Sunday, February 14, 2010

February update

Hello all,

After a restful time in the states for Christmas, I returned on January 5 to Kiev. As a church, we celebrated (Eastern) Christmas on January 7. You can read more (and see some photos) at the following link: Shortly thereafter, KCA's first semester exams occurred, and then the spring semester began.

Spring Semester
I continue to teach the same classes--6th grade math, geometry, and algebra 2, with most of the same students. One of my high school students is "studying abroad" this semester in the US, and there are 2 new families that have arrived. My 6th grade class now has 15 students, there are 14 in geometry, and 11 are in algebra 2.

In 6th grade, we have been discussing fractions and mixed numbers, and what better way to connect fractions to real life than by making cookies? I had the students determine how much of each ingredient would be needed for a double batch of chocolate chip cookies, then they mixed some of the ingredients together. However, since there was not enough time left in the class, they could not add all of the ingredients, and I had to figure out how much flour, sugar, salt, etc. was still needed once I returned home!

My geometry class is learning about geometric transformations: reflections, rotations, tessellations, and dilations. For reflections, I incorporated basketball--bounce passes--into the lesson, which piqued their interest since it is currently basketball season.

Varsity boys (navy blue and gold) against PSI

After a more difficult and complex chapter in algebra 2, my students are using rational expressions (in other words, fractions that have algebra in them)--simplifying, multiplying, adding, subtracting, and dividing. Some say they have enjoyed this chapter because it actually makes sense to them! Hooray!

Many of you ask me what the weather is like here, or tell me how it is where you live, and this is what I have to say about the weather here: cold, snowy, and icy! I have not seen the ground (besides the sidewalks occasionally) since I returned in January. For weeks I have walked on top of at least 3-6" of packed snow/ice on the sidewalks, cleared only in occasional spots.
In late January, there was one day that the temperature was approximately -9*F, if not colder! During those times, when the temperature is below 0*F, the sun actually shines--it's quite strange. Today the temperatures were in the low 30's (probably -1 or -2 celsius), and it was cloudy and there was a wet snow. When it gets "warm" like this, the snow melts and turns to slush, and there are lots of puddles.

Degtyarivska--where I walk nearly every day--with mounds of snow

Chernivtsi Ministry Trip
A few weekends ago, I had the opportunity to travel to Chernivtsi (city in western Ukraine) with a group from Kiev First Church for ministry to families of children with special needs. This city was our first ministry location in summer 2008, and it was wonderful to be back.
On Friday evening, we traveled by train--Iryna, Andriy, Olya, Tonya, Riyah, Rebekka (EuNC intern), Colleen (missionary) and I. It was quite the adventure, and we had a picnic potluck supper on the train and then practiced songs and planned for the Kids' Club the following day.

Rebekka, me, Colleen, Riyah, Tonya, Andriy, Olya on the train

We held the kids' club at a local school, somewhere just outside the city. When the families arrived, we welcomed them, and since I hadn't met most of them before, I had to practice my Russian skills, asking their names and how old the kids were, and otherwise make conversation as best as I could. One of the families we worked with in 08 was there again--Sveta, who has Down Syndrome, her mom, and her nephew--and it was wonderful to see them again and talk with them (with the help of a translator). Our activities with the kids included songs, a puppet skit, object lessons, games, a craft, and eating together; the theme was "following instructions" and how God has given us instructions to help us live.

I taught Valik how to "give me five" or "give me ten"

Bonus link:
Visit this page of my blog to watch/listen to a song called "Prayer for Ukraine". It is a beautiful prayer that we sang on the train to Chernivtsi, and also sang just the other week in church on election day.
"God, I pray for Ukraine; God, I pray for the people"

Thanks again for all your prayers and encouragement!

Prayer Requests:
*Safe travel for the varsity basketball teams as they compete in Budapest next weekend
*My decision for the '10-'11 school year. I intend to decide by the end of February if I am teaching here another year.
*Continued integration of my new students

*Usually every winter I come down with a sinus infection, and so far this winter I haven't! (Keep praying for my health, though!)

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