Dare to Care

construct, create, communicate, collaborate, and think critically

11/Jan/2019
by Denise Krebs
2 Comments

Teacher Rewards

I have rarely regretted going into education; it is the hardest and best profession there is. It is a job full of creative opportunities, rich relationships and camaraderie, and surprises.

Today I was reading student dialogue journals.* This gem came along:

Dear Mrs. Denise,

How are you? I’m fine. You remembered me when I was in KG2. I always say “I don’t know.” And now in Grade 5, you’re saying to me I’m a good problem solver.

Your student,

Ali

 

Of course, how could I forget Ali? When I met him, it really did seem the only thing he could say in English was, “I don’t know.”

It was five years ago, and I was new to Bahrain, new to ELL students, and new to kindergartners. I learned a lot that year. So did Ali.

Fast forward five years, and I have the pleasure and privilege of teaching Ali’s class again. Now, he doesn’t say ‘I don’t know.’ He has learned to figure out what he doesn’t know through observation, good questions, and a desire to learn. I am so proud of him.

My response to Ali’s letter was easy to write. His letter was a delightful reminder and a sweet teacher reward for today.

What teacher reward did you receive today? Did you notice?


*Dialogue journals are a great activity in the English language learner classroom. I learned about the process through a TESOL book called Dialogue Journal Writing for Non-Native English Speakers: A Teacher’s Handbook. Teachers and students share dialogues in a notebook. The student writes about anything, asking questions about academics or life. The teacher writes back, modeling good writing and answering questions students have posed. The teacher writes a reply of comparable length to what the student wrote. This is a time for authentic conversation, not convention corrections, though you did notice I asked Ali to use I, instead of i for the personal pronoun. Occasionally I will give them one thing to work on, especially something like “I” that we’ve worked on and I expect mastery.

More resources about Dialogue Journals

 

03/Jan/2019
by Denise Krebs
9 Comments

Blogging 28

I started this blog several years ago in the fall of 2010. It was all new for me and my junior high students. We gradually learned to blog, thanks to the Kick Start Your Blogging Challenge from Edublogs and the biannual Student Blogging Challenges. It was great and we made lots of connections.

When I came to Bahrain, I blogged less and less. I’m not sure why. Is blogging losing popularity? Am I too busy? Has my blog become too politicized instead of education-based? Did I move too far away from my connections, who are mostly in the US and Canada? I don’t know why.

Anyway, when I saw Simon Justner‘s tweet about a January challenge to get my blog going again, I paid attention:

I think I’ll give it a try. I do want to sow more seeds of kindness, love, learning, and creation in 2019, so blogging can be a place to share about what is going on in my life.

I like this “bite-sized challenge” as Kathleen described it.

Bite-sized is good. I can do it, and I hope some of my friends–old and ones I’ve yet to meet–will join in as well.

26/Dec/2018
by Denise Krebs
6 Comments

Sow in 2019

It’s a new year and time for a new little word. I’ve been thinking about my word for 2019, and I think I’ve found it.

Sow. Not the four-legged kind, but the verb.

Sow…grow…seed…plant…develop…propagate…strew…broadcast…scatter… Hmmm… Yikes! Whoa, there. Don’t be scattered, Denise! That’s been your problem. Breathe. Now focus.

OK, back to my one little word. I choose simply SOW for 2019. Just planting seeds. Let’s see where that takes me.

“Do not be deceived. God will not be made a fool. For a person will reap what he sows.” Galatians 6:7 (New English Translation)

I have spent too many hours watching and reading political discourse over the past three years. What do I reap? Stress. So I’ve decided in 2019 I will start spending my precious extra minutes doing something productive, fruit-bearing, work that will reap rewards. 

First, a bit of history: In 2016, I chose the word FIT. I thought I could not only be fit, but also that I could fit everything into my schedule, including watching the trumpster fire that was the 2016 election.

In 2017, I chose SERENITY. I had tried the year before, and I knew I couldn’t fit it all in. I tried to find peace in the chaos.

In 2018, I chose HOPE. I knew our country would come back to its senses and trump’s presidency would end soon. I still have hope; it’s just taking longer than I thought it would.

Thank you, Sarah Landis, for sharing the One Little Word hyperdoc and this template.

Now, in 2019, I can be confident to SOW. I can make good choices and plant seeds of important work because I do have work to do:

As you can see, I have important work for 2019. There are seeds to plant so that in 2020 I can benefit from the harvest.

