading out the door...which is probably a miracle, because I've NEVER left school this early...EVER.  

So...I'm leaving...I'll add funny kid stuff on here tomorrow.  For right now, all I have to say is that I was told I have "the softest arm hair ever" by the student who rubs my arm every day, kisses it and tells me he loves me.'s cute, but creepy all the same.  Man...excellent teacher AND soft arm hair...I'm freakin' UNTOUCHABLE today. =)

(please tell me you're laughing out loud have to be at least a little...)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

First intersession...and my lesson plan dilemma

This week I'm off work due to our first two week intersession. It's been wonderful to relax, sleep in, watch TV, read books/magazines, cook, clean, and to finally feel "rested" after a hectic, yet wonderful first 10 weeks of school. In the back of my head tho, I'm carrying this burden of having to figure out this new lesson plan format. It might sound simple, but it's really not. The state of AZ has passed a ridiculous bill into law that requires a minimum of 4 hours of language instruction a day. Again, it may sound easy, but it's not. To get around the fact that what they are doing is segregation, i.e. having native English speakers in one class and non-native speakers in another, (which seemingly goes against their whole "immersion" theory, right??) they've decided NOT to count Math instruction as part of the 4 hours of language instruction. My question is this, do they realize how much vocabulary and language is actually taught in math? A LOT! Considering I teach math for over an hour a day, every day, including math in the required 4 hours would have been MUCH smarter than including social studies/science, which is taught only 30-45 minutes / day, 4 days a week. So...back to this lesson plan format; we now have five major areas of instruction to focus on: reading, writing, grammar, vocabulary and listening/speaking. We have to take the components from those and cross-reference them with the other subjects (i.e. science/social studies), match them with a state standard, add curriculum, materials used and time spent on each one, and write it all down in a lesson plan format. You see, I consider myself a pretty smart girl (at least that's what it says on my college diplomas...literally "She's a very smart girl!" - just kidding...but it does say something about summa cum laude??? - whatever that means?? ;-), but I've spent HOURS trying to figure out the BEST way to get all of this down on one lesson plan format that will fit a weeks' worth of lessons on only two pieces of paper. I like my current plan format, I don't want to change works for me, but adding all of this new information is killing my head. As of now, I can't wrap my brain around how all of this is going to work...on how I'm going to fit all of this into one document? I simply, in good conscience, cannot bring myself to use one piece of paper per me that's an environmentally monumental waste of paper.

Thus my dilemma continues.

I'm going to take out a "wanted" ad in the newspaper...I was going to write the exact verbage here, but decided against it considering it would probably get me fired if taken seriously =)

Friday, September 26, 2008

A Funny Bath...UPDATED!

For a writing assignment last week I had the students read a story and then write a couple of sentences about it. The story had to do with a kid taking a bath...short and sweet - he was playing in the mud and then had to take a bath to clean off. BUT...this is what one of my students wrote about the story.

"The bath is funny, because there is a pink duck swimming in the bathtub playing with his balls."

Here's the picture =) Clearly, an adult wrote the words down for the student, but the meaning is ALL first grade. ha ha

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Old Man Jenkins

Today was a funny kids have been awesome all week...really, truly awesome. They've been loopy too - clearly ready for their two week break, as am I. Today tho one of my kids put me into a fit of the giggles. He was called up to do part of the calendar and he stands up and begins to walk like an old man, imaginary cane and all. As he walked he said, "I'm just Old Man Jenkins...walking up to the calendar...I'm Old Man Jenkins...." He even said it in this raspy, shaky, old-manish voice. I looked at him in utter amazement wondering to myself, "What???" When I asked him about it, he said that he had a "duck pillow at home that he named 'Old Man Jenkins' and that he was thinking of his pillow today." Again, what??? I couldn't help it...I just started laughing..I put my head down on a desk and lost it right in front of the class. It was priceless. He was cool with it...he just finished his part on the calendar and walked back to his desk as Old Man Jenkins, again old-man walk, voice and all.

Just another reason I LOVE first grade.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Go Ducks!

