Saturday, November 29, 2014

I'm a Guest Blogger!

I'm super excited and incredibly fortunate to have teamed up with Anne from Common Core Connection to be her very first guest blogger!  It was my first time being a guest blogger as well and I think we pulled it off. :)

Head on over to her site and show some love.  Let me know how you like the post.  Hopefully you can use the lesson in your own classroom.  After completing this activity for two days, I moved the materials into the math center so students could continue exploring comparing numbers.

Just click on the picture to go to her blog and check it out.

Have a wonderful day!

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Friday, November 28, 2014

Five for Friday Time!

I'm linking up again with Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five for Friday.

How fun are these masks?  A student brought them in for a gift but the class wasn't able to take them home until this week.  I love how it makes crazy hair.  So cute!

The UAE might not recognize Thanksgiving as a holiday (no time off for me!) but it does conveniently fall close to their National Day (sort of like Independence Day).  This means the kiddos got to have a party on Thursday.  They celebrated with candy (of course) and someone brought in another cake.  I think this makes cake number 4 since October.

The students practiced for the Thursday National Day celebrations for two weeks.  All specials were cancelled so the students could practice, practice, practice.  Remember this is a kindergarten school.  By practice I mean they were yelled at....oh well.  The day of the performance they looked super cute. Even if you couldn't tell they practiced their little butts off for DAYS.  Then last minute (day before) a note goes home saying parents are not allowed to come to the celebration...but they came anyway. Confused? Yes. But this kind of thing is normal here... This picture is not my class.  I did not get  a picture of them and their cute pom-pom routine because my co-teacher forced had me on recording duty during their performance.  I won't tell you she stood there empty handed while I held a camera AND a phone and tried to record for myself. 

Happy Turkey Day (a day late)! I celebrated, as usual, with friends since my family is what feels like a billion miles away.  I did call my sister but she was up in the mountains and had no cell reception.  But I left her a lovely voice mail and she said she cried happy tears when she listened to it. This year my husband couldn't get the night off of work so I took the baby and drove up to Abu Dhabi for dinner. It was nice being with old and new friends.
It was a crazy, crazy week (aren't they all)?  So rather than bore you with a picture of data assessment or some such thing (not much quality teaching this week with the celebration practices), I will tell you that my fifth thing is my 3 month old (almost 4 - sniff) learned to suck her thumb this week.  I brought her home from daycare and caught her in the act.  Adorable!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Monday Musings

UAE Life


You can find many of your favorite Stateside restaurants and fast food chains here.  In my case this is exciting because it means I won't starve (I am a very picky eater).  


The UAE is a very wealthy country.  Why not spend your wealth at the gold ATM?


There is amazing architecture here.  This is the famous Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi and the Emirates Palace (once specifically for presidents and ambassadors - now a hotel for everyone).


Why, yes, this is a pool party at the Hilton Hotel.  Not quite what I signed up for when I was staying there.  This is not the same pool party where I met my husband.


The UAE is a strange country. It is small and unique.  Things happen here all the time that you just can't explain.  Instead you learn to go with the flow.  It makes life easier that way.  Case in point:  the picture above is a LIVE fish - one was given to every kindergartner in my class.  Really.  I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried.

So now I am going to go *try* to get some schoolwork done.  Or bake some blueberry muffins and dinner rolls from scratch (I need to test the recipe before Thanksgiving!).  Then I will work on school related things.  I hope.  We'll see...

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Just Another Day in KG

Monday I was supposed to give you some more Monday Musings.  Well, when I tell you all about my Monday you'll see why I forgot!  Here is a look at a day in KG.  As crazy as this day seems, days like this can happen pretty often here in the UAE.

Let's get started.

8:20 a.m.  
I arrive to school (I come late due to being allowed an hour of breast feeding time in the mornings). My co-teacher is absent today to tour and learn from another school.  The bus monitor has been watching the kiddos until I arrive and has them at centers.
8:30 a.m.
Kids are finishing center clean-up and I've prepared today's math lesson and cued the video on the Smart board (technically a Starboard but everyone calls it a Smart board instead).
8:35 a.m.
An unannounced visitor (ooh, my favorite kind!) comes in.  It's a little girl's mother.  She's brought the older sister (but not old enough to not be in school - I'm guessing she was maybe a second grader). She also has 2 cakes, party favors (hats and those noise makers), barbies for the girls, who knows what for the boys, animal masks, and a huge box of chocolates. Birthdays aren't really celebrated here (or so people say) and the mom doesn't speak enough English to explain what's with all the stuff. Mom proceeds to take over the center tables to lay out all her goodies while the class runs over to grab and watch.
8:45 a.m.
Okay, kiddos are back on the carpet.  Mom has been told the class cannot eat the candy and cake until after snack time.  She seems okay with it and even understands.  Maybe.

