Life's like that!

December 29, 2010

Playing with mud

Who loves to play with mud? I think all kids do.

Whenever DD1 has a chance to go to the backyard, she would always try to make a mud pie or mud cake for her backyard toys. All praise be to Allah SWT, the fenced backyard allows her to have fun with mud without us worrying about her safety.

Growing up in Singapore, my siblings and I rarely had any chance to play with mud because we seldom play outdoors. Instead we play with Plasticine (a form of playdough) and we had lots of fun molding things with it.

According to,

'Mud is an art medium, one that we can mold, dry, and decorate. Unlike many other media, mud permits us to make mistakes. We can experiment repeatedly, knowing there is a limitless free supply. One of the most basic elements of the earth, mud allows us to develop an appreciation for the environment as we experience its diversity. As adults we can continue to enjoy the sensory experience of mud through mud baths, mud facials, gardening, and barefoot walks with mud oozing through our toes.'

Here are some items that kids can use to play with mud:

Necessary materials (borrowed, scrounged, donated)

* Cooking appliance—old range or box made into an oven
* Pots, pans, cooking tins
* Large metal or plastic bowls
* Cooking utensils
* Dirt
* Large buckets of water for cleanup
* Pitchers of water for cooking
* Recycled containers to hold spices
* Recycled or found materials representing spices and condiments
* Labeled storage unit (we used milk crates wired together to make shelves)
* Smocks to protect children’s clothing

Materials that enhance the mud center

* Recipe cards, pencils, recipe box
* Tables and plastic tablecloths
* Canisters to hold different kinds of dirt
* Play sink and refrigerator
* Peg-Board for hanging utensils, drainer for dishes
* Sifter, colander
* Towels, dishrags, pot holders


December 25, 2010

Staff Meeting with the School Board

Yesterday was a working day for teachers and support staff even though it was a holiday for students.

All praise be to Allah SWT, teachers met with the President and Vice-President of the School Board in groups so that they have more time to share their feedback. I joined the elementary grades teachers in the meeting. After the meetings, I randomly asked several teachers the kind of issues raised in the meetings and here are some of them:

- purchase a used school bus to provide free transportation for students to go on field trips
- organize in-house staff development training for teachers and staff
- update on construction of school building
- implement programs to provide character building opportunities for students so they do not focus only on academic achievement
- timely order of textbooks and workbooks so that teachers do no have to wait three weeks after school opens to issue them to students

I sincerely appreciate the School Board for taking the initiative and time to collect feedback from teachers and staff. Allah SWT willing I hope that some of the teachers' suggestions can be implemented by the next school year.


December 23, 2010

Fun Things I Get to Do As a Teacher's Assistant

In no particular order:

1. Play indoor games with students e.g. charade and Qu'ran challenge.
2. Interview and hire students as pencil sharpeners, concession stand and pencil keepers.
3. Watch the play 'Cinderella' at the Black Academy of Arts and Letter.
4. Practice an Arabic song with students for Cultural Day celebration.
5. Hang out with my favorite teachers before, during and after school.
6. No stress to bring home from work!
7. Help students in after-school tutoring.
8. Witness the transformation of students who were struggling at the beginning of the school year to become confident and doing well now.
9. Help new teachers to use the copier when it got jammed.
10. Have free time to make cards for teachers and students.
11. See teachers' surprised reaction when they were picked in the 'Wednesday Winners' drawing.
12. Bring students to the playground and get to play with them.
13. Share food and drinks with students on both Eid celebrations.
14. Play nurse when a student needs band aid or a comforting word when they are sick.
15. Take a class photo with students on picture day.
16. Implement the Accelerated Reader program.
17. Grade spelling tests and prepare math test questions.
18. Give lunch detention to students who break the school dress code after three warnings.
19. Listen to the homeroom teacher tell Islamic stories during Islamic Studies period. (She is a FABULOUS storyteller!)
20. Get free hugs from students everyday!


Learning Journey in a Classroom

Yesterday was the last day of school for students.

After five days of first semester exams, students are now enjoying their winter break. Today teachers and support staff have one day to wrap up for this semester and do housekeeping in the classrooms.

