Monthly Archives: March 2012

Spring Break

Just under a day left!  I love the Friday before vacation!  We’re taking a district test (the DCA), and the jog-a-thon in the afternoon.  Woo hoo!

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Test Time in the Classroom

Spring Break is coming soon, and with that is the spring DCA’s (District Common Assessments).  There are 3 of them, math, language arts, and writing.  We’re taking all three this week.  I try to spread them out some, as to not overload the students.  But while they are taking the test, I find I have some extra time, which is always nice.

While they are busy, I can get some things done, like correcting papers.  Papers that I need to use for their grades are usually checked by a volunteer parent (I have about 6 of them that I can send work home to be corrected) or checked in class.  Then I put percentages on them and enter those percentages into my grade book (I use Microsoft Excel).  A lot of papers I just need to look at and mark to let them (the parents) know that I’ve seen it.  Then those papers, as well as the ones I’ve used for grades, go into the basket at the back of the room.  From there, they are put into each students cubby, by me or student volunteers (a favorite classroom job).

But while they are working quietly on their tests, I do have a few minutes to glance at the headline news on my lap top.  Don’t tell anyone, but I can check the hockey standing (not that it matters for the Ducks these days) and see what the Lakers are up to.  It’s also a good time to straiten up my room, but that usually involves correcting/checking papers (see above).

I have to confess, I love when the class is testing.  It’s nice and quiet, and I can get things done.  To bad they can’t test every day.

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A Note from a Student

“Dear Mr. Vander Wall,

B told me something that was really wasn’t (sic) nice about S.  She told me S needs to shut her ugly a face before she brakes (sic) her face.  The a means the bad word.”

I got that from A.  A sits next to S.  B sits at the table next to them.  I have my suspicions that B is a bully and says a lot of unkind things, but I can’t get anyone to corroborate those suspicions.  Sometimes I hear B say something in a mean tone to someone at her table, and when I do I make sure to remind her that we need to talk nicely to the people around us.

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An Odd Child

I have a boy in my class who is a definate English Language Learner (ELL we call ’em).  So he’s got some language issues.  But he’s a pretty good reading, one of the highest in my class.  But I’ve noticed something lately.  When I talk with them he looks off another way.  And sometimes I see him do odd things/movements with his hand.  In short, he sometimes acts like a child with Autism.

Now for sure, I am no expert!  But I have had about 5 Autistic kids in my class, plus my wife’s nephew, so I do have some experience.  And I’m telling you, at times he seems to be a little on the spectrum, as they say.  Just weird hand movements, like it feels good to do it.  And his eyes looking away when he’s talking to me.

Just a little odd.

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An Unexpected Call

So I was working after school a couple of days ago when my school phone rings.  Walking over to the phone, I notice it’s a private phone number, meaning it’s someone the office is transfering to my room.  I pick up the phone, and it’s J!  Little J!  I say, “Hi, J!  What’s up?” (I try to sound like I’ve missed him).

He says, “Oh, nothing, Mr. V., I’m just calling to say hi.”

I couldn’t believe it.  So I engage him in conversation to see if there is really some reason why he calls, but nope.  He just wants to chat.  So I remind him that he still has one of our school library books, and I ask him if he can find it and have his mom bring it back to our school.  He said sure, but I know we’ll never see that book again.

It’s amazing that a kid who drove me crazy would call to just say hi.  He was a student who I had to move away from me because almost everything he did would catch my eye.  He’s a kid who probably hated me while he was here, and I couldn’t blame him!  Seemed like he was always getting in trouble.  He had to of thought that I was picking on him.  And at one time he told me, in an angry tone, that he hated school and didn’t want to be here.

But he calls to say hi.


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Another Visit – Pulling Out Students

District people are coming back to our school.  This time they want to watch us teach math.  I think it might be a little easier than having them watch us teach language arts.  But it’s still nerve-racking.  They could be hanging out, in and out of our rooms, for about an hour.


Have I told you that I don’t have any students who go to RSP?  RSP is a pull-out special ed program for students who have slight to moderate (that’s my definition, not an official one) disabilities.  Usually I have anywhere from 2 to 4 students who get pulled out throughout the day for a half hour to 45 minutes.  But this year, I have none.  The only students who are pulled out of my class are Andy and Erik for speech (a couple times a week for about a half hour) and then Amy for counseling.

That’s not bad.

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It’s Official

Yep, it’s official.  J has been taken off my class roster.  He is no longer a part of my class, he is no longer attending this school.  I am officially down to 30 students.  Too bad I can’t take his desk out of my room and give us a little more space.  I have 32 Oral Language students first thing in the morning, so even though he’s not here, I still need J’s desk.

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