a glimpse of 2016 through photos

This is a long overdue post, about 3 months late of my travel highlights from last year. 2016 was indeed full of adventures close and far from Singapore. I started off 2016 in Batam, Indonesia and then traveled to Hong Kong, Thailand, LA, NY, Iceland, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Melbourne throughout the year. I loved being able to go home for Christmas for the first time in 8 years since I’ve been overseas.

I’m also thankful for the friends that visited me in Singapore, the friends that traveled with me for different trips, and the friends that hosted me when I visited. Some of the highlights of my travels were conquering my fears. I was able to go rock climbing in Krabi, Thailand, get my open water scuba diving certification in Tioman, Malaysia, and summit Mt. Kinabalu. So many times, I wanted to give up during these times, but my friends kept encouraging me which made a huge difference.

Next stop on my travels: Jordan and Israel next week! 

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blogging alongside my students

mid mini-lesson eureka Moment

Do you ever have those eureka moments teaching, when you get an idea all of a sudden, like mid mini-lesson? I had one of those moments today during reading workshop this afternoon. My lovely students were sitting in our rug area, and I was giving my mini-lesson about using learning progressions to analyze our responses about comparing and contrasting themes in two texts. I had the compare/contrast learning progression printed out and three sample responses I wrote. With their reading partner, I had them using the learning progression to give a grade to each of the sample responses, from level 3 to level 6. As they were sharing with their partners, the idea popped in my head.

When my grade level team norms student writing, we have a sample text that we grade in small groups and then each group shares out what scores we would give the writing piece for each standard on the learning progression (rubric). So, I thought, why not have my students do something similar. I rushed  over to my desk area where I had a basket full of small post-its. I found 3 extra copies of the learning progressions and put them on my bulletin board and labeled each one for each writing sample response.

I told my students, that one person from each partnership should come up and put a post-it note the grade they gave for each piece. As the students came up, it was a bit messy, but they got it done. Afterwards, we went over the different grades that they gave and I also gave my opinion of what I would grade it. Overall, the students grade similarly each piece. It was fun hearing why some students gave certain responses a higher or lower mark. I would definitely do this activity again!

Has anyone else had these mid-lesson eureka moments as well?

blogging alongside my students

the month of march

blogging alongside my students

The Month of March

Everyday a new post is up,
from 22 fifth grade writers faced with a challenge.
Small moments transformed into slices of life,
captured through photos, poems, and stories.

Everyday I learn something new,
about the lives of our students.
Reading all the posts,
leaving as many comments as I can.
When school is out,
a tidal wave of comments,
and a flurry of e-mails fill my inbox,
as new comments are posted.

Everyday I laugh, I smile, and I wonder.
I appreciate, I marvel, and I enjoy,
these slices of our daily lives:

Unexpectedly getting soaked in the rain,
six hour Irish dance rehearsals,
learning to ride a bike,
competing in lego robotics competition,
ordering the newest Rubik’s cubes,
a haiku on zelda,
poems on favorite foods and places like Paris,
failures and successes with slime.
Did you know we love making slime?

Unfortunate rope burns and big toes hurting,
making omelettes with family,
when your Spanish class turns into a jungle,
playing tennis when the rain comes,
playing basketball,
doing the daily routine,
cleaning your mind,
watching movies with friends,
and saying goodbye to close friends.

All these separate slices,
fitting together everyday,
creating the story of our lives.

melbourne: a stroll through the park

My friend, Melody, just happened to literally live across from the Shrine of Remembrance and the Botanic Garden. How convenient is that? Not only are these two places free to enter, but incredibly beautifully built and well managed.

I loved being able to walk through the botanic gardens and see little kids on field trips with their matching and required hats walking in lines. I loved being able to walk around in the afternoon and not sweating after 10 minutes like in Singapore’s Botanic Gardens. The Botanic Gardens was pretty huge, and I didn’t get to see all of it. I did like the area by the pond, and saw ducks with cute baby ducklings.

I got to learn a bit more about Australian history in the Shrine of Remembrance as well. Here are some of highlights from both places!

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driving the great ocean road

By far one of my favorite parts of visiting Melbourne was seeing the great ocean road. I mean what can beat a beautiful scenic ocean drive along the Australian coast, with a road trip worthy Spotify playlist, and of course good food along the way.

The route that we took as recommended by Melody’s friend looked like this:

Melbourne –> Lorne –>Cape Otway  Lighthouse –>  Gibson Steps –>12 Apostles View –> Back to Melbourne

In the end, I’m so glad we decided to rent a car instead of taking a tour bus. It was great just being able to pull over and make random stops as needed, for fun and unique Australian road signs or finding sleepy koalas in tall trees next to the road. I highly recommend the route that we took, but be prepared for the long journey. We were a bit rushed because we had to make it back by 7pm to Melbourne. However, the day trip is totally possible!

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melbourne: city & beach life

Two things I’m drawn to are bustling cities and beautiful beaches. Luckily, Melbourne had both and quite close to each other. One day on my trip, I walked around the city, found a gorgeous cafe called the grain store to eat a leisurely brunch and then walked over to this amazing place for donuts called short stop. The rose earl grey donut was amazing. Like my friend said, it sounded like a donut made for me. Not only was the donut delicious, they served it to you with a glass of sparkling water (on the house) and friendly service.

Afterwards, I was able to hop on the free tram (in the city) and get to Flinders street station and catch a 20min. train to Brighton beach. The train ran pretty frequently getting there and back. It was about a 5 minute walk to the beach from the station and I got to see the iconic bright bathing houses. Even though it was warm but windy spring weather, there was a man I saw sun bathing outside his bright red bathing house! I was of course in a thin jacket, scarf, and sunglasses, trying to keep warm.

The beach was full of tourists taking many photos in front of the different bathing houses. I’m glad I took the time to see and enjoy the beach in Melbourne. I highly recommend it if you are visiting. Stay tuned for more photos on my adventures in Melbourne…

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