Sunday, June 23, 2013

Supermoon night

Supermoon to rise tonight.

The moon reminds me of many stories. One of them is a scene from this movie, Evening. An exhausted mum with a serious emotional problem sang the moon song for her kids when everything looked so intimidatingly wrong. She quitted cooking and put her daughter on her laps and went:

I see the moon and the moon sees me
And the moon sees somebody I wanna see...

Being a mum gets overwhelmed from time to time because of all the emotional roller coaster she deal with on daily bases. On such an evening, stop everything and just looking up at the moon with her little girls or boys and singing away would bring a big smile back on her face. How many times would you look up at the night sky and gaze at the moon? How often would you talk about the moon and the memories that are inspired?

Tonight might be one of the suitable one for storytelling night with a supermoon.

Have a lovely evening, everyone!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

On my day off

Yesterday was one of those days that I don't enjoy looking back because of the despair I felt at work. I hear some abusive words from kids. Where do those painful and abusive words come from? Don't they come from the mouth of us, grown-ups. It is the chain of harmful words. I hear teachers say, "Why don't you understand such an easy instruction?" "Are you an idiot?" "Shut up!" without any reasons explained to the kids. I completely understand classroom management in a large class is challenging and stressful especially when you need to deal with that all day long. And those 6th graders can be a pain in neck. But abusive words can't stop anything. In fact, they feed only negative and painful vocabulary to the dictionary of our kids. It is true that the world can be brutal and harsh and kids might need to deal with that but I keep thinking what if kids didn't know those harsh and abusive expressions but knew more and more encouraging, supportive and soft words like music to our ears. Words and moods are much more contagious or influential to us than we imagine. For instance, when I feel relaxed and fine, my words become more inviting and cheerful. when my words become more cheerful, Momo, my daughter acts better and nicer. When she is cheerful, more laughters happen among us. And the other way around is the same. I am not saying that we should ignore something unpleasant or abusive incidents in our lives because there are always some.  But by focusing on such events, you become bitter and gloomy and your words usually coincide your mood. Then the painful chain of abusive words take place.

In order to have kids listen to you, perhaps giving them a little time to calm down especially after exciting activities is a better idea than throwing bitter and abusive words at them like, "Shut up! Otherwise, you are out!" " Shut up! Get out of here! You don't know when to stop!" I had enough of those heartbreaking words at work. It really break my heart because those words kill all the pleasures kids had during the activities that they felt excited. It is like feeding kids cake and telling them how bad the eating cake is. It is such a wrong message. One of the teachers say, "Ok, we had fun, Now let's listen to another one. Ok?" He has much better classroom management. It makes sense to kids. And I don't have to stand like an idiot while my team-teacher is screaming at those poor kids. I heard one of the teachers shouted at a girl, "We don't need a person like you! Get out of here!" It was harsher than what the girl mumbled. I felt so awful because she said something childish ( but she is a child and that's what she is supposed to say.) like, "You had a hard luck."to one f her classmate in a pair work. Maybe the teacher meant to shout at me for doing something inappropriate. But in any cases, shouting at the girl in front of the class and killing all the joy all the students were sharing at the moment was inappropriate to me. Whatever the problems she has in her daily behavior, I can't imagine such abusive words can grow anything healthy. I think inspiring and nurturing words can only touch our soft part of the hearts and grow more of empowering words there. What this girl need to empathize how her classmate would feel if she calls him a had luck. Empathy is something kids need to learn in the course of their development. And it is our responsibility to make sure that they learn empathy.

Some days, it is so challenging to be careful with my words. I get tired and stressed out and my words become unkind. For those days, I should remember the face of every kid when the harsh words were poured onto her / him - the most confused, embarrassed and despising faces. After all, I can't change anything nor anyone but myself. I would love to have a circle of musical and inspiring words around me :-)

Friday, June 7, 2013

Story-based class at elementary school

After reading a story, Ketchup on your Corn flakes? in some of my classes at an elementary school, I started wondering how I can integrate lots of activities that stimulate interactions among students and shared reading activities. Based on my experiences and some literature, I have become a believer of impact of narratives and the power of shared reading. But I also hypothesize that only shared reading might not be able to attract students' full attention. I saw some sleepy faces and yawning if the book lasts more than 5 pages. That's how short their attention span is. Kids got more stimulating activities such as online games, movies and so on. Simple activities such as reading don't give them instant stimulation in spite of all the imaginative and creative stimulation you can get once you are completely engaged in the world of narratives. Reading requires bit of patience and practice in order to feel the absolute freedom to play in the world. Once you get the grip of how you can free your mind on the pages, you can be addicted to it for sure, however, like everything else, you gotta experience the magic on your own. Those kids, who had no enjoyable shared reading experiences with their parents or care takers, have no patience nor stamina to wait for the magic take place in their hearts. And only in the area, I might be able to give my hands to kids. Via introducing some books they can be engaged and having fun time in sharing the story, I might be able to create the similar bed time experiences that I and my daughter got as babies - The smoothing feelings and the excitement come along with the stories told by the caregiver, the guardian of your tiny life. It might be the warmth and the tender tone of her / his voice babies cling to first. Then, they can built the love of reading later. How powerful force it can be to make your kids bookworms or addicts for narratives in a positive sense. With this foundation based on love and trust, kids can freely fly in any worlds they may live.

I must thank my daughter for this realization and also being a light to guide me where to go in the midst of a tempest. I also thank my mum to give me a good nose of story hunters. Shared reading with my mum got me fall in love with picture stories and children's literature has been one of my favorites. I also had nothing but books to entertain myself when I was indoors during my childhood. Outdoors, I got the wild and thrilling nature beckoning me back then. I really appreciate her to provide such a wonderful environment.

It is impossible to create such a rich environment in classrooms but I would be extremely happy if I can share at least a bit of pleasure of shared reading with some kids. In my dictionary there is no word like "too late" especially when it comes to reading. You can fall in love with narratives anytime in your life according to Storytelling Animals since craving for stories is one of our very primitive instincts. Nothing  can take that from us. (Well, unless some extreme cases with physical or psychological damages.) This human tendency explains a lot for addictions for games. Games are animated stories that you can join and experience instantly. But they lack the magic, the freedom of mind. Readers can animate each character of a book as they like. I can't get such a freedom in movies and games due to the fixed images and sounds. Only in texts, you can get the absolute freedom. In the sense, storytelling or shared readings are also limited but such activities can be a great bridge between the  ready-made animated images and self-genarated images. When stories in your mind get colors, sounds and motions, you can be absorbed in the world endlessly and the pleasure is priceless. But it is hard to explain because you gotta experience that.

So, I think I can define my mission is to be a bridge between ready-made imagination and self-generated imagination. Hope I can be a solid one that doesn't fall down via sharing engaging stories with kids as we play lots of pre- and post-reading activities.