Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Room 19

Some of the funny things my Rm 19 kids have said to me:
"Damn, you're pretty!"
"Where's your husband?" Then when I explain I don't have one... "Why not?" "When are you going to get married?"
"Do they have ketchup in your world?"

Here are some of the girls in my class during swimming.
The kids have to practice crouching on the side of the pool
and do a 180 degree turn when they jump in.
Here's what my classroom looks like.

I taught my first few small group lessons this week. Wednesday I taught a guided reading lesson. I worked with the Rhino group, which consists of Patsy, Ngun Di, Xavier, and Milton. I also worked with them today. They were so good for me! Both lessons went really well, and the kids were very interested and engaged in what we were learning about/working on. During today's lesson, Dr. Jacobs came in to observe me. I always hate being observed. It's scary! But the lesson ran pretty smoothly and Dr. Jacobs had some good positive praise on my performance...but of course he had some suggestions. :) But critique is good. That's how I learn to be a better teacher! But although there were quite a few things I could change and do better next time, overall, I think it went pretty well. Now on to the next step: whole class instruction!


Tuesday Dr. Jacobs and all 16 of us were invited to a powhiri at Henderson South Primary School. A powhiri is a traditional Maori welcome done for visitors and those that are new to New Zealand or new to a specific part of the country. It was all very official. To start, a girl called us into the hall with a Maori chant. Traditionally, the guest then calls back and follows the girl in. As we walked in, a boy leads the large group of students in another chant with different arm movements. This was done until we were all in the middle of the room and had seated ourselves. Then one of the deputy principals welcomed us to the community and to their land in Maori. The children sang a beautiful song for us.
Then, Dr. Jacobs got up and introduced himself and the 16 of us. He then read his pepeha in Maori. A pepeha is the way you introduce yourself in New Zealand. Your pepeha tells of the land you are from; what your river and mountain are, who your family is, etc. I know he had practiced this beforehand, but I was still really impressed that Dr. Jacobs read that whole thing in fluid Maori. It is tradition for the guests to bring a koha, or gift, with them to present to the host. Dr. Jacobs brought a really cool Navajo sand painting from home and presented the school with that to hang in their school. Then the girls and I sang a song. We were instructed to stand behind Dr. Jacobs while we sang to show our support for him. The song we sang is so beautiful. I love singing it with the girls. We sing it twice; the first time we sing all together, and the second time we split with some girls singing in harmony. Here are the words to that song:

Te aroha
Te whakapono
Me te rangimarie
Tatou, Tatou e

After we sang our song, the Henderson South principal welcomed us to his school. He explained that now we are a part of them, their community, and their country. Their land is our land; New Zealand is our home. The last part of the powhiri is the hongi. This is a traditional Maori greeting. It involves touching foreheads and noses with someone you are greeting. During the hongi, the Ha (breath of life) is exchanged and intermingled. By doing the hongi with someone you are no longer considered a visitor, but you are one of the people. We all walked in a line and greeted each of the teachers and administrators by doing the hongi and saying, "Kia Ora". It's a different experience getting your face so close to that many strangers. It definitely helps to pop your personal bubble if you have one. But what a cool experience to have! I love the Maori people and the beautiful culture they represent.
Dr. Jacobs introducing us.
Singing our song behind Dr. Jacobs. All the teachers said it sounded just lovely. :)Practicing our hongi!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Te Aroha Rugby!

This past weekend was jam-packed with so many fun-filled activities! The girls and I are only in the schools Monday-Thursday, so Friday we took the bus to Point Chev. Beach. It was great to simply relax and read/write in my journal on the beach. Everyone is in school or working so we pretty much had the place to ourselves.
Saturday was a loooong day, but such an awesome one! We started the day bright and early at 6 am. We caught a bus downtown and met the girls to take the ferry over to Rangitoto Island. We spent the day hiking all over the hills and volcanic rock fields. The views at the top of the summit were beautiful!
Walking in the volcano rocks
Rebecca and I at the Summit

View from the top. You can see the city across the way. See the Skytower?

