Our last days in Ireland were bittersweet. On Friday, we went to Adare. I absolutely loved it there. It had all kinds of cute little shops and parks along the way. The people were really friendly. I ended up finding seeds for my dad like he asked for…he wants to plant Irish flowers around our house. Since our family has a lot of Irish in our blood, it will be really neat to spread Irish seeds in Bittinger. When we got back from Adare, most of us went to limerick to do some last minute shopping and walking around he city. That evening we met up with all the Irish Graduate Assistants for a party at a pub called Unicorn. It was so much fun. I made so many friends during this trip and I felt so welcome in Ireland. It was really sad when we had to leave the Irish that night, as we all became close. On Saturday we had to leave Ireland. It was a seven and a half hour plane ride from Shannon to Newark. Then our flight was delayed about an hour from Newark to Dulles. Some of us then got on a bus to Frostburg, and I finally arrived home after a 45 minute drive from Frostburg to home.
My experience in Ireland was very motivational. I learned so much for my future classroom; from various teaching strategies, the benefit of integrating the arts in the classroom, the importance of trust in the classroom, to the necessary student voice in the classroom. I saw teachers effectively using flexible grouping and manipulatives. I saw puppets being used to teach language. I saw teachers using music, acting and other arts in their regular classroom. I saw teachers and students that trust and respect each other. Most importantly, I saw students that had a voice in the classroom; they love school and learning and the atmosphere was positive and happy. Now that I have completed my journey to Ireland, I can truly say I fell in love with the Emerald Isle
We started off the morning bright and early to make our trip to a small town by the name of Dunmore, which is really close to where Patrick (our current Irish graduate assistant in the centre) is from. We went to a school where Patrick did some student teaching at and had some time to share with the teachers and students there. The students gave us an amazing introduction with the history of Ireland, information for the students about Frostburg and also songs and dance. Patrick also welcomed us and explained how our dialect is a little different. He went on further to explain how some of us say my name wrong. I like how he says my name a lot more than some of my coworkers. (He was mostly reaching out to the ones with a southern accent). I worked in a senior infants class and read “Snow Globe Family”. I talked to the teacher a good bit and she explained to me how she sets high expectations for her students. Her kids were writing paragraphs explaining their pictures. Keep in mind this class is similar to a first grade class. I love how flexible the Irish teaching schedule is compared to in the states. The teachers can spend all day teaching math if they want to. They let the students control the schedule because they aren’t burdened by the government as much as we are. I love how in each classroom I visited, it was obvious that the students had a voice. Teachers need this in the states. After this experience, I find myself really wanting to teach in a private Christian school as they are very similar to the schools in Ireland. For lunch, Patrick invited all of us to his house. It was absolutely amazing! His family welcomed us with open arms. We had all kinds of food (including Irish Stew and over five choices of dessert). He showed me his family’s land and where the cattle roam. I would love to love there, gorgeous countryside! We then made our trip to Galway city. I really loved it! We saw a beautiful cathedral, the Spanish arch, and walked down the streets to do some shopping. For dinner, we ate at a restaurant where I had duck. Great food! Sadly, only one more day in Ireland. Here are the pictures:
We made today a relaxation and shopping day in Cork. First, we went to the Cork jail. It was interesting to learn about the people that were held in the jail in the past. Some of the people were held simply as being republican rebels. I took some pictures of the food the prisoners were given and other information. It was a really neat building but also a bit sad since many people died in the jail due to starvation and diseases. Then we visited the oldest sweet shop in Ireland where I bought lollipops. Close to the sweet shop, we toured the Butter museum and ate at the Buttercup Cafe. The butter museum was especially fun for me since my dad has talked about his mother (my grandmother) making butter in the past. The rest of the day we spent walking around on our own and shopping in the city. We had the pleasure of seeing the English Market. I so wish we had that at home. We got to watch the butchers cutting up meat and people selling goods. It was amazing. We were all upset that we can’t bring any of it back on the plane. I would love to take home some Irish cheese and Irish butter! Now we are back in the dorms in Limerick. Here are some pictures:
We visited a school in Dunmanway today. I worked with a mixed third and fifth class. It was really neat because it was an all girl building and the kids were completely mixed in their ages in each class. I observed the class during a reading lesson. The kids were split up in pairs and had a choice from ten options. One of the options included a poem that the students were to dramatize. Wow! The students loved it! Then, I read aloud “Actual Size” and the students asked us questions. Also in the building, the school had a sensory classroom. It had all kinds of sensory materials like a swing, a soft bed, and a box of balls. It would be great for students with autism. Some teachers at the school were nice enough to take us to lunch. It was really great and such a surprise! We drove back to Cork City after working in the school and had a much needed break. For dinner, we were invited to Aisling’s home. It was so great to see her home and meet her family, as I had worked with her for a year in the CLC. They treated us so well and took really good care of us. We had lamb and all kinds of other amazing food. I am still really full! Aisling, her mother, and her brothers shared Irish music with us which I really enjoyed. Aisling then took the students out to a pub after dinner which was great fun. Now we are all back in the hostel for our last night in County Cork. I’ll add some pictures now but check for more tomorrow!
Today we went to two schools, one that only speaks in Irish. It was so much fun! The first school was Sinead’s school. I worked in first class, which is the same as second grade. I read “Actual Size” by Steve Jenkins and had the kids draw a picture in actual size. One of the groups decided to put their paper together and make a whole snake; it was great teamwork. Afterwards, we went to Aisling’s school where they only speak in Irish. It was a great experience to listen to lessons in Irish. I was amazed at how many different languages the kids learn; I really wish I had that opportunity when I was in school. Aisling had the kids sing for us and play instruments. You’ll see the pictures below. When we were finished in the schools, we went to the Jameson Distillery. I volunteered to be a taste tester. (For anyone that knows me, this is a big deal since I don’t drink alcohol) It was very interesting, and also nasty :) My favorite part of the day was at the very end when we did the Titanic Experience, and saw where the first passengers got on board the Titanic. I learned so much about the Titanic that I hadn’t heard before. I took very few pictures since we weren’t allowed to take photos inside, but see if you can find the picture of the boarding dock! Oh, and we were all given a name of a passenger. My passenger, Mary Bourke, did not make it because she stayed behind with her brother. Wow…. Check out my pictures:
We started off the day by traveling to Cork. The rain was pouring down heavy as we drove back really skinny and windy roads. We went to see caves which were really neat. They told us how they have vocal performances in the caves which I would love to attend! Also, our tour guide explained how we can use our imagination and see things like bacon, and angels wings in the caves. See if you can find them in my pictures. :) Then, Sinead (a past graduate assistant in the CLC) and her mother invited all of us over for dinner. It was great to see an Irish home! Dinner was amazing and they really took good care of us (lasagna, salad, tea, lots of dessert, and even gifts!) we relaxed at the house and enjoyed he gorgeous view from their sunroom, which made me want a sunroom for my house even more. After lunch, we went to the Blarney Castle where we kissed the Blarney Stone to get the gift of gab. I bet you are all excited I was given this gift :) the castle was gorgeous with tons of gardens and a stream. The pictures are well worth looking at!
We took the trip north to Dublin today. It was really neat to see the biggest city in Ireland; it had a lot of character. I was surprised to see a lot if the same stores that we have in the states. The streets were busy but nothing close to NYC. All the cashiers were much nicer in Ireland than in the states though. We had the pleasure of having Aisling and Patrick (both past graduate assistants in the centre) join us for the day. What fun! Here are some pictures: