Sunday, December 11, 2011
I bought a bunch of books recently at a Scholastic Book warehouse sale and more with my Scholastic bonus points. I'm going to let the kids open one present a day this week and see what books we're adding to the classroom library. They're going to flip out to see more Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and the complete series of Geronimo Stilton. I probably shouldn't have splurged on books, but hey, these are my kids and I want them to read lots. I dream of a classroom library that covers my entire room, with books everywhere.
Monday, November 28, 2011
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Things have been going well. The substitute I had a few weeks ago said my class of fourth graders was the best behaved class she had subbed for in the last ten years. She told me to give them all 1,000 college points (College points are table points they earn for great answers or being on task). I read her note to the kids, then told them "If the substitute says so, I have to do it," and added 1,000 college points to each table. The kids went ballistic. We proceeded to eat lunch in the classroom that day as a reward for their awesomeness.
The workload of a teacher is incredible in its scope and breadth, especially this year with new standards adopted by many states. Based on pure workload and stress level, I would take any week from my mission or college, transfers and finals week included, over any week so far this school year. We are asked to do so much, and then teachers who are really trying to do what's best for kids have to go above and beyond. Still, I wouldn't trade it--I can't think of a more rewarding work.
Thursday, September 22, 2011
2. I noticed Ray wasn't doing the actions with us during vocabulary and seemed preoccupied with something in his desk. Finally I stopped and asked him to put his hands on his desk, which he did not. Note: Very few students don't do what I ask, because (a) I ask nicely and (b) they don't want to see Angry Mr. Allsop. So I walked over there a bit peeved--turns out he had unscrewed the leg of his desk, and the only thing keeping it from tumbling to the ground was his hand. Children!
3. We are progressing super nicely towards our goal of knowing all multiplication facts by Christmas. I show the kids our progress on our tracker below, and they are super invested in it. The test is 100 multiplication facts, 0-12, to be completed in 5 minutes (i.e. 7x8=, 1x12=). On the first day of school our class average was 46 out of 100. Just two weeks later, it was 59. Yay!
P.S. I LOVE when people comment. I enjoy getting feedback, hearing your responses to my posts, and just seeing who's reading. I recently changed some settings, so hopefully now it is ridiculously easy to comment on my blog. Please do comment! Even just to say, "I read it" or ":)". Thank you!
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Friday, September 9, 2011
Thursday, September 8, 2011
Sunday, September 4, 2011
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Saturday, August 6, 2011
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Wow. I can't believe it. I'm already on my way back from Africa. My flight was scheduled to leave Saturday, but that would have left me alone in Mozambique for two days (the CFL workers are on vacation and the HELP team leaves on Thursday), so my flight got moved to today, Tuesday. We haven't had Internet for a week--it's out in the whole city--so I am writing to you from Johannesburg, South Africa, as I enjoy my 6-hour layover before my 15-hour flight back to the states.
Anyway, I've been writing blog posts all along, so below you'll find posts from this week we haven't had internet. Hope you enjoy them! Comment and let me know what you think! I love to get comments and know who's reading.
During our adventures the team made the following list titled “You Know You’re In Mozambique When...”
1. You use horse tape and yarn to keep the door from falling off the chapa (van).
2. You take pictures and kids tackle you.
3. You drive more on the wrong side of the road than the right.
4. You compare driving to playing MarioKart.
5. The taillight in your truck bursts into flames.
6. The ants are bigger than capterpillars.
7. Your door is locked with four padlocks, and you can still break in.
8. You watch Lion King in 16 parts.
9. You have to bring your own toilet paper everywhere.
10. When the internet stops working, it stops working in the whole city and it stops working for weeks at a time.
Monday, July 25, 2011
My last night in Africa was one of the best nights ever. We went over for a barbeque at Kedesh, a boys orphanage pretty close to our house. There are around 25 boys that live there, and the orphanage is run by an American named John. They have this awesome site with a big soccer field and lots of wilderness, and a huge house with a big room upstairs that feels like a giant treehouse.
All the boys know how to cook, so while a few manned the barbeque, others fried up some onion rings, and we brought rice and sweet and sour meatballs. I feel so lucky that I speak Portuguese, because I could talk and joke and laugh with the boys—I love to learn about life in Mozambique.
After dinner we went upstairs for what could only be called an African orphanage Family Home Evening. One of older boys was MC, and with an egg beater as a microphone announced several dance groups including Balas Perdidas, New Boys, and Game Over. Two or three of the boys would get up and start dancing while the rest of us clapped and cheered. It felt like a family talent show. Then two of the boys played the guitar and sang, and we all got to sing along with their last song. Bella, the volunteer from Brazil also played and sang. Her voice is absolutely celestial—I could have sat there and listened to her all night.
There was one more song, during which I was pulled onto the dance floor to show off some of my moves, several of which generated some applause and whistling. J Much too soon we were saying goodbye, exchanging names to find each other on Facebook, and driving away for the last time. Truly these are the Lost Boys from Peter Pan. They live with just each other for brothers and John. The cook and clean for themselves, and live in a giant treehouse.
Tonight I had Family Home Evening with the Lost Boys.
*I'll add a video to this post of the boys dancing once I have reliable internet. Check back soon!
Saturday, July 23, 2011
Today was perhaps my favorite day in Africa. It will be hard to find words for my experience. We spent the day at an orphanage in Nhamatanda, a village about an hour and a half outside of Beira. The orphanage is run by a pastor named Domingos, and there are 65 orphans, girls and boys ages five to eighteen. All morning I was super excited knowing I would get to go to an orphanage today and play with the kids. I could hardly wait to get there. Fortunately I had the last chapter of The Happiness Hypothesis to finish on the ride.
