Random thoughts

I struggled with a title for this blog. It took me days to finally come up with something. I had random notes all over my desk as ideas came to me. Too bad they don’t make note pads for the shower. Isn’t that where all the good  ideas come to you?  I should carry a notepad when running. My brain just can’t stop storming during a run.  But I digress…

United by Language. Maybe we are united by ‘A’ language? Not really. Spanish is an integral part of our program, but English is a priority and a necessity. And ‘United by Language(s)’ just doesn’t sound right. And despite our desire for a second (or third) language for our kids, the simple fact is, our state standards judge our kids by their English (and math) learning, not by the quality of the Spanish learning.

Maybe it was the desire for a language program that unites families in our school. But not all have come for the language learning. Some send their children because we offer a robust mathematics program that students can’t get in other public schools in the area.  So perhaps ‘United by ‘A’ Language and Math’ is more accurate. But it’s too long to type in!

I will say this: However we became united, that is what we are. I have never seen so many passionate, dedicated, and hard working families come together. Our volunteers are working on numerous committees from fundraising to outreach to site readiness.  There are countless hours donated every week to our school – everything from vacuuming to making phone calls to bathroom breaks for the little kids to community outreach. They scrub and scrape desks, copy worksheets, build a library, become landscapers for a day, make sure children’s hands are washed, mend ouchies, and sing praises to our collective children.

Maybe I should have named my blog “United by the Quest for Quality Education and a Strong Community”.

Hola 2011 – NPR style

We love NPR and OPB. I wake to NPR Morning Edition every morning. Thanks to the NPR Facebook page, I came across this article:  http://www.npr.org/2011/01/12/132843522/hola-2011-new-latin-alternative-for-a-new-year?sc=fb&cc=fp

Looking for some new music? Give this link a try. They feature 7 artists, and there is probably something there you would enjoy. Or better yet, listen to their entire 25 minute show.

Comprehending it all

We have “morning meeting” at school every day. Our teachers lead 15 minutes of content for our entire school. Usually it’s social studies related and it’s all conducted Spanish. They end morning meeting by singing the school song together (De Colores), then it’s off to class for math.

Usually I am busy in the office (like making coffee for our teachers) during morning meeting. But one day this week I sat in, and it was my first time in probably 2 months. The daily instruction was a review of our Positive Behavior Support model – being safe, responsible, and respectful young people. They discussed different ways that they are currently demonstrating this behavior throughout the day – walking on the sidewalks, working quietly at your desk, finishing our school work. Our teacher was asking students for examples.

These kids knew exactly what was going on, and actively participated. Even our boy raised his hand and was called on for an answer. He provided his answer in Spanish. Another beaming moment for me, and he didn’t know I was in the room to witness.

I asked him that night what morning meeting was all about. I got a great summary! We are 4-months in and really I am amazed by the kid’s quick grasp of a second language.

New York Times – article on second language learning

Interesting read, from a Chinese speaker and father of bilingual (multilingual?) children.  I love the beginning:

“If a person who speaks three languages is trilingual, and one who speaks four languages is quadrilingual, what is someone called who speaks no foreign languages at all?

Answer: An American”

Read Mr. Kristof’s full article here:  Hay Que Aprender Español. Ranhou Zai Xue Zhongwen

Winter Break and a New Year

We had a two week break from school. I will admit, I was at first hyped and motivated to visit the library multiple times, do worksheets and lessons for math, English, and Spanish, play hours of Spanish music, and limit the television.  Unfortunately, motivation flew south with the birds, and I fell short on accomplishing my vision of perfect motherhood.

Our boy was so excited to do his math homework that he did it all in one night, the first day of winter break. This includes practicing the dreaded 1-minute drill 5 separate times. It’s a list addition problems the kids need to finish in under a minute. We made it a game and each time he got faster, but never finished under 90 seconds. But progress was made, and he had fun instead of whining about the timer. A first for everything!

We are reading Harry Potter, in English, of course. I’m sure that someday he’ll be reading it in Spanish. But that would take the fun out of it for me, or force me to learn more Spanish.

We did manage to make a couple of trips to the library. Each trip included selecting a book in Spanish. I will post a video soon of him reading the latest one. I am amazed how fast this kid picks up reading. He reads with confidence and that makes us all smile.

One thing I did succeed with was listening to a lot of Spanish music. I not only found some great Christmas music on iTunes, but the CDs in the car were played for HOURS. He loves the music and now when he’s off playing, he’s singing to himself Spanish songs. I will catch him skipping outside while making up new versions of classic Spanish tunes.

I am looking forward to 2011 and what this adventure brings our family. It has been fun and a lot less stressful of a transition than I anticipated.