I won $10,000 today!!! :)

At the end of today, I found a folded piece of notebook paper on my desk... What is this? I thought. I opened the wrinkled document and it said:

"Congratulation!! You have won $10,000 for being the best teacher at Sojourn Academy! From: Mrs. Reilly. Your money will arrive in 10 days."

Ha, it was definitely student handwriting, and since Mrs. Reilly is our principal, I figured it probably wasn't really going to happen. Ha, I certainly have a clever student though... :)

I'm going to Puntarenes this weekend with Priscilla and Ale, so more posts on Monday!!! I'm not sure what time we are returning on Sunday evening, so if you're lucky, perhaps I'll be able to post a photo or two! :)


life and more life

Today was discouraging. I didn't teach the math lesson very well, and then I taught the history lesson according to the book (which was incredibly boring, in my opinion). Then the principal popped in for a surprise observation right at the end of history and watched the transition of lining up (we need to work on our line more!). When the students came back from PE this afternoon, they were extremely chatty and I raised my voice for the first time in a stern tone.

Then Trish and I went to the bank with a tica teacher to help us translate so we could open an account. I was so overwhelmed with the rapid Spanish, and I almost wanted to cry.

I know I'm exhausted from a long week of planning and preparing. I think that's the main issue here. I need to grade papers... and then sleep.

And something else to check out...

Here's another roommate's blog here. Kim will be living with us at least through November while she is student teaching, and maybe she will be staying next semester as well... those plans are in the works.

No more falling out of bed so far this week. :) I'm not jumping on the bed, Dad!!

I'm going to Puntarenas (in other words, out of the city!) this weekend with a friend, Priscilla, that I met in March 2006 when I came for the Judson mission project. I'll have lots of photos to post after that trip!! :) I'm working hard this week on plans for next week so I don't have to take much teaching paraphernalia this weekend.

Funny moment yesterday. Two of my tico students were have a heated discussion in rapid Spanish. I could tell they were arguing about something but had no clue as to what. I placed my hands on top of their heads and said, "English please!" Valeria looks up at me and, just like a light switch, changes from Spanish to English. Wow! They can change languages so quickly! (The problem was that he thought she had taken his pen... typical.)

We have an "End of Day Cheer" in 4th Grade. It goes something like this: I say "Have a great" they say "DAY!" I say "Watch out for" they say "CARS!" I say "I love" they say "YOU!" ha, it's probably hard to read and imagine what it sounds like, but it's loud and great, trust me.

Alright, time to finish getting ready for school. (I love you, Mom and Dad!)


Introducing... my class!!

I tried to upload this video last night, but the file was too big. My good neighbor Steve taught me how to compress the file to upload on here... so we're trying again.

My students were so excited when I said I wanted to make a quick video to send to my family :). I wrote the questions on the board for their "interviews" (name, age, where you're from, where you're moving, your favorite thing about 4th grade), and then they read and answered the questions during their 15 seconds of fame :). Enjoy!!!


check it out!

Here's my neighbors', Steve & Diane, blog! Thought you might like to know who I'm living by :).

falling out of bed and loving my students

alright, so I fell out of bed last night... Don't worry, it's only 18 inches to the floor from my mattress!! Go to my roommate, Tricia's, blog here for details... ha, Trish is a great story teller.

I was nervous again this morning, but as soon as my students walked through the door, I was on the ball again. I really do have such a great class. Even the couple students that challenge my authority are great (One of these students is so intelligent that he just gets bored with the pace of the rest of the class and he begins to find other mischevious things to do! My work will be to keep him busy!!).

BRAG MOMENT. :) My students are seriously awesome. Last week, we gained an extra minute of recess by being the quickest and quietest to line up after recess (I told them before we went to the gym that we had to show up the 3rd and 5th grade students... It worked!). The Chapel Director also gave homework on Friday for the 4th and 5th graders to write down what happened during the first 7 days of creation. MY students :) remembered (mostly because I wrote it on our assignment board and explained a simple format to get them started) and had their 7 days written out for Chapel today. Ha, we totally showed up the 5th graders again. I went into Miss V.'s classroom (the 5th grade teacher) after school today, and she had "7 Days of Creation" written on her assignment board. She said her students were really motivated after the younger students knew more answers than they did. Glad my students can inspire others to do their homework :).