This past week was spent preparing for parent/teacher conferences coming up this week, and preparing for a quick trip back to Eugene, OR for a Ducks game and to see the many friends that we miss. We are SO blessed to have such a wonderful group of friends. We were humbled by how many of you were able to come out to see us at El Toritos Friday night...thank you SO much for taking the time to visit and eat with us. You have no idea how special that made us feel. We miss you all so very much. To those of you who we didn't get a chance to see, we are very sorry. There were no spare moments in our packed itinerary; we definitely hope to connect with you on our next trip. =)

Our trip was wonderful for many reasons, but one special moment came during our visit with Uncle Kenny. He is my uncle (technically my dad's cousin, but we grew up calling him an uncle) who is suffering from liver and colon cancer. The day we went to visit with him (literally thinking this would be the last time we would see him alive - ugh) he received the news that his cancer has not spread to his bones and that his doctor gave him a life prognosis of 4-5 years!!! It was wonderful news to hear and you could see that he was re-energized! He was able to get up and walk with us from his room to the reception area, aided by a walker, but he was walking!!! I just can't tell you how wonderful it was to know that our visit was not the last time we'd get to see him. I was preparing for the worst and got the best, so yea!!! =)

We got to stay with some really amazing friends this past trip and while I know it was only for a night here and there, we really, truly enjoyed our time with everyone. Again, we are so blessed to have such wonderful friends.

The football game was a complete and total blast! Even tho the Ducks lost, it was still great to be back in Eugene and Autzen Stadium. There really is no better place to watch a football game. We are definitely hoping to make it back for another game this year.

The view from my seats! Never giving these seats up...EVER! I'll sell plasma or something to keep them =) ha ha ha

The new Duckvision screen! Amazing!

In front of Autzen =)

Pretty trees...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The year of the parent...

So last year I had student issues. Students with behavior problems, students not listening/following directions, yadda yadda yadda. This year is once again 180 degrees different in the respect that the most serious of issues revolve around the parents in my classroom. So far this year I have had 1. one of my students removed from her house because her father was abusing her (I can't begin the tell you of the horrors that have gone on in her house, some of which I learned about only today. I am thankful beyond words she is removed from that situation. I still have nightmares about her injuries); 2. one of my student's fathers just beat the snot out of the mother this past weekend so now my student and her mom are staying with relatives (it's not a pretty situation - she's getting a restraining order on him and he's been listed as a "dangerous" parent at our school, so he's not allowed on campus, however today apparently he showed up and tried to "find" my classroom...which means he was walking around campus. I'm to call our onsite police officer immediately if he should somehow show up in my classroom or approach me or his daughter on campus at any time); 3. one of my students' parents hit on me (which is NOT flattering considering he's just slimy and weird and has also made lewd comments to another teacher on campus); 4. another student's parent's friend (got that?) wanted to know if he could be a student in MY classroom, and he promised to be a really good boy. EWWWWW! And today probably the saddest news of of my students from last year lost his Dad a couple of weeks ago as he was trying to cross the border back into the US. He was deported about 7 months ago and served 6 months in prison in Mexico and was trying to make it back to the states to see his family (and brand new baby) when he died. I don't know if he was killed by border patrol or if he died of heat exhaustion or etc. He left behind a wife and three kids, one of which he had never seen yet because he was in prison. It's absolutely heartwrenching!!

In comparison, I think I would rather take students with behavior problems than deal with parents who abuse their kids, abuse their wives, hit on me, or die trying to make a better life for themselves. All of which lead to a broken family. For me, I take solace in the fact that when they are in my classroom, they are loved, protected, and respected. =)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Arizona English Only Education Law...

if you want a good laugh and/or want to be infuriated...research it. This is one of the most ridiculous things I have ever been subject to and it effects me on a daily basis. Teachers in my district are poised to retire early due to the additional steps we have to take in planning and implementation. It is making a ton more work for teachers, but ultimately won't change how we already teach. Unbelievable.

Officially an Arizonan...

Yep...had to do it...I went and got my AZ driver's license this morning. Gone are the days of the easiest DL number in HISTORY (can't post it, that would be creepy).'s done...I'm an Arizonan now...only in name, not in political affiliation. However, the MAIN reason I got my new license is so that I could register to vote. After all, it is probably the most important election of my lifetime. Also, the updated picture is nice too =) (and it doesn't expire until 2038).

In 1st grade news, nothing much this week. No sex dreams, no leg rubbing, nothing weird, just a really good week of learning. I have one student who knew 45 of the 100 first grade sight words (high frequency words) on August 21st. As of Thursday, she knew 105 MORE...she nows ALL 100 first grade words, plus 50 of the second grade words! I'm SOOOO proud of her. My kiddos are really doing well this year, so far, on their reading skills. Over 1/2 my class knows over 50 HF words, with most of them in the 80's. So, I would say most of my class will know all 100 by Christmas. I have two kiddos well into their 2nd grade words, then it will be onto 3rd grade words and common phrases. It's awesome!!

