Sunday, September 29, 2019

Global Read Aloud 2019- A Pre-Reading Collaborative Activity

I have noticed that my students love checking out their houses on google map (street view). Use this activity to hook them into the global read-aloud book"The Bridge Home" by Padma Venkatraman.  The story is set in India. Kids will explore the streets of  India and compare it to their own street. The lesson's objective is to build curiosity, some background knowledge and to practice writing a compare and contrast paragraph. To create this lesson, I used a protocol from the Eduprotocol book by Marlena Hebern and Jon Corippo 


 Here is the link to my lesson that includes the instructions and the transition words. Feel free to make a copy of this lesson and tweak it to your students' needs and interests. Please leave me a comment or feedback that I can add to this lesson.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

My heart is beating fast, I feel unprepared. I know I can wing it, but I want to do it the right way. It is 3:30 pm on Sept 2(Labor Day Monday). The famous philosophers and writers say that inspiration pours out easily when one is in the lap of mother nature. Well for me today the closest I can come to mother nature is Starbucks! Do the trees next to the nearby liquor store count as being in an inspirational setting? I will take that, ah I feel the ideas dripping in like the drip coffee. I am starting a writing unit tomorrow, teaching students how to write a  story about a small moment (personal narrative). I can teach them showing other author’s examples and mentor texts. The authentic ELA teacher inside me rises up to the conscious level saying,” You should write your own story first. Don’t you remember your students’ face last week when you read your crappy story.” I thought to myself, "Yes! Yes! Even my 8th graders were engaged in listening to my story about riding my bike at 6 am. Some students even clapped!" Obviously, they are good at pretending or maybe they respect me to not bring down my excitement about my story! It wasn't that crappy after all :-)
“Come on you don’t have to be perfect,” whispers my inner voice. "You have written a story before and you can write one in an hour before heading home to cook dinner." As Stephen King said, “The scariest moment is always just before you start.” Well, clearly all fear has dissipated as I am 253 words into my storytelling.  There is power in small moments that happen to us. Whether our small moment story is about a scar that was left behind or a moment that embellishes our life. It can only enhance our experience of life if we allow it too. My small moment is about a Sunday when an unexpected thing happened to me! The weekend of May 17, 2019 (Friday), started with a memory of a recent scar. As I sat in one of my favorite places in San Jose, I decided to leave those memories behind me. I had a big weekend coming up. The next day, I was heading for STEM training and on Sunday I was competing in a triathlon race. Triathlon is a multi-sport race with three sequential and endurance races- swim, bike and run. Now you cannot drag self-pity to any of these places where you are surrounded by people and an intensely competitive environment. A few weeks ago, I had come last at Half Moon Bay triathlon. I tried to use that memory to propel me forward instead of holding me back! If you can fake it, you can make it. Ever heard that saying? That’s exactly what I did for the next two days. Well, instead of faking, I was believing that I am happy!
              I woke up at 3:30 am on Sunday the noise of relentless rain was loud enough to wake any sound sleeper! “Maybe they will cancel the race.” I thought to myself. What a relief I felt thinking about it.  I was not wanting to race that morning just like students not wanting to go to school, obviously not my students! :-)
Even though I love racing, I still prefer curling up with a book on a rainy day like this! No cancellation emails. 
I drove to the UVASS reservoir in Morgan Hill. I lowered my car windows invigorating all my senses.  The earthy smell of the rain and the sky wrapped in the dark-colored blanket made me feel happy yet felt like an ominous morning. Is it going to be a good race or a bad one?
Before getting in the reservoir, the race director announced, "If you hear thunder and lightning get to the shore.” “Really, how does anybody hear under the water?" It's pitch black in the water and the sky. Anyways, I got into my wetsuit and decided if I die today, at least it was a great setting. Maybe someone will write a story about it. The moment I dove into the water all my fear went away! Stephen King was right after all about the scariest moment- All you need to do is dive in whether it is writing or doing something you are afraid of.
The rain started timely during the biking part of the race! Perfect! It was not a 'spring rain whisper' more like 'spring rain yell! Thunder, lightning, and downpour like I have never seen before at a race! The trees were dancing and swishing to the music of the wind. I was holding onto my bike tight, avoiding to slip and fall. Paying attention to lightning!
I asked another cyclist passing by, “Shouldn’t we turn back?” To my dismay, he said, “Keep going.” I decided to go steady with the steady cold downpour, still hoping that they will cancel the race at this point! Always find something good in a problem. Hard to imagine that when you are in a tough situation. Now looking back there was no need to use a water bottle there was a constant supply of rainwater!
The third and the last part of the race was 5 miles run. After getting drenched on the bike, it was time to dry up and enjoy the course. I was at the finish line feeling very strong and happy about my performance. I was passing older men and younger guys and girls. Guessing I would have made it somewhere on the ranking chart. As I sprinted to the finish line, I thought to myself, "I am definitely not the last probably made it somewhere on the ranking chart."
The award ceremony started with the announcement of fifth-place ranking in my age group. I didn't hear my name, I started walking back to pack up and go home. As I walked back, the race director said, "The third-place winner is Nupur Sethi! He said my name accurately and confidently just as I felt confident about being somewhere on the ranking chart.  I was content and grateful for that feeling. All the scars were wiped out by that rainy race day! 
Taking unexpected race conditions and turning it into a win made me realize how there is beauty in all kinds of life's situation, it is how we respond to it matters that lead us to an unexpected victory. The sun will shine brightly after the dark cloud pass!