Sunday, November 29, 2009

Parent Conferences

Parent-Teacher Conferences: each one is different, depending upon both the child and the adults present. Some students had grandmothers present, others moms, dads and even an aunt. It was interesting to see how the students' families concerns compared and contrasted with that of my mentor teacher and I.

Most of the time I was on the same page with my mentor teacher in what I felt were the students' strengths and weaknesses. Or, as one of my mentors' put it: How the student glows and grows. The grows being areas that could use improvement, and the glows being areas that the student shines in. I value the importance placed on the glowing areas of each student. Even though there are students who struggle everyday with behaving properly (an aspect that often snowballs into the academic areas), there is something that he/she is doing wonderfully. The parents need to know this. Without this communication, the parent sees the teacher as the bearer of bad news-no child or parent wants to come to conferences and hear only how badly the student is doing.

Some things I saw that I really liked that my mentors did were the environment. Both of my mentors had a table set up outside of the classroom with candies on it and books (one was a book of the students working, while the other were just books pulled from the classroom library). Either way, the value of literature is apparent from the moment the families walk into the building. The candy is just a comfort issue. Both of my mentors also held the conferences at tables large enough for 2-5 adults and a child (although 5 would be tight, should there have been a need, there were seats available). This was accommodating to all, especially the families in which mom and dad are divorced and both step parents are also involved in the child's life. Although during the conferences I attended, this was not the case, wouldn't it be wonderful if it were?

One thing that was interesting that I did not expect, was for me to be able to read my mentor teachers so well. I suppose working with them helps with that. I could tell the conferences that they were slightly hesitant about, nervous about, or ecstatic to tell the families how well the students were doing. There were only three families out of nearly twenty conferences that did not show. While this was disappointing, both of my mentors assured me that this was a typical occurrence, and I should not expect each family to come at the designated time, as that rarely happens. But, life is what it is. I know some of the families are single family homes, in which the parent works multiple jobs. It would be hard to schedule conferences with that hectic of a schedule.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


I have seen firsthand this week how much preparation goes into Parent-Teacher Conferences. I have been giving the children various assessments and copying the scores for parents, for their files, for the teacher, and one more 'just in case'. Everything from how many sight words do the students know to mathematics facts to behavior and social skills in the classroom needed documented, if it was not already done.

Tonight is round one of Parent teacher Conferences. I am curious to see exactly what they look like and how it will feel to be a part of them. Not that I have a large role, as this is my first encounter with them, but it will still be interesting.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Kids and Their Comments

Just wanted to share some of the joys of working with first grade children. One is that they are blatantly honest. If I forget to ask a question during morning opening, they tell me.

They don't mean it in a rude manner, they are just so routine based that it throws them off to have one question out of place. In my three weeks working with first graders I have had kids hitting each other, name calling, and poking each other with scissors, all very interesting experiences. I have also had some adorable moments. Today I recorded some of the things my 6 and 7 year old's said:

(right after fall decorations were put up) "We have a new student, it's a pumpkin"

"My mommy is about to get married. She is still finding a guy, though."

(comment to me concerning his page where he was writing his numbers to 100) "The numbers were counting just fine and now they are jumping all over the place. Miss Speerly, what is wrong?"

Student 1: Are fairies real?
Student 2: No
Student 1: God used fairies to make nature.
Student 2: You don't know that for real, you still have to learn it.
Student 1: Some people never seen fairies, so they don't know. Why did I see pixie dust when I was playing outside?
Student 2: I don't think it was a fairy, they only like nighttime.

They say the funniest things :)

Thursday, October 15, 2009


Fourth grade and first grade are different in many ways, yet the same as well. A funny paradox, I know.

The students are at completely different maturity levels and learning drastically different things, as they should be. The first graders are quite a bit smaller and henceforth more adorable than the fourth graders. Yet the fourth graders are able to do much more on their own. In the first grade we sing songs (like the Days of the Week song set to The Adams Family Theme Song), which is loads of fun! At the same time, there are still the students that need extra attention and/or extra help and all of the students still need explicit directions as well as many other things.

I look forward to my continued work with the first grade class in the coming weeks, I am sure I will learn much. I am also excited about going back to see what Family Reading Night looks like at the school I was at prior to this (4-6 grade building). Rumors have it that there will be real cats and bats, we shall see!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Need to Make a Cartoon?

