Friday, July 18, 2014

Singing and Traveling with the Oasis Chorale

      My husband and I just spent a fabulous three weeks with the Oasis Chorale.  It was a delightful experience.  These people are wonderful.  The discussions were relevant and thought-provoking, the laughs hysterical, the music superb, and my horizons were broadened.  Every teacher needs to do something like this every so often.  

     We memorized, practiced, and sang and sang.  It was all well worth the effort when we got to sing together at concerts.  After every concert in Ireland and England, people came up to us and asked us very pertinent questions about our faith and doctrine, and the practical applications of them.  It was unexpected, yet very refreshing to discuss spiritual issues with people of different faiths who were very eager to learn more about what we believe. 
There was so much to see and do.  The next several posts will continue the story. 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

A One Room Schoolhouse

     One day last spring my husband got sick.  This rarely happens, but when it does, we usually cover for each other.  So it was that I had the orange room (eleven third through sixth graders) in the red room with the seventh through eleventh graders.  And it was time for our Anabaptist history class.  

      We are reading and answering study questions on the book “Fire in the Zurich Hills”.  That is a fabulous book.  So several members of the younger class chose to join our Anabaptist history class while others finished up their work or their 3D popsicle sculptures we’ve been working on.  
      I began asking questions.  I try to look around and give everyone a chance to answer, so I call on anyone whose hand goes up.  And a third grader's hand went up, and he answered -- correctly I might add.  He remembered what was going to happen to Felix Manz even before we got to that part of the story.  You see, we had studied Anabaptist history several months ago in the younger grades, and he remembered.  
      That is what is so wonderful about a one-room schoolhouse type concept IF it is done correctly and well.  The students are constantly getting a review and a preview.   Yes, they have quiet study and do-your-work times, but when all their work is completed, they are still learning. In this type of environment we find that there is often something going on to interest the students, and they have opportunities to listen, watch, and sometimes participate in classes that are above and beyond their normal grade level.  They grow academically, and their relationships are strengthened with other students younger and older than they are.  The older ones encourage the younger ones, and everyone is accepted and valued.  That is a good place to be.  

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

An Informational and Inspirational Thanksgiving Party

     The day before Thanksgiving break we wanted to do something a little different and a little fun.  The teachers made apple cider and little snack mix cups, and then the students came in and sat down.

     Next we read stories to them.  Only these weren’t just any stories, these were stories and reports our high school students had written.  All the high school students sat at one table, and after I read each story or report, the other students had to guess which one of the high schoolers had written it.

     Two of the readings includied creative writing assignments-- one based on an Anabaptist man in Switzerland who was captured, persecuted, and died for his faith, and another about a rich prince who choose peace and poverty over riches because of jealous competition.

     The reports were just as good.  We heard
about jars of pickles left along the Oregon Trail, why Horatio Spafford wrote his famous hymn, and the degradation of society in the 1950s and what caused it. 

     Everyone enjoyed our little party and had fun guessing who wrote what.  It is good to do something different, especially when the younger students are being exposed to good writing and are inspired to higher aspirations for their futures.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Yummy Speeches

      I really take pleasure in hearing and watching my students read poetry, give speeches, presentations, and book reports.  They usually do a fantastic job, and some of them can’t wait to get up front.  Maybe it is because a few of them want to be teachers themselves.  Rather than skip these assignments which some teachers feel are "optional", we look forward to and relish them, enjoying the break from the norm. 

         This year my fourth and fifth graders gave demonstration speeches.  We learned how to draw a three-dimensional object, how to make blueberry muffins, how to bake tostadas, and how to make a catapult from a mouse trap.    Although we couldn’t eat our drawings, it was fun to draw during English class, and the muffins and tostadas were delicious.  

Friday, June 13, 2014

Helpful Students Rearrange Room

     Because I enjoy changing my student's seating arrangement every week, because I am extremely busy being a mom and a teacher, and because I have wonderful sixth graders whom I trust, I asked them to rearrange my crowded room.  I had tried every imaginable arrangement in the past two and half years, was out of ideas, and needed someone else’s creative input.   We also believe in giving responsible students some ownership in their school.  This was a great way to do all of the above.  