All praise be to Allah SWT, I have learned so much about a teacher's job scope and responsibilities from the fourth grade homeroom teacher. She is always so generous to share her experiences with me, whether its about dealing with classroom drama or preparing lesson plans. She is also generous in giving encouragement when I needed it. I couldn't have ask for a better mentor than her.

I am just amazed by how much I can be energized by students' enthusiasm. Whenever I feel tired or moody, seeing the students' smiles always lift up my spirit. I know that even if I have to force myself not to let my moods affect me, eventually I will forget about it by focusing on students' needs. I really enjoy praying next to students in school. When we are praying together, we are no longer in a teacher-student relationship. Instead we are sisters-in-islam.

In addition, I have a better understanding now about how effective teaching techniques can engage students to learn. For example, instead of just standing in front of the class and give a lecture about soil, students can be better engaged to absorb new information about this topic through getting their feedback about what they already know and what they are interested to find out.

After reading the book 'Teaching with Love and Logic', I decided to implement the techniques on students. All praise be to Allah SWT, I have been able to do so with some success. I stopped nagging at students to keep on tasks. Instead I gave them choices to either complete their work in class or do so on their own during lunch. Allah SWT willing I'll read the book during the winter break to review how I can better apply those techniques when school opens next year.

Implementing the Accelerated Reader program for 29 student was a challenge. First we assigned reading levels for individual student based on their ITBS reading score. Then we set a goal for each student to reach for each quarter (nine weeks). For example, student A's reading level is between 3 and 5. So he should be reading books that fall between these numbers. Then if we think that he should be about to read enough books and pass the reading tests to reach a goal of 25 points, that will be the goal for the second quarter. This week we set up a computer in the classroom for them to take reading and vocabulary tests for books that they read. Previously they will have to go to the library and get the librarian's assistance to take tests. Thanks to the homeroom teacher's daily assessment and intervention, students who are failing their reading tests are now writing chapter summaries before they continue reading subsequent chapters. This will help them have a better comprehension of the book that they read. Allah SWT willing, then they will pass the reading test easier.

Although I will miss the students during the winter break, I can't wait for it to begin so that I can chill out with DD1 and DD2, and get to have fun with them at home!


December 19, 2010

張惠妹 - 好膽你就來


December 16, 2010

Basketball Star

Yesterday I became a basketball star!

During the fourth period, the 4th grade homeroom teacher let students have a picnic on the basketball court. After many of them purchased and ate slices of pizza from the 2nd and 3rd grades bake sale, they wanted to play games. Eight boys wanted to play basketball matches so I decided to join them.

I started playing basketball with my brothers and sister since 8 years old. All praise be to Allah SWT my mother thought that it would be a good idea for us to get rid of excess energy and let her have some time to tidy the home. On top of that the nearest basketball court was located less than one-minute walk from our HDB flat. In school the PE teachers let us play basketball all the time. IT was the most popular sport for many students.

Before I played with the boys, I thought that after so many years of not playing basketball would render me a lousy player on the court. All praise be to Allah SWT I was able to show the kids that I still have it after all these years! I scored two points for my team at the end of the match and all the kids said that I'm good at playing basketball court.

One of the secrets of my success is I am taller than all the boys, so I was able to have several rebounds to score points!


December 15, 2010

Current Events for 4th Grade

How do we make our students become aware of the headlines around the world?

The social studies teacher assigned three current event homework for the 4th graders two months ago. They are supposed to write a summary of a news article and what they feel about the event. In addition, they are also required to quote the source of the article.

Yesterday, the S.S. teacher told students who have not submitted this homework that they have until the S.S. first semester exam to do so. One of the students has not turned in all three assignments, so I helped her to get one done after school. All praise be to Allah SWT it took her ten minutes to finish one assignment and she was glad that it was not a difficult task. Allah SWT willing today she will finish the other two assignments during lunch.

I think one of the reasons why students have not turned in this homework is because they are unsure how to get it done and did not have access to news or magazine articles. This make me realize that I need to get DD1 and DD2 get use to reading different formats of printed materials e.g. newspaper, magazine, and promotional brochures as soon as they are able to read. All praise be to Allah SWT my mother always encouraged us to read newspapers and magazines since we were in primary school. Allah SWT willing I hope to pass on the love of reading to my kids by sharing good books and read with them.