We have parent/teacher conferences in two weeks and then I'm off for two weeks...I'm so excited and am definitely looking forward to a much needed break.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

One More thing...GO DUCKS!

I am slowly, but surely (once again) turning my classroom into a bunch of future Ducks!  I look forward to the Duck/ASU game so that we can sport our green and yellow and antagonize all the adults on campus with chants of "GO DUCKS!"  They already know the game is coming up and about my plans to show the football video.  If only one of them grows up and goes to the U of O, my job will be done =)  

If it acts like a monkey...walks like a monkey...

...then it must be a monkey?  I have a rather creative student in my class who has recently decided he no longer wants to walk on his feet, yet wants to sluff along like a monkey.  I'm actually quite impressed, as he's fairly good at it!  Both hands on the ground and he runs, literally, like a monkey, bringing his feet all the way up to his hands before moving his hands to take another step.  It's strange to see him walk/run this way, as it reminds of some young boy who grew up in the jungle or own little Pheonix version of the Jungle Boy, except my little guy can talk and write (kind of, but he's improving), and interact on a normal level with students.  It's just a little bewildering to see him walk around like a monkey.  I have to actually remind him he's a "boy" and have him walk upright.  However, the minute we get outside to the playground he's a monkey.  OR when we go outside for science experiments, he turns into a monkey.  Hmmm...I don't think my class is so boring anymore.  Between sex dreams and monkeys, nope - NOT boring.  I am, however, impressed that he no longer refers to the bathroom as the "potty".  It only took him a couple of days to quit asking to go "potty", but instead use a complete sentence and ask "Could I please go to the bathroom?"  

I love first grade!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Pondering a classroom pet...

As most of you may know, last year saw the demise of three, yes three, classroom fish. The first fish loss was by far the worst...he'd been with us the longest, he was the most beloved fish EVER. There was the funeral, the burial, the "dead" song, the mourning period and then the loss of the two replacement fish. So, I had pretty much decided that there was NO WAY I was going through all of this again. Well...6 year olds can be pretty tough negotiators and me being a pushover for batting eyelashes might also have something to do with the fact that I'm even considering getting a class fish. Our classroom theme this year is all about monkeys, but they don't make very good classroom pets ;-). So, I am thinking about getting another fish for my room..but with some changes this year. Such as a covered tank with no chance of foreign matter getting into the tank, i.e. whatever white sheen kept getting on the top of the water last year, and a permanent heater in the form of a light bulb. I am thinking that after our first intersession, I'll spring for the $2.50 fish and get the tank going. My kids are SO good this year, I kind of feel bad not getting them a classroom pet. Besides, feeding it could be an additional classroom "job"...which they would LOVE.

I've also considered other pets...such as a hedgehog (they're CUTE), a chinchilla (even cuter), and hamsters (pretty cute too.) But, they come with a significant increase in financial and time maintenance. Plus, on intersessions, do I really want to bring home an animal for my cat to terrorize? Additionally, something my kiddos can actually touch and pet, will only increase their heartbreak should the animal die. Final thought? I think I'll stick with fish for now :-)

First intersession starts the very end of September...we'll see if I can hold off until then.

Friday, August 29, 2008

The dream confession...

This one is too funny ... and totally, completely benign in nature.  Yesterday, I had a first grader who clearly found some of his parents reading "material" of the "naughty" kind and proceeded to tell me about a "funny" dream he had.  It turned out his "funny" dream was of the sexually explicit kind, and I don't mean "first grade" explicit...I mean graphically explicit (tongues down throats, lips on things and licking other things, AND he used hand movements - you can figure the exact details out for yourself).  It was all I could do not to bust up laughing in his face, because you could tell it was so innocent...nothing weird going on at home malicious in nature.  He just wanted to share his "funny" and "interesting" dream with me.  So, imagine receiving a phone call from your 6 year old's first grade teacher explaining to you that your son just revealed to her a sexually explicit dream involving another student in his class.  The mother was mortified, to say the least, and admitted that he had found where they kept their "things" about 10 days ago and that he had been having these "funny" dreams since.  She was sure I now thought they were "horrible" parents.  I simply told her that we were all adults, but that it might be a good idea to change the location of their "stuff"to make it less accessible to him.  She groaned and said, "it was only ONE time we did this..." and then her voice trailed off.  I was SO glad this was over the phone, because in person it would have been MORE uncomfortable.  I seriously couldn't stop laughing once I hung up with her.  When his dad came to pick him up after school, he couldn't even look me in the eye, he was so embarassed.  He said, "I just don't even know what to say to you right now...I'm just"  I stopped him right there, just put my hand on his shoulder and said, "How about 'Have a nice afternoon Mrs. Eklund'...he kind of laughed, said it and then walked away.  ha ha ha  