These trees reminded me of Narnia a little bit.

About to venture into one of the lava caves.

The caves were pitch black and we didn't have torches (NZ's name for flashlights) so we had to feel our way along. I occasionally used the flash on my camera to see where I was going.

After Rangitoto, we went to the Chinese Lantern Festival in the city. It was fun to walk around and see the different kinds of lanterns they had lit up, listen/watch the different performances and entertainment, and visit the various booths.

We had this AMAZING fresh cut pineapple
with vanilla ice cream on top. Yum!

After the festival, we went to Eden Park Stadium to watch my first rugby game ever! The Auckland Blues vs. Canterbury Crusaders game was so good. It was a close game too! The Blues won 24-22. Here are some quick notes about rugby:

  • The clock is always running. You know a game will always be 90 minutes: two 40-minute halves with a 10 minute “halftime”
  • A tackle does not mean the end of a play. The ball just gets thrown again.
  • The ball can bounce, but the play still continues.
  • A goal is called a “try.”This is a "scrum"
  • The ball must always be thrown backwards, never to a player in front of you.
  • Running a try is worth 5 points. Kicking a try is worth 3 points.
  • They don’t wear any padding—they are so tough! They play rough, kicking and punching and pushing all the time. One guy had to get his head bandaged up, but he still played the rest of the game. Another guy had blood all over one side of his head, but he also still played the rest of the game.
  • Whenever the Auckland Blues scored, they celebrated with these huge torches.There’s one guy on the team that they lift up to get the ball when it’s thrown in (see below).
  • Everytime the Blues scored they sent up shots of fire!The best rugby player in the world! Hey, Dan Carter!
Isn't he just so nice to look at?? I have never seen so many
attractive men on a field at one time before!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

"Are you going to stay here forever, Miss Wirthlin?"

If these primary school kids keep tugging at my heart, I just might stay forever!

I cannot even begin to explain how happy I am to be back in an elementary classroom. I started my second practicum at Colwill Primary School on Monday. I am in Elisa Patterson's year 4 and 5 class, which is the equivalent to 3rd and 4th grade students. A lot of the classes here in New Zealand are a mix of two different grades. I don't know how the teachers do that, but they seem to make it work. My first few days have consisted mostly of observing and getting the hang of how things work here, but it's been great. I think I now know everyone's names, although it took me a minute to get the hang of such names as: Njun Di, Taiaha, Taupiri, Ardalan, Daesharn.

The schools here run a different schedule than the schools back at home in the States. They have morning tea for about 40 minutes every day. At this time, the students can have their morning tea snack and then go out to play on the playground. The teachers all retreat into the staff room to drink their coffee and milo. Milo is a chocolate and malt powder drink. It's like watered-down hot chocolate. It's not my favorite, but I'd rather have that than coffee or tea. I like morning tea but I think they give the kids too much time to play. When you add up the time they get for morning tea, lunch, and then recess, they don't have much time in the classroom for their studies. And then you also add on the time they get for PE and swimming (yes, they have a pool and it's part of the standard curriculum that everyone take the class)...the teachers hardly have any time to teach the core subjects! I'm interested to see what other differences I can find in these New Zealand classrooms over the next 6 weeks.

One fish, two fish, red fish...HOLY COW that's a FISH!!!

Last Saturday, Kerry (Anna and Heidi's host "dad"), took the Fabulous Four fishing on the ocean. Alexis came with us and provided great entertainment, as usual. The fish we were fishing for are called Snappers. They really have full on snappers! They need sharp teeth to crunch through shellfish, apparently. We were using little frozen fish for bait that Kerry had bought at the store.
We all caught about 3 fish each. They were all just under the size they need to be to keep them. So we threw them back. But just wait! Out of nowhere, Jess caught a MONSTER! ...well, he was a monster compared to the other fish we were catching. :) I'm sure all the other boats around knew where to find all the fish after hearing us girls screaming and laughing with excitement. We ended our trip with one HUGE fish and two fairly good-sized ones. Such a fun Saturday afternoon! Kerry was so wonderful to take us out on a whim.
Cutting up the little fish for bait
First fish of the excited!