If you ever need to make a cartoon, this website is an amazing tool! I used it for an editorial article cartoon in one of my methods courses. It is simple and allows you to do a lot with it. Granted, you do need a user name and password, but they are FREE! I loved using it and I am looking for ways to include it as a part of my weather unit that I will be teaching this spring!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Recently I viewed the music video for the song "American Ride" sung by Toby Keith. At first it was humorous, but if one takes a closer look, it is really rather sad what our world has turned into. And what is even more sad, is that the children of today are growing up in this world.

To quote the lyrics in the song, the children of this generation are "kids on you tube, learning how to be cool, pays to be a mean girl". It is sad how true this actually is. Why is youtube so popular? Because there are parents and "dad works his can off paying for the good life" who do not have enough time to spend with their children, hence the kids turn to media to get advice on life. This gets out of hand, snowballing quickly into getting high on aerosol cans and dealing with insecurity in their looks and weight. But who can blame them? When their resources show that the majority of women (on television and in the media) are a size 3, that untruth is enough to depress anyone.

So, as teachers we need to try to identify with all the pressure and stress our students are dealing with today. The gap between being too young for things (drugs, sex, suicide) is quickly spiraling downward, and we need to be knowledgeable as teachers. What can we do? Give special attention (whenever possible) to those kids who set themselves apart from the class and might fall between the cracks. Let them know that at least one person cares, encourage him/her and be that reason for them to live.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

One of Those Days

To a person reading my blog, it might appear that in the profession of teaching, everyday is rewarding and the students do awesome things to constantly keep you wanting to teach. While this is not entirely true, there is some validity within it.

Today, however (and yesterday, too) was one of those days where you come home exhausted and wonder why teaching is so difficult. Yesterday, during bathroom time, one of my students put the yellow, "Caution Wet Floor" sign in the toilet. Deep down, I think it was rather humorous, as the toilet is probably more wet than the floor, but still, this is not acceptable behavior, and thus the student deserved his consequence.

Today, all of the students were talkative the entire time I was there. The music instructor commented on their chatter when I went to pick them up, and many students moved their clips down the scale of consequences. It was very stressful, trying to bring them back to learning every few minutes. At first I thought it was just me, still brand new in my classroom management techniques, but after talking to my mentor, I realized she had difficulty keeping them on task as well today. Even though it seems to have stemmed from the class as a whole (granted, there were a select few who worked very well today, but the majority fit the above description), it still makes me wonder about various ways I could have done a better job of keeping them engaged.

Today was one of those days, I will have more of those days, and I will have many more wonderful days. I take each day, as the LORD gives it to me, and be the best teacher I can be (sometimes praying that amidst the turmoil, the students are learning).

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Literacy Surprise

I love it when my students surprise me. Like this week after we did literacy STAR quizes. In a nutshell, they are a computer generated quiz to help us determine the reading level of a given student. So when all this was done, my mentor shared our students' scores with me.

It was certainly a pleasant surprise. Whereas you will always have those that are a bit behind the rest, I was amazed at the number of students we had reading above grade level. We even had a few students reading two and three grades above grade level! This was awesome to see, especially considering who these students are in our classroom as a whole. I know that they are the type of students that will be able to motivate others and encourage them to be good readers as well. I love when my students surprise me!

Monday, September 14, 2009

First Weeks of School- Procedures

Everything has been happening so fast, it seems hard to believe it has been so long since I last wrote. I will probably write about the setup of rules and the beginnings of activities and such in a couple entries.

One thing I liked was how my mentor (the teacher I am working with) set up the rules. She discussed the classroom rules and discipline and referred to them frequently, especially in the first week. Procedures are a big part of the classroom environment, and the students (after 3 weeks) are doing well with them.

One of the procedures is for lining up. Each student has a number, and they line up in number order, facing forward, mouths quiet and hands at their sides. Because lining up was established as a procedure, lining up is not seen as a list of rules by the students. The students' numbers are used throughout the classroom for a variety of reasons including: lockers, cubbies, and selecting groups, just to name a few. Some other procedures are classroom bathroom time, signing in and out of the classroom, assignment notebooks and coming into the classroom in the morning.