The Importance of Charity

In Islam, there are many reasons why performing charity is important for practicing Muslims. The information below is quoted from the Human Appeal Inc. web site

Sadaqa is a donation given voluntarily for the sake of Allah to poor people, providing them with necessities of life.

Giving Sadaqa Is An Evidence Of Believe In Allah

If Allah blessed us with money, good health or knowledge, then we should acknowledge His blessing by sharing Allah’s gifts with those who are less fortunate. Some may need direct financial aid if they are poor and cannot meet their obligations. Others may need guidance in the form of sound sincere advice. Others may need comfort and a good word. All are forms of Sadaqa that will count in our favor.

Allah SWT said in the Quran

“Believe in Allah and His Messenger, and spend (in charity) out of the (substance) whereof He has made you heirs. For, those of you who believe and spend (in charity); for them is a great Reward”. Al-Hadeed 57 : 7

The Best Charity Is That Given Out Of What We Make And Earn:

The Prophet PBUH said :

“The best earning is that which your hands have earned; whenever a man spends on himself, or his family, children and servant, it is considered as a charity for him” Narrated by Ibn Majja.

Charity Involves Money, Effort, Knowledge And Helping Others

The Prophet PBUH said:

“There is a Sadaqa ( charity ) due on every Muslim; if he cannot give because he has no money, let him work then he can support himself and give charity; if he is unable to work, then let him help someone in need of his help; if he does not do that, let him adjoin good; if he does not do that, then he should not do evil or harm others: it will be written for him as a Sadaqa” Narrated by Ahmad,Bokhari, Muslim & Nesa’ee.

This hadith points out the importance of Sadaqa and making it as a continuous duty performed by society. That will tie the relations between the society’s individuals and unite them. The Prophet PBUH said in other Hadith that even your smile to your brother is a charity. Also, from the above mentioned Hadith we can observe that even if the person has no money he can perform the Sadaqa duty by other ways, so the poor and rich will contribute in this duty.

Give Of The Best That You Have

We were asked to give sadaqa from the best things that we have and we love.

Allah SWT said:

"O believers, never shall you attain to true piety unless you spend on others out of what you cherish yourselves; and whatever you spend - verily, God has full knowledge thereof”. Al-Imran 3 : 92.

Our Wealth Will Not Decrease If We Give In Charity

Allah promised to replace everything that we give in charity, and Allah is true to His promise.

Allah SWT said in the Quran:
“Say: Verily my Lord enlarges and restricts the Sustenance to such of His servants as He pleases: and what you spend in charity He replaces it: for He is the Best of those who grant Sustenance”. Saba 34 : 39

Prophet Muhammad ( PBUH ) emphasized this concept when He said:
“No money ever decreases because of charity”.

Sadaqa Protects The Society

As a fact, the most causes of crimes in societies is related to the poorness and needy. When the person has no enough resources of income he may try to get money illegally to safe his life. When the rich people give out their sadaqa and Zakah the poor people will become secured and satisfied and they will not to go through criminal ways to get the money.

The Sadaqa Jariya

The Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) said:
“If a human dies, then his good deeds stop except for three: a Sadaqa Jariah (continuous charity), a beneficial knowledge, or a righteous child who prays for him”. Narrated by Muslim.

The Sadaqa Jariya is a donation that its reward from Allah SWT continuous for long time. There are many funds that the Sadaqa Jariya could be paid to. Examples of these are: digging wells, building mosques, building schools and distributing the knowledge.


December 13, 2010

Study Guide for Mid-Term Exam

Mid-term exam fever is here!

This week the 4th graders are reviewing lessons covered during the first semester for their mid-term exam which will start this Thursday. The fourth grade teacher prepared study guides for math, science, Islamic studies while the social studies teacher also gave a copy of the study guide to each student last week. For writing, the fourth grade teacher gave students writing prompts for them to practice their writing skills. For reading, she has been giving them comprehension exercises and review all the available answers.

All praise be to Allah SWT all the exam papers have been printed. Students just need to finish their review in time for the exam. Now that I've seen how mid-term exam review is conducted in the classroom, I am more confident when I help my own kids to review for their exams.


