Monday, December 20, 2010

Already thinking of the return

Sean has just started holiday break and I'm already thinking of all the work that has to be done as soon as we return from break.
Our site council will meet with the principal to discuss colors for the new school being built this spring/summer, and we are still waiting to hear about the math waiver. We'll also be getting a schedule of parent education for the rest of the year and choosing topics, speakers, etc.

Oh, and in the meantime I'm supposed to be writing a grant. I'm hoping to kick into high gear today or tomorrow on that. It's for an Interfaith Youth Camp.
Luckily my boyfriend has written and gotten grants, so I'll rely on him a bit to give me advice.
I'll be taking off for a while from the blog, unless we run into some great educational things while we're on break. There's a trip to Tennessee coming soon, and we always gravitate toward the educational outings. Stay tuned for pictures and info on a fossil site...

Friday, December 17, 2010

A Wonderful Teacher

Sean's teacher taught in Nigeria before she was hired for the teaching position at the school, and this year his class is writing letters to her former students.
Last week I spent the day teaching interested students how to weave by using a stick, yarn and a 3 1/2 by 5 notecard. Monday I couldn't spend all day, but told her I would stay for about an hour.
I proofread her newsletter, which BTW is unbelievable. Her weekly newsletter averages 3 pages front and back, and she is GREAT. It is a big job, and I can't believe she does it every week. It's like writing a 3-page Christmas letter every week. She breaks it down by subjects and mentions children by name who have offered insight or who have modeled what they are learning.
It keeps parents more than informed, it makes me feel like I'm in the room sometimes.
She also has a list of events in the area, and uses a quote and one thing to do with your child for the week.
She also just passed her National Boards. She's young, and so committed to her students and the parents. I originally requested that Sean be in a specific teacher's classroom, but this teacher is truly amazing.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Weaving, and caring for the classroom

I spent the entire day in Sean's classroom yesterday teaching some of the children how to weave. I saw this tutorial on youtube, and studied it in order to teach some of my Sunday school kids a weaving lesson this summer. I mentioned it to his teacher this fall and she was all for it. They've been fingerknitting for a couple of months now, and some are knitting and crocheting. Weaving was a great extension of what they've been doing with yarn.

You can see the tutorial here.

In preparation for the lesson, his teacher gathered sticks from her yard and brought them into the classroom. Each child chose a stick from the bag as they got ready for the instruction. I did it one or two at a time, and in the beginning thought they would enjoy doing it as a team. It became clear we needed to work individually for the sake of time.

I didn't get pics because I had misplaced my camera. Luckily I found it last night, but wished I could have had it while I was there. I'm going back again next week, so I'll try to get photos next time.

It was great to see how the class works as a Montessori class, and watch the teacher in action. There were group lessons, and there were a lot of children working independently on different materials. Two boys were playing a game with money, one little girl was working with the 100 board, and others were on the other side of the room working on things like the life cycle of a pumpkin, days of the week, and other materials.

The teacher is very calm, to the point, and uses techniques that work really well. When she was giving a demonstration of writing, doing the rewrite process, a couple of boys were starting to get restless and were talking. She stopped, said, "I'm going to stop now because I'm experiencing some disrespect. When you talk amongst yourselves while I'm talking that is disrespectful. When you can be respectful I will begin again. If you choose not to be respectful you will have to leave the group and sit alone."
One child spoke again and she called him out of the group and said, "You may go to a chair and put your head down, I'm sorry you won't be able to participate with the group."

One of the things that struck me was how eager and willing Sean was to do his job. I watched as the end of the day came and each child had a job to do.  Sean dusted every shelf, took baskets off the shelves, dusted the entire area, made sure all scissors were put in the basket, that everything was in its place, and moved on to the next area.

Then there was a class meeting. There was a discussion about when the class should be allowed to bring home library books. Several children said when everyone could be respectful of the books, and they talked about what that would mean for the books.

There was a vote, and 17 voted to be allowed to bring books home today. At the end of the meeting they recited a phrase, something like, We took care of this, we took care of ourselves, we took care of this place. (I really don't remember what the first thing was) Then they were called one by one to get their backpacks and line up in groups of either bus riders, or pickup.

I was exhausted by the end of the day. I loved being there, though. I look forward to being in the classroom again next week.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Red Ranger Came Calling

We have enjoyed reading the book, "Red Ranger Came Calling," by Berkeley Breathed for a few years now. We pull it out around Thanksgiving and read it a couple of times before Christmas. It's a beautifully illustrated book about a boy who is shipped off by his parents to visit his Aunt Vy on Vashon Island (right here in our area) during Christmas vacation in 1939.

He is into a character called Red Ranger of Mars, protector of the 25th Century. The newest thing in 1939 was an Official Buck Tweed, two-speed, crime-stopper, star-hopper bicycle. Red, of course. And the little boy is called, "Red," and has red hair and a fiery temper to match. He meets up with an old man named Saunder Clos who the locals say is the real deal retired from the North Pole to Vashon. Red is prepared to unmask the phony.

It's a heartwarming story, complete with a little piece of evidence that suggests the story is true.

So I was REALLY excited when I found out a local theater company was doing a play based on the book.  I can't even remember how I found out about it, but I immediately looked for how to get tickets, etc. The dates worked out for us, so I was ready to purchase.

I decided to "friend" them on Facebook, and found on their profile page that redheads could get in for a discounted price of $10. And even if you didn't have natural red hair, you could dye your hair, get a wig, wear yarn hair, whatever, and get that discount.

Well, that was just icing on my cake. Anytime there is a chance to have a little silly fun I'm in. And believe me, a discount can send my heart racing.

I envisioned a troop of redheads in our party, and I was likely to be the only natural redhead in the bunch. I talked Sean into a wig in the beginning, but he changed his mind and wanted to dye part of his hair red. I was fine with that as long as it was temporary. My boyfriend wore a red wig, Sean dyed the top part of his hair with red hair gel, Lilly (my boyfriend's little girl) put a red streak in her hair, and my aunt and cousin went with their regular look. Not as many redheads as I thought, but still just fine.

The promotion was only through the Facebook page, so there weren't many in the audience who had taken advantage of it.

The play was incredible. It was a musical, which I didn't expect. Honestly, I'm usually not that into musicals, but this one was really good. My joy came from watching Sean thoroughly enjoy every moment of it. Each actor did such a great job and really brought the book to life.

Sean knows the story so well, I'm sure he could anticipate what was coming next. To have it all right there bigger than life for him was so much fun!

I loved that it was a Christmas story, but so different.
I feel so blessed to live here. There are some really rich and top-notch arts opportunities here.