Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Anchor Charts and Goggles

Happy Tuesday!!

I can't believe it's already July 30.  August is right around the corner.  Insane.

I know many of you are getting ready to go back, but I still feel like summer has just begun.  Still, I probably need to start tackling some of those projects I planned to do for next year.  Hmmm....

Before I get started on anything today, I am going to take a minute to link up with First Grade Fabulosity for her first ever linky.  The theme is Anchor Charts, which is awesome because I made a serious effort to create better charts last year and I am always looking for new ideas.  That being said, I really hope a lot of people link up.  My fingers are itching to pin, pin, pin!

Before I go shopping through other people's posts, I am excited to share some of the anchor charts that I've created.  Click the pictures to read the original posts about these charts.

Daily 5






Those are some of my favorites.  Can't wait to see what you've created for your classrooms.

Now it's time for another edition of...

Left My Heart in Hyderabad

Although I originally planned to share all of my day 2 journal, I felt convicted to only share part of it today and to save the rest for tomorrow.  So, here goes...
Day Two: Part 1
This morning I woke up so excited and eager to start the day.  In fact, I was so pumped up, I went out on the balcony and belted out “Good Morning Hyderabad” to the tune of “Good Morning Baltimore.” 
          During devotions we talked about seeing everyone and everything through “Jesus Goggles” because “Jesus just doesn’t see people the same way the rest of us do.”  For example, when he looked at the Pharisees, He saw them for who they truly were: hypocrites.  He called them out for being outwardly pious and religious, but inwardly wicked.  As much as I used to point fingers at the Pharisees, I have learned that I am often just like them without even realizing it.  It’s only when I allow the Holy Spirit to truly examine my heart that my true motivations are revealed and the sinful ones are pruned.
What’s amazing is that Jesus even loved the Pharisees.  Yes, He called them out, but it was because He wanted to cut to their hearts, so that they could recognize how much they needed Him.  He still loves this way today by disciplining His children and guiding them back to Him.  I know I am thankful for this amazing love, cause without it, I would be the chief of Pharisees.
Beyond seeing the Pharisees for who they truly were, Jesus also had a different view of society’s outcasts.  Think about the woman at the well.  Jason Weber states, “She was an outcast, rejected by her own people…even the lowlifes thought she was a lowlife.”  Yet, Jesus saw her and felt compassion for her.  He saw “someone whom everyone else had rejected…someone on in desperate need of a second chance…someone whose heart was ready to respond to the grace offered by the God of the universe.”

Is that what I see when I look at people?  Do I see the way Jesus sees them?

Sometimes.  Maybe.  Not as often as I should.
Thankfully, Jesus does not expect us to be perfect and He is more than willing to give us His goggles, so we can see others and ourselves the way He sees us: broken and sinful, but loved beyond imagination and desperately in need of Him.
  Starting right now, I want to pray even harder for God to give me His eyes each and every day, not only while I am in India, but when I go back home too.

So, that's all I have for today.  I will just leave you with a song...

Monday, July 29, 2013

Let's Get Acquainted: Goals for Next Year

Post-India post #2!!

It's nice to get back to blogging and what better way to do it than to join Latoya for Let's Get Acquainted.  I am a tad late, but hey, I'm still on India-time.  Hehe.  By the way, stay tuned for another journal entry about my experiences there.

This weeks' theme is Goals for Next Year.  I really like this because if I post these goals, I feel more accountable to them and will hopefully follow through.

Goal 1: Behavior Management
I am trying to figure out a new system of behavior management, since last years crashed and burned.  Okay, it wasn't that bad, but it did not work very well.  I need to find something that I can fully embrace and implement consistently.  Consistency is a huge challenge for me.  Also, I want to foster internal motivation, rather than having students rely on stickers and prizes all the time.  

All that being said, here are some of the ideas I am considering.  I welcome feedback.

My first choice option is a clip chart like this awesome one from Jaime at Bright Concepts for Teachers.

