Day 28 Slice of Life – Skyline

It was just a week ago that we took our last walk outside. There is a large park area near the bay. I took this 180skyline photo last Friday. Today I was missing this lovely walking spot.

Now, we stay at home, with a curfew from 6 p.m. to 5 a.m. During the day, we are supposed to stay inside unless there is an urgent reason to go out.

Both of our daughters and their husbands are in similar situations–with shelter in place orders in their states.

I hope the majority of people can and will stay home and stay safe so the hospitals won’t have to become overwhelmed.

God be with all those who have to work, especially those in the medical field, grocers and delivery people.

Day 26 Slice of Life – Herbal Tea

Why am I writing about herbal tea? It’s getting late, and I don’t have an idea.

It’s bedtime, and I have more work to do before I sleep. (How can I still be so busy!?)

I made myself a cup of tea, and it reminded me of how much my tastes have changed in the last seven years. Before, I very rarely drank herbal tea. Now, it has become a habit. Lately I’ve been using sage and hibiscus for herbal tea.

Who would have thought that sage would be used for more than Thanksgiving dressing? Here I am drinking it as a tea.

A jar of sage from Jordan, given to me by a friend. Hibiscus flowers from the local grocery store.
The bottom of the cup always looks interesting. I wonder what these tea leaves say?

Day 6 Slice of LIfe – Geniushour Chat and a Challenge

I woke up at 3:00 a.m. this morning. Hmmm…Will I go back to sleep? I wondered. I didn’t think so, but I brought my pillow and alarm clock out to the living room. I got myself cozy reclining on the Lazy Boy and tried to sleep for another hour. I couldn’t, so I sat up and started working. It helped me wake up enough to get ready for the #GeniusHour chat. That’s the once-a-month chat I always try to join at 5:00 a.m. in the winter. (Next month, it will start being at 4:00 a.m. Arabia Standard Time.)

Anyway, I was excited this morning. Dave Quinn was leading us in questions about the role of teacher during the Genius Hour experience. I was there to welcome people, and introduce Dave, though he didn’t need introduction. He’s led us before and been at other chats. Anyway, I made it and was awake enough, even if my Internet was sluggish.

At the end of the chat, one of the last mentions I noticed was from Gary Stager. The first time I “met” him was in a workshop at the Iowa Technology in Education Conference in 2011. He was the speaker and I was a fan in the audience. When I searched my blog, his name came up on six posts. In all my experience with him, I would describe Gary as a provocateur. He has provoked me to think many times, and he did again today. During the chat Dave quoted him and mentioned him in the following tweet. Some provocative tweets followed.

My whimpering response, “It’s changed how I teach, Gary.”

Then when the chat finished, I went back to bed, but I didn’t sleep. We had such a nice chat, and then that Pterodactyl came and…and…and…

What? Really, Denise? What did he do? Hmmm…I had to think about that.

He didn’t agree? Maybe.  Was I upset or sad because he didn’t agree with us, he wasn’t as excited about Genius Hour as we were? When I realized those last thoughts, I stopped and considered the importance of provocations in my life. I don’t appreciate agree-ers. I need people to push me, to challenge and disagree and tell me why. It’s always how I have grown.

Hebrews 10:24 says, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” The verb “spur on” in the Greek is paroxusmos and literally means to come alongside and jab into action, in this case jab “one another on toward love and good deeds.”

I thought about Gary’s jabs. He came alongside this morning and gave us a jab. Maybe on some level toward the same thing the Bible is talking about–love and good deeds. He jabs us toward loving students, jabs us toward giving ownership of learning back to those who are most qualified to own it–the learners. He jabs us into action to discover how we can make school good, really good. He jabs us to make education more humane and school curriculum and culture the best, and not to settle for less.

The hour is late, and I will now go back to bed and probably think more about these things. Another post soon about jabbing, but also coming alongside.

Day 4 Slice of Life – Navigating Two Languages in a Meeting

Today I sat again, at the same desk-table I hardly ever leave these days. This time in a Zoom meeting with teachers to discuss how to assess young children who are home learning with their parents. Coordinators took turns asking questions of the administration from their department. The principal would answer English questions in English. Then an Arabic speaker would translate the Q&A for the Arabic-speaking teachers. Then vice versa–a question and answer in Arabic would have to be translated into English.

My husband came in from his duties for a break. He was sitting at the table eating a snack. He shared a few of the delicious dates he had stuffed with labneh and roasted almonds. Then before I knew it he was off.

Later in the day, he saved me from my sitting-at-the-dining-table-for-online-learning hell and invited me to the hospital cafeteria for tea. He commented about the back-and-forths of my meeting this morning, and asked, “Are your meetings always like that?”

No, my meeting are usually face-to-face, but the language do-si-doing, yes. That happens all the time. To be sure, lots of things get lost in translation, but we always recover.

