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School & Teaching

    Library Reading Program Follow-Up

    A while ago I posted about the library reading program I hosted during the fall semester.

    The program ended just before our winter break. Before I announced the contest, I wasn’t sure what kind of a response to expect. My program required students to read books outside of class, and it was up to the student whether or not to participate. I was quite pleased with the results:

    • The program was open to third through twelfth graders and around 27% of students participated.
    • There was a total of 335 entries (so 335 books read).
    • My top readers read 76, 73, 24, and 20 books. (Pretty amazing since the program ran over the course of 116 days!)
    • For fourth, fifth, and sixth grades, around half of the class had at least one entry.

    There were only 13 participants from grades seven through twelve. This was a bit disappointing but partly could have been because many of the secondary students already owned Kindles, e-readers, or tablets. Also, our secondary fiction section is more limited than the juvenile fiction section, though I’m working on that this year.


    Reading program jar


    Reading program entries


    The prizes were two 50TL gift cards to D&R Music and Bookstore, one 100TL gift card to D&R, and one Amazon Kindle Fire. Surprisingly, all but one of the winners were in seventh grade. (The Kindle winner? He only read and entered with 7 books!) I also offered a pizza party to the class who read the most books.


    Reading program winners


    Reading prizes


    I do not plan on hosting the same program during the spring semester, but will consider doing it again sometime. If I run it again, I’d make a few changes:

    • I had originally offered a pizza party to the class who read the most books. However, I later realized I did not want to reward those who did not participate. I ended up changing the rules slightly to reward the participants of the class that read the most books. I also added in two students from other grades who read a large number of books. Next time, I’d change it so all students who read 20 or more books (or some other set number) get to join the pizza party. 
    • I wish I had more prizes. I could not fund any more gift certificates (the store I visited only had 50TL or 100TL incriment giftcards available), but I would consider offering small prizes like bookmarks or reading lights.
    • The second graders were allowed to participate in the running for the pizza party, but I did not receive any entries from them. Most of the second graders were not reading chapter books. I would exclude them completely next time.
    • It would be ideal to offer book lists for students or grades based on their Lexile scores. Our school started MAP testing this year, but we’re still working on cross referencing data with our library catalogue.


    Click here to read about the reading program rules.
    You can download the entry forms at my TPT site.


    My Cheerleaders at their First Game

    I didn’t think there’d be a basketball game before winter break, but our athletic director was able to schedule one. I was excited because that meant the cheerleaders finally got to cheer at a game! We tried to attend the last volleyball game, but weren’t able to get base access at that time.

    A teacher friend and I have met with the cheerleaders once a week for an hour since August to practice moves, jumps, cheers, and routines. We have 20 girls on our squad. Because the games were scheduled last minute, not all of the cheerleaders were able to attend, but we still had a great turn out:


    OIS cheer


    The girls did an awesome job! I think the crowd enjoyed watching them almost as much as the game. These girls have a lot of spirit! This was the first basketball game several of them had ever been to. I attempted to answer as many questions as I could about the sport.


    Clapping cheerleaders


    Clapping cheerleaders


    I was especially glad we got a game in so this one had a chance to cheer. She moved to North America this week. She’ll be very missed!


    Cheerleader and coach


    The girls mostly cheered from the stands, but they went down to the floor during a couple of time-outs to perform. They were a little nervous at first, but I think they were loving it by the end:


    Cheering on the sidelines


    The high school basketball teams played extremely well and both the boys and the girls won. It was a great first game!



    Students Say the Funniest Things: Part 3

    Our international school has approximately 240 preschool through twelfth grade students. I see all of the elementary classes once a week for library and some high school students for an elective. David has his sixth grade class and also sees many of the elementary and middle school kids for Bible and Character Development. Here are a few quotes from the past few months.


    Students playing on the playground



    Near the beginning of the year during preschool library time, the kids were coloring and we were chatting. A boy in the class told me, “So, we eat a lot of Chinese food at my house. We have egg rolls and noodles. My mom makes noodles a lot. Do you like noodles?” (I think he was trying to gauge how Asian I was.) I told him that yes, I liked noodles. He asked if I had a favorite kind. I told him I liked all noodles. He said, “Ok. I’ll ask my mom if I can bring noodles sometime.” Flash forward to the next week, I walked downstairs to pick up the class. He was the line leader and told me something right away. “Oh, you have news?” I asked. “No,” he said. “I had noodles yesterday.”



    A seventh grader stopped in to get a book after school and told me: “I don’t know if I like seventh grade. I don’t have time to visit the library.” (Secondary students do not have weekly library times; they must stop in during their free time in between classes.)



