Sunday, November 13, 2011

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

Here in the Dominican Republic, Christmas has come early this year.  Actually it started November 1 to be exact.  Due to the lack of Thanksgiving celebrations here (we actually are celebrating but there’s not nearly as much hype here about Thanksgiving), we decided to go ahead and deck the halls and trim the tree to get optimal Christmas celebration in before we all head back to the States in December to spend some time with our families.
So...on November 1, Evan and Rachel invited all of us over after to school to decorate the tree, listen to Christmas music, eat some yummy potato soup, and watch Elf.  The evening was topped off by each of us making our own ornaments with our favorite Christmas memories on them and by Connor wearing around his Christmas-music playing reindeer antlers.  It was a a great way to kick off the Christmas season, and we all had a really good time.
Then, the following Monday, we were out of school for a national holiday here.  Chad and I took the opportunity to do some Christmas decorating of our own.  We made three wreaths - one for Chad’s back door and two for the classroom doors.  This was our first wreath making experience, and it was a lot of fun!  Then we decorated the Christmas tree with the “help” of our sweet Dominican kiddos.  They mostly just sat and made fun of us and kept stealing the balls and hiding them.  They’re crazy!  We finished off the day by hanging our stockings, drinking some apple cider, and watching yet another Christmas movie.  
Do the kids think we’re crazy for celebrating Christmas already?  Some of them do.  Does it even remotely feel like Christmas here based on the weather?  Not at all.  Is this the first year of my life I’ve ever decorated a Christmas tree wearing shorts and a t-shirt?  You better believe it.  But is it actually beginning to look and feel a lot like Christmas around here?  Absolutely!  I think there’s a reason they call it the most wonderful time of the year, and it has to do with being around people you love.  I’ve realized that that sentiment carries across oceans.  No matter where you are, Christmas really does feel like the most wonderful time of the year.  And in the words of Audrey, “This year for Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for Christmas.”  Merry Early Christmas!

Ready for some Christmas celebrating in our summer weather Christmas clothes.

Love these girls.  :)

Our homemade Christmas ornaments with all of our favorite Christmas memories.

The whole crew!  Connor really enjoyed his first Christmas experience.  Haha.

My cute little Christmas tree at my house.  

Our first wreath attempt.  A success!

Our beautiful Christmas tree - all ready for the holiday season!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Math Madness

Math class started this past week, and pretty much the only word that could be used to describe it is madness.  Don’t get me wrong...the kids were well-behaved, they were eager to learn, and they did an excellent job in their first week with a new schedule.  However, it was the teacher who experienced a little bit of madness.  Yes, that’s right.  Jill Rhodes went slightly mad due to her math class.
Why, you might ask?  Well, I discovered very quickly (within about the first 45 minutes of class the first day) that my wonderful students were no where near the level I needed them to be at to start Algebra I.  As frustrating as this was, I knew I could get them ready if I just allowed myself, and them, some time to review and, in some cases, learn the basics.  
Now we’ve entered into a stage that I like to lovingly refer to as “Back to the Basics.”  And we have literally gone just about as far back as you can when it comes to math.  This past week we covered addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.  And I am proud to say after this first week that all of our students can add (even when you have to carry!), subtract (even when you have to borrow!), multiply (even numbers larger than what is on the times table!), and divide (with and without remainders!). This next week I’m hoping to wrap up our “Back to the Basics” review with number lines, fractions, fraction operations, percents, and decimals.  I’m hoping after all of this, we’ll be able to start in with Algebra I.  You may think that this seems like a lofty goal, but I know these kids are capable of this.  Will we have to go back and continue to review and relearn basic math skills?  Yes, probably every day.  But do I love these kids enough for the math madness to continue?  You better believe it.  So bring on the number lines, fractions, percents, and decimals!  Let the math madness ensue!