A Taste of Singapore

Here are some photos of the top things to do here in Singapore, and I think I did it all in a long weekend! Good thing for visitors that make you do all the touristy things. 🙂 Here are some shots from Marina Bay Sands Hotel rooftop, the Singapore Flyer, Sentosa and some good food. I finally checked out Loy Kee Chicken & Rice near my house and also had amazing brunch at Wild Honey by Orchard.


First Week of School: Building Community in the Classroom

I just got back from our yearly staff retreat. This year we went to the East Sea area in Korea for 3 days and 2 nights. I was very excited to be at the beach, but once we got there it was raining non-stop and we were expecting a possible typhoon. Well luckily I don’t think we were hit with a typhoon and we did get some sunnier weather on the last day there. Some of the purposes of our retreat was to build community within our faculty, as we have many new teachers this year. Also, we revisited our school wide expectations and came up with new goals to focus on for the school year.

As I reflect back on the retreat, it made me think about my classroom. The first few weeks of school are such a critical time in setting up the environment, expectations and goals for the year. The retreat reminded me the importance of really making an effort to build community during the first few weeks of school in my classroom.

There’s an activity that we’ve been doing at our staff retreats that I’ve adjusted and incorporated into my first week of school. On long strips of construction paper (you can cut sentence strips in half), I have students write their expectations/rules for a classroom. They write one expectation on each strip. Then, I have them place the strips on the floor and students group the ones that are similar in the same column. After, we sit together in the rug area and I write on chart paper the expectations we have come up with. Then we do some brainstorming and combining to come up with a set of classroom expectations that we all agree upon. I write up neatly a final copy on a new sheet of chart paper and they each have to sign it. I find this an effective way to come up with expectations instead of just telling students these are the rules, you must follow them. This way, they have a greater sense of ownership of the classroom expectations. I will try to post some photos when I do this activity with my students this year.

*Edit* Here are some photos from doing the activity with my students a few days ago!

First Week of School: Preparing Our Classroom Library

I’ve decided to publish a few entries called “First Week of School”. These will be a series of entries about things I do to prepare for that exciting first week of school!

One of my big projects to get done before school starts is organizing my classroom library. These past 2 years, I’ve been able to accumulate some more books for my classroom library. During my first year, I got a lot of free books from scholastic book orders. Last year, I also had students donate old books to our classroom library as well. Also, I had to spend a lot of my own money to buy more books. This summer, I also ordered used books from amazon.com. You can find used books for really cheap, in fact the shipping cost more than the book. Even though they are used books, they are in pretty good quality. Another place I like to order books from in Korea is through http://www.whatthebook.com. This site is in English and the prices are reasonable. Plus, you can have them deliver the books to you or you can pick them up at the Itawon store.

This year I will finally move to a system of having bins for our books! I didn’t really have enough books to have a system with using bins before. I bought a bunch of colorful 1,000KRW (About a $1) bins from Daiso. This is like the Japanese dollar store version here in Korea. After organizing and sorting through my books, I realized that I needed more bins! I need to buy some more bigger ones for the picture books I have. I totally forgot to print out nonfiction book bin labels as well. However, I’m excited that the classroom library is almost ready. I can’t wait to show my new and old students the “new”  classroom library!

classroom library