29 November 2011

Grade 4K is alive and well.

Wow, I can't believe it's over two weeks since that last blogging feast!

Some of the things we've been doing in Grade 4K include learning more about using maps, which has been heaps of fun. The children brought in various maps they found around home, and I had a few more to share. We also looked at world maps and discovered lines of latitude and longitude. Not easy. Some have got it, while others will need a bit more practice. Today we had fun, making 100 piece world map jigsaw puzzles, then unscrambling the names of the oceans and continents, and then putting the names of the continents in the correct places. More fun is still to come. Comic-strip Map Skills worksheets have been enjoyed.

In Mathematics we did some work on grids and maps and direction to support the Social Studies work, and now we're working on shapes. Lots of fun, especially with some great on-line tools and a data projector.

In Language Arts we've been busy with our Write Rights (thanks to Writing A-Z), and studying Recounts.

Outside school, I enjoyed a colleague's engagement party on Saturday, and am looking forward to a concert next Saturday evening, by a community choir. I've been in the past and they are usually excellent productions.

Christmas is fast approaching, so a Christmas newsletter is high on the priority list, and so is a little Christmas shopping.

So that's it in a nutshell. There's still a post to come on my "mini-holiday", but it's time for bed now. May God bless each person who reads this, and especially those who pray for me and my students.

12 November 2011

What's it like to be really cold?

Living in Cambodia does not offer many opportunities for our students to experience what it is like to be really cold, in the way that people who live in places like Canada or the Snowy Mountains or Alaska experience for several months of the year. On Tuesday this week both classes of Grade 4 students had the chance to experience a little of what it's like to be in a frosty environment. We took everyone who was at school this week to visit the Diamond Island Ice Sculpture Show. It was a great opportunity for these children to experience what it would be like to live in a much colder place. OK, so we were there for less than an hour, but it still gave them a taste of being really cold (as opposed to what they think is cold, like when it gets below 25ÂșC). The children had great fun enjoying the ice slides (and so did the teachers). This was definitely a fun field trip. We'll have an experience to refer to now when we discuss those cold biomes later in the year.

All snuggled up in our warm jackets.
Double Fun
Watch out! You're about to get bumped!

Friends sliding together

This fellow didn't have long trousers, but it didn't stop him having a great time.

Riding the ice train!
My awesome TA. This was a first for him too.
The other Grade 4 teacher with one of her students.
Yep, I got in on the action too. This time with one of my students.

Book Butterfly Posters

 Our first big Language Arts project for the year was reading a novel and writing a book report on it. Last year I bought some Book Butterfly posters, which provided the framework for the project. The children loved working on the posters, although the writing part was challenging for some of them. For one student who has only been learning English for one year, I modified the task to allow him to draw some of the details for each part of the poster. He is an amazing artist, and so his poster is one of the samples below. I'm so proud of all the students' work that it was hard to choose which ones to post, but I have chosen a few to share with you. Scrap booking templates come in very handy for preparing lines to write on. As you'll see from the samples, every one is different, just like my students. We'll do this activity again toward the end of the year, when hopefully they are all able to read a more advanced book, and will provide a more detailed report. The other great thing about this project is that, as the children read each others' posters they discover great new books to read, and that makes for a happy teacher.

Brain Hats

Grade 4K has recently finished learning about the human body and particularly about the nervous, respiratory, digestive, and circulatory systems. One of the fun activities that we did to help the children learn about the nervous system was making "brain hats". First they coloured all the parts, then comes cutting, followed by glueing, and finally putting it all together. Here are a couple of snapshots of the process and one of the finished products.

Coming soon to you ...

Having changed schools over a year ago, and with my last prayer card/photo having the name of the other school on it, it was well past time I prepared a new prayer card. One of the joys of this current age is the ease with which these can be produced. Digital photos and photo editing software are fun, so it's not even really a "chore" to do it.

A friend took some great photos for me in Thailand when we were there during my "summer" break this year, and now the same friend is heading down under, so the time to get the photos printed was now! Have had a delightful day on Wednesday, playing Scrabble on Facebook, reading, and doing not a lot else, I finally got round to editing the photos. Eventually I came up with something that I think works well, and is also a little more generic than the previous one.