Friday, August 28, 2009


This is a great website for the curious kids in your life. It can be used when kids ask random "why" questions, such as 'why are banana's curved?'. You simply type the question in the search engine and it tells you: bananas grow in bunches up towards the sun, creating the curvature during their maturation time. They go a little more in depth than that, but still in easy enough terms for the average guy or gal to understand.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Back to School Night/Morning

Last night was back to school night (two sessions), along with this morning (one session). Our room was set up with 5 stations, all with purposeful activities. I liked this set-up because it allowed my mentor teacher and I to roam the room: helping out where needed, answer questions, and converse with both the parents and the students. All but three families came, which I thought to be a fairly good turn out.

When the parents and students came into the room, there was a sign in sheet for both of their names. I found this to be a very good idea, as oftentimes the parents and the child do not have the same last name. next to the sign in sheet was a brochure that went over the stations and what was at each one. Station one was the red folder stations. Inside the red folder was all the informational sheets that the parents needed to take home with them, as well as forms to fill out (emergency numbers, internet policies etc). By doing it this way, the forms get completed at school and there isn't so much stress with trying to get them back to school in a timely manner. Station 2 was our welcome brochure scavenger hunt. We had made a handout with our names, school rules, classroom supplies, about the teacher and assignment notebook procedures. There were 4 or 5 questions the parents and children worked together to fill out. This ensured that the brochure was actually read, and gave an opportunity for questions to be asked about simple procedures, classroom supplies, etc. Station 3 was an example of the assignment notebook and the first assignment. Station 4 was bus sign us. Station 5 was a matching activity that was associated with the school rules-a great introductory for the 4th graders (since the building is 4-6 grades).

Overall, it went well. I got a feel for what students were really excited or fairly shy. I am looking forward to tomorrow and my first day in the classroom with the kids!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Setting Up

This week I attended classes (in which I was a student) and helped my mentor teacher set up the classroom.

It is amazing what six years of teaching will do for you! She had an abundance of information on how to do little everyday things. Her classroom library was amazing. It had lots of different books in several genres. She did mention that she would like to get more non fiction, but that the school library had a vast variety of non fiction, so the students still had access to books of that nature.

I am excited that we are going to incorporate mini lessons and writing workshops for reading and writing into the curriculum. My C and I 208 and 209 teachers would be proud :D

I worked with another intern to put up our first ever bulletin board! We even came up with the design ideas ourselves. We ran into some space difficulties, but three tries later, we finally got something that would fit. I was shocked at how much time it takes to make a bulletin board, but perhaps the time decreases with practice and preset ideas. I will post a picture of our board when I get one.

Coming up next week: district retreat and back to school night!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Wong Wonderings

I was assigned to read a section of Harry Wong's How to be an Effective Teacher: The First Days of School prior to school starting. The section we were to read was on how to set up a classroom, which makes sense, since we (as student teachers) will take part in this activity.

But if you know me, I tend to get a little excited when it comes to books and teaching (and especially books on teaching!), so I read the whole book. An interesting idea was brought up in the section about effective testing. Harry Wong states that the steps to writing a test are as follows (paraphrased):
Look at the concept (key idea of the information being covered), double check your objectives (what did you want the students to learn, what objectives did you set for them? Testing should ultimately be in line with your objectives), questions (should directly reflect the objectives), and remediation (test as a corrective tool-I will further explain this in the next paragraph).

The first few steps are common sense, but I had never experienced in my time as a student a test as a corrective tool-or remediation. Wong goes on to explain that as part of the test, you should indicate where the information can be found (a textbook chapter and section, if you are testing on textbook material) in parenthesis near the question. This way, when the students get their tests back, they can look up the correct answer and correct their tests. This increases learning, because the students go back and look over the parts they did not get correct on the test. While this idea is a good one and seems to go beyond the "testing because we have to" method, I wonder how practical it is in the classroom.

I would love to hear feedback from teachers (or parents who have children in school) to whether or not you employ this method (or have seen this method in action). I guess my questioning lies mostly in the time constrictions placed on teachers: you only have so much time in a day to get everything done. Is this method a practical one, or is it ideal only in theory? Any opinions and experiences are welcome!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Website in the Works

Watchknow is an educational website that is getting started. Its aim is to organize all the best educational videos so that teachers and can have them at their fingertips with ratings and additional information concerning them.

