November 8, 2010

Alternative Ways to Spend this Holiday Season

Warning- I'm about to get preachy.
As the holidays approach, please keep in mind those in need. Instead of getting stuff for the ones you love, donate that same amount of money and present them with a receipt of the good that was done in their name. Or better yet, give them a gift certificate so that they can go to the charity and donate to a cause of their choice. There are several websites for charities that allow this to happen, and here are a few of my favorites:

http://www.donorschoose.org/?return=true
This is a website where people can donate any amount of money to specific projects for specific classrooms. I like this one the best because, hey, I've got two projects on there right now!
(Here's my specific link-http://www.donorschoose.org/mslabriesclass )
I've gotten a literature circle (books) project fully funded already and I'm about to post more. But I'm not asking you to donate to me, just that you look on the website and choose a project that speaks to you. This is an amazing resource for teachers at low-income schools and a chance for the general public to directly help a student.  Because who know where all that tax money goes...

www.kiva.org
This is an organization that helps entrepreneurs in developing countries start their own business. The cool thing about this website is that you can give money in someone else's name, and then that person can go on the website and choose which project to fund. When the loan recipient pays back their loan (which I believe nearly 95% do on time), you can choose another project to donate the funds to, and the gift just keeps on giving.

And my personal favorite- homemade gifts, made with love. Hope you like them too (nudge, nudge, wink, wink ;-)

Alright, now to the teaching. What better way to teach then to get the kids out of school?
Yup, that's right, FIELD TRIP!!
 
  
We went to the Holocaust Museum in St. Louis, heard from a Holocaust survivor, ate lunch outside without jackets in 36 degree weather and witnessed a heart attack (I hope and believe the older gentleman was alright- my kids handled it beautifully without freaking out. Big accomplishment for 6th graders!). Just goes to show anything can happen on a field trip. I'm sure they each learned something or other, even if it was as simple as 'I should bring a jacket when Ms. Labrie tells me to.'

I am so much further into the subject matter than I was last year at this point. Hallelujah and praise the Lord, my kids might actually learn something this year. In class we just wrapped up a unit on Non-Fiction and are moving steadily onwards to the novel, The Girl who Owned a City, which is all about survival and learning to live in a world without the comforts of today's society. It's got a big girl-power element in it too, which I'm all about :-) We're writing pen-pal letters to LA, reading every night (or so they tell me) and we are creating some inside jokes that have to do with monkeys, aliens and cheeseburgers (don't ask- it's too strange to explain). If I mention any of the three things above in any passage, book or story, I've got my kids' rock solid attention. Considering it's a rare occasion that I was actually on the inside of an inside joke, it's nice to have a part in the creation of some. 
I also love that I love what I'm teaching. It makes it SOOOO much easier to get kids excited. I mean, I get to do a book talk each week on a book I found interesting at their age (or still find interesting in the case of the Rick Riordan fan group of ME). I get to wrap their minds inside stories and watch their imagination take off. I get to talk in voices when I read and call the class to attention (which caused one little sweetheart to ask me why I didn't become a comedian. So sweet. So naive and innocent and sweet). I also get to smile at kids and watch them lovingly smile back. Ahhhh...sigh of contentment. Then of course there's the crash or bang in the background, or some kid steps on another kid making them scream a 'toxic' word during sustained silent reading, or I get a sneeze in the eyeball or a great variety of things that bring me back to reality. I love my life. Happy November!