How was YOUR week? =)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I'm back and haven't forgotten you...

Sorry it has been SO long since my last utterly irresponsible of me! =) Seriously, I was gone for a couple of weeks traveling back to Montana for a family reunion and then thrust into three days of training upon my return. Needless to say I am glad to be back in my classroom with my wee ones as I missed them terribly.

I am happy to report that the two substitutes that took over my class while I was gone, did surprisingly well. I've heard horror stories about teachers painstakingly planning for an absence only to come back and discover that their substitute did NOTHING in their lesson plans. I was thrilled to come back and find out that every assignment I planned for them to do, was actually executed and my students received rave reviews! I cannot stress to you enough how different my class is this year than last. I will, however, always have a special place in my heart for my very first class. They were wonderful, challenging and very, very special to me. Seeing the few that are still here, makes my day - especially when they shower me with hugs and sign language "I love you's". Now that I've taught my current class the "I love you" sign they are equally as eager to share it.

The past couple of weeks since my return have been wonderful, yet heartbreaking all the same. For the majority of you who know me personally, you know of the heartbreak of which I speak. For those who don't, I can only say that I have been dealing with my first case of alleged child abuse. It is mindboggling to me how someone, anyone, could hurt a child...any child. Dealing with this firsthand has been an eye-opening, heartbreaking and learning-filled experience that I hope I never have to encounter again.

My students were amazing to return to...each one declaring how much they missed and loved me.  How many of you can say you get to return to that kind of reception? =)  Just one of the many reasons I love teaching.  

So you're probably looking for some "funnies" in this blog, so let me share a couple with you.  Funny #1: I am teaching extended day school, which is basically an extra hour of reading a day to kids that need that extra push.  On Tuesday night we were reviewing the letter sounds and names and we got to the letter "u".  You know that the letter "u" makes two sounds, right?  It makes the "uh" sound as in "umbrella" and "under" and the "yu" sound as in "unicorn", "you" and etc.  Well, this little girl pipes up and says "h" in "hunicorn"...I look at her quizzically and had her repeat her word, "Yes, Mrs.'s "h" as in "hunicorn."  I tried to convince her that it does NOT in fact make that sound, but in no certain terms was she giving it up.  So I guess it's called a "hunicorn" from now on.  We'll work on that one individually =)

Funny #2:  We're sitting doing calendar one day and I look up to see one of my boys playing with the hair of the girl in front of him.  I give him the "keep your hands to yourself" look and he stops.  A few seconds later...he starts doing it again.  So I give him a second, but more stern, "stop it now" look and he does.  Again, a few seconds later he starts again, so I finally ask him to stop and he says, "But she WANTS me to...her hair is SO SOFT!"  The girl about died of embarassment, turned pink and then looks at me and says, "No I DON'T!"  Looks like we have a rascal in the classroom again this year.  

Funny #3:  Remember the pants-turned-inside-out kiddo from a couple of weeks ago?  He has quite the imagination as you can figure out.  Today he comes and tells me, in all seriousness, that "everything was ok" and he didn't get "fired from his job."  That "James" his boss, "said that he could just finish his work later, but he gave me a warning, a BIG one.  I finally hung up on him and told him I didn't want the job anyway."  Hmmmm...clearly something is going on at home regarding a job. =)

So - that about wraps it up.  I'll have more updates this week and I'll post some pictures of student work.  =)

I'm just going to say kids are so well-behaved this's almost boring! ;-)  Is that terrible to say or what??  They're disgustingly good.  Outside of some in-class talking issues, they're amazing.  I kind of don't know what to do sometimes with them.  Trust me, I'm thankful after all the stuff that happened last year, but wow!  It's kind of unsettling at times.  ha ha

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Something just occurred to me...

