Every day something new

Posted by on 06 Sep 2016 | Tagged as: 3rd Grade, Uncategorized

There is never a dull day as a teacher.

I have amazing, interesting (and interested!) students this year. They are not all in the same place of course, in terms of life experiences and academic knowledge. But they are all willing to try!

I have taught kids of all ages… and the willingness to try, to stick with me, to ask for clarification? That’s the most important quality to learning.

We are normalizing the idea of not knowing. We are normalizing the idea of mistakes being okay (I do not allow erasers or erasing in my class!). We are normalizing sitting with discomfort for a while.

I am optimistic about the coming year, not because everyone will learn and excel, but because everyone will grow. How much they grow will be depend on many factors under my control (and quite a few outside my control), and this year I have a better handle on what to do, when, and how.

Yep. Going to be a GOOD year as a teacher!

An End, and a Beginning

Posted by on 03 Sep 2016 | Tagged as: 3rd Grade, education, Education Professional, good things, teaching, Uncategorized

The summer was not “as advertised” this year. I remained ill for another few weeks, though we had a lovely visit with my grandfather in Ashland at the end of July and saw several plays (LOVED LOVED LOVED Richard II!!!). Was too exhausted, though, to try for the second silk painting session. Hoping for at least one this autumn, though!

August arrived, and my heart and brain went quickly into teaching mode. Tom took an extra week off that second week of August to help around the house and the classroom. By the end of the third week of August, the classroom was mostly in shape, and in the fourth week it was official training and a couple extra days… so that by the time the kids and parents arrived at 5:30 August 30 the room looked ready enough.

Kids in seats on August 31. By 2:43 on September 2, the room was already showing evidence of engagement and learning. I have a WONDERFUL paraeducator who comes in for 45 minutes in the afternoon to help with literacy and reading, and while we haven’t yet met to decide which few students need intensive pull-out instruction, with the in-class help every day, very few of them will have to leave. I am so happy in my teacher-heart that I will have most of them all the time!

Proof? Check out below!

A look toward the door to the restrooms.  The number chart goes up when needed, but will be stored flat for a few weeks.

A look toward the door to the restrooms. The number chart goes up when needed, but will be stored flat for a few weeks.

The reading table on Friday-- materials to sort, collate, cut, copy, and use next week!

The reading table on Friday– materials to sort, collate, cut, copy, and use next week!

All ready for Tuesday!

All ready for Tuesday!

The students use these to show something about themselves as we are learning about the new year.  Three pictures, and one word!

The students use these to show something about themselves as we are learning about the new year. Three pictures, and one word!

The purple "windsock" was a gift from a student on the second day of school!  The empty paper panels on a pulley system! will hold student work and anchor charts.

The purple “windsock” was a gift from a student on the second day of school! The empty paper panels on a pulley system! will hold student work and anchor charts.

The I-charts are a suggestion from the "Two Sisters" framework for Daily 5 and CAFE instruction.  They allow students to consider behaviors and purposes for studying in specific situations.  These are our first two.

The I-charts are a suggestion from the “Two Sisters” framework for Daily 5 and CAFE instruction. They allow students to consider behaviors and purposes for studying in specific situations. These are our first two.

Summer finally begins for me

Posted by on 16 Jul 2016 | Tagged as: allergy, friends, fun, Gardens and Life, good things, health, seasons, Uncategorized

I was still recovering from the allergic reaction into the middle of the first week of July. Not fun. But had energy to have a nice dinner for my parents on Sunday the third, which of course wiped me out for the next couple of days.

Then, on July 7 I had a chance to meet up with a friend from New Zealand — it was a very spontaneous visit, so we didn’t have as much time as I would have liked. But … so glad we were able to finally gives in-person hugs instead of virtual!

On July 8 we had a silk painting session at my house. LOVED it. My friends are such amazing artists. Planning another session next month.

But I pushed myself a little too hard… the following weekend was unproductive, and it wasn’t until Wednesday that I started to have some energy again. Managed to get cars swapped around so one of them could have service done. Then I figured out some ideas for school and dug in on Thursday and Friday with some thinking and planning. Not a lot of organizing going on in the physical world, but a good bit happening with setting up ideas and lessons. AND I pruned a few trees and shrubs…

And I still have a reasonable five weeks of vacation to look forward to. I am glad. I will need every minute to be ready for the upcoming school year.

Added Accountability

Posted by on 27 Jun 2016 | Tagged as: Gardens and Life, housework, Uncategorized

I have been working through this face reaction (I don’t think I have ever felt so un-lovely!) for four days now. Every morning is a bit better, and no additional symptoms, so I am going to work today on organizing some of my office (if Grant, who stayed home ill feels better in the afternoon he can help secure the last important piece for my standing desk. I am also determined to sort some boxes I brought home from school.

And, sometimes it helps me stay on track when I am able to note progress on my blog. No deadlines… it’s summer vacation — and I am still not 100%. But, sort through boxes, upholster the seat cushion for the stool that belongs in my office (the original cushion needs replacing from the fire). And do a little more lesson planning and organization of online files. I reproducing my files from this machine in my school googleapps account so that I have some flexibility when working — work directly in google for some things, but also still using Word and Excel because the functionality in googleapps isn’t quite where I need it to be.

Organizing…. it will help me make it through this next school year!

