Monday, September 29, 2008

Don't forget to brush your teeth!

In choir, I was talking to the class about the word, "ritardando," which means to slow down. I explained that when someone is mentally retarded, it means their mental capacity has been slowed down. They could have the body of a 20 year old but the mind of a 12 year old. One of my students raised his hand and said, "Don't you become retarded if you're missing hygiene?" I honestly couldn't help myself and I had to laugh. At first, it seemed like he thought bad hygiene led to mental retardation. When he saw me smiling, he exclaimed, "I learned that in science!" He meant to say, "gene." He probably was referring to learning about missing or distorted chromosomes, but genes, chromosomes, and hygiene are easy to mix up!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Yarn balls, homemade cards, and 87 conversations

Yesterday was quite a day! I wanted to share the highlights.

I have an adorable student who is very creative. For example, once he came to class begging to polish my ring because he learned that scrubbing it with toothpaste makes it shine. I finally handed over my CTR ring and he busily sat and polished it with toothpaste he brought with him to school. Yesterday, he had a bright orange ball of yarn that he was unwinding on a stick. I asked what he was doing. He held up his finger and said, "Don't you see something missing?" I said, "Your ring? But what does that have to do with the yarn?" He proceeded to explain that the ring was in the very center of the ball of yarn. He put it there for protection after he polished it with toothpaste. He was setting out to retrieve it in the few minutes before school began.

Yesterday was also game day for the 7th graders. For the first time in my life, I looked at another teacher and said, "Wow, those kids have SO much energy!" For most of my life, other adults have said that about me. Now, the tables are turning. I was absolutely exhausted after manning my station through 6 rotations of making homemade cards with stickers, rub-ons, paper, glue, and scissors. One student took my scrapbooking stickers to make a lovely card for his sister. He put one sticker of a little girl pulling her scrapbooking cart on his card and then another sticker of a pair of open scissors around her neck. I had to confiscate that one.

It was early out day yesterday because we had parent teacher conferences. Between 2:00 and 7:00 p.m., I spoke with the parent or parents of 87 of my students. There was only about 5 minutes without a parent there! It was actually so fun, aside from the MASSIVE headache that had been growing since game morning. I made sure to claim a squishy chair in the library where we were meeting. The PTA fed us an incredible pasta lunch before we began and we got water and snacks to help us through the afternoon/evening.

It was a long day, but you know what...? I don't think there is anything else I would have liked to have done more :-).

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The truth hurts!

Today, I had training for new teachers at the district. Tina and I went to the "So You Think You Can Dance" concert last night until late (pictures to come!!) so I looked forward to being able to just roll out of bed and go to the training in sweats. I put my hair up in bobby pins and I guess after a long day, it got a little unruly. I felt like an anxious mother because I wanted to go see how my kids did with their WONDERFUL sub Emily, so I drove to the school when training was over during the last fifteen minutes of my last class at Dixon. One of my students saw me come in the classroom and came in my office to ask me a question. She started to speak and then stopped mid-sentence and said, "Woah, your hair looks like a junk! No offense" and then continued with whatever it was she was asking. I felt a little self-conscious, but it made me secretly happy to know the way I looked today is a contrast from the usual to my kids. Never before in my life have I taken so much care in how I look than since I became a teacher...I put on eye shadow every day! For those of you who know me well, this is a MAJOR accomplishment.

By the way, just in the few minutes I heard Emily in the class with my kids, I got new teaching ideas. She's amazing! Emily was the choir teacher before me at Dixon. Em, thank you, and thank you Cassie for letting me borrow your Mommy for the day!

Monday, September 22, 2008

My little dudes and dudettes

I love reading my kids' work. Today, we did a worksheet on some more Broadway musicals including Secret Garden and West Side Story. One of the questions was, "Who is Lily that the two men sing about in the song 'Lily's Hazel Eyes'"? One of my kids' answers said something like, "The one dude's wife that the other dude loved but didn't get to marry." If I had a dollar for every time one of my students used "dude" in his/her answers, I'd be a wealthy teacher :-).

