Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Chalk-A-Bration Link Up (Encouraging Emergent Writers)


Betsy over at was hosting a link up of teachers sharing their writing activities with chalk. My students are younger than most of the students featured,they are not proficient writers but emergent writers. 

Young children's development in this area seems to be closely tied to their self confidence in their skills. Giving them lots of time and encouragement in drawing and sharing their ideas, helps them develop a love for expressing themselves more readily and is a strong pathway to building confidence in fine motor skills and literacy skills.

Our current (PYPUnit Of Inquiry is "Sharing The Planet" our central idea, is that plants are a life sustaining resource for us and for animals.One of our lines of inquiry is identifying the needs of the plants.

As a class we took a field trip to a plant nursery and picked out our own plants to take back to school. We keep our plants on our outside piazza and everyday the children take care of their plants how they see fit. We try to make this an independent activity. We only remind the children that they have to check on their plants and offer provocation questions. Does it need more or less water? Does it need to be put into the sunshine? We do not want to directly tell them how to take care of their plants but encourage them to think about what the plant may need. We have ongoing discussions about their plants. We will do several observational drawings and we will dictated what the child observes about the health of their plant. Their reflections will be one of the aspects of our summative assessment.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Bloom Where you are Planted

I say about a month after I wrote this post  about choosing to leave Indonesia, I actually decided to stay on for at least 1 more school year. Even though it is not in my heart to stay in Indonesia indefinitely, I feel like it is not quite time to leave my current position at my current school or this country.  When I first came here, many said give it time, more time that you think to adjust here. They were right, looking back at facing this developing country, that assaults all senses, sometimes all at once and working in a fairly new and very ambitious school, I was overwhelmed, physically, and professionally. 

The physical challenges are still exhausting, the heat, and the sinus issues (this one turned into Bronchitis). As annoying as they are, at least I can say that I got past the months of "Jakarta Belly" that  I suffered through last year. Professionally I don't mind a challenge, as long as they are mostly positive or at least beneficial and fair. I have seen my school grow already in the 1.5 years that I have been here and I see that it continues moving forward. Not only as a more sound professional experience but as a perpetual learning experience for me. I want to move forward with my own teaching, learning and collaborating. I want to continue to utilize the members of my school community as mentors, facilitators, coaches and friends that I can also offer personal and professional guidance to.  

As the CEO said to those new to the PYP "You may feel like suddenly you don't know how to teach." He wasn't lying.  After almost 12 years of experience I felt turned upside down. It's almost the end of my second year here and I am out of the woods (but still learning how to apply the PYP) and the Assistant Principal has said "This is your year".  I am glad I held on,  once again I proved to myself that I am not a quitter and that I seem to learn best when thrown into it. 

So I have decided to stay, for now and focus on continuing to learn and grow as a teacher.  I could still do that in another country, however I see that staying in a school for a bit I can get a  grater sense of how I can and have evolved in my career. To give this place a fairer chance I should try to "Bloom where I am planted". Cheesy, but true.  I am beginning to appreciate the landscape more and understand how I can utilize it more for teaching. I missed the landscape of Slovakia (as cold, gray and wet as it was) with its seasons, plant life and animals that were easy to incorporate into science concepts. Now I am adapting to this new environment  and I  beginning to discover the life around me right beside my students. 

We start off one way...

We should reflect upon who we are and what challenges we face. 

We can stay true to where we want to go.

We should let ourselves grow (and go)  as slowly as we need.

We can decide how we evolve...

I never know what I will find in my backyard, thanks to Lucy.

We should peek out to see what is around us.

We can grow and adapt just about about anywhere if we put our minds to it.

If we don't make it, thats okay we can let the ants eat us (thats still being useful really).

Pay attention to the hidden life all around us.

Try to have fresh and youthful eyes with an open mind.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

25 Thing't Fat People Shouldn't Do - Make Art of Themselves

"Leading The Artful Life"
(The WHY)

Mary Engelbreit  is one of my favorite artist. She is best known for her whimsy and sweet drawings that are made up of lots of details. She is now mostly known for her greeting cards and stationary and her former magazine, The Home Companion. "Leading the artful life" is the name of one of her books but it is also a phrase often seen as a subheading on her blog or website.  

When I  first read this phrase, I thought yeah thats what I meant...Let me fill you in. I must have been about 9 or 10 years old when my great grandmother asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I told her I really liked art, she seemed puzzled and asked if I wanted to be an artist. I said no and explained that I loved looking at art. She explained (in a very grandmotherly way) that I could always like art and appreciate art, but I could do that aside from my chosen profession. As a side note; one of  the baby quilts she made me is my blog back drop.