That done, I headed out to the photo shop, and requested a sample be printed. They said they could do it in an hour, so I tootled up the road to my favourite stationery and  bookshop, and happily filled in the hour, and managed not to spend too much money. Next I tootled around the block back to the photo shop, where they had produced the sample. It looked great, and so I ordered and paid for 150 prints, and said I'd be back on Saturday to pick them up (as I was planning a couple of days out of town.

I then headed home where I actually looked carefully at the photo only to discover a small error. Here's basically what I was looking at.

And here is what it should have looked like:

Can you spot the error?

I quickly phoned the photo shop, but alas, they had already finished printing the photos for me. Bother! OK, so I'll have to go with plan B. Now all my beautiful photos have a small sticker on them correcting the error.

I picked the photos up this afternoon, and then spent the afternoon stickering! Took a while to cut and stick 150 stickers, but it's done now.

Why do I do this? Because there is no way that I could serve in the way I do in the place that I do without the prayer support of many folk. Folk who pray often like a photo of the person they are praying for (I know I do), and so they will soon receive these photocards.

06 November 2011

Just an ordinary week ...

Sometimes I wonder what to write about, and yet, I sense that God is in the ordinary as well as the extraordinary.

This week started with a Monday holiday, which is always pleasant. It gave me a chance to catch up on some grading and planning, and to enjoy some down time over the weekend. On Saturday afternoon I received a text message inviting me to join a BBQ at Logos on Sunday afternoon. With Monday off, I felt comfortable doing this, so I enjoyed a swim in their big pool, and catching up with friends and colleagues from that side of town. A very pleasant way to start the week.

Tuesday it was back to school, knowing I would be missing two students, and discovering that another was away was not totally unexpected. My challenge for the day was a student who arrived half an hour late for school. Since we are starting each day with a series of spelling pre-tests, it's a pain when students are late. The next day the same student again arrived half way through the test, and so had to wait until the test was finished before he could join us. That may seem tough, but this student has a history of being late at least once a week, and often more. The test then has to be made up sometime, and with our packed schedule, that usually means Friday afternoon. Not my favorite time for testing!

The rest of the week was pretty much just an ordinary week. Thursday morning I sent one poor kid home when he was sick at recess time. He didn't come Friday either, for which I'm grateful in a way, because that means he has time to recover fully and is less likely to share bugs with others in the class.

Friday had one scary event. We divide the class into boys and girls for swimming, and while the girls swim on Wednesday, the boys have an extra Khmer lesson, and then on Friday they swap over. Unfortunately, our classes are not evenly balanced with boys and girls. I have 8 girls and 13 boys, and the other class has 7 girls and 12 boys. That means our girls' swimming class is a pleasure, and the boys class is a real challenge. With 12 boys down the deep end of the pool (and I mean deep - I cannot touch the bottom for quite a good area of the pool), I usually number them off, and then they swim in smaller groups. I'm glad I had done that on Friday. There are some important rules about the deep end, and one is that students cannot go down the deep end unless they can swim the width of the pool twice without touching the bottom, so the kids in my group can all swim to that extent. There is also always a teacher in the water at the deep end with the students, and a spotter on the outside. Unfortunately on Friday something happened and one of my boys decided to panic. He was actually very close to the shallow end at the time, but because he got scared and panicked, he was in trouble. Fortunately, God prompted me to turn around from the other student I'd be watching closely, and spotted the problem and was able to get him out without a major problem, but it was a lesson for me. After discussing it with the other teacher, and knowing that a very capable Khmer assistant is available on Wednesday when we swim, I requested permission to swap the boys' and girls' swimming days, and to have the Khmer assistant work with us on those days. Permission was granted and I hope we won't have any more scares like that again. Just goes to show, that you can never let your guard down in the pool, even with capable swimmers!

So that's the end of just another ordinary week. The week ahead is actually just two days, and on Tuesday we have a field trip to an Ice Sculpture Display. The children will enjoy this, and it will give them a chance to experience what it is like to be in a really cold environment, which will help them understand a little more what life is like in the Arctic biomes when we study them later in the year. Stay tuned for photos.