Friday, December 26, 2008

Christkindlmarkt Field-Trip

The 4th and 5th graders enjoyed our annual field-trip to the Rathaus (City Hall) Christmas Market on December 16. All students made a holiday craft inside the Rathaus and then browsed the booths at the outdoor market with parent chaperones. Many fifth graders chose to paint their own foot mats for their craft. Below, a student gives this project two thumbs up!
Beth is the fourth grade teacher at VCS this year and we have really enjoyed planning joint parties and activities for the 4th and 5th graders to do together. While our students shopped at the Christmas market, Beth and I had a few moments to look around on our own. We enjoyed some roasted potatoes and snapped a picture to prove that it wasn't only the kids who had fun on this field-trip!

Just before heading back to school, the fifth graders posed for a class photo. What a handsome bunch!

Baking Christmas Cookies

The fifth graders baked traditional Austrian Christmas cookies in their German class this month. Each student had a job to do: rolling and forming the dough, arranging the cookies on baking sheets or dusting cookies with powdered sugar. The students got to eat their cookies at our 4th and 5th Grade Christmas party just before winter break.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Fall Break Trip

For the extended Fall Break weekend, eight of us headed to Carinthia, in the south of Austria near the Austria-Italy border. We stayed in a guest house with beautiful mountain views. We hiked, read books, played games and watched movies.

This was one of the picturesque views around the guest house. The weather was gorgeous all weekend long and the fall colors were brilliant.

We enjoyed cooking meals together at the guest house and eating around the big dining table. It was great to have plenty of time to sit and talk after eating, to enjoy the leisurely pace of vacation.

We ventured into Italy, to Venice, one day. What a fabulous city! Around each corner we'd stumble across another quaint view. Here Sandi and I pose by one of the main canals. Our whole group had fun exploring the city. We ended the day with dinner together at an authentic Italian restaurant. What a wonderful weekend with good friends!

Indoor Recess

It's been a beautiful fall here, but we finally had a rainy day and were forced to stay indoors for recess. These two girls enjoyed a break from their studies over a game of checkers. The girl on the left came to VCS in third grade and the girl on the right is new this year. They have become very good friends and love to spend time together.

Fall Festival Fun

Students and families filled the school for Fall Festival, an evening of carnival games capped off with a choir concert. Here a second grader prepares to go fishing at the fish pond booth. What will she catch on her hook? A good sized...piece of candy!

These girls were former students of mine last year. The girl in the middle is Austrian and has transitioned into an Austrian middle school this year. She came back to visit her VCS friends and teachers and was proud to report that she is doing very well in her new school.

These are some of my current fifth grade students. They are full of energy and love being together and fun events like this!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

5th Grade Culture Party

To celebrate the end of our first Social Studies unit on culture, our class had a culture party. Students wore traditional clothing from their home culture and brought games, food, and music to share. Above, three students play an Indonesian version of Mancala. Below, students learn a German Stretchrope game.

No class party would be complete without treats. The food selection at this party was especially rich, with items from Costa Rica, Korea, the Philippines, the United States, Mexico.... yum!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Congratulations Mr. and Mrs. Stevens!

Ben and Linnea were married on October 4. It was a beautiful day in every way. One of the most touching parts of the day was hearing the vows that Ben and Linnea wrote and pledged to each other during the wedding ceremony. The reception followed at the Monona Terrace in Madison.

All dressed up and enjoying dinner - my brother Jon, me, and cousin Dan. The flower bouquets were stunning.

The Stevens ladies - sister-in-law Theresa, bride Linnea, and me.

A Reunion of Family

Family members came from near and far for Ben's wedding. It was wonderful to see everyone! Above, cousins Jacob, Laura, and Emily help wash dishes after dinner. It's amazing to see how much they have grown up since I saw them last. Below, Aunt Sarah, the Uncle Davids and Matthew ham it up after dinner.

A Reunion of Friends

This month I made a quick trip home to the States for my brother's wedding. During my week in WI, I had a chance to get together with some very dear friends. It was so good to see them and our time together really encouraged me.

