Monthly Archives: November 2012

Just another Tuesday night

Tuesdays are my busiest days of the week.  I have three groups of students in library, plus a two hour stint at the preschool inserted in the middle of the day.  I am usually tired on Tuesday nights. Yet, it is a good tired.  I always feel I accomplished something positive every Tuesday.

I really enjoyed my preschool time today.  I worked with the 3-4 year olds and we are practicing the alphabet and forming upper case and lower case letter.  There is one three year old boy is really good at these type of exercise.  I get so excited when they “get it” and even more excited when they continue to use their newly acquired skills.   It is a joy to see the growth in the students that I worked with all last year.  It is such a good feeling to me.  I can see the benefits of preschool in the students that come to the library.  I have found they are much more prepared for both the social and academic aspects of school.  Kids today are so pushed to learn fast and keep up with the curriculum that is presented and there really is not any margin for falling behind.

My group of third graders have discovered poetry.  It started when one boy just chose a poetry book and browsed through it.  In quiet reading time, he asked if he could read aloud some of the poems.  Now, being a book and literature lover, I said Yes, Of course?So he did a brief “reading” and now most of the poetry collection is checked out to the third grade.  I have notes on all the checkout cards as to which child gets which book when another child returns it. They are simply excited about this genre of literature.  I have suggested that when we complete our novel, that we continue our readings.  Or I may have the class vote to postpone the novel and start the poetry reading now.  As I see it, as long as their time is well spent, they should have a say in how it spent.  I think that the exposure to poetry is a very good use of instructional time.

I am tired this Tuesday night, but it is a good and satisfying tired.  I know I made a difference in my students today.  I am grateful that I am able to do that.

Thanks kids!

Gratitude or Greed; which is it?

It is the night before the night before Thanksgiving.  I read a book to the second graders today with a similar title, but the holiday was Christmas. The gist of the story was that all the “to do” of the holiday is just too much. I must agree.

I used to really enjoy holidays.  I have noticed as I have gotten older I like them less.  It’s the commercialism of every holiday.  No one is even noticing the reason for the November holiday.  When I was a child, Thanksgiving was a much kinder, gentler event. I thought that the point  is to gather family and friends, enjoy some comfort food and some football. It is now all about the shopping, spending and the excesses of the modern world.

There are retailers that plan to start their “black Friday” sales on Thursday night!?  What’s the deal?  People can’t wait until the leftovers are cool to hit the mall?  My local news has a feature about how to “maximize” your time and money and get the “best deal” on your shopping trip.  Has anyone actually considered the people who are employed in retail?  I guess they aren’t supposed to have a Thanksgiving day to leisurely enjoy.  No…they have to go out and serve the spenders of the almighty American dollar.

Sadly, I don’t think that this is what Sarah Hale and President Lincoln intended for this holiday to become.  Sometimes progress is bad. And so is retail greed.  The latter is really become a problem in America.

Hey! It’s Monday!

I had a very productive Monday.  This is unusual for me.  It’s a day that I tend to waste on a regular basis.  Today was an exception.

I work in a school.  Well, let me clarify that statement.  In reality, my job is a volunteer post, but I have turned it into a job.  That I pay my daughter’s tuition for the privilege of holding.  I am the self-titled Library Lady at her school.  This is a very small, Catholic school with only one class per grade.  Seven years ago, I asked the principal at the time if I could run the library.  He had no qualms and was actually secretly thrilled, since there was no money in the budget and he would have to use parent volunteers to keep it functioning in any capacity.

So, in my capacity as Library Lady, I was busy working this Monday before Thanksgiving.  Now, due to the fact that my little family now is down to one functioning automobile, I was sort stuck at work today.  My husband needed to go into his office, so he dropped our daughter and I off this morning, promising to pick up up at dismissal time.

