Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Last (real) Day of School

So, today was my last real full day of school with my kids. It's technically tomorrow, but we're doing oral exams/watching a movie for most of the afternoon, so it's not really a normal day for my kids.

Tuesdays tend to be easy for me, because I only have every other class with them, and one of those classes is Art, so it just ends up being kind of a fun day for them. Their Tuesday schedule is this: Bible (w/ someone else), Art, Lunch/Recess, Spanish (w/ someone else), Reading, P.E. (w/ someone else), and English. So half their classes are electives.

And this morning, their Bible teacher wasn't here in time to start class, so I started them with Art early. This being our last art class, I just let them free paint for the whole time. They always love that. Because things have been going well in art class with only a few things to clean now that I tape newspapers to their tables for them to work on, I usually find an extra paintbrush and will do a painting of my own in between helping them with various things.

This time, one girl told me to draw a flower, and another a heart, so I opted to make a flower with petals shaped like hearts. It turned out super cute, but that tends to backfire, because then all the girls want to paint something as cute as mine, and most of them are just not that skilled of artists yet. But they don't quite get that I've been doing this for like 3 times as long as they've even been alive, so they're not going to be as skilled as me. And that's ok.

But, overall it went well and we actually managed to get to lunch mostly on time. The rest of the day also went well, and we had a spelling bee at the end of the day. We've never done anything like that at first, so it took them a minute to catch on, but once they knew what I wanted and I told them they'd get prizes, they all participated eagerly.

I put all of their names on the board in the order that they're sitting in class, and then gave the first word to the first girl. Depending on their mistake, I would sometimes pause and let them try again. Especially with the letter "i." In Spanish, "i" is pronounced like we say "ee," so they would often say "e" when they were thinking "i." So I gave a lot of leeway with that one. If they made a few mistakes or definitely said the wrong letter, the word got passed to the next kid.

If they did get the word right, I put a star by their name. Once they got 3 stars, they got a mini marshmallow, their name got erased, and they were out of the game, but in a good way. Honestly, that started when one of the kids had 2 stars and I was still trying to figure out how to incorporate the marshmallows when she asked, "What happens with 3 stars?" Since I occasionally can think fast, I whipped out the mini marshmallows and declared, "You get to eat a mini marshmallow in the class!"

That's the point when it got really serious. Not only were they getting a treat, but they also got to EAT IN THE CLASS, which is one of the things that is forbidden in class, like running. It was funny to see them sit up straighter and eagerly try to get it right once there were marshmallows involved. :)

Even though we've NEVER done this before, they did so well that I ran out of the spelling words that I'll be testing them on in the exams, so I had to think of some older spelling words that they had until everybody got 3 stars and had won the game.

At the end of the class period, it was just Emy that had only 1 star, so I decided to dismiss the class. Since the marshmallows had actually been a random gift from one of the second graders and I didn't really want them anyway, I offered them 2 each on their way out for telling me something they had learned.

The point of the "tell me something you learned today" game is for them to tell me something from that day, but most of them give me random things that we haven't talked about in a while. But, since they're giving me things in English and then telling me what they are in Spanish correctly, I count it. I had one kid who's really good at math that told me he learned "sums." We didn't even do math today, so I asked him what 1 + 3 is, and it took him all of 1 second to do it in his head. This is the same kid that declared himself "El rey de sumas" last week, and I totally agree.

At any rate, everyone else filed out of the class while Emy sat and watched, sad that she had not been able to spell enough words right. Surprisingly, she didn't cry. The funny thing was that she knew a lot of them, but couldn't come up with the name of the letter, even when I had her looking up at the alphabet on the wall.

At one point, she was trying to spell the word "pig." She got the first 2 letters, but was stuck on the "g." I kept making the sound for her, but she would just repeat the sound back to me. I asked her "What is that letter?" but she couldn't come up with it. She then started drawing the letter in the air, which is when I had her stand to look at the alphabet, hoping she would be able to pick out the letter that she was writing in the air. She couldn't.

So, after the rest of the kids were gone, I sat her down at my desk and helped her sound and spell out some letters, using Spanish lessons to help her hear and make connections. With the word "can," she got the first 2 letters fine, but couldn't figure out that it was an "n" until I said "na ne ni no nu." Because the vowels are all pronounced the same no matter what, they learn by connecting different consonants to the vowels. As soon as I said that, she knew what the letter was, and wrote it down.

I gave her 3 stars on the paper, and then gave her a marshmallow. Then she got two more for telling me something she learned, and all was right in the world.

I don't know if she's a tad dyslexic or just very visual and had a hard time saying the letters out loud and remember the names of all of them. She does occasionally write letters and numbers backwards, so I'll have to keep an eye on her as we start up again next year. She's also one of the younger 5-year-olds, so it shouldn't be too much of a surprise that she's having some trouble.

So that was pretty much my day. After school I got to have a good talk with one of the camp staff that I'll be working with in a few weeks. Tomorrow we have our oral exams where the kids will have to talk to friends of mine from the States, answering a few questions that we've been practicing. This will not only show me that they know them as individuals and don't just chime in with the kids that studied, but will also help me see that they do understand and can be understood in English outside of the class. It's important to me that they understand English when people other than me speak it to them. So, that will be tomorrow. I'm sure I'll have some stories to tell about that.


  1. I wanna be a part of the test!¡

  2. Too late, now, Daniel. Sorry. You could have if you'd asked me earlier. :)