Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Green Hands

Today in kindergarten we painted trees. We used brown paint and paint brushes to paint a trunk on the paper. Then we dipped our hands into green paint to make the leaves for the trees. We are then going to add red apples with the names of the people in our families. Eventually, they will be family trees.
The first group was painting. I made one along with them to show them what to do. Then I went to wash the green paint off my hands. It didn't wash off. The smeary paint came off, but my hands were dyed bright green.
Here, I took some pictures:
Pretty bad, right? The really bad part was I had to send 6 kids home with hands just like that. I tried everything to get the paint off. I ended up having to scrub my hand with an SOS pad with bleach. It is much lighter now. And my hand burns.

On a more interesting note, I just finished by second day of Bible Study Fellowship.  I am very excited to be part of this. We are currently doing the study of the book of Isaiah. This is good because Isaiah is a very confusing book in the Bible. BSF has 8 year long bible studies. Each study delves deeply into the Bible to really understand the word.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Jesse Tree

I was first introduced to the idea of a Jesse Tree when walking through Barnes and Noble one year around Christmas time. I saw this book:

 Then I was blog-hopping and found this site where the woman was creating a Jesse Tree to help teach her children about God and the lineage of Christ. I thought this was a great idea! In the current times where Christmas is more about Santa and getting gifts, I feel it is important to think about the reason for the season. The birth of Christ and the fulfillment of the prophesies throughout the Old Testament. Since actually reading the Bible it is even more important to me that I celebrate the actual birth of Jesus instead of just going through the motions with the non-christian version of Christmas.
The idea of a Jesse Tree comes from Isaiah 11:1-5,
A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.

The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him--
the spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of might,
the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the LORD--

and he will delight in the fear of the LORD.
He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes,
or decide by what he hears with his ears;

but with righteousness he will judge the needy,
with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.
He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth;
with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked.

Righteousness will be his belt
and faithfulness the sash around his waist. 
You begin with a tree (the stump of Jesse) and each day you add an ornament to the tree accompanied by a devotional and a reading from the Bible. The ornaments/devotions/bible reading begins with Genesis and takes you all the way through the Old Testament to the birth of Christ. For 25 days you are brought back to focus on the real reason for Christmas and the celebration of the birth of Jesus.

Well, there are a lot of odd ornaments to represent the various parts of the Old Testament.
Here are the ornaments I need for each day:
1. Tree (Christmas tree)
2. World
3. Apple
4. ark
5. camel
6. lamb
7. ladder
8. coat
9. tablets
10. grape cluster
11. sheaf of wheat
12. slingshot
13. scroll or Bible
14. lion and lamb
15. dove and crown
16. lamb and staff
17. cross
18. heart with writing
19. Bethlehem with star
20. furnace
21. brick wall
22. star
23. candle
24. angel
25 nativity scene

I thought, considering the oddity of some of the ornaments, I should start trying to find them early. So I went to Hobby Lobby to begin my search. Guess what! I found nearly everything. I was thinking a camel would be the most difficult to find and a candle would be easy. I found a camel. No candle.
Since the liturgical colors for Christmas are silver and gold, I decided to go with a silver and gold theme within my Jesse Tree ornaments, for continuity (and a throwback to my Catholic childhood). 
Here is what I have so far (picture overload):
The first day is just the tree. I would like to make a Jesse Tree plaque to go on the top of the tree for this day's ornament. We'll see.
Day 2 is the earth, for "In the beginning..." My mom got me this ornament from Pottery Barn for Christmas last year. I was planning ahead :o)
Day 3 is an apple for the original sin:
Day 4 is an ark, for Noah and his crew. I couldn't find an arc, so I got a cruise ship and made some modifications (modifications to be shown at a later date):
Day 5 is a camel for the call to Abraham  (I cannot believe I found this):
Day 6 is a lamb for Isaac and the lamb:
Day 7 is a ladder for Jacob's Ladder (this was a fence, I cut off the pickets to make it look more like a ladder, I think I may add some twine where the rungs meet the sides to make it look even more like a ladder because it still looks like a fence):
Day 8 is a colorful coat for Joseph and his colorful (some say technicolor) dream coat. I could not really find a coat, but considering Joseph became a great ruler, almost like a prince, and there is debate as to the actual translation meaning "colorful" or "coat with sleeves" so when I found Prince Charming with a long cape and sleeves, I went for it:
Day 9 is tablets for Moses and the 10 Commandments, I had to make these:

Day 10 is a cluster of grapes for Canaan, the promised land of blessings:
Day 11 is a sheaf of wheat for Ruth and Boaz. I couldn't find an ornament for this so I found a bundle of real dried wheat and I need to create a mini-sheaf:
Day 12 is a slingshot for King David (and Goliath). I CANNOT find a slingshot. So I am going to go outside and look for a stick that resembles a wishbone and I will add a rubber band to make it slingshot-ish.

Day 13 is a scroll or Bible for when Josiah finds the law. I struck gold here:
Day 14 is a lion and a lamb for the prophesy of the lion and the lamb resting together. I couldn't find anything other than these wooden cutouts, I am going to paint them silver and gold and add some glitter to see if it helps... I have a feeling it might just look gaudy like the apple, but I am willing to take that risk:
Day 15 is a dove and a crown for the prophesy of the Prince of Peace:

Day 16 is a lamb and a staff for the prophesy of a gentle shepherd. I am all lambed out. Enough with the lambs. I am just going for the staff:
And yes, it does look like a candy cane. Candy canes were designed to look like shepherd hooks to keep children quiet during church. Interesting, huh?!