The school nurse walks in with a lovely medical cooler.  I forgot it was injection day...students receive their immunizations and who knows what while they are at school here.  I suppose because the parents are awfully busy at home and can't take their child to receive them after school hours. You know since they are home by 1 pm.
9-9:20 am
I herd take the kiddos to snack time in the cafeteria. It goes as usual.  Some kids refuse to stay seated, they turn around in their seats, show others the food in their mouths, spill milk on their selves...the usual KG stuff.
9:20-9:30 am
OMG. These kiddos cannot make it back to the classroom.  The hall is soooo long and the 20 feet is just too too much for their little legs.  Plus they kept getting distracted by someone wandering the hall carrying a giant balloon bouquet.
9:30 am
Surprise! The giant balloon bouquet holder appears at my classroom door.  Another unannounced visitor.  Oh goody. The Cake Party Mom makes her exit (without saying anything) and Balloon Mom barely notices my presence in the room while greeting and hugging students.  Hm.  Turns out she's one of the little boy's mothers (I'm a great detective some days).

9:40 or 9:50 am
I'm starting to lose track of the time now. It feels like I've been tying on balloons to the kiddos wrists for over 20 minutes.  When that was done Balloon Mom brings out a gigantic bag of crazy, crazy UAE masks. I totally missed a picture.  I was going to take a whole class picture but....
Let's go with 10 am
Someone (I have no idea who, I'm knee deep in balloon catastrophy and mask tying) opens the door to say the masks are not allowed and must be removed.  What? Seriously? And we need to move it. Like now.  All the classes in the school are lining up in the hallway.
10-10:45 am
It may be mid-November but it is hot outside.  I am thirsty and sweaty and so are the kids.  They are all asking for drinks.

Did I forget to tell you?  The police came with a marching band and led us "marching" (really more like walking) around the school block.  While the kids held little UAE flags.  We are celebrating National Day two weeks early.  The best part? The marching band disturbed someone's pet horse that lives next to the school.  Not in a barn. Not on a farm.  In a normal house.
10:45-10:55 am
Trying to get the kids back inside.  They are not with me.  They have scattered like leaves in a stiff wind tornado. Finally corral them but the HOF is telling me I must use a different door and half the class is now gone and through the wrong door.  But they are not listening to me.

The HOF is also yelling at me to take away the balloons.  Later another teacher tells me that the HOF hates balloons and thinks they are a safety hazard.
Who Really Cares About the Time...These Kids are Nuts
Well, they are inside the classroom.  Victory. But they are very riled up and Balloon Mom has GIFTS (a gigantic toy car for her son and only one other boy), and some other bags of stuff but who cares.  Look at those gigantor cars and I want to play with it no it's mine not yours why are you taking my gigantic car...
Specials Time (Supposedly 10:50 am)
How in the world we managed to tear ourselves from the car (small tantrum may have been involved and resulting in Tantrum Boy hitting me --not the first time) but look, here we are in library.  I look and feel like a cat that was run over. And I really need to pee.  I keep telling the specials teacher but she is not listening or pretending to not listen when I say I need just 5 minutes...

Oh look, that girl tore off the book cover.
No! We don't color on the books.
Put those crayons away. I said we don't color on the books.
Look at this picture in the book.
No, don't turn the pages like that. You are hurting the book.
We are not playing with the puppets today, it's books only.
Leave the chairs there. Do not carry them across the room.
I said, sit there.  Do not move the chairs.
We don't hit.
It's her turn on the computer. Not yours.
Yes, you can use the bathroom.
No, you cannot use the bathroom. Wait until so-and-so gets back.
Yes, you can use the bathroom. So-and-so is back.
Let me walk you to the bathroom.  You like to play.
You cannot keep the book.  Stop putting things in your pockets.
Back in class.  Still need to pee.  All mothers have gone.  But there is still cake and chocolate and gifts and party hats and noise makers and toy cars.
Cake Time
If you want your cake you'll sit and listen on the carpet.  No, I said sit. You are not listening. Sit! Please sit!
I give up.  You are not listening. I take Not Listening Girl by the hand and she happily goes with me until she discovers we are in front of another classroom door and I am turning the knob...
Fingers dig into my hand, blood is drawn, I let go and she lays on the floor having a mini tantrum. I've seen worse.  I leave her to it and walk back to my room where I've left the other kids alone with all the cake and candy...