I would love to have a daily behavior chart to go along with this, so the parents are constantly aware of their child's behavior.  I have been using a sticker chart, but that requires so much work and time at the end of every day.  I was thinking of having the kids color a box each day to show how they did.  However, I don't want to go too overboard. 

My other option is a compliment system where students each have their own compliment chart on their desks.  They earn compliments and then go the prize box when they fill their chart.  As the year continues, there are more spaces on the compliment chart.  My colleague who uses this says its great because each child is accountable to himself or herself only.  I like that, but I also do not know how to include consequences in this system.  Of course, I use logical consequences and have kids take breaks, but how would I inform parents of the students' behavior?

Also, I have been using team marble jars and would like to keep using them.  However, I don't want to have too many systems going at once.  Should I keep using the marble jars?  Only use them and no other system?

What do you all think?  

Goal 2: Daily 5 Procedures

Now that I am back from India and have time to work on school projects, I would love to really research and plan for some new Daily 5 procedures.  Last year was my pilot year and while some things worked well, others need to be tweaked.  I plan to do some serious blog and Pinterest research. 

Goal 3: Keep My Desk Organized

As I shared in a previous Tricks of the Trade post, my desk is often a mess.  I really want to do a better job of organizing it this year.  You can read more about my ideas for doing this here.

Speaking of Tricks of the Trade, after a two week hiatus, it is back.  This week's theme is Classroom Jobs, so start thinking about what tips and tricks you can share this Thursday.

Now, it's time for another edition of Left My Heart in Hyderabad.  As of this moment, I have decided to use that to title all of my future India posts.  Hehe.  Also, I will only be sharing snippets of journal entries because I do not want to bore or overwhelm anyone.

Day One: Orientation and Sarah's Orphans

My first glimpse of India came through the dark plane window.  Scattered lights spread out across the black land.  I could not contain my excitement as the plane lowered closer and closer towards the lights.  After a crazy long and complicated 24 hours of travel, we were finally in India!  Wahoo! 
Our first few hours in country were super chill.  We went through customs, got our bags, met our host Paul, and rode 45 minutes to the hotel.  Surprisingly, we even got to take a short nap before breakfast.  I guess that is because we landed at 4:00 a.m. and got to the hotel at 7:00 a.m.  It did not hurt to start our day at 9:00 a.m.  In fact, it was nice to recharge a bit.

After breakfast we drove to the lake and spent some time drinking chai (yum!) and listening to Mary, our host, tell stories about Hyderabad.  She told us that the city has two main parts, Hyderabad and Secunderabad, separated by the lake.  The city is growing so much that it is incorporating all of the little villages around it.  

Hussain Sagar Lake
The statue in the middle of the lake is Buddha.  The original one sank when it was installed, so they had to remake it 10 times bigger and work hard to stabilize it.  Now, it can be seen from afar and visited by boat.  Mary also explained that for many years the lakeside was a place of darkness where many people committed suicide.  The church began to pray for the light to come and now it is a booming area of shops, movie theaters etc.  God has brought the light to a formerly dark area. 
I fell in love with chai!
At Pastor Sudhaker’s house, we spent hours trying to stay awake while Mary told us the fascinating story of how she and Paul met, worked together at YWAM for years, disliked each other, prayed about being together, and then heard confirmation from others that they should marry.  What an encouraging story of seeking God first and faithfully waiting for Him! 

Next, the orphan girls living with Pastor Sudhaker's daughter Mary and her husband arrived and started doing henna on all of our arms.  It was so relaxing to just sit back and watch Suma draw intricate designs on my arm.  I was amazed by how talented she and the other girls were.  Check out their awesome work!

