Monday, April 5, 2010
Friday, March 26, 2010
This week has been very good as far as student teaching goes. Jen and I received many cards, sweets and goodies from our students. Many of them have expressed how much they will miss us and thanked us for teaching them. My year 7 girls wrote me a card, and got me a beautiful necklace and bag. With them I did a fraction activity using gummies, which they loved and was a review of what we have been learning over the last few weeks. Even the kindies and middles, whom I don't officially teach, have been saying they will miss me and running to give me hugs. I didn't cry until we were sitting in prep school staff briefing and Miss Hodgson was thanking Jen and I, telling us how there will be era hole when we leave and thanking us for all we have done, and my eyes filled, I looked over at Gill and she was starting to tear up, and then they fell. Only a few, but still. I don't think it has quite hit me yet because I am not leaving straight away, and I will still stay at the flat, so I'll be close by. I will miss the school so much; I have become so fond of everyone and feel like I could fit at this school. Hopefully I can find something just as fitting in the states.
Now all I have to do for the next 5 weeks is relax and plan my trips! Ahhhh!
Sunday, March 21, 2010
I wrote this a few days ago:
"I can't believe there are only 17 days left. Seventeen days left in this country, at Howells, living with Jen, hanging out with my new good friends Dafydd, Peter, Dave, Martyn, and Brighid, having pints at the pub, talking walks to the castle, helping at the boarding house, teaching lessons, being a college student, looking at the beautiful view, drinking white tea, listening to the Welsh accent, learning Welsh, watching Rugby, watching Manchester United, playing pool, playing darts, playing with Niamh and Lucy, being "mum" to Niamh and Lucy 2 nights a week, eating pudding everyday, hanging out in the staff room, wearing a coat and scarf everyday, enjoying the cold weather, waking up to the sound of seagulls squawking, having crappy internet, eating unhealthy meals everyday, eating beetroot at every meal, running between prep school and senior school about 50 times a day, going to morning assemblies, being at "Hogwarts", eating at the chippy (at the top and bottom of town), seeing Mrs. Scott, Diana, Gill, Sarah, Sioned, and Gwenville, the girls dressed all smart in their uniforms, playing wii at the boarding house, having dance parties with Niamh and Lucy, having Texas Club, being called Ms. R, waking up at 7 am to read and have a cup of tea, going to Ether gigs, the snow and the rain, playing songs on the jukebox, hanging wet clothes on the radiator, being within walking distance of most things important, teaching a ridiculous amount of classes and grade-levels. Basically, I will miss it ALL, the good and the not-so-good."
And now for the surprise....since British Airways is threatening to strike on the day of my flight back to Texas, I changed my return flight to May 1st. Just in time for graduation, Dad's birthday, and Paul & Bree's wedding! See you all soon!
Friday, March 12, 2010
Today was my final evaluation for student teaching, by the head. We were meant to do dividing fractions, which I quite enjoy but can be difficult to teach at times. But I planned my lesson out with the help of a textbook from methods, and was feeling pretty confident with it. I got to class early, wrote my examples on the board, showed Miss Hodgson my lesson plan, and the girls started to trickle in. We started with a story problem: My mum told me I had 1 1/2 hours to wash the dog, clean my room, and take out the trash, how long did I have to perform each task? We figured it out by changing 1 1/2 to an improper fraction, the focus of our lesson yesterday, which is 3/2. then I asked how many 1/2 in 3/2? The obvious answer was 3. They all seemed to understand, so I moved on to the next example: I have 2 1/2 grams of Easter sweets, and I want to put them into 1/4 gram bags, how many bags do I need? So, we thought about it logically. How many quarters are in 2? 8. And how many quarters in a half? 2. So, 8+2=10, I will need 10 bags. Great, on a roll. So, then I introduce the procedure, which is where things get a little tricky. You change 2 1/2 to an improper fraction, 5/2, and then find the reciprocal of 1/4, which is 4/1 and then multiply the two fractions together (5/2 x 4/1 = 20/2 = 10/1 = 10). Then they asked WHY does that work?!? In response, I said, there are 4 quarters in a whole so 2 times 4, and then how many quarters in a half? What i should have said was what is half of 4. But that is beside the point now. Most of them understood. We then completed two more examples as a class. They began working on the class exercise. Obviously, there were questions and girls wanted confirmation that they were doing it correctly, and mind you I am in the room alone, and Miss Hodgson is sitting in the back; I don't have Mrs. Scott in there to help me answer questions. One girl cried, one girl came in late but caught on quickly, and a few forgot to find the reciprocal, but in the end it went really really well. And when Miss Hodgson left the room, I received a STANDING OVATION!!! It was one of the best feelings in the world. A few of them said, "Wow, you could be a real teacher!" I was on cloud 9! I feel really good about my lesson and observation, so we will wait to hear what Miss Hodgson says about it later on today in our meeting.
