Author Archive

May
21

Kudos!

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What a great job the Upper School Drama Class did with their performance of “Sherlock’s First Adventure” last Friday.

The students had a great time and performed beautifully. Kudos to the students and their teacher, the play’s director, Ashley Bryant.

 

Categories : Regents drama
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May
03

Falling in Love

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Although I’m quite serious and down-to-business in my teaching manner, I’m still a fool for falling in love. The day dawned bright and sunny with a gently cool breeze that was just perfect for falling in love. Sixth grade had a trip planned for N.W. Norton Art Museum in Shreveport and I knew that morning that the day was going to be grand!

We arrived promptly at the museum which is nestled in the middle of a neighborhood and hugged tightly with blooming azaleas. Our group was greeted by a member of the staff and then our personal docent, Ms. Newberry Mills, rushed us off for our delightful journey into America’s Western art scene. Mr. Charles Russell was the featured artist for the day and we completely forgot ourselves as we listened intently to our enthusiastic docent. One could almost smell the horses and feel the heat of the outdoors as we studied piece after piece and learned more about this colorful artist.

After a trip to the basement for a creative activity in the fashion of Mr. Russell, we gathered up our sack lunches and set out to conquer the gardens of the museum. Here we brushed up against more intriguing art as we laughed at the river otters caught playing near the stream and whispered quietly so as not disturb the grizzly waiting for sockeye. As for living, breathing animals we cooed over the brood of tadpoles, smiled as we watched the adorable red-eared turtles bask in the sun and literally held our breath each time we came across a snake!

After lunch the party was anxious to return to the museum so that we could saunter through the entire museum. We passed from one room to the next sighing at the beauty of each artist. One room held a lovely still life of a vase of vibrant red flowers. Upon closer examination, one student declared the flowers to be POPPIES! In one voice my students began to recite “In Flanders Fields” and the fact that the security guard was staring at them strangely didn’t deter them a bit!

A turn down a new corridor brought us into the room where Mr. Norton has displayed his finest guns! The noise level just kept getting louder and louder with each new discovery. A German pistol here, a Cowboy riffle there and a fancy handcrafted gun for R.W. Norton put the class over the top. A gentle “shhh” coming from their teacher reminded them to lower their voices but it certainly didn’t extinguish their delight!

I kept an eye on my watch and tried to keep the pace rather quick though most of my students could have lingered for several more hours. I had mamas and papas waiting for us back in the Lone Star State. You know it’s been a great day when the teacher has to bulldoze her class out of the fine arts museum! At one point in the education center, a museum educator asked about my “field trip budget.” I stared blankly back at her and quizzed, “What budget?” It was her turn to look confused so I tried to mend the situation with a subtle chuckle and added, “There’s too much to learn in 6th grade!”

6th grade is a great place to fall in love!

 

 

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Feb
29

Payment Enough

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I recently turned a year older which is better than the alternative. My First Love of a class always surprises me with a gift for my birthday which I don’t deserve. These poor souls got the very worst of me as I was green and quite stupid but oh so excited about teaching sixth grade.

I remember standing in front of them the first day of school thinking that I was going to faint or puke before the school day would end! I remember the love they shared with me right away so that I was their teacher from the first day of school. I remember the day I was reviewing third person singular pronouns when I very accidentally and very clearly ran two of the pronouns together to make one profane word and all the class heard me. I remember our Camp Laurence Day when the rain came uninvited and made our fun day even better. I remember our trip to the Harvest House and our trip to the Tyler Zoo. I remember the day that I had to deliver some very sad and very grown-up news to my First Love. I remember sharing our small room with two other teachers and a piano! I remember laughing until tears streamed down my face because of an utterly ridiculous story told to the class by one red-head. I remember our trip to SFA to watch “Huck Finn.” I remember smiling a lot and worrying even more about ruining every last one of them. I remember our End of School Party where I stood before my more mature sixth graders and cried because I hated to see them leave me.

My First sixth grade class always remembers my birthday and they treat me with such tenderness and love that I can truly say that they are payment enough.

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Jan
11

A Trip to the Big H

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Some teachers give their students gifts of candy and hand sanitizer at Christmas, and some teachers take their students on field trips.

6th grade returned from Houston last week after an eventful day visiting a fine Houston museum. I was informed of the new exhibit at the Houston Museum of Natural Science as I quickly darted along Loop 224 in my hometown. The sign was a general blur as I typically drive as though I’m in the last lap of the Indy 500, but I saw enough to decide that my class must see this temporary exhibit.

We arrived at the museum and were in desperate need of a restroom when a staff member asked if he could interest us in a chemistry demonstration around the corner. I quickly thanked him and gathered my little chicks so as not to miss any more of the demonstration. The chemist was a nice gentleman that introduced us to polymers, bases, acids, and chemical reactions and we swallowed all that with a smile on our faces! Quietly I wondered why I couldn’t have had him as my science teacher and all the while packing away any little teaching tidbits that I might pull out later.