I spent the morning cleaning up my storage shed and organizing withdrawn titles and miscellaneous donated books that I will be selling at a used book sale in February.  The proceeds from that sale will constitute my entire library budget for the year.  I anticipate pulling in about $40.00.  Also, I sorted out about 30 donated titles to be processed and added to the collection.

Having done that, I returned to my desk in the library.  I was joined by a kindergartener who had been “making poor choices” and therefore not in class.  He was to spend the remainder of the morning doing classwork in the library and go back to class after lunch.  So, while I processed a few books for check-out, I supervised my guest and offered some suggestions to help him do his work.  When I don’t have classes scheduled, the library is the place where the “miscreant” of the moment must wait out their time away from class.  Since we are a K-8 school, I get kids of all ages as visitors not by choice.  Today’s guest was very quiet.

Once my lunch of peanut butter sandwich and a coke was consumed, I shifted the picture books and pulled out the fairy tales that got mixed up with them.  I shuffled around the leveled reader titles to make the less frequently looked at more visible.  I actually shelved all the recently processed titles into their respective baskets by subject matter.

By this time…it was almost dismissal.  I looked around and realized that I actually accomplished a lot and it was all fun.  My library partner-in-crime, a retired sister from our school’s teaching order, will be shocked when she comes in tomorrow to teach the library skills lesson.

I had to do all that work.  I could have just sat and read all day, but idle hands are the devil’s something, and we all must work hard to avoid the snares of the devil!

Random thoughts on a Sunday night…

I get my best ideas at inconvenient times.  While in the shower.  When I am driving.  And other inconvenient times.   I really need to take the time to write them down.  I do not have a good memory for important things.  I can remember a teacher’s name from third grade, but I can’t remember a topic I want to research when I actually have the time to do it.  I need to work on this issue.

I am at a “mid-life” point in my life where I don’t know what I want to do with my life and everything I think I would like to do would cost money that I don’t have.  The current economy being tanked doesn’t help my cause.  I would like to get a graduate degree, but do I really?  To do grad school would require my taking the GRE and I can’t even pass the state teacher’s math exam.  Standardized tests should be outlawed.  And what would I “do” with a graduate degree?

There’s a new show on Nickelodeon.  Well, it may not be new, since I really don’t watch anything other than Spongebob Squarepants, but there have been easily four promos for this show which isn’t even on for another 30 minutes.  The promos have made their point and I don’t think I will watch it.  The promos were so frequent and annoying that I don’t want to see the show.  Nick took a dive in my opinion when it let the woman who lives in the White House do a “guest” spot on iCarly. That was pandering to the kids of voters on a kid show. And during election season! Now would Laura Bush have done that?

Today: Hump Day

Hey!  It’s Wednesday.  My one day with a group of students in the middle of the day.  I sleep late, and get to school with, get this seven minutes to spare!  I’m doing well!

Wednesday is kinder library day.  We only have 11 of them, they are a bright batch of kids and I enjoy the little ones. Today we read a book about a boy who couldn’t sit still.  I can relate well, since I have that same issue.  Most of these kids can sit still, so this was a story that was really about me!

After our story, we have a library skills lesson.  I like the lessons at this age, since we are still working with crayons.  I love to color, but I try to restrain myself from actually doing the lesson for, I mean, with them.  If I did, they would never get time to find their weekly library book.

I only get an hour a week with the kindergarteners, but it is an hour of fun I look forward to every week. I miss being in kindergarten myself.  I still remember my teacher.  Her name was Mrs. Stanley and she was full of energy and fun and joy.  I miss my daughter being in kindergarten. It was so fun…now, school is work for my daughter.  She is a very smart and driven child.  Her grades and work ethic are absolutely commendable. 

Again, I digress.  I think it is because I cannot sit still.  I have to be constantly moving and doing and talking and sharing my ideas.  I guess because a kindergartener’s mind isn’t cluttered with all the stuff that responsible adults have to keep in theirs.

Oh, to be in kindergarten again!

Service…just what is it?

