Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Paper Towel Phenomenon and Ethnicity Challenges

Oh how fast things have been moving!  I can't believe it is almost time for Thanksgiving break.  While I can't believe it, that does not mean I am not ready for the time off.  My students have been, well, they have been themselves.

The Paper Towel Phenomenon

I recently had the opportunity to join my students on their grade level field trip. Of all the things we saw, and all the things we learned, my favorite memory was in the bathroom shortly after our arrival.

In our bathrooms at school, we have the push button paper towel dispensers.  Push, push, push, pull, tear.  One of my sweetest friends, who I will forever remember, changed my life on this field trip.  While taking the first of one of our many bathroom breaks, this particular student had not come out yet.  I go in to find her standing at the paper towel dispenser with what appeared to be 30 paper towel sheets in her hand.  She was passing out paper towels to any one who needed them.  This paper towel dispenser was the type where you pull and it is precut.  No buttons.  No tearing. She was in heaven.

Me: What are you doing? We need to go, everyone is waiting on us.
Student: Miss Polson, watch this!
*Student pulls a sheet of paper towel down*
Student: It's perfect, EVERY time!
Me: Yes, I see that.  Let's go.
Student: AHHH it did it again! The same size!
Me: It will do that every time you pull it, now let's go.
Student: AGAIN! It did it again!!
Me: Hey, I bet if we keep moving we can check the next bathroom to see if it does it too!
Student: OH CAN WE?? This is the best day ever!

Oh the simple pleasures in life. 

Ethnicity Challenges

The first.  I read a series of books to my students that often uses a play on words, or the wrong word in order to teach the students new vocabulary.  The words we had discussed recently were figment, and pigment.  Fast forward 2 weeks.

I was talking to a student who's family is expecting a baby.

Me: What is your mom going to have?
Student: It's a girl, but she'll be my color, my mom stopped drinking so much chocolate milk so her skin figments wont be so dark.
Me: Ah.

The second.  I work with a very unique group of students.  Every year I meet at least one student that I will never forget.  This year is no different.  I identified his student on day one.

We walk into the classroom to get math started just like every day for the past 11 weeks. My aide is finishing up with a student across the hall, so I begin.

A student, looking right at me, asks me this question:

Student: Where's Miss Polson?
Me: I'm right here, I'm Miss Polson.
*Other students confirm that I am in fact Miss Polson.
Student: Oh. Where's the black Miss Polson?
*The light bulb clicks when I realize she is referring to my aide.
Me: She'll be right over.

Hey, at least they knew my name!  We've got until June to get the next name down.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Story of Us

This is completely unrelated to my normal topics.  But this was something I just had to share.

My friend Paul, and his cohost Rachel, have started a podcast that simply tells the stories of ordinary people.  The idea is simple, yet unique, and overwhelmingly powerful.  This podcast, through Paul and Rachel, gives people an opportunity to connect to one another through their personal stories.  Everyone has been through something that could potentially change the life of someone around them for the better. 

If you have not already, please look them up via their:

twitter: @thestorypodcast
iTunes search podcasts: The Story of Us

Please subscribe, rate them, and leave a comment on iTunes.

High fives to Paul and Rachel for a job well done on their new podcast.  Keep the stories coming!

Do you have a story you'd like to share?  E-mail Paul or Rachel at

Your story could change someone's life.

Your story could teach someone something.

Your story could make someone laugh when they most need it.

Your story could provide hope during a time of difficulty.

Your story could make a difference.

I highly recommend Episode 5, partially because, well, it's my story.


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Hard work

Custodian: Uh, Miss, are you okay?
Me: Haha, yes sir.
Custodian: If you don't mind me asking, what are you doing?
Me: Oh just chillin' with my buds.
Custodian: You mean chillin' with your spuds!

And that would be when I collapsed in laughter.

Sometimes being a teacher is fun. Setting up for our adjective center tomorrow, hard, hard work, but somebody has to do it.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Capturing Odd

Introducing this week's Sketch and Spell highlights:
I think we have all experienced this feeling.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Beware of The Heart Thief

Public Service Announcement: Ladies beware this man is a criminal, he is committing a crime: 
"He is stealing a heart." 
If you see this man...errr creature, steer clear!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Sketch and Spell

Every week, I have my students write their words and draw a picture of what they mean.  We call it "Sketch and Spell." I, like a crazy person, think that spelling words are pointless if you are never able to use them in a sentence. R-i-d-i-c-u-l-o-u-s, no?  Well, today I had my first 100.  A student who has trouble using words to explain things, but obviously knows what the words mean.  Here is the proof.
Does he not just look like a criminal?? He is even holding her purse!

 I'm not even sure I could draw a sigh, but this is perfect.
 You better believe I'm thankful this one has the d's and b's right!

 There is no question about what this word means.
 Okay...seriously? I know adults that couldn't picture this.
 Hmm...think this kid ever has to be reminded that it is bedtime?
 The lines going to the paper are a perfect way to show it is a verb. 
How did I get so lucky to have this student??
 Laying bricks?? WOW!
 I'm loving her face, hair, and the bent tree!
I saved the best for last.  Is that not a perfect description of delight?

How someone can communicate such meaning through just stick people, I will never know.  But I am certainly thankful God brought them into my life.  I love my job!

Friday, September 6, 2013


I wore some new owl earrings yesterday, and no one noticed. Today, I wore them again, and one of my students said "I like your new earrings!" I replied with "Thank you!" They followed with "I love peacocks!" 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Language barriers and Wal-mart sightings

I have prolonged posting as long as possible.  I am practically bursting at the seams.  If the first two weeks are any indication for how the year will go, you better buy stock in Puffs (Kleenex if you are desperate) because there are sure to be many tear-inducing-laughter filled moments.

While picking up math homework, I asked the question "Is it complete?" This is a difficult question for some of my ESL students.  The conversation went like this:

Me: Raise your hand if you have your homework.
*8 out of 9 students raise their hands
Me: Put your hands down.  Raise your hand if your homework is in this room.
*1 student raises their hand.
Me: *Sigh* Put your hands down. Raise your hand if your homework is in this building.
*8 out of 9 students raise their hands
Me: Put your hands down.  Raise your hands if your homework is complete.
*7 1/2 out of 9 students raise their hands. You know that up-down motion that says I'm not quite sure what you are asking but I'll raise it and see what answer you are looking for.  But if you give me "the look" I'm putting it back down.
Me: Put your hands down. (Calling on a student who doesn't have theirs.)  Why don't you have your homework?
Student: My mom said I could do it here.
Me: That defeats the purpose of the "home" in "homework".  I'll see you at recess detention.
*Tears ensue.
Me: (Calling on another student) Why don't you have your homework?
Student: What homework?
Me: I'll see you at recess detention.
Student: Fine, I hate recess anyway.
Student who said their homework was complete:  My homework is in my classroom but I didn't answer one.
Me: So then it isn't complete.
Student who said their homework was complete: No it is in-the-complete.
Me: You just said you didn't answer one.
Student who said their homework was complete: Yes
Me: What does complete mean?
Student who said their homework was complete: Finished
Me: Did you finish your homework?
Student who said their homework was complete: Yes, all but one.
Me: So you didn't finish every single question on your homework assignment?
Student who said their homework was complete: Oh, no ma'am.
Me: Then why did your raise your hand when I asked if your homework was complete?
Student who said their homework was complete: Because my homework is in-the-complete.
Me: *Light bulb* Your homework is "incomplete" not the same thing.

Aide: You put "the" when you meant to say "they" every time. You are very close but missing something.
Student: How do you spell they?
Me: That is a sight word you should know.  I know for a fact I put it on your spelling test several times last year.
Student: Like "They likes to play outside."
Me: You should know this, use the sight word tiles if you need help.
*Student gets quiet and continues working. Time passes.
Me: Let me see what you have written so far. "Day likes two play outsid."

It's a work in progress.

My new favorite.  Quite possibly this year's version of "poet":

The Spanish alphabet according to Room 205.
My former students couldn't read cursive handwriting.  So, in an effort to help this, I labeled their math spirals with the student's number, written in words, in cursive, to assist this years' students with this skill.  Yesterday, after 5 days of using the cursive labeled math spiral, a student refused to pick it up saying "That's not mine, mine isn't written in Spanish."

I guess it's all Greek Spanish to them.

On a non-school related note, I stopped by Wal-mart tonight to pick up a minor missing ingredient for our low-carb hamburger helper (apparently we were missing the hamburger), I witnessed a Wal-mart special.  Coming down the aisle, nearly running me over, was a sight that was etched into my memory.  There was a skinny man, in overalls, on a Wal-mart issued Hoveround, wearing a neck brace, with a cigarette between his teeth.  As if this sight was not enough to brand my memory, the contents of his basket distracted me more.  In his small Wal-mart issued Hoveround basket were 3 items: a case of Ramen noodles, Froot Loops (not the Great Value brand either), and beer.  Yeah, he's living the bachelor life.  Clearly he has the essentials.

Tomorrow is Friday.  Let's not forget that.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Mister Rogers

Won't you be, oh please won't you be my neighbor?

We recently acquired new neighbors.  So as a welcome gift, Mom and I decided to Pinterest some things.  Here is the end result. In the brown paper sack, we put fresh brownies, as well as a box of the same brownies Mom baked, just in case they really like them.  Don't you hate getting something really good then not knowing how to make it??

I created a template for the coke bottle hanger.  If you need the template, I have attached both the one I used, and two versions of a blank one (one is for newer Microsoft Word versions, and the other is for older versions in case you have trouble).

*I forgot to add a line for folding, I just eyeballed where to fold.

The template you see in the picture - pdf

Blank template - docx

Blank template - doc

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Friday, August 23, 2013

a HAIRied decision...