After this super demonstration, we followed the signs to the Civil War exhibit where we were swept away with all things Confederate and Union. Displayed on the walls were all sorts of fun and interesting facts about the causes and people involved in the development of the Confederate States of America as well as the many bloody battles that ensued. We were able to stand in front of the original 13th amendment complete with Abraham Lincoln’s signature. (If you don’t remember what that amendment did for our country, you ought to consider coming back to 6th grade!) There was a section in the exhibit where my students could attempt to decode “secret” messages based on the codes of some of the soldiers during that time period. As we neared the end of the display, there were cases and cases of original photographs and weapons along with fifes and crutches.I am hoping that this trip made the 1860’s more real to my students.

After a lovely lunch outside the museum, we returned for the museum’s permanent collection. Here we were able to see some of the animals that we study in science as well as some of the creatures my students studied as 5th graders. The air was ringing with, “Remember, last year we studied these,” or, “You know, Miss Hoffmann, taught us about this!” Then delight hit as we rounded the corner and entered the gem collection! There were brilliant gems gleaming from every direction and one of my ladies found the vaulted area where jewelry from around the world is kept. Shining tiaras and necklaces with gems the size of duck eggs decorated the walls of the vault.

My students were truly disappointed when I announced our need for departure and after a quick stop for a milkshake to top the day off, we arrived safely back home!

Some teachers give their students reasons to dislike school and some teachers give their students something to talk about.

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Sep
28

A Trip to LA

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Last Wednesday found my class cruising along highway 21 East toward the Texas state border. Mr. Bryant drove the vehicle with girls and I, of course, had the great privilege to cart the boys down this beautiful slightly winding road that would lead us straight into our neighboring state of Louisiana. We have been studying about the cotton gin as well as the history behind all those that worked and ran plantations back in the 1800’s; when I found out that there were several plantations within driving distance, I had reservations nailed down and permission slips ready to send home. In my searching, I found that Natchitoches has another great education experience as well…a fort complete with cannons and docents!

We arrived at Fort St. Jean Baptiste for our 9:30 tour and were greeted by two individuals dressed for the time period. Our wonderful docents guided us through the tour explaining what life was like in the fort and outside the fort’s walls. 6th grade had run of the place and our docents were happy to hear and answer all our questions. We finished the tour with my students preparing and planting the fort’s fall garden just outside the protection of the walls. Goodbyes were said and with our “thank you’s” still ringing in the air, we prepared for a quick drive to enjoy dinner by The River.

My students were honored to have a flock of ducks and a gaggle of geese noisily join our lunch party. As I sat and enjoyed my meal, I thought of the stories some of the old trees could tell. This river could get you to New Orleans at one time in the past so one knows that a variety of characters must have floated that river. Not far from this lunch area a plaque could be found commemorating the reading of the Indian Removal Act right there on the main drag in Natchitoches. I wondered if a Native American might have leaned up close to one of the old trees that now gave us shade.

Well, with lunch finished our next stop was the Melrose Plantation some 20 miles away. We arrived at the darling plantation with its huge trees covered in resurrection fern and quickly were joined with our docent there. He showed us the ins and outs of Melrose and we all loved going into the African House. This is a one-of-a-kind architecture lollipop! It was crafted after homes made in the Congo. We all had a picture made in front of it. Melrose can boast of many things but all my children were most impressed with the American Folk Art painted by Miss Clementine. One room had a mural that she had painted which covered the walls. Although this primitive art has never been a favored period for me, the enthusiasm of my students was quite contagious! Before long, I was just as involved as they were in studying the baptism scene or laughing about the big bell ringer or trying to find where Miss Clementine had included herself in the picture. We were sorry to end our day in another state during the school week, but we were sure glad that we had made the effort to experience something quite educational but quite delightful at the same time!

(Please see yesterday’s post for pictures from this field trip.)

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Dec
01

Faith for Boys

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Boys take faith.  Anyone that has had boys or has taught boys knows that they take A LOT of faith!  I must admit that having my own family made up of the male species, me being the exception, and teaching sixth grade boys I have an abundance of exposure to boys!  I must also admit that at times I forget that boys take faith!  I do get discouraged and the boys in my life bring disappointment in ways that are hard for a female to understand.  I regularly have to give myself a pep-talk about being faithful and not losing faith, that God does love these young men in my midst and that I have a duty to our Lord to faithfully love and correct them.

