Dictée Responses

I am currently working with my grade 1 and 2 French Immersion students online in a distance learning programme because of the stay-at-home mandate given by the government as a result of the COVID-19 virus. When creating tasks for them to do at home, I tried as much as possible to continue with our in-class routine so that my students could work independently of their parents for most of the time.

One of the activities we do in class is spelling practice. At the dictée centre, my students practice the week’s spelling list in a variety of ways: stamping, using play dough, writing in salt, writing with coloured pens, etc. I have prepared a list of spelling words for my students to practice at home for each week of the stay-at-home mandate; and have given parents a list of instructions on how the children are to proceed.

I have received a number of assignments back showing me that my students are practicing their dictée words. I loved the presentation of this student’s work as well as the time she took working on her task:

One of my younger students has been practicing with flour. I loved how he added his lego pieces to show his understanding of the word:

Another of my students came up with an innovative way to practice that I had not thought of – she used scrabble tiles:

I love seeing the ways in which my students are practicing their spelling at home. The innovative ways they have chosen definitely brings a smile to my face.

Which way would you choose to practice spelling?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This post is linked to Becky’s Square Challenge. During the month of April, we are challenged to share photos featuring #squaretops)

Book Review: Expectation by Anna Hope

My contact at Harper Collins Canada sent me an ARC of Expectation by Anna Hope to read and review. The story looked like one that encompassed the life of so many women.

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Contemporary

Blurb:

Hannah, Cate and Lissa are young, vibrant and inseparable. Living on the edge of a common in East London, their shared world is ablaze with art and activism, romance and revelry – and the promise of everything to come. They are electric. They are the best of friends.

Ten years on, they are not where they hoped to be. Amidst flailing careers and faltering marriages, each hungers for what the others have. And each wrestles with the same question: what does it take to lead a meaningful life?

My thoughts:

Anna Hope has written a novel based on women’s lives and their friendships. The story is told in the voices of three people: Hannah, Cate and Lissa. It is interesting to see the different viewpoints that the three women have to the same scenario. As a reader it makes you realise that often we aren’t aware of what a person is thinking and feeling – despite how well we know them.

Expectation is a realistic exploration of three women’s lives: we learn what they expected to achieve once they had left their family home; and what they actually were able to do with their lives. We read of their pain, their struggles, and the choices they make. The novel has references to the experience of many women and will thus resonate with many of its readers.

The novel was an enjoyable read but it did not excite me. This is not a story that will have you turning pages in anticipation and is instead one to be enjoyed slowly. To me, it was a little predictable and thus made it a story easy to set aside to work on other tasks.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 3 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This novel was the 30th novel in my book pledge for 2020)

Music Monday: Stand By Me

Another one of the songs I am dancing to when following my Zumba DVD is a song that I loved listening to while I was growing up: Stand By Me. The original song was by Ben E. King:

The song brings to my mind memories of my parents and of childhood days spent with my sisters dancing to the LPs spinning on the record player. I remember us lip syncing to these words, and just having fun! I remember, too, family parties at which my uncles and aunts would dance to this melody.

Ben E. King’s song has been remade – and it is perfect to dance to in a Zumba class. The choreography to this song is part of the warm-up. Give it a listen:

I like the remake – it is catchy and appeals to my daughter. I will not, however, forget the original track – the song holds plenty of memories for me and, for that reason, will always hold a special place in my heart.

What do you think of the remake? Or do you prefer the original song?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

Book Review: The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams

The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams is a novel I picked up because of the reviews I had read in Instagram by the bookish community. Staying at home due to social distancing was starting to feel difficult for me, so I picked up this title to give me some cheer.

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance, Romantic Comedy

Blurb:

The first rule of book club: You don’t talk about book club.

Nashville Legends second baseman Gavin Scott’s marriage is in major league trouble. He’s recently discovered a humiliating secret: his wife Thea has always faked the Big O. When he loses his cool at the revelation, it’s the final straw on their already strained relationship. Thea asks for a divorce, and Gavin realizes he’s let his pride and fear get the better of him.

Welcome to the Bromance Book Club.

Distraught and desperate, Gavin finds help from an unlikely source: a secret romance book club made up of Nashville’s top alpha men. With the help of their current read, a steamy Regency titled Courting the Countess, the guys coach Gavin on saving his marriage. But it’ll take a lot more than flowery words and grand gestures for this hapless Romeo to find his inner hero and win back the trust of his wife.