I had to buy a new hairbrush the other day, not something I do on a weekly basis.  In fact, I am not sure how long I had had mine prior to it snapping in half, but I'm fairly confident it dates back to college.  I went to the store to purchase this hairbrush, foolishly thinking, I'll just run in grab a clone of my old brush, and get home.

Not so simple.

This is what I saw in the hair section, that left me speechless:

Did you know that the type, length, shape, ethnicity, and color of your hair determines what kind of brush you buy?  80 choices. All different combinations. Add in 3-4 color choices for each brush, and it was no short trip.  Smooth-dry hair? Smooth-frizzy hair?  Smooth-curly hair? Smooth-straight hair? Short? Medium? Long? All lengths?

I wanted MY brush. Gray and black, Goody basic.

Did they have MY brush?


I read every label. On every brush. 

Wanna know what kind of brush I got?  Because we all know I have curly, shoulder-length, mushroom shaped frizzy, Caucasian, brown hair.  What kind of brush matches that combination?

Simple. The first two that were the same color as my comb at home.  Were they "Specially designed to give <my> hair a smooth, nutritious look every time!" brushes? No, they were the right color, and frankly, that's all that matters.

Title Explanation

Let's start at the very beginning(a very good place to start). I am privileged to have the opportunity to mold the minds of our future. I am approaching my 5th year of teaching, and with that, there has been laughter, tears, heartache, and happiness. This is a log through the journey that is called life.

Let me explain the title, in pieces.

A misunderstood poet:

Let me set the scene for you.

Scene: The words "Poem," "Poetry," and "Poet," were written on the board. As a class, we have read all three words aloud pronouncing them correctly. As with all new words, I always poll the class to get a baseline for prior knowledge. In non-teacher talk, I'm finding out what they already know.

Me: Has anybody ever seen or heard any of these words before?
*It should be noted that hands went up around the room.
Me: Good! Does anybody know what one of these words means?
*Again, hands. I choose one very eager volunteer.
Me: Okay, which word would you like to define?
Student: Poet.
Me: Okay, go ahead.
Student: Like when you put something in a cup.
Me: <Awkward pause, which as a teacher I am working on> What do you mean?
Student: Like when you put juice in a cup.
*Wait for it. Wait for it. Got it?
Now, this is the point that I am sure all teachers know, is the most crucial moment, the aha moment where you can A) laugh uncontrollably or B) use it as a teachable moment. I am an over achiever. I went for both.

Okay, go po you some juice in your cup and get ready for the next piece.

Bad hair days(s):

Again, let me set the scene for you.

Scene: I often suffer from mild ADD and get off task easily. I am not sure exactly what we had been talking about, but it was not reading. I do recall that I was trying to get us back on task.

Student: Miss?
Me: Does this question have something to do with reading?
Student: Yes.
Me: Okay, what is your question?
Student: Do you remember that day when your hair looked good?
*Remember the mild ADD?
Me: hair doesn't look good every day?
Student: That one day it did.
Another student: I remember that day!
Yet another student: Me too!
*This is the moment that I temporarily overcame my ADD and continued with class. Now, this doesn't mean that while teaching, I wasn't thinking, "What day did my hair look good?".

Po some more juice. We are at the last piece.

Pickle cookies:

Scene: Cafeteria. I try to eat lunch with my students at least once a week. I start unpacking my lunch from my super cool lunch kit. I have, in separate plastic zipper bags: a sandwich, chips, baby dill pickles, cheese cubes, and sugar cookies. My first lunch buddy is also setting out their lunch items from their super cool lunch kit. I notice I have no drink.
Me: Hey I'm going to go get some tea, don't let anyone get my food, ok?
Student: Ok, I will not let anyone get your food.
*The walk to retrieve a drink is approximately 30ft. I return and sit back down.
Student: Are those pickle cookies?
Me: Uhh, huh? My cookies? No, they aren't. <I chuckle>
*We eat
Student: Are you sure they aren't pickle cookies?
Me: Yes, I'm sure. Why?
Student: I just thought they tasted like pickle cookies.
*At this moment, my brain starts working. I look down at my plastic zipper bag of sugar cookies to discover one with a large bite missing.
Me: Did you eat my cookie?
Student: Just one bite. I didn't like them, tasted like a pickle cookie.
I take the cookie victim out of the hastily rezipped bag and throw it away. I then rezip the bag tossing the remaining cookies into my super cool lunch kit. We have a talk about boundaries, and what is right and wrong when eating with others.

Approximately 6 hours passes.

I am in the car, waiting on someone, and quite hungry. So I reach in my lunch kit, looking for lunch leftovers, as usual. What do I find? Sugar cookies! (Please remember 6 hours has passed.) I pull out a cookie, take a bite, and immediately, it all comes back to me. You know why? Because that cookie was indeed a pickle cookie.

Lesson: Do not let plastic zipper bags with unlike things touch, or you too may end up with a case of the pickle cookies.