Day 17 is a cross for the prophesy of the suffering servant:
Day 18 is a heart with writing on it for the prophesy of the New Covenant:
It says, "I will put my law within them, and write it in their hearts." Jeremiah 31:33a

Day 19 is Bethlehem with a star for the prophesy of Bethlehem. I cannot believe I found this also. I figured I would be able to find the nativity scene with a star, but I had my doubts about finding the skyline of Bethlehem with a star:
Day 20 is a fiery furnace for the exile. I couldn't find a furnace, so I went to the doll-house section and found a fire place. I still need to add the fire. I am thinking some modeling clay would work nicely.
Day 21 is a brick wall for the Return to the Land. The brick wall is supposed to be the wall of Jerusalem. As you can imagine, I could not find an ornament of a brick wall. So I was going to use little pebbles and glue together a little wall. Then Sparky's mom told me that Sparky's grandmother got him a rock from Bethlehem and I could have it. I will wrap some wire around it and make it into my ornament.

Day 22 is a star for the star that led the wise men to Jesus:
Day 23 is a candle representing it being time for the "Light of the World" to be born (that grammar sounds horrible). Can you believe it? I cannot find a candle for a tree anywhere. This shouldn't be unusual since in Sweeden they put candles all over their trees for the festival of lights. Maybe I could use a strand of lights on the tree instead. Except I don't want to wait to light up my tree until December 23. Hmm... Does anyone have a candle ornament I could have?

Day 24 is an angel for the angels proclaiming the coming of Christ.
I like this angel because she reminds me of the Willow Tree figurines. I would like to begin collecting the Willow Tree nativity pieces because I think they have a classic, timeless look.

Day 25 is  a nativity scene for the birth of Jesus:
Congratulations! You made it through the world's longest blog post ever!!!

I Love Air 1

I love my radio station. You can access it for free from www.air1.com
The other day I was feeling very depressed. I think Sparky was trying to make me feel better, it didn't work. He told me sometimes life just sucks, then you die. Well, that got me thinking about what the purpose is to life. Why are we here? I just wake up, go to work, go home, and go to sleep. The end. Pretty boring. What is the point of that? To make money, to buy food, to stay alive so I can repeat the pattern.
Then I got in my car, turned on the radio and heard this:

Then another day I was thinking about how long the waiting process has already been for adoption, and how much longer we still have to go. The waiting seems to never end. We went from waiting to get pregnant, and are now waiting to be eligible to adopt, and then we will be waiting for a match. That is when this song came on the radio:

It is not about adoption, but if you listen to it through the lens of someone waiting for a child, it has a lot of meaning.
And just because I am sharing, I thought I would add a couple more that I just like right now:


Still Alive

Back to school has been extremely exhausting. I am barely up for air right now. I pretty much stay at school until about 6:30 or so each night... changing grade levels every year is really getting old.
Even though I have taught kindergarten before, he first time I only had 9 students. No, that is not a typo. I had nine kids in my class (for a while, it got up to 13 at one point). I could hold hands with all of them at once.
They also came from educated families where reading and education was highly valued. They all came into school knowing their alphabet and letter sounds.
The second time I had kindergartners was in my K/1 split. We pretty much just did first grade because I had high ability kindergarten students who were already reading.
This year most of my class does not know all of their letters, and are FAR from knowing all of their letter sounds.
This year my school district is implementing PLCs (Professional Learning Communities). The way I see this is working together with the people in your grade level to create interesting and engaging lessons to meet the needs of our students. Apparently, it means having a very quick meeting during part of a prep-period (20 minutes) where we see what skills need to be addressed, decided when we will assess the mastery and go.
So now I have 10 school days to teach my entire class all of the uppercase and lowercase letters, their sounds, and how to write them all correctly. Um... yeah.
And just in case you thought that wasn't enough, my school is also implementing the Boys Town model for behavior management. I love this model and agree that it is a wonderful philosophy. Very common sense.
However, I was not expecting someone to pop into my classroom today (Monday) at 9:00 (as the bell rings) to observe how I have implemented the model and to receive feedback. I really didn't want to hear it. Some person from Nevada comes into my room and watches me teach for 20 minutes and she is going to tell me how well I am implementing this new model after being in school for 28 days? In a new building? In a new grade? With ridiculous PLC assessment data due soon?
Guess what! I need to work on positive feedback. No shit. I think at 9:00 on Monday morning, we all need to work on being more positive. I am supposed to provide praise and correction in a 4:1 ratio. So for every criticism or correction I need to be providing four additional praises. Apparently my ratio is backward. Whoops. I'll get right on that... after I teach the alphabet, and sounds, and how to write... in ten days.
Ugh. Sorry so bitter.
Really, I love my new school. I love the people I work with, and I have a great class. Just one or two little turkeys who don't have any social skills. I am just feeling overwhelmed today.
My car has been leaking transmission fluid. Sparky's car has been in the shop for the last three weeks because the computer in his car thinks his car has been stolen so it won't let the car turn on.
I didn't have morning work ready for my class today. I wasn't prepared for today because we went up to Auburn over the weekend. And I have a lot of stuff to do for my master's degree.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

September 11th

Here is my little tribute to September 11th. I cannot believe it has been nearly 10 years. It feels like it was yesterday!
This video was shot at the school I taught in the last three years. The song was written by the school's late music teacher.
There are two versions of the song in the video. The first version is more like a poem set to music, the second version is sung by the children. Very moving.