Let’s get crackin’!

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“Mrs. M, can I tell everyone a joke before we get started?” my most challenging student leaned across his desk to ask.

“Umm, what is it?” I replied, cautious of some of his less appropriate attempts at humor.

“Let’s get crackin’!” he beamed, grinning like a 50s car salesman.

“Okay, that one will be fine, thanks for remembering to ask this time.”

Yesterday, two fourth grade classes sat in eager lines in our performing arts studio to drop their eggs from a 20 foot lift.  Peanut butter jars were the most popular choice, with varying degrees of success and post-drop mess.  Retrieval from the goop of peanut butter was the most fun or gross part, depending on who you asked.

Biggest thinking-outside-the-box points went to my student who brought a tall bucket of water and requested that her egg be dropped into it as it waited below on the tarp like a bullseye.  Despite a couple of misses/splats, the egg that made it into the bucket gracefully survived.

With around a 60% egg survival rate and 60 happy students, our egg drop was undoubtedly one of the most memorable parts of fourth grade.

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College for Certain

The charter school organization that I work for has a slogan, College for Certain.

Today, I watched what this means in my classroom.  After a field trip to Sac State yesterday, my students came in eager to talk about college.  Finally able to run their own morning meetings, I eavesdropped from my back table as our Husky of the Day, (our classroom is UW themed),  decided to ask the group where they wanted to go to college.

One by one they eagerly shared their top picks.  Duke, Harvard, UCLA, Sac State, UC Davis, Stanford…  An eclectic mix, no doubt, but a much more thought-out selection than you would have received at my predominantly white, middle class elementary school in fourth grade.

Listening to their lists, I was struck by the significance of their self-created conversation.  They nodded in support as new colleges were introduced and gave excited connection signals when their favorite schools were mentioned.  Some kids had already picked their future college roommates among their classmates.

It reminded me of my first experiences teaching as a guest teacher at a private school in East Sacramento.  There I had been blown away by the conversations that third graders would approach me with– “Ms. O’Bryon, would you like to hear my top five list of colleges?”

College, I thought, aren’t you a little young to have that list prepared?

Young or not, I’m glad that my students, a diverse mix of predominantly low-income kids, are receiving the inspiration necessary to share the same goals with their more affluent peers on the other side of town.


Every Friday is college shirt day at my school. My favorite, above, features all of the colleges that our students were accepted to last year.

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Family Sundays

I was going to save this post for Father’s Day, but then I decided it didn’t have to wait.

Growing up, my dad would wake up early every Sunday morning to make our big family breakfast.  All 7 of us.  Eggs, bagels, bacon, english muffins, orange juice.  Since most of us have grown up and left home, he went through a phase where he lamented that Sunday breakfasts just weren’t the same.

Until, at last, he shifted his attention to Sunday dinners.  Now, Sunday dinners are a marvelous affair.  He doesn’t just make food, he makes gourmet meals.  Barbecued macaroni and cheese with bacon, grass-fed burgers, free-range barbecued chicken wings, fried organic asparagus and green beans.  Turns out, my dad can really cook.

This little act of love, of cooking for all of us gathered around the outside table, means a lot to my dad.  What he probably doesn’t realize is that it means even more to us.  Of course, it’s not just the food.  It’s having all of us, (or almost all of us depending on the Sunday), back in one place.

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