Monday, May 26, 2008

My Argentina: My childhood place
I was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I had an adorable childhood in my small neighborhood. I walked two blocks and I was in my elementary school. My best friend lived across the street from our school. Our days were spent "playing teacher" in my kitchen. My mom would prepare cookies and tea for our merienda (snacks), and the tiles on my mom's kitchen wall were full with addition facts that she would actually let us practice by using a chalk.
Sometimes, my friends and I would have all kinds of race competition on our rooftop. Yeap. It was big enough to hold bike races, and any kind of races, actually! The grand prize: a slice of cake my mom would make for the neighborhood kids. 
The last night I spent in  that childhood house in  Buenos Aires was December 13, 1985. The next day I was moving with my family to Asuncion, Paraguay; which is my parents' country. Moving day was the day I turned 1o years old. Moving day was the day I turned around in the backseat of our car, and waved one last good bye to my neighborhood friends. I was ten. I was young. But I understood. I understood the curtains of my Argentina were closing. The next act will read: Asuncion, Paraguay. 
But I still remember that last night in my beautiful Argentina. How can I forget? I had all my best friends there plus their families. We had dinner on the floor since the house was empty. We toasted with plastic cups. We all went to the rooftop of my house to watch the stars one more time. The stars never felt so close to me as that night. It was a cool summer night (yes, December in Argentina is summer time; opposite seasons as in the USA), it was our last summer night there. Sure we visited many times after that. But that was my childhood house. My parents built that house with their own hands. A true blessing. 
And although we cried many times that night, and the stars were our only witness, I can truly say I am blessed it happened. I had a childhood. A great childhood in my beautiful Argentina. 

Journals Part III

As many of you already know, we are planting seeds for our summer journals. I know that the idea of "planting seeds" is something you hear at the beginning of the school year and not at the end, but with the students taking summer journals home, we have to do some "thinking" together.
Well, you might be asking..."so, how's is it going?"...
Oh!! it is going...and it is going FUN-tastic. We are having a blast with little chall
enges that we give ourselves as writers. So this is what has been happening in my ESL class...
  • Students understand that their " Things I loooove" list helps them with ideas and that they can go back to any of the things in the list and write about it during summer time. 
  • Students started to work on their list of "Things that drive us CRAAAAZY" we had a blast with this list, and my students impressed me so much with their list by writing little and big things in there. 
  • Students understand that they can start collecting their thoughts anytime, anywhere, in any shape. Three students came up to me last week with an entry they wrote on a separate piece of paper. One of the entries was a funny story about how the toilet broke on a monday morning when mom left for work already!! (I love how she wrote at the bottom of the paper : mom is not going to be happy when she comes back!). Another entry was a poem he found and cared about. And the other entry was a note to mom. They all asked me if they can "add" this to their summer journal. Yeeeessssss!!! they are getting it!!! they are into this already!
  • Students understand that drawing is part of writing too. And they are relieved and thankful for that. 
  • I have asked the wonderful teaching staff at my school if they could write a note to my students encouraging to keep on writing during the summer time. I added those notes onto their journals and they absolutely looooved it. And the response, like always, was extraordinary! 
  • Check out this entry by one of my first grade ESL girls.....amaaaazing!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Challenge from TWT: Writing Memoirs

Meet My friend Carol.  She is truly a friend. I know a lot of people. I hang out with a lot of people. But there are a few of them that know me so well as she does. There are few I would call lifetime friends. Carol knows my secrets, my dreams, and my fears. Carol saw me cried until I fell asleep. Carol witness my success and my frustrations. Carol and I have our own code. Nobody else gets it. We have our secret language of friendship. One look is all I need. One look is all she needs. We saw people come and go from our lives, but we stayed. We stayed because we knew we would still be there for each other when everybody else has left. We know good times. We know tough times. We know about dancing until our feet hurts. We know about counting down to the New Years and to see the first sunrise of the new year. We know about farewells. We know about never giving up. We are one soul.
Meet my friend Carol. She is truly a friend. 

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Ice cream Fun

can you have so much fun having ice cream on a spring evening? yes, you can. The little moments are the ones that count! It is all about the SMALL moments. The point? to share with my students that you can have an extraordinary life if you put on the extraordinary lenses on. Zoom in. Look closely. That's life. 

Journals Part II

Oh boy, oh boy!!! There are only....what? like 12 days of school left! It is amazing how even though all of us (me, my teacher friends, the students and the families) are all ready for a break, we are still getting so much accomplished!! Makes me proud.:)
So, what part of the process are we on with our Summer Journals???
Well, the students LOVE LOVE LOVE decorating their journals with personal photographs, stickers, some foam stickers I brought to share, words and phrases. I want them to enjoy this part of the process so much because this is what makes them WANT to take their summer journals home NOW. But I keep teasing them, telling them...."Oh dear, I will deliver these journals on the last day of school, but not before them." Their faces are telling me they can't wait, and honestly I can't wait either. I am excited that such a small thing turns out so big, something that my students have been looking forward to. 
We worked on our extensive (probably never-ending) list of things we LOVE (not to confuse with like. we actually discussed the differences betwee LOVE VS. LIKE).  Most students, first grade including have 2 pages of things they love. 
Next, I showed them how to use that list during the summer break. Going back to the list, and checking a topic they will like to develop, making it grow. 
Next, we talked about the power of sketching or drawing. We talked about how many times drawing first will give us a whole bunch of inspiration to write about.  We all drew a picture of someone we like a lot, and use ONE word to describe that person. (see picture attached). One of my students chose to sketch me and I was delighted to see how much she knows me, among the ONE word surrounding me I have words like: saturday (she knows I love my sat. morning routine), pizza (loooove it!), fridays (because it is movie days for me), hugs (a must!!!).  SHe wrote so many more things about me, and so glad to see she really knows her teacher.
What is the idea behind this activity ? simple. we are planting seeds. by looking at the one-word ideas surrounding their drawing, they can now easily write about that person. Most of the work is done already!
Oh ..I heart writing. The never endless possibilities.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

A little time for me...