Much thanks to Teacher's Musings for sharing this site with me via her blog.

Aspire to Be

A song* I was listening to the other day has a daring message that I feel more people need to hear. It talks about how should think about who we wanted to be, "when the world was younger and we had everything to loose". The point stands that the younger you are, the more you have to loose, yet the wilder the dreams tend to be.

A little girl I nanny for is 7 years old and will declare with no hesitation that she will be an artist when she grows up. Not she wants to be, she will be. She practices her drawing and has no doubts. Her courage inspires me. When was the last time I was able to proclaim something without any hesitation and diligently worked towards it? It is much easier to dream when you are younger and do not understand all the obsticals that stand in between you and your dream.

10 years ago I wanted to be a nurse "when I grew up". At the time I failed to take into consideration that I have a terrible time hurting others, even if it is for their own good. But it was still my dream. 5 years ago I didn't know what God wanted me to do with my life, but I knew I wanted to help others. On my path to becoming a teacher, I am getting there (to the helping others).

I challenge you to look at your life: "are you who you want to be?"*

*This Is Your Life, song and lyrics by Switchfoot

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


One of the things I have been really trying to do in the past year is learn about new technologies and how they may be used in the classroom with students.

I have found quite a few wonderful things. I have always had in the back of my mind that when working with technology we need to be conscious that sometimes it breaks or refuses to work properly, for whatever reason. But the idea has been brought to the forefront of my mind since last night-when my cell phone decided to go crazy.

The phone, itself, works (meaning that if I know the number I want to call, I can dial it and make the call). But the screen is mostly black, with a few rainbow streaks and a few hairline cracks. I know what you are thinking-hairline cracks? you probably dropped it and broke it. But, that is not the case. Unfortunately, AT and T does not cover internal cracks and a messed up screen on the warranty, so I am stuck with a phone that does not work like it is suppose to, at the current time. I can not get to my contact list (because I can not see them), I can't take pictures, listen to music, send or receive text messages (a service I am paying $20 a month to have unlimited access to). I also no longer have an alarm clock to wake me up in the morning. The funny thing is my phone was working fine, it was in my pocket and I was texting people ten minutes before I pulled it out to call a friend. That was when I found the screen was black with rainbow streaks (thankfully that friend was on speed dial, so I was able to call her).

These little things are convieneces to a cellular phone, yet I am frusterated that I had to ask my roommate to make sure I was up before she left for work and that I can hear my text messages coming in, but I have no way of letting the person know that I can't recieve texts or respond to the message.

Lesson learned? Do not rely to much on technology, because it can (and at sometime probably will) let you down.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

How it all Went Down

So Christmas in July went well. Much better than I could have imagined, actually. $255 dollars were donated (well $275 if you count the $20 that was given to us at a gas station).

If you are not sure what I am talking about, refer to my prior post. It explains it better.

So we gathered, all nine of us: Chelsea, Heather, Kelly, Nicole, Lauren, Johnathon, Kyle, Aaron and I. With our donations, and those we gathered. Much thanks to Kayleigh, Kelly, Jill and Andrew (if there were others, I am sorry) there was 255 dollars-which was way more than we expected.

Our first stop was Aldi's. Here we had two objectives: one to buy food for the Salvation Army, and the other, to bless a family by paying for their groceries. While most gathered groceries, Kelly and Chelsea went to bless a man by buying his groceries. Upon offering to pay for a gentleman's groceries, they were turned down and had a hundred dollar bill flashed at them. While that was discouraging, we kept on and payed for someone else's groceries.

Our next stop was the Salvation Army, to drop off the groceries we bought. They were very grateful for our donation, but we didn't stay long as they were serving dinner when we stopped. However, before we left, a guy with baggy pants and dread locks invited us to the church service across the road. He was great at speaking up and seemed like a very nice person. We explained to him what we were doing and declined politely.

Our next place to stop was Goodwill. We went inside with money in hand, prepared to help customers pay for their purchases. One customer politely declined. When we attempted to give the money to the cashier for the next person to check out with (people were shopping, but not checking out at the moment), we had to talk to the manager to make sure it was allowed. She said that while she had never seen this happen before, there were no rules against it. Thus we were able to leave the money and continue on our journey.

