education · elementary education · school · teacher · Uncategorized

To Holiday or Not to Holiday?

Hi all!

Happy Veterans’ Day to all who’ve served!

That being said, I’m one of the lucky teachers who has off today, but know not all teachers do. It’s interesting to see the what’s considered a school holiday or not when you move from state to state, county to county, or even country to country, and also what has changed over the years.

I remember when I was in school we’d all grumble and moan when we’d have to come in for school on MLK Jr day or Veteran’s Day or any of those holidays especially when we knew other schools around us had the day off. Instead of making it a normal school day though, my school would take the day to educate us about what the holiday means and why we have it. We would have assemblies, people would come in and talk, and, then, once we returned to the classroom, we would either work on an activity related to the day, write a reflective essay, or have discussions about what we learned. The teachers (or rather the admin) knew better than to try to get us back on task and do regular school work because nothing would get done (I can’t say that it’s the same any more because we’re not allowed to waste a minute of standard based instruction). Even though we’d have school on those days, I’m from an area where we would get the first day of hunting season off!

Looking back, I do feel that it was beneficial. Nowadays, it’s so hard to teach about anything extra or that’s not on the curriculum because there is no time. Every standard has a certain amount of days allotted to it and we have to stick to it. If we feel that the kids understand the standard, we might be able to move on ahead of time but that might just give us extra time to teach a standard that they will struggle with or it might, just might, make up for time when a team member is absent and we have to split the classes up because there are no substitutes, so our regular instruction is yet again interrupted. Very rarely have I had time to ever teach about any holidays (or very rarely are we even permitted to do to restrictions in this day and age).  Many holidays come and go without anyone even mentioning them. Why? Again, if it doesn’t align to the standards, there’s no time. They say that we’re not teaching to the test, yet we’re still evaluated based off of how the kids do, and our curricula and day to day teachings are based off of what is on the test and only what is on the test… so, there’s that too. But that’s a whole other blog post.

Working at a Title 1 school, I know that holidays can be somewhat of a problem for the parents as well. Not all companies and jobs have today off, so that leaves the parents with the question of who will watch my kids because most cannot afford to take off or to pay someone to watch them. More often than not, I find out that the kids stay home alone. For the older grades that’s fine, until you also realize that they have a few younger siblings, so who’s left to play mom or dad for the day? The older siblings of course. Babies taking care of babies.

As a teacher who is stressed and completely exhausted (not to mention currently 18 weeks pregnant), I definitely welcome these three day weekends. I get done what I need to get done on the weekend, like cleaning, lesson planning, grading, laundry, and shopping, and normally I don’t get a minute to actually relax. Three day weekends on the other hand actually give me that extra time I need to just zone out and chill or do some things that I want to do. Recently, I’ve started to sew again, and I blame that on my maternal nesting instincts kicking in. It’s self care time. I also try to promote my side Avon hustle (click to join my team or click to see all the new and amazing products we have )!  I don’t look forward to the rest of the week though because every single time we come back from a three day weekend, the students act as if they don’t remember any of the school rules and it completely throws them off. For now though, I’ll try not to focus on that and enjoy my day off.

What do you think? How should schools (as well as other companies) handle these holidays? Should we still have them off? Should we use them as an extra educational day specifically devoted to that day? Should there be more daycare options available to parents those days? I’d love to hear some input and other thoughts!

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education · elementary education · esl · school · teacher · teaching

It’s that time again!

Good evening all!

I can’t believe that school is starting already! I go back on Monday the 5th for returning teacher training, but I’ll probably be at school this week to try and set up my classroom.

This year, I’m changing it up. Instead of teaching 3rd grade again, I’ll be teaching 5th grade math and science! I’m excited because that means that I will be looping with my kids from the other year.

I and my students would greatly appreciate any and all help that you can give. Even a share would help! I’m trying to get items for my students that will help them throughout the year in school and out. Remember, I teach at a 100% free and reduced Title 1 school. I’d love to stock them up on snacks, essential hygiene products, as we as materials that will help them learn and focus in the classroom.

Click here to help out! And don’t forget to share! Thank you!

immigration · Istanbul · teacher · Turkey · Uncategorized

Journeying to the States: I-130 Stage

 

The first step in coming the US is proving your relationship. Start gathering evidence as soon as you can. Don’t throw away tickets with your names on them. Go back into your hotel reservations, etc. Take as many pictures as you can. Document everything. Save old chats and Skype history.

