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Using Technology to Showcase Writers

Mrs. VanHaitsma, our English Language Learner teacher, uses every tool available to help her students learn the complexities of the English language.  In December, Mrs. VanHaitsma shared a story written by Leah who is a native Chinese speaker and is quickly becoming very skilled in her second language, English.

Visit Mrs. VanHaitsma’s blog to hear and see Leah’s well written story. She will brighten your day!

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Leah’s Summer Adventures

Those of you who followed our blog last year may remember Leah, our third grade student who was born in China and now living with her American family.  Leah taught her classmates about the traditions, games and culture of the Chinese people.

We have been amazed by how quickly Leah has learned the English language and traditions, expectations for learning and playing…and so much more in her first year here.

This has been Leah’s first ever summer with her family and  friends.   You can see from these photos that she is very happy!  Leah will be a fourth grader in Mrs. Huizenga’s classroom.







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Year of the Rabbit by Leah








How did you do with reading about the Chinese New Year in Chinese?  Would you be willing to live in China for 10 months with the goal of learning how to read and speak Chinese so that you could work successfully in school, at your job, grocery shop and more?   It makes my brain hurt to think about this.

The Chinese text tells this story in our language, English. Read on:

Leah Poster

Did you know that one of our third grade students speaks two languages?  Leah Vandenberg is in Mrs. Flory’s class and she was adopted from an orphanage in China last spring.

Since arriving on May 31, 2010, Leah life has changed in the most dramatic and amazing ways.  She has gone to living in a building with hundreds of children to a living with her adoptive family in a wonderful home in Jenison.  Leah has gone from speaking one language, Chinese to speaking English and Chinese.  She has adjusted to new cuisine, holiday’s, daily routines, school, riding in a car and school bus, braces, and so much more I can’t capture in this blog post.

Her school day and home life is in English.  I often watch Leah while she is learning and think that she must go home exhausted.  I speak ONE language.  ONE.  I’ve attempted to learn other languages, but not successfully….and I had the choice to quit my studies.

Leah has no choice.  In order to survive in our English speaking world, she must learn our language.  Leah has made amazing progress so far this year!

To showcase her learning, she explained the Chinese New Year to her classmates.  This holiday took place on January 22 and there are many rich traditions that go along with the welcoming of the Chinese New Year.  Leah explained to her classmates that this is year of the rabbit. The Chinese people celebrate this holiday with special foods, celebrations, and decorations.

Leah did a wonderful job!  We learn as much from her as she learns from us.    She ended her talk by showing her classmates how to make Chinese lanterns! Part of the Chinese tradition is to launch lit lanterns at night during a special lantern festival.   This collage below is a collection of the best parts of her presentation.


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Snow Day Fun

What did you do on your snow day?  Did you make a snowman?  A snow angel?  Go sledding?   I shoveled a dog run path in the backyard for Cooper — who stands 12 inches tall.  Without a path, he will disappear ten inches of snow.

I received two fun snow day photos from Leah (Mrs. Quigley’s Class) and Lucas (Mrs. Bohl’s Class) …and you can see what they did on their snow day!  This was perfect snow for play.

If you have a photo of your snow day play, send it to me and I will share it on the blog!