'member last year when I had the little boy that I caught "playing with himself" during class (yes, THAT kind of playing with himself)? Well, if I have had to predict one of my students from this year who would/will do it? got it, my little "Danny"...he's already turned his shorts inside/out...I wonder what's next?

OOOhhh...and I get to see some of my kiddos from last year, probably 15 or more of them, as they are in 2nd grade now at my school. They are SO sweet and SO cute...running up to me giving me hugs. I am amazed at how big they got over summer. It's so fun walking around the school, running into all these kiddos that I know now. Next year will be even crazier! This is part of why I love teaching. =)

Friday, August 1, 2008

"It gives me something to play with..."

Phew! Another week in the books. This week was great overall. I have done a pretty good job of not "over-talking" this year, which remains a huge goal of mine. Last year I lost my voice at the end of every week and so far, I haven't lost my voice yet. Last week it was scratchy, but this week it seems better thus far. I am learning to just stop talking and use my silent signals more effectively. My kids are pretty good about stopping (most of the time) when I ring a bell and it's been a life-saver for my vocal chords.

I had some funnies this week for sure. I have a little red-headed kid in my class who is just plain out there. He's a wonderful, sweet, charming student who is completely his own person. He has a very tender heart and gives me 100 or more hugs a day. He also kind of dances to the beat of a different drummer. When we get to the playground each day, he runs with his arms flailing above his head, screaming "ahahhhhahahahahaaaaaahhhh"...and he pretty much doesn't stop for about 10 minutes. If you've seen the Friends episode where Pheobe and Rachel are running in Central Park and Pheobe is flailing her's pretty much just like that, just done by a 6 year old. In addition to his screaming, flailing, running, he decided yesterday to come out of the bathroom with his shorts (not underwear, but outer shorts) turned completed inside-out. They were buttoned up and ready to go...just inside-out. When I asked him why he had his pants on that way, he said that he "liked them better that gave his hands something to play with" (meaning HIS POCKETS...gutter brains). Anyway, it was all I could not to laugh out loud as I told him to return to the bathroom and put his shorts the correct way. Of course ALL of this is after he refused to answer to his name all morning. I would call on him and he'd ignore me...until I finally asked him if he was hearing me, to which he replied, "Yes, but my name isn't's Indy...Indiana Jones to be exact." HAHAHAHA! So...I had to call him Indy for a while, oh well.

Last night was our Open House for the year and it went off without a hitch. I had 17 out of 21 parents show up, which is a great number. When "Danny" arrived he was talking on his "cell" phone to his "boss"...this kid has a great imagination. =)

My kids also did some fun work this week on the topic of "alliteration". Here are a couple of pictures of their work. Too cute! Each table group has a name and they had to come up with a first name as well, for this exercise. Then they had to finish the sentence, "_______ _______ likes to ________." For example, "Larry Leopard likes to leap." It was SO cute to see what they came up with. On the first day of school, I had students draw a picture of themselves. For Open House I taped these up on the wall and had parents guess to see if they could figure out which picture was drawn by their student. It was pretty funny! All of their pictures are adorable. Later on I will laminate them and then give them to their parents at parent/teacher conferences.

The next couple of weeks will be interesting as I will be gone for 1.5 weeks starting next Thursday. While I'm looking forward to seeing friends and family, I'm dreading what my substitute will or will NOT decide to teach. =( I will spend the next few days not only packing for Montana, but also trying to get my room and lesson plans ready. Who would have thought taking time off would be so stressful?? My kiddos are really pretty good this year, so I think the sub will have an easy time of it (fingers crossed).

That's all for now. Love to all!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The end of week 1

So this week went by fast and fairly uneventful behaviorwise...which I'm thrilled about! No funny behavior stories to share.....yet. And, without a class animal (yet - they really, really want a hamster or something - yikes) I don't even have any fun animal stories. However, I do have a class full of sweet first graders who, after being tested on their reading ability, are miles ahead of my class last year at this time. They are so far ahead in fact that I am starting them, on the advice of my reading coach, a full 4 weeks ahead in the curriculum. Yea! I'm hoping (along with her blessing) to be into the 2nd grade curriculum by 4th quarter.