    I had the preschoolers for computers class. After our special, I took them back to their room. They had some pumpkins and were so excited to show me. (Turkey doesn’t have orange pumpkins, but there’s plenty of gray ones.) I told the kids their pumpkins were so cool. I commented how they were lumpy and bumpy. One of the preschoolers responded, “Yeah! Like an old lady!”



    David had an elementary grade for Bible class. They had some free time at the end of class and were playing with his Tangram set. Some of the pieces were red and transparent. One student held two red ones over his eyes and said, “Everything is blood!” David had him reenact it:



    During another Bible class with elementary students, David was talking to the the kids about having a relationship with God. He asked them, “Do you know Mrs. Benedict? She’s my wife. I love her and I kiss her.” The kids of course said, “Ewwwww!” Then he asked, “Do you think I met her one day and we got married the next day?” A little girl responded, “No! You were boyfriend and girlfriend first!”



    An ESL student reciting a Bible verse: “Therefore there is now no constipation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”



    Me: “We have other Thanksgiving books in the library, too! You can tell which ones are about Thanksgiving by looking for a sticker like this.”

    First Grader: “Are there Star Wars Thanksgiving books?”



    Before I started reading a book about Thanksgiving to the preschoolers, I asked them a few questions. (Forgive the political incorrectness.)
    Me: “Do you remember what you heard about Thanksgiving at the assembly?”
    Kid: “Yeah! Indians! They helped them plant food.”
    Me: “Very good! The Indians helped the Pilgrims on the first Thanksgiving.”
    Other kid: “You kind of look like an Indian. You’re brown.”



    One of the popular fundraisers the students have are Krispy Kreme donut sales. They ship them in from Istanbul and sell them with hot drinks before school. One of the little kindergarten boys got a donut and a hot chocolate. I saw him a few minutes later and he had chocolate stains around his mouth. He was carrying a fresh new cup of hot chocolate.
    “Mrs. B, I got two times hot chocolate so I will no be cold!”



    There are twins in kindergarten and it is difficult to tell them apart. They love to play tricks and be sneaky. One of our favorite phrases from them is: “I joked you!”



    During third grade computers:
    Korean boy: Where are you from?
    Me: America. But I was born in Korea. I was adopted.
    Rest of class: YOURE ADOPTED?!?!??!?!
    Other boy: I knew it! You kind of look Korean!



    » Read Students Say the Funniest Things: Part 1
    » Read Students Say the Funniest Things: Part 2


    Christmas Craft Fair

    Last Saturday was our school’s annual Christmas Craft Fair. Our parent association works hard almost all year to create hundreds of beautiful, handmade crafts. The fair is a fun event for our students and their families as well as for the community.


    Christmas crafts


    Christmas crafts


    In addition to the crafts, there was a little cafe with hot soup, wassail, and sweets. There was also Christmas origami and story time for the kids:


    Christmas craft fair signs


    Story time


    David and I revised our roles from last year as Santa’s Elves. Here’s my elf shoes!


    Gold elf shoes


    We have one of the few Noel Babas (Santas) in Turkey. Lots of children came to tell him what they wanted for Christmas and to get a photo. We helped manage the line and tried to get the little ones to smile for the camera.


    Christmas elves


    Christmas elves


    It was a fun start to the Christmas season!



    Coaching Volleyball

    This post is a bit overdue since our last game was in October.… But one of my favorite times of the school year is volleyball season. This year’s team was made up of boys from seventh to twelfth grade. This was my second season as an assistant coach. I enjoy coaching because it gives me a chance to connect with some of the secondary students I do not have in class.


    Cheerleading sign

    Leah’s cheerleaders made this sign. They hung it up in the school on game days.


    Jumping up for a block


    We had a strong season and won all of our matches but two. We had a solid starting six that worked well together and were good leaders on and off the court. We came in second place in one tournament and had two players named to the all-tournament team. This was an exciting time for our guys and they played great.


    Team huddle


    This year I felt more comfortable in my role and was able to contribute more during practices. I have enjoyed learning more about volleyball. Before coming to Turkey, I liked to play pick-up games. Coaching has made me more interested and excited about competitive team volleyball. There were several practices where I stepped in and played with the guys as we ran drills. I often found myself working to better my own skills and become more educated in order to be a better coach.






    Volleyball was an exciting and rewarding beginning to the school year. Although I was very busy, I enjoyed forming relationships with the students and other coaches.


    Volleyball team



    Happy Thanksgiving!

    David put a whiteboard outside his classroom this week and wrote “Happy Thanksgiving! What are you thankful for?” Our students wrote they were thankful for their friends, family, teachers, Turkey, God, feet, Rick Riordan, and much more! 


    Thanksgiving whiteboard


    I’m thankful for my loving husband, family, friends that are like family, a roof over my head, food to eat, my job, my students, and most importantly for my Savior who loved me first and gave it all.

    Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. – Psalm 100:4

    Happy Thanksgiving!