Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Z Pack

Finally took control of the situation and got some antibiotics last night.  The pharmacy was packed with angry people who had been waiting a long time.  The pharmacist kept saying, "I'm really sorry.  It's just me here.  There are 30 people ahead of you."  I kept my cool and walked around exploring the pharmacy.  I was remarkably stoic considering how horrible I was feeling and how sad I was about the chapter revisions and how frustrated I was about what a sucky three day weekend I'm having.

Julia Cameron's book had some good advice yesterday about remembering that we're not really all that special, that a lot of people have work to do and a lot of people get sinus infections right before their deadlines, and a lot of people procrastinate and resist. There are others in the same boat, in other words.  Cameron says that remembering our shared humanity is the solution to our doldrums.  I guess she's right.  Still, I had to cry a little this morning about how I can't get the web page I'm building to work and my chapter seems to be going nowhere and my throat still hurts. It's hard to remember that there isn't a conspiracy abrewin' aimed at taking me down.  Then I remembered that blogging usually pulls me out of the slump.  So here I am. Ready to kick it into gear. It's going to be a do my best forget the rest kind of day. Shape up, Leeway.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Open House

At Open Houses across the nation, students show their parents stuff.  Like their peers, Thirdlanders wanted to make Tour Guide Lists for Tuesday night.  A creative Thirdlander shared happy memories of getting to wear a tour guide hat at previous open houses!  Cute idea, but it's been done already, I told her.

Because I'm also a parent, I remember following my kids around at Open House.  Going to be honest, I wasn't crazy about it.  I just wanted to slip in, give a hearty hello to the teacher and be on my merry way.  I'd check out a few work samples in order to follow basic parenting protocols, of course.  That goes without saying, but I had little desire to visit the Art Room or the basketball court.

So after being eagerly encouraged, and some might say pressured, by the Thirdlanders to get on the bandwagon, I reluctantly gave them each an index card and told them to write "Welcome to Our Room" on one side.  On the other side, I told them they could write down things to show their parents.  I didn't look at these cards, but in some ways I wish I had.   When I saw Thirdlanders walking their parents over to our pencil sharpener, then to the tape dispenser, and next to the tub for turning in completed work, I was a little embarrassed and appalled. "Geez people, why on earth are you showing them the pencil sharpener? Get your literacy folder out and review your writing. Show them the poems you wrote that are on display."  Does this really need to be spelled out?  Well, come to find out, it does.

But the good news is this.  Open House was fun.  Parents and kids were friendly and cheerful.  We all did well.   And I learned a valuable lesson about preparing for Open House through this experience.  And now we're having a three day weekend.  Score.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Belated Thursday Creativity Share

We read this book last week and I'm here to tell you it's a really great book.  It's about little kids building things and then it compares little kid building with famous architecture around the world.  At the end, the book teaches you about the architects and their buildings.  Fascinating.  So this week, an item on the homework menu was Build Something.  I'm getting the greatest photos of buildings made of legos, blocks, cardboard, noodles.  I'm not kidding.  You should probably read this book if you feel like it.

Thursday Creativity Share.  Late, but still good.  A cool book about architecture.  An awesome building made of Legos. It really doesn't get any better than that.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Crickets

Hairy our Tarantula is pleased as punch right now.  His pal Kristine came in and put some crickets in to his tank last week.  There are a few still in there, chirping their cricket chirps.  Last evening they seemed especially loud since the kids were gone and the room was quiet.  When I listen to their chirps, I wonder if they know they're on their way to being a tarantula meal any day now.  Or do they just live every moment of the day to the fullest, singing their cricket songs?

We may never know.  Tonight's Open House.  Harry's sure to be a big hit.

Monday, August 25, 2014

The House

Tomorrow's Open House.  We've been working on things, but they won't be done by tomorrow night and I don't feel like pushing these projects to completion for the sake of sharing them at Open House.  But in a way I do feel like I wish I had completed the projects because Open House is all about parents walking around seeing their kid's stuff.  So you see my conundrum.

