27 June 2013

My sweet kids

I'm sure I've mentioned before just how much I love my kids, but just in case I haven't, well I do! I love them when they're good, and I love them when they're naughty. Fortunately they are much more often good than naughty! :)

Today, some of my kids just blew me away. During the year they have earned Kindness Cash by doing kind things, either to me or to their classmates. For example, a kid who is on-time every day, and pulls no "Go For Green" cards for a whole month is being kind to me! As a result they are awarded Kindness Cash. There are other rewards for not pulling cards as well, but this is a bonus. Kindness Cash is a school-wide program encouraging both kids and teachers to catch kids being kind.

Today the Kindness Store, where they can exchange their cash for various goodies, opened for the last time (well, there will actually be a catchup opening tomorrow for those kids missed out today when recess wasn't long enough). Four of my kiddos decided that, instead of getting something for themselves, they would put their "cash" together and buy gifts for the teacher! They came back after recess and presented me with two sets of flashcards (dinosaurs and world flags), a teaching clock, and a puzzle book. What precious, amazing kids we have at EWIS.

Now yesterday I debated whether I should keep up my tradition of giving every student in my class a book for the summer. The reason I debated was the shop I used to get my good quality second hand books from is no longer operating. :( After this morning's surprise from those sweet kids, I'm so glad I bit the bullet yesterday afternoon and went book shopping for them (and found suitable books for just $1 each). Every student in my class will get a book, and a small bag of sweets. Yep, they'll get lollies! But not until the end of the day, and only a few. Today I found Natural Confectionery Company jelly snakes and dinosaurs, and topped it up with a few milko type lollies. Each kid will get the sum total of 2 dinosaurs, 1 snake, and 4 other candies. I hardly think that will give them a huge sugar overload. They will also receive a letter from me and an individualised class photo.

I will miss these kids, but look forward to seeing them, like my previous classes, grow and mature as they progress through the school. I thank God for the opportunity to love and serve these precious children as they learn at East-West International School.

10 June 2013

Maintaining Momentum

With just 13 days left in the school year, and report cards already submitted, it can be a little hard to keep the momentum of learning going in the classroom. To make sure my students continue learning, while having fun as the school year draws to a close, we are working on two major projects.

The first is a follow-up on an activity we did early in the year. I didn't blog about it this year, but you can read about our Book Butterflies here. To finish the year I'm having students use a different poster, but with the same idea. This time it's called a Reading Response Web, and all the features of the book report are linked to the central box with strands of rope. I managed to add lines to my master copy to help the children work neatly, and have had A3 enlargements made from the mini-poster. The A3 size works well, giving adequate space, without being too big to manage in the classroom. It also displays well. This morning I actually chose books I wanted the children to read, as I wanted them to explore at least one different book to those they've been choosing for themselves. I've noticed recently that most students tend to get stuck on one series and stay with it until they're bored. That's OK! I did it myself (and still do sometimes) but I wanted them to explore some other choices as well. My choices were based on reading ability and interests, and I'm very much hoping they will enjoy their books.

Our other fun project is our final Social Studies theme for the year. We're studying Ancient Egypt, with a focus on pyramids and hieroglyphics. I'm taking a couple of approaches to this topic. First I'm using something called "History Pockets" which I've modified to meet limited resources etc. There's lots of colouring and construction involved and a little reading and writing. The photo above shows last year's finished products. All these bits and pieces are stored in a modified manila folder (fold up the bottom 2 inches of a foolscap folder and staple in place to make two pockets to keep all the papers and activities in). I'm also using two books from Reading A-Z. The first is actually a little easy for most of my students, but it was great for beginning to build vocabulary. The second is going to be challenging for all of my students, but I hope that by exploring it together they will learn more. I really enjoy being able to work a topic across both Science/Social Studies and English Language Arts. We also put a little bit of time into learning the Khmer vocabulary for the topic, so hopefully they can share their learning more easily with their families.

Next week is another short week, and we have our annual concert on Wednesday evening, so there will be much excitement. The grade four classes are combining to sing a couple of Colin Buchanan songs from his Egyptian trilogy, which they are really enjoying. More about that later.