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First & Second Grade

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

I. First Grade

Looking for the word “head”.

Making Christmas cards.

The famous “Letrilandia” alphabet — the curriculum used to teach the first graders to read in Spanish.  Every letter has a song and story — for example, “h” is “la muda” [the mute] and only speaks with “la enfermera” [the nurse], the letter “c”.  This explains why second graders will ask, “Tia, ‘hace’ se escribe con la muda?” [Tia, is the word ‘hace’ [make] spelled with the mute (letter h)?].  One day the first graders begged me to show them the alphabet in English, so I went over each letter — they giggled at the mixed up vowels (“i” in Spanish sounds like “e” in English), and gasped in astonishment when I skipped “rr”, “ñ” and “ll”.

Notice the stars and tally marks on the board — part of my incentive plan where each perfect “1, 2, 3 –” (me) “Silence, Please!” (students) earns a tally mark, and the “price” of a star is posted daily (competition to see which grade earns the most stars).  For our last day there was a special offer — 5 “Silence, Please” = 1 star, 10 = 2, and 15 = 3, meaning that coincidentally, 1st grade reached the maximum of 5 stars all in one day.  Yipee!

II. Second Grade

Excitement at earning a star, while doing the same card-making project.

The classic count-down (3, 2, 1, with visual aid of fingers for my English Language Learners, though they know the drill by now) to get everyone back in their seats after a particularly spirited celebration of earning a star.  I love how reliably this works, even without stating the expectation (sit down, turn around, get it together) or delineating a consequence — students comply 95% of the time because they already know what they are supposed to be doing (sitting down, etc.) and they also know they will win a extra-strong high-five from me if they “make it” by 0.

For our last day I brought the “Spanish key” (in my hands) to allow me to speak Spanish — in this case, an easily understood  “I’m leaving, I love you, etc.”

An ideal class size: 14.  School average is at least 25.  First grade is 28.

Yesterday I thought, This could be the last time I ever have to teach a class, ever!  But then I thought, Margaret, who are you kidding.  Standing in front of few dozen munchkins, as I switch from laughter to count downs, charades to modeling hand raising (again!), I feel like I am at my peak, that I am one of my best, fullest selves — most satisfied, most frustrated, most loved and most loving.  I don’t think this is my last class.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. David Russell permalink
    Wednesday, December 7, 2011 5:59 pm

    I could have written your next to last sentence with small adjustments: “Standing in front a dozen munchkins, I feel like I am at my peak, that I am one of my best, fullest selves — most satisfied, most frustrated, most loved and most loving.” Teaching is wonderful if it fits you. I expect you are not done either.

  2. Thursday, December 8, 2011 8:40 am

    I thought of you as I wrote that!


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