Class Pass Story Strategy

Alright, teachers, here’s a post for you. (I know, sorry, it’s been a while since I posted teachery thoughts. You know, summer break and all. : ))

Okay, so each student has his own paper to start his own story. Students sit in a circle (either a circle of smaller students or, if you really have a lot of time, in larger groups (if your school gives you more time for creativity, please let me know. I want to come teach there!) um yes, that was a parentheses inside a parentheses).

Anyway, the teacher might give a writing prompt as a place to start. Students write for 2 or 3 minutes and then pass their writing on to the next student. For example, Shelley wrote this:

**Tip: If reading the pictures is difficult, click on the image for a zoomed-in view.

As students passed the papers around the circle, Shelley handed her story to Blanca, and Shelley got a new story to continue adding to. Blanca read what Shelley had written and then continued writing:

Blanca passed the story on to Maria, and after she read what both Shelley and Blanca had written, she added her two cents:

Today we were only seated as groups of 4, so the fourth student had the pressure of finding a conclusion to this wacky tale. So the final student (who shall remain nameless at this time… see if you can guess) wrapped it up with:


This was an activity from our Metodologías Bilingües class. It’s a great team-building strategy as students laugh together as they read their final stories. You might also use it as a first draft activity before demonstrating revision techniques for clarifying your writing.

And yes, you guessed correctly. The last writer was yours truly. : )


Summertime = Time for Creativity!

I grew to love painting “for fun” instead of “for homework” during my time in Costa Rica. Unfortunately, all my paintings were too large to bring back on the plane — although I seriously considered the idea (Imagine an already overloaded traveller begging the flight attendant to please let this ginormous framed canvas to be her “carry-on”… yeah, I didn’t think that would go over so well either!). I ended up selling about 8 pieces before moving back.

That was a year ago.

Let’s be honest: The whole process of reverse culture shock (becoming acclimated to one’s native country again) takes a lot longer than anyone wants to admit. I think my process took about 8 months, and in some ways, is still happening even today.

That said, I’m finally beginning to feel like my artistic self again. Here’s several pieces of creative evidence:

I saw this idea online somewhere and knew I had to try it. I bought an already-painted-on canvas at a thrift store and used masking tape to craft letters on top of the painting. I chose my favorite quote from La casa en Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros (an amazing Cuban-American author), and fit the whole quote on the canvas. Then I painted over the tape, let it dry, and peeled all the tape off. Wa-laah! I might go back and add more to it, but this is what it looks like for now.

I also saw this idea online somewhere… probably or something. While I’m not Martha Stewart, I was able to figure out this recipe. All I did was mix up a white cake mix, separate it into three mixing bowls, add different color to each bowl, and bake each layer separately. I didn’t have enough circle cake pans, so I turned to pie tins as well. Each layer cooled for about 15 minutes before I iced them all into one cake. Easy peasy.

This is my current work-in-progress. It is acrylic paints and a collage of paper, leaves, bark, film negatives, and beads. It’s not quite finished yet, so stay tuned for a finished version.

 I continued the collage up the side of the canvas. All about the little details.

Here’s a close up of the lower collage:

This tree collage took a lot longer than I thought it would, but little by little, it made its way toward completion. My favorite is the gold paper running through the whole tree — both branches and roots. I was reflecting on a particular verse in Romans that reminds us that we (the tree) are not all that there is to us — that the roots (Jesus) are what really anchor us throughout life. To me, Jesus is the gold that shines throughout the entire tree, causing the leaves to grow.

I’m definitely enjoying my creative summer… can you tell? : )

Creating Art with God

This might be a far-out-there idea… but I came to this idea several years ago as I was painting while babysitting two baseball-obsessed boys. They were playing 1-on-1 baseball (a bit humorous to watch) while I was situated on the edge of the lawn with my watercolor painting on the ground.

Seemingly without warning, a raincloud blew in and promptly began pouring on us. The boys were unfazed in their heated competition, but I panicked and picked up my painting to run for rain cover — Only for the back of the painting to be smacked with a foul ball, splattering paint all down the front of my favorite shirt.

As I took the painting indoors, I thought for sure it was ruined… I left it to dry, feeling discouraged. A few hours later, I came back to check on it, and I was pleasantly surprised that the raindrops and the huge baseball splatter actually added to what I was trying to accomplish. It was as if God had intervened while I was painting and showed me what He had in mind for that project.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a photo of that painting to show you…

But I do have photos of my latest ”art with God” endeavor = a.k.a. gardening. All I did was dig up perennials from my mom’s garden (with her permission, of course :)) and then arrange the plants in my garden. I think God should get way more credit than I should for a beautiful garden because He’s done the rest!

(Note: To get a closer look at an image, click on it.)

New Look, New Blog, New Inspiration

First question: Why have I not blogged in six months?

Great question. There are a flurry of reasons, including but not limited to:

1. I’ve had a serious lack of travelling adventures.

2. An insecurity surfaces and I am afraid I don´t have much to say anymore.

3. My readers were at a “comfortable” distance while I lived in Costa Rica… it was okay that I expressed opinions and thoughts that others may not agree with.

4. It’s taken some time to “get back on my feet” in the sense of living State-side.

5. Busy-ness.

Second question: Why am I blogging now?

Even better question. Again, there are a flurry of reasons, related to the above reasons for not blogging.

1. I realized that I don’t need travelling adventures to blog about… although I do miss them. There are so many other rich aspects to life to express!

2. Insecurity only brings fear, and I don’t want to live in fear. I have a lot to share, even when what I share now is different than before.

3. While I may feel more vulnerable with so many potential readers living in closer proximity to my now State-side existence, I cannot let that be my excuse for not sharing. Like in #2, I can’t get stuck on my fears.

4. I’m back on my feet now (reverse-culture-shock-speaking).

5. I’m busier than ever before as I start a Masters of Education program!! What better time to blog??? : ) This year of teaching and studying will be a blur of activity and having a blog is an outlet for taking “snapshots” of the continual metamorphosis of life.

6. I want to continue to share life with friends and family. Even though I am “closer” in the sense that I live in the same country as the majority of my friends and family, many do not live here in Elgin.

So in an attempt to stay in touch with so many of you : ), here it is: a way to share my life, a place for us to keep in mind what we have in common, perhaps neutral ground for us to realize how different we are, and simply just a way to keep in touch.

Because after all, isn’t life all about sharing?