My thoughts:

This book was just what I needed to take my mind off the need to practice social distancing and the spread of the Coronavirus. The story was lighthearted but with a thread of seriousness running through it. I could not help but read this story in one sitting – I loved the characters so much.

The Bromance Book Club is told in a 2 person point of view: that of Gavin (the husband) and Thea (the wife). In this way, both sides are told of the problems they are experiencing in their marriage. In addition to the 2 person POV, the author has included excerpts from the novel that the Book Club is reading. It is a fun way to contrast reality vs a story, as well as past practices in romantic relationships with the present. It is interesting to see how Gavin applies the story he is reading with his friends to his own marriage.

The book doesn’t promise you to be more than what it is – a romance story that is geared to take you away from the reality of your life with some steamy sex scenes. What it does do, however, is bring a little humour in your day and encourage you to reach for the next book in the series. If you are looking for a contemporary romance read that will take you to another reality, then this is the novel for you.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This novel was the 29th novel in my book pledge for 2020)

Weekend Coffee Share: Third Week Done

If we were having coffee, it would once again be virtual. This week I have connected with many online: my colleagues as I have ‘attended’ staff meetings, as well as a number of webinars in order to improve my knowledge of the Google apps available to us at our school board to provide distance learning to our students.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that my online classroom seems to be working well. Each day I am learning something new and trying to implement it in tasks for my students. It has been exciting to see the boys and girls in my class submitting their assignments. And it is definitely exciting to think that they are doing their work independently. A few students have handed in more than one assignment – and I am sure they are uploading it independently by now. I think that a lot of what I have taught them on the iPad when face to face is now being used at home in our current situation.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that even though I am doing a little exercise at home I know it is not enough. I am seeing some weight gain and it is frustrating as I have worked so hard to lose weight over the past few years. My husband and I have now started a habit of taking a long walk in the late afternoon (for an hour). I am hoping to see the results of that soon as it is definitely helping me to get my steps in!

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I am pleased with my productivity during the past week. I also read an excellent fiction novel on postpartum depression titled Truths I Never Told You by Kelly Rimmer. Look out for my review on this one as it is well worth the read. Speaking of reviews – I am a little behind on them so expect a deluge as I try to catch up!

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the days are feeling less cold – though you still need to wear a jacket when walking outside. I do look forward to the warmer weather so that I can set up our balcony and create another space for my family and I to spend time in.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you to look after yourself and stay healthy.

What would you tell me if we were having coffee?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This post is linked to Eclectic Ali and the Weekend Coffee Share)

Book Review: The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi

I picked up the ARC to The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi at the OLA Super Conference. What draw me to the novel was the appealing cover and when I read the blurb, I saw it was an historical novel set in India that described a woman’s journey to independence. As I enjoy stories describing a woman’s journey to independence, I brought it home with me.

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Historical Fiction

Blurb:

Lakshmi Shastri has spent years carving out a life for herself as a henna artist after fleeing her abusive husband and backward rural village for the Rajasthan capital. Well-versed in apothecary and the miraculous properties of herbs, her services (the effects of which are far more than just aesthetic) are highly sought after by upper-caste women, and Lakshmi’s success brings her within inches from her, and her country’s, ultimate goal: total independence. That is, until the past she has so desperately tried to run from comes knocking at her door…

My thoughts:

I enjoyed this diverse read which shows a culture so different to mine. There were many unknown terms within the story but that was not a problem to my understanding of the setting because I was able to consult the glossary at the back of the novel. Soon I was able to read the story without needing to turn to the back of the book.

The story shows us the life and struggles of a woman living in India in the 1950s. One cannot help but admire her courage and spirit. Lakshmi has the strength and wit to pull herself out of poverty and an abusive relationship. The story shows how she does this – and how she copes with the sudden appearance of a sister she did not even know she had.

The Henna Artist is a story of a strong, independent woman who finally finds the place she belongs. It is a story that shines a light on the empowerment of women – and is also a reminder to the modern woman that those who came before us did not have it easy. Joshi adroitly describes to us the life of a woman struggling to be independent in the caste system in India with sensitivity and realism. I enjoyed the novel and would recommend it to anyone looking for a diverse read that embraces the history of Indian culture.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This novel was the 28th novel in my book pledge for 2020)

Practicing Social Distancing When Grocery Shopping

Last night my family expressed two wishes: my husband wanted me to make coq au vin for dinner; and my daughters were craving our favourite chocolate cake. When I woke up this morning, I decided to take the time to bring smiles to their faces. Yes! I went on the dreaded grocery run. I added a few other items to my list and stepped out of our home at 8:30am this morning.

