Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Hang Stuff From the Ceiling - Classroom Decoration Week

For day two of Classroom Decoration Week here at the Plain Professors, I am sharing a few ideas I've gleaned from different sources.  So often we decorate the walls of our classrooms, but I also love to hang things from the ceiling.  Some of these ideas I have used, some of them I hope to use in the future.  These first two are from a shop in Stratford, Ontario:  umbrellas, and painted newsprint and wire butterflies.

I always try to put pictures on the wall of whatever we are studying in history, and this happened to be a world history year, but it was also a "Fruit of the Spirit" year, and I had hung fruit all over the ceiling.

Last year Jeff had his art and music classroom decorated in an ocean theme, so we hung sharks, turtles, fish, divers and whatnot from the ceiling.  (And they are still there waiting for us to take down and redecorate.)

These are just a few of the Chinese lanterns which my students had hung to decorate an office, but one year I had several different sizes and colors of these hanging in my classroom.  

A welder from our church made this metal frame for us one year. At first it had a solar system hanging from it, the next year it was full of birds and branches, the third year it was covered in blue cellophane with ocean animals, and the fourth it was decorated with butterflies and flowers.  (The large butterflies are kites; we usually hang a few kites from the ceilings.) 

And, I haven't used this one in a classroom yet although I did sew it for my daughter's bedroom.  It is just a hoola hoop, fabric, and ribbons.  It would make a great reading area if it hung down to the ground a had a few pillows underneath it.  
To see more classroom decoration ideas, click below. 
Happy decorating!  

Monday, July 25, 2016

Sweet Graphics and a French Horn Girl

It is Classroom Decoration Idea Week here at the Plain Professors, and this is one idea I am going to "borrow" (steal?).  

When we are traveling, we enjoy visiting schools and seeing different teacher's classrooms.  This one happens to be Katherine Byler's 8th grade classroom at Calvary Christian Academy.  Now, her fiance just happens to be a graphic artist and he made this neat map for her, but we all have access to maps, so that shouldn't be a problem.  (He also painted the lighthouse and helped with the posts and real ropes on top of the extra chalk board.  And Twila is holding a French horn in its case, in case you were wondering.)  
Here is a close-up where we can see the push pins.  Aha!  Each student was assigned (or could choose) their own country.  They earned one push pin if, by Friday, they hadn't had any late or missing homework assignments, didn't have any bad behavior marks on their record for the week, and had said their Bible memory on time. 

Here was her reward system:
7 pins = Homework Pass to skip any daily assignment once for no good reason 
14 pins =  a little container of "Think Puddy" (each puddy has different names and they all do different things. Some change colors with heat, some are magnetic, etc.)
 21 pins =  a free Math Lesson Pass (where they could skip doing a math lesson) and a $5 giftcard to Wal-mart
28 pins = a giant chocolate bar and a book that she chose for their interests 
Then, every student who managed to get 30 pins or above (there were only 33 possible) was rewarded by having their teacher take them out mini-golfing and to Pizza Hut the week after school let out.

I like the idea of using geography as part of a motivational plan, and as I'm teaching American history this year I'm planning on doing this with a map of the United States and my own twist on the rewards, although I probably will use some of her creative ideas.  To read more about encouraging your students to achieve, click on the link to the post below.  
To Motivate, or Not to Motivate: That Is the Question

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Dogs Eat Free on Wednesdays

And here is another funny Alaskan sign.  On Wednesdays, bring your pet to this restaurant, and your pet gets to eat for free.  So. . . . Does your pet get a hamburger, or a salad, or . . . a dessert?  Does he get to choose what he wants?  What if he is gluten free?  If he doesn't eat it all, does he get to take the leftovers home in a "people" bag?
My husband says, "Hey, I know, if your dog likes Asian food, maybe his free meal could be chow mein.  Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha."

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Oasis Chorale Busts Out at McDonald's

Our bus driver challenged us to count off on the bus from 1-49 in sixteen seconds or less.  We did; he rewarded us with ice cream. Since the McDonald's employees had to keep the store open a little bit later to accommodate all of us, we thanked them with a song.  Here it is.   To see and hear more of the Oasis Chorale, click on the link.  https://www.facebook.com/OasisChorale

Monday, July 18, 2016

Good-bye Oasis Chorale 2016

Our last concert was held yesterday in Harrisonburg, Virginia.   The second altos and second basses managed to get together to take pictures after our prayer and prep time.  
After the concert we gathered at tenor James Swartz's home for a delicious meal and fabulous fellowship.   This morning we met at Cracker Barrel and prolonged our good-byes as long as possible. And my camera broke, so all these pictures were taken on my ancient iPhone.   Jeff says it looks like we are all being dematerialized into an energy pattern (beaming up).  Oh, and the only thing that is really clear is Franklin's water bottle that Jeff rescued when Frank left it at the concert.  
Parting is such sweet sorrow --
                         William Shakespeare

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Turn Up the Bass, Treble on High

On Friday night we sang in Aroda, Virginia and enjoyed visiting with friends from Oak Grove Mennonite Church, Mountain View Nursing Home, and Faith Mission Children's Home.  Saturday the bass section had their photo taken while we stopped at Great Falls National Park for a rest stop.  The giant chess set was taken at an outdoor mall somewhere in Virginia. 