Okay I'm watching Oprah and I just started crying. A Salt Lake City husband called and had Oprah bring in people to redecorate his wife's bedroom. She is the mother of 5 boys. It's their anniversary. If that's not romantic and a half, I don't know what is.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

I'm her biggest fan!

Above is Latin with Lance. They got 5th place!

Here is waltz with Russ. They got 3rd place in Standard and 5th place in Smooth!

So here are some pictures and video clips of my shooting star sister Lou at her most recent ballroom competition. I stayed and watched for 5 1/2 hours! I'm so proud. I actually live vicariously through her. If there was one thing I wish that I could do, it would be dance. I feel like I have it in my bones but it just doesn't manifest itself in my body. I was born to dance. I just am not flexible, graceful, disciplined, or light on my feet. I am the very same girl who hated ballet after a year at age 7 because I had to hold up my arm in a circle at the bar for extended periods of time and it hurt. Therefore, my sisters cover the work and talent part of it and I go and watch :-).

Thursday, September 18, 2008

You know you're old when...

So I knew I was old when one of the middle school kids I didn't know well came up to me and said, "I was looking through pictures from a long time ago and I found one with you in it and you were my soccer coach!" My roommates Jen, Erica, Dana and I helped out with a little soccer team of about 6 and 7 year olds several years ago when I was a sophomore in college. Jen was the coach and we were the helpers. Our little team members were "The Rocket Girls." Rock it, Rocket Girls!

The much anticipated tin foil day arrived. I wore a tin foil necklace and three tin foil bracelets in honor of the occasion. There were all kinds of tin foil covered clothing items today throughout the school. Headbands, earrings , ties, other hair accessories. But what was the most popular tin foil accessory you wonder? Anything at all that looked like a fake piercing. There were plenty of aluminum nose rings, tin foil earrings on men, ear cartilage piercings, etc. all over the place. They can only have ear piercings due to the dress code, so I think they felt sufficiently rebellious and liberated today. It reminded me of when Violet and I bought those fake clip on cuff earrings (for our cartilage) and wore them to church when we were around 12. We had some interesting reactions at ward choir. What is it about kids and feeling on the edge with fake tattoos and earrings? I honestly think we all go through that phase at the middle school age.

200 + 200 = 460?

My kids played rhythm jeopardy today. I put the questions on the backs of sticky notes with the values on the front. Questions were worth either 100, 200, 300, 400, or 500 points. When a team got a question right, I put the sticky note on that team's side of the scoreboard. At the end, the kids were anxious to count up the scores. One boy came up to calculate the scores on a calculator I had up front. After he added up the first team's score, the answer ended in '60.' A couple other kids said, "The answer can't possibly end in 60!" So, a group of them set out to add up the scores again. The same team's answer still ended in 60. I started to question myself. Logically, I knew the answer had to end in '00;' yet, twice the score had come out with a mysterious 60. Then, a girl stayed after to add up the scores yet again during the beginning of lunch and she came up with an answer that ended in '30.' I really started to worry about my math skills at that point. I started to believe that maybe the answer could end in something other than '00.' Anxious to try it out for myself, I waited until she left and calculated by myself. Sure enough, the answer ended in '00.' I was a little embarrassed for questioning myself, but love the influence my kids have over me! I thought it was so cute that my kids were so anxious and eager to add up the scores :-).

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Try a Little Something New...

...try a little something different! Thanks, Tigger. I think I will.

You'll never guess where I found myself last night at about 5:45 p.m. On the BYU intramural fields, preparing to play in my very first flag football game. Yes, you read that correctly. Me, Katie Houston, playing flag FOOTBALL on a TEAM feeling like a major IDIOT but doing it anyway...and actually kind of I'm sure the other team wasn't used to having an opponent smiling and giggling every time she ran up to block someone. I'm sure my team wasn't used to having a teammate who yawns on the field and sits down on the grass if on the sidelines (instead of intently and passionately following the game). I spent more than half the game on the sidelines, but did manage to play for about fifteen minutes. While I waited, I asked a teammate's husband all kinds of important questions about football like, "Can our team take the flag away from the other team's quarter back?" It really felt like an out of body experience. I can't believe how foreign anything sports related feels to me.

