An ELL Holiday Gathering

The week before holiday break an teacher of ELLs and I hosted a bilingual story-time in our high school library. We chose a holiday classic, The Grinch who Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss. We found many of our students are unfamiliar with Dr. Seuss and common words and phrases such as ‘don’t be a Grinch!’

In addition to this literature based activity, we included cultural and tech activities. And to round out the festivities, a little gastronomic experience as well. Students sipped hot chocolate with whipped cream and nibbled on snacks consisting of Santa cookies and homemade brownies. Students were treated to a VR Santa experience which they enjoyed immensely as a field trip to the North Pole was not in our budget!

None of our students had heard of Chanukah dreidels so we taught them how to play. Using a simple instruction sheet the students, even with limited proficiency, were able to follow along and were delighted to learn how to gamble albeit with Hershey kisses.

All in all we celebrated together and through food, conversation, and friendship we embraced similar traditions while learning new ones.

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

Chai & Chat

Many of us love to read; it’s a wonderful activity. It’s something usually done alone, often with a cup of tea and a litany of ‘just one more chapter and then I’ll go to bed! However, there’s something special about a shared reading experience. We have the ability to laugh, cry, ponder the same questions and overall experience a range of emotions with one another. I think that’s why book clubs are so popular. We just have to talk to someone about what we just experienced (read).

This week our school started our Big Read where we, students and staff, can all read the same book. I Am Malala has several reading levels and is translated into Spanish making it a wonderful choice for the inclusion of all our students. We love the theme of the importance of education. And where better to share that message but in a school and who better to share it with than students and staff together.

On Wednesday, we started our weekly Chai & Chat sessions – one of the many activities scheduled for the Big Read. Again, there’s nothing better than a book and a cup of tea! We sat in the school library sipping chai, some tasting it for the first time, and since we just got the books in, we read an excerpt aloud each participant taking a turn. It was a moving experience as was the discussion of education around the world.

I’m looking forward to many more Wednesdays.

cup of tea


Carpe Librum. Seize the Book!

The phone rings at 5:30 am. It means nothing to me. After all, I am married to a doctor the phone rings all hours of the night (and day). “Gina, school’s closed today,” he says. Let that sink in. Hmm, I can catch up on emails, committee work, make soup! So much to do. So much I can get done. Heavy eyelids fade to black. He has to go to work, so I get up and join him for my first cup of tea of the day. There will be many more cups to come – it’s cold out there.

So what did I eventually accomplish? Yes, I did get two loads of laundry done. No, I didn’t make the soup. And the only committee work I attempted was the @YALSA Twitter chat hosted by YALSA President Candice Mack (@tinylibarian) with an update about organizational planning. Well, I’m already on Twitter so I should post some updates, right? And why stop there I should let the Facebook world know what’s up, too. The morning is over and I’ve drank tea and visited social media sites. The best laid plans of mice and men….

I’m sorry, but it’s a Snow Day. I did what needed to be done! I sat on the couch all day and read!!! (And drank tea, of course.) All the Light We Cannot See is our school Staff Book Club pick and I really wanted to finish the book this weekend (even though we’re not discussing it until next month). Forget the soup, vacuuming, emails, spreadsheets. Life is short. We must seize the day or better yet, Carpe Librum, seize the book!

Happy Snow Day!