I am one happy woman. As of today all my students have completed their IOWA and CogAt tests. Most of the school-wide testing was during the second week of March.
However during any scheduled testing it’s a sure bet that sickness will spread throughout the school. There will always be a few students who need to make up tests before the turn-in deadline. I have to tell you that I find administering standardized tests a lot like watching paint dry, just not as exciting. With the younger students, most of the questions are read to them. The questions tend to be repetitive and after a while you find your mind gets fuzzy and your tongue clumsy. I believe that is test induced stupor. And even though the testing session is only two hours a day, you can forget about really teaching anything the rest of the day.
Believe me after two hours of testing my students’ brains were exhausted. Now don’t get me wrong, I recognize the value of the tests in determining not only my students’ strengths and weaknesses, but our curriculum’s strengths and weaknesses. It’s a necessary evil like eating all your Brussels sprouts. (Yuck!)
The eighth grade’s annual book fair was held from March 6 to March 12. My students were eager little shoppers. They thoroughly enjoyed leaving class every day to go shopping for books. I had to admire the eighth-graders’ patience in dealing with my little shoppers. My students did a great job spending their money down to the last cent. There was a nice selection of books for all ages.
As a grandma, I found books for my grandchildren, including the one who is just about ready to be born. (When Grandma’s a teacher, and her school has a book fair, you are going to get a book!) The final day of the book fair was also the St. Patrick’s Day Pancake Breakfast. Once again, Chris Cakes were featured. The unique thing about Chris Cakes is not the pancakes themselves, but their delivery. The pancakes are not handed to you, but thrown. (You can opt to have an eighth-grader stand in for you.) I am proud to say that I caught all three of my pancakes, thus earning an “Alright, Mrs. Ayette!” from the eighth-graders. Oh yeah, I still have it!
This month the student council is sponsoring a “Pennies for Patients” contest. Each student was given a container in which to put loose change. The money collected goes to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society to fight blood cancer affecting children. March 28 is the day that all money is due. The class that raises the most money will be treated to a pizza party. Noting the name of the campaign, one of my students asked if it was okay to put other kinds of money besides pennies in the box, you know, like dollars. I assured her it was.
Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, was on March 1. Students and teachers started the holy season by attending Mass and receiving ashes. Each Friday during Lent, the eighth-graders will lead the school in the Stations, or Way of the Cross. This prayer service is a way of remembering Jesus’ passion and death. The following comes under the heading of “Out of the Mouths of Babes.”
I really like decorating my classroom. Of course the first couple of months are rather easy, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. January doesn’t have quite the obvious theme. I had the children make paper snowflakes and give some of them a dusting of glitter. When I hung them up, something was missing, so I had the children color and cut out penguins, mittens and sleds which I hung up amid the snowflakes. When February rolled around I was a little busy so I just put up some hearts along with the snowflakes and pictures.
Every year I have a special Lenten project with my class. We make Lenten crosses. On the back of the crosses, the children write what sacrifice they intend to do during Lent. The crosses are hung up around the room. In order to hang up the crosses I removed all the decorations around the room including the snowmen hanging from the ceiling. The next day I asked the children what was different about the room. I expected and got answers like, a new responsorial psalm posted and the cloth behind the Bible was now purple. What I didn’t expect was this answer…the room was a lot plainer. As I looked around, and realized my student was correct, I was struck by how appropriate the room was for Lent, a time to remove the distractions from life to focus on our relationship with God.
Have a blessed, undistracted Lent.
Kathy Ayette is a teacher at St. Mary’s Catholic School. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.