Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Glitches

Yesterday 27,000 Hoosier kids were bumped out of the online Istep test.  All over the state, they had to discontinue testing. Today testing was going pretty well until around 11:00 when we started getting a ton of glitches, and we got the official announcement that the dept. of ed discontinued testing all over the state for the second day.  So great that this test which determines our school's letter grade is so well designed and monitored by the lovelies at McGraw Hill.  Thanks, McGraw Hill!  You're doing a heckuva job!   As the fifth graders filtered back to class after 45 minutes of wasted time, one little guy wouldn't budge.  His teacher asked me to talk with him.  When the room was empty, I asked him if he was frustrated by the testing glitches.  He started crying, "For the last 2 nights my mom has made me go to bed about 4 hours early and we didn't even do the test either day.  And now she's going to keep doing it, and we're never going to take this test."  Man alive, that irked me no end.  Not sure I believe him about the 4 hours, but still, the kid's fun time is being cut short for no reason.  And that's something I'll never support. He was crying pretty hard so I told him about my tooth extraction and the chisels and the mallets, and the drilling and the taste of blood in my mouth that's making me nauseous all the time and how I was going to stay home today but I came to work because of Istep, and in this way I communicated that I understood his frustrations and that we both had legitimate beefs. He went back to class and then my boss told me to go home and go to sleep.  I took a long nap and I may be feeling better.  Let's see what tomorrow will bring. Please send some good vibes to the Hoosier kids who are dealing with this aggravation. And always remember to do whatever you can to explain to others how dumb standardized tests are.

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Mallet

This was one of the most hideous mornings of my life.  The oral surgeon could not pull my tooth out.  He had to drill into the bone, hit at it with a chisel and mallet and even "split" my nerves, whatever that means.  It was a living hell.  When it was all done, the surgeon said, "That had to be traumatizing for you."  Truer words were never spoken.
On the good side, I'm in bed, watching Pride and Prejudice, nibbling on mashed potatoes and wishing I could get my tooth back.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Review

Husbandman and I saw an independent film tonight.  Called FERLINGHETTI.  It's about a cool poet named Ferlinghetti who wrote about the rebirth of wonder.  Love that phrase. Here's our review.

L:  How'd you like the movie?
Hm:  I enjoyed it.  I learned a lot.
L:  Fave part?
Hm:  I liked all the scenes in North Beach.
L:  Who do you think would most enjoy seeing this film?
Hm:  People from the Bay Area.
L:  Did watching the film make you want to write poetry?
Hm:  No.
L:  Fist of 5?
Hm:  3.5.
L:  I'm giving it a solid 5.  It was awesome.
Hm:  God, you're easy.
L:  Ferlinghetti is a great movie about a great poet.  If you want to see this documentary, you should.

The Tooth

Okay, huddle up peeps.  I'm chomping on a granola bar Friday morning and a crown pops off a back tooth into my mouth.  I head over to the dentist to get the crown fixed up and guess what?  My tooth has to be extracted.  Tomorrow morning.  And I need to get an implant, but because of this Israel trip, I may not have time to get it.  Okay.  Freaking out. Why me of all people?  I'm stressed. Not going to lie.

On another negative note.  Husbandman and I ventured out today for our first ever official hunt for MOREL MUSHROOMS.  We found zero.  Everyone else around here finds a million.  This ticks me off no end.

The Fire

Walked into Friend Vander's teaching space on Friday afternoon.  Her firsties were all writing about pets.  Fun firstie immediately stopped writing when he saw me and walked up to intercept me as I tried to talk to Vander about a tooth problem I'm having, "Dr. H.  You should be a social worker."
"Why do you say that, Bud?"
"Because you like to play with puppets.  And you're nice to little kids.  And do you want to look at my writing and tell me how hard I'm working?"
"Yes, of course I do."  I read over his piece and asked, "Firstie, This is sad. Did your fish really die?"
"Yes, His name was Smile.  And he died.  And when we went back to the pet store, they didn't have any more beta fish."
"My son had a beta.  His name was Firebeam."
Firstie looked at me for a few seconds and then said, "You know what my fish was named? Firesmile!"
I wish I could be a firstie teacher.  These are obviously my peeps.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Peeps

Ai Weiwei
The San Antonio Riverwalk.  I miss it a bit.  Not going to lie.  But today kept me hopping and that felt good too.  Worked with a ton of peeps----measured homes for hermit crabs (2nd grade) , outlined facts about blue jays (first grade) and created symbol stick puppets that represent different jobs (Kinders).  AWESOME curricular choices, artfulteachers!

I now have quite a bit of data entry to do, but Husbandman has brought home a movie for us to watch.  Last night we watched Hyde Park on Hudson.  Really must learn more about the affairs of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  Not sure he always acted admirably in the relationship department.  Tonight we're watching a Clint Eastwood movie about baseball.  I will also drink a glass of wine as I work.  So, things are pretty good.  Once I get focused on the data forms, things ought to move quickly.  It's not exactly rocket science.