All this done, we had only spent 75 dollars of the money. We still wanted to buy someone dinner as well as fill up a few gas tanks.

The first gas station we visited had a few people filling up. The problem was that they all seemed to have really nice cars (and clothes, for that matter), and our goal was to help those who needed it most. So we went to what seemed to be the lower income area of town. There were plenty of cars that needed filled there. The first man we asked said he was only planning to put a couple of dollars into it. When told we would pay to fill it up entirely, he got defensive and would not allow us to put any more in. I wonder what he was thinking. From our point of view, we were trying to help, yet he did not allow us to help. I'm sure he didn't mean to, but he left us feeling a little defeated, as we could see he needed the help and wouldn't accept it. We were able to help a few other vehicles and there was a really shabby van that was parked out front, but didn't pull up to the tank. To say the van was shabby might be an understatement. It was rusting out and when the driver's side door was opened, the plastic part (that should be attached to the door) flapped in the wind. Wondering if maybe money was the issue, one of our group asked her if we could fill her tank for her. She was overjoyed responding that, "she had been running on fumes for days". If she was the only one we had an impact on-the entire night was worth it. We were unable to stay there for very long, because the cashier asked us to leave, saying we were soliciting and she was going to call the cops if we didn't leave. However untrue and outrageous that was (Chelsea kind of wanted them to call the cops, just to see what they would say) we complied and left.
We went to another gas station, and helped a few others there. While at that station, I asked one man if he needed any gas (he had been parked at the air compressor, but not at the gas tank). He said his tank was full, but asked why we were buying people gas. I told him what we were doing and a few minutes later, he pulled up to where we were standing (scouting out cars) and handed us a twenty dollar bill and asked us to use it in our cause. That was pretty amazing and totally unexpected!!

We then went to a couple restaurants, mostly fast food. We found it was easiest to catch the people as they went through the drive through, although it is amazing how skeptical people can be. We had quite a few people ask us why, and others seemed like they didn't know what to say at all. One man in Stake and Shake repeatedly asked us what his end of the deal was. Many paused for a long while before accepting the gift and muttered a thanks. It was almost like they were waiting for us to say it was all a trick. People just do not typically go around giving out free gas, meals or groceries-and it seemed to through the majority of the people we offered help to for a loop.

A few asked us to find someone who needed it greater than they, and we complied. These few were the only ones who really seemed like they understood what we were doing. These were the ones that didn't hesitate. They might have asked us what moved us to do this, but questioned more because they wanted to know than like it was incredulous that someone would buy their gas for the day.

I hope that at least one of the people we helped will be affected in a way much greater than having their costs waived for the day. I would like to think that maybe we have caused some of those people to think about why someone might give willingly to others. And maybe, if we are lucky, one of them might be inspired to help someone else. Overall, I would love it if we were able to give just one person a glimmer of hope that there is still good in this world, and that we can make it through.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Christmas in July

I am excited about tomorrow. My sister and I have been praying about and planned an activity for us to reach out and help those around us in the current economic hardship.

We are gathering people and donations to take to Pekin, Il. Once we get there we will be randomly selecting people or families to bless with our donations. We might pay for a family's grocery bill or meal for the night. I am excited because I know God can and will do amazing things when we ask Him to.

Although I am not entirely sure what will happen as we go about this adventure, I am ready to be a vessel for God to use me in whatever manner He chooses.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Math Website

Upon reading another teacher's blog, she advocated this website as a great resource. Being curious, as I am, I went there to check it out.

Oh, how I could have used this website in my class last year! We were expected to remember exactly how to do all the mathematical work we had learned thus far and preform well on a content test (without being retaught). Although that method is OK, I would have appreciated having this resource to refresh my memory about how all the different types of trigonometry problems work, as that was my weakness. By sharing this, I hope others might be able to use it at the needed times.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Animal School

This is an attempt to embed a video into my blog. I have never done this before, but believe this video is worth watching.

O.K., so since it isn't my video, I can't embed it in the manner I thought I could. If you follow the above link, it will bring you right to the page with the video there. This video is a must see for teachers and parents alike.