December 12, 2010

Line Dancing the Kindergarten Way!

I am so going to have fun teaching DD1 these dance steps!

Dance steps to, You’ve Got A Friend In Me (from Utah Education Network)
• Bounce for 10 counts
• Point out, then to yourself
• Point out, then turn back to back (heel out)
• Right-step together, step, touch
• Left-step together, step, touch
• Heels—2 right, 2 left
• Walk for ward right, left right, left heel
• Walk back ward left, right, left, right heel
• Point out, then to yourself
• Point to your partner, then turn back to back (heel out)
• Turn to the right – walk slow 4 counts
• Turn to the left – walk slow 4 counts
• Bounce for 4 counts
• Alternate heels (right first) 8 counts (You’ve got your troubles)
• Walk in a circle 4 counts
• Point out, then to yourself
• Point to your partner, then turn back to back (heel out)
• Boys clap 4 counts while girls point to their head (brains)
• Girls clap 4 counts while boys flex muscles.
• Pointer finger up-right hand and wiggle back & forth (none of them could)
• Hug self – (ever love you the way I do)
• Partners hook arms and circle 4 counts
• Bounce 4 counts
• Right – step together, step, touch
• Left – step together, step, touch
• Point out, then to yourself
• Point to your partner, then turn back to back (heel out)
• Point out, then to yourself
• Point to your partner, then turn back to back (heel out)
• Point out, then to yourself (while saying, “You’ve Got A Friend In Me!)

December 11, 2010

Ideas for 100th Day of School

Here are some fun activities to do on the 100th day of school.

100 Words Students get a clip board and a pencil and roam the room to find and write down 100 words. No duplicate words are allowed!

Race to 100 Students roll their dice, read the number, and color squares on a 100s grid to represent the number they rolled. First to reach 100 wins!

100s Chart Hidden Sticker Challenge Write numbers to 100 on white sticky dot stickers. Hide the dots around the classroom. Challenge students to find the dots and then to place them onto the 100s chart by matching the numbers.

100s Chart Pictures/Designs I print a bunch of 100s grids at the beginning of the year so that I always have them on hand. They are great for many activities, this one is no exception - - The kids love this "game" - - and it hones in on so many great math skills, too! To play, distribute a 100s grid to each student. Select a "picture" and begin prompting students to shade in a cell by prompting them to do so. Each prompt can be unique to fit your students' needs. For example, you could say, "please shade in the cell that is 3 + 12. Now shade in the cell that has 4 tens and 9 ones." These are just a few examples!

100 Day Snack Give students an empty zipper bag. Put out 10 food stations and have students visit each station to create their very own 100 snack by taking 10 of each item from each station. Class favorites include pretzels, chocolate chips, M&Ms, mini marshmallows, cheerios, gummy bears, Kix, Cheez-Its, raisins, and Goldfish crackers.

Count Up to the 100th Day of School Puzzle Every day of school students add a piece to our 100s day puzzle. The kids love this activity - - we do it during our morning calendar routine.


How can we get boys to read?

Many 4th grade boys in my class are not readers.

Whenever they visit the school library, they hardly know what they like to read. And they often forget to bring their library books to school. These days when the 4th grade teacher asks them how many pages they have read, they would only read about 10 pages or less per week.

Since October, our students have been taking Accelerated Reading tests after they finished reading a book. The tests are designed to assess students' reading comprehension and vocabulary skills. Most of the girls have taken and passed at least one test while several boys failed the reading comprehension tests. I have been helping the students to check out books that are at their reading level, and checking their progress at least three times a week.

Allah SWT willing, hopefully we can come up with some engaging reading strategies for the students so that they will become readers by the end of the school year.

A Book List for Boys from


Tony Abbott

Realism & SurvivalAbbott’s series feature fun and adventure.

Danger Guys and the Golden Lizard (Danger Guys Stories)
HarperTrophy, ISBN: 0064420116, Ages 9 - 12 yrs.

Hidden Stairs and the Magic Carpet (Secrets of Droon Series)
Little Apple, ISBN: 0590108395, Ages 9 - 12 yrs.