Sunday, February 28, 2010
The day started out like any other, wake up early, take some time to myself, have a tea, read my book, eat some toast. And, then came time for me to teach my chemistry lesson, first thing in the morning. I was in the lab beginning to set things up and I was tripping all over the place, knocking things over and such. Then I hip-checked a gas valve sticking out of one of the lab tables. Even still, I was replacing some stoppers on the delivery tubes, which are glass, and cut my finger…all of this before the lesson even started.
We started the lesson by reviewing the fire triangle and the elements need for a fire to even take place (oxygen, fuel, and heat) and by taking one of those away is how to put out the fire. We then discussed some of the fire extinguishers they had researched for homework. I then demonstrated how a carbon dioxide fire extinguisher works and that from the reaction, the carbon dioxide will displace water from a tube. The groups then carried out their practical, which was testing how the reaction changed when different amounts of the reactants were added. In the mean time, we had a test tube break, a conical flask break, and a girl spill a huge tub of water down her front.
Even with all the mishaps, and some really wonky results, it went well. I met with Miss Hughes, who's class I taught to discuss things she observed. There were some good things that she pointed out, for instance in the UK when you see 0.2 they say "not point two", where as in the states I would say, and did say, "two-tenths". She also said to make sure that all the students are recording results, and that I could ask questions as I'm walking around to check for understanding, and to make sure I have their full attention before trying to sum up the lesson. She said that she liked how I started the lesson, and that referring to their homework helped make a connection between the last lesson and the one I was teaching. I was very pleased and exceeded the expectations I had for myself. I also know that I have much to learn in the way of teaching science. More to come.
Early Saturday morning we set out to catch the bus to Rhyl to then catch a train to Manchester and then finally our flight to Dublin (and, yes, using all three modes was MUCH cheaper than taking the ferry from Holyhead). We arrived in the Dublin airport at about 16:00, and Janet was there waiting for us! By the way, Janet is awesome, and Jen loved he within 5 minutes of meeting her. We went back to her place to grab some grub and catch the first half of the Ireland Rugby game and then met up with some of her mates to catch the rest of the game. After making new friends and a good evening out, we headed back to the house to prepare for our first full day in Dublin. Over the next three days we saw things like Trinity College, almost all of the free museums Dublin has to offer, the Hop-on Hope-off Bus Tour, St. Patrick's Cathedral, Christ Church Cathedral, the Guinness
Factory (my personal favorite), the Gravity Bar at the top of the Guinness Factory with one of the best views of Dublin, St. Stephen's Green, Phoenix Park, Temple Bar (Bar meaning Street) area, etc. We topped our time in Dublin off with a pub dinner, where I got to pour my own Guinness and watch my beloved Manchester United beat AC Milan (who had David Beckham) and we WON!!! It was so good!
Wednesday morning, even earlier this time, we caught a cab at 4:30 (yes, AM) to the airport and landed at Paris Beauvais at 9 AM, caught the bus into Paris.
We had lunch at this little cafe where no one spoke a lick of English, so I decided to try and order chips (fries) and instead of chips, I got steak! It was comical. After a nice lunch , we set out to find Sylvie's apartment. That afternoon we spent a few hours at the Louvre. It was like nothing I have ever seen in my life. At some points like in front of the sculpture Aphrodite, Jen and I had to take a moment to just soak it in. We couldn't believe we were in Paris at the Louvre looking at the World famous Aphrodite! Needless to say, it was AWESOME!! I
can't even explain to you how great it was, although, all the signs and stuff were in just about every language but English (this was a theme while in Paris, obviously because they speak French, which frustrated me more than I had expected). Over the next two days we saw the Eiffel Tower, which was Jen's favorite and we spent a lot of time there, the Arc de Triomphe, Champs-Elysses, Notre Dame Cathedral, Montmarte and the surrounding area has sidewalk artists and delicious food (and was breathtakingly beautiful), the Opera House were Phantom of the Opera is based. and many other things. Surprisingly, Paris was my least favorite of all the places we went, it was dirty and stinky, the subways were scary and apparently the hot spot for couples to snog, and just overall not everything that everyone makes it out to be.