Monday, April 22, 2013

IRA 2013

Our talk went well. Now we have to write this little monster up. Fun hanging out with KC. Now I'm heading home. I'm so happy I now know how to blog from my phone.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Insurance

Everyone is fairly fried at Artful School right now.  Including me.  I actually feel I may have a touch of post traumatic stress disorder after 8 weeks on the business school project.  That gig was like being in the twilight zone, no lie. Still, even though people are fried, I can count on much support from the Artful Colleagues and  I try to give support back.  With 5 weeks of school left and tons more stuff to do, we're all bouncing around like pinballs, frantic and frenzied.  Not sure how people do the year round calendar.  But maybe more frequent, shorter breaks is the way to go.
After school today, someone came to teach us how to renew our life insurance.  I think life insurance is dumb, but the gal acted like it's the best thing since sliced bread.  I almost asked her if we could get life insurance if we committed suicide because I was curious, and I was also in a pretty bad mood at the moment, but right when I was about to ask, she started telling us that we can't. There are rules about this. Question answered.  Problem solved.  Stayin Alive.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Data

Bad news bears.  I didn't enter a gazillion bits of data I was supposed to enter tonight.  This is the first time in 4 years that I didn't get this done on time. Or maybe the second or third, I'm not really sure.  My point is this: I had other stuff to do today and I just did not get this done.  Life goes on.  We'll all live to tell the tale. Still, I feel a little bad.  Then there's another part of me that doesn't really care.  I love ArtfulSchool a lot, but I hate data entry just as much.  It's mid April.  6 weeks left.

On the good side, I just saw a preview for a show called Urban Tarzan.  This looks like a must see.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Business

Everything's kind of bugging me right now.  I have to go to a dinner at IU Business Place and can't see the Sunday night independent film.  DAMN!  But, on the good side, I did see 42 last night, about Jackie Robinson.  Kind of disneyfied, but watchable.  I'll give it 3.5  I learned a lot about Jackie R.  He was a good guy. All of baseball retired the number 42 because of his greatness.  See 42 if you feel like it.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Talk

KC and I are meeting up in Texas next week for IRA.  Yay.  Hooray.  We're rolling out our podcast talk, the one we gave at NCTE to about 3 people.  Today I will venture into sacred space, Husbandman's office, to think about the talk.  Should have done this already, but there you go.

Yesterday was bedlam at Artful School.  Even though I vowed to be a bright light, I cried at a meeting in front of someone I don't know.  That's just annoying.  I brought a bunny puppet to the lunchroom and invited the kids to think of names for it.  That was one of the most ridiculous things I could have done.  For 90 minutes, kids screamed bunny names at me.  Honey Bunny, Soft Bunny, Hopper, Hoppy, Trisha, Bob, George Washington, FuzzBallTail.  You get the drill.  Again, annoying, but no one to blame but myself.    All afternoon I worked on an annoying powerpoint for an idiotic project that's going to take me out of school for 2 days this week.  At one point during this annoying day I ventured into a classroom and sat with some kids reading about bridges.  Another kid came over to show me a horrid injury and to talk about the hospital stay. As we talked about the different kinds of bridges and healing wounds, I felt another kiddo draped over my back.  As she hugged me from behind, she whispered, "I miss you.  Where've you been?"  Right.  Where the heck have I been?  This is the time of year when I think about going back to the classroom and being with the littles again.  Luckily for me, I don't have to make a decision right now about this.  I'm heading to Israel first week of August.  Still, it's hard not to project into the 2014 school year.  Probably the best plan is to stay in the present.

And go work on the IRA talk.  Kace, let's do this.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Meetings

Photo Credit:  Mitz
On Wednesdays we have meetings now.  I meet with every grade level team all day long.  The bad part of this is I sit in one chair for about 8 hours straight.  The good part of this is I get to talk to nearly every teacher in the school.  We spend some time looking at data, but mostly we talk about kids and teaching.  It's fun to chat with teachers about ways to teach x y or z.  Teachers have welcomed me into their rooms to observe lessons and give feedback.  We have some tense moments when we're wrestling problems down to the ground, but mostly we just get stuff done. MentorFriend told me to remember to speak with truth and love.  It's harder than you might think to combine the two, but I'm working on it. Highlight of the day yesterday:  We looked at reading scores in an upper grade and saw a kid who has struggled since first grade to read has recently made a huge literacy leap.  I thought it was a mistake at first.  CreativeTeacher said, "She's working hard.  She's reading. It's clicking."  Then CreativeTeacher started to change the subject to another kid, but I screamed out "WAIT!  PLEASE! Let's just stay on this kid for a minute and think about how awesome this is.  I want everyone raising a beverage in a toast to this child and her teachers this very night!" Everyone agreed that they would do this.

