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Archive for November, 2008

Happy Friday

img_1295One thing I love about teaching at Exploris is our somewhat goofy Friday schedules. Each Friday, the kids participate in service learning, art, and an alternative unit that we choose (right now it’s geography). I have been thrilled to get to oversee the art lessons so far this year! During the first quarter, the kids learned felting. Lots of middle schoolers with soapy water and gooey felt. There were bubblicious high fives all around, and it was a great way to end the week.

This quarter, I, along with the assistance of several parents who are helping to lead small groups, am teaching knitting. That’s right, middle school boys are making themselves a new winter scarf…or in some cases, a coaster. Some catch on a little more quickly than others, but it’s so great to see how excited they get about seeing the progress of their work unfold right before their eyes. In fact, many of the kids have gotten so into it that they knit at home and come back to school with some pretty incredible stuff!

In December, we will have a 7th grade knitting fashion show as part of our school-wide Expressions Day (it’s like a talent show). I’m excited to see what they come up with!

A note from the kids- happy weekend!

A note from the kids- happy weekend!

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Words to Live By

img_1330One of my favorite school fundraisers ever takes place around Christmastime at the lovely Sanderson High School where I had the privilege of being a Young Life leader during college. It’s called Holly Days, and it’s a gigantic craft fair with proceeds benefiting the school. I love this for two reasons:

1) As a Young Life leader at Sanderson, it was great to get a chance to support the school and spend time with people I love.

2) Crafts! I love crafts. I think there’s something so special about being able to purchase something directly from the person who put so much thought and effort into it. I also love that handmade items have a one-of-a-kind quality that makes them truly unique.

So, as I was roaming through this great event, I spotted one of these unique finds that I immediately wanted to bring home. One woman was selling gigantic Scrabble letters as wall art. Hers said something like “play, laugh, blah, blah, blah”, which I thought was a little cheesy, but I loved the idea of coming up with a slogan type phrase that would be representative of what we want our home (and lives!) to be about. I took the woman’s card and proceeded to deliberate on what our Scrabble pieces could say. The ideas ranged from silly, to strange (we thought about using Greek but then decided that would be against the rules of Scrabble), to just disappointing.

Finally, an idea popped into my head that just seemed to fit. I was reminded of the part of Galatians 5:6 that says, “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” I love how simply this captures our hope for how we live our lives. Our goal is to show the love others the impact that the love of Christ has made on our lives- not necessarily by hitting them over the heads with it, but by showing them genuine love and compassion.

Easier said than done, but such a great reminder of some timeless words to live by.

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Going Green…Again

This past weekend, we painted the living room green…for the third time. For the past year, it has been a light green, which initially went well with our tan couch and natural wood coffee table. Somewhere along the way, I made our black and ivory curtains and painted the coffee table black, making the light green seem more like lime (in my mind at least). I liked the green, but I wanted something a little deeper to match the rest of the room. I thought I had found a match, but when we put it on the walls two weeks ago we were sorely disappointed. The walls went from lime to something like grass green, or maybe electric grass green. In any case, it was bad. This past weekend, we decided on a darker, richer green and are pretty happy with the result (which is a good thing, because Zach says we’re keeping it for a long time).

The old mantel was a flea market find and an Easter present from my dad. The mirror above it, made from old ceiling tiles, I got at a flea market during our road trip this summer. Now, I’m just looking for a fun chair to go beneath it.

Before

Before

After

After

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In the Middle

img_1271Shortly after I finished my student teaching at Exploris Middle School, I was blessed to get a job there teaching 7th grade. Shortly after that, we were blessed again when Zach got a job teaching PE (or Health and Well Being). We love getting to work together! It’s great to be able to know what the other person is talking about when they share events from their day and, in my case, to be able to read the newspaper while getting chauffeured to work!

Exploris is a charter school in the heart of downtown Raleigh. Because we are a charter school, we have a little bit more freedom in the way we do things. For example…

– Each grade consists of 64 students taught by a four teacher team. This makes for a 16/1 student/teacher ratio, which allows us to build strong relationships between students and teachers.

img_1273– The only textbook students use is for math. All other courses are guided by quarterly units, or “Themes”, which focus on current global issues. Students may study anything from water quality around the world to sustainable business practices. While creating curriculum as we go can come with its own set of challenges, it’s exciting to see kids starting to understand the issues that they will be forced to deal with as adults.

– Rather than standard report cards, Exploris uses a narrative assessment system. Each quarter, students receive written reports that outline their strengths and challeneges and set goals for the upcoming quarter. While this can be a bit more time intensive than assigning letter grades, we have found that this form of communication can be beneficial for both students and parents.

– Experiential learning takes priority over rote memorization. As a result, we frequently take our kids on field trips and arrangefor them to meet with guest speakers. We have found that providing opportunities for them to interact with the community in this way can be extremely beneficial.

This blurb, taken from our school website (currently under construction), explains the goal of the school well:

Building on a foundation of proficiency in basic skills, Exploris Middle School seeks to enhance the growth of

· Independent learners
· Critical and creative thinkers
· Active and responsible participants in our global society

We are both so thankful for the opportunity to be a part of such a unique learning environment! One thing is for sure- no day is ever boring.

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