Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving in Florida

I'm presently in Florida, visiting 2 of our Granddaughters and their families - for Thanksgiving. I've been here all week.

Yesterday, we had a FABULOUS dinner, prepared by husband and wife, with all the Florida family here. I'm sure you did as well - enjoy a FABULOUS dinner, that is.
We had prayer, then turkey, dressing, green bean casserole, plain green beans, mashed potatoes and gravy, and several other types of food. I was full - including pumpkin pie. Then, we each mentioned some of the things we were thankful for - as I'm sure you did as well.

Olivia, a Third Grade student, and one of my great-granddaughters, suggested another way to express our thankfulness:

In the late afternoon, she had each of us write down three of the things we were thankful for, on small pieces of paper, putting our names on the back, then into the "bin". One by one, each of us selected one of the pieces of paper from the "bin", and read aloud the words written there - by someone else.

Among other things, I mentioned being thankful for my family, Jesus and memories of Grandma. Others mentioned Dad and Mom; school; children; family again; teachers; Grandpa; having a job; glad for not being a turkey; and others. I'm not trying to be all-inclusive in the list, but merely representative. The main thing is, since probably most of us don't express our thankfulness very often (speak for yourself, Mike) it's helpful to do so on Thanksgiving. NOT Turkey Day, by the way! It was good to hear what others wanted to be thankful for.

Speaking of Grandma, this was, of course, the first Thanksgiving that she was not presently here with us. We did have a picture of her on the wall beside the table. Though not physically here beside us, she never-the-less was present! She was mentioned several times, mostly remembering the things she would do. It seemed strange without her, but gradually, I'm getting used to not having her right here beside me. Though the "hole in my heart never goes away, gradually, over time, it gets smaller and smaller".

We went to Church Wednesday night, joining hundreds of others in remembering the broken body and shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, and being thankful. We took communion with these hundreds, more efficiently than many small churches, I think. We remembered that He GAVE his life for us, though at first glance, it appears it was taken away. Not so! He willingly "laid down His Life" for us!

On Tuesday and Wednesday, I visited for the whole school day, the 3rd grade class of my great-granddaughter, and the 1st grade class of my great-grandson. What a difference in the style of the teaching, and the "deportment" of the children!

For the 3rd grade, I spent the day out in the hall, tutoring students in reading and math. When the teacher mentioned "math", I said "Whoa. Maybe I won't be able to do it." She said it was "basic".

With my background in radio and speech, you can imagine the suggestions I might have in the reading. Such as: dropping the voice and pausing after a period; pronouncing the words distinctly and correctly; asking if they knew what certain words meant; knowing the difference between "then" and "when"; (I hadn't thought about the possible confusion of these two words); etc. The teacher seemed to like the suggestions I made. I told her that I didn't bother to correct the pronunciation of the word "a". (The letter is pronounced "aaaay", the word, "uh".) She smiled.

In Math, I had 2 students at a time, doing "subtractions" of 20 different compound problems, then another session of "correcting" some earlier mistakes by other students, also in subtractions. I had to be very careful about suggesting how to borrow, and "take away". What was new to me, was that each student had a plastic bag full of little "chips" (like "Tiddledy winks" for you old-timers), that they would count out the LARGE number in "chips", then take away the amount of the SMALLER number, then count the difference. In my mind, I wondered if that really taught, and was helpful in the long run. But, the teacher has been doing this for a long time, and repetition does help, so, I'm sure it works. (Even then, sometimes they got the wrong number.) One problem I had with one group was that the student
on my left, kept getting ahead of the other one, but sometimes getting the wrong answer. I tried to keep them together, some times not too successfully. We DID break for lunch, and for recess (used to be my favorite subject).

On Wednesday, I visited the First Grade class of my great-grandson, Ethan. What a difference! I marvelled at the way these two teachers taught in a different way, for the two grades. In this class, I observed all day (including lunch and recess).

In this class, talking, walking, moving around and doing other things was the norm. No problem for the teacher. She was IN CONTROL. No temper or yelling or pushing for her. She spoke in a normal voice, and yet, she was heard above the "noise" (by the pupils, at least). When one of the pupils "acted up", or didn't do what was expected, she just took him/her by the hand, and led him or her to another part of the room and went about her teaching. One boy sat beside me for at least a half-hour. Neither he nor she said a cross word. Eventually, he was back where the others were.

There was a video monitor in the room, and the class joined all the other students in the school in the Pledge of Allegiance, and the monitor exhibited a clock, that indicated time for lunch and recess.

A couple times, the teacher had the pupils gather and sit down on the "rug". This was for rest, and also, for her to read a Thanksgiving story to them. They were told to "keep your hands in your lap!"; "sit up on your bottom"; etc. Occasionally, someone did NOT keep his hands in his lap, so, he was told to go to his desk and sit.

She had several "hand outs" that she had prepared, on which the pupils wrote and/or drew. And, then, each was given a book with a story, and "tear out sheet". She then read a sentence, then had them repeat after her. There were spaces on the "tear out sheet" for them to answer questions about the story.

Suddenly, she said something I didn't hear, and the pupils all lined up at the door. "LUNCH TIME". I got in line with the others, and filed outside to go to the lunch room. (Oh- I didn't mention that here in Florida, the schools are all on one floor, and they go outside to go from one area to the other.) Excellent food.

OH...I have to tell about recess!

Just as before lunch, the teacher mentioned a word, and they all lined up for recess. Fun time, right? Oh boy. They all asked me if I was going to do the "monkey bars". "Sure. Why not?" We walked what seemed to me a quarter mile, to the play area. The "monkey bars" included a movable bar just above my head, that, when held onto, the student was pushed back and forth until he/she either gave up, or fell to the sand. I helped the short ones reach the bar, and watched as they were pushed back and forth. Guess what! "Are you going to do it, Grandpa?", they all said. I grabbed the bar, lifted my feet off the sand, and away I went - being pushed by the first graders! Back and forth, back and forth. I finally dropped my feet down on the sand and "got off". (You'd think an 84 year old would know better!) From then on, I had to help each one get on, then be pushed back and forth. I thought sure my arms and shoulders would be sore the next day, but, miraculously, they weren't.

There were also two computers in that room that the pupils freely worked on - when not being assigned to something else by the teacher. And, one time they spent maybe a half-hour in the Library, where they "checked out" books for a week. I was VERY impressed with the "education" being taught - in several different ways.

I'm going back home on Monday, to another part of my family. I enjoy ALL of them.

"As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." Joshua 24:15 PTL!

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