Its a Thursday

Today just seems like one of those days where you have to take a breath and just brush it off your shoulders. I was able to sleep in this morning (since we run MWF), so that was lovely. When Kathryn and I made it to school, I went upstairs to take my lunch to the fridge, and I (like every morning) filled myself a glass of water. As I was coming downstairs, I met up with my cooperating teacher (like I do every morning), and we began talking about the day to come. When we walked out the door, she held the door open for me, but brought her arm back down into my glass. Being “one of those days” it crashed to the ground and shattered all over the brick path. We had a short laugh, and she said to me, “We make a great team, aye?” It was a start to the morning that I figured would lead into a chaotic day; however, reflecting on the day (probably the busiest academic day of the week) it didn’t turn out so bad. My cooperating teacher, the beginning teacher next door, and I traveled to the mall (which is about 5 minutes away) for lunch today…I have been craving some nasty American food for the past week, so I got McDonalds. Let’s just say, after eating relatively healthy for 3 weeks and then tasting fast food–I don’t think I’ll be craving it again for a very long time. The only reason I would crave it again is simply for a Coke 🙂 mmm… Anyway, I have (nearly) made it through my first week of full-time teaching, and I love it.

I feel like I have been (extremely) out of the loop with my friends back home. The communication is so difficult with the time difference! Being 18 hours ahead means that by the time I make it home from school, or errands, mostly everyone at home is asleep. I am so used to talking to my best friends every single day, and I feel like we have already lost touch. (I’m sure we are all at fault for the disconnection, but I feel bad for not being at to effectively communicate while I’m here.) Hopefully, this weekend (if I don’t travel into the city on Saturday) I will be able to Facetime, Skype, or call everyone at home (because I am having severe withdrawals.)

Below, I have attached photos that were once trapped on my memory card…from when we traveled to Tawharanui Beach on Waitangi Day. It was absolutely stunning there, as you can see in the photographs, and we were blessed with beautiful weather, too! More on the “trapped” photos- I had brought both of my cameras with me to New Zealand, for back-up and convenience. Unfortunately, neither of them will work properly; therefore, I needed to invest in a new camera (which wasn’t in my budget) while I am here. Initially, I had spent a big chunk on a Canon camera (because I want to spend money on a good value camera)…but, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that if I didn’t have enough money to travel outside of Auckland, then what would be the point of having a nice camera? So, Kathryn was kind enough to take me to the mall today after school to return the one I had previously bought and buy another (cheaper) camera. Because I am used to my Sony Cybershot, and thoroughly enjoy the quality of the photos, I bought a pocket-size Sony Cybershot to help me document my adventures or ordinary life while I am here. Now I can travel and feel less stressed about the money I am spending. woo hoo! [Just so you know, I will be bungee jumping from one of two places in Auckland: 1.) Sky Tower, 2.) Auckland Harbour Bridge. Its not super cheap, but it is definitely going to be worth it!]

In other news, Lyndon has been organizing a “stag-do,” or a bachelor party, for a friend of his, and I have helped out by creating one of the “jerseys” that will be worn during the adventurous day. He needed the shirt designed to look like the polka dot jersey from “Tour de France,” but they will be in Orewa instead of France. So, I created the shirt and the “Tour de Orewa” logo, which was then added to two additional jerseys for the stag-do. (Unfortunately for him, his class is going to camp this weekend, which happens to be the same weekend as the stag-do, so he can’t participate. He is pretty disappointed about this, and is continuously trying to find a way to get out of camping and have fun with his “mates.”) Because I was so helpful (and artistic, of course) he “indian gifted” me a box of Cadbury chocolates. Mmmm…I’m not complaining about the access to Cadbury chocolate–much better than Hershey, I must say.

About school: 

I have taught some lessons that I felt good about, but I have also taught lessons I feel could have gone better. The problem I keep running into is that I don’t like the amount of time my students are sitting on the floor (for instruction.) I have been brainstorming ideas of ways to get them active and moving for lessons, but I become stumped when it comes to Math(s). The one thing that holds me back from moving them too often, or having it be more hands on, is the following: the students are such good friends that it can become very playful (and obviously disruptive) for them to interact throughout the room or with one another. So, if you have any ideas for addition & subtraction hands-on activities–send them my way! 🙂

I taught two lessons, or units, that I want to share more about: 1.) Bullying the new kid, Sam; and 2.) The Treasure Tree.

1.) Sam.

While I was planning for this week, I decided I wanted to touch more on the topic of bullying. So, I had initially planned to talk about what they are, how to handle them, and add in some role-playing. Then, Kate sent me the idea of the crumpled paper for each insult idea (if you’re not sure about this, Google it.) I have always like the idea of this lesson, since I’ve first heard of it; however, I didn’t know how extensive it could be with the 6-7 age group. I ventured over to Pinterest, and looked for some similar ideas. I ran across the idea to introduce a new kid, Sam, and then have the kids bully him. We did this using permanent markers, erasers, crayons, and crumpling. After they told me that Sam looked sad, I asked them how to make Sam feel better. They told me that we should say we’re sorry. So, we did just that. Each of us took our turn apologizing to him, but nothing seemed to remove the marks or straighten out the paper. I asked if Sam looked any better (a simultaneous shaking of heads), then we talked about other ways we could help PREVENT or REACT to bullying at Pinehill….Let me just tell you–they had very powerful and beautiful responses. I recorded the last 20 minutes of it, and once I have time to listen through it-I will create some type of documentation to share with you. It was great to see how critically they were thinking about a hypothetical person and treating “Sam” better. I am very proud to have them in my class.

2.) The Treasure Tree.

I’m unsure if you have heard of this book because I had not before I came here; however, it is a great book to share at any age between probably 5-13. The book is based on 4 characters who go on different adventures together to find four keys to this special place: The Treasure Tree. What is unique about the book is that the four characters have different personalities that help them all to work together well. The characters are: 1.) Lance, the lion, that is a leader and powerful; 2.) Honey, the golden retriever, that is kindhearted and peaceful; 3.) Chewy, the beaver, that is a perfectionist and clever; and 4.) Giggles, the otter, that is playful and funny. After we finished the book, we discussed what character they each thought they are the most like, and most of them were as I would predict. Today, I shared a 14 question questionnaire with them. We sat in a circle and had four colors of sticks to choose (one to represent each personality) according to their answers to each particular question. As we were continuing through it, I could see the dominant personality traits being displayed. I would say that most of them are pretty accurate. When I was choosing my sticks (honestly and unbiased because I didn’t remember which color was for which trait), I expected that I was going to be most like Honey (kind and caring); however, I turned out to have a dominance with Lance (powerful and leading.) I was actually surprised because I don’t view myself as necessarily powerful, or too much of a leader; however, I do recognize my ability to stand up for what I think is right, and my confidence in being able to create my own path (or not follow others,) so I see where this definitely would (and wouldn’t) apply to me. My students seemed to really enjoy it, (as did I) and were very engaged in the stories and adventures during the 3-part read aloud. If you are wanting to get to know a new class (or even a seasoned one) this is a fabulous activity (or unit) to try! Here’s a website to buy the book (which includes a mini questionnaire in the back): .


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