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School & Teaching

    Fall Carnival

    Three weeks ago our school hosted their annual Fall Carnival. For Fall Carnival, every grade creates a game or activity. Our students love it and many people from the community come join the fun, too. It was great to see some of our former students who came to visit!

    The preschool class hosted Pin the Nose on the Pumpkin:


    Pin the nose on the pumpkin


    The fourth grade class had a magnetic fishing game:


    Magnetic fishing


    The eighth graders arrested people and put them in Cardboard Jail:


    Cardboard Jailhouse


    I’m one of the junior class sponsors this year. My students came up with the idea of a Kiss Booth. People paid their tickets and then peeked their head behind a curtain:


    Kiss Booth


    They got “kissed” with a rubber kiss stamp and then were “kissed” by being presented with a Hershey’s Kiss! Clever, clever.


    Kiss Booth Stamp


    David and his sixth graders created the idea for the Toilet Toss. Don’t worry – it wasn’t a used toilet seat:


    Toilet toss


    Other students battled as sumo wrestlers in the Gladiators game:


    Sumo wrestling


    Some games make an appearance at Fall Carnival every year. The Cardboard Maze Race was a new game created by the seventh graders:


    Cardboard maze


    I loved seeing the kids dress up! Check out these two cute princesses:




    The parent association hosted the International Cafe. Everything was so, so yummy! I forget which country it was from, but my favorite was a fried pastry filled with veggies. It was served with an incredible mango chutney.


    International Cafe


    David had fun getting back at a student with the Sponge Toss:


    Spounge Toss


    There was also face painting, a scary house hosted by the seniors, bowling, and ball toss games. It was a long day, but everyone had a lot of fun!



    Trick or Treat!

    Turkey doesn’t celebrate Halloween, but the staff kids came around for trick or treating on Monday. We threw together some last minute costumes. I wasn’t very creative – I was a librarian.  (I’m not sure if many of the kids got it, haha.) David was a mismatched dork:


    Halloween "costumes"


    Our trick or treaters, however, had creative and very resourceful costumes:


    Trick or treaters


    Trick or treaters


    Trick or treaters


    Happy Halloween!


    Student Work: Type as Image

    This is my second time teaching a semester-long Graphic Design elective to high school students. I have a much smaller class this year with only 12 students.

    As part of our typography unit, I showed this video by Ji Lee on Type as Image (I edited out some of it). After that, I had the students create their own Type as Image vectors in Inkscape. They had a little less than five class periods to create their words. I had them present their top three designs.

    I’ve been very impressed with how quickly this group picked up vector design. Here are a few of their Type as Image creations:


    Type as image: walk


    Type as image: treausre


    Type as image: tie


    Type as image: tetris


    Type as image: scacchic


    Type as image: rollercoaster


    Type as image: music


    Type as image: look


    Type as image: increase


    Type as image: foot


    Type as image: cut


    Type as image: cosmetic


    Type as image: barcode


    The students will make refinements based on my suggestions before adding the project to their portfolios.

    Which word was your favorite?

    (You can see a photo of the Type as Image projects from last year in this post.)


    Library Reading Program

    I started brainstorming last semester how I could run a library reading program to encourage our students to read. (Other librarians probably already know how to run different kinds of contests, but being a librarian is still new to me!) One of the challenges I faced is the fact it had to be something that would work for both elementary and secondary students. We also have a large population of ESL (English as a Second Language) students. I wanted to create a program where they wouldn’t feel discouraged because they may not be able to read as many books as native English speakers.

    I decided to make a contest based on chance. For every book they read, students receive one ticket to put in a jar. At the end of the semester, I will draw winners. Students who read more books have a better chance to win, but it’s possible that students who read only one book could win.

    I purchased a Kindle Fire (7″ display, 8GB with Wi-Fi) in the States this summer for the big prize. I also decided to have two bookstore gift certificates prizes and a pizza party for the grade that reads the most number of books.

    Here is the flyer and rules that went home at the beginning of the school year:

    Reading program rules

    Reading Program Rules:

    • The reading program is open to all third through twelfth graders. Second graders may enter into the pizza party competition.
    • For every fiction and non-fiction book you read this semester, you can get one ticket to put in the drawing. You must fill out a book entry form in order to get your name in the jar!
    • The entire book must be read between the dates of August 22, 2013 and December 16, 2013. Book entry forms can be picked up and dropped off outside the library.
    • Books that are assigned for any class assignment, book report, lit circle, etc. may NOT count as an entry. However, if a teacher and their class fill out one form, it can count towards the most read books for the class pizza party.
    • This competition is a privilege. Do not use class time to read unless all other work is finished. Entries may be disqualified via your teacher’s discretion.
    • 3rd–6th graders: Books may be either from the OIS library or parent approved Scholastic Order books or parent approved Book Sale books. Books must be in English. Books should be at your reading level. (No OIS E FIC or S FIC picture books.)
    • 7th–12th graders: Books may be either from the OIS library or parent approved books. Books must be in English. Books should be at your reading level. (Many OIS Library J FIC books are allowed.)


    The kids were really excited about the program when I introduced it at the beginning of the year. (Though some weren’t because they already hand an e-reader.) The entry jar sits on my desk:


    Library reading program entry jar


    I created entry forms and printed them onto green paper. After a student finishes reading a book, they are required to tell basic information and write a summary about the book.


    Reading Program Entry Forms


    After I approve the form, I cut out the entry slip corner and stick it in the jar. We’re already six weeks into school and the jar is filling up!


    Reading program entry jar


    To keep track of the class who reads the most books, I file the completed forms by grade. So far, seventh grade is in the lead with fifth grade following closely behind:


    Entry filing system


    I’ve been pleased that there’s been more secondary student traffic in the library than last year. Some elementary students come during their recess time to read. I just love my little readers!