My Aunt Susan and Uncle Mark hosted a dessert evening at their home for me, providing an opportunity for me to catch up with friends and share a bit about teaching at VCS in Austria. We ate apple strudel and compared cross-cultural experiences. It was a wonderful evening of friendship and laughter!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tennis Club...Rained Out

Yvonne, Cindi, Sandi and I have started a tennis club. We meet once a week for a picnic supper and a game of tennis until the sun goes down and we can't see the ball anymore (the free courts are unlighted). It's been great to hone our tennis skills, stay active and enjoy a sport with friends. This week, the weather suddenly turned cold and rainy. We moved the picnic indoors, added hot soup to the menu, and played Rummikub instead.

Fun in Fifth Grade

During the first weeks of school, students worked in lots of different groups to get to know one another and practice working together on a variety of tasks. Here students write a map quiz to exchange with another group during a Social Studies lesson.

"Hmmm...what's the hardest question we could write for another group?" These boys are writing one challenging quiz - not for the faint of heart or the weary world traveler. I'm always amazed by the places my students have lived and visited around the world.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Meet the Fifth Grade Class!

Larissa, Natasya, Olivia, Brittany, Mark, Ms. Stevens, Stacy, Diana, Cassandra, Alexander, Sabastian, Lazarus, Paul, Ruth Anne, HanBit, Kyeung Taek, Miguel and Brice

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Welcome, New Staff Members!

Meet John, Josh, Scott, Carrie, Beth, Melissa M., Whitney, RheaAnne, Melissa H., Nick, Leslie, and Amanda. These new staff members are excited to be here and eager to get this next school year off to a great start. Already, they have been a fun and easy group to get to know and I'm looking forward to working alongside them this year!

Around Vienna

These friends helped me celebrate the end of my summer German course with Viennese "Eis" (ice cream). This sweet treat was tasty on a hot day and I'm so thankful I was able to take a German course this summer.

My friend and former coworker from St. Paul, Kelsey, came to visit for a week at the end of July. It was so much fun to show her around Vienna and catch up on life together. Here we pose from the Gloriette behind Schonbrunn Palace, summer palace of the Hapsburg family who ruled Austria for many years.

My coworkers and neighbors, Jeff and Bethany, and their friend Jamie toured the Opera House with me after German class one day this summer. My favorite part of the tour was seeing the backstage area and learning about how they change the sets for the different operas and ballets that are performed there.

Good-Bye Yun Ju!

This is me with one of my summer tutoring students. Yun Ju was a student in my classroom last year. Her family is moving to Slovakia this month and she will continue her schooling there. We will miss her at VCS, especially her cheerful and friendly spirit.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Vienna Orientation Plans Underway

Does this picture look posed? J.J., Judy and I have been organizing and preparing the Vienna orientation program for the new staff members who arrive on August 1. Even though we look hard at work, we've had a lot of fun planning and laughing together this summer.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Sounds of Salzburg

This talented quintet entertained Salzburg residents and visitors alike along Linzergasse. Not only did they sport traditional Austrian clothes and play some funky instruments, but their music was high quality and lots of fun!

Salzburg in Summer

On my way back from Switzerland, I spent a couple days in Salzburg with another staff family from school. With our Salzburg Cards in hand, we saw as many museums and sights as we could. The city was full of tourists, EuroCup soccer fans, and amazing flower displays wherever we went. This is Mirabelle palace and gardens, with the Hohensalzburg fortress on the hill in the distance.

On one of our days in Salzburg, we toured Hellbrunn Palace, home of the famous gazebo used in The Sound of Music and the trick fountains. The man who built the palace hid water fountains throughout his garden to surprise and thrill his guests on hot summer days. His sense of playfulness with water brought joy and delight (and sometimes a soaking!) to those who visited the palace.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Switzerland Vacation

Following a busy end to the school year, I spent a week in Switzerland with my cousin, Susanne. The scenery was unbelievably gorgeous and Susanne and I took advantage of the warm, sunny weather to see as much as we could. One day we took a train and then cable car to Grindelwald and went hiking in the Swiss Alps. We enjoyed watching many para-gliders sailing over the mountain valleys as we hiked.