Friday evening, we caught the bus back to Paris Beauvais Airport and headed for Glasgow, Scotland. It was more beautiful than I expected. We got there really late at night, almost 1 AM, so we headed straight to the hostel. The next morning, we woke up slowly and took a walk around the city. We walked down the River Clyde to Glasgow Green, which is a huge park with monuments. There is an arch, a few statues and a huge pillar called Trafalgar (like in London). We then found the biggest terra-cotta fountain in the world outside the People's Palace Museum and Winter Gardens. The fountain depicted the four colonies of Britain: Canada, South Africa, Australia, and India. We then went and had a cup of tea in the Winter
Gardens, and walked around the People's Palace. It was a really interesting museum talking about the dark history of Glasgow, where they are now, and how they have accomplished the successful improvement to the city and the people. There were still people living in pre-fab houses from after the war up until 1990!! But in 1990, Glasgow was the City of Culture, so they have come a long way. We then went to the pub to get a late lunch and watch Manchester United lose to Everton; I was gutted!!! Everton was at the bottom of the rankings and we were number 2!!! Ugh! Such is life! We then took the long walk to Glasgow Cathedral, and it was beautiful!!! It was dark when we went so it was lit up and very mysterious. At some point during the night we got food from a chippy and when we were eating in our room, some yahoo pulled the fire alarm; firetrucks came and we had to evacuate. We decided to call it an early night since we had a long day of train and bus rides back to Wales!
We left at 10:30 am the next morning, and after like 4 train rides and 2 really long bus rides we made it back to Rhyl (15 minutes from Denbigh) and two of our friends were there waiting to pick us up! It was nice to see familiar faces, hear familiar accents, and most of all be back in my own bed at my own flat.
Jen and I compiled a few funny blogs about our trip, so you should check those out at her blog site. We had so much fun, and surprisingly, after being together 24/7 for 8 days straight, we still like each other! Thankfully Jen and I get along great!! Good trip, with a good friend!
Monday, February 8, 2010
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Sunday, January 31, 2010
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Monday, January 25, 2010
Friday, January 22, 2010
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Monday, January 18, 2010
Friday, January 15, 2010
Just to give you a little background on the education system in the UK, grade levels in the states are only one off from the grade levels here. So, if i say I'm in a year 6 lesson, that is the equivalent of 5th grade. Up to year 6 is in the preparatory school and 7 through 11 is in the senior school. After that they call it 6th form which is like being a junior and/or senior in high school, but they get to choose the classes they want to "specialize" in so it is really preparing them for college.
SO, with all that said, this is sort of what I have going on.
Mondays: double maths with year 5, then double maths with year 6 (in which I have full responsibility to teach them the "numbers" section of their maths lessons, Mrs. Lowe teaches the "Shapes, Data, and Measures" portion), then I go over to the senior school to have lessons with my sweet year 11 student, then double maths with year 10 (I really enjoy this class)
Tuesdays: double science with year 5 (which I am now responsible for the next 4 sections of a unit on gasses) double maths again with year 6, 2 planning periods (I love the UK because they think teachers should have almost a full days worth of planning periods through out the week) and lunch, then year 9 biology, another planning period and then for enrichment Jen and I have started a Texas Club where we will teach them about Texas of course!
Wednesdays: year 7 chemistry, year 7 maths, double maths with year 5 (this means back to the prep school), double science with year 6, planning period, back up to senior school for a period of year 9 maths and then during enrichment time, a lesson of year 10 maths.
Thursdays: year 7 maths, year 10 maths, year 9 biology, 2 planning periods and lunch, year 8 maths , a planning period, one lesson of year 11 maths (only observing, took this on only out of pure interest in maybe getting a secondary certification) and then nothing for enrichment time!!
Fridays: late morning!! only joking, I have 2 planning periods to start the day then double science with year 6, 2 planning periods and lunch, year 7 chemistry, year 9 maths, and then during enrichment I will go watch the prep girls play netball because I hear it is great fun!