Usually when I shop at the grocery store this early on a Saturday morning, my experience is quick. Not many people get out of bed early after a long week of work to go grocery shopping. Now, however, lines to get into the store cannot be avoided – no matter how early you shop.

The mall where I do my grocery shopping is eerily quiet as the only store open in the centre is the one that sells food. My fellow Canadians are adjusting to social distancing and we all stood 2 feet apart while waiting patiently to enter the shop. What saddens me though is that this practice has stopped people from talking to one another. The chatter of the child standing behind me with his mother was a welcome respite.

I completed my shopping quickly, cognisant of the fact that others were waiting to enter the store. Once home, I placed the cake and the ingredients for tonight’s dinner in the fridge. I look forward to my daughters’ squeals of delight when they open the fridge later today. I will make the shopping experience worthwhile.

When was the last time you went grocery shopping? What was your experience like?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This post was my first attempt to participate in the Six Word Saturday challenge)

Looking From Above

We are nearing the end of our third week of social distancing and, as I look down from our balcony mid-morning, I can see how quiet the streets and nearby park are. Normally at this time of day, the sidewalks are busy with people, the park echoes with the sound of playing children, and the roads are teeming with cars.

However, the eerie silence does have a thread of positivity running through it – the city dwellers in my neighbourhood are following the directives of the politicians in charge of running our country. Hopefully our actions will show results in the upcoming weeks. All I know as I look down from my balcony, that I miss being a part of the life on those streets.

Are you able to see the quiet streets from above?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This post is linked to Becky’s Square Challenge. During the month of April, we are challenged to share photos featuring #squaretops)

Book Review: Taken By Storm by Tami Hoag

During the first week of social isolation, I needed something more than music to ease my mind while journaling. I came up with the idea of searching the catalogues of our library for an audiobook. My thought was that the focus required to listen to a story would help focus my mind and prevent it from skittering all over the place as I thought of the CoronaVirus. I requested the first available book I saw by an author I knew: Taken by Storm by Tami Hoag.

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

Format: Audiobook (narrated by Donna Rawlins)

Blurb:

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Tami Hoag comes this bittersweet romance classic about a woman who’s rebuilt her life—and her heart—after the disappointments of the past, only to find her carefully laid plans shattered by a knock on the door.…

As a trauma nurse, Julia McCarver is accustomed to dealing with life-and-death emergencies. But she is the one in shock when she answers the door and finds the past standing there in the person of S. T. “Storm” Dalton. Julia had painstakingly put her life together not just once but three times in the wake of his abrupt and devastating departures, and she has no intention of doing it a fourth time. Because that’s what S.T. promises he will do—break her engagement to another man, her heart, and her future all over again. Except, of course, that’s not what he calls his plan to win her back. He gives himself two weeks to convince Julia that he’s changed, that she is still in love with him, and that—despite conventional wisdom—the fourth time lightning struck can be a charm.

My thoughts:

I did not know that Tami Hoag wrote romance as I have only read her thrillers. According to the author’s note at the beginning of the story, Hoag began her career writing romance. Taken by Storm does follow the traditional format of a romance, leaving the storyline to be a predictable one. However, many of the images used by the author were beautifully written and reminded me of why Hoag is one of my go-to novelists. In addition, the humour of the story elicited a few chuckles from me.

I enjoyed the audio version of this book especially because the reader did an excellent job. Her voice and pitch for the story was perfect. I loved, too, that she changed her voice for the various characters – even taking on a Latino accent for one of the characters. Donna Rawlins’ interpretation of the text added another level of pleasure to my enjoyment of this novel.

Taken by Storm was the perfect story to take my mind off of the COVID-19 pandemic that was encroaching our borders at that time. It is a lighthearted, humorous read that is perfectly narrated. I recommend that this novel be added to your list of books to listen to.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 3 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This novel was the 27th novel in my book pledge for 2020)

Task Accomplished

PHOTO PROMPT © Douglas M. MacIlroy

The bird tapping on the window reminded her that there was life outside of this room and these four walls. She had been so engrossed in her task for the last few days, that life had stood still. Eating crisps in front of her laptop had been the norm; and her exercise routine had been set aside. Her research was done! Attaching the documents to an email, she sent it off to her supervisor. Hopefully now they would make the decision to cancel the forthcoming policies. If they did not, the company would be the target of crippling lawsuits.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

Note: After 17 days of social distancing, I am finding it difficult to connect with my muse!

(This post was inspired by Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle. The challenge asks for bloggers to write a story in 100 words or less in response to the photo prompt.)