Form I-130 is filling out basic information about you and your spouse. You’ll need your Social Security number or your A number (in order to bring your spouse to the United States you must be a U.S. citizen or green card holder), your address history for the last five years, your employment history and addresses etc, as well as your spouse’s, and so on. The updated I-130 now has biographic information on it as well (hair color / race / eye color. When I filled out the forms and submitted them I had to fill out forms G 325A for my spouse and myself, but now you fill out for I-130A instead.

Also, try to get your name/ your spouse’s name changed as soon as possible so that you can provide the updated ID, passport, and Social Security.

Here are the updated links to the current forms that you’ll need to fill out:

I-130 Form and Instructions: Petition for Alien Relative
I-130A: Supplemental Spouse Information used instead of G 325A

If you’re having trouble filling out the forms, do not neglect the instructions that are given with them. I know that it’s extra reading, but what’s ten extra minutes of reading compared to a few extra months of waiting because of a silly mistake?

When submitting evidence, be sure to include a cover page detailing everything that you’ve included in the packet.  See the following images. I’ve added some notes on the side.

Cover letter pic 1

Cover letter pic 2

Cover letter pic 3

My summary of our story included how and where we met, places we’ve been to, important dates, our jobs and education, etc. Everyone’s story is unique. Try to keep it to one typed page. I also stated that I moved back to the states and have already secured a job etc even though that information isn’t necessary until NVC gets involved. You want USCIS to know that there is a steady income over a certain amount so that they know the immigrant will not be a burden on the US. This information usually isn’t required until the NVC stage which typically won’t be until at least six months later (earlier if you’re super lucky or had an expedite approved) or much later (like in our case – nearly ten months and we didn’t even have any missing documents). Unless specifically stated, do not include originals of documents. Copies are fine.

When I was including pictures in my Word document (later saved as a PDF and then printed in color, one sided), I made sure to add the date that they were taken (digital copies usually have the date encrypted in them), where they were taken, and who was in the picture. Pictures of your wedding and engagement are very good evidence. Especially if you have photos of you signing your marriage certificate / book. Pictures with your spouse and their family / your family etc are great. I probably went a bit overboard, but I included about thirty pages worth of pictures and explanations. I also included the link and screenshots of our wedding website, Facebook events that I had made for the wedding and bachelorette party etc. I included copies of airline tickets going to see him and even our university transcripts to prove that we were there at the same time. Anything that has both of your names on it especially a rental agreement or something of the sort is wonderful evidence. Do not include CDs or USBs etc. They will not look at them.

Photo evidence 1

Once I triple and quadruple checked all of the documents and signed the I-130 and other forms (make sure your documents are signed or your application will be rejected), it was finally ready to be sent off to the USCIS. Don’t forget the money order for the I-130 fee which is currently $535.
Here are the addresses to send your I-130.

Once you submit everything, you should get your first notice NOA1 which will be the receipt that they received your package and are reviewing it. Don’t lose this receipt number. You can use it to check the status of the application.

There are a few sites that are great for help and questions as well.

VisaJourney.com  is great for creating your timeline and tracking other timelines of those who may have similar cases to yours.

The Facebook group (you’ll need approval to join) “I-130 filers Immigration Visa Group.” is also great for asking and answering questions.

Search around on Facebook as well for groups that pertain to the country that your spouse is from because the information may be more beneficial to you.

Keep doing your research while you’re waiting for you approval. Start getting your documents ready for the NVC stage. I’ll write more about that later. The wait time is probably the most frustrating and painful time. We got our first receipt from USCIS September 8th, 2016 and didn’t get our approval until June 29th, 2017 – that was 295 days or 9 months 22 days.

education · elementary education · school · teacher

Nine, Ten; A September 11 Story

As the summer goes on and nears its end for us teachers, I’ve been thinking about books to read to my students. I wanted to try to do at least one chapter book per month or perhaps two depending upon the length and time that we have.