Another day, we went to Affolten to tour an Emmentaler (Swiss) Cheese factory. Here the curds are pressed to extract the whey. Then each cheese is marked with the date and an Emmentaler Cheese label (see the large, circular, red and white labels). After being pressed for 6-20 hours, the cheese will sit in a brine bath for 2-3 days to help the rind begin to form. Finally, the cheese will age in the cellar for 4-6 months before being sold.

One of the highlights of my vacation with Susanne was visiting the French-speaking part of Switzerland. Here I pose in the old city center of Biel/Bienne. It was invigorating to be able to read signs and understand the conversations I heard around me. I felt a real sense of accomplishment in being able to purchase fruit at a market and order dinner in a restaurant without having to revert back to using English.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

End of School Dinner Party

Just for fun, Sandi and I invited our neighbors, Ron and Judy, over for dinner to celebrate the end of the school year. We tried some new recipes, beginning with a tomato-zucchini soup and open-faced sandwiches. For dessert, we all crowded into the kitchen to make crepes and ate them with a variety of delicious toppings. While the shape of the crepes might seem unusual (given the pans we had to work with), their taste left nothing to be desired. It was a wonderful evening of good food and laughter!

Last Day of School Photo

Here we are on the last day of school with our principal, Mr. Pitotti. Nineteen fifth graders ready to move up to sixth grade. While I can see how these students have grown and changed since the picture we took on the first day of school, the most exciting growth has been how much they've learned and how they've learned to work together. Only one student moved away this year and two students joined us's been a surprisingly stable year for a class at an international school. What's ahead? Trips to their home countries, days at the pool, soccer games at the park, and NO HOMEWORK!

Pizza Party!

The fifth grade class had a pizza party to celebrate the end of a great year. One girl in the class said, "This is the best pizza party I've ever had!" What were the pizza toppings of choice? Ham, Salami and Hawaiian.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Fifth Grade Poetry Celebration

The fifth grade class hosted a celebration of our poetry writing for parents on Friday afternoon. Students took part in a variety of fun poetry activities and each read aloud an original poem they had written. We ended our celebration with cake and cookies and time for the parents to mingle with the poets. What a joy to see the progress these students have made in their writing abilities this year!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Windischgarsten Trip

Last weekend, a group of five VCS teachers left Vienna for a couple days away in Windischgarsten, a small town surrounded by the Alps. We stayed in a farmhouse bed and breakfast and spent our days there soaking in the beautiful sights and hiking at the foothills of the mountains.
This was our farmhouse home for the weekend. The owners served us breakfast in the morning, consisting of fresh cow's milk, coffee, tea, semmel rolls, ham, cheese, butter, and jam. In the barn to the left of the house are the cows that live on this dairy farm.

This is the view of Windischgarsten and the Alps from a hike we took near the farmhouse. The views were gorgeous and it was so refreshing to get to see a part of Austria outside of Vienna.

We ended our weekend in Windischgarsten with a ride on the Sommer Rodelbahn. First, we rode the ski lift to the top of the mountain, enjoying the views all the way up. Then, we rode a wheeled sled down the mountain on the solid metal track you see in this picture. The other tracks you see here are for another ride, the Alpine Coaster. The Rodelbahn was a thrilling ride and a great end to a fabulous weekend away.

ZOOM Kindermuseum

Mr. Reynolds, the Elementary Art Teacher, and I took the fifth grade class to a special art workshop at the ZOOM Kindermuseum (Children's Museum) this month. This workshop was a great chance for the students to experience some painting techniques in ways that we're not able to offer during Art Class at school. Students learned about mixing colors and layering colors in paintings. In one activity, foam balls were dunked in paint, then tossed onto paper spread across a wooden frame. Students held on to the edges of the frame, raising and lowering different parts of the frame to roll the foam balls and make paint trails across the paper.
Students also had the opportunity to paint some real-life objects at the end of the art workshop. Here, Mr. Reynolds and the fifth graders pose by an old car that they painted on. This activity was especially popular with the boys in our class - they love cars!