Monday, March 24, 2014

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Blimey the Leprechaun broke into our classroom on St. Patrick's Day and made a huge mess!

He even left a taunting note for the children to read.

They were not amused!

Upon seeing the destruction one exasperated little girl moaned with dramatic flair, "HE RUINED MY ENTIRE LIFE!"

She also suggested we behead him or pull him by the hair...a wee bit imaginative I suppose, but putting the room back together did take quite a while.

We asked the children what we should do.  There were many suggestions that involved setting a trap to catch Blimey in the act of being naughty.  So, they split up into small groups to construct a plan and execute the trap.

We were certainly impressed with their creativity!

"I will get you for this!"
One group suggested making a mock food table to tempt Blimey into the area so he would slip on pieces of colored construction paper. That would result in him tripping over the trigger line holding an overhead blanket and violá.  We got him!

There were many creative ideas but the one Blimey fell for was the trap above the rocking chair. He couldn't resist sitting there with a book and when he did...BAM!

Blimey did learn his lesson.  He wrote a letter of apology and left a few gifts for the children who instantly forgave him.  The enraged little girl from the morning went to Oni and quietly said, "I miss him. He was fun."


This post was written in conjunction with Onudeah (Oni) Nicolarakis, my team teacher extraordinaire!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Minotaur

"What?  I'm just standing here."
I can't even get over how adorable this Minotaur is, just standing there with wide-eyed perplexity wondering why everybody is staring at him.  I can hear him muttering, "Huh?"

This was a homework assignment in which we asked our first graders to draw a picture of the Minotaur.  We told them the story of Theseus and the Minotaur that afternoon.  They were asked to include details (notice the smoke coming out of his nostrils, the labyrinth surrounding him, the large horns on his bull head, the human form WITH SHOES!).  She even provided a reason and an example to support her opinion.  "Reason: He is evil.  Example: He could make you die."

It slays me!

We told the kids that they would vote on their favorite picture and it would be featured on the school website in our class page.  This picture didn't get the popular vote despite my best efforts.

The picture on the left came out on top.  It has some fine qualities but it doesn't make me laugh the way the other picture does.

It is obvious that both girls were paying careful attention to the story as it unfolded. The Greeks could really spin a yarn.

Later we looked at some drawing of the Minotaur in several books to see how others envisioned him.

The favorites included the Minotaur in Z is for Zeus: A Greek Mythology Alphabet by Helen L. Wilbur and Theseus and the Minotaur (Graphic Greek Myths and Legends) by Gilly Cameron Cooper.

I can't wait to see how they draw the Cyclops Polyphemus.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Døveskoler (Deaf Schools)

Students sharing a book in the reading nook.
Interesting stories are everywhere.

You just need to know where to focus your attention.

About three years ago a documentary film maker wondered if there was a story to be told at my school.

He arranged a visit to see if he could fashion a film around our unique setting. After spending some time in my classroom and talking with us, he felt certain there was indeed a story.

However, it was not one he could tell.  He simply couldn't decide where to look.

Happily, this wasn't the case when we were visited late last year by a crew of Danish filmmakers eager to capture our story.

Through interviews with students, teachers, parents and administrators they highlighted the joys and challenges inherent in educating deaf and hard of hearing children at a dual language (American Sign Language and English) school.

The part I found most fascinating during this experience was watching the cameraman.  Where did he point his camera?  And through his lens I began to see things I see everyday with fresh eyes.

I followed his gaze to a group of children sharing a book in our reading nook and thought, "Yes, that a story right there!"  What would I think about these children and the classroom environment if I only had this picture to go on?  It really does speak volumes about their ability to share, to learn, to engage, to focus.

In the thirteen minute film below I throughly enjoyed seeing how the camera focused on the small moments in the classroom.  The hands fingerspelling a word.  The inquisitive faces of the children. The motion and energy of the school.  Although the film is in Danish and sign language these things are universal.

I am grateful that it taught me, once again, where to look.

It turns out I am surrounded by some pretty amazing things.


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