Friday, April 5, 2013

Half Classes, Guest Speaker, and Speech Festival

Monday I decided to do a reading comprehension activity. It went really well in the one class I tried it with the week before. I found a reading with accompanying worksheet, ran some copies (still something I don't want to do much of), and passed them out. I asked the students to read the article silently first, making notes and underlining things. Then, we read the article aloud together discussing words and concepts as we went. Finally, they were given time to do the worksheet at the end. Good lesson with lots of student involvement.

Tuesday morning I walked my first class through a review of the five branches of Earth Science, expanded on the topic discussing Earth Events, and then gave them a little assignment. Pastor came back in to talk with my next class, as he missed one last week and wanted to talk to them. Pastor wanted to take Hannah and I to McDonald's for lunch in thanks for letting him come. Thanking us? I get why he says that, but I am thankful for him coming in. Kindly obliged, though, although I am not a big fan of eating at McDonald's. Not really much there for me to eat, but it was nice of him.

Less than half of my students showed up for fourth period, so we ended up looking through some photos from my desert ecology trip. It wasn't worth it to go through the notes I had planned. I would have felt like I was punishing the students who actually showed up, so I decided we could have more fun lesson and discussion. My really awesome students enjoyed it.

A few days ago I had found a recipe for some vegan french toast that I had been wanting to try. My banas were ripe, and I decided Tuesday would be the day to test it out. I thought they sounded yummy, and I'm all about being healthier and trying things. Instead of dipping the bread in eggs, you dip it in ripe bananas that are mashed, blended with a little water and some cinnamon (or other breakfast spices). The recipe I found online also called for some vanilla, but I didn't have any of that. I thought they tasted pretty good, though. I also sprinkled a little powdered sugar to make them look nicer ;-) Really great experiment, and I will definitely make and eat these again. Mmmm :-)

Wednesday morning, our old bus driver Pati came by. We got on mainly so I could give him the thank you card I was still carrying around. We've been catching rides well lately. One of our VP's has picked us up each time he has seen us standing on the road. Works perfect on both ends since we are all going to the same place.

 I was not 100% sure the guest speaker I had scheduled was going to make it in. He hadn't responded to my last e-mail, not that there was anything particular to respond to. Came to school to find we were not having afternoon classes, but instead a speech festival showcase. As I had heard them practicing for it Tuesday afternoon, I was excited to see the performances. Then, as the bell rang for first period to begin, my guest speaker walked in my door. Woot!

I asked Ethan Lake, who I met at the wrestling championships to come in. He is the president of the American Samoa Wrestling Association. I had no idea what the rest of his "resume" looked like, but he was a fantastic person to ask to come in. Let me tell you what. His mom is Samoan, his dad is from Iowa (where he grew up for a while), he worked in military intelligence for 14 years, moved back to Samoa, and is really trying to make a difference. He was a great speaker, could talk all day, and provided some great motivation and perspective to the students. He talked about how many Samoans don't have "dreams", and he encouraged the students to really think of some. .Set them high, and go out there and get them. Great angle on discussing goals and life. He also talked about one thing that can be a Samoan's greatest strength that can also be his/her greatest weakness - their aggression. On the more positive side, it is passion. On the more negative side, it is temper. "We need to respect it, understand it, and control it." Really cool way of putting it. That's what leads to the fights, but that is also what leads to the really genuine people here. Something I witness day in and day out. He also encouraged how they could be doing so much more on this island.

Phenomenal speaker. I am so thankful that I met him, I reached out to him, and he agreed to come in and share with my students. He saw this as another opportunity to try and make a difference. Look at the great things that can happen by simply asking people. I had only met him once, chatted with him for a few minutes, got his business card, shot him an e-mail, and voila... I ended up with this great presentation that I hope touched at least one of my students. He was able to connect with them in ways I cannot. I learned a lot by listening to him speak to three different classes, and there was plenty for my students to take home from it if they paid attention and truly want it.

Okay, the speech festival showcase was a chance for the students who were competing to show all their hard work. I thought this was a great idea - a chance for them to practice with an audience and a chance for others to see what they were doing. (We had the Night of the Stars back in NG, where the play and some speech competitors performed for our audience.) I was on the speech team all four years of high school, so it was interesting to see the categories. Their oral interpretation of dramas included costumes and some props. Not something I am used to. These kids are pretty good at performing - like they are with all the performing arts. I've mostly only seen the music so far.