This week we were the recipients of free backpacks and school supplies! We have a Community in Schools representative who coordinated the whole thing and a group of volunteers came in to pass out the backpacks and to make "crazy" paper bag hats with my kids on the FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL! It was a bit crazy and hectic, but well worth it. The kids were THRILLED and we got to keep all the craft supplies in addition to the extra school supplies they donated. It was great! I even got a brand new electric pencil sharpener! It was almost like Christmas!! ha ha Anyway, included in this blog are some pictures of that day. I had to "smudge" the students' faces out due to legal reasons, but you at least get to see the crazy hats they made and how much fun they had.

Being able to take some time and reflect on this past week, I am amazed at how different a class can be one year to the next. I can see that I'll have some real characters in my classroom, but it is SUCH a different dynamic this year already. I have a real "lover" in my class. He's adorable and is already telling me he "loves" me and he grabs my arm and kisses it. That's going to have to stop, but I'll give him all the hugs he wants instead. My kiddos think I'm "crazy, silly and really funny." All of this after I've had to be hard on them regarding their talking. Having 9 fewer students has definitely made a huge difference as well, although I do get a new student tomorrow, so I'll be upto 21 total if all students show up. (I have had two who didn't show up at all this past week.)

I was pleasantly surprised to be visited by two of my older friends this week. One was my 6th grade class mentee last year...she's great and was in my room for two full quarters helping with reading groups, filing and grading papers. The other student was a 6th grade boy that was originally sent to my room for misbehaving..he was on a three day suspension. But after being in my room, he wanted to come back to volunteer with my kids...and he was allowed to when his behavior was good. He stopped by on Thursday and he was really, really sweet. "Hey Mrs. are you? I just wanted to stop by to say HI and to give you a hug. I hope I can come to your room this year." was SO perfect. It's just an incredible feeling to know that somehow I made an impact on these older kids as well.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Honeymoon is OVER! ha ha ha

Just's not really over, but for all you skeptics out there regarding how good my class was this year,'re not all wrong either. =)  Seriously, my class is pretty good, yesterday was a talking day tho...and I'm quickly remembering what it means to keep my mouth shut and not talk over them.  My goal is to NOT lose my voice at the end of each week like I did last year! =)  So far so good, I still have a voice and it's Thursday already.  I'm not sure if I think they're quiet because I have only 19 still (three haven't shown up, but one has already withdrawn) or if they're so quiet, because they really are just a much quieter class.  Only time will tell.

Well, off to breakfast.  More later!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

What a difference a year makes!

I know you've all been so patient for an update.  Thank you.  Also, thanks to all of you who called and left messages for me for my first day!  You made me feel SO special!!!  Thank you!  Thank you!!

From the bottom of my heart, I sincerely mean what a difference a year makes!  =)  Yesterday was the first day of school and all in all it was a smooth, relatively student-stress free day.  I only really freaked out when at 7am parents started showing up at my class!  We start school now at 7:30am and at 7am on the nose parents came streaming in my room.  I had to gently ask them to give me at least 15 more minutes to get ready for the day.  I went out my door, locked it, went to the staff room and had a little tension-breaker squeal!  I couldn't help it!  This year just came on so fast.  

As for my class?  It's about 180 degrees different than my class last year.  I'm not discounting the differences between the's my second year teaching (so I was a LOT less stressed and a LOT more confident), it was only day ONE, and I had 10 fewer students than last year.  But my oh my, what a difference!!  I had no major students forgotten on the major behavior problems (last year I knew I had about 7 problem students by the end of the first day), no student meltdowns (last year I had three heavy criers).  Nothing happened to severely derail our day!  It was WONDERFUL!  

Right now, on the books, I have 22 students, however I have had three students who have not shown up for school for two consecutive days, so we'll see if they actually do.  My class size, even at 22 when all students are here, will be a dream compared to the 28-29 that I had last year at this time.  Yesterday I had 18 students.  Today I had 19 (one new one showed up before lunch).  It's great!!  At this point, as I mentioned, no behavior students - at least none that strike me right off the bat like they did last year.  I have some specifically that is just "out" there.  If a hippie were to be in the soul of this young girl, I would not be surprised.  =)  I have some really bright kiddos and some pretty low ones, but all in all, I have a great feeling about this class.  They think I'm "silly", "funny" and "great".  At least that's what they said today.  Yesterday, as I did my faux British accent, they looked at me funny and I said, "Well, don't I sound like Harry Potter??"  One student's reply?  "Uh...NO, not really."  So...I tucked my tail between my legs and didn't do Harry Potter the rest of the day.  ha ha ha  It is such a different dynamic this year already.  I had one boy today declare that he was the smartest boy in the class...and to be honest, I have no doubt that he is.  He's smart, funny, helpful and kind and really, I could apply those adjectives to most of my class.  