Change is an interesting thing. Sometimes it brings joy, sometimes sadness. Sometimes change causes fear, and other times nothing but giddy excitement.

The changes that come with loosing a job, as many people seem to be experiencing, seldom brings joy. But I have to wonder what the outcome of that change might be. Will it produce humility? Thankfulness? Or perhaps a helping hand?

In my experience, change within a person happens most when his or her life changes drastically on the outside. A child changes internally when he or she leaves his/her parent's home. It is typically when we are at our weakest, that we find the strength to endure this harsh world. I am not saying this is done alone; on the contrary, I believe it involves the support of many people (and with some, the help of God).

But I can't seem to get over the idea that if I never had to endure change and the struggles that come with it, I would not be the person I am today. Change tends to produce stronger people, and for that I am thankful.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Really, is the United States of America diverse?

My educational textbooks state over and over again that the United States of America is growing more diverse and has statistics to back this up. Recently moving to a larger town, I know there are places much more diverse than the small town I grew up in. I see it, others see it, but does the media accurately reflect it? This is the question that lead me to flip the channels in search of commercials, rather than shows.

My mission was to see if commercials actually reflect the growing diversity by showing multiracial people. I watched various channels for an hour and recorded how many men and women were shown using the following categories: white, Hispanic, African American and Asian American.

There were 72 men and 44 women shown in an hour of commercials. 55 of those men were white, 10 were African American, 5 were Hispanic American and 2 were Asian American. Of the 44 women: 33 were white, 8 were African American, 4 were Asian American and none were Hispanic. I think the numbers speak for themselves: the media of the USA does not accurately portray the people that make up America. When will all be considered equal?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Details of the Arizona Mission Trip

Myself along with four other girls went on an adventure to Whiteriver, AZ this past week in order to serve some of the Apache people in the White Mountain Apache Reservation. We worked through an organization called Apache Youth Ministries (AYM) who (as you can imagine) does a variety of things to reach out to the Apache youth. Since I did not have internet access while there, I record the events each day, beginning with when we left.