Avi writes good solid stories: Poppy is a deer mouse and her tales revolve around other animals in the meadow, while McKinley in The Good Dog is a sled dog torn between his human family and the wild world of Lupin, who is out to replenish his wolf pack.

The Good Dog
Atheneum, ISBN: 0689838247, Ages 9 - 12 yrs.

Poppy (Series)
Camelot, ISBN: 0380727692, Ages 9 & Up

Michael Chabon

Summerland is a treat where a “less than mediocre Little League player “ is recruited by a mystical 100 year old scout and accepts a mission to overthrow the evil, shape-changing overlord, Coyote. Shades of Narnia and the Hobbit say some. A challenge for older readers.

Hyperion Press, ISBN: 0786816155, Ages 9 & Up

Eoin Colfer

Science FictionColfer’s Artemis books are extremely popular and creative! “When a twelve-year old genius tries to demand a ransom, the fairies fight back with magic, technology, and a particularly nasty troll.”

Artemis Fowl (Artemis Fowl Series)
Hyperion Press, ISBN: 0786817070, Ages 10 & up

Mark Crilley

Science FictionCrilley’s Earthling hero, fourth-grader Akiko, joins an intergalactic cast of characters in a mission to rescue Prince Froptoppit of the Planet Smoo.

Akiko on the Planet Smoo (Akiki Series)
Delacorte Press, ISBN: 0385327242, Ages 10 & up

Franklin Dixon

Oldies, but still goodies.

Hardy Boys Starter Set
Platt & Munk, ISBN: 0448416719, Ages 9 - 12 yrs.

Edward Eager

Time TravelKnight’s castle by Eager follows four cousins who find themselves back in the times of Robin Hood and Ivanhoe!

Knight’s Castle
Harcourt, ISBN: 015202073X, Ages 7 - 9 yrs.

Cornelia Funke

Fantasy and SurvivalThe Thief Lord by Funke is the newest book on this list: an exciting story about 2 brothers who run away to Venice, Italy, their aunt who hires a detective to track them down and the mysterious thief lord who takes them under his wing.

The Thief Lord
Scholastic, ISBN: 0439404371, Ages 10 & up

Dan Greenburg

The Boy Who Cried Bigfoot (Zack Files Series)
Grosset & Dunlap, ISBN: 0448420414, Ages 7 - 9 yrs.

Jackie French Koller


Dragonling (Dragonling Series)
Aladdin Library, ISBN: 074341019X, Ages 7 - 9 yrs.

Gary Paulsen

Realism and SurvivalIn Hatchet, a boy is the lone survivor of a plane crash and is stranded in the wilderness with only a hatchet. This gripping tale is by Paulsen, who has written many wonderful stories including Mr. Tucket and Dogsong.

Mr. Tucket
Yearling BooksISBN: 0440411335, Ages 9 - 12 yrs.

Simon Pulse, ISBN: 0689827008, Ages 10 & up

Simon Pulse, ISBN: 0689826990, Ages 9 -12 yrs.

Emily Rodda

High Fantasy

The Forests of Silence
Apple, ISBN: 0439253233, Ages 9 - 12 yrs.

Deltora Book of Monsters (Deltora Quest)
Scholastic, ISBN: 0439390842, Ages 9 - 12 yrs.

Louis Sachar

Holes was a recent movie written by the talented Sachar; think “curse, desert correctional camp treasure and friends”. This is very different from the humorous tales that occur on the thirteenth floor of Wayside School, which was accidentally built sideways with a classroom on each floor.

Sideways Stories from Wayside School (A Series)
HarperTrophy, ISBN: 0380731487, Ages 9 - 12 yrs.

Yearling Books, ISBN: 0440414806, Ages 9 - 12 yrs.

Jon Scieszka
Time Travel

See you later, Gladiator (Time Warp Trio Series)Puffin, ISBN: 0142300691, Ages 9-12 yrs

Sam Samurai (Time Warp Trio Series)Viking Childrens Books,ISBN: 0670899151, Ages 8 & Up


A variety for all tastes. Try to pinpoint some of your child’s interests; then browse the non-fiction shelves. It can be awesome! A strong alternate way to present non-fiction might be to use a narrative form, or group by topics i.e., true tales, poetry, biographies, and special interests.

