Monday, November 26, 2007

A busy week and weekend...

This last week and weekend were very busy. Last week we had many things going on in school. First, on Tuesday night I got to try a new fruit- the Cherimoya. Jan calls it a custard apple. It is sweet and creamy and actually very good (excuse the picture-this was a post workout treat). Here's a blurb I found on it:

Origins: The cherimoya was originally grown by Inca farmers in Ecuador and Peru. Today it is grown in Chile, Argentina, Spain, California and New Zealand.Description: Sometimes called the custard fruit or custard apple, the cherimoya has a creamy flesh that tastes like a blend of banana, passion fruit, papaya and pineapple. It's best eaten straight, by cutting the fruit into wedges and spooning out the flesh (discard the black, inedible seeds). They can also be added to fruit salads and pureed as a mousse or pie filling.Lore: Mark Twain is said to have called the cherimoya "deliciousness itself."Key Nutrition Value: Cherimoya is a good source of fiber, vitamin B6, potassium.

Wednesday we had an athletics day. Each student in year 7/8 was divided into three groups based on age. Then they competed in different track and field events to see which students would be going to the Athletics Day versus other schools. It was a great sunny day for competing and a great chance for me to mingle with the students. This Thursday our school will be competing in Athletics Day and I’m lucky enough to go and experience that. Not sure whether we did anything like this in middle school- if we did, I definitely wouldn’t have been a student chosen to go. However, my classroom is filled with quite a lot of athletes and about half of them will be attending.

Thursday, my second lesson in advertising with the magazines was a success this time. I was worried that this lesson was not going to keep their attention, especially when competing with Britney Spears and other gossip magazines in front of them. So I made the lesson into a competition-we went through slides on different techniques advertisers use to persuade their audiences and then the students had to search their magazines to be the fist to find the technique. This worked so much better! But I guess the true test will come this week when they put these techniques to use in creating their own ad campaigns. I also enjoyed a great afternoon- my host family and her friends Sonya (she’s does the gardening at school) and her son Zaine, and Caitlin, a girl from Cory’s class, all went on a hike of the Cascades. We followed that up with a nice picnic and it was a very enjoyable Thanksgiving for me. The night was topped off with another lovely bouquet of flowers from Brian when we got home- a Thanksgiving surprise for me (am I spoiled or what!).

Friday was a reward day for the students. Students at Swanson don’t receive homework on a daily basis. At the beginning of each week the students are given a Homework sheet which has a number of tasks for them to complete in the different subject areas. They have all week to complete it and turn it in to be graded on Fridays. The students receive points for completing their homework with quality and accuracy and they are able to save and spend these points. This biggest reward is a fun day planned by the teachers. Friday was one of these days-we had a movie, the students were able to order McDonald’s for lunch, and they had video games and board games. I was amazed by the games too. They had "Eye Toy"...where there was this camera which filmed them in the video game.... and the Monopoly game was even advanced for me--no more paper money everywhere. Each player had a credit card and they swiped it in this machine to buy propertys and get more money. No more cheating at Monopoly!!

This day turned out to be perfect timing for me because I went to the doctor the day before for my week long headache and was definitely not in the right mind that day….but enjoyed relaxing, watching Night at the Museum, and hanging out with the students. The more I’m able to chat with them and get to know them, the better they seem to behave while I’m teaching so I really enjoy these days out of the normal routine. For example, the girls who weren’t listening to me had a “heart to heart” of sorts with me on athletic day where they informed me that the reason they weren’t listening to me is because A). they don’t know me and b.) I wasn’t letting them sit by their friends. But the day after this conversation, the very girl who gave me the most trouble in the beginning intervened when I was trying to get another guy to pay attention- I’m not sure throwing her dictionary at him and yelling, “listen to Miss Castleberry” is how I wanted to handle things, but I appreciated the gesture :).

Over the weekend, the fun continued as we (Jan, Cory, and I) headed up north to the Bay of Islands-you can see from the picture how it gets it name. We were staying in Russell, which is about a 4.5 hour drive from Swanson. On the way we stopped at many lookouts. We also stopped for a coffee in Kawakawa. It turned out to be more than a coffee stop because we had our drinks at an old train station that was turned into a café. They stilled had the old train running three times a day and since we happened to be there we took the 15 min. return journey on the train through the town.

Sunday we had all day to explore…we took the car ferry to Paihia and were able to go to a number of lookout views. The view was absolutely amazing. It is said that all the gorgeous pictures you see of New Zealand are taken in the Bay of Islands…and I definitely believe it. My pictures don’t do it the proper justice. We also took a short walk to Rainbow Falls…and had our indulgences, stopping at the Makana Chocolate factory for some tasting and also as the Cottle Hill Winery. Ironically the people who owned this winery were from California and had sailed here and opened this vineyard. We then spent some time on the beach and let Cory get out some energy at the playground. After lots of sun and a bit of walking, we were all tired and went back to the unit for some Toasted cheese and pineapple sandwiches and some relaxing.

My teacher was on release day (they get the day off for planning-twice a term) for planning Monday, so I was able to use the day to drive home. We had driven up the East coast to get to Russell and we took the extra time and drove back on the West Coast.

I’m glad we did. We stopped at a lookout point and were lucky enough to see some whales. They were swimming out of an inlet towards the ocean (and maybe Australia). Then we drove through the Waipoua Forest and saw one of the largest Kauri trees- Tane Mahuta. When we pulled over to see it and told Cory he asked, “who’s Tony Mahuta?” We died laughing and I guess from now on this tree will be known as “big Tony” to the three of us. Cory and I fell asleep after that and we arrived home about 5:30pm after a very scenic and fun weekend. Overall, an enjoyable week!

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

It looks beautiful there! Wish I could come visit!!!