25 August 2012

Kindness Only Takes A Moment.

First Week of School . . .

First day! Lot's of time on my hands, since we didn't start having specialist classes until after lunch. The students spent the morning with their homeroom teacher. At 1:30, my first class started. The rest of the week, the classes ran on schedule. So this week, I taught 10 classes and roughly 230 students. Next week, I will have 14 classes and about 322 students. I'm ready!

For each class, I spent a good portion of the session talking about classroom rules. The 2nd and 3rd graders were asked to write their own rules on the board and then sign off on them. The 4th graders were asked to work in groups to come up with rules, then present them back to the class. Since each grade was given ownership of the rules they created for the space--their space--they are more inclined to follow them. Or at least that's proven to be the case in the past . . . 

I am having the students write their favorite songs on sticky notes so I can create a playlist for us to listen to while we make things. I have yet to edit this list for "appropriateness". But it looks like LMFAO (and quite possibly AC/DC) made the cut . . . I'm trying to figure out how to reward classes for behavior. I'm thinking--by the number of sticky notes already posted--that a dance party might be just the thing.

I had the students work on self-portraits, all grades. The 2nd and 3rd graders had to draw a picture of themselves doing their favorite thing and write a complete sentence about it somewhere on the page. The 4th graders had to draw themselves as a superhero, with their super power relating to their favorite thing to do. Then I had them present their work to the class.  

At first I was irritated with myself because these projects seem really simple. But, it was the first week of class:  our supplies have not arrived and I need to assess the students. Self-portraits are great for assessment, especially these projects. With these pieces I am able to assess the following things:  ability to understand and follow directions, ability to work efficiently, technical skill, idea creation, and presentation. I was surprised by how many of the students were not confident in their ability to draw . . . We will definitely be working on confidence and how to be proud of individual style this year.  

Especially with art, 2D and 3D play a huge role. Some of the students who may not be comfortable with drawing are extremely talented with building projects, sculptural work. (I am one of these people, so I know.) Others may be good at writing or composing, even playing music or dancing. All of these types of works are valued in my classroom and I hope to have projects that speak to each of these disciplines, allowing all students to feel successful in their efforts.

I am so happy to see the students using the space as it should be used:  sprawling out on the floor and the carpet, spreading out on the tables. This is what an art classroom should look like . . . I can't wait to see how future projects will affect this space!

Check out some of the finished works, ranging in age from 7 to 9. I'm so lucky to be working with such talented young people!

When school ended on Friday, Vanessa, Cheryl, and I met at a Mexican food restaurant to celebrate. We ate some really awesome food that my Texan self had been missing. It was bona fide Tex-Mex:  what a great find! And then on the way home--around 11pm--Vanessa and I decided to get a foot massage at a corner massage joint. Oh the questions I had walking into a massage parlor in Singapore at 11pm on a Friday night . . . 

Turns out they were actually giving massages. So I got an hour-long foot massage at 11pm on a Friday night while watching Columbiana. What a fabulous way to end the week! 

Progress On The Homefront.

Last week I bought a bookshelf. After it was delivered, I waited for my shipment to arrive from the United States.  Once it arrived, a few days after the bookcase, I loaded it up. Note the title of this blogpost:  Progress On The Homefront. Nowhere in this title is the word finished, so please do not think the image below represents completion.

While the books are neatly arranged and will probably stay put, the top of the bookshelf is not even close to being finished. My plan is to have a few lamps in that space (one on the bookshelf, another hanging from the ceiling), a few paintings and prints standing up against the glass, and some pictures of my family and friends. A brightly colored rug and floor cushion from my good friend Mohammed will go in front of the bookcase (behind the couch, not pictured).

