An Idea Is Born

Finally, I get to the gym.  My inner thighs…well look away if this too much for you.  They are so sore.  Like someone has been hitting them with bricks. 

I was on the elliptical today, when the local trainer from the gym brought in a 13 year old boy.  Mind you, these are my favorite kids:  slightly out of shape, probably eat crap food, want to get healthier, not great scores in PE.  I taught PE in Jr. High for 4 years, and am now doing 1st-6th grade.  This kind of student really inspires me.  Why? 

Because, I see myself in their eyes.  I could never compete, was really uncoordinated.  But, at least we had fitness.  It was the 70s.  It was mandatory…but, where has real fitness and fun gone?

So, I have this idea.  You know how those expensive tutoring clubs meet after school?  They help with homework, and promise to bring up scores?    What would happen if we could help kids bring up their fitness scores, and improve overall health? 

I have a dream.  That all the non-fit great students could actually change their life one day at a time.  Hmmmm….

the mayflower…et al

Okay, this is funny. Well, maybe not funny to you History Teacher types. I teach 3 periods of AVID, and we are starting our tutorials this week. This is where a student brings a problem for the group. The group doesn’t solve it for the student, but leads and guides him to find the answers for himself.

I did a model tutorial question. The question I posed to my 8th grade students was, “Why did the Pilgrims decide to leave Europe for the new land?” Everyone looked at me with blank expressions on their faces.

Another try. “What are you studying in History?”

The 13 colonies

“Okay, so why did they come here? Do you know this?”

It took all period, but finally, finally…we discovered through our textbook (*cough*), that they indeed left Europe because of persecution, etc. They were a bit sketchy on other historical happenings, like the Magna Carta. They had no real clue about the Reformation, and claimed that their 7th grade History teacher didn’t teach them anything. The Anglican church? Never heard of it.

So, why am I putting all these links? I have a secret hope that my students will read them. They usually blog with me on the classroom blog. Perhaps, I’ll send them this way.

I referenced Eddie Izzard. eddie_izzard.jpgI thought there was hope when one student said, *Hoocha Hoocha Hoocha Lobster*, but she didn’t know the answer either.

A side note? I am a MEMBER of the Mayflower Society. My ancestor was William White. His pregnant wife was the first Pilgrim to give birth in the new land. Alas, she was also the first bride, as poor William died the next spring.

The tutorial? It was a hoot. I did my *How-did-you-get-to-the-8th-grade-without-knowing-this?* speech. Fun and sad all at the same time.


Many of my students will be going to Mexico for several months for Holiday.  They are on a different school track, and have to go to school in the summer next year to graduate.  I’m wondering if we can stay connected via internet.  They tell me they have it where they are going.
What an interesting thought.

ms. v does the quinceanera-pt 1 & 2

Today is my first quinceanera.

I was so honored to be asked by one of my new students.  In her writing a few weeks ago, she started writing about me coming to  her sister’s quinceanera.  I was embarrassed because I knew vaguely what it was, but not REALLY. 

I have a new dress, new shoes, freshly painted nails & a Starbucks gift.  I’ve only asked a dozen people what I should bring, and that was the concensus.  I’m excited to be going, but am an Mayflower girl who doesn’t speak Spanish.  I guess now I know how my students feel in an all English-speaking world.

My students do Four Minutes of Formulation in their sempers.  My favorite part of the day is reading, and then responding to them.  This is how I got the invite.  My student Monica asked me to go to her sister’s quince.  It took a few writings back and forth to realize she was serious.  I’m thrilled.

Off to the party.  🙂


I’ve uploaded some pictures to flickr.  It was a beautiful, special time for this newcomer to the culture.  I sat with M’s parents.  They work in the fields at night (or they used to)for my husband’s cousin’s cousin here in my hometown.  I learned a little Spanish.  I learned more about the students who live in the camps, and what happens when the camps close for the winter holiday.

Monica’s sister got to dance with her father, and received her last doll, signaling the fact that she is now a woman.  The girls and boys were beautiful, and I was in awe of their waltzing capabilities. 

I am humbled.  I am honored.  And, I want to go again!

Former Students

It’s that time of year where I dust off my memories, re-live some great moments, get ready to gear up for the new crop of students. 

Today in our paper, a story of a former student was featured in the sports section.  Looks like this kid is going to be a real hot recruit on the football field this year.

I was his teacher in 7th grade at St. Stanislaus school.  The reason this was such an important year, was because it was 2002, and *cough* I hadn’t been teaching since 1990.  I was a school and private therapist in the 90’s, but had no idea what a “Standard” was or how it was used.  I couldn’t get a job, even though I taught from 1981-1990 in Fresno Unified. 

This tiny Catholic school took a chance on me, and gave me the 7th grade teaching position.  I had never taught Jr. High.  Well, I fell in love with the students, the curriculum and the excitement that is Jr. High.   This boy was always a sweet, kind student.  He had many friends, and was incredibly popular with boys and girls alike.  His mother was one of my biggest supporters.  This was the year that we read The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, and met him.  Read the story

It’s always nice to see one of your old students succeed.  There are way too many stories…probably ones I’ll never know about, in which the student didn’t quite set out to be what he wanted.  I’m always surprised that I don’t feel old, either.  Teaching keeps me young.

You go big Dominic!  I’ll be waiting to see where you land.   I’m rooting for you in more ways than one.

Mrs. V.

new flikr

Hey, check out the photo that Colleen just sent to me!  You 8th graders!  I miss you already!!!