Wednesday, June 4, 2008

in general

Here are some of the photos mentioned in my last post. (Hard to believe I'm actually getting around to posting them, let alone so soon! We'll see how long this lasts.)

Getting ready for the Oregon Trail - the supplies:

Getting everything laid out and organized. Placemats served as rugs, cake tins as pots and pans. Then of course you have your dishes, blankets, and toys (though I doubt the pioneers had hot pink jump ropes).

The baskets, all packed up and ready to be brought to school, where everything was set out at the "General Store" for the kids to gather and (re)pack themselves.

Each group received a "tool box" and a "water barrel" (empty 9.5 liter plastic container), so they all started with two essentials and the same amount of weight.

And now for my life outside of school - art:

Working on the designs...

...then cutting them out after making a template. (I'm officially in love with my light box, by the way.)

Ta-Da! The final product. Er, one of them anyway. This is from a set of four, called "Natura." (The other glasses each have a different design - branches with leaves, berries, and a floral motif.)

And then of course, there's my alter-ego. For all those times I sat around thinking, "Man, I wish I had a drinking glass with Harriet the Spy etched on it. That's the only thing standing between me and happiness!" (Not. But it does make me pretty happy.)

So there you have it: A brief and fascinating summary of my life these past few months. Ish. School and art. And of course there have been books, always books. Actually, that sounds more like the story of my life in general, not just recently. So goes it.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

the best laid plans....

So much for getting back into blogging! Na ja, please excuse me. I actually began posts here and there, mostly about the third grade class I was working in all spring as part of my social studies and science methods courses (never posted any of them though!). I even have some pictures of the first lesson I taught, which was on the Oregon Trail. The students were divided into groups and had to pack their own "wagons" (giant plastic bins) after making a list of supplies. They also had a weight requirement (of course), along with a couple, shall we say, difficult fates: two groups just had babies, and two groups had oxen die. These fates changed the types of supplies needed and weight limitations, respectively.

All in all, the lesson went over really well. The kids had been learning about the trail for a few weeks, and this activity gave them an opportunity to use their knowledge in a concrete way. One girl asked me if we were "going to play this game tomorrow," while I overheard two other students talking about how much fun they had. A few others said, "Can't you teach us all the time?" And another teacher even asked me for a copy of the lesson. So yeah, I'd say it was a success :)

Anyway, one more day of finals, and then.....


Which actually started last week. Yep, I've been taking classes at two different places for the past two weeks. Gotta love trimesters. Oy.

Meh, the summer is looking more and more school-driven - I also plan to finish up my student teaching application in the next few weeks. (Slightly more complex than it might be normally, seeing as I want to go abroad to student teach.) And I'm gonna try and figure out a research project to do next summer (if you could study anything, anywhere, what would you choose? SUCH a dilemma!)

It's not all so exhaustingly academic, though. Just took my first Bikram yoga class today, and I plan to continue. Good stuff. Hard, but good (especially when it's over, haha). I'm also planning to take some ceramics classes at this local studio. And then there's a possible road trip to North Carolina and another to Michigan, plus a weekend at Lake Geneva come August. Ugh, and believe me, I am more than ready to hit the road. More than ready to enjoy myself and have a break here and there! (What a novel concept, eh? But then again, in the future I'll have summers free...that whole teaching thing :) )

I'll try and post the pictures from my lesson in the future. They're basically just the supplies we used, but still. Kinda interesting, depending on, uh, your interests, I guess. Also have photos of some art projects I've been working on (mainly glass etching), so maybe I'll share those, too. We'll see. Until then....

All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well...

Let's hope so.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

ok, here goes:

Been thinking for months now that I want to get back into posting here. After I got back from Cape Town, I was knee-deep in holiday cheer/apartment finding/starting new classes - before I knew it, I'd sunk so far I was having trouble keeping my head above water. But I'm back now, and I plan to stay, or at least make an effort to do so.

I believe I left off with the promise of a thank you, specifically to Duke and Cheryl Krauspe, and I intend to make good on my word. Below are pictures from the unit inspired by "Dr. Krauspe's" donation of toothbrushes and floss - the kids went WILD for this stuff! A couple weeks before the actual lesson/toothbrushing, I taught them the Raffi song "Brush Your Teeth," which they loved. We sang it almost every day before launching into the meat of the lesson, as follows.

The kids cut out giant paper teeth and drew smiling faces on them. This was definitely one of my favorite projects - the results were so cute!

Using egg cartons, construction paper, white paint, and pipe cleaners, I made this giant mouth to demo proper brushing for the kids. It might not be anatomically correct, but it did the job!

We made our own toothpaste using baking soda, water, and flavoring. Then we graphed the kids' flavor selections. Math and science all-in-one - what could be better? :)

Beyonce (l.) tries to show off her teeth, but the resulting funny face only hides them. On the right, Sinalo is too tired to fake a smile!

So THANK YOU, Duke and Cheryl, for inspiring this fun and important lesson! I've never seen kids more excited to brush their teeth. And they loved that they got to keep the colorful toothbrushes, too!

While I was away and since I've been home, a number of people and schools have taken it upon themselves to donate to Angels and Starfish. I'd like to thank:

  • Claudia Krauspe and her coworkers at Helen Plum Memorial Library in Lombard, Illinois, for their donation of beautiful baby dolls. Also a HUGE thanks for the gorgeous box of books - I had so much fun reading with the kids, and many of the books inspired lessons. Hands are Not for Hitting by Martine Agassi, PhD., for example, led to a lesson on diversity and non-violence, in which we made a colorful "handprint banner" to hang in the classroom:

  • Students in the choir program at Wheaton Warrenville South High School raised $1,500 to pay for a year's worth of music . A group of Starfish began working with the Hout Bay Music Academy this past February (the start of South Africa's school year). This wouldn't be possible were it not for WWSHS, whose generous donation covers the costs of teachers, instruments, and transport for the children.

  • The "Buy a Cookie, Help a Kid" bake sale at the College of DuPage raised over $800 for Angels and Starfish. Huge thank you to the Honors Program at COD for organizing and sponsoring this event!

  • Sixth graders at Haines Middle School in St. Charles raised over $500 - enough to cover an entire year's worth of school fees for two children! I gave a presentation at Haines in December, and the students worked together to raise this money in a matter of weeks. So impressive and so appreciated!

In case I haven't said it enough: THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU to all who have contributed to Angels and Starfish. I'm so amazed and inspired by the generosity I've seen these past few months. It makes such an incredible difference in the lives of these children. So let me say, just one more time: Thank you.