Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A Sad & Suddden Ending

It was a very emotional day last Thursday for all of us! There were tears and hugs and smiles and cheers all at once, but mostly tears. In the 5E classroom we have had such a monumental year full of learning, exploring, and discovering new things about ourselves and the world around us. We were all excited to spend the last week together celebrating our successes and saying "have a fun summer" to our friends. For the few students who are leaving the CDNIS community is was especially difficult to have had our time together cut short. Teachers are at school today and will be at school during regular school hours for all of this week.

It has been announced that students are welcome to come to school on Wednesday for a brief period to pick up their belongings, receive their report cards and yearbooks and say goodbye to their teachers one last time. These visits must remain brief in order to comply with the government's decision to close schools. Class gatherings are absolutely not permitted at school and teachers are not allowed to attend class parties (off campus) during school hours.

This was a message that I sent out to parents last week explaining the details of what happened when the government of Hong Kong decided to shut down all schools due to increased spreading of swine flu among school-aged children. It was a sad and seemingly unfair way for the Explorers to end their amazing year. Since Thursday our class conference on the school network has seen more than 200 messages passed (all by the Explorers themselves), 4 students have been blogging their reactions and responses to this sudden change, and students have found each other to keep in touch by using Skype. We actually managed, to some extent, to have more closure and opportunities to say real goodbyes through our digital tech saaviness. Pretty cool for 10 and 11-year olds, if I do say so myself.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Problem Solved

So for over 2 weeks now every time I try to access my blog my entire web browser freezes. I have tried EVERYTHING I can think of to solve this kink, which has prevented me from being able to post any new stories for all of you lovely readers out there. I also learned this week that for many viewers, the same irregular freezing was occurring even for people who were simply trying to read my blog remotely. I was just about to give up on the entire thing and start a new blog, when I discovered a possible solution. In the bottom left corner of any internet browser there is a status bar which tells you the viewer when the page you are accessing has completely loaded. We are all used to seeing the 'done' status that tells us a page had finished loading. Well on my 50th attempt to open this blog site, I noticed that the status was flickering wildly trying to connect to YouTube. Ah ha! So tonight I proceeded to remove as many YouTube videos as I could remember from my past posts and viola! Problem seems to be solved. Either that or all my efforts simply coincided with Blogger fixing one of its own bugs at the same time (quite possible actually).

Now that I am back in, I am ready to wrap this baby up. Over the next 1.5 weeks until school finishes I plan to post frequently with some reflections on the year, but then close the lid and seal it with a bow. Next year I will try to maintain a new blog (year 2) as well as a brand new EduBlog which will be a professional reflection on my own teaching practice specifically. It will also be a place where I can begin to compile a professional digital portfolio, list projects and achievements and share my successes with fellow teachers. The EduBlogs that I have had the pleasure of perusing this year have been endlessly inspiring, and I think I am ready for this challenge :)

Click here to see one of my favorites.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Hello Rainy Season

When I decided to move to Hong Kong, I pictured a pretty rainy place. I'm a sunshine person (not a duck), and I definitely felt anxiety about moving somewhere grey and wet. Luckily for me, this has been one of the driest years for Hong Kong and I have been as happy as a dog who doesn't like to swim. It reminds me of Bear who wouldn't even go out to pee when it was raining!

I woke up this morning to a slightly grey day, bright but not sunny. I went out for a morning walk through the markets and ended up coming back home early because of annoying spitting rain, the occasional dirty water stream off an awning and the sea of umbrellas floating and bouncing along at my exact eye-level. The slippery streets in the wet markets make me nervous on my feet and gross me out around the meat and seafood stalls. So once I returned home I thought I would check the weather (something I rarely do in Hong Kong). What I discovered was so disheartening, I needed to share it with the world.

Spring is here, and with it comes the rain I see.

School has been a fun and exciting hullabaloo lately. My coaching has wrapped up with medals and team achievements. My class is happily investigating a new Unit of Inquiry into the Human Body, which puts me right in my element and makes every minute of class time fun for me :) I'm the Gr. 5 Lower School Student Council teacher rep. and we are putting on a big party at the end of the month, which I have enjoyed planning with the kids. Every day I slip a little more into my role of Gr. 5 convenor as the team begins to plan next for year and reflect on the past year's successes and failures. Although it really is great going to school each day, I am also counting down to summer holidays! Thirty-six days until Canada.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Blogging is fun!

My students are blogging and I am blown away by their imaginative creativity, unexpected senses of humour and occasional reflective intellect demonstrated through this style of public writing. Hurray for blogs! Here is a link our class website where you can access their blogs (bear in mind they're probably only AMAZING to me :)

Monday, April 27, 2009

A window into the Apple Education Conference

Here is a short production put together by a media studies class in the Upper School at CDNIS. They came to school on a weekend, worked exceptionally hard, and did a fantastic job capturing the "mood" of the event. Tip of the hat to them and their teacher.

