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Friday, March 9, 2007

I Have Been Busy

I know that it has been a long time since the last (and only) time that I submitted a posting, but after getting hired at the school, I have been so busy! My classes are going pretty well. It has been somewhat difficult teaching two art classes without many supplies. I have been trying to get a list of supplies approved or at least something approved so that I can order a few things, especially for my high schoolers, but I don't think that I'll get anything before the end of the school year. I've got some ideas for the rest of this year, though, and then next year I can get what I need.

If anyone has ideas on teaching a first grader the letters of the alphabet and the sounds that they make, let me know. That has probably been the most difficult thing for me to teach. I'm really running out of ideas.

Another huge dilemma for me has been grading. I took over classes about six weeks into the quarter, so it's been difficult trying to figure out how to combine grades or what exactly I need to do. Today is the last day of third quarter, so that all has to be figured out by Tuesday. Eek!

Yesterday another one of the teachers and I rearranged our classroom. It was pretty exciting! It feels more like my room now than someone else's room that my desk is in. I'm getting some artwork on the walls, too, so it's looking brighter. A few of the students have made comments about how much nicer it looks now!

For those of you reading this who are not teachers, I apologize for so much boring school talk. Other than school, I have been trying to keep up on baking bread. I had ordered two five pound bags of whole wheat flour since the stores here don't carry whole wheat bread, so I baked a couple of whole wheat loaves last weekend. After they had been baked and I was slicing them, I noticed how white they looked. Brian and I discussed for quite a while about how interesting that was and that wheat breads must always have caramel coloring in them. It wasn't until a couple of days later that I realized that the flour that we had received was actually unbleached white bread flour. I was so mad! Maybe someday I'll get some whole wheat bread.

I have also been doing a little artwork outside of school just for fun and for something to hang on the boring white walls in our house. I have been painting on the brown packing paper that we have so much of since it comes with our groceries and just about everything else that we order.

Lately it has been very cold here. The temperature has been right around zero most of the time, but the windchill has been the worst. For a few days earlier this week we were really struggling to heat our house. When I woke up Monday or Tuesday morning, the thermostat was set at 72 degrees, but it was 52 degrees inside! It was quite a struggle to get the temperature up to the mid to upper sixties. There was one unit of teacher housing that the pipes froze. They haven't had water for a few days now. We have also had to cancel gym and shop classes because you could see your breath in those rooms! Hopefully it will be getting warmer soon. Of course the days have been getting a lot longer just like everywhere else. It is just so nice when we are finishing up with dinner at 7:30 and it's still light.

I'm not sure if we've mentioned this before, but we order most of our groceries online. This works out pretty well for ordering nonperishables (except for when you get the wrong flour!), but in order to get perishable foods, you have to pay a lot more for shipping. Brian and I have avoided finding out exactly how much more it costs by not ordering these items, but it gets frustrating after you've gone so long without salad, fresh fruit, or any other fresh produce. One of the other teachers went to Dillingham, our regional hub, over a weekend and brought salad to school for lunch when she got back. I told her that I was jealous, so the next day she brought in a huge bowl of salad for everyone to share! Then another one of the teachers went to Anchorage for a week, so I requested some spinach. When she returned with spinach and lettuce, our co-op got a shipment of produce! It was the first shipment that I had ever seen (in the month and a half that I have been here), so I hurried down as soon as the students left school. It had already been picked through, and there were no more oranges, but I got some green peppers, cucumbers, mushrooms, tomatoes, and lots of apples! Then next day Brian bought a kiwi! We've had salads, BLTs, and great snacks! Yummm!

Some more exciting news is that we got satellite TV a couple of weeks ago! Of course this has caused a couple of problems in getting things done, but we've been able to watch our favorite shows, some movies, and even the news!!! I heard today on the Today Show that gas prices have gone up again. They said that the highest prices in the nation are in California at $3 something a gallon. I found this amusing since gas here is $5 a gallon and this has been the price of gas for the past couple of years! Some people told Brian that the price of gas never changes in the village (or at least not like it does back home).

I'll try to write again soon so that it's not quite so long next time. If you have any questions or comments, please write them. You can leave them at the end of each of our postings. We would really like to hear what you are wondering or interested in hearing more about.

P.S. Brian and I will be home in June for my sister Katie's wedding on the 22nd!

1 comment:

Sheryl said...

I'm a 2nd grade teacher in Connecticut and I found your blog while doing some research about teaching in Alaska. As for teaching letter sounds to 1st graders - I don't know if you've tried any of these yet, but it might be worth a shot if you haven't. I find that my students love ANYTHING that involves either a song or actually doing something with their hands, so we actually have a vowel song that we sing that goes over the two different sounds each vowel makes. It's cute and the kids have a lot of fun with it. Also, in my graduate classes I heard a few tips about learning letters - you can have the kids spread shaving cream all over their desks and write the letters in the foam and have them say each letter sound or have them use clay to create the letters and say the sounds. It gets them involved in the process and is exciting for them, rather than just having to sit there and recite a bunch of letter sounds.
Anyway, I enjoy reading about school and all of the adventures you're having up there. I'm looking to possibly apply for jobs in Alaska for the 2008-2009 school year, so it's interesting to hear about all that I'd be getting myself into. Take care!