16 September 2012

All The Rage: Gangnam Style . . .

Mid-Autumn Moon Festival . . .

Saturday was one of the largest Asian holidays of the year.  Sometimes called the Mid-Autumn Festival and sometimes called Moon Festival, this ritual focuses on being thankful.  And the stories that go along with it include everything from bunnies mixing magic potions to the Moon Goddess of Immortality.  Street-side fires pop up in every part of the city as families and friends celebrate the end of the fall harvest.

"As with most festivals, there is a story to go along with Moon Festival. There are many versions of the Moon Festival legend, but most of them involve the archer Hou Yi and his wife Chang’e.

Many years ago, there were ten suns in the sky. Crops could not grow and rivers ran dry, so the people were dying of hunger and thirst. Hou Yi took his bow and arrows and shot down nine of the ten suns, saving the people.

As a reward, the Western Queen Mother gave Hou Yi a potion mixed by Jade Rabbit. If Hou Yi shares that potion with his wife, they will both live forever, but if only one of them takes the potion, he or she will become a god.

Hou Yi and Chang’e plan to take the potion together. But one of Hou Yi’s enemies, Feng Meng, hears about the potion and plans to steal it. One night, on a full moon, Feng Meng kills Hou Yi, then forces Chang’e to give him the potion.

Rather than give the evil man the potion, Chang’e drinks it all herself. She starts to rise into heaven, but she feels a close connection to the world of the mortals, and wants to stay close to them, so she stops at the moon, the closest body to earth." 

14 September 2012

Sums Up My Week Perfectly . . .

No Problems Here, Only Solutions . . .

Each week I try to make it to Wednesday afternoon with my sanity all wrapped up, nice and neat.  

This week I lost it somewhere along the way . . . 

Noon on Tuesday through 330pm on Wednesday is generally my hardest part of the week. Normally I can push through.  But, something happened this week. My 3rd graders were all keyed up. Perhaps it had to do with the moon or the rain or the orbit of the planets, alignment of the stars . . . Whatever it was, I came home touting all sorts of things about being done and this is crazy and why did I get a masters, blah, blah, blah.  (I mean--honestly--am I right or am I right?)  

How am I supposed to teach visual studies if I am managing behavior the entire time? I don't know.  

I still don't know. I've never had behavior problems before:  generally students love art and enjoy the physicality of creative making. Not these students.

Or not yet, at least.  

See, therein lies the challenge. My goal has been set:  make lifelong creative thinkers and problem solvers out of each and every one of them. They are bright, capable, and smart students. Of course, this goal is the same goal I set for every young person I interact with. But, generally it's easier to reach. But, why is easy always better?     

The following packet of "I'm sorry" letters showed up on my desk today--Friday--around 2pm. This should give you a pretty good indication of how my Tuesday/Wednesday was this week.

I guarantee changes will be made and by December these students and I will be on a very different path. And, I'm excited to see where this leads . . . 

By the time Thursday rolled around, I was pretty much spent.  And then my 2nd graders showed up at 9am. And, as they were lining up to come into my classroom, sweet little Isaac spoke up, "I have a gift for you. It's Teachers' Day and I brought something for you." (He said this to me with a specific tone in his voice, like I was to have known that it was Teachers' Day and why was I so surprised to be getting something . . . ) 

Here's what you should know about my second graders: they are always happy, always ready to create, and so incredibly lovely to start a day with. We went into the classroom, they sat down on the rug, and immediately they began shouting for me to open my gift in front of all of them. I received a mug and a coaster. The coaster reads:

Thank you.
Good teachers impart good education.
Great teachers groom their students to become leaders.  
Ordinary teachers direct us along the right path, but
great teachers inspire us to seek our
own path. They encourage us to 
discover our talents.
Wishing You A
Happy Teachers' Day!

"They encourage us to discover our talents." There it is, my mantra: the words that keep me coming back day-after-day, and keep me thinking about solutions to the challenges night-after-night.  

Thursday and Friday afternoons consist of 4 classes of 4th graders. Each of the images above show students from each of the classes, hard at work . . . These students (my gems) turn the classroom into a true learning space and working studio. Magic happens and creative problem solving, collaboration, and social learning takes place. It's incredible to watch. I am so thankful to end my weeks with these young people. They send me off into the weekend refreshed and ready to begin anew.

12 September 2012

Get Your Funk On.

DJ Mel from Austin, Texas keeps me energized in-between classes . . . Download it for yourself and check it out, or have a listen here.  Enjoy!

Extraordinary Love.

09 September 2012

Be inspired . . .

This Week In Review . . .

This past week started out with me buying my ticket for Fall Break to see my friend Katti in the Philippines. I can't even explain to you how happy it makes me to be taking this trip! When we were in graduate school together, we joked about me coming to see her. I don't think either of us thought that would ever become a reality. And, yet--almost 3 years later--here I am making the trip! While I am thoroughly excited to see Katti & meet her friends and family, I am almost just as excited to see the beaches! They are rumored to be some of the best in the world!

Here we are on a very cold day in Baltimore. Feels like it was just yesterday!! (And, hey! Look at my hair! That's how it's supposed to look--not like it does here in Singapore.)

This past week I also bought contacts. For-a-year-and-a-half-for-$114-without-having-to-see-and-pay-to-see-an-eye-doctor-first. They simply took my prescription and gave me my contacts. Finally, the way it should be.

I have also started taking yoga at Bikram Yoga City Hall. I go at least 4 times a week. Originally I signed up to try and combat my lower back pain. But it's also proving to give me lots and lots of energy, too, which is great for teaching. 105 degrees never felt so amazing! 

Along with getting new contacts, I realized I needed something to shade me from the sun (the sun shines bright and hot for 12 months solid). Since I hadn't been able to buy sunglasses whilst wearing my glasses, I decided to go all out and get a really nice pair. I LOVE them!

After yoga on Friday, I met my friend Dhivya for dinner in Little India. The food was incredible, as usual. But then we decided to go for Nutella milkshakes. Tiny ones. At a place called Make Shake. Serious bliss.

And their tip jar sealed the deal:  "Every time you tip, Justin Bieber gets a slap to the face." While I have never been a huge fan of J. Biebs, I do have a certain fondness for his most recent hit. I have a thing for solid black guitars and gold high-tops, what can I say? 

On Saturday, after meeting our friend Heather for lunch, Dhivya and I went shopping on our way to Cheryl's house.  Remember:  I hate shopping. But, when in Rome (Singapore), do as the Romans (Singaporeans) do.

I bought an orange dress, the most comfortable flip-flops known to mankind, an owl cuff bracelet, and a large bronze cat ring. Hooray for new things! 

When we finally got to Cheryl's, I had a large task at hand.  I was installing her new dandelion decal. It took about an hour to install. And, it looks absolutely fabulous! I just love it!!  I can't stop thinking about future art projects:  oh, the possibilities with vinyl . . . Let me cut my own shapes. Pretty, pretty please! And let's make things happen!!

We ended the night at what's becoming our weekly hangout,  Piedra Negra. 2 Californians and 1 Texan:  you ought to know we would end up loving a Mexican food joint. Why, yes . . . I think I will have a Mojito, thank you very much.