Well I didn't grow up to be an artist but I do like lots of different types of art. I consider myself arts n' crafty and kinda creative, but not really a "Creative Type".  I sew simple projects and I am good at reusing things in fun ways. I sometimes write poetry and can be quick witted. I do a little singing and I have a strong emotional connection with music. My chosen profession may seem more like a practical one but it really is more so on the creative side. Teaching is a huge balancing act of practical, managerial and organizational skills but also being resourceful and finding fun ways to help encourage students to develop their intellect and still express themselves.

In a PYP classroom documenting learning is key to show a child's progress and development, teacher's record this through photos, videos and dictating and presenting their art/work. The  result of this process can be as individual as the child themselves. You can view my Ms. Rachael facebook page for an idea of what I am talking about.

In this new digital age we adults have begun to document ourselves more often, sometimes our learning and development, sometimes ourselves being dorks or showing off, and some of us see it as artful sharing. I, like many people are kind of big on instagram (@msmacfont). Is it just fun and not real art? Can we consider it an app for us who like to be "artful" but need some help in that department? I think any time we express our true selves, whether in original ways or not, we can be making art of ourselves. I believe that we certainly should be serious about expressing ourselves (in what ever way we choose) but we should never take ourselves too seriously.

Have a look at my "Artful" selfies and then have a good laugh at this video (sorry it wouldn't let me embed it) I am totally guilty of some of the points this parody touches on "I'm hell bent on documenting" Ha! But all fun aside as a PYP teacher...we kinda are.


25 Things Fat People Shouldn't Do- Ride a Bike?!

This Is How We Roll!

Now you know what EY teachers do when the children go home!
Go to The Militant Baker's blog to see what's the dealio...

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Jakarta Fashion Show for a Good Cause

A fellow EY teacher and good friend Luisa invited me along to a fashion show in the city. Getting to wear something clean and white (dress code; Playful in white) and stay up past our normal bedtime is kinda a treat for preschool teachers like us. The show was for a new brand that is called ijo (eee-joe) based here in Jakarta it was dreamt up and started by the young and creative Claire Nadira, a former student of Luisa's. Not only did we want to support this amazing young woman, but also her cause.  She began this venture as a service project for school and turned it into a real foundation. The clothes are her designs and the proceeds go to helping educate and empowering children in the city with very little opportunity.

We had a lot of fun, we felt kinda fancy actually. Hearing Claire speak during the opening video almost got me choked up, she is a very compassionate young woman, she used their position of comfort and opportunity to help those around her. Luisa was quite proud of her!

The line it'self was light and airy, very pretty and springy. I have included a few of my favorites.  There were a few shirts for sale after and we both bought one..only for about $20.00 (I know right!?)  and for a very good cause. We both loved the skirts and dresses and are going to find out how we can snatch one...

Give away loot; beautiful butterfly covered cupcakes, inside the reusable bag was a catalog, Jakarta city event newspaper and body scrub.

Ms. Luisa with her cupcake..cutest little muffin she is..

Me with mine (do I look a bit evil here?)


 Opening of show, Rihanna's "Shine Bright like a diamond."

Luisa bought this shirt.

I bought this one

Loved the cut of this skirt!

I really liked the color fade on this one.

Kinda think I need one of these dresses...
I need to credit Luisa for the photo taking....she'd kill me other wise..

Thursday, January 31, 2013

25 Things Fat People Shouldn't Do #9

I'm sorry what was that, fat people shouldn't what? Oh sit in a booth? That makes me do it..TWICE, with eggplant parmigiana that is bigger than my head! Hope I don't get stuck yo!! Do you want to join me saying "What Evah!" to all the chubby haters out there? Jump on over to The Militant Baker and she will tell you how to do it.

You wanna even try to ask me to step away from the eggplant parm? You that brave?

From the words of my new best friend Mindy Kaling..We's chubbier for life!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Exploring My Backyard Part 2

I wanted to share the results of the gardener's visit just a few days after the post about my wild backyard.(here) Crazy difference, right? As well as removing all of the jungle grass that had taken over my yard, they accidentally removed the small bush like things that were growing on the other side of the bricks...opps. What can you do when you don't speak the same language? Just a few days after the last post I spied these beautiful butterflies, who had just emerged from their chrysalis and were drying their wings.

Of course her highness Nosey Pants showed up.

It was very important to her that I saw what she had left me for breakfast! Thanks Lucy, you are so sweet!