Day 22


Friday, December 15


This was it—the day of my last teaching in kindergarten.


Or so I thought.


One week later, a field trip had been scheduled during the morning kindergarten. It was a trip to Holly School to attend the annual “District 30 Holiday Sing Along,” where the three District 30 schools would come together and sing Christmas carols together. While I was authorized to attend the field trip, I was not authorized to ride on the school bus with the students due to a lack of bus space. I therefore decided to walk to the junior high school and meet Mrs. Shapiro’s class there. Mrs. Shapiro that I would walk to and from Holly School, and meet her there, and thus, attend the field trip but not take the bus with the students. I did not know this yet, but learned this when I confirmed the arrangement with Mrs. Shapiro during Art time.


I entered the classroom to find three bags on Mrs. Shapiro’s desk. I saw that they were early Christmas presents. Here’s what I didn’t initially realize: Two of those presents were for me. One was from Mrs. Shapiro’s class, the other was from Ken Birman.


When I entered the classroom, the students had pictures of gingerbread men on their desks. Mrs. Shapiro informed me that the students were busy working on gingerbread stories—short stories involving a gingerbread man. She also told me that the students would each need Mrs. Shapiro or I to write down their story, and so I traveled from table to table, asking students if they needed help writing their stories. The stories would be written on a sheet of lined notebook paper and glued onto a picture of a gingerbread man that the students decorated.


Two students asked me for help—Brittany and David. I helped Brittany first and David second. David’s story was about how the gingerbread man went into the forest to be eaten by an animal. Because this lesson was designed to teach students how to think up a story rather than requiring them to write it down, I wrote down the story the students dictated to me. Brittany’s was about how the gingerbread man went into the forest, and was eaten.


After helping David and Brittany, most of the students were done completing their stories. Free Time had begun.


With Free Time began, I took out my computer and asked anyone if they wanted to play on it. Rosie and Ellie wanted to this time. Mrs. Shapiro allows me to do this during free time, and I have accommodated up to six kids with activities on my computer. The two activities I have done are drawing pictures or the animation activity that I did in the preschool last year, or playing a computer game called Mickey’s ABC’s (see previous journal entries for an explanation of this game). Today we played Mickey’s ABC’s.


Twenty minutes later, Free Time ended, and Clean-Up Time began. After the students cleaned up, they lined up for Art.


After the students returned from Art, Mrs. Shapiro seated them into their rows.


While she taught her lesson about symmetry and how to draw a symmetrical picture, I went to her computers to do some technical assistance. For some reason, many of the pictures the students had printed were not printing. Today, I sought to find out why.


I had already known that Mrs. Shapiro’s printer in her classroom was broken. I did not know why. I soon diagnosed the problem—it was out of ink. When asking Mrs. Shapiro about this, she told me that she knew the printer was out of ink but she chose to rely on the Computer Lab printer rather than refilling her ink cartridges. Because the four computers in her classroom were set to print to the classroom computer as a default printer, the students had been asked to change the printer to the Lab printer from the default printer before they printed by hitting an arrow key once. She then requested that I not try to fix her printer. I did not fix her printer, but I did something else.


When trying to print material from the computers to the Lab computer, I noticed something. Two of the computers automatically queued to print to the classroom printer—the others did but constantly reset themselves, so when you clicked on them to print, they would often say “No Printer Selected” in the queue list.


When Mrs. Shapiro asked the students to click on the arrow key once, she obviously assumed the students did not know what they were doing but were following the instructions by rote. Yet she also assumed that the computers automatically queued themselves to the classroom printer, because clicking on the arrow key once to reset the computer to the Lab printer only worked if the computer had queued itself to the classroom printer first. However, if the computer set itself to “No Printer Selected,” a person would have to click on the arrow key twice to get to the Lab printer (since that was the first option on the list of three printers in the computer printer list). The students, however, not knowing to do this, would follow Mrs. Shapiro’s instruction of hitting the arrow key once. This would reset the computer to the classroom printer. Then they would print to the classroom printer, and since the classroom printer was broken and did not take data, it would not print.


Another problem lay in the fact that the classroom printer was still in the computer as a default printer to print out of. To solve the problem, I opened the printer control panel in the computer and removed the classroom printer from the printer list in the computer. With the Lab printer as the only printer in the printer list to be used for printing, the computer either automatically queued itself to print to that printer, or the arrow key, when hit once like Mrs. Shapiro instructed the students to do, would always print to the Lab printer. After changing the printer controls in all four computers, I printed four test pages, and they all printed from all four computers. I explained to Mrs. Shapiro what I had done, and she was impressed. Now the students could guarantee their pictures would be printed. Since Mrs. Shapiro was never planning on using her printer, it didn’t matter that I had removed it from the computers’ printer lists (since this guaranteed she could not use her printer without my help).


After fixing this problem, the students had gone to their desks to draw their symmetrical pictures. Many students asked me to help them with their pictures, asking me what symmetry was. After explaining that it meant that one side of the picture was the same as the other more than twice, I decided to show it to the class. I took a paintbrush, and painted in the paint section the flag of Hungary. This was because when I was taught about symmetry in the fifth grade, I was asked how many lines of symmetry were in the flag of Hungary. (The flag of Hungary is the flag of Italy rotated 90 degrees. It consists of three horizontal stripes—green on top, white in the middle, and red on the bottom. I will turn in the picture I painted). I decided to show the students what symmetry was by showing symmetry in this flag.


After showing the picture, I showed kids what was symmetrical on their paper and what was not. After each student was done, Mrs. Shapiro read them a story about a gingerbread baby. Then it was time for the students to line up for Music.


While the students were at Music, I went to the Computer Lab to pick up the test pictures I had printed out after completing my technical assistance. Once the students had returned from Music and were seated in rows once more, I was asked if I could sit in front of the class by Mrs. Shapiro. She asked me if I had gotten Ken’s present. I said I had. Then she presented me with a present of her own—a blanket—and a present from the class. It was a bound booklet of pictures the students had drawn for me telling me one thing they liked about my work there. Mrs. Shapiro also wrote a letter saying that the students liked playing games on my computer.


I then took out a recorder and played two Shay tunes to the class. After I was done, Kindergarten was over, and the students were dismissed.



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