I know it seems like I fell off the earth... but it has just been a crazy time...
Sixth grade activities and promotion have filled my life in the last week. My heart is bursting with JOY for my sixth-now-seventh graders and appreciation to all who helped to make our week unfold in such a lovely way!
Last Tuesday, we had Sixth Grade Park Day, a day that includes a picnic and games at the park next to our school. I forgot to take pictures (I was rather busy running three rotations of relay races!), but here are the leftovers. It was so nice to be outside in the sun knowing that our benchmark tests were completed and we were nearing the end of the school year.
Last Wednesday was the Sixth Grade Awards Luncheon. We had a pizza lunch (and used up the leftover soda from Park Day!) Every sixth grader got at least one certificate... but the highlight was when the kindergarten Book Buddies came in to say thank you and share one last hug with their Big Buddies. Nothing like fifty shared hugs to reduce the audience to tears.
On Thursday, we had Sixth Grade Game Day. This is usually my FAVORITE sixth grade celebration. We set up board games all over the room. There are are colored tablecloths and matching tags at each table. Every twenty minutes, the kids get a chance to choose a new game. This keeps the tablemates rotating, and kids from the three different classrooms have a chance to interact with each other in different combinations.
On Friday, we practiced for promotion and then had cake--right before lunch so they could work off some of that sugar high!
We started Monday with big worries that we might not have enough time to practice songs and signs enough to pull it all together. Since we have some deaf students in our classrooms (and some deaf teachers too), our promotion ceremony is filled with sign language. All of the songs are signed. The speeches are interpreted by a sign language interpreter. In some cases, if a deaf student or teacher is signing, the interpreter voices what is being signed. It is beautiful to watch!
That afternoon, we put out the chairs and transformed the lawn. The blue backdrop was hung and the excitement was building. It was almost time...
I stayed up most of the night finishing certificates, making the banner, and putting finishing touches on the program. And I said more than a few prayers that everything would fall into place. I needn't have worried... while the teacher was a bit frenzied, the students had everything under control. It had become their ceremony.
Tuesday was a whirlwind. Balloons were filled and attached, the banner was hung, programs were folded and certificates were signed and sealed.
And then it was time...
The theme was "Make a Difference," so students' speeches focused on how our school has made a difference in their lives... and how they will use their school experience to make a difference in the lives of others. Students talked about overcoming shyness, learning to speak English, learning to be happy with their "true self" and finding their possible career--we heard hopes of becoming a professional athlete, an engineer, an artist, an author, an inventor, a Navy SEAL, a neurologist, a video game designer, a chef... and a teacher! My principal shared the "Starfish Story" which illustrated that making the difference in one life is significant and it can become a catalyst for change that benefits many. Finally, each child shared one of their wishes, hopes or dreams... which ranged from having money grow on trees, to wishes for good health, to finding a job to cover the cost of gas prices, to living in a society that could meet everyone's needs, to ending global warming. I was proud and awestruck by their sincerity, their maturity, and their poise.
The students signed "You Have Made a Difference," "One Voice" part of "Graduation" by Vitamin C and, best of all, "Firework" by Katy Perry. That was a crowd-pleaser!
Once the students had received their certificates, one of my students who is deaf and two of my students who are hearing joined together to provide the audience with a little sign language lesson. By combining the letters, "i," "l," and "y," you make a handshape which is the "I love you" sign. With signs and shouts of "I love you," students reminded their parents how much they are loved--and then the parents sent that same message back to the kids. It WAS a day filled with love!
They walked out to "Forever Young," and then, it was over.
My students have been promoted to seventh grade.
And I am left to enjoy warm memories of another year completed.
So here I am with my feet in June, my heart in July, and my mind racing toward September...
This was one of my most difficult years of teaching--my students had many diverse needs and I felt like I was always in search of a way to reach them. And yet, in many ways, it was one of my best years of teaching. I know that several of my students will do truly great things. And I am hopeful that many of them will come back and visit in the years to come.
Becoming a part of the Blogging Community has provided me with many lessons, ideas and strategies to improve my teaching skills. Best of all, I have met a network of colleagues who have walked alongside me--through cyberspace--all year long. Thank you, BlogFriends. I hope you know how much I appreciate you... and I hope you recognize that YOU have made a difference in my life too!