One Sunflower

what’s so cool about summer school!

The best thing about summer school is that it isn’t – school that is.  It’s summer, (sort-of, this is the Pac NW afterall,) but what happens only resembles school.  Actually what I like best is that it resembles the best parts of school.

"She'll be comin' round the mountain"

We begin each morning as a group – all 50 kids in one classroom singing songs, doing a “Jam minute” exercise and then one class steps to the front to be in the spotlight, sharing some work they are doing.  There are 4 classes and 4 days to the week so each class has their assigned day.

Sharing about Tales of Despereaux

The second graders shared some predictions they were making about a book and a game for learning names, the 3rd and 4th graders shared some summaries about the Tales of Despereaux and the first graders taught everyone the sequence of claps to the song Dum-dum-da-da.

brother and sister in tie-dye

Each class spends 75 minutes together for literacy.  Then we all take a 15 minute break together on the playground beginning with a snack.

The next hour is split into two sessions of mixed age groups.  I am especially enjoying the mix of abilities and background knowledge as I work with my groups to produce shadow puppets.

re-reading 3 Billy Goats Gruff

The younger students have needed some help cutting out the thick paper, the older students sometimes need refresher courses on the nursery rhymes and folk tales that we are dramatizing.

Another aspect of summer school that is fun is the mix of teachers.  Our district music teacher is working this summer and enjoying teaching literacy and having the same group of kids every day.  Two of the teachers are recent interns and bring young energy to the work. I’m enjoying seeing what my ex-preschoolers have learned in their year of kindergarten and hoping to maintain some of their footholds as they make their way to first grade.

I referenced our 6th grade helpers in a previous post.  They are enjoying being our summer school recorders as well, taking turns behind the camera.

caught on my own camera

A CD will be made for each student at the end of the session – just 8 more days! Then the count down begins towards “real school.”  Hopefully I’ll see some of the t-shirts turn up on kids and hear some of the songs.
Maybe, just maybe, one of the students will write about doing a puppet show.

3 little kittens scene

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Hansel and Gretel are writing

I got lost on the way to our meeting, driving a little too far north and west, but it wasn’t long before I was out of my car, speaking into my cell phone, “I’m here, where are you?” Soon we were waving at each other over parked cars and coming face to face for the first time.

I chanced onto Gretchen’s blog a year or so ago when I was looking for a quotation from Sue Bender’s book, Everyday Sacred.  The quotes popped up as part of a blog entry and my interest was piqued, especially when I read that Gretchen was originally from Washington state.  Skimming through entries I found out we had other things in common, but mostly it was her writing that captured me.  I made a comment to her blog as a way of connecting and soon we were exchanging emails.

I find the intimacy that develops between readers and writers of blogs to be intriguing. Recently I sat down with a woman to collaborate on a project and she shared that she felt as though we had been working together for years rather than months because of the information she gained about me by reading my blog. Publishing and reading blogs has my heart traipsing about the world and over thresholds I will never see with my eyes. I have become like writers everywhere, sprinkling crumbs on the ground, leading one another over new pathways.

Gretchen and I ate lunch together in an outdoor cafe and filled in some of the blanks of our lives that are not a part of our blog writing.  We still have much to learn about each other but the ease with which we settled into conversation, and the hugs at our first greeting and again at parting, are indications of a special and unique bond that has developed between us. (and I wish I’d gotten a picture!)


so how did it go?

(see yesterday’s post for more context)
Scene 1
8:20       Four teachers running around like their heads are cut off.  One calm assistant sitting at the secretary’s desk answering phone calls from parents whose children have missed the bus.  They weren’t prepared for an early summer timeline of school beginning at 8:30 instead of 9:00.

Scene 2
8:40       50 students, aged 6 to 11 sitting on the rug in a room where the furniture is stacked against the walls, singing a familiar song with their beloved music teacher.  Her presence is an incredible bonus for a program often staffed with teachers the students haven’t met before.

Scene 3
10:00      Students making their way to the cafeteria for their snack, weaving through a maze of equipment lining the hallways.
“Where did all this stuff come from?” Michelle asks.
“Well, the custodian has pulled it out from all the classrooms so he can clean everything, including the carpet.”
“Wow, I didn’t know he did that!”An example of another form of information the students gain at summer school.

Scene 4
11:40       Five ex-fifth graders, newly graduated from the school, are sitting in a circle with the teachers eating pizza and drinking pop.  These students volunteered to be teacher-helpers for the summer session and are gathered for a brief orientation, including a discussion about confidentiality. After meeting together as a group, each student goes with the teacher they are assigned to in order to find out how they can support the teacher in the classroom.

Scene 5 (I saved the best for last)
12:10      Sheila, my student assistant, is hugging herself nervously, as she sits in a desk across from me.  After telling her about what I hope to have the students doing each day, I ask her how she would like to help.   “Well I love to do math and science and poetry.  And I want to do a reading group, you know, talk with the kids about the title and the pictures in the book, ask them questions, and read with expression.  I practice all the time at home.”

Scene 6
12:15     Me with my mouth open in amazement and delight.

written for challenge hosted by Two Writing Teachers