End-of-the-School-Year Madness

I’m going to zoom you through the last week of school so then maybe you’ll understand why I’ve been on a 2 week retreat from anything school-related (including blogging about school! : )).

On your marks…. Ready… Go!

My 5th graders and I took a trip to Springfield to sight see and to conclude our Abraham Lincoln studies, so the next day, we made scrapbooks (chaos pictured above : )). 

Here they are posed with a young Abe Lincoln at the museum. They thought the wax figures were creepy but yet they were so fascinated that it was hard to leave.

We went inside the new capitol building as well. Here’s a photo I captured of the outside, and a student added his thoughts on the printed photo with his Sharpie marker. (To see closer, click on the image above.)

The 6th graders and I went to Six Flags as a reward for following through with their behavior contracts. Somehow I was signed up as a chaperone for an all-boys group (my 6th grade boys plus 2 more from another class). Here we are after our third time on their favorite water ride. These boys sure talked a lot of smack on the bus ride to the theme park, but once we were in front of the X-Flight (the latest amazing rollercoaster), their inner chickens surfaced and they refused to even get in line to wait while I rode the coaster. Bummer. Maybe next time : ). 

Then the 6th graders graduated from elementary school. I was strict about dress code: boys had to wear ties and girls had to wear skirts or dresses. My class was the finest looking 6th grade class this year. Of course, I may be just a bit biased : ).

(Note: To look at the pictures in a larger view, click on the image.)

During the 6th grade graduation, my 5th graders were industriously helping serve cupcakes to the many 6th grade family and friends that attended the celebration. Here’s the aftermath:

Valeria and Tamara not willing to show off their blue mouths…

Oscar and Marcelo begging for a third cupcake…

Ariana’s natural hospitality shining through…

And as Marcelo phrased it: ”Miss Siscoe, I think I just died by cupcake.” (a.k.a. too many cupcakes)

Then I concluded this field-trip-loving lifestyle by packing up yet another classroom… nothing like teaching at 4 different schools in 5 years (hopefully I’ll stay put in this next school for a while : )).

27 boxes of teaching tricks. Impressive considering last year I was only able to bring back 100 pounds of anything from Costa Rica (in other words, I hardly brought any teaching items back to the U.S. lol… seriously, how did I accumulate so much in just one year??!)

And the classroom ready for the next teacher to move in…

Whew! There you have it. The end-of-the-year madness marathon.


Scratch Art

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As a final math/art project this school year, we made our own scratch art! Inspired by a project I had done in high school, we recycled cereal boxes and painted the brown cardboard side white. Then we added a simple design in Sharpie marker and colored the white spaces with crayons. Next, we painted blank ink over the whole surface, let it dry, and finally we were ready to start scratching the ink off!

Art Teacher’s Note: Buy the ”Black Cat” Ink from a Dick Blick art supply store. It covers the crayon much more thoroughly (and quickly!) than another knock-off brand we tried.

Hand Motions Gone Bad

CENSORED FOR YOUR COMFORT LEVEL (because I don’t know if you would be comfortable with this, lol)

I have recently incorporated a wide variety of hand motions into our math learning. Formulas instantly become more entertaining (and much easier to recall the next day) when we act them out…

So we’re learning the formula for finding the volume for a cone or a pyramid, and basically, you find the volume as if the objects were a cylinder or rectangular prism (respectively), and then you need to multiply by one-third to have the volume for only the cone/pyramid. I did not have any brilliant ideas for how to act out one-third, so I polled the crowd, a.k.a, the eighteen 5th graders who are oh-so-privileged to get math instruction from yours truly.

From the back of the room, Ricardo makes these hand motions:

I didn’t see it the first time, so he quieted his friends down around him and showed them. His friend, Jorge, says, ”Miss, you have to see this!”

So I look. Ricardo does his hand motions again and nearly shouts, “One-third!” as he makes the first and second motion.

My jaw dropped to the floor. My eyes bugged out of my face. My eyebrows hit a new height complete with forehead wrinkles.

Ricardo looked back at me quizzically concerning my reaction… Then it hit. A look of recognition of what he had just done came over his face and he now mirrored my reaction.

