A midst the furious packing of home and classroom, several "discards" have found their way into the weekly draw.
This morning, it was the reading corner stuffies, mostly Alex and Simon's old Build-a-Bear creations, that were up for grabs.
The proud new owners were extremely protective, and several brought their new charges along to the park when we went to cool off later in the morning, before lunch. In some cases, the allure of the playground was too great, however, and the animals were left temporarily under a tree while their owners slid, swing and climbed.
I'm kind of sad to see some of these stuffies go (I have specific memories associated with each one of them!), but I know we don't have room in our suitcases for them with all our travelling over the next 12 months, and I am confident that they will be well loved in their new Dixie homes!
About a week ago, I blogged about seeking feedback from students and their families at the end of the year. In addition to having students fill out a report card on me, and write a reflective paragraph about the year, I also sent home a 2-page parent survey.
I was eager to get honest feedback from the families whose children I've been serving this year. What I got instead was a stark reminder of the challenges faced by many of these families.
While chaos reigns around me, and kinder teachers have begun to take a "gentler" approach to curriculum this final, hot, humid week of school, I am celebrating the fact that my Grade 3s seem to have finally mastered the various procedures I've been drilling into them all year!!
We continue to work on reading, writing and other learning activities, and students are surprisingly focused: Today's reflective end-of-year-paragraphs were detailed and well thought out. Students wrote silently for over half an hour, in 35+ degree temperatures!! Amazing!
A sampling of their impressions from this year in Grade 3 follow:
The boys recently took some photos to email a friend who'll be staying at our apt next month. The girl's never been to Toronto, and so they wanted to show her a little bit of our local community and what's available for kids here within walking distance.
These are some of the pictures that Alex and Simon took, of their favourite places within walking distance from our home!
Click on each photo below for a larger version, and a brief description.
Now that the weather is nicer, the teacher protest is over, and EQAO is finished, we finally took our long-awaited trip to Toronto with the Grade 3s.
SOOOOOooooo much fun!!!
The students were very excited, and it sounded like all five groups (9-10 kids per group, and two adults each) had a blast.
My own group ventured past the museum (just walking along the outside was impressive), and down philosopher's walk to Hart House, my very favourite places in the whole world when I was in University. I led them on a personal tour of the House, but not before we had measured the circumference of a tree trunk outside! (Indeed, we had noticed the rich variety of tree species already on the walk through campus from the subway: Weeping willows danced with magnificent oaks while ginkos, maples and others lined our path.)
While downtown, we also enjoyed some home-made ice cream at Greg's, checked out a gaggle of grads streaming across the field in front of Convocation Hall, and played at a large playground somewhere south of Bloor, before heading west again by subway to Islington to catch the bus back to school. It was really lovely to be able to move about at our own pace, not tied down to a specific tour or large group schedule.
I'd have to agree with my colleagues who were unanimous in their proclamations as we lounged around, debriefing in my classroom after school: Best field trip ever!
I'm keen to continue growing in my newly developing use of technology as a teaching tool while home schooling my 9-year-old twins in Argentina next year. One of the things I've been researching is how to integrate the use of our family's iPads and minis into our program; specifically, I am interested in using them as a replacement for paper notebooks.
One of the more appealing "paper" apps I've come across is Bamboo Paper, and app that allows the user to create a variety of notebooks. These digital notebooks can be customized by colour, title and by type of paper inside (blank, lined, grid, even staff paper!)
The trouble with any sort of digital paper app I've seen to date is that one still has to use one's finger on it, the result of which tends to be a bit of a blobby mess.
Enter Bamboo Stylus, the "pen" for iPads and other tablets.
Today in the mail there arrived a small box containing several models of these neat pens, including one that acts as both a stylus and a traditional pen (neat!) and another that attaches to the iPad itself.
I immediately ripped open the packaging and excitedly began to experiment with my new "toys", and I must say, they are pretty darned cool!
My head is already filled with 10 000 ideas for how these digital pens can be used with the iPad to make my job as teacher of two easier while home schooling next year... I am looking forward to stretching their capabilities to the limits, and blogging about it as I go!
Holding up a mirror can be an uncomfortable but critical experience for growth.
Most years in the classroom, I've requested feedback from my students in some form or another. This morning, I handed out a blank report card template, and had students write a report card about me, using the "strengths" and "next steps" format, in various subject areas and learning skills.
One young chap was perplexed: "Ms. Teschow, I don't think I can write anything bad," he quipped, "You're so good at everything!" (Ahhh, I love teaching primary kids!!!) I assured him that everyone had areas they could improve in, and that I was keen to hear what they felt my areas for growth were.
Most of the students eagerly rose to the occasion. A sampling of their comments follows.
Tonight, I will send home the following family feedback survey, so I can get the parents' take on things, too. Crushing as the truth sometimes is, honest feedback can be a powerful tool for moving forward.
Last night I had the great privilege of visiting the past. And the past has grown into a charming and talented young man!
I was in the audience of a performance where the lead vocalist and entertainer happened to be a "kid" (He was about 11 years old at the time; he's now well into his 20s) with whom I had sung in a church-based a-capella group over a decade ago.
Brilliantly talented and clearly gay (though not out) even then, my young friend was not growing up in an LGBT-friendly environment. His own true self was accepted neither at home nor at church, and eventually, he fell away from the latter.
As I watched this flamboyant and amazingly gifted young man OWN the room last night, I reflected on how lucky I had been to be surrounded by at least a few people of faith who -- as I was facing one of the most difficult challenges of my life -- had acted as stepping stones rather than stumbling blocks. Instead of turning away from God, coming out has been, for me, a process that has brought me closer to my Abba than I could ever have imagined possible.
The "God-as-father" notion of the Christian church (and indeed, the patriarchal perspective of many faiths) can be especially challenging to those of us pondering our sexuality and struggling to understand how God could make us "this way". Despite my own good fortune, I'll also had my share of interactions with "crucifiers", those who refuse to consider that their long-held and rarely-questions views on Scripture might not be the only "right" interpretations, and who thereby crush the souls of fellow journeyers along the path.
So, on this Father's Day Sunday, I offer this list of GOOD NEWS websites from Alex Sanchez, man of faith, and author of the amazingly inspiring "God Box", a novel aimed at young adults, which I have recently begun to read.
For those of you unsure, know that God loves you just as He made you: YOU ARE HIS CHILD!!!
Happy Father's Day, my little gay friends!
A few Fridays ago, I read "Mr Lincoln's Way" with my class. It is one of my favourite Patricia Polacco books, dealing with bullying, racism and prejudice. In the story, a troubled young boy uses a number of racial slurs, and nearly calls his (black) principal the "N -word".
After writing for several teacher and multiple birth publications, including ETFO's Voice Magazine, Multiple Moments, and the Bulletwin, Vera turned her written attention to prolific blogging for some years, including BiB, "Learn to Fly with Vera!" and SMARTbansho . Homeschooling 4 was her travel blog in Argentina. She now spends more time on her Instagram (@schalgzeug_usw) than her blog (pictures are worth a thousand words?!) Contact Vera by clicking the photo above.
The views expressed on this blog are the views of the author, and do not necessarily represent the perspectives of her family members or the position of her employer on the the issues she blogs about. These posts are intended to share resources, document family life, and encourage critical thought on a variety of subjects. They are not intended to cause harm to any individual or member of any group. By reading this blog and viewing this site, you agree to not hold Vera liable for any harm done by views expressed in this blog.