1. One of the kids had an
2. The kids were all very concerned about the economy. Very concerned. Interestingly, I would imagine their parents are hit harder than those who are already living off unemployment/welfare/SSI.
3. It came up in discussion that a lot of the kids didn't know what "renting" a house was, or what a "landlord" was, but they did know the term "mortgage."
4. There was ethnic diversity, but it was very different. Instead of being black and Latino with a few Vietnamese kids, the kids were white, Middle Eastern, and Chinese. There was one black kid and he was totally the stereotype; single mom, behavior problem, can't sit still, etc. Needless to say, he was my favorite, because I am used to that.
5. Two out of the 22 or so kids were adopted and very open about it - totally comfortable with being adopted.
6. They had a music class.
7. They had a longer lunch and recesses.
One more thing was the way that this school dealt with combination classes. Combination classes are a teacher's nightmare; almost as bad as roving teachers. My old school district actually understood that it was basically impossible to teach and assess two different curricula at the same time, and had the teacher teach just one, usually the higher grade. That has its problems, of course, but is much more manageable for the teacher. Except, of course, you have kids with big chunks of missing information and then when they go to the next grade they are bored out of their minds because they've already done this exact same curriculum.
This district has the teacher teach both curricula, which may be better for the students, but requires a lot of "OK, fourth graders, read quietly while I teach the fifth graders..." as well as double work in lesson planning, assessments, and carrying around two sets of huge heavy teachers' editions. Both ways are pretty bad. Has anyone come up or seen a better way to have combination classes?