Around the corner, in the glass room, is my orange chair and ottoman from the United States. I love this chair--it's extremely comfortable and is perfect for creating a reading space in my glass elevator. In this room, I am going to put a standing lamp, a two-sided wall hanging to attach from the ceiling: in-front-of-the-glass-behind-the-bookshelf (to hide the back of the items on the top of the bookshelf), and a low wooden bench against the back wall. There is no way I am posting a picture of what this room looks like right now:  the floor is covered in stacks of paperwork and laden with artwork from friends, waiting to be hung up.

I love how the colors pop in this white space! More coming soon . . . 

21 August 2012

Rosy Prata And Everything!

Sunday was the stuff dreams are made of.  We were off on Monday, and we worked Open House all day on Saturday.  So Sunday felt like Saturday and it was wonderful.

I slept in until about 9am. When I woke up, my previous weeklong housemate (she has since moved into her own place, 5 stories down from me) asked if I wanted to join her on a trip to a furniture store. I told her I was looking for a round dining table and would love to join her. Our one-stop shopping trip turned into an all day affair of beautiful colors and excellent food. It was the most relaxing day I have had in a very long time (prior to the other relaxing days I have spent by the pool since arriving in Singapore).  

It all started with the rosy prata.

On our way to the train station, we found another little section near our home of local eateries. We stopped into one shop and had the most delicious roti prata on the planet. However, I didn't know it was called roti prata until much later in the day. I kept thinking everyone was saying rosy prata. (It sounds much more romantic to call it rosy prata, so I continue to do so.) 

Roti prata is a very thin crepe-like bread served with a spicy curry dipping sauce. It wasn't much, but man it packed a punch! And it only cost us 80 cents. Needless to say, we went back for more the next day. 

When we got to the train station and got on the train, it looked like this: packed. A nice young gentleman got up and offered me his seat. (I'm pretending it's not because I looked old--there was a sign above his seat saying that it was reserved for the elderly.) The trains are packed on Sundays because most everyone is off of work. This happens every Sunday, regardless of whether there is a holiday or not. Vanessa and I sat down and made ourselves comfortable, and rode the train to the very last stop: VivoCity.

Because everything is connected to a mall, there is no way of getting around walking through them. I wish you knew how impressive it actually is that I am going to malls: if only you knew how much I hate to go shopping. Yet I have moved to the shopping capital of the world. I digress. So, we perused the windows on our way to the outside.  

We came upon these glowing globes at The National Geographic Store. They lured us in. And we proceeded to take several pictures of them before realizing that A) we weren't supposed to touch them, and B) we weren't supposed to take pictures of them. So much for reading signage. This store had the most fascinating things in it, like the most beautiful hanging Mediterranean lamps. Little did I know that we would soon be seeing more of these types of lamps--for sale in local shops--later on.

Once we got outside, I noticed a very Disneyland-like island just across the way: Sentosa. There were tug boats, a roller coaster, gondolas going from here to there and back again. A giant cruise ship was parked outside the mall and a small choo choo train was driving back and forth in front of us. I just stared blankly at this craziness for a good while before Vanessa knocked me out of my trance by asking me if I wanted a beer.  

We moseyed over to a German restaurant and sat outside. We also ended up ordering the most interesting snack, at Vanessa's request: breaded brie with a cranberry yogurt sauce. The picture does this desert well, as the pieces were way smaller than they look in this image. What I expected to be a very heavy, dessert-type snack was not that at all.  It was actually quite light and super flavorful.

After we finished our quick bite to eat, we hopped in a cab and went to Taylor B. It was a giant warehouse filled with gorgeous things. It reminded me of Revival, where I worked at the beginning of 2010. We spent a good 3 hours there, easy. And, I took a ton of pictures--more than I could possibly fit in this blog post. And, sadly they don't have a website.  So I am at a loss as to how to show you more. You'll have to trust me, it was definitely worth the visit. They had chandeliers, bell jars, mirrors, lanterns, beautiful bedroom sets, pillows, couches, chairs, dining tables, bookcases made out of old boats, candles, etc. I absolutely fell in love with an embroidered trunk coffee table. It was 4 feet x 5 feet and beautiful!