    Recess readers


    You can download my simplified lower elementary reading entry form here.
    Download my upper elementary through secondary reading entry form here.

    When the semester is over, I’ll do a follow up about how it went and things I might change if I do the program again.


    {Update: Read the follow up here!}



    My Sixth Grade Classroom

    And so another school year has begun. Just before we traveled back to Turkey, I was informed that due to a smaller class size (16 students vs. my 22 students last year), I would be moving classrooms. Last year I wanted a fun looking classroom, but didn’t know what decorations fit the age of sixth grade students. Now that I have a year under my belt, I felt like I have a much better idea of what to put in my classroom.

    On the first day of school, I had all of the teachers from my hall sign a white board welcoming back the fourth, fifth, and sixth grade students.


    Upper elementary hallway


    I was excited to move to the new room because there is a separated nook for centers. I also use this space for Bible class. It is nice to have a more relaxed part of the classroom where students can read or work in pairs. There are many different books that students can borrow when their work is finished. Recently, the favorite books have been the I Spy books by Jean Marzollo. These books are especially great for my ESL students because they learn new words as they identify objects.


    Sixth Grade Classroom


    I also dedicated this section to hold my craft supplies and supplemental work for students who finish early. There are several small games, pattern blocks, and a section where students can buy school supplies.

    I spent a lot of time creating a theme. I finally decided to call the classroom The Sixth Grade Lion’s Den @ Oasis. I thought that this was a simple enough theme, while still sticking to a laid back atmosphere.

    The pencil hanging from the ceiling was given to me last year by two teacher friends. It’s made from a mini wooden fence post and has worked well as a name plate for my room. I have many gifts from students in this section of the classroom that make it a unique atmosphere, including a crown (from a Spanish student), Dutch flag, and a catapult left over from a science fair project.

    The birthday wall is still a work in progress, but it should be finished by the end of the week. I printed bricks onto A3 paper and put them up to make it look like a brick wall. I have some birthdays coming up soon, so I’m having my student assistant help me with the board.

    This is my favorite part of the classroom. I think it is important for students to feel comfortable when they are participating in the learning process.

    As of now, this is my bulletin board for important information. I created a table cleaner schedule for the whole year and put it on this board so that the students can have advance notice of their duties. I also post the monthly character trait and other pertinent information here:


    Sixth Grade Classroom - character board


    This year, I thought I’d take a chance and get a class fish. After a series of elections, the class decided to name our new fish Shark Bait. I found him at a pet store in Cepa mall. The owners gave me a great deal that included the fish, bowl, and the food. This was a big hit with my students, especially my lower elementary Bible students.


    Class Pet Goldfish


    To give the students ownership of their classroom, I hung a flag for the countries represented in my class on the bottom of the paper lanterns.


    Sixth Grade International Classroom


    I have the classroom set up with two whiteboards and a walkway down the middle of the desks. Having that walkway has been great for proximity control. I also really enjoy having two whiteboards. It is nice to be able to write on one whiteboard, while the projector is being shown on the other.


    Sixth Grade Classroom


    Each of the colored paper sections are dedicated to a different subject. My goal is to hang the objectives here as well as extra notes and tips. I bought the mirrors at IKEA and placed them so I could see when someone walks through the door:


    Sixth Grade Classroom - subject board areas


    The bulletin board near my desk is covered in schedules and other paperwork. The students thought that the lamp mounted sideways was really neat:


    Sixth Grade Classroom - teacher's desk


    I had a teacher friend give me these superhero parts of speech posters. They are a great decoration for sixth grade and a great teaching tool as well.


    Sixth Grade Classroom


    I am really enjoying teaching this year. It’s great to back to a routine, and I am excited about the smaller class size.


    Tour of the Library

    Welcome to the library! I work at an international school. Our library serves approximately 250 students from preschool through twelfth grade. We have around 8,500 books and videos (and counting!) that students can check out.

    Here’s what it looks like when I’m not inside the library or when the door is closed. (See those green forms? I’m hosting a reading program to win a Kindle Fire this semester. I’ll do a post on that sometime soon.)


    Library door


    There are two rooms in the library. This is the main area. You can see my desk to the left, work tables for library classes, and the reference and periodical section to the right. The preschoolers through sixth graders have library class once a week for about 40 minutes. Several students pop in during their free time or during recess.


    Teacher's desk and reference section


    I updated a lot of the signage this year. Here’s the “Take Care!” rules for the library, the books, and each other. (The “Take Care!” signs can be downloaded for free at


    Library Take Care signs


    Another new set of signs is the “May I Take it Home, How Many, and How Long” series:


    Library check out signs


    The main room also houses the non-fiction books:


    Non-fiction section


    Elementary students learn about the Dewey Decimal system during library classes:


    Non-fiction signs


    We also have a reading nook and pillows for the kids to use during their reading time:


    Library reading nook


    The other section is the fiction room:


    Fiction room


    We have lots and lots of picture books:


    Picture books


    And leveled reading step books:


    Picture and step reading books


    There is a large juvenile fiction section:


    Juvenile fiction shelves


    And a small, but ever growing secondary fiction section:


    Secondary fiction section


    This year, I added two new bookcases to hold book series. (The elementary grades especially love Geronimo Stilton, The Magic Tree House, and A to Z Mysteries!) I feature new and recommended books on this short shelf:


    Featured books and the series shelf


    The library is a pretty cool place! Personally, I can’t wait for it to be even cooler when the fall weather finally gets here:


    Library temperature


    Are there any new books you’d recommend for me to purchase this year?