Saturday, May 16th:
We left at 6 am sharp, all five of us packed into a car with our luggage assembled rather tightly in the trunk. We were all excited about what God would do with us and through us in the upcoming week. We arrived in Elk City, OK after a long day of driving, ate supper and crashed in our hotel room.
Sunday, May 17th:
The original plan was to arrive in Whiteriver, AZ on Sunday night, however different things were in store for us that day. We drove on peacefully for awhile, and even rented The Shack from Cracker Barrel on audio, in order to pass the time (a very good book, I might add). One of the sites along the drive included the "World's Largest Cross", or so they proclaim. At about 5pm the car we were driving violently shook and Megan pulled over to the side of the road. After a little investigation we determined that 4 of the 5 lug nuts on the front left tire had come out. It was only by God's grace that the fifth one stayed in, as it was rather loose as well. A call to AAA later, a tow truck was on it's way. We all called our parents with the plan to head back to Albuquerque for the night and got a hotel close to the car dealership to fix the car. We thank God that Megan has a phone with the internet on it! However, Billy, our tow truck driver, had some problems with the gentelman he was helping at the time we were stranded and we had to wait two hours for him to arrive. Upon calling the New Mexico police (we wanted a car to sit with us while we waited, stuck on the roadside), we were hung up on twice. However, I forgot to mention how breath-taking the scenery was-absolutely beautiful! After Billy got there and we found the dealership to take the car to, we discovered that they padlocked their gates at night, so there was nowhere to drop off the car (save for the hotel parking lot). We did that and finally got to our hotel and to sleep. Thank goodness for John, the front desk representative who gave us a discount. All in all, we were not injured and the minor setbacks were not great.
Monday, May 18th:
Not wanting to use up Megan's free tows from AAA, we called upon Brittany's roadside service for the tow from the hotel to the dealership. We talked to the front desk and Linda was able to push our checkout time back to 2 pm, and later 4 pm (as we were still waiting on the dealership to call). Fianally, we recieved a call that told us the lug nuts were fixed, but the hub bearings needed repair and they would have to ship the parts in overnight, setting us back another day. We stayed another night at Sandia, and made the best of it by taking a trip a couple blocks to Target, getting swimsuits and food. We swam that night and got to know wach other better while we waited.
Tuesday, May 19th:
We were impressed that the dealership called around 9 am with the car ready to go. We were out of the hotel by 10 and back on the road again. We (finally) arrived in Arizona and were able to go the The Kennel (or open Kennel) and spend about an hour with the Apache Youth. Through meetng with the youth I immeadiatly learned the "turtle handshake". The youth were a lot more open to getting to know us than I expected. The Kennel is a place the high schoolers frequent after school. A better description of The Kennel and what the staff at Apache Youth Ministries are doing with this building can be found in a short video at (go to "programs" tab-in black along the top, and click on "youth center" the video is embedded on that page). The video will also provide you with a look at the landscape and some of the youth being impacted by this ministry. That evening we went to the staff house (that the staff of AYM so kindly let us use), relaxed and unpacked.
Wednesday, May 20th:
We woke and met with a volunteer at The Kennel, who showed us some things we could do to be of service to AYM. That day we cleaned off the basketball court and began to repaint the logo in the center (before the rain threatened and we were forced to put a picnic table and tarp over our work to keep it dry). We were told that so far it had been really hot, and they needed the rain. I just wish (after so much rain in Illinois) that it could have waited until we left. I was amazed by the rain in Arizona. It didn't pour, as it does in Illinois: it just sprinkles on and off. During the rain we did some cleaning indoors and met with Ron Everingham (who's blog can be found at the above link to AYM). He shared with us the vision for AYM and told us a little more about the Apache people as a whole. We hung out with the Apache youth that afternoon, and I began to learn more and more about them, theri lives and their school: located behind the Kennel. I learned that day that basketball was the thing to do on teh reservation, making it difficult for the other sports to fill up teams (the wrestling team had 3 people on it). The Apaches do not keep score while playing, they simply play for a while (generally at least an hour) and then someone says, next point for the win. One of the staff, a native of Indiana, was looked at funny when he first arrived and began to keep score for the students' game. I met sever youth, each with their own stories and interests. That evening we went to the high school band concert (four of the Apache youth from the Kennel were in band). The band was very small, compared to what I am used to, consisting of maybe 25 students. For a couple of the students, band was just a class, but for others it was one of the few ways to express their interest in music. There were several others at The Kennel who had musical interests, but their instruments are not included in the band (such as guitar). One of the students told me he wished that, "there was more on the rez [slang for the reservation] he could do with his music". This student wrote music and played well (and brought his guitar to The Kennel on a regular basis).
Thursday, May 21st:
We arrived at The Kennel and our service project was to build a picnic table for the students. The cool part about it was we started with boards and tools (and through guidance) transformed them into a place where the youth could have Bible studies, do homework or just sit and talk. We even sanded and stained the table! That day we also did more cleaning and helped out with various other projects as needed. While hanging out with the youth, I continued to learn more about them and their family. Even though we were only staying for a short time, many of the students were excited to play ping pong, pool, and basketball with us while talking and getting to know us, and each other better. Through both talking with the youth and the staff members, my eyes were opened to the poverty and struggles of the youth and the Apache people as a whole. I am blessed to have been able to help them out, through my small acts of service. Throughout the trip, it was amazing to see the different people who had some connection to Illinois (however small). One of the AYM staff members went to college less than an hour away from where I go. It was funny that the girls in our group knew some of the same people he went to school with. That evening we went with him to a worship practice with the band he plays in at his local church. They play many of the same songs we worship to at Encounter (ISU's campus ministry). That was cool to see the simalarities there. Afterwards we went to a local resturant and ate wings and pizza.

Friday, May 24th:
We went on a tour of the reservation (that we were suppose to do upon arriving Sunday night) and saw Fort Apache, among other local landmarks. Historically, the Apache lived in dwellings called wikiups (I'm not sure if the spelling is correct on that or not, picture below) and had meeting places called ramadas. We also got to see the historic landmarks of the Battle of Geranamo, which was pretty neat. Th other picture below is one of the mountains that Geranamo used as a hide-out (mostly the caves within the mountain). Later that day we hung out with the youth again, and said our goodbyes. I thought it would be easier than it was to leave, but it was kind of difficult. I didn't realize how attached I had gotten to the students in such a short time period.