An Even Beautifuller Space

This evening we sang at the beautiful Bruton Parish church in Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia.  The original part of this brick church dates back to 1638.  In the picture above we were in our lines for our processional and first song, Alleluia Incantation.  In the photo below we were rehearsing before the concert.  Because everything in Colonial Williamsburg is as period-correct as possible, the only lighting during the evening concert was provided by real candles inside the chandelier, and candle lights on the sides of the church.  The audience was largely vacationers; we enjoyed singing for them and they really seemed to appreciate the concert.  

Friday, July 15, 2016

Menno Musicians -- Yeah, We're Weird

Tenor Johnny Miller and bass Nevin Mast prepare for the concert, 
bass Jeff Swanson is wondering why our waitress tied his napkin around his neck at a tavern (she really did),
and bass John Strickler takes a little rest outside the Bruton Parish church.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The British -- No, Wait, the Mennonites Invade Colonial Williamsburg

Alto Debbie Miller and soprano Delight Yoder at the Bruton Parish church
Yesterday we found the arbor a nice place to hang our concert uniforms while we loaded up the car to drive from our host's house back to the bus.    
During the bus ride to Williamsburg, Virginia, Laura Conley read us a children's story.    An ethical discussion regarding the story plot followed.  Seriously.  And today we toured Colonial Williamsburg until early afternoon when we took the bus to Burton Parish where our concert would be held.  

photo by Joe Ebersole of Illustra Graphics

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Lovely Space, Lovely People

Last night in South Boston, Virginia, we sang in a visually and acoustically stunning church to a wonderful and warm audience.  Here are a few pictures of the choir interacting with them after the concert. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Nice Job, Guys!

Yesterday morning we all enjoyed a clinic with one of our choir member's professors and the fabulous acoustics in the church.  One of my favorite parts of tour is sitting back listening to the guys sing.  Besides their long section in "Angel Band" (which is amazing with the tenors and basses directly in back of me), the men's arrangement of "Oh Love That Will Not Let Me Go" is just pure bliss to hear.   


Monday, July 11, 2016

We Traveled From New Holland to Sing in . . . New Holland

(We actually live in Terre Hill.)  Today we worshipped at New Holland Mennonite Church in Wagoner, South Carolina.  They served us lunch at the church and then most of us headed back to our hosts for a nap.  Well, Jeff took a nap.  I read my book about the Warsaw Jewish ghetto uprising.  It is amazing.  But I digress, after the "nap" we drove back to the church, practiced with the children's choir there, and enjoyed the lovely acoustics during the concert where we sang to a very receptive audience.  I would have gotten a picture of that but I think my camera broke.  Thanks to Joe Ebersole for these pictures of the church and our amazing CD table team, Gary Hurst, Darl Horning, and Kendra Miller.   

Saturday, July 9, 2016

The First Concert Is Now History

Friday morning we practiced, enjoyed some delicious pizza, loaded the bus, and embarked on tour.   
Neither of us planned to match, but Jason and Jen both wore gray, and Jeff and I both wore purple.  They were married last month; we were married 25 years ago.  
We had a delightful practice with the some of the school students from Island Creek Mennonite School, directed by Debbie Miller, their teacher and an Oasis alto.  In this picture we were practicing how to stand up straight and tall while we sing.  
A resounding summer thunderstorm accompanied us during the concert, but the show went on.  I was especially glad to see many old friends from our former church in Harmony, North Carolina.   After the concert we visited with them and new friends from music camp, then departed to our hosts' homes for the evening.  We were back on the bus at 8:00 this morning, headed towards South Carolina.  

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Singers Finish Recording and Binge on Dairy Products

Okay, binge is a little overstated, but we did eat a lot of ice cream.  
We spent the morning finishing recording the Hymns of the Church, Volume II.  After lunch we were back to our concert repertoire, spending most of our time on "Angel Band", then splitting into sections for the men to practice "O Love That Will Not Let Me Go", while the ladies worked on "When He Is Silent".  
After a scrumptious barbeque dinner at the church, several of us enjoyed ice cream at Kline's Dairy Bar.  Click here to see videos of rehearsal from this week.  
And, today I rediscovered that recording hymns isn't always as easy as it may seem.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Chillin' During Recording

After an intense day of recording about half the selections for the "Hymns of the Church, Volume II"  project we were all pretty tired.   We plan to finish recording the rest of the songs tomorrow and then prepare for our first concert Friday night in Hillsville, Virginia.