Someday I’m going to miss these days.

Zoom Meeting in Two Languages

 

Here’s the card we made our dear vice principal.

My Summer Learning Journey

This post is week 7 of 8 in the 8 Weeks of Summer Blog Challenge for educators.

Well, this is a timely post! It’s bringing me back to my first 8 Weeks of Summer blog post where I shared my summer PD goals:

  1. I will finish my TESOL Advanced Certificate Program.

  2. I will do some work on my year plan and related resources for my grade 5 English learner class.

  3. I will read 8 children and young adult books, which is nourishment for my soul as a reading teacher.

  4. I will blog about my learning (and whatever else is in store for the #8WeeksofSummer challenge) at least 8 times.

Now, we are in week 7. It’s a good time to review what I planned and see how I’m doing.

First, my plan to finish my TESOL certificate has failed. I had believed that certificate would serve as credit for my teacher license re-certification credit, but, alas, it didn’t.  When I went to renew my license, I saw that it would not count for the credit I needed. Instead I signed up for two other courses–Six Traits of Writing and Fierce Teaching. These are great classes, which will help me in my teaching and get me re-certified.  By the way, my TESOL certificate will still be completed, but I’ll wait until the fall.

Second, I am continuing my work on my year plan for grade 5. Not as much as I want, but I will work more in August.

My suitcase full of books.

Third, regarding the nourishment for my soul, I am reading! In fact, I sometimes have to slap my hand and put the book down. I’ve read Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, and I have almost finished The Reckoning by John Grisham.  In addition, my suitcase has 220 children’s books to take back to Bahrain. I’m enjoying reading many of them too.

Fourth, I have managed to keep up blogging for the #8WeeksofSummer challenge. Thank you, Penny!

In addition, Gallit and I are enthusiastically working on the second edition of The Genius Hour Handbook.

I’m definitely learning, growing, and so busy this summer. I’m also having a wonderful time visiting my family. In August, when I travel back to Bahrain, I’ll get even more busy with my many professional development goals.

 

What’s My Teacher Doing Here?

“Miss, I saw you yesterday at City Centre!” my student shyly said to me this morning.

After yesterday’s Labor Day national holiday, we came back to school and I was greeted by two children telling me something very similar about our separate chance meetings at the mall yesterday.

“Yes, I did see you yesterday in the food court! It was so nice to see you and your family at the mall. Did you have fun?” I responded.

It was fun to see my students. I was able to introduce my husband to their parents and see their sweet enthusiasm for seeing their teacher in an unusual place.

It reminded me of when I was in sixth grade and I saw my teacher at church one Sunday. It was so odd. Even though I spent hours a day, five days a week with the man, I remember this chance meeting like it was yesterday. I can picture him coming out of the washroom, and walking down the sunny corridor, smiling when he caught my eye.

We spoke very briefly, but it was so awkward for me. Even as a tween, I still had the idea that teachers belong at school. My compartmentalized life was getting shifted, like the young narrator in Judy Finchler’s Miss Malarkey Doesn’t Live in Room 10.

How about you? Do you have memories of seeing your teachers out of context? Or students seeing you?

This is a post for the Tuesday Slice of Life and from tell a story prompt for #edublogsclub.

Pink Prepositional Pandemonium

On Thursday I wore a pink top because I like alliteration and I had lots of pink paper.

On Wednesday, I made up my first Breakout EDU game as I sat in the hospital keeping my post-surgery husband company. Since I was there without my computer, all the game pieces were hand-written. Before I had left school for the hospital on Wednesday, I grabbed a small pile of colored paper from the cabinet. When I got started working, I realized most of the paper I took was pink, so that’s what I used for the puzzles. Thus the pink theme was born, and I added Pink to my Prepositional Pandemonium game.

I’m working on a @breakoutedu game for tomorrow!

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It had been several months since my class participated in a Breakout game. It was definitely time to do it again, and I wanted to leave for spring break on a high note. I created the game to use and review prepositional phrases–one of our topics this week.

I reached my goal to end on a high note! They all BROKE OUT, and we had lots of fun!

If all didn’t succeed, no one would breakout.

For this game I decided to make five separate puzzles and assign one to each of five small groups. That way the groups wouldn’t be in each other’s way, while trying to solve all the puzzles. The last time we did a Breakout, all the groups were working independently from the others, trying to open all the locks. It seemed half the time was spent in the queue to try out the combinations they were solving. Not this time. Each group was responsible for just one lock. (They weren’t told which one when they started, but as they solved their puzzle, they could figure out which lock their combination could open.)