After everyone was covered in henna, we all spent some time talking and laughing with the girls.  I sat and talked with Pranitha for a while.  She told me that her father had been a drinker who died of kidney problems.  Then, her mother was hit by a vehicle and killed.  Pranitha and her older brother were on the streets for 5 days until Pastor Sudhaker took them and Pranitha began living with Sister Sarah.  Now, Pranitha has God as her Heavenly Father and praises Jesus every day.  She loves Psalm 23.  I was filled with joy to hear her hope.
Hema is one of 6 children whose mother died when they were young.  I did not hear what happened to her father.  Hema was taken in by Sister Sarah and now knows God.  Her two older sisters are married and her 2 older brothers work in shops.  Her other brother is at a different orphan care site. 
Both Pranitha and Hema captured my heart and filled me with joy and hope.  Thanks to God they are now my sisters!  When I asked to pray for her, Pranitha had me repeat a prayer back to her in Telegu.  How cool is that?!  
It was hard to say goodbye to the girls tonight.  I can't want to see them again next week!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Left My Heart in Hyderabad

I'M BACK!!!!!!!!

After spending 2 weeks falling in love with the country of India and it's beautiful people, I am back in the U.S.A.  I actually got back at 2:30 a.m. Thursday morning, after a super-delayed flight from D.C., but have not had the chance to blog yet since I was unpacking and acclimating to my "normal" life.

To be perfectly honest, I do not want to go back to normal.  God revealed so much to me while I was in India.  I left a piece of my heart in Hyderabad and took Hyderabad with me in my heart.  I will never be the same.  I cannot be the same.

As a way of sharing my life-changing experiences with all of you, I have decided to include excerpts from my journal in every post for a few weeks.  However, before I begin, I have to share a summary of what my team actually did while we were there.

My Journey 117 team was composed of 12 people from all over the country.  We ranged in age from 19-33.  Only 2 pairs of people had met before the trip.  Though we were different in many ways, we were all united in our passion for serving the Lord by caring for orphans.  In preparation for the trip we had 8 training calls during which we explored God's heart for the orphans and how it's not just a good idea for Christians to care for them, but rather, God's people are commanded to... 

"Learn to do right; seek justice.

    Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
    plead the case of the widow.
-Isaiah 1:17

It was in obedience to that command, the 12 of us set off on a journey that changed the course of our lives forever.

While in Hyderabad, we spent time visiting different branches of the Bethel Gospel Church where orphans are being cared for by pastors and their wives.  These precious children are not in institutional orphanages, but rather belong to families with mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters who love them.  I have never seen such sacrificial love as what I saw pouring from the pastors and their wives.  These pastors are not rich.  They do not live in mansions.  They have their own kids to provide for.  Yet, they have obediently followed God's commands and have brought 8, 10, 12, or 13 orphan children into their homes and have cared for them as their own children.  What beautiful families. 

In addition to visiting these different homes around the city, we also went to a farm where there are 4 orphan homes in which pastors and their wives, and widows are caring for orphans.  What an incredible idea!  Orphans and widows being cared for and caring for each other all in one.
Orphan homes on the farm.
The Bethel Gospel Church has got it right when it comes to orphan care!

What's even cooler is that they are working to make the farm a sustainable source of all the food that the kids need.  They are already growing some crops such as rice, eggplants, peanuts, bananas etc. and plan to grow more.  Eventually they will have chickens too for eggs and meat.  When there is excess, they will sell the goods to the city to earn money for other necessary supplies.  How awesome is that?!
View of the farm from atop a mountain.
It was such a blessing to be able to see this kind of ministry and to love so many beautiful kids.  Each time we visited a new site, I was struck by the bright smiles of the children.  I seriously wish that I could bottle up some of them to carry with me to brighten my day when life gets hard.  How could I not be happy looking at a smile like this?

Just looking at Praveem, I bet you would never know he is an orphan.  In fact, he and his older sister Divya lost their father when she was 5 and Praveem was just a baby.  Their mother is mentally disabled and could not/cannot care for them.  After her father's death, Divya had no money for school and had to beg for food for her and her brother.  Can you even imagine a 5 year-old girl begging for food and parenting her baby brother?  Could one of your kindergarteners do that?

Beautiful Divya
Fortunately for Praveem and Divya, a loving pastor took them in and now both children are being cared for and loved.  They have food.  They go to school.  They have dreams and goals.  They know their Savior, Jesus Christ!  Praise the Lord!

