Thursday, November 3, 2011


This past saturday I joined my friend Felicity on a little day trip to Luzern.  Luzern is located in central Switzerland.  It is located on the shore of Lake Luzern and has breath-taking views of Mount Pilatus and Rigi in the Swiss Alps.  The city itself is beautiful and a must see for anyone who visits here.

You can barely see the Alps because it was a bit overcast. 

 The old part of town is so beautiful and we walked around for several hours. The only trouble was that we went on a Sunday so everything was closed.  I saw some great things I would have loved to buy. 

This ivy took my breath away.  It was so beautiful and on top of the house it looks as if they have an amazing roof garden. 

Some of these buildings date back 300 years.  

That says that Von Goethe lodged here.  So cool.

This is the Kapellbrücke (Chapel Bridge). This wooden bridge was first erected in the 14th century.  It's really very beautiful!!

My favorite part of my visit to Luzern was to see this amazing sculpture again.  It's hard to comprehend from the pictures how large it is.  The Löwendenkmal  (Lion of Lucerne) is a sculpture that commemorates the Swiss Guards who were massacred in 1772 during the French Revolution.  
One thing I didn't know is that Mark Wain praised the sculpture as "the most mournful and moving piece of stone in the world."
I would have to agree!!!

It was a fabulous day and after our walk around town we went and had lunch at Hotel Des Alpes Restaurant.  It was delicious!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Swiss Adventures

Life has finally calmed to a steady pace and the daily routines are set.  The whirlwind has settled and I am finding time to sit and reflect on my brand new life.  I can report that...I LOVE MY LIFE!!!

Simone in front of Louis Heaven!!
I arrived in Switzerland at the end of July and had two wonderful weeks with my mom and Simone.  We even took a little trip to Paris to celebrate Simone's birthday in style.  My impression of Paris was very mixed.  The history and the beauty of the tourist attractions in Paris are undeniable.  I did, however, get the impression that with all the attention and money spent on the  maintenance of such historical monuments, little was left for the everyday clean up that should be taking place.  It was an experience in beauty and ugliness all at once. I think the few days I had spent in Switzerland before I got to Paris had already upped the ante so to speak.  The first thing you might notice about Switzerland is the incredible cleanliness.  Much time and money is spent making everything nice and clean.  Aside from the lack of garbage cans I found Paris to be enchanting, full of history and Louis Vuitton.  Any city with a Louis heaven is alright by me.
 Even if Simone and I were kindly asked not to touch the merchandise and were followed around like a couple of burglars.  =0)

My second home for the first month. =0)

After coming back from Paris we busied ourselves with the task of moving into the apartment.  So much had to be done and it included lots and lots of shopping. I was so grateful to have Mom here to help me.  I was so fortunate to have Aunts and Uncles that had lots of things to give me.  I had a pretty well stocked kitchen after just a few days.  I inherited beautiful dishes and vases and pots and pans.  And the best part was that none had been used.  It was like Christmas in August!  A few days later I went to the airport with Mom and Simone and said goodbye.  It was a difficult goodbye and there were lots of tears. My sweet Simone had written me a wonderful goodbye letter and I just wanted to hold her a little while longer.

Being on my own has its tough moments but I feel close to my family even if we are thousands of miles apart.  The most difficult part is not being there when the girls need me.  I have been so blessed to have these amazing girls in my life and I love them more than they could ever know.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

New adventures and a new blog!!!

Much change has taken place once again.  I moved to Switzerland, I'm teaching at an amazing school, I'm newly single and loving life!!!

I can't wait to share all of my adventures with all of you.  In addition to all of this myself and my friend Amanda have created a teaching blog.  I would like to make this blog all about my personal life and  not about teaching.  So if you are interested in reading about our teaching experiences and the contrast of our two situations then hop on over to Chalk & Slate!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Egg Literacy Centers

I got this idea from several amazing teaching blogs including this one and this one.  

I just bought some plastic eggs and used a sharpie to write a word on the egg. 
I then laminated a list of coresponding rhyming words and cut them out. You can find the words here. (If you want to do this with your kids at home you don't need to laminate them. You could have the kids cut the words out themselves). 

I used the activity today as part of the grammar rotation during centers.  I had the students open the eggs and dump out the words. Then I had them stand the eggs up half-open (if that makes sense) and sort the corresponding words.  Lastly I had them write all the words on a plain piece of paper.  It took second graders between 10 to 20 minutes to complete one bag of eggs.

  I saw some creative ideas such as using an egg carton to store the eggs but I decided on zip locks.  That way I can hand each child three or four at a time and it's all self contained.  

Painting a Rainbow

Spring is in full bloom here in Albuquerque! 
 Inspired by all the pollen in the air (allergies have hit hard) we did this great activity.  I love to tie literacy to art projects and I have been so fortunate to have so many great ideas modeled for me in the CDP program.  
This idea came from Evelyn Turney at Georgia O'Keeffe Elementary.
The Book is: 

The kids really love the colors of this book and they were really inspired to draw their own flower rainbows.

Here is the wonderful art they made: 

I decided to put them up in the hall for everyone to enjoy.  It's like our own little garden.

*NOTICE: I have explicit permission to use the images of my students that you see in my blog. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Little Encouragement

It's that time of year where the atmosphere at most schools changes drastically.  The students and their teachers are on edge and under a tremendous amount of pressure because of standardized tests that are being administered.  
Our school is no exception and I am just so grateful that I teach 2nd grade and don't have to deal with it directly.  It probably comes as no surprise that I am very much against standardized testing. 
We found out (I found out) yesterday that we were buddied up with a third grade class who is taking the test this year in order to show them support during the  SBA testing period.  So here is what we did.

We decorated these pencil toppers and placed them inside a bucket of eggs. 
Click here for template.

 After we finished them we walked them over to Mrs. Chavez's class and wished them good luck on tomorrow's test.  

Monday, March 21, 2011

Better Together - Fractured Picture Activity

It is "Spirit Week" and we were asked to decorate our doors for the occasion.  
I decided that I wanted to do a Fractured Picture which I learned about from my favorite Professor at UNM, Dr. Elizabeth Nielson.  
This activity is a wonderful community building activity that illustrates the importance of each individual member of the class.


The first time Dr. Nielson did this with our CDP group she chose an illustration from a children's book.  Seeing as this is spirit week I thought I should use a picture that represents our school and community.
As I was not able to find anything I had to create it myself. 
Here is what I did:

I used Print Shop to piece together the picture of our school mascot and several NM items.
After the picture was done I laminated it to protect the pieces from wear and tear (This is also a great idea if you are going to re-use the pieces next year).

I then turned the picture over and divided it up into 20 sections.  This would change if you had a bigger or smaller class of course.  The important part is that you have one for each student. 

Now you are ready to get started with the kids. 
I placed all the picture pieces into a cup and had each student pick one.  I also gave each student a piece of 8 1/2 x 8 1/2 square computer paper.
With Dr. Nielson we used just standard 8 1/2 x 11 but I just wanted to make it a little easier for my kids.
Ask students to turn over their picture piece and record the number that is on the back on the back of their white paper.

There are only 2 rules to this activity that you have to explain.  

#1 - Only use crayons
#2 - color boldly - this keeps the consistency of the picture once it is placed back together
Students then begin to draw their piece of the picture. 

As they complete their individual pieces they help to put the picture back together using
the numbers on the back of the pictures. 

While I see the benefit it keeping the pieces for a future activity I decided to post mine next to our final project as a reference for students and parents.