Monday, March 31, 2008

Back in the Swing of Things

It was so nice to walk into the classroom again this morning. I'm such a geek, I love the smell of school. The chalk smell, the smell of the books, papers, pencils, etc. I love seeing the 28 desks in their little clusters and my freshly washed chalkboards and of course the joy of writing the day's agenda on the board for each class I teach. I love everything about being in the classroom first thing in the morning!

As for my lessons today, I had some technical difficulties with laptops and our ActivBoard so I had to postpone one of my scheduled lesson plans and pull my lesson plan that I was going to do on Thursday to today. Another lesson I am continually being reminded of each and every week: teachers need to be flexible, especially when integrating technology into our teaching. I was a bit frustrated because I had been so excited about this particular lesson. I had this fun PowerPoint created, complete with music to accompany writing prompts, and I was going to do this whole dramatic reading of a Chinese fairy tale. I even had created a background soundtrack of sorts with traditional Chinese instrumentals to make the reading more fun for the students to listen to. Then we were going to conclude the lesson by munching on fortune cookies (which I bought yesterday at Gordon's) as we completed the writing prompt for the day. Oh well, hopefully tomorrow will be better and I'll be able to teach what I had planned.

So as you can probably tell, I'm back into the swing of things now. Spring break is over and it's time to dig in and finish these last two weeks of student teaching. So with that, I'll end here. Time to get back to my work! Enjoy your night!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

We Survived!

Ciaran and I have weathered another storm (which I know goes with being 850 miles apart) and we survived! Thank you to all of you who continue to lift us up in prayer. We fully know that God is the one who is carrying us through this tough time apart...and your prayers on our behalf are truly coveted. Continue to pray for us as we seek to glorify God to the utmost through this long-distance relationship.

In other news, I've been thinking about how my time student teaching is drawing to a close...I only have two weeks left and this amazing experience teaching inner-city will be over. Goodness the time has flown. I was standing in front of my classroom last week (teaching at the time, mind you) and I almost got choked up as I realized how much God has grown me this semester, both as a child of God and as a teacher. I still have so much to learn and so many areas I need to grow, but I can clearly see God's fingerprints all over this entire semester. And my students, oh I am going to miss them so much. They have challenged me beyond anything I thought was possible, but oh do I treasure them! I am currently in the process of putting together little gifts for each of them. With somewhere around 130 students, this is proving to be a challenging task, but well worth it all the same. And I'm also trying to put into words (i.e. little notes) my thanks to all of the teachers who have so profoundly impacted me this semester. I will forever stand in awe of these amazing teachers who give of themselves so unselfishly and so tirelessly each and every day at this school. The battles they face on a daily basis are so different and far more CHALLENGING than anything I ever anticipated a teacher would have to face and yet they meet these battles head-on and with such amazing attitudes. And through it all, so many of them still have such a passion for their profession and a hunger to keep growing as teachers and professionals in their respective fields. I have been truly blessed to study under them this semester!

Well it's getting late and 5:15am is going to come quickly tomorrow. That's right, I'm getting back into my teaching schedule starting tomorrow. I have thoroughly enjoyed my spring break, but it's time to start getting back into my normal routine again. Goodnight!

My New Little Desk

See my new lovely little lap desk! I absolutely love it! I love its design and the fact that it has Psalm 46:10 scrawled across it (a much needed reminder at any point in my day). I bought this little desk to use when I am grading papers (since I quickly discovered I don't enjoy grading papers at the kitchen table). But I have found that it is perfect for my morning quiet time, for working on my Bible study homework, for journaling, and of course for a comfortable evening of grading papers and lesson planning. I even used it this morning as I sat in the back room making my "To-Do" list for the day and drinking tea. Ah yes, and that brings me to my next point. I'm becoming a tea drinker! After all these years and all my friends allowing me to taste test different teas, I've finally discovered a tea I like: chamomile! I don't even have to add anything to it (i.e. honey, sugar, milk, etc.). Hehe. All right, so this a pointless post today, but so much fun to write. Have a blessed day everyone!

*I bought this lovely little desk at Click on the picture if you want to see more details. :-)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Singing As I Clean

As I clean today, this song keeps repeating itself inside my head. So as a result, I've been singing it over and over again as I work which then prompted me to share here the two verses that I keep fixating on.
When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died
My richest gain I count but loss
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast
Save in the cross of Christ my God
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to his blood.
From Isaac Watts' hymn "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross"

A New Look

Spring is here and with that comes spring cleaning! And of course my blog cannot be exempt from the wonderful joy of spring cleaning either, so with that I'm cleaning out the old look and bringing in a new one. Also if I could draw your attention to the left side of the screen you will see my new Shelfari Bookshelf. I absolutely love this new feature. I stumbled upon it when I was exploring blogs this morning. I haven't had a ton of time to tinker with it yet, but I've found enough time to place six of the books I am currently reading on its shelves. Well, back I go to my cleaning. Enjoy your day!

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Grading Papers & Lesson Planning

Today marked the first Saturday morning of my student teaching in which I graded papers without the joy of watching soccer at the same time. That’s right, we no longer have Fox Soccer Channel at our house. :-( At the beginning of the year, my mom and I revamped our budget and alas, FSC was one of the little “extras” I had enjoyed that needed to go. Yet, it took until the end of February to finally make this much needed cut. How sad it is that I cling to worldly things with such a vice-like grip.

In other news, student teaching is still going well, but has gotten progressively more difficult with each passing day. My students have “cabin fever” because of the long, hard winter which makes classroom management a moment-by-moment (exhausting) battle. Last week the students were so off the hook when I was teaching them about figurative language that I finally just shouted, “Everyone stand up!” I then proceeded to label three corners of my classroom , “Simile,” “Metaphor,” and “Idiom.” Then I read the sentence containing the use of figurative language and had the students move to the corner they thought was the right answer. It was such a simple activity (an adaptation of a teaching strategy called 4 Corners), but you would have thought I’d just awarded my students a million dollars. One of my especially challenging students asked me the next day if we could practice identifying figurative language again. They were so excited to be out of the seats and competing against one another and as an added bonus, by the end of class, I think about eighty percent of them fully understood what a simile, metaphor, and idiom is. I’ll still have to do a considerable amount of follow-up work to get the other twenty percent. But that activity was so not a part of the original lesson plan that I had spent over an hour planning the previous weekend. We also finally finished reading the novel Hatchet by Gary Paulsen in three of my ELA classes. It’s taken us two months to wade through this novel (after snow days and standardized test interruptions). To celebrate the conclusion of the novel and review for the test, I created a Jeopardy review game last weekend using PowerPoint (complete with the fun Jeopardy music) and then went to Staples and bought three desktop call bells (to use for buzzers). Then on Wednesday we spent the hour playing the game (i.e. reviewing for the test). The kids loved it and what was even more exciting; they turned around and collectively did quite well on their unit test. And I had at least two dozen of the students ask me on Friday if we could play Jeopardy again to review for our next unit test. Yay, my students interested and excited about reviewing for a test! What more could I ask for?!

All right, enough about teaching. Carter’s home this weekend! He’s been working so many weekend hours at Detroit Metro the past few months that I feel as if I haven’t seen him in years! :-) So off I go to enjoy him being home. Enjoy your Saturday!