Another good Zumba session on Wednesday even though my muscles were feeling a bit tired. They tend to do that on Wednesday. I hit the snooze one too many times in the morning for Insanity, but I still got my Plyo circuit and cardio abs in, a shower, and a few minutes to spare before leaving for school. I'm also incorporating this little one-month workout plan I found that I am doing each night for the month of April. Kick-butt April, it is called. Includes squats, burpees, and a wall sit. It progressively increases in reps or time held. It started with 10 squats and a 15 second wall-sit on Day 1, and by the end of the month I will be doing 100 squats and a 2 minute wall sit. Progressive :) We shall see how that works out for me. I got this!

Woke up at 5am, did my Insanity cardio recovery workout, showered, and then made some banana pancakes for breakfast with an apple on the side. I still had a few more ripe bananas, so I gave the banana pancakes a shot. Good stuff. I do love plain ole pancakes though, but fun to play around a bit from time to time. We had planned on leaving a little later, as we were only going in to help monitor the speech festival, so no lesson prep to finish. Started downpouring around our usual time of departure, so that worked out. Walked out the door at just the right time, as we only stood on the road with our hitchiker thumbs out for about 30 seconds, when a minivan pulls over. This really nice couple were headed our way and gave us a lift. We had a great chat about living and teaching here.

Speech festival is pretty much the one speech competition that happens for the year with all the high schools - public and private on island. I found myself thinking of my years on the speech team all day. The festival was held at my high school, so that is why we did not have classes. Instead, our staff was asked to help watch the grounds as fights and vandalism have broken out in the past at these things. There were police on site, which was so weird for me to see at a stinking speech competition. Don't think I saw any fights, but at one point I did see security start running somewhere but they came back shortly after. This was when winners were being announced.

Events included original speech (wrote their own speech and performed behind a podium), news reading, oral interpretation of poetry, oral interpretation of drama (they could use costumes - unlike what I was accustomed to), script writing (wrote their own little skit and performed), play (this year all musicals), and contemporary choral recitation (large group interpretation of a poem with singing, chanting, and some choreography).

I spent some time in my classroom grading a few things and job searching, a little monitoring (but not completely necessary), and I watched some of the musicals and original speeches. It was fun to watch the performances. I also ran into my field director, and she commented on how talented these kids are with performance. Indeed, they are. I was able to watch parts of Grease, Hairspray, Evita, West Side Story, Les Miserables, The Wizard of Oz, and The Sound of Music. All fine selections. I really enjoyed seeing Evita. I found myself thinking of my Latin American studies - Juan Perron and Evita in Argentina. The students did a fine job and had some fantastic lead singers. I also heard a student talk about child abuse, being an islander with societal barriers, and the teenage dream of making American Samoa a better place and making a difference for their generation. Glad I got to partake in some of this. Some of my colleagues spent their whole day sitting in their classroom, but I chose to get out and see some performances the students had prepared well.

That explains some of the students I haven't seen all week in my class. That is one difference between school I was used to and school on this island. We did all work for extra curricular activities during study hall or after school, not during the school day skipping classes. I think extra curricular activities are great and can be fantastic experiences but skipping classes.... Anyways, that's the way it is. They do a fine job on stage, and I'll give them all great credit for that. Great experience for all of them who participated, which was quite a list.

Had an awful sinus headache as I worked in my room as the festival ended, and I almost... almost... thought about heading home. "No, Zumba will get my mind off the headache and make me feel much better." I decided to go chill in the McDonald's air conditioning for an hour before Zumba class. Then, I found my energy kicking in right away and went hard core with that workout today. I was also enjoying myself almost too much, and I didn't want it to stop. Great feeling. It made me feel so great that I felt like going on a little jog. Yeah, a jog. About 12 minutes, which may not sound like much. Yet, for someone who doesn't run much that's saying something. I didn't even stop and walk once (that's pretty good for me - I was motivated). Maybe I can incorporate it into my regular routine a bit. Got all sweaty again before enjoying some water and a little dinner, some reading, icing my neck, and a few job applications.

Hope you all have a great weekend! See you on the flip side :)

1 comment:

  1. I would have so totally enjoyed that Speech Festival! Sounds like a fun event. Too bad about the fights and vandalism :( Sounds like your speaker was perfect too.