Nathaniel Philbrick

The Revenge of the Whale: The True Story of the Whaleship Essex
Putnam Pub Group Juv, ISBN: 039923795X, Ages 9 -12 yrs.

Brian Colburn

Triumph on Everest: A Photobiography of Sir Edmund Hillary (Biography)
National Geographic, ISBN: 0792279328, Ages 9 -12 yrs.

Mark Stewart

One Wild Ride: The Life of Skateboard Superstar Tony Hawk (Biography)
21st Century Books, ISBN: 0761326669, Ages 9 - 12 yrs.

Gary Paulsen

Puppies, Dogs and Blue Northers: Reflections on the Author’s Life with His Sled Dogs (Biography)
Yearling Books, ISBN: 0440418755, Ages 9 - 12 yrs.

Tomi De Paola

The author, creator of Strega Nona, grandmother witch, looks back on his childhood.

Twenty-Six Fairmont Avenue
Puffin, ISBN: 0698118642, Ages 9 - 12 yrs.

Here We All Are
Puffin, ISBN: 0698119096, Ages 9 - 12 yrs.

What a Year (Biography)
Puffin, ISBN: 014250158, Ages 9 - 12 yrs.

Walter Wick

I Spy Gold Challenger: A Book of Picture Riddles
Cartwheel Books, ISBN: 0590042963, Ages 4 - 8 yrs.

Seymour Simon

Harpercollins Juvenile Books, ISBN: 0064460959,
Ages 4 - 8 yrs.

Big Cats
HarperTrophy, ISBN: 006446119X, Ages 4 - 8 yrs.

Danger! Volcanoes
SeaStar Books, ISBN: 1587171813, Ages 4 - 8 yrs.

Muscles: Our Muscular Skeleton
HarperTrophy, ISBN: 0688177204, Ages 7 & Up

Animals Nobody Loves
SeaStar Books, ISBN: 1587171554, Ages 4 - 8 yrs.

Richard Platt

Eyewitness: Pirate
DK Publishing, ISBN: 0789466082, Ages 9 -12 yrs.

Eyewitness: Spy
DK Publishing, ISBN: 0789466163, Ages 9 -12 yrs.

Jack Prelutsky

Monday’s Troll
Greenwillow, ISBN: 0688096441, Ages 4 - 8 yrs.

A Pizza the Size of the Sun
Greenwillow, ISBN: 0688132359, Ages 4 - 8 yrs.

Douglas Florian


Puffin, ISBN: 0141309903, Ages 4 - 8 yrs.

Beast Feast
Voyager Books, ISBN: 0152017372, Ages 4 - 8 yrs.

Eyewitness Books

Eyewitness Books stand out in the non-fiction collection. They are bountiful and beautiful, including wonderful photographs along with information. Browsing these gems is a treat. Examples: Sharks, Whales and Dolphins, Islam or Money. The Eyewitness Juniors, which are mostly in paperback, are perfect for lower elementary grades i.e, Amazing bikes, Amazing crocodiles and lizards.


December 09, 2010

Cold and Flu Season

Yesterday I stayed home with DD1 and DD2 because DD1 had fever since Tuesday afternoon. DD2 also has a running nose since early this week but no fever.

Now that the cold and flu season is here, I prefer to take extra pre-caution about the kids' health. I don't want to get paranoid about it, but children can die from the common flu. If I have to take time off from work to take care of my kids, I will do so without hesitant.

All praise be to Allah SWT, DD1's fever is gone by yesterday afternoon. Husband took their temperature this morning just to make sure they are fine. This morning I asked Sr. Salma to let me know immediately if any one of them has fever. Allah SWT willing I hope that with constant vigilant we will be in good shape during this winter.


December 05, 2010

English for Kids. The place for fun learning

English for Kids. The place for fun learning

Fabulous web site based in Poland that has word games, quizzes, songs, printable worksheets, resources for parents and preschool/kindergarten teachers.

I am printing out the free game boards and let students play review games with them.


December 04, 2010

"Article of the Week" - writing ideas for middle and high school

This web site is recommended by the 4th grade homeroom teacher.