     They did a great job, and their arrangement was something I never would have conceived.  We all enjoyed the new seating situation, and I am ever so thankful that some of my students have gifts which I do not, and that they are willing to share these gifts with me.  
Thank you Audrey, Vangie, and Mary.  

Friday, June 6, 2014

Scrambled Parakeet Eggs

This is an example of a morning "science" item gone really weird.  Someone brought in some parakeet eggs for morning “science” time.  Then they gave them to the "Helpful Helpers", the third through sixth grade gentlemen.  These young men are a creative, curious bunch.  First, they cracked the eggs open and looked at the birds that didn’t make it to maturation.  Disgusting and smelly.  Then they decided that they would make scrambled eggs from the yellowy goupy ones.  They cracked them open, scrambled them, and put them in the sun on a large flat rock.  We are in Texas, and it was ninety degrees that day. 

After a few hours in the afternoon sun, it worked!  Although no one ate them, they had “cooked” scrambled parakeet eggs.  In one of the homes this prompted a young man to learn how to make real scrambled chicken eggs and grilled cheese sandwiches.  It is a strange way to discover the joy of cooking, I know.  

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Fabulous Feminine Flamingos Find Fine Office

The Fabulous Feminine Flamingos now have their own official office.  They got rid of all my "stuff" (and there was a lot of educational "stuff"), cleaned it up, decorated it, and have their meetings, eat lunch (sharing the jars of candy with everyone in the school), and plan parties in there.  Sometimes they even sleep in there.  It is wonderful.  They have their own little space, and they are using their talents to bless others.  No one is left out, either.  All of the ladies in grades seven through twelve are included as part of the Flamingos.  

Their first real “job” was to clean up after a wedding.  There were around three hundred people there, and it was a lot of work.  It was after a delicious Mexican meal, so we had refried beans and guacamole all over our lovely plastic-gloved hands.  And we had a blast.  It is so fun to work together, and “many hands make light work”.  We were done in no time, and I really kinda hated to go home.  

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

A Passover Seder

Monday, April 21, was Passover.  We are Christians, but we do recognize the significance of the Passover.  Holding a Passover Seder is a wonderful way to learn more about how the Jews lived and worshipped, and it is also a meaningful way to remember that our Passover lamb was Jesus, offered so that the angel of death will pass over us just as he passed over the obedient, displaced Israelites around two thousand years ago on a sad, dark night in Egypt. 

The entire red room, grades seventh through eleventh, and all the teachers were invited.  The Flamingos figured out who would bring the chicken, potatoes, parsley, horseradish, matza, grape juice, boiled eggs, and lamb shank.  We lit the candles, prayed, sang scripture songs, listened as the ceremony was read, and then we ate.   At the meal we discussed the book of Revelation, the second coming of Christ, and a few other spiritual topics.  It is so delightful to share a meal and have encouraging, intelligent conversations with people whom you enjoy.  

Afterward we cleaned up and laughed about how pungent the horseradish was.  It was a memorable evening, and we plan to do it again next year.  

Monday, June 2, 2014

Ladies' Ensemble Gets First Gig

      The ladies’ ensemble officially got its first gig in April.  The ladies of the church were holding the annual widow’s supper and they needed some entertainment with a message.  The speaker wanted someone to sing “We Are Not Alone”, and someone thought we could do it.  We did.  We also sang “Repentance and Rest” arranged by Wendy Good.   It was a good experience for our little group. 

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Horsehair Worms and Red, White, & Blue Berries

      Every morning during devotion time our students have an opportunity to share something from God’s creation with us all.  In the winter the pickings are slim but still available to those who are looking carefully.
         One week our students brought in these beautiful berries, and one of the dads from the barn shop across the street brought in these horse hair worms. 

        There are actually two in the picture, and each one is about two feet long.   They are also about as thin as a horse hair.  (That is a penny in the picture.)