I read a book, recently, that I’m thinking about reading to them. It’s called Nine, Ten: A September 11 Story. Now this book mainly talks about the lives of some children who were all affected in one way or the other by the attacks, but it talks mostly about the days leading up to the attacks. As an adult reading their individual stories, and the days and minutes got closer to the actual  event, I could feel my heart beating faster and the tension building because I knew what was coming.

I wanted to find a book for my students so that they could learn more of what it was like when these attacks happened. Everyone remembers exactly where they were and what they were doing when it happened, but we, as teachers, now live in a time where most of our students weren’t even alive when it happened. Most of my kids this past year were born in 2008 or 2009.

I think that this cotghereuld be a wonderful book to read in the days before September 11th, and then I’ll find another to read after because it’s mostly days that are all leading up to the attacks. Then it does a short chapter about one year after.nineten

This book could be great for teaching perspective and point of view as it follows four very different young adolescences days before the attack. One is a young Muslim girl in Ohio who struggles with fitting in, another is a young black boy who lives in Brooklyn whose absentee father angers him to no end, still another is a young white boy in Shanksville, Pennsyvania who recently lost his father and is struggling to come to terms with that, and the last is a young Jewish girl who just recently moved to California because of her mom’s job and her mom is on a last minute business trip to New York. As you read through each of their stories, there are moments in the timeline that definitely make your heart jump a bit because you know what will happen.

It is emotional and there will be tears, well, for you at least. The kids might not have that type of connection with the story because they weren’t born yet, but who knows.

Either way, I do recommend this story as perhaps an introduction to learning about September 11th.

education · elementary education · school · teacher · teaching

FSA Prep – 3rd Grade

I know we don’t even want to think about it, but the beginning of the school year is right around the corner. As a teacher, I start August 3rd and my kids return August 10th. Like it or not, it’s time to prepare for the inevitable…

This past school year, 3rd graders took the FSA at the end of March and the beginning of April. We started practicing in January when we got back from winter break, but judging from scores and knowing the kids that are in our school, I believe we need to start practicing much earlier. I won’t lie and everyone knows that I am not a fan of this test nor any other standardized test, but they have to take it anyway.

I used these books last year to help the kids prep for the test. The format was good and easy to go through. I would usually give a Reading passage as morning work, and then during ELA we’d work on reading through the questions, going over testing strategies, etc. The same goes for during our math block. We would do fact review first and, of course, review some other concepts, then jump into answering these practice questions. We’d break apart how and what is being asked (because we all know testing language does not make sense) and then we’d try to solve the questions. While solving the question we would either review old concepts or delve straight into new topics. I would sometimes slip a few of these pages into their homework packets as well.

Like I said, I’m not a fan of testing but it has to be done here. My fellow Florida teachers know as well that 3rd grade is a critical year as it’s the first year that they take these tests and if they do not pass them, they are typically held back unless they fall into certain categories. Being that we are a Title 1 school and we’re not scoring well, it’s time we pick up the pace even more. We’ll need to try new things for sure, and one of those things will to be start practicing from the beginning of the year.

I would check the links below and definitely add them to your library. They wonderful resources to have when you start preparing for testing season. They also have them for other grades as well.
FLORIDA TEST PREP English Language Arts Reading Workbook Grade 3: Preparation for the Florida Standards Assessments (FSA)

FLORIDA TEST PREP FSA Practice Test Book English Language Arts Grade 3: Covers Reading, Language, and Listening

FLORIDA TEST PREP FSA Practice Test Book Mathematics Grade 3: Includes Two Full-Length Practice Tests

Comment if you have any questions! I’d love to hear back from some other FL teachers!

education · elementary education · school · teacher · teaching

Fidgets…

Hello all!

It’s been way too long since my last post for sure. The school year was beyond busy, crazy, emotional, and everything else you could imagine. I’ve been trying to relax this summer as much as I can since I know come August 3rd, I won’t see the light of day until the following June.

Teacher summers are never long enough! Now isn’t that the understatement of the year?

Now, like most teachers, I am not a fan of fidget spinners. They were a huge distraction this year and there were no observable benefits that I saw with the kids who did have them. They mostly just wanted to show them off.