At the same time, I can leave trump to wrap up his sinister sowing, knowing that he will soon be reaping justice. I will trust Mueller, the 116th U.S. Congress, and the American people to do their work. I also trust God, who is not deceived; a person like trump will definitely reap what he has spent a lifetime sowing.

Since I have one more week in 2018, I thought I would test drive my new one little word. I’ve created a spreadsheet to check off each task I work on for any amount of time each day. I hope it will help me stay focused on tasks that will lead to a good harvest. I’m praying my one word will take hold of me this year!

What is your one little word for 2019?

04/Nov/2018
by Denise Krebs
2 Comments

Here We Are Again

Oh, God, help us. Another election is coming on Tuesday.

Two years ago, I was thinking we were better than this. I thought for sure trump would not become president. I knew we had racism and misogynistic issues in our country, but I thought there were more of us who were fighting against our demons. Instead, we have invited them in, and in full force.

After the Access Hollywood tapes came out, I wrote a letter to my children sharing some of my thoughts. I wanted them to know what I was thinking, but I was over 7,000 miles away, so I wrote an email. A few snippets are reprinted below:

Hello, my wonderful daughters,

Good day on this Saturday when you should be thinking of all kinds of other things besides racism and sexism.

I’ve been thinking so much about you every single day while I watch the worst train wreck of my life, and I can’t take my eyes off the carnage. (I pray the Trump train is wrecking for good this week.)

I have been reminded daily of the philosophy of education I prepared in a class when I was working on my Master’s in Arizona. It said something to the effect of, “I need to teach children to be strong readers in order to save our democracy.”

I praise God that community, church, and family along the way taught you both to be critical thinkers and readers. Our democracy is in good hands with people like you! (Unfortunately, I’m afraid over the years I’ve taught some students who turned into obviously not critical thinkers or readers, who demonstrate they listen to only one-sided sources and share bogus and ridiculous nonsense on social media.)

Anyway, last week I was planning to write this letter to you about racism. I should have started it then because today I also need to write about sexism, given the happenings of this week.

I have hope, though. When I think of where I was as a child to where I am now, I am thankful and happy to have grown so much. I know that you two will also grow in your understanding of white privilege and how you can stand by people who don’t have the benefits of it. (Sometimes I just wish more white NFL players would join Kaepernick, so we could have a discussion instead of accusations. Sad, but true. We have a long way to go, don’t we?)

White privilege is very simple to understand for me. I don’t know why people don’t readily acknowledge it. It’s like some of us hang on to racism like clinging to the last shreds of a torn up Confederacy–we keep trying to put it back together.

If Trump is elected, we are not the country we think we are, and we’ll have to do some serious soul-searching.

Donald trump is the perfect spokesperson for this lewd, crude, sexist and abusive subset of our country. He is such an idiot that he is uniting women. I’m sure over the last week I seem to have been reminded of every single unwanted advance, leer, hoot, sexual innuendo, and the man jacking off in his car and calling me over to “show” me something on Grove Avenue as I rode my bike and 10-year-old self by him.

We try to fix things by legislation, like the 19th Amendment and the Civil Rights Acts, and it does amazingly good things. Unfortunately, we have to keep breaking down more and more walls and barriers and butt-ugly sin. Because there is no legislation against sin–we are all guilty. That’s what keeps me in the Church. Jesus is the only one who can save us from our selfish, power-, money-, and greed-hungry selves, and I mean Jesus–not trump’s screwed up “America First, God Second” surrogates–like Jerry Falwell, Jr., and James Dobson. We are all sinners. I like the Church that believes that over national borders. The Church made of a rainbow of beautiful colors and nationalities, including white-privileged males, too, like Phil Yancy, Jim Wallis, Pope Francis, and Dad.

By the way, have you heard of @MBGlenn (Marybeth Glenn), a conservative blogger, on a mission. She’s getting a lot of press lately, for a beautiful tweet storm she sent out.  I hope lots of people join her to send a message to Donald and his minions.

You are amazing women. I’m very proud of you.

Love,
Mom

OK, so fast forward two years, and I just thought of this email and looked it up in my sent folder. (Of course it was there. I never delete an email!)

So, Marybeth’s tweet storm didn’t change enough people’s minds. We aren’t the country I thought we were.

