Saturday, August 31, 2013

saving fred {a teamwork activity}

This first few weeks of school have been awesome.
I am loving my class!

Students can sit at any of five tables they feel like, as long as it is a smart place - you know, like not beside their best friend so they can talk about recess..! 
Each table has a team number above it. 
Students inquired as to why they were sitting in teams, and why I give them the choice to change seats as they wish.
We brainstormed "teamwork" and I got lots of definitions, examples, and real-life connections.
Great brain time!

Afterward, I told the class about my friend Fred, a gummy worm, who can't swim...

Fred went out boating one day in his generic plastic cup.
He made sure he brought his personal flotation device, a sour apple ring candy, because he knows how important it is to be safe.
He set sail. 
It was a great day. 
He was on the open seas...
When suddenly, a giant wave capsized his boat!
Fred panicked...he can't swim...
He managed, with all his gummy worm strength, to pull himself up on top of his plastic-cup boat.
He felt safe.
But how was he ever going to get back to shore?
Just then, he remembered his sour apple ring floaty!
But where was it?
As he peered around, Fred noticed it had gotten trapped underneath his boat.
Worried that he might sink with the boat and be lost forever, he knew he had to get that ring out of the boat and around his wormy waist before it was too late...

So that was the task: saving fred by getting him into his sour apple ring together.
But there was a catch: students could only use paper clips to touch and move things! 
No fingers, no hands, no other forces, just paper clips.
It was a really great time to see groups working together, strategizing, becoming successful, then setting the whole task up again and challenging themselves to try it again a different way.
With no teacher input!
I didn't ask them to try it again... they took that part upon themselves!
My heart soared.
Soared, I say!
Pretty confident this is going to be one great year in the Philippines.

- Amanda

Monday, August 26, 2013

batangas weekend

We've just spent a lovely long weekend at Stilts Calatagan Beach Resort in Batangas.
It's only about 3 hours from Manila, so it's a great quick getaway.
The water was beautifully warm, which is a big plus for a cold-water scaredy-cat like me.

There was lots of time for putting my feet up {in my favourite summer shoes from Michael Kors!}.

Forgot my Kobo so I borrowed the Tatler from the front desk. 
Apparently this "high society" publication is a great place to sight parents from our school, which seems very strange to me.
Luckily, though, I was able to borrow a friend's Kindle so I started reading this book:
It's very interesting so I'm going to have to track it down for my own collection.

In the evening we saw a cultural dance show.
In hindsight, I really should have taken a video of the tinikling dance because it's cool how quick their feet get going!
The dancers are moving to the rhythm made by the tapping of two long bamboo poles...
They weave in and out of the bamboo, trying to stay on rhythm so their feet don't get bit when the poles are slammed together!

It was so nice to get out of Metro Manila and into the calm.
I know we'll be craving that every couple of months.
Happy National Heroes Day!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

my mouth is a volcano

In the classroom I'm trying to create an open-dialogue community.
I don't think my students need to raise their hands all the time to share their ideas or ask one other questions.
I want conversations in our room to feel like natural conversations!
I can guide them, but I want the kids to feel free.
Of course, some of those habits need to be taught and practiced.
Enter Julia Cook!
My Mouth is a Volcano is a really great book for helping kids understand appropriate conversation skills.
It will be a great reference tool in the room as we meet together to as a whole group.
I'm really looking forward to classroom discussions this year with this openness!
I think having an open-dialogue will really help students feel an important part of our classroom community.

Friday, August 23, 2013

inspirational quotes freebie

(Click to download.)
Happy weekend! We're off to a resort for some R&R after these first busy weeks of school.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

into this song... vance joy

building our home

While we wait for the shipment of our things from Canada, we thought we'd do a bit of shopping to get building our home here in the Philippines. There are too many great things on Society6! We're also planning on having a bunch of our personal photos printed professionally to be framed.

For the bedroom:
Two of a Kind Art Print
Palm Trees  Art Print

For around:
City Bokeh Art Print
Seinfeld Hair Art Print

For the kitchen:
Let's All Go And Have Breakfast Art Print

For Jeff:
Slapshot - Old Time Hockey Art Print

For the guest bath:
The secret life of heroes - Wonder Pee Art Print

Saturday, August 17, 2013

i-time {inquiry + personal interest = kids in control!}

One of my favourite parts of our first week was our I-Time.
Anyone else use this?
It's something I've never used before, but after jumping in, I highly recommend it!