After Taylor B., we got into another cab and went to Little India. Finally! It was exactly as I hoped it would be . . . The food was amazing, the colors were stunning, and the people were incredibly friendly.

We stopped in at a carpet shop where Mohammed told us that he and his brother Ebraham (yes, with an E) own most of the carpet stores up and down the street. He told us how each one of the carpets were made and that--of course--he could get me any color combination I wanted. His family was from Iran (pronounced E-ran), where most of his carpet collection also comes from. He was a fascinating man. Once I figure out the colors I want in my apartment, I am going to go back to him and pick up a few things. His prices were very reasonable.  

We also passed a basket store. All shapes and sizes. We didn't spend a long time there, because we were on our way to a side street, just off Arab Street. (More food.)

I can't even begin to describe how delightful this area is . . . It's a mix of shops and eateries; and a beautiful mosque is placed right at the end of the street, perfectly framed by palm trees. We stopped at the Derwish restaurant. We got there around 230pm and didn't leave until 6-ish, if that tells you anything. We started with a plate of humus, moved to baba ganoush, then a light salad--all coupled with a giant iced latte. While it wasn't necessarily a lot of food, it was extremely tasty and very filling.

We finished our visit at Derwish with a shisha. This was an adventure that I highly recommend. I felt like I was doing something illegal, but I totally wasn't. I was basically smoking fruit-flavored air. It was super mild. We chose a Kiwi flavor because Vanessa is from New Zealand (she's a Kiwi).  

The shisha was our most expensive part of the day:  $26. They brought out the pipe, lit it with some hot coals, and gave each of us a nib. My nib was green, Vanessa''s was purple. You switch out the nibs each time you take a drag. We chose our flavor from a long list of possibilities including peach, strawberry, kiwi, grape, etc. While there are plenty of hookah bars in the US, somehow this felt more legit.

At 630pm, we met up with Deanna, John, and Cheryl near Gelang Sarai for the Hari Raya celebration. Hari Raya follows the end of Ramadan, a one-month fasting period for the Muslim community. After the month-long ritual, the Muslim community in Singapore gets together to celebrate with a colorful feast. Lights and decorations are put up along the streets and a bazaar is set up, selling a wonderful array of carpets, clothing, household items, and local special Malay delicacies. Unbeknownst to us, this giant celebration had happened the night before and everyone was celebrating with their families on the night we were there. But, the lights were still up and they were beautiful.  

So we ended up back at Derwish for dinner before heading home around 10pm . . . A great day indeed!

18 August 2012

Open House: Welcome Artists!

Here's my room! As finished as it could be without the students: I need my students there to be creating work for the space . . . And remember, we aren't allowed to hang anything on the walls or use tape or put anything on the ground. (I slid the carpet in between a brief "yes" and "no" period.) 

Because technology is huge at our school, I wanted to make sure that the Promethean board was being utilized when the parents came through the classroom. So, I had a slideshow running of past student work. This helped to bring realization to the work that would be created in this new space and add even more color to the room.

This is my desk. Eventually this bulletin board will display class expectations, images from pieces that I am working on, and visual resources.

I created a small building space for the students to experiment with as they toured the space with their parents.  I used the abundance of straws we had in the storage room.  It was an awesome use of material . . . Bendable straws are a unique way to teach students about negative space and structure. (I might love having all of these straws, after all!)

Here's the sink area. The shelves are a bit bare, but that will change very soon! 

I changed around the clay studio just a bit and added some color to the bulletin boards.

The parents were very complementary of the space, and the school photographer (yes, there is one) stayed for quite a while taking all sorts of images. 

Today was a rush! It was fun to meet the students and their parents. School starts on Tuesday, with my first class beginning in the afternoon. I'm excited to get started! 

With all of this preliminary planning stuff behind us, let's now get the students in there so we can start making stuff!!