You may wonder how this happened. Well, I am friends with the P.E. teacher at Dixon and she got desperate. Very desperate. She came by one day and asked if I ever played sports in high school. I probably started laughing; I don't really remember. But, in a spirit of good sportsmanship, I said she could turn to me as a LAST RESORT. Well, a few days later, she approached me and said, "This is my last resort." I couldn't say no. And, I thought, "What the heck?"

And guess what....I HAVE MY FIRST EVER SPORTS RELATED INJURY!! We were tossing the football around a little and I was struggling to catch the ball. I kept blocking it instead of catching it. Once, when I tried to actually catch it, it fell through my fingers and royally jammed or sprained or did something to my left ring finger. It's swollen! And I can't bend it and straighten it all the way! It is so cool.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Oprah's Influence on the World

Today, I played a CD of a classical singer for my 7th grade choirs. I asked them to observe the sound. Then, I had them listen to and observe Carrie Underwood and talk about the different styles. One of my students raised his hand and said about Carrie, "She wasn't singing oprah like the other girl." He was embarrassed by his little blunder, as he of course meant "opera." I tried to let it go so as not to embarrass him, but I broke down and laughed out loud because I watch Oprah every day!

Monday, September 15, 2008

I Was Touched!

Today in my music appreciation class, we were listening to the song "Just a Dream" by Carrie Underwood. It is about a girl mourning the death of her fiance. One of my students asked me off to the side while the song was playing if I ever had a boyfriend who had broken up with me. I said to her, "Yes, I was supposed to get married a couple weeks ago" and I continued with the class. After class was over and everyone had cleared out, this student came up to me and said, "If this is too personal, just tell me. It's okay if it is. But I was just wondering, like, what happened?" After I explained things in an extremely simple, brief form, she reached out her arms for a hug and said, "I'm sorry." I was taken aback. I don't ever remember being at all interested in the well-being of my teachers as a middle school student. And this student is one who is hard for me to read. Sometimes I'm not sure if she likes me or not. But her display of compassion touched me and made me, yet again, so grateful to be teaching middle school.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Oops...I did it again.

I had an embarrassing moment today in class. I told my 5th period students they could have the last 5 minutes to chat. I didn't realize there were actually 15 minutes left in the period. Oops. I was planning on doing a little karaoke lesson in 7th period so I figured I had a chance to practice it during the remaining minutes of class. I found the karaoke disc in my office and pressed play. I couldn't get the remote control to work so I could select the song I wanted to play. The first song on the list was "Oops, I did it Again" by Brittney Spears and it started to play. I had an entire Brittney Spears choir in a matter of seconds. A loud one. I thought to myself, "Well, there's no profanity in this song" and I just let it play. Then I looked into the faces of some of my most innocent, tender hearted students and felt like trash. I turned it off at that point. Those of you who know me well won't be surprised to know that my conscience got the best of me and I went and confessed the whole episode to the principal. I was afraid parents were going to start calling and complaining. I felt like I failed my students.

The karaoke in my 7th period music appreciation class, however, gave me chills because they were actually engaged in the lesson! This is the class I've struggled with all year because I haven't known how to teach them to appreciate music. I had them listen to "I Need You" that LeAnn Rhimes sings and pay attention to the lyrics. Then, we discussed what the words were about and noticed that the song could be about a boyfriend or husband but it could also be about a brother, sister, father, or grandmother. My assistant principal suggested I show them how music conveys strong messages and we may not even realize it. A history teacher popped in to visit the class and shared with us what the song "Ring around the Rosey" is actually about. It's about the black plague and people dying, yet children sing it at play. I'm starting to realize what "Music Appreciation" should be all about. When we finished this section and started clapping rhythms, I lost the kids' attention again. Now I understand the direction I need to go with this class.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Special Birthday Edition

I was so exited to have the opportunity to dress up as my favorite book character for my 25th birthday. Take a look at the pictures above and see if you can guess who I was! I'll reveal the answer at the end of this post. Today was a very special day because we had a real life author come and visit and give an assembly! Her name is Jessica Day George and she wrote Dragon Slippers. She was very funny. She even did a book signing for the kids! What a cool school.

