Wednesday, January 19, 2005

I'm back! (Did ya miss me?)

So, I haven't written since last week, when I blogged from my classroom. My weekend conference was great, except for some bizarre allergic reaction I had. I don't know if it was the hotel (all hotels are breeding grounds for mold) or something else, but I woke up Saturday morning completely congested, and my right eye was puffy and red and sore. It was awful. In between sessions, I was in my hotel room with a washcloth on my eye. Ugh.

There are about 18 schools in the Archdiocese that are involved in the Reading First program (part of the No Child Left Behind act). Most of those schools were represented at this conference. The weekend was devoted to DIBELS training (which stands for Dynamic Indicator of Basic Early Literacy Skills). It's an oral reading assessment we give to our kids 3 times a year. The goal is to target their weaknesses and work to fix them, so that every child is reading on-level by the time they leave 3rd grade. (I can't say that all the teachers are as optimistic as the Archdiocese.)

The speaker we had on Saturday morning was amazing. I could have listened to him talk all day. He mostly focused on the importance of using literature with children, particularly reading aloud to them. He said that one of the biggest challenges for teachers is to make books come alive - especially since we're "competing for their attention with Sponge Bob." Good point. I have one boy in my room who I swear plays Disney movies in his head while I'm teaching. Not to brag, but I'm pretty damn creative in the classroom. But there are some lessons that, short of standing on your head, you can't make interesting. The speaker said that our students' attention spans are very short, given that all of their games, movies and TV shows are fast-paced and flashy, filled with colors and noises, jumping from segment to segment so fast that kids don't have time to get bored. We have to find a way to make books have that kind of effect on them.

Today was a perfect example of losing the battle for their attention. The morning went well. Then at lunch, it started snowing. All it takes is ONE kid to notice ONE flake, and it's all over. For the rest of the afternoon, kids kept nonchalantly going to the windowsill for a tissue and while they were there, they just happened to glace out the window. Like I wasn't going to notice that.

We probably got a good two inches. It's supposed to snow more tonight, but I doubt it'll be enough for a snowday. I'm just not that lucky.

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