19 May 2013

The Big Deity Across The Street . . .

Across the street from my house is the most amazing Buddhist temple, Sri Lankaramaya. It's the oldest Theravada temple in Singapore. It is a spiritual center and thriving monastery. Inside this magical place is a 45 foot reclining buddha. 

On Friday May 24th, the whole city will be celebrating a day of Buddha, or Vesak Day. I have the day off from work and will be painting beautiful lanterns with friends. In celebration of this big holiday to come, I thought I would show you some images of the reclining deity. It's truly awe inspiring to be in front of this statue. I ducked inside to take these images while walking home from school in February. 

The temple has been completely decorated inside and out for Friday's big celebration. But I'm saving those images for a future post . . . Can't wait to share more about this exciting and beautiful holiday. Have a peaceful week!

11 May 2013

Dairy Farm: Camping With Fourth Grade . . .

The first Thursday and Friday in May, I went camping at Dairy Farm Adventure Centre with our fourth graders. There were close to 100 of them and about 10 of us. It was a short trip--one night and two days--filled with lots and lots of exciting activities. I was really impressed with my students and how adventurous and curious they were . . . They supported one another and took thrill-seeking risks left and right. It really changed me as a teacher and mentor to watch them to push through fear and master the art of determination.

I arrived at school at 6:30am to make sure I was there to welcome the students and their parents. I also had to make sure that my sub plans were in order for the two days I would be missing school (only 3 classes). 

Even though we were only going to be gone for a night, the students brought enough luggage to keep them clothed for about 5 days. I brought a backpack, a pillow, and a blanket. 

After dividing up the campers into cabin groups, we unloaded all of our items in our respective cabins and met for a 2 hour nature walk. The weather was beautiful. (Hot, but beautiful.) We learned all sorts of things about the trees and natural landscape that is found in Singapore. We also learned how to make soup and rice bowls out of leaves.

Once my group of cabin girls got over their initial reaction of screaming to anything that jumped, flew, walked, or scurried; I was really excited to see them starting to learn about insects and even wanting to hold them. Check out Kate below, photographing a large Stick insect that we found on the hike. Two seconds later she was holding it.

After our hike, we found ourselves in the cafeteria for lunch. It was a massive space serving up local food and surrounded on all sides by monkeys. We ended up using this space as our rain shelter and it's where we held our talent show.

After lunch, I switched groups. I left my cabin girls and joined my activity group. My activity group consisted of both boys and girls and was co-managed by Lachlan Wood, a fourth grade teacher (pictured with the boys below).

Our first activity was a team building workshop. The students worked primarily with our activity guide, pictured above. They played games and learned about one another, enriching their relationships with one another more so than we could have ever hoped for inside a standard classroom. The students named our group (our team), Random People.

Mid-afternoon on both days looked something like this, above. It rained harder on Thursday than it did on Friday, which was more the standard "crazy lightning in the area" warning.

We ran--soaking wet--to the cafeteria where a variety of games took place. I manned the Uno table. It was a rousing game between 10 girls. At one point, my non-card-playing-self even played a round. The kids were so great about the rain and stayed busy throughout the entire time they were held captive in the cafeteria. I guess we are all so used to the rain by now . . . Life in Singapore!

Thankfully the rain stopped just as the sun went down. Time for the campfire!

The students were absolutely thrilled with the campfire. I kept wondering how we were going to hold a campfire with 100 kids, but the Dairy Farm staff organized it beautifully. They had the students singing and dancing . . . It was really fun to watch everyone having such a good time!

Back in the cafeteria after the campfire, we ended the night with a talent show and dance party . . . Loved watching all of the kids let loose and go crazy! Check out the flashlight zombies below (or Iron Man, which they would rather be called): Joshua and Sami.

Of course, after a big dance party, what does putting 16 girls to bed look like? Well, it looks like this (see above and below). And it doesn't end quickly. At one point--around 11pm--I had to pull out the big guns and yell out, "The next person who opens their mouth sleeps outside alone." Ha! That worked for about half an hour. I finally fell asleep but was woken up by crying and whispering at 1:30am. When I sat up to see what was going on someone said, "Shhhhhh, Ms. Bailey's looking!" Apparently one of the girls had been telling ghost stories and people were getting scared. Eventually everyone fell back to sleep, only to wake up for good at 5:30am. Needless-to-say, I did not sleep very well that night. But a good time was had by all!

The next morning, I met up with my activity group and we got all belted in and ready for the day's activities. Lots of excitement was about to take place! The students were facing super-big challenges like tight rope walking, zip lining, a ropes course, and rock climbing! 

Some of the activities were really high up off the ground! It was incredible to watch how the kids exhibited no real signs of fear. They just climbed up the poles and made things happen!! Go Random People team! 

Check out Mallory zip-lining. It was at once hilarious and nerve-wracking to me that the guides would strap the kids in and then just kind of fling them out of the structure and onto the zip-line. I videotaped almost every student, but my heart leapt out of my chest almost every single time they were tossed out onto the line!

My cabin girls ended up making up a song and performing it for all of fourth grade. Here they are working on it, above. And below, see our group shot (I'm in the lower one). 

It was so much fun to spend time with my students outside of the normal classroom. I felt like I got to know them 100 times better. I hope that we continue to have more and more out-of-classroom experiences because I think it really helps the in-classroom learning. Since we've been back from camp, the students have behaved better and been more efficient in their work ethic. I don't know if this is related to camp or not, but I like to think that it's because they have a better sense of my expectations and know that the outcome with me will always be hard work = more fun.

Rock on, Random People and cabin girls!

05 May 2013

Hot 20: April Instagram Favorites . . .

April was a very busy and exciting month . . . Like what you see here? Check out cakecrushonthetown on instagram to see more. Yay! Zooming through the year at a rapid fire pace!