Whew! They are all still there.  And some are even still on the carpet.  But another girl is acting up. I take her and sit her in a chair away from others. She thinks its funny. I turn her chair so she can't see others. Still funny. I move her as far away as possible while still being in the room. No. Funny. So I open the back classroom door and put the chair there. Wow! That is not funny. But now she's screaming and having a fit. I let her come back and sit inside but next to the door. She is fine. And quiet.
Cake Serving/Eating
Cake is served and an endless parade of kindergartners take turns (oh who am I kidding, they are running all at once) to use the bathroom and wash their faces. I won't go into what the bathroom looks like except to say a mummy is missing their outer layer.
12:15 pm
Somehow we have managed to get our belongings (minus the gifts - I told them co teacher can help me with that tomorrow) and are arranged at the door. Why, oh why, is the bell not ringing for dismissal? I even open the door and double-check the schedule posted. Yes, it says 12:15 pm.  Five minutes later the bell rings.  I walk the kids to the gym where they line up for the bus.  Some follow me. Most don't. At this point I am just glad they are going home.

Is this how your days go?  Notice how I did not get in one lesson today.

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Monday, November 10, 2014

Monday Musings

UAE Life

I am starting a new series about general things I've noticed found interesting said what the heck. I am starting my third month of my third year here and I want to remind myself of the wild and crazy things I used to notice about life here. Back when it seemed all exciting, shiny, and new.  Before it became normal.


Camels, sheep, and goats oh my! Animals are often seen in open type pick up trucks going for a ride on regular surface streets and the highway (or UAE's version of one).  Camels especially always excite me when I see them just chilling and enjoying the wind in their hair. Expect to see this crazy sight at least once a week.


British spellings are more common here than American English so get used to taking the lift to your flat.  They also drink tea a lot here...



The tea here is in tiny little espresso type cups and can be served to you in your school by a girl who's only job description is to make the tea and keep it coming! It must be served on a tray.  It's generally made very sweet with sugar and milk (sometimes condensed milk). If offered, don't refuse. Especially if it's been offered by your administrator. Take it and sip. But careful as I find it is usually scalding.  When done the tiny cups are usually placed back on the tray in stacks (most don't have handles).


The Arabic like to entertain/host so owning a serving tray is essential. Or so my hubby tried to tell me when we got married.  They also love large, large volumes of food. Think everyday is Thanksgiving and you'll get the picture. Mounds and mounds of rice with pieces of meat on top is quite common. Although beware the meat could be sheep or goat which I find neither very tasty or appetizing and incredibly chewy.


There is blatant disregard for copy write laws here.  Rip offs of known chicken places (KFC) and coffee (Starbucks) can be found on local restaurant logos.  This was true in Jordan as well but with roadside "stores" that sported things like the Facebook logo.


Expect your English language and spelling skills to go down the toilet. Because 99% of the population here are not native English speakers you will find yourself saying things like, "I call Baba you no good listening" or "I want same same" (accompanied with pointing and lots of pantomiming).  The more broken your English the better the maintenance man will understand that you need want your leaky toilet fixed.  And it will get fixed inshallah...after prayer time or dinner or his nap or next week...

You will also have fun playing spot the spelling errors when out to dinner with friends. And cracking up over menu items like this:


Yes, you can really order and eat camel if you choose. I have not chosen (I have a delicate stomach that prefers fast food, chicken, and beef) but I hear it's tough and chewy and tastes like chicken. Let me know if you decide to try it. I'll be taking your word on that.

That's it for today. Happy Monday to my stateside friends and an almost happy hump day to my UAE friends.
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Friday, November 7, 2014

Five for Friday Time!

It's Friday! So that means I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for her Five for Friday Linky!

Let's get started!

This week in KG1 it's all about families and our five senses.  If you've checked out my Facebook page then you know we have parents coming in and volunteering each day.  It's been interesting watching them bring in prepared lessons to share with the kids...very interesting.  This mom brought in these cute paper armbands for all the students.  Each armband was labeled with one of the five senses.  Wow, what a great idea! I thought.  Except all we did was spend lots of time tying and retying them on kids.  Nothing actually happened with the armbands.  But it's a cool idea if it was incorporated into a lesson somehow...except in the future I'd laminate them.  Those little buggers wound up ripped off and crumpled all over the classroom carpet.

Oh, and just so you know, every mom brought in treats (snacks and gifts) for all the students.  That's a lot of snacks and gifts every day on top of their already built in daily snack.  Here you can see the fruit cup that was brought in this day.  And of course each mom that comes tries to outdo the last mom. Because everyone talks and shares in the UAE and you cannot be undone by the last person that came. Oh no.

This picture totally cracks me up.  It was brought in by another parent (different mom than the one above).  It looks just like her daughter. I wish I could show you a comparison but you'll just have to take my word for it.  She's even wearing her sport (P.E.) clothes.

We are learning our number recognition as well.  I whipped these up because our current playdough mats have incorrect number fonts (according to my HOF - head of faculty).  So out with the old, in with the new.  This kiddo is putting the circles in the ten frame the Arabic way (right to left).  Whatever works, right?  You can find your own mats here if you are interested.