Today was easier...students were more relaxed, I was more relaxed and we got more accomplished.  The first day is normally ALL about procedures and rules and school tours and etc., at least for first grade.  So, it was nice to get into the curriculum today and to start to find out where my kiddos are at scholastically.  Personally, I already know that some of my kids are a mess.  One student will probably be pulled out and then re-enrolled based on the whim of his mother and her drug habit.  Another student's parents are divorced and she most likely be shuttled between parents throughout the school year.  So many grownup things they have to deal with when they're only 6 and  7 years old.  However, thankfully - at least so far, I don't see depth of these problems with all my kids...only a select few.  

Today I created the "Vowel Cha Cha"...and it was HILARIOUS!  "A-E-I-O-U cha cha cha".  When I had the kids stand up to dance around the room you would have thought I asked them to eat worms.  The girls were ok, but the boys were having NONE OF IT and I finally had to threaten to dance with them if they didn't move their little legs and at least march in place.  And it's hard to threaten someone when you're doubled over in a fit of giggles!  We'll see if I have more participants tomorrow.

Other than that, I'm just getting used to (but enjoying) our early start time.  M, T, Th. and Fri. we are done at 2pm; on Wednesday's it's 1pm.  I'm not sure what I'll do with my extra time!! 

On a separate note, it was overwhelming to see some of my first graders from last year who are now second graders.  My how they've grown up over the summer!!  It was amazing to have them come running up to me and wrap their little arms around me, giving me hugs and kisses on the cheek.  They were SO excited to see me, and I was equally the same.  They walk around with the confidence only experience can bring, like over summer they realized they are now the big men and women on campus (hardly, but you get my analogy).   My biter from last year informed me that she's "friends" now with the girl she kept biting and targeting for physical attacks.  (One can only hope!)  I guess that's all in the hands of our second grade teacher now tho!  ~~  They are so precious and seemingly all grown up.  I know I'm going to cry when I watch them leave Squaw Peak and head for high school in 7 years. =)

As for now, I'm going to plan for tomorrow and then hit the gym.  Thanks again for all your well wishes!  I'll post more soon.

Lots of love!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

My Room!

So, it's Sunday and I'm still working on getting ready for tomorrow...I have planning to do and a million things going through my head. I'm still a bit in denial that school starts and that tomorrow I will have 19 eager 6 year olds relying on me to get them started on their future. I'm a little stunned at the small class size, but I'm not complaining at all! It's a full 10 students less than last year at this point, so...I'm thrilled. Before I get too deep into my "to-do" list, which has grown from 12 items to 21, (don't worry - I've crossed a lot of things off!) I want to get these pictures posted so you can see my adorable, fun, monkey-mischief room.

This is my calendar area and is located on the West side of my room.

This is my reading/library area on the North side of my room.

This is my listening center...I'll post reading assistance and projects up on the bulletin board.
This is my computer station and workbook cubbies. I have enough room for these extra cubbies so I don't have to have stacks of workbooks around my room this year. As you can see, I don't have desks again this year, I have tables, which significantly cuts down on my storage space. So - each student will have an assigned cubbie to put their reading, math and science workbooks in, as well as any other journals and etc that I give them. Above their cubbies is a my "manners" bulletin board...just little reminders on how to be respectful to each other. My hope is that every time they get something out of their cubbie, they'll be reminded of how to be respectful!
My back wall. This is on the East side of my room. I will, in a couple of weeks, remove the "Welcome" sign and put up a word wall for my students to use as a reference. I will also post student work along these back cabinets.

Facing South in my room.

My behavior chart and Math Focus Wall.

This is my only whiteboard. I have a much bigger room this year, but only this whiteboard.

This is my reading focus wall. It says, "Swing into Reading".

