But, first, a word from our sponsor: Check out my E-Bay auctions! I got all of last week’s orders off and feel all caught up – well, except for cleaning house, paying bills, etc.
Anyway… Last week, I was confronted with the ESOL teacher’s yearly dilemma: Surprise! Title III funds! These are government funds provided to schools to spend on special programs – to the best of my knowledge. Apparently, ESOL is not the top priority, so what is left over after spending is offered to us – within a limited window of time.
Now, in the past, this window has been open for a couple of days – we would be informed that each of us had a certain amount to spend – I think that I once had $3000? But if we didn’t get the purchase orders in at a specific time, then the funds disappeared – lost forever!
Well, I think it was Tuesday, I got an e-mail at 12:00 noon from the school secretary, informing me of the surprise money. I and my colleague who teaches the 8th graders were offered $850 each to spend. But THIS TIME, the orders had to be in by 2:00 PM. You heard me – TWO HOURS! To make it even more complicated, my partner in spending was out for the day. She almost came in, but she was on the other side of town – there was no way she would make it! So I was put in charge of spending the whole $1700.
Now, lucky for me, I was prepared this year. I had been eye-ing some items to order from Oxford University Press – I am really into their Bookworms series. So, first of all, I ordered an SRA Reading Laboratory kit – some of you may remember doing SRA reading in grade school – they also have it for middle and high school. That, right away, took care of half of the funding money – those kits are EXPENSIVE!
Then, I ordered class sets of the Oxford Bookworms Graded Readers that I had ordered sample copies of – it is tricky, because most of the books are aimed at college students with low reading levels. I ended up getting Tom Sawyer, Anne of Green Gables, A Little Princess, Dracula, and a few more. Then I got some graphic novel type books – one of Mu-lan and one of Sinbad. They are really cool.
Long story short – I made the deadline. But it was close. Now, I wonder how long it will take for the books to get here. I’m still waiting for the Office Depot order I submitted in December…
This week, as you can tell, was pretty much a school-centered week. As usually happens after vacation, I spent my Monday morning commute pondering the question, “What the HELL am I going to do with my students today?” Since we had finished chapters 1-6 in Tom Sawyer (it’s another graded reader – the real Tom Sawyer is way too difficult for an ESOL student to read!) on the Friday before vacation, I decided to have my students re-read those chapters and summarize them.
This was not easy. In fact, I altered the assignment several times during the week – because I was determined not to give up! I went and spent $40 on color-coded Post-It Notes for students to do mini summaries of Chapter sections, only to encounter comments like: “You mean, I have to write this TWICE? That’s a waste of time!” and “I don’t LIKE pink!” But I forged on and most of my students were finished summarizing all 6 chapters by yesterday!
An added bonus was that my principal happened to be making the rounds, showing some dignitary the classrooms, and he came in while my students were busily writing on Post-It notes and color-coding things. He was very impressed, I could tell.