A break in the action

Can hardly believe we just finished our first month of teaching — four weeks with 8th graders already completed.  I don’t recall any teaching year ever zipping by this quickly.  The exhaustion factor continues and I’ve come to believe it’ll grow exponentially week by week, especially if I don’t do a better job of getting to bed earlier.  I am my own worst enemy!  My excuse?  It’s oh so quiet after 9:30 p.m. and I get some good work done during that time.  Plus, I just can’t turn out my light without reading another chapter or two (or three).  Some habits are hard to break, especially for folks like me who love ending their day with story.  I’ve managed to read a lot since school started, joining my students for choice reading daily and putting in a full 30+ minutes every evening on my MRT commute home from school.  Add in the time I read at night and it’s easy to make steady progress.My most recent book recommendation is Boys without Names by Kashmira Sheth. Just published this year, this one is definitely response-rich.  I’d love to include it in a literature circle with 8th graders — their belief in issues of justice fits perfectly with this contemporary story of illegal child labor in India.  Read it and let me know what you think.

What’s with the “break in the action” post title?  Two reasons . . . Earlier this week I managed to walk right into a steel laptop carts.  Cumbersome, heavy, and right in the way, the last two piggies on my left foot hit that danged cart as I hustled to leave a colleague’s classroom following a morning meeting.  By day’s end my little toe was a motley shade of grey-purple and nearly double in size.  Here’s the good news/bad news about a broken toe.  Bad news: It takes time to heal and there’s not much that can be done except apply ice for swelling, ingest ibuprofen for pain, and avoid curbs, crowds, and a school full of kids.  Good news: My shoe wardrobe in Singapore includes variant versions of flip-flops and sandals.  Lots of room for toes to breath . . . and heal.

The other “break” in the action was a day off from school yesterday due to the Muslim holiday Hari Raya Puasa, or Eid, marking the end of Ramadan, and celebrating the conclusion of the holy month’s thirty days of dawn-to-sunset fasting.  In Singapore it’s a public holiday — no school (public or private) and lots of family festivities.  Fred and I took advantage of the day by visiting Istana (meaning “palace”), the official residence of the President of the Republic of Singapore.  It’s only open five days during the year and, lucky us, it’s just a short walk from where we live.  The sprawling 100 acres includes glorious theme gardens, numerous bungalow type buildings and the grand Government House that is used mostly for ceremonial and entertainment functions.  It’s a “white house” of sorts — set in a magnificent location. A lovely way to discover more about our Singapore home on a much-needed day off.



There’s no denying it . . . The Hunger Games Trilogy Revolution is alive and well in Room M126.  Every single copy available (from my library, to the entire SAS library system, to my colleagues’ libraries) has been checked out.  Kids are sneak reading in math, in social studies, even during our writing focus lessons (dang!).  And, the obsession has hit both my gal and guy readers, including some hold-outs who tried to avoid the hype.  Now they’ve become outsiders if they haven’t read (or aren’t currently reading) this trilogy.  Even Jane, who much prefers James Thurber, put aside her thick collection of Thurber’s short stories this afternoon when a copy of The Hunger Games became available.  Thank you Suzanne Collins for creating readers.  And thank you John Mason at Scholastic for dropping a copy of Mockingjay into the (air)mail.  It lasted a whole 10 seconds on my desk before Rohan spied it.  I expect he’ll be at least half way into the novel by morning.  Let’s just hope these kids get some sleep.  We have other work to do.  Yeah right.

Mussel mania (and other assorted tidbits)

Survived last Thursday night’s Back to School Night but was mighty tired when Friday rolled around.  Positive turnout from parents — approximately 80% of my students were represented.  Frankie’s mom told me this was the first year she could remember that Frankie isn’t already complaining about reading (yeah!).  And Friday one of my students said her dad’s response was, “I want to go back to school again!”  At the end of the week, my team-teaching colleague stopped by my room to tell me this was probably the best week of teaching in his life.  I felt it too.

A side note: Eighth grade girls and second grade girls have a lot in common, especially during the read aloud.  Multi-tasking means they can listen and braid hair at the same time — and do so with keen focus and mastery, as I chronicled while sitting at the side of our room while Brian read aloud last week.

hair braiding #1

hair braiding #2

Spent the weekend catching up on sleep, doing some schoolwork, and completing MOCKINGJAY.  I’ll wear my gold Mockingjay pin to class tomorrow and trust there’ll be a group of middle schoolers ready to talk, talk, talk about the end of this trilogy.  We’ll do so with respect for the readers who are frantically trying to catch up.  On Saturday I purchased three copies of CATCHING FIRE for those who started THE HUNGER GAMES last week.  My four copies of MOCKINGJAY should arrive soon, for my eager readers who are finally ready for book three.  I’m loving this reading revolution!!

Robertson QuayAnd now a shot of a glorious Saturday night at Robertson Quay where Fred and I discovered our favorite new restaurant in Singapore, Brussels Sprouts.  While there are no Brussels sprouts on the menu, there are 24 preparations for mussels. We tried just two (Brussels Sprouts Special — mussels with butter, black pepper, onions, celery, & parsley and Devilled — mussels with chili padi, coriander, curry, lime, tomato — hot ‘n spicy and lip-smacking delicious), vowing to try all 24 before we leave Singapore.  Not to worry, they come with unlimited meaty french fries (accompanied with mayo, of course!). For our visitors: We’ll gladly accompany you to this restaurant, right along the river.  And we’ll do our best to host you on an evening as beautiful as last night.

And now, on to teaching — it’s week #3 already . . .