This morning the Lord gave me a big hug from Heaven.  Our morning assembly began as usual and the children that are late are required to wait in the hall until the Scripture reading is completed so that they won’t disrupt the the reading of God’s Word.  We always have some students waiting in the hall.  These children filed in after the reading and the assembly continued on.  We were almost finished with the assembly when I looked into the hallway and there I saw one of our “big boys” in secondary school, obviously later than the rest.  Mr. Bryant was ready for us to sing the Gloria Patri and we all raised our hands to praise the Lord one last time before we were released to start our day in our classrooms.  Tears quickly came to my eyes as I watched this young man, who will soon be on his own in the world, raise his hands and his mouth followed the words that we all sang.  My point being that it would have been so easy for him to just stand in the hall since few could even see him.  He could have stayed at his locker two minutes longer for the assembly would conclude very shortly.  This young man could have walked to his first period class (and two years ago, I would have fully expected him to do so) but he chose to stand in the hallway, raise his large manly hands to Heaven and sing praises to our Lord.    He has no idea what a faith boost he gave me today!  (I almost ran to hug him when the song was over! :>)

With more faith than usual, and a gratefulness for God’s goodness, I pray along with Ignatius of Loyola:

Dearest Lord, teach me to be generous.

Teach me to serve you as you deserve;

to give, and not to count the cost;

to fight, and not to heed the wounds;

to labor, and not to seek to rest;

to give of myself and not to ask for reward,

except the reward of knowing that I am doing your will.  Amen.

Nov
19

We Are Thankful Indeed!

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Our first and second graders caused no little excitement as they entered the hallway decked out in their best Native American and Pilgrim costumes!  Instead of eating their regular lunch, the children gathered in the second grade room to feast on a myriad of delicious items ranging from pomegranates to tandori bread and fresh raw carrots to tender smoked ham.  Our sweet teachers thanked the mothers and grandmother who had dedicated so much energy into the feast and then the class prayed.

The scene was beautiful as my gaze passed from one precious face to the next, thinking about how much the children are loved and prayed for in the tiny little school on the hill.  I asked a few of the children, “Who were the Indians and Pilgrims?”  One or two pointed around the room, identifying their friends that were dressed as Indians or Pilgrims.  One little first grader told me rather matter-of-fact, “The Pilgrims were from England and they came over on the Mayflower.”  When asked what they were thankful for, most answered like a good little lad or lass in Sunday School with “God!”  My favorite response was the second grader who didn’t miss a beat when he told me that he was thankful for “Tyron!”  This particular second grader happens to be my nephew and this wasn’t a name I was familiar with.  My puzzled look triggered him to quickly whip out his penpal card.  Lo and behold, wouldn’t you know…his pen pal from New Zealand is named Tyron!

First and second grade has much to be thankful for as I’m sure you do as well during this thankful season!

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We enjoy studying history in 6th grade; in fact, we love history so much that I often must remind my class that we should honor each person’s insight and comments for we all want to jump in regularly with our own knowledge or wonderment!

Our Veritas cards take us through the early 1800’s right up through Modern America!  That’s an abundance of material to cover and it’s my job to make each lesson as meaningful as possible so that my children will retain an appreciation of their roots in our Great Land.  We study settlers on more than one occasion but this week’s card was “Westward Expansion,” and the students’ assignment was to create a covered wagon.  We worked on our wagons during class for a few days and some of my students took their covered wagon home to put the finishing touches on!  Through blistered fingers from the glue gun, pricked palms from the needle that stitched the covered canvas and smocks that blocked straying paint strokes, my students produced some very artistic and sturdy wagons!

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Oct
05

One more poem

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From a student that I am quite proud of:

Pleasant Sounds

The chatter of over fifty people,

Squirrels running over dead leaves in the fall.

Birds chirping in the trees

And oven buttons clicking on Saturday morning.

The car starting when my family goes on trips,

And the sound of people screaming at a football game.

Leaves falling to the ground

And the sound of people battling with swords.

When people jump into a pool and the squishy sound of people stepping in mud.

The sound of my little brother and cousin crying.

A dragonfly buzzing right past you

And the sound of a zipper zipping on a cold winter morning.

Oct
04

My Poets

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Sharing poetry with my students is a goal that I have for the year.  I have the poems which I have collected from numerous sources printed on overhead transparencies.  Three times a week I display the poems on the board for all to see.  I usually read the poem once and then call on a male voice and female voice to read during the week.  Each day we try to unfold some new aspect of the poem discussing the vocabulary, syllable form, style and flavor of each poem and poet.

We recently read John Clare’s Pleasant Sounds and I asked my students to brainstorm some of their favorite sounds.  The lights were off and some of my students’ pencils couldn’t stop scrawling across their page.  The next day I handed my students the task of composing a poem of their own favorite or pleasant sounds.  I was most pleased with their work and would like to share a poem or two with you.

Pleasant Sound

The chirping of birds in the distance,

Trickling of water down the stream,

Laughter of children on the playground,

Shouts of joy for my team.

Rain hitting on my window,

Creatures scampering about,

Horses hooves in the fields,

The honk of a mailman on his route.

Dad cheering for the Aggies,

Knives hitting the plate,

Ladies sipping their tea,

The speeches in debate.

composed by Annaleigh

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