And that usually means I get to do something I want regardless of how crazy or hectic my life can around me can be. Between papers being due for OSU this week, home visits to future Kindergarten families, Community meeting, Fun Fair on Friday and organizing a visit to the library, I thought it would be fair to give myself permission to "play a little bit" and "create something". Anything helps the soul to release and focus energy. So here is the first in a series of three 5x7 canvas I intend to create....

ok...feeling much better now. a little sense of accomplishment. now...I am ready to keep working on that synthesis paper! :)

Saturday, May 10, 2008

First Garage Sale of this Year

I should add in my Things I Love Journal Entry that I L-O-V-E  going to garage sales. It was lovely because the weather was just so perfect. I had my coffee, my daily reading blog-time, and then I mapquest it to make sure I don't get lost. 
I love walking around in a neighborhood garale sales! People walking down the street. Children yelling LEEEEMONAAAADE for only $25 cents. Families hanging out in their front porch.
How can't you not like this atmosphere? Especially when you find some interesting deals along the way.

So here are my today's purchases from my First Garage Sale of the Year.
So cool....

Summer Journals- 1

Oh nothing says more than children asking you constantly..."are we taking our journals home T-O-D-AY? I am thrilled that they don't like to wait for the last day of school to take their journals home. So, in order to really feel like a journal I told the children to start thinking how they want to personalize their journal. It is their choice, it is after all, THEIR journals! So, little by little, group by group we started working on decorating and making each journal a UNIQUE one. Children brought stickers from home, I provided their family pictures since I already have tons of those pics scanned in my school computer, some colorful sharpies, and off they went. 
The cool thing about watching them d
ecorate their journals was the excitement level of this simple project. Even in their covers, their writing have "voice". So cool.
So far this is what we have done with summer
a. decorating it, making it personal, unique and their own.
b. they received (so far) two notes glued on the first two pages of their journals from their teachers congratulating them for their writing choice, and encouragement to keep it up all throughout summer time. 
c. They started creating the never-ending list of things WE LOVE. (we talked about the big difference between "I like" and I "Love". For example: I like chinese food but I LOVE Italian food. 

More mini-lesson and step by step procedures next week. :)

Monday, May 5, 2008

Summer Journals

After reading one of the posts in  a couple of weeks ago about Writing Summer Loss, I got to do a lot of thinking regarding this topic. They are right. There is a lot of articles talking about how much reading loss their is during summer time, publications with ideas on this topic but no so much is found around the area of writing.  

So, for this year, I've decided to send my students with summer journals. Our amazing after-school tutoring coordinator donated 50 amazing journals to our ESL class. BIG THANKS TO HER! Sending home summer journals home this summer is not going to be enough in order for this to be successful. There is a lot of scaffolding to do in order for this to be successful. 

The idea: keep a summer journal
Each student can record their thoughts, experiences, every day life, little moments, big moments in different forms: writing, sketching, through a poem, through photographs. 

The concept: this summer journal will become a collection of "seeds" to be developed into big ideas (poems, stories, etc) throughout the next school year. (The teacher who is looping with one of my ESL classes is already loving the idea!).

The process: for the next four weeks, we will have intense mini-lessons on this Summer Journals. We will start writing in schools but continue thro
ughout summer. I want to give them plenty of tools, and ideas so they don't feel "stuck" during the summer, without knowing what to write about.

Where to start: by personalizing these journals. I have a collection of my students pictures in my school computer from all these years. Students will decide how to personalize each journal by including pictures, stickers, quotes, words, art, etc.

Stay tuned. I will be sharing all my mini lessons on Summer Journals in this blog. Because Writing is an Art, there are many ways to express it. You'll see what  I mean. :)
Happy Monday everyone!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

The Good Stuff

Photos from our friday night dinner party for Erica! Happy Cumpleanos Girl!

I love reading I just love Ali Edwards look on life, she is optimistic but she keeps it real. Truly an inspiration and something about her that makes me believe we could be great friends if I only knew her (for real : one of my students' favorite phrases!). So, after browsing her site for inspiration, here is my list of good things happening right now...
1. relaxing on my blue couch right now
2. being almost done with my outline # 2 for class
3. a new month: may!
4. great photos from friday night dinner party
5. today was  a sunny day
6. had raspberry sorbet from our local ice cream shop
7. have pink cheeks from the sun :)
8. started organizing my new art & scrapbooking supplies
9. Fabrizio has a puppy
10. New bobbi blue shoes!
Feels good ending my sunday with a list of "good stuff" happening right now. I hope you take a minute in your day to freeze the moment, and just notice the great things that are happening around you and in  your life. :)

My classroom/My World...Part I

Today I just went around the room taking pics of my classroom so I remember what 2007/2008 ESL classroom looked like. I never keep things the same for the next year, except for a couple of things that I might use again  because
 it worked so well the previous year. 
                                          So...welcome to this little corner of my world...