And finally, my teacher's desk and DUCK wall behind it. I'm going to get an UO Oregon flag to hang up on the wall as well. My kids will definitely know about the Ducks and maybe, just maybe they'll be inspired enough to go to college. =) Notice the time on the clock...9:13...that's PM on Friday night. I got kicked out at 9:30. =) ha ha

So far that's all! I am working on getting my day planned for tomorrow and will let you know how it goes =)

Love to all!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Oh so close... being done setting up my room!  Tomorrow is Friday and I am hoping to be done with everything, curriculum for next week included.  I will take and post some pictures tomorrow so you can see my room.  Right now I still have 12 things to do on my "To Do" list...and it keeps growing!!  The school is open on Saturday, but I really don't want to come in on my last 'free' weekend of the summer.   It's 7:30pm and I'm still here, so I'd better get back to work!  


Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Today is Convocation for our district. This is where all the teachers and administrators for the entire district get together as sort of a "kick off" to our year. Awards are given for exceptional service professionals, administrators and community involvement, and we usually have some sort of high profile, highly motivated guest speaker that will cheerlead us to start the year off right. I'm all for convocation - it brings everyone together and we get to reconnect with teachers we haven't seen all summer and teachers we rarely see because we are at different schools. Last year I was SO nervous! I only knew a handful of people from new teacher training and I was transported back into my childhood thinking and wondering if "anyone would want to be my friend?" (I thought those feelings would dissipate the older I never occured to me that adults have the same insecurities about friendships and etc that adolescents do!)

This year I head to convocation with confidence and pride. I am no longer a first year teacher (Thank God), but am a second year teacher brimming with confidence and an understanding of what lies ahead of me. There are still some unknowns (school restructuring aside), but what a difference a year makes! This year I head to convocation actually having real friendships with people, having a "place at the table" persay, not wondering if people will want to be my friend, but knowing that they already are and that I am on par with these people professionally and personally, at least on some level. It is a strange ride, but exciting all the same. I am confident, but know I also have SO much more to learn. I am thankful, joyfully thankful that I do not have to have a nerve-wracking, mind-boggling first day of teaching ever again. Even with the unknowns this year, I still feel much more prepared than I did last year at this same time. So far I haven't had a sleepless night! That will probably happen on Sunday...the night before the first day of teaching. Oh boy! =) Last year was great, but this year can only get better! So with laptop in hand, I head out the's time to begin another year.

Oops...have to have breakfast first! Man, would my Mom get MAD if she knew I left for school without having breakfast. =)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

And so it begins again...

This past week saw the beginning of the end to my summer vacation. I finally had to accept that summer was over and it was time to start setting up my classroom. I put things off on Monday - going to work out with a friend, going to the driving range to hit a bucket of balls and beat Eric at a game of "P-I-G" on the putting green. However, at the driving range I tweaked my back, which in turn landed me in bed on Tuesday - thus putting me off even more in my classroom. Wednesday arrived to find my back feeling a little better, but with a more intense sense of urgency regarding the 51 boxes of classroom stuff just sitting waiting to be gone through. What was intended to be only three to four hours a day worth of work, ended up being a good 6-8 hours. My classroom now is pretty well set up, less bulletin boards. My new theme this year? "Monkey Mischief".
It should be an easy theme to branch off from, ("Let's Go Bananas for...", "Don't Monkey Around...", "Climb the Vine to Success...", and etc.) but the biggest plus of all? NO LIVE ANIMALS AS CLASSROOM PETS! Which in turn means no funerals to suffer through this year. I don't really think I'd get approval to have a classroom monkey, so I think I'm fairly safe from too many broken hearts. Granted, all the class fish from last year provided some great stories, but it was so hard to watch their little hearts get broken...three times. (Our "peace lily" is still alive!) Anyway - no funerals, no "dead songs" to be sung...only the lively, happy, mischievous monkeys adorning my classroom walls. I'm sure my students will only be too happy to perpetuate this "monkey" theme and morphe into little mischievous monkeys themselves. I expect nothing less. ;-)

I will post some pictures when my room is completed this week. In addition to adding the final touches to my room, I will suffer through hours of staff meetings and obligatory district meetings. If you didn't know my school is going through a severe transition and restructuring. Last year we were a district school, which bussed in students from all over our school district and had about 800 students K-8. This year we will be a "neighborhood" school, which means only students that live within walking distance of the school will attend, with the exception of those students in the "transition" years of 7th and 8th grade. So, our enrollment has dropped from 800 to about 300 K-8. What does this mean? It means that for grades K-6 there is only ONE grade level teacher. I am the only 1st grade teacher at my school! It's nuts, but exciting all the same. Talk about accountability!!

Add to this the probability of me having to go to the doctor for my back and you're talking one crazy week ahead of me!