Hearing the Praveem and Divya and many other children's painful stories of orphan-hood broke my heart into a million pieces.  I have never seen such deep sorrow and pain.  However, my grief for these precious ones was tempered by great hope.  All of these children have been brought into homes full of God's love.  They have loving parents, brothers and sisters, and pastors.  They are studying and serving, learning and loving.

Bethel Gospel Church, with the help of World Orphans, is changing the course of orphans' lives.  The church people's faithful obedience to God's commands and their extreme generosity is a challenge to me and should be to us all.  Few churches I've seen are so committed to being the hands and feet of Jesus.

I know that I will pray daily for Bethel Gospel Church, for the orphans I met, and the many others around the world, many of whom are not being cared for and loved in any way.  I will also continue to ask God to show me His heart for those in need.

Will you do the same?

Will you find a way to show love to hurting children?

What's awesome is you don't have to go around the world to do it.  There are orphans and children in need right where you live.  Some of them may even be in your classroom.  So, ask yourself and ask God this...

What can I do for orphans?

How can I love children in need?

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Liebster Award and Last Post Pre-India

Hi all!

I am so excited right now.  Life is so good.  God is so good.  I have been insanely busy lately, but yet it has all been a blessing.  I've had some great times hanging out with friends, a wonderful time of fellowship and devotion at Spruce Lake Retreat Center for the 4th of July, and I attended a beautiful wedding yesterday for my good friend from camp who I haven't seen in years.

With all these blessings, finding out that Amber from School is a Happy Place nominated me for the Liebster Award was definitely icing on the cake!  Thank you so, so much to Amber.  She has such a great blog and is such a sweet person, so I am honored that she chose me as one of her nominees.

For those of you who don't know what the Liebster Award is or for anyone who needs a refresher, here's the basics:

Liebster is German and means "dearest," "lovely," "cute," "beloved," and "welcome."  What a great word.  Since blogging is about creating community, this award is a fabulous way to spread the word about new blogs. 

To accept the nomination I must:
1. Link back to the blog that nominated me
2. Nominate 5-11 blogs with fewer than 200 followers
3. Answer the questions posted for you by your nominator
4. Share 11 random facts about yourself
5. Create 11 questions for your nominees
6. Contact your nominees and let them know you nominated them

My Blog Nominations:

Amber's 11 Questions for Me:

1.  Why did you start blogging?

I started my blog for a variety of reasons.  My best friend Jessica from Joy in the Journey got me started reading teaching blogs.  I soon became addicted.  I loved getting fresh ideas and great freebies.  I began to contemplate sharing my own ideas and teaching adventures.  I have always enjoyed journaling about my experiences, so I decided to take the plunge and start a blog.  On a different note, I am an advocate for an organization called Compassion International.  Compassion is dedicated to releasing children from poverty in Jesus' name.  They have a variety of amazing ministries that are helping millions of children reach their potential.  I thought that a blog could be a good way to raise awareness and support to help children in need.

2.  If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?

I would LOVE to learn to dance.  I guess I could say to dance "better," since I did take a hip hop class this past year and did okay.  Still, I feel like I only scratched the surface of the dance world.  Realistically, I know that I will never be a fabulous dancer, since I didn't start when I was three, but I would love to get better at hip hop and to learn some new kinds of dance, especially swing or other partner dances.  I think it's incredible how people can move their bodies, but even more so, I love how dance can tell a story and evoke emotion in such a deep way.  

3.  What story does your family always tell about you?

Hmmmm....  This is a tough one.  I had to ask my mom to know what she would say.  She told me that one of her favorite stories about me is when I was little girl, my dad came home from San Francisco with a little cable car as a gift for me.  

One day after I got the car, when I was watching Mr. Roger's Neighborhood, I got really excited that Mr. Rogers had a cable car (trolley) too.  When the trolley made its appearance, I ran up to the screen with my car and declared, "See Mr. Rogers, I have a trolley too!"  After politely waiting for a response and not receiving one, I announced with great frustration, "He won't answer me!"