I was asked to create the science centers for this week (a new activity each day focused on one of the senses).  So being obedient, I did.  But then my co teacher ("co" being completely optional) did not utilize the center.  Or let me tell the students about it.  But I thought it was cute.  I mean just look at those colorful socks!

This is the dramatic play center.  Yes, in the UAE we are allowed to have these. In fact, they play all day (but that's a whole other story and not accurate for all schools)...  Anyway, can you see this fella in the back?  He is so funny.  This is him all day.  I love the kiddos.  Most of them.

Next week is my first formal observation/evaluation at my new school.  I'm a little lot freaked out about it.  Stay tuned and I'll tell you how it went.

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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

I'm Frustrated

It's midnight on a school night. I should be sleeping, not writing a blog post. But I feel frustrated and need to get off my chest what's bothering me so I can sleep.

I have been at my new school for a month now. The kids are starting to warm up to the idea of me being in their classroom (except the kiddo who tried repeatedly hitting me today). I am beginning to understand how the school works and the expectations from my admin.  Those are my positives. 

What is really bothering me is how I spend hours lesson planning only to have the plans not followed. I mean, really. There are two teachers in the class...

Me: (On a Tuesday) What should we focus on next week? Are we continuing with family?
CT (Co teacher): I think they understand family. Let's blah blah blah..... (Quick dictation of all center activities and what needs to change and stay the same for the next week). 
Me: (on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at home) fleshing out the plans, typing the lesson plans, creating groups and center activities

CT also asked me to make a new five senses center for each day of the week. So being the obedient girl I am, I went out and bought cups and food flavorings to make scent jars. The day before I stayed up late putting items into socks and numbering them with nice laminated tags only to not be given the time to explain the activity to students.  So it is currently sitting on a shelf not being used.  She also said the activity was too hard after telling me to use the science book and this was taken right out of the teaching manual! The day I brought in my scent cups she pulls out cotton balls, jars, and food flavorings. "But I already created these!" I told her.  "But these are better," she said. So I threw away my hard work and she spent twenty minutes telling kids how to open a jar and guess the scent. Twenty minutes?

I came in the next week after the plans were done by yours truly and translated by CT.  
CT: Every day I have invited parents to come for an hour to work with their child and a small group to teach them about family.
Me: O-kaaay  (thinking to self where this will fit with the already laid out plans)
CT: what do you think about doing blah blah instead of blah. (I must have given her my your f' n crazy face because she said as you like and the plans were not rewritten.)

Reality: One parent is coming each day and spending at least two hours on a whole class "activity"
Translation: Students have received only one math lesson this week and no literacy lessons or small groups. Internally I am panicking. I started the school year late since I was on maternity leave. I do not have nearly the volume of observation notes my co teacher has. Or any other English teacher in the school. Parent conferences are coming up and my evaluation is in less than a week. They will ask for my notes. Eek!

Then she asked me today why I did not translate in English what yesterday's parent was saying. Um, how about I am not a translator? Better yet, I do not speak Arabic. How can I know what she was saying? So I was taking observation notes on the kiddos. I tell you I just can't win. She said she would tell me what today's parent was saying so I could tell the kids in English. She didn't. So I made it up and said a word here and there. Ha! Take that!

Okay I feel a little better. Thanks for letting me rant. I hope you'll continue to check out my blog after this.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Family Week in KG

This week is all about families in KG1 (in the UAE there is KG1 and KG2...kindergarten for 3 and 4 year olds and regular age kindergarten - KG2).  Today we shared a few family photos and had a mom come in to create her daughter's family tree.  It turned out really cute - see the picture on my Facebook page here.  You can also head over there to see a flower version of a family tree.

The same mom brought in a cute handmade book about the people in their family.  I tell you, the Emirati people are amazingly creative.  I mean just look at how cute this is and it has a matching bag!

Then, the kids dressed up like family members and role played having visitors come to the house.  It was so cute to see them act out the customs of serving tea and shaking hands.  One little boy even did the nose kiss to another boy.  Adorable!  I totally missed getting a picture though. Sad.

All week parents (moms) are coming to visit to work with their child and a small group.  But if it is anything like today they just might take over the whole class and we will miss our math lesson again.  Hmm....

Sunday is my Monday and to kick off the week I had a little boy hanging out in the bathroom (door to the hallway that faces the major walkway in the school building) wide open and his pants plus off.  Jeez.  Then two little girls kept asking me for the restroom and I had to tell them no.  I mean, Pantsless was hanging out in there.  What would you have me do?  Fun times in kindergarten.  Fun times.  Let's see what tomorrow brings.

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