Monday, March 21, 2011

The World is Puddle-wonderful

Spring has been springing for a while now here, with beautiful sunny, warm days interspersed with the more typical rainy cold weather from time to time. But today, as it should be, it was mild, sunny, and utterly delightful. This is what real Spring -- ideal Spring -- looks like in Cantabria:

Don't you just want to traipse around in that little glen, stick your fingers in the stream, see what baby animals you can spot in the fields, smell the photosynthesis pushing out life all around you...

In honor of my e.e. cummings-focused poetry lesson last week, I leave you with one of my favorite Spring poems. I'll post my absolute favorite in the next few days -- it's long and difficult to read, but breathtakingly beautiful. For now, the oh-so-Springlike words of good ol' e.e.:

in Just-
spring         when the world is mud-
luscious the little
lame balloonman

whistles       far       and wee

and eddieandbill come
running from marbles and
piracies and it's 

when the world is puddle-wonderful

the queer
old balloonman whistles
far         and          wee
and bettyandisbel come dancing

from hop-scotch and jump-rope and




balloonMan          whistles

Saturday, March 19, 2011

This is Not a Food Blog

But we do have some pretty great meals. Here are a some favorites from the last few months. Or, these are the ones of which I've taken and uploaded pictures:

Apple Pie - Thanksgiving. L made the crust (the secret ingredient is LARD) and I made the filling and the little apple on top.

A picnic on the side of a lovely hill outside of Cartes after a morning at the outdoor market there: Empanadas (big tomato/tuna pastry), Choripan (bread filled with chorizo sausage), varied olives, super-cured sheep cheese, jamon (it's virtually impossible to have a meal in this country without some type of cured pork product. Especially picnics), and the best lemon soda ever.

 One of my weekend morning breakfasts. Boy am I spoiled. Oatmeal with fresh strawberries and brown sugar. Steaming coffee.

And now I'm off to eat a home made corned beef, boiled with potatoes, onions, and cabbage in (belated) celebration of St. Patrick's day. We don't...starve over here. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Some Exquisite Poems / From My Seventh Grade Students / Prepare to be Floored

One of my favorite lessons to do with seventh graders is an introduction to poetry. The English major in me gets all fired up at the front of the room (well, let's be honest -- the budding teacher in me gets pretty fired up too, and not only for poetry lessons): there is lots of wild gesturing, mime, and just enough silliness to get them to understand me. Although they're catching on pretty quickly to the fact that my "Oh no, I don't speak a word of Spanish" line is a lie, I still speak to them exclusively in English. But I digress.

In this lesson, I read the e.e. cummings poem "maggie and milly and molly and may" aloud to them, and we brainstormed vocabulary like rhythm, rhyme, stanza, line, syllable, etc. After discussing the meaning of the poem (the literal meaning -- this one's a little bit challenging for them yet), we moved on to haiku. We talked about how haikus are normally about nature, and usually address or examine one specific moment. Then we looked at this one by Basho, the Japanese poet:

This snowy morning
That black crow I hate so much
...But he's beautiful! 

The students had wonderful interpretations of what the imagery means: "The snow is white, and the crow is black." "He hates the crow because it ruins the morning." "The morning is quiet, the crow is loud." "It is beautiful because nature is beautiful." "It is beautiful because the contrast is beautiful." I SWEAR my students said all this -- if not in complete, grammatically correct English sentences. I was a proud mama duck all over again.

At the end of the lesson I had them write their own haikus. Now, the creativity of Spanish students is something I'll save for another post. Suffice to say they are seriously lacking in that area, at least when compared to American students, and especially to my own (exceptional) elementary/middle school experience at a small independent school. So my kids were less than thrilled when I announced they'd be writing their own haikus. Despite their groaning, I think some of their work turned out really great -- at the very least the Primero Bilingue's canon is beginning with some eccentricity, some truly beautiful imagery, no lack of grammatical and spelling errors, and a heavy dose of humor for native English-speaking audiences. And with no further ado, I present you with their (unedited) work:

In the evening, in
a very cloudy evening
There were lots of birds. 

In the mountain, the mountain 
...Do I prefer good river?
I like two places! 
By Pablo

In the sweet morning
In the far away mountain
I feell the nature.
By Diego B. 

In the long black night.
The moon looks in my bedroom
And she's smiling a me.
By Darío

The snow is prety
It is white and beautiful
I love the good snow

I love animals
The animals are prety
I have animals.
By Lydia

One day on the beach
I smile at a pretty gir
and she smiles at me
By Raúl

I have got apples
I go to the park today
They are beautiful! 
By Ayla

I am here, and you?
You are in the forest and
This is bad!
By Claudia

This day I wake up
before normal, I see, oh,
a special and a good owl.
By Celia

The bird flies and flies
at the top of the tree, but
it can't come down now.
By Elia

I am in a tree
the birds later fly whit me
And she looks at me.

I'm in the city
my friend is very crazy
but he's my bestfriend.
By Elda

One day in the park,
saw my aunt, she says hello
and I say hello.
By Amaya

The forest is nice
Il see the forest always
I love animals.

I hate the haikus
The haikus are very bad
The haikus are sad.
By María

And there you have it, folks. The up-and-coming poets of IES Miguel Herrero Pereda. 

Friday, March 11, 2011

I am a Proud Mama Duck

Soon I'll write a detailed post about my seventh graders -- they are wonderful, angelic, funny, cheeky, sweet, creative, hardworking, inventive, boisterous and adorable. I will be sure to find more adjectives for the full report, since there is such a lack of them here.

For the last few weeks they've been making paper animal masks in art class, and in our afternoon classes we've been "writing" a "play" to go with their mask characters. I was sick when they filmed this version, and they aren't happy with the bell ringing during the first few seconds, so we're planning to re-record next week. What divas. As you can see, the acting is Oscar-quality, the sets and special effects are straight out of a James Cameron production, and it is super easy to understand what they're saying. .... I'll let you be the judge, because clearly I'm biased.

The film can be seen here, on the brand-new IES Miguel Herrero Bilingual Program blog. Keep checking back for more links -- next week we're doing a literary project that you'll be able to see the results of. My little actors, poets, and artists in the making -- I'll have to think of a musical project for them to round out their English fine arts training. Happy Saturday!