Saturday, May 23rd:

We drove the majority of the way home. We had a very nice meal at Cracker Barrel (the poor waiter patiently put up with all our requests). Although we had booked reservations at a hotel in Joplin, Missori, when we got there (around 2 am) we were told the hotel had been given to someone else: even though the person we booked it with assured us he would include a note telling of our late arrival. Luckily, the third place we tried had a room avaliable within our price range. We slept for about six hours before getting on the road to continue our drive home.
Sunday, May 24th:
After hours more of driving, we arrived home. It was a wonderful trip (despite our difficulties) and I learned a lot! Now let me see what I can do about those pictures...

Friday, May 15, 2009

Headed Off Soon!

As I pack and get ready to head to Arizona for a missions trip, I continually wonder what God will do in me. How will He change my perspective on this trip? How will I be different when I return?
I will be keeping a journal each day with key things I would like to share with you all, and I will post it upon my return. (We have limited car space and I am not sure about an internet connection, so I will blog when I return on the 24th).

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Seeing the School/Meeting the Teacher

I finally have my placement for PDS! I will be in a forth grade classroom with (what looks to be an) amazing teacher! Forth grade is my level of choice, so that in itself is super exciting.
On top of that the school I will be working in was recently built and has a wonderful layout. I have come to realize within the past couple of months that I am beginning to notice houses and buildings and appreciating the architecture and what can be done with the space provided. (My roommate tells me this is my inner teacher and I am looking to make the most out of the space I am given.) The school I will be working at have come up with a way to make a large school seem smaller through colored teams (of two classes from each grade:4-6). This is such a wonderful idea!
The library and media center are extremely high-tech and I am looking forward to finding fun ways to use them as well as increase the students' interest through use of technology.
Where I was slightly nervous before, now I am really excited to begin my journey in that classroom. It appears that there will be quite a bit of co-teaching going on between the other yellow 4th grade teacher. This will also be a new experience for me, as I have only read about this in my textbooks.
Overall, I feel much more comfortable with the changes that will be taking place in my life and am excited about the many opportunities this school will be able to offer me as I continue to grow and learn.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Ready, Set, Go!

I feel as if I just ended my spring semester (and I did, last week), yet I am embarking on a new journey. Tomorrow I meet my mentor and the person I will be co-teaching with in the fall.

So many things are running through my head. Yet of all the advice others have given, one thing stands out: BE YOURSELF. Although I have ideas about my future classroom and many lesson plans swimming around in my head, I need to remember what this encounter is about. Getting to meet this wonderful teacher (he/she must be wonderful for my advisers to have paired us up) and obtaining a glimpse of what next year might look like for me.

I am "readying" myself tonight (through preparation). I will "get set" as I get up in the morning, do devotions eat breakfast and drive there. Then I will be expected to "go". Go meet my mentor. Go meet the principal. Go set up the classroom. Go meet the students. Go co-teach. Go teach children to learn. Go: make in impact during my short time on earth.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Gearing Up for Arizona

As I look at the calendar, I see that my trip to Arizona to work on an Apache Indian Reservation is quickly approaching (only 10 days away)! The trip will be long, but I have no doubts that it will be worth it.

I will have the opportunity not only speak the Word of God to these people, but also get to know them and more about their culture. God makes everyone different and I am eagerly anticipating meeting these youth and interacting with them.

I have no doubts that God will work through me and in me on this trip. I'm sure he will also give me quite a bit to think about along the lines of diversity in my future classroom. As a wonderful teacher once told me, "you can't assume all people are the same, just because they have the label [of Latino, Asian, Native American] it does not mean each child fits the stereotype. In fact, most won't". Pondering this thought further I wonder what other countries see as the "typical American". I'm sure no person fits that stereotype perfectly-especially not me. One thing I try to constantly keep in mind is that each person is different. God made us that way, and we should embrace those differences rather than hide them away in an attempt to be the "typical American".

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Professional Development

Last week I went to my last classes at Illinois State University. This upcoming week I will complete my last set of final tests and move onto the Professional Development School portion of my learning.

Although technically I will be taking classes in addition to getting a jump start on student teaching this fall, I will be in an entirely new environment experiencing different things. It is a strange (but good) feeling to be moving beyond college into my professional career.