Alexis's first fish, ever!
Was that a bite? I'm nervous!
I swear he felt bigger on the line! Those snappers put up a fight!
Getting the hook out of another one I caught
We love kissing the fish :)

We named him Chomper.
I love this picture. So cute.

Alexis being a turtle.Even though it was Jessica's fish, we all wanted to take pictures with Chomper.

The next day, Sunday, we had Chomper and two other small buddies for lunch. Kerry filleted the meat for us, and the girls and I fried it in egg and flour. We drizzled lemon and fresh homemade plum sauce on it. It was so good! We were pretty proud of ourselves. :)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

I fell in love...

with Queenstown…and the South Island in general. What a beautiful place! Why am I in love? Let me tell you about this place. The city is lined all along Lake Wanaka and is nestled right up against the pine covered mountains. There are tons of shops and restaurants that line the little narrow streets. It is a tourist town, no doubt, but it's a different touristy feel than other tourist destinations. It is very quaint and picturesque. Everyone is cool and laid back. There are backpackers and outdoorsy people all over. Eveyone and everything is so outdoorsy and active, I love it. My group stayed there for 5 nights. We stayed at a Base X hostel. There were two rooms, each with 8 girls in them. My bed was filled with hair that was not mine, I made sure to wear flip flops in the shower, and our room smelled like urine, but hey, we were in the South Island ready for 10 days of nothing but fun! Plus, we were hardly in our rooms except at night. So let me tell you a little about Queenstown, first. Queenstown is the high adventure capital of NZ. The girls and I made sure to take advantage of this as much as we could. Here are some of the fun, exciting things we did:

Day 1: Shotover Jet

This thing is basically like a giant sea-doo. It was incredible how fast it could go in the narrow river canyons and shallow waters. It could turn on a dime too. It was so scary when the driver would do a 360 degree turn in the narrow canyons; I thought for sure we would hit the canyon walls.

Day 2: Gardens and Puzzling World

Okay, so I didn’t go skydiving, but 8 of our girls did. I went back and forth trying to decide if I should do it with them, but I decided that since I’ve already done it and with the ridiculous prices over here, I would spend my money elsewhere. So while half of the group was jumping out of planes, the rest of us took a beautifully scenic (but chilly!) walk through the Queenstown gardens. When we were all together again, we drove up to Puzzling World. This place was pretty cool. There was a pretty intense outdoor maze you could do (it took my group about 30 mins to go through it), a room full of really cool optical illusions, and a room full of puzzles to do (the kind that take thought process and strategy to solve/figure out). This was our first night having Fergburger! Fergburger is an amazing burger place that was just down the street from our hostel. If you go to Queenstown, you have to have a Fergburger. These things are huge and so onolicious (ono=really really good)! They’re so big that every time I went there (yes, there were multiple Ferg’s eaten) I shared one with one of the girls.


My first Fergburger. Yum!

Day 3: Kawarau Bridge and Luge

If everyone was jumping off a bridge, would you jump too? Answer: Heck yes! I willingly threw myself off a 43 meter (about 141 feet) bridge. It was amazing, and all 16 of us girls did it (I’m really proud of all of us)! It was cool to do my first bungee jump there because that was the location of the first commercial bungee jump; it was done by AJ Hackett and his buddy. Our group was the first group of the day. I was the 5th person in our group to go, and I was freaking out! Ha ha they had to count down to one twice because I froze the first time…but hey, that’s a little understandable right?! But I jumped the second time they counted down, and what a rush! The Kawarau Bridge is over a gorgeous river, and when I jumped I got dunked in the water (I actually requested to be dunked). So fun! This was definitely the highlight of the whole trip for me. It was one of the most thrilling things I have ever done! After coming down a bit from our adrenaline high, we did the luge ride just up the mountain right by our hostel. The Luge is similar to the Alpine Slide in Park City, but so much more fun! Just trust me on that.

Watch me jump! I get dunked in the water!

All 16 of us bungee jumped!
So excited we did it!Ready to luge!