My discipline system is using a "3 Strikes" philosophy. The first strike is a warning, and the third strike is a parent note or phone call. Today, the students brainstormed possibilities for the second strike's consequence, and they had suggestions like "Extra Homework!" "No Recess!" "Pushups!!" (When "pushups" were mentioned, 4 of my 5 boys dropped to the ground in a pushup contest! I laughed and brought it to a stop...) I knew the extra homework consequence would result in lots of extra work for me, so I vetoed that idea. What they finally came up with is hysterical to me. If they have two strikes, then they miss the first 5 minutes of recess, BUT THAT'S NOT ALL!! One girl was concerned that if she missed recess, she would miss her exercise time for the day. (Ha! Cracks me up that she thought of that!!) So after missing 5 minutes of "exercise time", the boys have to give me 20 pushups and the girls have to give me 25 jumping jacks. (The girls were concerned that they couldn't do very many pushups, but the boys thought the girls doing 20 jumping jacks wasn't even to their 20 pushups, so the compromise ended up being 2o pushups/25 jumping jacks.) Oh my goodness, it was such an animated discussion and I loved every minute of it!

Needless to say, one student already missed 5 minutes of recess AND gave me 20 pushups. Ha, I look like a drill sergeant at recess.

Not only do I let the students choose their consequences, I also gave all the school subjects new names. Math is now "Puzzles"; Science is now "Exploration"; History is now "True Stories"; Spelling and Penmanship are now "Word Play". I also let the students pick their class jobs because I figure they will get to choose their jobs in real life, so why not in the classroom??

I think I do this teaching thing really differently from others, but my kids are eating it up!


Fun in the Sun

It's been a couple days... Sorry to those of you who have been checking everyday and anticipating a new blog!

I came home exhausted on Friday night and slept for a long time. I felt much better on Saturday.

We went to the feria again! I spent about $7 on a zucchini, a cucumber, lettuce, a carrot, cheese, and 2 potted plants. Awesome deals! Here's all of our loot after we washed it...

Kim V. (5th grade teacher) waiting for us again... She's so patient when she is waiting for us to be ready to go ...

Then Tricia, Kim, and I headed into the city with our neighbor Diane, another teacher Kim V., and two new ILE students, Sunshine and Becky. Gringas in San Jose make quite the spectacle. We make a spectable when it's just one of us at a time, let alone 7 of us! We visited Mercado Central, Cafe Latino, Mercado Democracia, American Ropa (ha, a secondhand store from brand name stores in the U.S. -- they don't know that their "charitable donations" to foreign countries are being bought by Americans!), and Museo Nacional. Whew, quite the excursion! All that for a 175 colones bus fare one way... making it about 80 cents both ways. My kind of travel :)

Diane at Cafe Latino.

The gringas making a spectable...
ha, Tricia with a big fat woman statue. I think the story is that she will bring you good luck if you touch her. The statue, that is, not Tricia! :)
A cool window at Cafe Latino. :)

A small victory in speaking Spanish: I struck up a conversation with a vendor at Mercado Democracia, and Sunshine was looking at her purses. I was able to translate for Sunshine about the costs and colors of the purses. The vendor and I talked about how easily we forget words in the other language (she in English and I in Spanish), so we bonded over our forgetful minds.

Then, the supermarket again. I felt so much more comfortable asking questions about where to find items. Yay! Another victory...

Church is extremely humbling. My notes are a jumble of Spanish words that I hear and understand, but I can't make out the message yet. Oh well, that will come. For now I focus on what I do understand, no matter how little it is. I wrote 2 pages front and back of random Spanish words I understood. The pastor said "Perfectamente posible!" a lot, so I wrote that at least five times. ha.

Today after church we journeyed a whole 4 blocks to Kim's house. (It's so confusing with so many Kims. This Kim lives with a tico family and is the 5th grade teacher at Sojourn. She's in some of the photos from the trip to San Jose as well.) Her family was gone for the day and had told Kim to have some friends over. We ate lunch and then took advantage of their back yard and sat out in our swimsuits :). We also painted our toenails and had great conversation. Wonderful relaxation time for hard-working teachers, trust me!
the back view of the house.
Our beautiful toenails!

Oh, and Kim V. has a pet rooster in her back yard that was cockadoodling all afternoon. Strange but true.