When we got to the orphanage, we were quickly ushered into the great room, where chairs had been set up in the front for all of the volunteers. The kids sat in neat rows on wooden benches. When we were all seated, the kids started to sing for us. The sound was amazing! It was the most beautiful music, like a call and response sort of chant, complete with harmony. I could have listened to it all day.
After that warm welcome, everyone went outside onto the veranda to start on the day’s activities. I wanted to help with sewing, so I took a group of five young men, all in their late teens, and showed them how to sew a drawstring backpack. Now that I’ve done this several times before, this time I explained much better and helped them get set up for success from the get go. Four of my five successfully completed their backpacks, and proudly showed them off. Domingo, the last one, promised to finish.
We brought lunch for everyone (peanut butter and jelly sandwiches). With the backpacks done, I started to play with the younger boys. They are so adorable! Francisco, 13, showed me how to make a cool flower out of construction paper. Then I showed him and Manuel, 16, how to make my palm frond grasshopper. To keep things lively I started a paper airplane competition. During all this I’m joking with the boys, making them smile and laugh, and completely loving life. I gave my good airplane to Edson, 13, but even so Francisco’s went farther—he’s good with paper. J
Around 2:30pm, other volunteers were getting tired, but I felt invigorated—I wanted to stay there forever. The kids were so polite, so fun, and so excited to have us there. As the afternoon wound down, we all went back into the great room for a few more songs and a prayer. The kids sounded so great. As the music filled the room and I looked at their beautiful faces, I couldn’t hold back a few tears, tears of joy or tears of sadness I don’t know—I just know that I loved these kids I’d only known a few hours and I wanted the very best for them. The pastor shared a message of hope and gratitude for our visit, and several kids spoke as well. We handed out the hygiene kits and school bags we had brought as donations to the orphanage. Then I gave lots of hugs goodbye to Franciso, Edson, Manuel, Whait, Tindai, Johnny, and Jeronimo, and we were back in the chapa (Mozambican shuttle van) on our way home.
At one point in the afternoon Edson asked me a question that I didn’t understand very well. Francisco translated for me: “Edson and I were wondering if we could come to Beira with you during our vacation [school ended on Friday].” They looked at me with wide eyes and sweet, endearing faces. I said with all the truth I could convey, “I wish you could! I would love to spend more time with you, but I’ve leaving for the United States in just a few days!” As we were walking out, I told them that even though they couldn’t come with me in person, they would come with me in my heart. They smiled and nodded. Francisco and Edson, I will not forget you. I will pray for you—that you get every opportunity you deserve, and that your life is wonderful. You will be in my heart.
Friday, July 22, 2011
Today was the culmination of the our efforts over the last three weeks. We selected two zones (about 30 families) in the community of Ngupa 2 to start an association. One of the zone leaders, Papa Marques, has been a great ally for us, and very excited about the program. He’s a real go-getter, and serves as a great help for CFL. For the whole morning before we got there, he was out knocking doors rounding up people for the meeting.
The people got pretty excited about the idea, and several shared with me the business ideas they had that could be realized with a small, low-interest loan. After our discussion, Margues and Margarida wrote down the names of those people interested in joining (thirty-three!), and we even elected honorary officers until the association could be officially legalized. These people, and the members, will meet together to discuss what the association will look like, how people will borrow, and the difficult question of how to ensure people pay back their loans. When all of this is ready, I have offered some of my funds to start the association.
I told the villagers gathered there that they are pioneers. This will be the first association of its kind in the community, or any of the communities where Care For Life works. As such, they’re almost surely be hiccups along the way, and obstacles to overcome. Yet they can rejoice through their experience, not only will they be blessed, but also Care For Life will learn valuable lessons and better be able to help others in the future.
Thursday, July 21, 2011
Sandy and Alice are two ladies who just stayed two weeks but were awesome—Sandy is this incredible volunteer fire fighter, triathlon runner, safari woman, and Alice saved our sewing projects with her adept needle and thread.
Wynn (pronounced Winnie) and Henry are the cutest couple, originally from Vietnam. I swear Wynn can do anything! She is a fabulous cook of Asian food, great with the kids, and can make anything from friendship bracelets to wood benches. Henry taught me to make a grasshopper from a palm frond. Definitely going to try that with my kids this year.
Sherri is another lady who comes, and she is the best at feeling—she really connects with the stories and the people. Sherri can simply see someone or hear their story and she already loves them. Read up on her version of our experience here.
Mariah and Michael Ann are college-age girls who decided to come on this adventure, and boy are we glad! Mariah is great with the young ones at the baby orphanage, and is a lot of fun to be around. Michael Ann brings energy to the group—she is incredibly enthusiastic and outgoing. She puts us all at ease and keeps us laughing.
Brandon and Meredith are brother/sister, both college-age as well. I love these two. Meredith is super nice, intelligent, and thoughtful. She always inspires us to always make the most of each moment in Mozambique. Brandon is the most prepared pre-missionary I’ve ever met. He also loves to read like few people I know—he’s devoured the book I brought along (Switch) and we’ve exchanged lists.
Isabella is a volunteer from Brazil. It’s great because she speaks Portuguese and English, she’s incredibly nice, and she is always appreciative of the beauty of Mozambique and its people. She has a beautiful singing voice, so sometimes she serenades us at night with her guitar. See some great pictures of our work on her blog here!
I have loved working with this group. Go team Mozambique!