Here are brief descriptions of the five games:

  1. Team 1 was given a sheet of sentences that they had to mark the prepositional phrases. The students were to circle the letter at the beginning of each sentence that had only one prepositional phrase. They then had to unscramble the letters to come up with something that was in my pocket, the next thing they needed to solve the problem. After they figured out it was a deck of cards, they had to find the cards that were marked with prepositions and turn those into a five-digit directional lock combination. This was the hardest puzzle for both classes.
  2. Team 2 was given a worksheet as well. They marked sentences that had two or more prepositional phrases. The letters that were circled were unscrambled into a preposition. Students then used that word as the combination for the letter combination lock. This was definitely the easiest puzzle.
  3. Team 3 had a difficult task. It had a math problem: Page 4 + Page 8 = the 3-digit lock box. Since it was page 4 and 8, they did a lot of experimenting with the four guided reading books on the ledge.  I didn’t really give them much information before or during, but eventually they found the UV flashlight. They discovered one highlighted preposition on each of pages 4 and 8 in one of the books. It took them another while to discover they needed the code that was hanging on the board. They then had to add all the numbers in each of those words. That gave them the three-digit code to open the lock box, where they found extra hint cards to help the other teams.
  4. Team 4 was given a page with prepositional phrases written all over in four quadrants. They discovered, after some trial and error, that the phrases were found in one of the books. Each quadrant’s phrases were found on a separate page in the book. They then used those page numbers to open the four-digit combination lock.
  5. Finally, Team 5 was given Hint #1 of a prepositional phrase treasure hunt. The first clue said, “in the dialogue journal basket.” They found the second clue in the dialogue journal basket and continued from there through eight not-so-easy hints. My favorites were “inside a tall desk” and “across the hall.” More about those:
  • We have about five desks that are taller than all the others, so it should have been an easy one, but I taped the clue up on top of the inside of the desk. The students in one class just kept giving up and saying it wasn’t there. I would find students falling away and start helping another group. Occasionally, I would remind someone in that group that if they didn’t break out no one would break out because we needed to open all the locks. They got back to trying, and then finally someone found it. He nearly went through the roof jumping with such excitement!
  • “Across the hall” was another good one. I have English language learners, and in one class no one in this group knew the words hall or across. They used Google Translate and the online dictionary to help them. (I had to give them the word hallway since hall was only a large meeting room in Translate.)
  • Finally, the last clue was “under the carpet,” where they found a key to the padlock on the Breakout box.
Getting Ready for the Breakout!

Here is my Google Document with these Breakout Prepositional Phrase papers. (It’s my #edublogsclub giveaway for your own Breakout game!)

I was really pleased with my first attempt at making a Breakout EDU game. I felt pleased that though I gave myself only one evening to create it, I managed to make it and pull it off without too many glitches. The videos below show the last moments for each class as they opened the box!

I had one disappoint, though. As a result of giving myself only one evening, I felt I defaulted too quickly to worksheets. Yikes! I don’t want to make worksheets part of Breakout EDU, so I am looking for any alternatives to those two worksheets.

Any suggestions on how to improve this game?

She persisted!

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5B figured out how to remove the clasp too!

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Tipi and Slice of Life Tuesday – No Grades

Today, to be honest, I should not be blogging. I should be finishing my grades for quarter 3, which are due any day now. (Like tomorrow, but I am having a hard time admitting that!)

After a month of blogging daily in March, I am relieved and excited to join the only-once-a-week Tuesday Slice of Life Story Challenge. I’m looking forward to spending a bit of time on Tuesdays with my new Slice of Life writing tribe, for I know they will help me kickstart my neglected blogging habit. Thank God no one grades me on my blog posts. Instead, encouragement from this group helps me practice and learn, so I can grow as a writer.

On a loosely related topic, at school today my small group built.

This quarter, each teacher was assigned eight students for group work, and with them we were to choose and study a tribe of people from anywhere in the world. We chose the Nez Perce in North America because our supervisor is from the Nez Perce tribe. She has lots of amazing relics, so we were able to learn from her and see first hand some of the valuable art and artifacts from this group of Native American people.

Today my group built a tipi.

It was great, and it was better than thinking about blogging.

It was most certainly better than thinking about and / or recording and finishing grades.

It was exciting.

It was real.

It was math.

It was problem solving.

It was critical thinking.

It was dangerous.

It was kinesthetic.

It was making.

It wasn’t a number on a report card, and it never will be.

It’s like life. We do things, like blogging and baking, but we don’t get graded on them. My students would be shocked and appalled if I tried to assign them a grade for their work on the tipi. It just would be a distraction and a disappointment, no matter what grades were “given” or “earned.”

It’s not that we didn’t do our best. As in life, there are always consequences for what we do. Did we do a good job? Did we figure out what we have to do to make it easier and better next time?

If we didn’t, our next attempt may result in the same mistakes. If we did really learn something from today’s activity, then we’ll be even more successful when we build it again for our presentation.

Can’t we do more authentic activities?

Can’t we do real-life work that doesn’t require grades?

 

Filling the frame with a tipi today. #cy365 #t365project

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More tipi building.

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