I'm hoping that we can continue our meetings at an outdoor bevvy station some time soon so that we could have this type of celebratory toast for all our littles who come around the long way to learning, but who get there in the end.  That would be a good end to a great day.  Wine and Dine Literacy Discussions.

I'm thinking about bringing the sheep dog puppet into the lunchroom today.  There's going to be bedlam.  But I'm kind of in the mood for some wildness.  Stay tuned.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

The Cohort

I'm part of a district wide cohort of teachers that get get together in the name of literacy a few times each year.  My fave part of this cohort gig is getting to chat with old pal and new pal teachers all day long. I even get to have lunch at a restaurant. (Fried Green Tomato Sandwich).  When I start talking with T-pals about school stuff, I usually feel pretty good about what's happening at Artful School.  At least I feel like we're moving in the right direction and that the stuff we do makes sense for us.  It's hard work, but we are seeing some payoffs.  I'm feeling pretty proud of the place, ttytt.  In short, Go ARTFUL SCHOOL! I'll miss you next year.

Monday, April 08, 2013

The Review

Husbandman and I saw another independent film, The Night Across the Street, just this past yesterday night.  The movie is surrealist and Chilean and a bit on the long side.  I think surrealism is v. cool when you're looking at a piece of art, but not that cool when you're watching a 2 hour movie.

Here's our review:

LH:  Did you have a favorite part?
HM:  I liked it when the little boy was answering all the quiz questions.
LH:  Do you think the guy killed himself or was murdered?
HM:  Definitely killed himself.
LH:  Why do you think Beethoven was in it?
HM:  Because he was the #1 inspiration of the main character.
LH:  Fist of 5?
HM:  2.
LH:  I'm giving it a 1.5.  I didn't really care for it.
HM:  No, you did not.
LH:  But if people want to see it, they probably should.  But having a bottle of wine while viewing really will help.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

The Artist

Ai Weiwei is a Chinese artist who you may want to know about.  This guy has done a ton of cool art.  He's also fought against oppression in China and elsewhere in many significant ways, with many provocative projects.  He's no slacker.  He's no buttcracker.  He's a man with a restrospective show up in Indy right now. All of the pieces were interesting, but his work with the Citizen Investigation team to uncover facts and names about the 90,000 people who died in the 2008 earthquake is fascinating. We loved his whole gig. And we admire his audacious life.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

The Artfuls

Our Artful consultants were in town this week.  This week is a lot of work, but it also makes my job interesting and fun.  Instead of talking about kids who score yellow, red, or green, or 4 or 3 or 2, or 1, I get to talk about:

Pilobolus Dance Theater
Smoovie Movie Making
Packing Tape Transfer Collages
Alex Ross's graphic superheroes
Miro's Garden Crayon Resists featuring line, color and shape
David Hockney's iPad paintings

I also get to learn how a bunch of other schools across the country use art to engage kids and bring them to higher levels of understanding of tough concepts and rigorous questions.  It's very wonderful working at ArtSchool.  I'm jazzed that our consultants are now on twitter, thanks to me.  Mostly.  Well, I had a hand in it at the very least. Follow the heck out of them, peeps.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

The Review

Okay, Huddle up.  Time for the interesting blog feature about watching an independent film with Husbandman.  This time we're talking about a film called Lore.
L:  So, can you give us a quick recap of the film?
HM: Okay.  The children of Nazi parents are forced to flee across the Black Forest at the end of WWII because their parents are arrested by the Allied Forces.  They follow a harrowing journey towards their grandparent's home and during the course of this, the eldest daughter comes to question the moral standing of her parents and the Nazi movement.
L: My friend, that's a very good recap.
HM:  That's all you have to say?  Very good recap?
L:  Wait I'm going to say something else now.  I was a little freaked out to be feeling sorry for the Nazi kids.  I didn't want to feel sorry for them, but then they are just children, so I guess we're supposed to feel that they're innocent, but Lore, the oldest daughter, had some complicity maybe?
H: Yeah, I would say she was old enough to perhaps know better. But it was an interesting way to complicate matters by seeing the story through the eyes of young, at least somewhat innocent, children of Nazis.
L:  I found it pretty sad and frightening.
HM:  Yeah.
L:  Okay, I guess that's it.
HM:  That's it?
L:  Something else?
HM:  I was not entirely convinced that Lore would undergo a change of heart. This revulsion toward her parents seemed a bit abrupt, but I did like the movie overall.
L:  Fist of 5?
HM: I'm going to give it 3.5
L:  I guess I'll give it a 4. It's riveting.
HM:  Well paced.
L:  Spoiler alert.  I wish the brother didn't have to die.
HM:  I didn't really care.
L:  Okay, if people want to see it they should. There's no harm done either way.

The Crawfish

A few crawfish are coming to live in Room 200.  Not sure what to do about that.  They've donated their lives for science education.  I...