Monday, March 1, 2010

Why teachers get carpal tunnel syndrome...

This week, the babies FINALLY got to color their very own ABC Books. I say 'finally' because I told them about this project a while ago, and wasn't able to get the freakin' copies made for almost a month. Have you ever heard of a freakin' school that doesn't have a damn copy machine that works anywhere in the building?! OK, before I go off on that tangent, I'll move on...

This is a mini-version of the ABC Book I made and use every day with them. I can't take credit for the adorable pages, they came from a workshop I attended almost 10 years ago. We start using this book on the very first day of school every year. My "big" version has 8 1/2 x 11 pages, and I have both the capital and lowercase letter for each picture, plus the word for the picture. We start from the beginning, and at first we do it "I'll say it first, then you say it." Then I say, "A, aaaaa, apple. (They repeat) B, b, butterfly. (They repeat) C, c, caterpillar. (They repeat)" and so on. We spend a LOT of time with this book in the beginning of the year, and we go ever so slowly. I have them watch my mouth, and I give them little tricks and tips to ensure they say each sound properly. "Your tongue should be touching the top of your mouth." "Don't say 'buh,' it's just b. Remember, it's not a buh-utterfly, it's a butterfly." "Don't say 'puh,' it's just a p, with a puff of air." You get the idea. After a week or two, depending on the group is progressing, I start adding the corresponding ASL sign, which they always LOVE!

At this point in the year, we go through the book in random order, and they just say the sounds for me, I don't say it first. We mostly go through the alphabet once, for practice, each morning. There are a few kids, though, who still need to use the book in the same way we did back in August, as they are really struggling to learn those sounds. They don't have a lot of problem repeating what they hear, but they can not make the association between the sound and the letter.

Anyway, I told the kids a loonngg time ago that we were going to make our own ABC Books for them to take home and practice with. The fact that ALL the babies love this book made it very easy to not single out the handful who don't really get it yet. They were so excited when I finally got the copies made, and they spent almost two full mornings coloring the pages ever so carefully. I asked them to color their pictures as colorfully as possible.

Now, in the past, I've made these books with other classes, and I've let them cut their own pages apart. Sometimes we just use the pages as flashcards, instead of making them into a book. Sometimes I send the pages home so the parents can make the books/flashcards, however, most of the time, the pages never get touched. That's the sad reality with most of my babies' parents. OK, once again, NOT going off on a tangent.

This year, I decided we would make these at school (partly because I needed something for them to work on while I DIBELed, and I knew this would hold their interest long enough for me to get some testing done) and then I would cut them apart and make them into books. Doesn't sound like a big deal, right? Hmmm, have I mentioned I can be a little anal-retentive at times? No? Oh, well, yeah...this would be one of those times.

I wanted them cut a very specific way, which meant I couldn't even ask Ms. H., my parent volunteer, to help. Truth be told, it would have been too embarrassing for me to explain to her the anal-retentive way I wanted them cut.

So, that meant I had to bring the packets home with me this weekend. (I was only able to make one at school.) The first couple took an unbelievable amount of time, thanks to my 'issues,' but once I got into a rhythm, it seemed to go a little quicker. And, by quicker, I mean 20 minutes per book. Yeah, are you doin' the math already? There are 26 pages per book for each of my 23 babies. That's 20 minutes x 24 books (I had to make a sample book, of course) which comes to 8 hours. EIGHT HOURS, people!!! I actually spent 8 hours this weekend making ABC Books!

As I was cutting, I kept going back and forth between thinking, "Oh, it's totally worth it, the babies are going LOVE these, and they're going to use them every day, and they're going to learn their sounds perfectly, and they'll be reading like little demons...." and thinking, "Why the FUCK am I killing myself doing this?! They're gonna take these damn things home and lose them the first fuckin' night. Or, they're baby brother is going to rip it up, or their cat's gonna piss on it. And, even if they don't lose it, their lazy parents aren't going to practice with them, so what's the fuckin' point?!" (Yeah, so the throbbing in my wrist made me a little cranky. Deal with it!)

Here are the pages they colored
and here's the finished product!
Was it worth 8 hours of my life, and the use of my wrist? That remains to be seen. I'm going to think positively, and hope the babies actually use them the way they should. For a brief, insane, moment, I thought about having them make two books - one for home, one for school. But, then I thought about having to cut out 23 more books, and decided I can't do it. Obviously, I could let THEM cut out the second book, which I'm still toying with, so maybe it'll happen.
I've also thought of 100 things I want to differently next year when we make these. For one, I will run the books off on cardstock, instead of regular paper, so the pages are sturdier. Then, I'd like to laminate the pages. I'm also thinking I will take the time to go buy binder rings to put them together with, instead of the brads I used. It'll make it so much easier to flip through the pages. Right now, the brad makes it hard to see one page at a time. I'm also thinking of perhaps blowing up the pages, so they fit two on a page instead of six, so they're books will be bigger, and then maybe I can bind them with a plastic comb-binding. It's amazing how much your mind wanders while doing annoying, repetitive tasks, isn't it?
Know what else is amazing? That you're still reading!!! This is the longest post about nothing I've ever done!!! God bless my Bloggy Buddies!! I'll try to write a post that's worthy of your time tomorrow.


Anonymous said...

I haven't used school copy machines in about 5 years now. I scanned all my worksheets into my computer, and I print them all out using the school's laser printers in my room. Sure, I go through a lot of toner, and truth be told, I probably wear out the printers a lot faster, but I don't wear ME out, and I don't get as frustrated when I can't find a copy machine that works....... No body has really noticed or told me not to do it that way.....

Busy Bee Suz said...

What a pain.
Also wow: How many F bombs you dropped. It hurt my lil' eyeballs CT. ;0
I hope they appreciate...or at least LEARN from all your hard work.
Tsk Tsk to the parents who never encourage or help their kids. That is so sad!!