He put his hands behind him (as if that undoes the fact that he just flicked off his teacher, not once, but twice). His face, neck, and arms turned red. Seriously, I have never seen such a blush from a 11-year-old boy.

”I– I’m sorry!!” he managed to stammer.

Now recovered from my initial shock, I am laughing my head off. Seriously laughing my head off (which my students just learned today does not mean someone’s head actually falls off #iloveidiomeducation). Students that didn’t see what had happened are now pleading Ricardo to show his idea again. He politely refuses, still beet red.

I am still laughing my head off as I write this. The art of making mistakes is to laugh… right? Any mistakes you’ve made lately that you couldn’t help but laugh about?

This Week’s LOL Moments

I am grading spelling tests, and students wrote sentences for each word. I always explain that their sentences must show that they clearly understand what the word means (i.e. If the spelling word is spoon, they can’t write ”What is a spoon?” They have to write something like ”I eat my cereal with a spoon” to explain the meaning.) So the spelling word was ”believe” and my student writes for his sentence, ”I believe I can fly.” I instantly heard background music (okay, so it was just in my head) from R. Kelly belting out on the Space Jam soundtrack (I confess, that was my childhood favorite soundtrack : )) ”I believe I can fly… I believe I can touch the sky…” LOL


I teach 5th grade math, so my 6th graders go to other math classes, and another teacher’s 5th graders change to my classroom for our daily 60 minutes of math. I have enjoyed math class this year, especially since it’s been one big experiment while I adjust to the Everyday Math curriculum. The other day, as students are entering and settling into their seats, one of the girls says, ”Miss, I like your shirt!” (It’s a bright purple shirt with ”wing” sleeves. Not sure what else to call them.) I make chicken wings and say, ”Thanks, this shirt helps me to fly!” Another student says in a mock serious voice with his eyebrows at just the right furrow, ”I don’t suggest you jump off a building with that shirt.” I LOLed right then and there! I wish I had a photo of his facial expression to share with you!


We are working on synonyms for ”feeling” words to help students express themselves confidently (and to grow our vocabularies : )). So the word of the day was ”tired” and I introduced two synonyms during our Morning Meeting — lethargic and exhausted. Tomas and Luis were immediately hooked by the word  lethargic and began repeating it over and over. I described how sloths are lethargic because they move so slowly that it takes them 24 hours to climb up and down just one tree. Just then over the loudspeaker, the daily Pledge of Allegiance began, and all students stood, except Marcelo. About three phrases into the Pledge, Marcelo was still in his chair but his arms were slowly lifting up to the ceiling. In my best quiet teacher voice, I command Marcelo to join us in standing, and he whispers back, ”Miss, but I’m practicing being a lethargic sloth.” Right, so it’s going to take you 24 hours to stand up. LOL.


I was hosting a study hall of sorts with my 6th graders and another teacher’s 4th graders while our 5th graders were in D.A.R.E. class. The secretaria called over the loudspeaker, and we had a short conversation in Spanish about daily school details. The buzz of busy students stopped, and when I turned to face the class, the latino 4th graders’ jaws were dropped (I humbly confess I love these moments of surprising kids : )). All in that same moment, two latinas literally got out of their desks, hugged me with a huge tackle, and exclaimed, ”Eres puertorriqueña?” (Are you Puerto Rican?) LOL. Apparently my Spanish accent of the moment made them think I share their heritage. ”No, chicas,” I told them, ”I am gringa.” I glanced over at my beaming 6th graders. Oh yes, they are still proud that their gringa maestra speaks the español. : )

I Love Chaos

Allow me to clarify: I love organized chaos, which is essentially the essence of being a teacher. So while I only have 13 students, why not invite a class of 25 students to join us for the messiest project of the school year? : )

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Okay, so we visited Jewel last week as a field trip and the store managers showed us all the ways that Jewel is now recycling. One of the examples was that they take recycled plastic bags and make benches out of them. How cool, right?

So a co-worker and I got the bright idea to have our students do an Earth Day/recycling/Mother’s Day project (One of my teaching strengths is killing more than two birds with one stone, lol. My students would be confused if I said that : )). We are recycling newspapers and magazines to make paper beads for bracelets to give to mothers on May 13th. Clever, eh? I enjoyed the mass chaos today… We continue the process tomorrow!