At the end of the conference I had made some important connections with people and learned about what they are doing in other places. I tucked away some good ideas for future projects, heard some inspirational stories of success, and talked to some intriguing people. More importantly, I had time to really think about my teaching. Rarely on a weekend or weekday night, do I actually get much reflection time. I plan, I mark, I assess, I review, I create and I apply, then I eat and sleep. But I rarely get to really reflect and re-evaluate. Life here just happens to fast. Before I close my eyes for more than a blink, I'm on to the next thing and there's no time for quality collaborative reflection. The conference gave me the gift of time, the spark of inspiration, and the arena to really dig deeper into my thoughts about how I infuse technology into my classroom, why it is a critical tool for understanding my students and how I can use it to empower them in their own lives.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Apple Education Leadership Summit - Hong Kong

CDNIS is hosting an Apple Education Event this weekend, and I am lucky enough to be able to attend it. So far I have seen a couple interesting speakers and was treated to a fancy 'do' at the 4 Seasons, but unfortunately the agenda hasn't left very much room for social networking or mingling (which is what I was really looking forward to). What I have found fascinating, and so novel for a shy kid like me, are all the ways I have been able to "meet" people virtually. The conference has encouraged a Twitter feed with tagged tweets, someone created a conference FaceBook group, and almost all the presenters have excellent edublogs and webpages detailing their work or work they have learned from. All of these tools have enabled me, in a demented sort of way, to "meet" people here at the conference without actually talking to them!

Here's something I found in my virtual mingling, that really grabbed my attention and plays directly into issues I have been tackling lately with my student's acceptable use of technology in our classroom.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Crazy Hat Day

I am really loving being a grade 5 teacher, and I am looking forward to not changing teaching positions next year (a luxury that I have never experienced in my career thus far). This is a crazy time of year, and fortunately a CRAZY HAT DAY, organized to promote Spring into Reading, loosened me up a little today. I lost sight of demanding schedules, responsibilities and deadlines for a moment and just enjoyed my class. We had a great class community circle (CCC), played a few cooperative games and shared lots of laughs. It was a good day.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Lost Generation

This was played at one of our staff meetings in the fall. I thought it was worth sharing, for anyone who hasn't already stumbled across it.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

busy busy busy busy busy busy

There is simply too much going on here, and all of it on top of a regular teaching schedule! I now have the following things on the go: Badminton = coaching 6 teams. Rural China Trip = preparing, organizing for 5 days with 18 Grade 5 students. SEASAC = 4-day Badminton tournament in Singapore. Report Cards = pretty much finished, thank goodness. Adopt-A-Mac = Ongoing ACTION project with grade 5 students.

Life outside of school = pretty much non-existent :) But I'm still a happy camper.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Inspiration generation

When I look back on the 80's I remember so many inspirational influences. When I ask my students to reflect on their popular culture and interactions with the world outside our school, they can't come up with very many inspirational connections. Or maybe it's just that there are now too many, too accessible for them to really identify with one or two in particular. These past 2 weeks in class we have been looking at influential and inspirational music. I stumbled across this in my searches and it moved me. So I'm sharing it with you.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

We are the World

The students in 5E are investigating the lives of children around the world in our current Unit of Inquiry into Social Justice. Recently we learned about Bob Geldof, BandAid, and USAforAfrica. Specifically we have discussed Geldof's influence on making a change in the world by raising awareness for people who were suffering from starvation and malnutrition in Africa in the 1980s. We have learned how music can be a huge catalyst for inspiring people to want to make a change and help heal the world. Out of our enthusiasm and admiration for what those musicians did 25 years ago, we decided to honour them by re-making the video "We are the World".

Please check out this showcase on the CDNIS Learning & Teaching Technologies webpage

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Stickin' with it

I have been faithful to my diet now for 5 straight days. I have only eaten fruits, vegetables, rice and rice noodles. I have been drinking herbal tea, and fresh fruit juices from the market. I have used loads of herbs and spices in my cooking to make things tasty. I have bought blueberries, persimmons, pomegranates, strawberries, and plums to keep it somewhat exciting (and sweet). I really crave sugar sometimes, and today my kids were eating and offering me chips and chocolate bars and candies. Oh my goodness..... I stayed strong though. I haven't caved. Snacking on prunes and raisins and dried apricots has helped with the sugar-crave.

Lots of people have asked if I feel any different, and honestly I don't. I have been letting myself get at least 8 hours of sleep each night. I don't feel weak and I wake up feeling normal. I have been doing Yoga each night and that helps me feel good, but so far not any different.