"Part of the reason my students have such a hard time reading is because they bring little prior knowledge and background to the written page. They can decode the words, but the words remain meaningless without a foundation of knowledge.

To help build my students’ prior knowledge, I assign them an "Article of the Week" every Monday morning. By the end of the school year I want them to have read 35 to 40 articles about what is going on in the world. It is not enough to simply teach my students to recognize theme in a given novel; if my students are to become literate, they must broaden their reading experiences into real-world text."



Cultural Day Celebration

All praise be to Allah SWT, I survived this week with the 4th graders even though the homeroom teacher was away for 2 days.

On Monday, she took the day off while I took care of 28 students with a wonderful substitute teacher.

On Tuesday, she took half day off and I was able to take care of the students by myself.

On Wednesday, she attended a workshop and I was supposed to have a substitute teacher with me. Instead the substitute teacher did not turn up! All praise be to Allah SWT I was able to manage four 45-minute periods with 28 students on my own. The one-hour long Cultural Day celebration also proceeded without any problems. 25 students performed a nasheed, "Hasbi Rabbi' by Sami Yusuf, in front of the whole school at the end of the celebration. I really have to thank the homeroom teacher for training the students so well. They were on task and gave me their 100% effort to follow directions and cooperate with me. So yesterday in recognition of their good behavior, the homeroom teacher let them go to the playground during math period.

Although it has been a great experience to know that I was able to manage these students, I sure was jumping with joy to see the homeroom teacher back in school!

Sami Yusuf - Hasbi Rabbi

O Allah the Almighty
Protect me and guide me
To your love and mercy
Ya Allah don't deprive me
From beholding your beauty
O my Lord accept this plea

Hasbi rabbi jallallah (My Lord is enough for me, glory be to Allah.)
Ma fi qalbi ghayrullah (There is nothing in my heart except Allah.)


Wo tanha kaun hai (Who is The Only One?)
Badshah wo kaun hai (Who if The King?)
Meherba wo kaun hai (Who if The Merciful?)

Kya unchi shan hai (Who is The Most Praised and Benevolent?)
Uskey sab nishan hai (Whatever you see in this world is His sign.)
Sab dilon ki jan hai (He's the love of every soul.)


Affeda gunaha (He is The Forgiver of all sins.)
Alemin padishaha (He is The King of the universe.)
Yureklerin penaha (He is The Refuge of all hearts.)

Isit Allah derdimi, bu akhlarama (O Allah hear my sorrows and my sighs.)
Rehmeyle, baaghsha (Have mercy and pardon my sins.)
Hayreyle hem aksam hem sabahlarama (Bless my nights and days.)


Ya rabbal 'alamin (Oh Lord of the Worlds.)
Salli 'ala Tahal amin (Send peace and blessings.)
Fi kulli waqtin wa hin (On Ta-Ha The Trustworthy in every time and at every instant.)

Imla' qalbi bil yaqin (Fill my heart with conviction.)
Thabbitni 'ala hadhad din (Make me steadfast on this religion.)
Waghfir li wal muslimin (And forgive me and all the believers.)



Article: Nature or Nurture—What Makes an Elementary Student Successful?

Elementary school principals at roundtable say daily diligence and emotional connections are key components to student success.

Principals from each elementary school met with the Palo Alto Unified School District Board in a special session Tuesday morning for its annual "Single Plans for Student Achievement (SPSA)" roundtable.

The objective for this annual strategy session was to review what is being done at each school to identify the most critical areas of development in local elementary students and devise ways to work together and help them succeed and grow, at every level.

This year's meeting touched upon many of the major areas of elementary curriculum, including literacy and mathematics, but some of the most passionate subjects discussed were those involving social and emotional well being and nontraditional methods of evaluating students regularly.

Mary Bussman, principal of Walter Hays Elementary School, said it is critical that teachers learn to foster emotional connections with their students, especially ones who appear to be struggling.

"Children work best when they develop a trusting relationship with their teacher. So I really look at my teachers—do they know each child inherently?" Bussman asked the room full of board members and principals. "Only when a child feels safe does the brain open up its pathways to true learning."

Read more here.