I am still looking to observe a physics class, no teaching, because if you can't tell, even with all the planning periods, I am going to be a very busy girl. I am very much looking forward to it though. I am teaching 2 lessons on Monday, 2 double maths lessons to my year 5 and 6 classes! Hopefully I don't choke! :)
Here is just a taste of what there is to do here in Denbigh (Den-bee). The first day we arrived at Howells, there wasn't much for us to do, so the PA of the head suggested we go explore Denbigh. We thought, what the heck? So we set off the to Vale St, the main road just one block from our Park Street flat, and headed left (sorry Papaw, I don't know if it was NSEorW?). There were shops, including a Co-op (a fair-trade food distributer that is pretty common in the UK, sort of small) a few chemists of pharmacies, a chocolate shop, a Welsh store we have yet to find, two butchers, a farmers mart, and about 10 pubs (typical). But as good teachers do, we had done our research and knew there were castle ruins to be found. We hiked up a few steep roads and finally found it! It was absolutely beautiful!!! The grass was still very green and the walls were sort of mysterious, so we tromped around naming what we thought the rooms were (of course we talked about being princesses), pretended to visit Hagrid, and in honor of Matthew I had to climb something (of course it was the wall that said it probably wasn't a good idea to but that was obviously the one I wanted to climb). So, walking around the town took all of 20 to 30 minutes but Jen and I had a blast at the castle for at least an hour and a half.
Wednesday this evening we went to visit an American teacher from the school, Mrs. Patty Jones (I think she could be a Dunham, G you have a long lost sister I don't know about?). She is the Pshycology teacher in the senior school and told us she had an open door that whenever we wanted to just to pop over, so we did.
Thursday night this week, we were encouraged to visit the quiz night at the local pub, we are learning that all things social revolve around the pub. So Jen and I and an Australian gap student who is working at Howells, all went down to the Hope & Anchor for quiz night and met up with one of the prep school teachers (don't worry we are all caught up on our lesson plans and have 2 planning periods first thing Friday morning). Needless to say, with a 22 year old, a 21 year old, and an 18 year old, we were not the most stacked team, and we were all rookies to the game; not to mention we were at least half the age of 90% of the people there. The quizmaster we found out is the head of a primary school just down the road, so we recruited him for our team next time when he will no longer be the quizmaster. PS he gave us a 20 point bonus for our handicap :) but we were still behind by about 15 points! We all really enjoyed it and plan to go back next week.
Needless to say, there aren't a whole lot of things to do in Denbigh...
As you might guess, the food (names and options) are a little different here. For instance:
Chips = Fries
Crisps = Chips
Pudding = Any Sort of Dessert
Biscuits = Cookies
Just to name a few. Some of the things Jennifer and I have enjoyed eating are: custard (really really tasty, my favorite thing), lots of potatoes, hot cross buns (they are real, not just from the song, to the right), lots of tea, crumble (which is sort of like cobbler, and goes very nice with custard), roasted lamb, broccoli and cauliflower with loads of cheese, rice pudding (also very tasty), veggie patties (here they call vegetarians veggies), and yogurt (not the really sweet kind we are used to, just plain lo' yogurt, and they pronounce it yah-gut). They have also served my personal favorite, PIZZA, which I have very much appreciated. They also serve this item called a flapjack (which we would think oh, a stack of pancakes) which is really a nutty, honey-y granola bar that is very tasty, served with custard!!! Mmmmmm!!
Tony, on of the chefs, was an army cook for about 15 or 20 years. Jennifer and I were thinking, before we got here, that surely Howells would serve really healthy, light meals since it is an all girls boarding school. On the contrary, it is all very heavy and filling. Don't get me wrong, I love it, but I guess I'll have to give up now on my new year's resolution if I want to continue to eat yummy, FREE food.
It has been really exciting trying new foods and we have become friends with the chefs and kitchen staff which makes going to dinner (lunch) and tea (dinner/supper) fun indeed.
