Saturday, June 22, 2013

A "Little" Gift

As long as I can remember I’ve been an avid reader. Reading has shaped some of my fondest educational experiences—from participating in countless summer reading programs at the Fortuna Library to reading The Last of the Really Great Wangdoodles in Mrs. Giffith’s sixth grade class (I can vividly remember drawing a picture of what I thought a wangdoodle looked like)—a good book has always easily engulfed me.

After reading Charlotte’s Web to my third and fourth graders, I knew reading and studying literature would have to be part of our regular classroom curriculum. The children LOVED that book. A few of the little girls even cried (spoiler alert!) when Charlotte died. It reminded me how literature has the power to take us to a different world.

I started to think about how my students would benefit from participating more fully in our literature units. What if they could have their own copy in their hands? Seeing the words in front of them would certainly increase their comprehension as well as provide opportunities to practice reading on their own. I mentioned my idea to my mother-in-law, a former teacher, and she said she would see what she could do. Approximately a month later I received a class set of Stuart Little in the mail! 

My students are delighted to have their own copy to read! I still read aloud, but now they also read on their own, with partners, and to the whole class. It has greatly enhanced our literature program. I love looking around the room and seeing my students engrossed in their books! 

If you are a fellow book lover, perhaps you would be interested in donating a class set of children’s literature to New Life Primary School? Please contact me if this is something you get excited about. Eventually, we’d like to strengthen our library to include at least three different class sets.
Special thanks to the Whited family for the awesome bulletin board goodies!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Gods Promises

Today was one of THOSE days. The day started well—I had a well-prepared teaching plan and I was even caught up on my grading. The kids seemed eager to return to school after the weekend. The day started out normal, but it didn’t take long for things to start going wrong.

The subject today in English was using apostrophes to show ownership. Despite my preparedness, things didn’t go as planned. The kids seemed completely confused. The word “apostrophe” was lost on them. The pneumonic I created (“if there’s many don’t use any”) to dissuade them from using apostrophes in plurals, had a major fault—what about plural possession? Like boys’ or children’s? As the student’s began their worksheet, hands started waving insistently in the air, calling out for help. My patience was wearing thin. I uttered the words that no teacher should say, something along the lines of “Please. No more questions. Just work on your own. Please.” Our mid-morning recess could not have come soon enough.

At recess I was pondering the future impact of my terrible lesson. Donald, one of my fourth grade students, came up and handed me a note. Here’s what it said:

Dear Tom and Mandi, we like your teaching. Sis Mandi is a good teacher. I have not seen one like her. And Tom is a very nice man. We are thankful for the kindly people that God sends to Swaziland to help the farm. We are happy to be with you in the farm. Tom and Sis Mandi we are thankful for the fun things you have done for New Life Homes’ children. I pray that God will make you strong. May God bless you.

What a perfect prayer for me at that moment. Donald, with his simple note, encouraged me and also reminded me that apostrophes are temporary. Helpful, yes—but still temporary. Apostrophes are nothing compared to the eternal promises of God. Gods promises. See, did you even notice?

So today’s lesson comes from a fourth grader. “Without wavering, let us hold tightly to the hope we say we have, for God can be trusted to keep his promises. Think of ways to encourage one another to outbursts of love and good deeds.” Hebrews 11:23-24