4.  What is your favorite song?

AAHAHAHGAHAGHAHAGHHGA!!!!  I always HATE this question because I have WAY TOO MANY favorites to list.  My favorites depend on the artist, the day, my mood etc.  Some are timeless favorites; some are temporary.  It's a complicated list.  If I have to choose one favorite that has been my favorite for many years, I would have to say, "Jesus Freak" by DC Talk.  The music video is pretty old school, but the lyrics and the music are hardcore.   I especially like the rap parts.  Go Toby!

5.  What is your favorite outdoor activity?

This is an interesting one.  I like a variety of outdoor activities, but I guess my favorite would be sitting by a campfire telling stories, singing songs, and toasting marshmallows.  There is just something about campfires that brings people together.  Plus, watching the flickering fire is always so mesmerizing.

Also, just so you know, burning your marshmallows is gross and wrong!  Golden brown and puffy is the way to go.  I have perfected my toasting technique over many years and it never disappoints.  Hehehe.

6.  You have a ten minute speech to give at a high school, what is it about?

I would probably speak about some issue related to children living in poverty and would try to motivate the kids to do something to make a difference in the world.

7.  Where do you like to vacation?

I love going lots of places.  Going to any other country is always so exciting and fun.  Camping in the woods and/or mountains is always nice, and of course the beach is awesome!  I can't really choose one place.  

8.  What is one goal you have made for yourself this year?

My goal is to really invest in making the Daily 5 all that it can be in my classroom.  I want to research Pin some new ideas and try them out this year.  I hope to start off early this year and to really develop what I started last year to make it better.

9.  Do you have a pet(s)?  If so, what type do you have?

At this time, I have no pets, but I wish I had a dog.  I miss my family dog Dusty a lot!  She's so cute!

10.  Are you married?  Do you have children?

Nope and Nope.  That was the easiest question to answer!

11.  What do you "know now" that you wish you "knew then"?

Just recently God has revealed to me that I never really understood or felt His love.  Instead of living freely in Him, I was trying so hard to be perfect and successful to please man and to earn my salvation.  Even though I logically knew salvation came through grace alone, I was living like I had to do everything on my own.  Now, that I have finally realized how much of a sinner I am and how I can only find my identity in Christ, I am feeling freer than I've ever felt in my life.  I wish I had truly felt God's love sooner.  However, I am still thankful for the tough times that brought me to this point because I know that God often uses struggles and hardships to draw us closer to Him.

*11 Facts About Me*

1. My birthplace is Jacksonville, Florida.
2. I have lived in 5 different states (Florida, Iowa, Ohio, Virginia, and New Jersey)
3. I have been to 42 of the 50 states and 7 (soon to be more) different foreign countries.
4. My two favorite bands/artists are TobyMac and Skillet.
5. I have seen 129 different bands and artists in concert.
6. I like to mosh.  Yes, I have gotten some serious bruises.  
7. My current favorite Bible passage is Isaiah 43.
8. I am deathly afraid of tornadoes.
9. I have worked at 7 different jobs (Chick Fil A, Macy's Huntington Learning Center, Seneca Hills Bible Camp, day camp in my current town, and of course my current school).
10. Millennium Force at Cedar Point is my favorite roller coaster.
11. My alter ego is Mort the baby lemur from Madagascar.

My 11 Questions for My Nominees:

1. What was your favorite year in school?
2. What do you miss most about being a kid?
3. What story does your family always tell about you?
4. Do you have a special talent?
5. Where's your favorite vacation spot?
6. Is there any grade you would NOT teach?  Why?
7. What is your favorite band/artist?
8. What's the number one played song on your iTunes?
9. What's your favorite book?
10. What's the best or worst date you've ever been on?
11. Who is your hero?  Why?

That was so much fun!  Thanks again to Amber for nominating me.  

So, before I say "bye" for today, I have to announce that this will be my last post before I got to India.  I leave on Tuesday at 6:00 a.m. and have one busy day of preparation left, so I won't have time to blog.  To everyone who has supported me and encouraged me as I prepared for this trip, I am so thankful.  I could not be more excited to embark on this adventure.  I am amazed that God has chosen me to serve and love His precious little children in India.  I can't wait to share everything with you all when I get back in two weeks. 

God Bless!