Although the snow has proved to be problematic for continuing classes, and the boarders have been bored and feel trapped in the house, Jennifer and I have had the opportunity to get to know everyone better than we would have, had it not snowed; for that, I am thankful. Wednesday and Thursday last week, we spent the day in St. George's House, and played in the snow with the girls. We also had some time to sit with Ms. Chris, a secretary for the preparatory school, supervising in the house, so we had some time to just chat. Everyone has been so helpful and inviting. Many people have invited us over either to just have a change of scenery or what-not, and given us their phone numbers in case we should need anything.
We had a meeting with the Head, Ms. Hodgson, on Friday to discuss how things are going, if we are settling in fine, and to see if we had any questions. Jennifer has her time table figured out already but since I will be floating between the preparatory school and the senior school, it is taking a little more time and effort to figure out. I will have the opportunity to work with a student one-on-one for two math lessons every monday. She is behind; she is an 11th year student (10th grade) and is completing 7th year requirements (6th grade). I think this will be a very good experience for both of us.
On Sunday, we decided to check out a local church, St. Thomas Presbyterian Church, which is literally 2 blocks from our flat. It was very traditional, they sung hymns, had a short sermon, and everyone gathered for tea and biscuits (cookies) afterward. I think we will check out St. Mary's next week.
In case you are interested to know, Howells was actually in the running to be Hogwarts in the Harry Potter movies. They were in the top 3 and then the producers chose to use a few churches instead. But how cool is that?!?! It really is Hogwarts!!
Jennifer and I will also be working in St. George's House 2 nights a week. We will be putting the prep boarders to bed. Those 3 little girls are so adorable and they are such a handful as well, so we have decided that a tag team method would work best rather than each doing one night solo. One of the prep boarders was at dinner tonight when we were discussing with Ms. White about helping and she was so excited that we would be coming in every week! That just gives you a good feeling!
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
I have almost got my timetable sorted out. I have picked up a year 10 maths class (which will be like a freshman math class) which I am really excited about!! I also now have a year 7 chemistry class and a year 9 biology class, still working on getting a physics lesson. should know by tomorrow. Since this is a 150 year old school, they are still using lots of pen and paper for keeping records which slows the process of making my timetable.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
We are supposed to have a technician come tomorrow during the day so we should have internet by the time we get out of school, as long as it doesn't snow this evening. I have blogs waiting to be posted on my computer at home, and since I am in the junior library at the moment, can't be posted immediately.
More to be posted in the days to come!
Thursday, January 7, 2010
We arrived on Monday, met some important people, got provisions from the kitchen, and settled into our flat. We explored Denbigh (pronounced Din-bee) a little. The town is very small, and we spent more time at the castle ruins than anywhere else, but let me just say...it is BREATHTAKINGLY BEAUTIFUL here! Jennifer and I keep saying, "is this really our life?" It is so fantastic!
Day 2, Tuesday: We met with the head, Rachael Hodgson, to go over logistics and assignments. We spent the rest of the morning in the preparatory school. After lunch, the bagan to send students home because it was a blizzard outside (not really, but I've never seen anything like it); I believe there was 4 or 5 inches of snow, but apparently it doesn't snow in Denbigh often, so people sort of freaked. We had 29 extra students that couldn't get home and a few parents that were stranded as well.
Day 3-4: Jennifer and I have spent these 2 days helping out in St. George's Boarding House, where most of the girls are. Mostly we have been with the 3 preparatory boarders (age 7, 8, and 9), and boy, are they a handful! It is really great though because we get to see the girls outside of school and get to know them. Although, most of the girls who attend Howells do not board, at least we get to know the ones that do.
We should be getting internet tomorrow at the flat, so I can load pictures and Skype. More to come soon!
Sunday, January 3, 2010
We started out the day going to East Hill Baptist Church; the church Jennifer's brother attended when he lived here. Following the service, we had tea and cake. One thing I learned about tea, you have to ask for it without milk or you get it with milk. I like mine straight; no milk or sugar. I'm weird!
Friday, January 1, 2010
Well, jet lag set in a little this morning, so we had a late start. We took the train into London and saw Big Ben, House of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, the Eye of London, Buckingham Palace, St. James Park, Hyde Park Corner, and what we think was the St Peter's Gate. We are getting good at riding the buses and not getting lost, although we were looking for this fish & chips joint last night and ended up walking about a 3 mile circle, needless to say we woke up a little sore after all the walking we did yesterday. I am already used to riding the bus on the "wrong" side of the road. I think it will be weird coming back to the states and driving on the right side of the road!