So P.S., I feel dumb that all the pictures on here are of me, but that's only because I'm afraid I'd get sued if I put pictures of my kids up. I'll try to add some more variety in the pictures in the future!

So today at the beginning of each period, I gave the kids a little "pop quiz." I tried to act like it was serious. It went something like this:

1. How old do you think I am?
2. If you had to choose between going to Applebee's, Brick Oven, or Chili's for dinner, where would you go?
3. What should I wish when I blow out the candles today?

I told the class that I would average the answers from #1 and see which class got the closest. Should I be offended that my 7th grade classes averaged 29 and 30? The 8th grade classes averaged out at 24 and 25. And I did get one guess that said 20. But then again, I did get two guesses that were 45. I sincerely hope that was a joke.

For question #2, I tallied up the votes and Brick Oven won by a landslide. So, that's where I'm going this evening for my birthday dinner. Turns out I share a birthday with a girl in my class and she, too, is going to Brick Oven for her birthday dinner!

I thought you might appreciate some of the answers for my birthday wish:

1 million dollars
A vacation
Lots of money
To end world poverty
A husband
For us to be quiet
The class to have a party
A grand piano at your house
A class that behaves
Find some one speshil!
A wizerd
Candy (Mexican)
For a dude to marry you
A spot to sing on Broadway
To get married
To have a great year
A great consert when the consert is
A mercedes
To give us doughnuts
Be 15 years younger
You were 20
Get married
To have our class to obey
A good life
For us to be good in your class
To find your true love
A pony! (just kidding)
A husband
A new piano
A puppy
I don't care
To be a famis singer
A trip to Hawaii
To find your true love [Yes, that was the second time that exact wish was expressed by one of my students]
To be ten years younger [what is it with my students thinking I'm so old that I want to be younger? I guess that's because they probably feel at the prime of life at 12 :-)].
For hamsters
For us to be good and sing and for you to get married
A sock
A hotty boshotty hubby
A husband
That we will do well in the comp
Tons of snow
Have boyfriend
A husband
A happy life
A husband
An awesome school year
Get a boyfriend
Go to New York
That we will win our first choir competition
For a husband
To have the power to grant wishes (grant your wishes)
Take us to Lagoon 5 times
To marry a good man/the nicest

The next bunch of suggested wishes are all from my class of 8th grade girls. See if you notice a particular trend in their responses...

To get married to the best/right person
You'll find a true love
You'll find they right person.
To find a man
You will get married
Wish for happy days to come!
To get married this year or next
To get another cute guy to love you
To get married
For love. And happiness because we love you and don't want to see you sad :-).
Whatever you want
A big chocolate chip cookie
A happy life.
More money!! Yay!!
More teaching money
To be happy the rest of your life
To get a puppy
You should get married and have a family
World happiness
To find a man
A man
That you have fun and are always happy
Get a bf or something
To get married
Your dream to come true
To have a good show when we perform

So the way I see it based on the substantial evidence given above, my kids want me to be rich and in love for my birthday. No objections here!

So, did you guess who I was? I was Anne with an 'e' from Anne of Green Gables :-). I didn't really look like her, but I was working with limited resources! But I do so love that character. Some guesses I got at school were Sarah Plain and Tall, Mary Poppins, Amelia Bedilia, MRS. POTTS (guessed by the male BYU student who is working with me...I gave him a really hard time about that to the tune of, "So you're saying I'm fat?!?"), and Laura Ingles Wilder.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

It's Official!

I've got a badge. I am staff. I am a panther.

I've been struggling with one of my classes and called in reinforcements. I sent an email to the staff asking for help from any teachers who had a prep period during the time that I needed back-up. I think my students got the idea that I was needing some help with discipline when I had three different teachers, the assistant principal, the principal, and an administrative intern all come visit my class today in a forty-five minute period. I heard one student say to another, "She hates us!" when yet another staff member dropped in. It was kind of funny. Don't I have supportive co-workers? It was so nice of them and very helpful. I got lots of good tips for becoming a better teacher and I hope I can implement those things into my class immediately!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Do re me fa so la ti...Alright, let me see if I can make it a little bit easier. Listen.

Today was Friday and yes, you guessed it, "Wear your Hawaiian Shirt" day! Gotta love those opportunities. I can see why my sister Christina gets jealous of that fact that I have an excuse to wear a Hawaiian shirt every week.

Fridays are talent days in my classroom. Today we had everything from the saxophone, ukulele, and trumpet to a performance of "The Macarana," a back flip, cooking, and a kid spinning on his head. I wanted to open the talents up to things other than singing so kids could just plain get performance experience. But like I've said careful what you promise!

Can anyone guess what the school musical is going to be this year? I'll give you a's one of my favorite things. Still not sure? Well, it will feature children who are thirteen going on fourteen. Haven't guessed it yet? Well, somewhere in my youth or childhhood, I must have done something good to get to help put on this show. Wait, can you hold on just a second? I need to open my window. What..?...can you hear that? appears that the hills are alive with...


That play is going to be a party.

So I have a pre-student teacher with me during third period this year. I feel so bogus. Here I am, 3 weeks out of the gate, and there is a BYU student coming to observe me teaching as though it's going to be beneficial to his future as a teacher. I student taught like 5 minutes ago. Dixon is the closest school to BYU so it often gets pre-student teachers. Anyway, it's going to be an adventure. But I'm convinced he must think I'm crazy already. I'm seriously so nuts with my kids sometimes, but I have a ball.

Well, so long! Farewell! Auf Weidersehn, adieu! Adieu, adieu, to yuh and yuh and yuh!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

I'm so proud!

We have a homeroom period called SWELL that is twenty-five minutes long. The kids use the time to read and write and hear announcements. Last week during spirit week, our school had a door decorating contest based on our school's theme, "Ohana: Nobody left behind or forgotten." We spent the week working on the door during homeroom. The kids came up with all their own ideas and did it themselves. All I did was provide supplies and help tape a few things up. I was so proud because every single one of my sixteen kids contributed to the door decorations.

The door featured a cut out world with a three-dimensional ukulele in the middle. It was made out of a cardboard box with rubber-bands as strings. Around the world were little people of all different ethnicities. The word "Ohana" was written in letters that looked like palm trees and surrounding the door were cut-out books with titles involving the school theme. Surrounding the doorframe were musical notes. The kids worked so hard!

During homeroom today, it was announced over the loudspeaker that our class won first place in the contest :-). I'll try to get a picture for the blog soon! My kids won a doughnut party. I am so happy for them!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Spirit Week

So last week was spirit week, like a mentioned before. I didn't get the memo that Monday was supposed to be "monochromatic Monday" and thus was accused by one student of having no school spirit. I was determined not to gain a bad reputation and therefore pulled out all the stops for crazy socks Tuesday. Although definitely not more than my student who had previously said I lacked school spirit. She had socks pinned to her skirt and dangling from her earrings. For crazy hair Wednesday, I had my hair in subtle pigtail buns. But my same school spirit student had me outdone with a plastic bag hanging from her hair, as well as a tooth brush woven in the top along with various other items. Another student from a different period had an actual old-school telephone hanging in her hair. Ouch! Thursday was twin day and Friday was school colors day, for which I, of course, wore my Hawaiian shirt as was requested.