I did, however, find an item that really kept my kids busy this year (or rather a set of items), was this IQ Challenge Set. I swear, even my most fidgety kids could sit for hours trying to get these puzzles together. Especially the cube. It kept their hands busy, and a few were even able to “play” with it during class. It worked for all ages as well. Normally, I teach 3rd grade, but I did tutoring after school and would have 2nd graders in my room. Both grades enjoyed them as well as the other students and siblings that would pop in the room. I even had some middle school siblings who would come in specifically just to try and figure these puzzles out.
I definitely need to order another set of these. This time though, I need to put each one in it’s own baggie labeled with what it is and perhaps how many pieces there should be to it.
I had a few students who figured out the sphere and the metal puzzle as well. Some got close to figuring out the cube, but, alas, they could not. Perhaps this year I will have a student who will be able to figure it out. Check them out for yourself in the link below!

I’ll keep you posted!

IQ Challenge


IQ Set

 
Don’t forget to check out other back to school needs as well my fellow teacher friends!
 Shop Amazon – Introducing Education Supplies for Teachers

Istanbul · teacher · Turkey · Uncategorized · War

My heart is heavy…

I’m sick of this. I’m sick of living in fear every day. I’m sick of the growing panic. I’m sick of my fears coming to life every passing day as something else happens. I’m sick of the media here keeping everything hushed. I’m sick of the media in the rest of the world not saying enough. I’m sick of the lack of compassion or care for this country…. in this country. I’m sick of being restricted. I’m sick of being told what I can or cannot wear, where I can or cannot go, when I should or should not go. I’m sick of being told that I should not speak English in public for fear of being attacked simply because I’m American (thanks Trump for making that even worse and for making the situation even more dangerous for Americans abroad!)

Turkey is not getting the recognition that it needs because it is a country stuck in the middle. It is in between progressive Europe and the conservative Middle East yet most of the world just throws it into the Middle Eastern category. Why? Because the majority of the country follows Islam? Because most people couldn’t point out Turkey on a map? Because most people think Turks still wear fezzes and ride around on camels in the desert because that is how it’s been represented in the past in cartoons and the like? Nobody knows much about Turkey except for the fact that its name is the same as the bird that they eat or just maybe if they stayed awake for that one week in history class the Ottomans kind of ring a bell. So why should they care? It’s just another one of those desert countries over there that is always fighting, right? The world isn’t properly educated on these matters. But these matters matter. A car bomb here, a suicide bomb there, another here, another there, just another day… the more it happens the more jaded people become. They think it’s just a normal occurrence. The world media covers it less and less, and the fact that the government is controlling (censoring) the media makes it even harder for news to get out. People fail to realize though that cities like Ankara and Istanbul are not just some desert  cities in the middle of nowhere. They are constantly busy, overpopulated, traffic burdened, work driven, family oriented cities just like NYC, Paris, London, San Francisco, Miami, and the like. People get up every morning, brush their teeth, kiss their families goodbye, rush out to work, sit in traffic, slouch in their desks at work, grumble through their days, live on coffee and tea, have a quick lunch break, get back to work, try not to fall asleep, finish the work day, and try their best to make it home. But Sunday, that didn’t happen for everyone. Sunday, near a bus station filled with hundreds people, men, women, children, teens, the elderly, a car bomb exploded ending the lives of at least 37 individuals and injuring over 100. Countless families’ lives were destroyed on Sunday and the world hardly flinched.The night went on, the morning came, people went to work, children went to school, and aside from a brief moment of silence held in some schools, it was as if nothing had happened the night before. If this had happened in any of the aforementioned cities, the world would have come to a halt, changed their profile pictures to mach the country’s flag, and sworn solidarity with that city. Even if it happened time and time again. But here? Apparently, it was just another day…and that’s all it ever will be until the world wakes up. I know that I’m just another blog post in the wind, yet another voice and cry for help that will go mostly unheard, but if I can educate at least one person out there, then I’ve been at least somewhat successful.

On a side note, I must say though that I am privileged. I am American, and I can leave at any time. I’ve got my passport, and if I feel unsafe, I can hope on a plane and go home to a land that has rarely felt the pain that this country goes through constantly (and when we have, we unite with the utmost passion). My fiance, my students (my children), and millions of other do not have that privilege. They are stuck here. They cannot just hope on planes. They need to go through a long and costly visa process, and that’s just for the tourist visa!  We Americans do not realize how spoiled and privileged we are.