On a lighter note…

Posted by on 25 Jun 2016 | Tagged as: fun, Gardens and Life, mid-life crisis, Uncategorized

I am slowly getting a few things in place, and I have only been “at home” for about 4 days since school let out. I have now officially been playing the drums for a year and a half, and decided since I definitely enjoy it that I might as well bite the bullet and spring for better equipment. Today, Tom and I were able to put up the pegboard we bought a few weeks ago and I arranged my new drum set (also new cymbals!) and accoutrements in the corner of our bedroom.

finally I can put my instruments at arms length

finally I can put my instruments at arms length

Next steps include figuring out a way to better muffle the sounds of practicing until I am good enough that people can enjoy listening…

Allergies

Posted by on 25 Jun 2016 | Tagged as: allergy, health, Uncategorized

Most of the time as a child my allergies manifested as upper respiratory — sneezing and runny nose.

As I grew older, I realized the recurring intestinal discomfort was also an allergic reaction.

More recently, I began to get hives on my face and upper body (mostly, though I also get them sometimes on my legs).

Yesterday, I woke to terrible hives on my face, neck and random short occurrences on my back, arms and legs. With cool compresses, hydrocortisone cream, and LOTS of antihistamines, they began to subside.

This morning — the hives were still present but much less uncomfortable or noticeable. Instead, I have significant angioedema all over my face and down onto my neck. And, as I discovered about thirty minutes ago, mild edema everywhere else (my wedding band was a little tight).

So… Likely not continuing to react to something I ate on a trip this past week, nor a contact allergy on that trip. Instead, I think I am reacting to my own bedroom!

Angioedema noticeable below eyes and on neck.  Blotchy skin is the remnants of hives.  I hate when things like this happen!

Angioedema noticeable below eyes and on neck. Blotchy skin is the remnants of hives. I hate when things like this happen!

What do I do when things like this happen? If it were one of my children, or my darling Tom, I would be at the hospital already. They don’t generally have any sort of allergic reaction. But this is me — and I know that the hospital/urgent care doc would give me a large dose of diphenhydramine and watch me for several hours. I don’t think it’s worth a 40-minute drive to do something I can do at home. I also know that the most alarming symptoms of low blood pressure and wheezing are not present, so my airway is clear, and I can take some time. If I were wheezing, or the edema was getting worse, I would be on my way already. And, if I am not significantly improved in another hour I will at least call the consulting nurse to have this particular event recorded on my health record.

It’s not a lot of fun…

But I do know that I will recover, and once I have identified this new allergen I think this particular chapter will close. Possible candidates: a shampoo I used the night before our trip (I always wash my hair in the evening and let it air-dry overnight), the particular type of Oxyclean we picked up when our normal, unscented type ran out and Costco was closed – it wasn’t bothering me before the trip but it definitely isn’t my favorite scent which is often a clue, a food or combination of foods (not as likely), or possibly contamination of the bedroom space by an animal of some kind (bird or cat?).

If YOU have allergies, a type of hidden disability, remember that it is okay to ask for what you need, and to be clear about and reject things that you need to avoid. Remember, also, that when you are feeling poorly, it will get better. Even if, for the moment, you just want to crawl under a rock and disappear.

Grant’s senior project

Posted by on 24 Jun 2016 | Tagged as: children, garden, Gardens and Life, good things, house building, Kid Activities, Uncategorized

How did I manage to NOT post this in May 2014? It is rather badly overgrown now, but the patio is one of my favorite places to sit and read, or work, this time of year.


Grant had to shift gears mid-year about his senior project. He came up with a really great idea: fix up the front yard that got trashed this last year from neglect and construction.

Fish pond and lilacs, after weeding but before planting new annuals.

Fish pond and lilacs, after weeding but before planting new annuals.

He has “roped in” a couple of friends occasionally to help — Thanks Mady, Gabe, Jake and Tabitha!

Here is the progress he has made so far, pics are a little rough, but I am trying to get caught up on blogging this weekend and no time for a lot of fine-tuning.

I am actually going to post these in a gallery, with no commentary to save myself time and actually get this up (started it yesterday, here 24 hours later sitting down to finish…).


I didn’t finish the post then, either. And now I cannot find where the pictures are that I took… so this will have to be enough for now.

Schools of Thought

Posted by on 24 Jun 2016 | Tagged as: education, Education Professional, Uncategorized

Another unfinished post from 2012…


I just watched a very interesting TED talk by Diana Laufenberg, a teacher from Pennsylvania. She highlighted the shifting purpose of “school” away from a repository of restricted knowledge (in the days before the internet, when most homes had little more than a few books, and fewer homes owned encyclopedias) toward an environment that asks students to use the knowledge that exists in their environment to develop their own questions and answers. Although not all homes have reliable internet access, the truth is that information is more readily available to more people now than at any other time in history. From telephones to cell phones to wireless hot spots,


We have to directly and systematically teach children to make connections between different information sources; and model how to synthesize and innovate. When we do this successfully, everyone wins.

Rants and Raves

Posted by on 24 Jun 2016 | Tagged as: editorial, education, politics, Uncategorized

THIS POST WAS ORIGINALLY WRITTEN in June 2012. Posting in now because some (many?) parts still seem relevant.


Sometimes, even the most mild-mannered people (which I am, clearly, not!) need to let off steam to express strong opinions and to seek feedback on opinions. Here are three things that have been simmering in the back of my mind for quite some time now, but they really seemed to “gel” on the drive home this afternoon. I’ll start with the short one:

The cost of moving manufacturing overseas

Continue Reading »

Passages: L. G.

Posted by on 12 May 2016 | Tagged as: passages, Uncategorized

I learned today that a dear friend, a phage biologist from Tbilisi, has passed on. Her lifetime’s work saved countless lives — thousands? hundreds of thousands? more?

Some passages have to come, and this did, but it doesn’t make it easier.

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