Service.  It’s an oft used word in the American English language.  Now, there is the dictionary definition of “service,” but I prefer to think of the action of the word.  To me, it means that one person is supposed to do something for another person or persons.  It is also frequently used in naming businesses or a type of business, e.g. “the service industry.”

The federal government gets the award for overusing the word service in naming their multitude of agencies.  Forest Service, Secret Service, Rural Housing Service and my favorite; General Services Administration.  Just what does that last one actually do?  Let’s give our federal agencies monikers that actually define what they exist to accomplish.

The first use of service is one that all Americans know: Internal Revenue Service.  Just what service are they providing to me, the taxpayer?  I’m actually the individual serving them, by providing correct, honest documents stating my earnings, deductions and what is owed to the federal government.  Now, since I am merely obeying the law, therefore I believe that I am providing the service in this instance.   I am obligated to deal with this organization but just what are they doing for me?  Sure, the treasury may wire a refund to my bank account, but that is their legal obligation.  Where is the “service” in this activity?  It is merely the act of compliance with the tax code.  I am being a good and honest citizen and they are being the government supposedly acting pursuant to tax statutes and procedures. I vote for a name change to eliminate the use of the word service.

A checker in a supermarket provides a service by tallying up your selected items, deducting your coupons and taking your money.  That service is now being taken over by the machines that you can use to check-out your groceries yourself.  They are simple to use, there isn’t anyone to distract you by chatting incessantly and in the store I shop in, a clerk is usually nearby when the computer locks up.  Given a choice, I’d rather use the self-serve machines.  I think they are faster and when I am paired up with my daughter,  the process is further improved.   I’m not fan of shopping anyway, so any option of limiting the time I have to spend engaged in that activity.

Let’s move on to “professional” services that are rendered.  I have hired a number of those licensed, professional folks for various reasons.  I see it as supporting capitalism when I hire a professional to practice their skills.  That is the American way.  I see it as benefiting my own local economy.  An accountant is a perfect example.  No one could pay me to prepare my own tax returns.  Those documents require the use of math, my absolute weakest subject.   I am still trying to pass the state teacher’s exam in that subject, so there is no way I would or should prepare a federal tax return.   Electricians are another professional individual that I would retain.  I value my existence on earth and I would prefer not to die trying to rewire the lighting in my house.  In these instances, the end recipient of the professional services, you pay for their education or skills.

This topic of service is not yet complete.

Acronyms.  They are everywhere in life.  It is no small wonder that the American English language is dying.  No one actually speaks fully anymore.  Now, I don’t claim to be an expert in either the English language or speech, however, I am seeing first hand the language is dying.

 Various industries have their own “lingo” and many also use acronyms.  The first organization that comes to mind is the United   States military. My late father was a U.S. Marine and his period of service started in the 1940’s I learned their acronyms and “lingo” from an early age.  I also had a parent who is originally from Canada, so let’s add in a few more equivalent terms.  I was in kindergarten when I finally realized that a bathroom was not just the “loo” or “latrine” or “head.”  My absolute favorite acronym is “Snafu.”  I think that this one has become common in the civilian world as well.  Interestingly, this word came into usage in the early 1940’s.  The online dictionary that I like to use has a good definition for it.  I like online dictionaries, since they usually have even the most recently accepted words defined.

 Another industry that uses a large number of acronyms and has a confusing lingo is the education business.  To be a teacher in California, one must pass first the CBEST.  A potential teacher also must take the CSET and there is a huge push to obtain a BCLAD credential.  Are you lost yet?  You are not alone.  If your child needs special education services, there is a subset of “eduspeak” that the school hopes a parent will never actually master, in case the school goofs up at your child’s IEP meeting; e.g.  Johnny is not decoding sufficient vocabulary in the grade level per state standards.  Well, I know what that means, but I had to school myself in this lingo to be a parent of a special needs child.

 I like words.  I have a lot to say and this is the best way I know how to convey it.  Spoken or written fully or in code, this is what separates us from the other creatures on the planet.