So I think I'm ready to stop this diet experiment, but now I am not sure what to do next. How do I choose what to start eating again?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Time to get healthy

I'm feeling sluggish, tired, heavy, lethargic, stiff, and just plain unhealthy. In early January I was quite sick with congestive and flu-like symptoms. My immune system was weak, and going back to work was hard on me. Now I feel completely over that, my respiratory system is feeling great but my digestive system is suffering. I get through the work day with a somewhat healthy lunch thanks to the cafeteria at work, but it is more or less the same every day. I have too many treats and candies in my classroom which I eat throughout the afternoon when I start to feel tired, then I come home and either snack on moderately unhealthy stuff until bedtime or go out to eat restaurant-sized portions of varying degrees of healthiness. What to do?

I kicked off this weekend with yoga on both Saturday and Sunday mornings. Since the retreat in Thailand I have not practiced once! I must admit, it didn't great on Saturday, but today was better. I have some damaged tendons in my left ankle, and I am still wearing a tensor bandage, so I have to be careful and not push it too much.

Then I reflected on the Ayurvedic body styles I learned about in Thailand to help me plan a 1-week cleansing diet. I'm not in the mood to try and just 'eat better' or 'snack less', I need a serious regime to clean out my body as well as my mental state of craving comfort foods and compromising my better judgment in terms of food choices. I researched some common cleansing diets and applied the dos and don'ts to my Ayurvedic body type - which is Kapha - to come up with a general idea of what I will be eating over the next 7 (or more) days. Then I went out into the wet markets in my neighbourhood and stocked up! I bought broccoli, peppers, asparagus, artichoke, apples, blueberries, eggplant, carrots, spinach and a dozen bunches of fresh herbs. Then I stopped in the super market for a sac of mixed Thai rice (8 rice varieties), 2 liters of pure carrot juice, herbal tea, rice paper, raisins and dried apricots.

So here I go. I just cleaned out my fridge of all that could tempt me (there really wasn't much in there to begin with), cut up some carrot sticks, put some rice to soak, ate a bowl of blueberries, and I have no idea what to do next...

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Getting back to normal

What a wonderful 2 months I have had. Spoiled to say the least :)
I planned on writing every day over the CNY holiday, but ended up being too busy having an amazing time to even consider wasting time on the computer. I love it when that happens. Unfortunately there is now way I can recount all the fun, so I'll just have to rely on Jodi's great memory (and journal) to protect the wonderful memories.

Showing Jodi around (and getting to know) my new home city of Hong Kong, and see the festivities and traditions of Chinese New Year was really neat. Highlights included: walking around the outer rim of the Macau Sky Tower, Hong Kong Ocean Park, Picnic + Fireworks over Victoria Harbour, Pizza Dinner Party at my flat, A traditional round table Chinese meal with Joanna, happy hours and dinners in SoHo, and exploring Kowloon.

The upcoming 60 days will be less exciting, as I count down to my Easter vacation when I will fly to Korea to celebrate Rohanna's first birthday with Bruce and Barb. I can't wait. Not too much should happen between now and then, so I will make all efforts to write, more often, about the daily adventures of my life as Master Explorer.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Horse Races!

Jodi and I had loads of fun at the Happy Valley Horse Races last night. We didn't win big but we enjoyed the thrill of the races and the crowds of people. It sure wasn't what I would have expected.

Today we had an amazing Chinese New Year concert at school, and our students were fantastic performers. Tomorrow is the last day before holidays, and we will dismiss the students at 11am. Then the staff will enjoy a Chinese New Year celebratory lunch, which should be nice.

Jodi and I are booked into a hotel in Macau for Saturday and Sunday! Planning to return on Monday for the Hong Kong night parade and also looking forward to the fireworks over the harbour on Tuesday!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Jodi's here

Today was an interesting day at school as the community prepares for Chinese New Year. We had a flower fair, where I bought very cute stuffed oxen (we're welcoming the year of the ox (or cow)), sweet treats, dim sum and Chinese crafts. My students enjoyed it and are really starting to get excited for this upcoming holiday.

Jodi arrived at 3:15pm and has now crashed out for the night. She was awake for a good 50 hours or so, so she'll need to recuperate and adjust. Good to get rested up for the festivities to come. I can't wait to explore Hong Kong with her!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

I'm coming back I promise!

I haven't known how to resume writing after such a huge chunk of time went undocumented. I have decided to forget about trying to fill you all in on the second half of my holiday (picture a yoga retreat, with no internet, no distractions, and sweet, sweet soul therapy) - I will just leave it at this: It was fabulous, and I thoroughly enjoyed my entire trip to Thailand. I was also trying to figure out how to recount the last 2 weeks of my return to Hong Kong. In short, Bonnie came to visit and we had fun exploring the city, eating out, seeing the sights and being very sick together. It became unexpectedly cold in Hong Kong at the start of January and I wasn't prepared for it! Ten degrees feels pretty cold when you have no heat or insulation.

So now I am back. Back to school, back to being healthy, and back to blogging. My dear friend Jodi arrives tomorrow to help me celebrate Chinese New Year and explore some of Hong Kong's culture. We will have many, many adventures, I am sure, and I will be here online to share them with you :)

Thanks for not giving up on me.