Nikki's Notebook

My journey as a fiction writer and a place for my projects, writing and otherwise.

Posts Tagged ‘after school

Being busy and making kids cry

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Today was just one of those days. In the two separate half hour chunks of time I had to get things done, I couldn’t do it all, and felt pulled in so many different directions. Then I finally reached the home stretch. I prepared little baggies of goldfish for afterschool classes. I checked in all the kids for Homework Club, then marched them up to my room instead of the Library, because I’d forgotten that a staff meeting was using it today. Finally, to top it all off, I made two kids cry during homework club, one of whom was still crying when his mom came to pick him up. I felt horrible. And I still have about 5 different things I’d like to have done by tomorrow, which I’m not going to do tonight because my head feels like it’s going to explode.

On top of that, the Destination Imagination tournament is coming up fast (on March 10) and in trying to schedule extra meeting times for the teams, I’m seeing just how few calendar weeks are left for these kids to work on their projects, which they’ve barely started. I also had hoped that none of my teams would make it to the state tournament, because the fees get expensive. I found out, though, that one of the teams is almost guaranteed to go to state, because they are the only elementary team to pick the challenge category they’re in! So they are competing against noone and will advance by default!

Here is a picture that I like:


Written by nikkinbird

January 24, 2012 at 7:58 pm

NaNoWriMo-ing with kids

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Today afterschool classes started back up again, and I had a new batch of Novel Writers. I had a couple of returning students, who took my NaNoWriMo class last session, and a few new ones. What I loved about teaching this afterschool class was that I got a group of kids who were already excited to write. It wasn’t really very hard to build on that. And it’s the same this time.

I brought up the topic of building a writing habit, and they jumped all over it, defining “habit,” mentioning that you can have good habits and bad habits, and then describing what it might look like to have a writing habit. A couple of them seemed to have a pretty good plan for when they could fit writing into their daily life. Whether or not they do it if I don’t decide to bribe them with candy in exchange for pages written, time will tell.

I also love doing NaNoWriMo style writing with kids because it’s all about them, and what they want to write. A girl raised her hand and asked, “Do we have to write cursive?” then sighed in relief when I told her she could write however she wanted. We’ll get to the revisions, but for now they just need a story to work on.

We played a game that I learned this weekend at the Destination Imagination theater workshop. I’m not sure if it’s actually called this, but I called it “Yes! and…” It’s a cooperative story game where one person says a statement, then the next person says, “Yes! and…” and adds their own statement, going on around the circle like this. I like it because by having to say “yes!” you are automatically reaffirming the previous persons’ idea, essentially forced to take the wacky story in stride, and then you add something of your own. The kids begged me not to stop after we’d gone around the circle a few times and it was time to talk about something else.

Best part? I was totally swamped and discombobulated today, and hadn’t planned the class at all. I was totally winging it. Apparently kids who sign up for a class called “Novel Writing” aren’t the type of kids to cause much trouble 🙂

Written by nikkinbird

January 23, 2012 at 6:31 pm

Afterschool classes starting again…

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And, it’s here again.  A new session of afterschool classes.  I’m getting tired of the spell check telling me afterschool is wrong, by the way.  I know the rule.  It should probably be after-school, but that gets tedious, and if words are in usage for awhile, the hyphen eventually gets eliminated.  Since  I’ve already seen publications use afterschool instead of after-school, I’m doing it too.  It just feels wrong every time I do it!  All I know for sure is, it’s not after school, because it’s an adjective.  Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m fairly certain about this.

My afterschool program starts up again next week.  That means I’m receiving signup forms, processing those, and sending home signup confirmations while at the same time I’m still training volunteers, and even recruiting volunteers.  Tonight I had to bring home work in the form of handouts for my trainings tomorrow night and Thursday, and also afterschool signup sheets so that I could enter all the student info into an excel spreadsheet.  And I still need to get those confirmations home.

Something I am excited about:

Supplies for our Destination Imagination meeting tomorrow.  I bought a bunch of craft sticks and am going to let the kids practice gluing them and making a structure.  The wood is probably too heavy to actually be used for their structure, but I think these kids will need practice building a structure that stands up, let alone one that holds weight.  I love giving kids hands-on activities, because then I just get to sit back and watch the magic happen.

Written by nikkinbird

January 17, 2012 at 9:14 pm

Creative writing, jewelry, and clay.

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Today I signed up for a creative writing class through Minneapolis Community Education. We get to take Community Ed classes for free in our AmeriCorps program, which is so nice! I’m hoping that signing up for this class will give me the boost I need to get myself writing regularly. NaNoWriMo in November was good, and I swore that after that I would keep up a regular writing habit, but other things always seem to push it out of the way. I do have to admit that I’m a little nervous for the class. I get nervous sharing my writing with people, or self-conscious, and it wasn’t until my last semester of college that I actually took a creative writing workshop class. Then, I discovered that it wasn’t really that bad. In fact, it was awesome! It motivated me to write and I got lots of great feedback, as well as getting to read other people’s stories, too.

I really like the after school aspect of our AmeriCorps service. At our site, it’s been mostly self-designed. So, each of us in our cluster have gotten to make up our own classes and teach them, with a few exceptions. This session I’m co-leading Jewelry Making for 3rd-5th graders, and so far it’s been great. I got a big bin of assorted plastic beads from Michael’s for today’s class, thinking they were pretty tacky, but maybe the kids would still like them. Well, the kids loved them. And some of them were pretty cute, like dolphin shaped, whales, dogs, flowers, and such. We’ve also been doing friendship bracelets with the kids who are interested. Mostly, the 5th graders have the patience for the friendship bracelets, and the 3rd graders just like to string beads.

The other class I have is “Play with Clay,” which I teach by myself (eek!), with a group of 15 kindergarten-2nd graders. Though I had doubts about my chances of success with the combination of the subject matter and the age range, I felt like I did pretty good the first day of class last week. I want to tell myself that it’s because I’m getting better at managing kids, but things could always go horribly tomorrow! Anyway, my solution has been to over plan. Tomorrow, we are making pinch-bowls out of air-drying clay, and then we will paint them next week. I have already worked out an elaborate system of drawing names for helpers to help lay down newspaper and other tasks. My other secret to a stress-free class is to start cleanup 25 minutes before they have to go to the bus, then have them color until it’s time to go. Every class, my supply of colored pencils gets smaller and uglier-colored. Hmm, how does that happen?

Though stressful at times, I really think after school classes are enriching for me as much as for the kids. Sometimes, as an adult, I forget how fun it can be just to craft for the fun of it, not worrying about perfection or the usefulness of the finished item. Sharing that with the kids and seeing their creativity is a great reward for all the effort.

Written by nikkinbird

January 21, 2010 at 3:54 am

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