Slice of Life 11 – Memories of Bahrain and March Madness, Perfume Edition #sol24

11 March 2024

Before retiring to California in 2022, I lived in Bahrain. When we went there we took nine suitcases. When we came back eight years later, we had nine boxes and suitcases again. I’m guessing the contents of the suitcases had changed by about 80%. We brought home the painted map of Bahrain in the photo below. It hung in my dining room in Bahrain, and it graces our dining room in California now.

Learning to love tea in Bahrain was another joy I brought back to California, along with two tea pots and a dozen small tea cups–some of them gifts from friends. Every Sunday before church, I make myself a pot of tea (Something I used to do every Friday before church in Bahrain.)

Affaf had given me a set of crystal tea cups and saucers, so I told her I was thinking of her. Affaf wished peace to me and my family, thanked me for writing, told me she thought of me and our good friendship. (Of course, Google Translate had to help me read that note.)

Another thing I grew to love in Bahrain was wearing perfume. I had never been much of a perfume wearer, except when I first got married and received a bottle of Lauren, which I wore daily. But living in the Middle East, perfume is a big deal. At the mall, workers stand outside perfume shops and spray samples generously. For Teacher Appreciation Week, I didn’t get coffee mugs but often would receive gifts of perfume and flowers. While I was there, I learned to spray perfume on every day. I left my Bahrain perfume behind, so when I got to California I didn’t have any perfume.

This past December, I added perfume to my Christmas wish list, and Katie and Thomas got me a fun gift from Sephora–a perfume sampler. There are 16 tiny bottles. I’ve been wearing perfume since Christmas.

The best part, though. I get to choose a large bottle of the one I like best.

After awhile, I decided to do a proper tournament. The first round was easy because I had already separated the perfumes into ones I liked and ones that were so-so. I paired them up against each other.

Here is my March Madness, Perfume Edition.

Here are my final four:

I’m having a hard time choosing between the final four. I like them all, so it doesn’t really matter which one I choose! I’ll go to Sephora soon and commit to one.

Bahrain, Land of Peace

Today I went to another in the series called “The Story of a Poem” by the National Writing Project. Today’s poem was called “Sundialed” by Dan Zev Levinson. It was a delight to listen to Zev read it, as I imagined a pastoral summer day in northern California:

The challenge to have a go for today is to write a poem using as many languages as possible. The variety of languages should add to the understanding of the poem as the meanings and pronunciations are discovered by the reader.

So here is my attempt, which incorporates a bit of Hebrew and Arabic (transliterated, along with the script), Spanish, Latin, French, and, of course, English. (With thanks to Zev Levinson for my last line, which was inspired by his poem’s last line.)

Bahrain, Land of Peace
Land of
Dos aguas
Salty and sweet
Revival draws

When we meet
شعوب Shueub
From every land
Understanding grew

Land of serving hands
שָׁלוֹם‎ Shalom to you
Vidi, stopped to pray
Yes, God; oui, Dieu

Day 10 Slice of Life – Not Giving Up Hope

Bahrain has been fighting this virus with all stops out–cancelling the F1 Bahrain Grand Prix to spectators is one of the latest. Today the Bahraini Parliament voted on whether to cancel school for the rest of the year. I was happy to hear the report that they are not yet giving up hope for the school year. I pray we will be back to school this year. I miss the students so much, and I’m sure they will tire of virtual learning.

The world has a common enemy, and we will win the Coronavirus battle.

Proposal to extend suspension of schools until end of academic year rejected.


The Ultimate in Differentiation: Genius Hour

I’m excited that I got up early this morning for the #geniushour chat. It used to be at a convenient time when I lived in North America. Now I’m living in the Middle East, and so I have to get up by 5:00 a.m. on a Friday, which is a weekend day here. Not so bad because I became re-inspired and re-ignited in a topic I am passionate about.

That topic is handing the reigns over to my students. Allowing them to learn and make and choose how to show their learning. It’s not always easy to give choices when we are mandated to test and cover so much material. However, when students are entrusted with learning–real learning, not just to pass a test learning–they are empowered and motivated. It makes every moment of school better!

This morning I actually was the moderator for the #geniushour chat because I wanted to ask questions about differentiating genius hour for students with special needs or English language learners. My questions were timely because months ago I signed up to lead a session on genius hour: “Genius Hour: Productive, Creative, and Empowered Students.” That session is tomorrow at the ELT Conference here in Bahrain, “Differentiation That Makes a Difference.

Here are the questions we asked and answered at this morning’s chat…

Q1 – Do you differentiate during #geniushour? How?
Q2 – What are some of the most common reasons you need to differentiate #geniushour?
Q3 – How do you help your ELL students? Do you need to differentiate for them?
Q4 – How do you adapt #geniushour for students with IEPs? Any tips to share?
Q5 – Why do you think #geniushour is great for all learners?
Q6 – Any general #geniushour successes that you want to share? Tips and links to share?

I was excited to hear the answers from such a variety of teachers. Many shared that the nature of genius hour is already differentiated. Pure differentiation. Others had suggestions for how they differentiate. Here are a selection of the tweets they shared:

 (Click here to go to the archive of all the Tweets.)

After this morning, I tend to agree with the pure differentiation crowd.  Students decide what they will learn and how. The term differentiation is usually paired with instruction, but really it’s always about learning.

Students will learn in the right conditions. According to Carol Ann Tomlinson, we can help create the right conditions when we take into account the student characteristics of readiness, interest, and learning profile, which includes these four facets of learning profile: gender, culture, learning style, and intelligence preference.¹ Teachers can differentiate the curriculum when they make adjustments on content, process and products.²

In genius hour we hand over power to the students. They choose what they are ready for. They choose what they are interested in. They choose based on their learning profile. They choose the content they want to learn. They choose the process to use to get to that end. They choose the product to show their learning. Throughout, the teacher is available for scaffolding, guiding, helping, leading as needed. Primarily, it’s about the learning, not the knowledge the teacher is imparting.

In my current work as an English teacher in a foreign country, though, I am learning that genius hour looks a little different here. (Or is it the fact that I moved from junior high to kindergarten.) According to most of my friends this morning at the Twitter chat, it seems that the very nature of genius hour is differentiation at its best.

Do you agree? Is it already differentiated or are their special things you do for ELL students? What if they are all ELL students, like mine?

If you have something to share, will you please add one or more tips for using genius hour with English language learners to this Linoit? (I’ll share your comments with the participants at the conference.)

¹”Faculty Conversation: Carol Tomlinson on Differentiation.” University of Virginia. Curry School of Education, 15 Feb. 2011. Web. 06 Mar. 2015. <>.

²Allan, Susan D. “Chapter 1. Understanding Differentiated Instruction: Building a Foundation for Leadership.” Leadership for Differentiating Schools & Classrooms. By Carol A. Tomlinson. ASCD, 2000. web. 06 Mar. 2015.  <>