We teach an inquiry curriculum, meaning students are given a lot of control over their learning.
They take the reigns, so to speak, and that whole idea, I'll admit, made me uneasy.
Coming from Kuwait, where I had to implement behaviour expectations like crazy, teaching through inquiry seemed like a big loss of control on my side.
I have to say, though, that the transition has been really really great so far.
I love giving the students the responsibility and independence that inquiry calls for.
It's amazing watching them learn together.

What is I-Time?
Basically, it's a time for students to choose a topic of personal interest and research it.
My students are allowed to sign out up to four books from our library, so my one stipulation during our browse and borrow time will be that each kid find at least one non-fiction book focusing on something they want to learn more about.
Note: We have an absolutely AMAZING library space in our school! We also have five iPads in the class and I'm able to book a class set of Chromebooks.
Immediately following our library time is a single forty-minute period that I've designated for I-Time.
Each student has an I-Time notebook where they will write down their questions, ideas, new learning, diagrams, thoughts, etc. etc.
For this week, I pretty much answered "yes!" to all the "Can I..." questions the kids asked.
{Can I draw pictures to show what I learned? Can I write questions about things I want to remember to look up later? Can I write the things I learn in a list? Yes, yes, and yes.}
They grabbed a pencil and found a comfy spot around the room to read and learn about a personal interest.
Everyone was so engaged!
In the coming weeks I'll start to teach the class about framing their inquiry questions - how to broaden questions, how to write more specific questions, how to research effectively, how to go about summarizing new knowledge, and options for presenting their learning to the class.
Letting kids make choices about what they learn is a very powerful tool; I'm already looking forward to our next I-Time session on Thursday!

Monday, August 12, 2013

m&m's mix & mingle {a getting to know you activity}

Today was the first day of school! 
It was super busy, but seemed to fly by.
We weren't able to get through half the things I had planned...
We were too busy getting to know one another!
One way we did this was through eating m&m's.
It was awesome.
And the class Loved it.
{Maybe just because they got to eat chocolate!}
Here's how it goes:

M&M's Mix & Mingle
Assign each candy colour a meaning (i.e. red = favourite book and movie) and go over these with the class.
Hand out a small bag of m&m's to each student (and yourself, of course!).
{Now they're very excited!}
Students will mix and mingle around the room, finding someone to talk with.
When they find a partner, they take out a candy, and tell the person their answer for that colour.
Then they gobble it up and wait for the partner to share something.
Repeat until all candies are gone!

I loved this because it didn't even matter if a kid had already talked with someone....they could just choose a new colour and share a new piece of information.
This is one I will definitely use again next year!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

our first typhoon {almost}

From this...
 to this...
in like fifteen minutes. It looks even worse now!

And if anyone's wondering, the weather report for today says, "Light thunderstorm rain." The weather report for tomorrow (our first day of school!) says, "Typhoon Utor." haha

(All jokes aside, this is a terrible, terrible time for all the people that live in aluminum {or worse} housing.)

Saturday, August 3, 2013

welcome to manila

We made it!
We've been here about a week... an exciting, overwhelming, wee bit stressful week.
But so far so good!
Here are a few first impressions:

is awesome.
Our facilities are amazing.
I can't even begin to describe just how large and comprehensive is the list of facilities available.
Faculty and staff have been super helpful and welcoming.
Lots of new things to learn, including the curriculum, so there will be a rather long adjustment period, but I'm excited to get some time in my room (only 4 days!) to prepare for the kids.
new home...

We have a really great apartment.
Honestly, our entire apartment in Kuwait would fit inside the living space and kitchen area here.
We have three washrooms (!) and two bedrooms with an amazing view.
Even on the 36th floor, though, we can still somehow hear roosters crowing!

There's no other way to say it.
And it's completely unpredictable... so it's something to get used to.
It literally took us an hour and ten minutes to drive two kilometers in a taxi the other night!
The next night it took us a half hour to actually get a taxi...
After reading this article by one of my favourite travel writers, I thought I'd know exactly how to handle it when the driver says, "You pay fifty pesos on top of meter because traffic."
But I backed down because I was too tired and just so happy to finally be in a taxi!

It happens a lot.
(Happily, a little less than I had expected, though!)

That's all for now.
We'll be out shopping for the afternoon trying to build up our apartment.
Jeff's thrilled with the mall culture here....