It now seems to have gotten worse these past two years. I thought trump might last 100 days.

I was so sure that Congress would attempt to find out about trump’s emoluments issues, would do a real investigation of his finances and ties to Russia, etc., etc. Man, was I wrong. And disappointed. Now, I’ve stopped holding my breath, but I have some hope, which is my one word for 2018.

Also, about that “White privilege is very simple to understand for me.” Yeah, I’ve learned that’s a little more complicated. I always knew I had white privilege–that part was simple to articulate to my children, but to do anything about it is harder. I have begun a lifelong journey to struggle against the systemic “white” societal framework in which our country was created. I hope every white person in our country joins the struggle–no matter how much or little opportunity, money, power, and status they feel they have. It’s not about that. It’s about white supremacy, and everyone with white skin is either unwittingly or blatantly in collusion with keeping it in tact. If you haven’t already read them, may I recommend two books to get you on the better side of history?

These books have helped me become more aware. That’s all I’m claiming now. I have a long way to go.

It’s two days before the election. Two years after this unfit administration took office. Two years of daily lying, racism, misogyny, corruption, division, fear-mongering. He never once tried to unite the country.

My word is HOPE, and I am hopeful that enough former trump supporters have seen through his bastardization of the presidency. No matter what one believes of Kavanaugh or Gorsuch or the wall or coal and steel or job creation or unrestricted gun rights or any of it, it’s not enough. It’s not worth it.

I have hope that a strong majority of our country’s voters will say yes to “checks and balances” and no to the desecration of civility.

02/Jul/2018
by Denise Krebs
0 comments

Genius Hour with Grades 3-5

We did something fun and educational for the last week of school. We took the last two periods of each day to have #geniushour, #arsgeniushour, to be exact.

We were trying to improve attendance, as our department seems to be the only scholars left standing that last week of school. Their younger siblings had finished school the week before. Their older siblings were taking cumulative assessments, and finished their day by around 11:00 a.m. We typically have a lot of our students absent the last week! Genius hour, we hoped, would help improve attendance.

I knew my work was cut out for me when I volunteered to organize #arsgeniushour for the last week of school. Besides the attendance issue, there were several more issues: we have traditional teachers without experience of genius hour and a significant language barrier, plus, I didn’t start my planning early enough, and finally, it was going to be held the last week of Ramadan.

I had to work on the schedule for nearly 20 teachers. At first, it was vague. Teachers who were normally scheduled those periods became scheduled for genius hour. But where would they be? We didn’t yet know which spaces–classrooms, art room, kitchen, athletic hall, computer labs, etc.–were going to be needed by the children. Some teachers found it difficult to hear that the students were going to decide where to go, and we would go accordingly. Teachers were used to planning the where and what of class for them. We had a teacher planning meeting before the week started, but some details were lost in translation. Arabic and English are so different.

Several times that week before when we were planning, I kicked myself for not starting another  week earlier. We had to inspire students about what genius hour was, help them formulate a question and make a plan, and get them enthused so they would want to come back to school the last week.

Our genius hour fell during the last week of Ramadan. People were tired after a month of fasting,  and it gave families an added reason to keep their students home.

OK, with all those reasons it shouldn’t have worked, we also had hundreds of reasons why it was inevitable that it would work. My colleagues are amazing professionals who rose to this new kind of learning, despite their questions and doubts.

Students, of course, took off with this learning. Tell a student that they can learn whatever they want to, and they first might ask, “Really?” As soon as they believe you, they are all abuzz with learning,  planning, creating, producing, questioning, and reinventing. It was the students who made any reluctant teachers believe in genius hour, not anything I said.

We had students coming and going all week. The attendance wasn’t that great. Maybe next year we’ll have to come up with another attempt to improve school attendance.

However, the culmination of the week was the presentation session on the last day of school. The students who came all week to genius hour were there with bells on! You never would have known this was the last afternoon after a long year of school, the last day of Ramadan, too. This  #arsgeniushour group of 28 students, plus a lot of proud adults, was small, but mighty. They loved presenting the work they had done. I am so proud of them!

Here’s a minute of #arsgeniushour for you to enjoy.

Resources:

Google Slides Introduction to Genius Hour in English and Arabic

One-minute video of our first department-wide #ARSgeniushour

Chess Set Genius Hour

#ARSgeniushour on Instagram

 

 

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