I've got to live and let live.  I have the first cold of the school year and I'll probably spread it to a few dozen people tomorrow night at Open House.  Sorry, Peeps.  Not only are you not going to see much of your kid's work tomorrow night, you're also going to be infected with a hideous infectious disease, aka the common cold.  If I were you, I'd stay home, order some take out and watch Catfish, my latest tv obsession. I have your best interests at heart when I say this.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Goldfinch

Book club meets this week and I'm only 28% through the book.  I'm not going to make it because I stopped reading it about a week ago.  I was actually enjoying it, but Husbandman and I are on an acrostic kick and that's usually how I end my evening.  I don't like going to book club when I haven't read the book, but Mitz believes I should so I probably will.  Honoring commitments and all that. Book club is always fun.  Every time.  But I have self esteem issues when I don't finish the book. Why can't people understand that?

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Tinies

We started our Thursday by singing the age old classic "The Lion Sleeps Tonight."  A Thirdlander brought in a CD and said he thought we should sing it.  So I quick as a wink printed off some lyrics and sing it we did.  That merged into some kiddos asking to sing "Happy," and a spontaneous dance party of sorts erupted.  While some kids showed themselves to be quite wild dancers, others just sat in their chairs. I taught them about tiny dancing which I learned about from my pal Mac. Just a slight moving of finger or toe gets the job done.  I'm actually doing a tiny dance right now, but you can't see me.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Thursday Creativity Share

If I could just figure out a way to get to this Magritte exhibit in Chicago, my life would be complete.

Husbandman says, "I'd go with you but it feels so surreal."  Very funny, Husbandman.  Anyway, I know it's impossible, but there has to be a way.

I felt like being creative on Monday so I clicked on this link over on Streibie's blog and just threw caution to the wind and had the kiddos create these pen and watercolor flower paintings.  I just put the web site up and ran through the teacher directions with them and then they just went and created the paintings.

Then we wrote I Used to, But Now poems, inspired by the great Kenneth Koch who wrote one of my fave books, Wishes, Lies and Dreams.

After hearing a couple of poems, Thirdlanders got the drift and took off.  Some of our fave lines....

I used to be a cub, but now I'm a bear.
I used to be a wall, but now people see me.
I used to jump, but now I swim.
I used to be a literacy coach, but now I'm a teacher.

So Thursday Creativity Share is a wrap.  An exhibit I probably won't go to. A painting project.  Some poems to write. I used to be blogging, but now I'm going to a faculty meeting.  Que Bueno!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Eyes

Come to find out, my worries were not unwarranted yesterday.  The doctor looked at my eye and decided on the spot to shoot a laser in there to repair the tear. He asked if I had questions and I had two, which I will now share in the following bulleted list:

  • You're going to do it right now?
  • Will it hurt?

He told me it might sting a little, but the important thing was that I look exactly where he tells me to look.  "Otherwise I could laser the wrong part of your eye and you could go blind. I've never done that before, but let's not have you be the first."  So the whole time I'm having the laser shot into my eye I'm thinking, "Keep looking up, keep looking up, keep looking up."  Luckily I followed doctor's orders and my vision exists to this very day.

When I told my class that I was going to the eye doctor yesterday and that they would have a sub in the afternoon, they had many questions.  They weren't too pleased to have a sub "this early in the school year."  I apologized but told them it couldn't be helped. A thirdlander asked me, "Are you getting those drops in your eyes that make your eyes big?"
I told him that yes, they would be using drops to dilate my eyes so they could look inside my eye. "Those hurt a lot," he said.
"I'm not sure they hurt that much," I replied, because I've been getting my eyes dilated for 40 years or so and I have experience in these matters.
"My mom and dad have to hold me down to get those drops in my eyes."

This kid should probably avoid laser retinal repair in the future. But here's the thing.  Nearsighted people are prone to retinal tears, so get your eyes checked regularly and if you see a lot of flashers and floaters in your vision, you should go to the eye doctor, pronto.  It's time for Writer's Wednesday, my friends.  Get the notebooks and the pointy pencils and head outdoors.  That's what we'll be doing.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Plans

2 weeks in to school and I have to take a half day off. Because of the hole in my retina.  Heading up to Indianapolis for a specialist to look at my eye.  I only hope and pray that I return with both eyes at the end of the day.  If they want to remove one of my eyes, I'm going to be sad, not going to lie.

Writing sub plans for the first time in 5 years was kind of a drag.  I think school should be canceled for kids when their teacher's out.  They need to stay home and work on educating themselves. I can't be responsible for every single moment.  I've got an eye to tend to right now.

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Chairs

I bought some cool chairs at Target for the kiddos.  I almost didn't because kids argue and fight about chairs whenever you bring them in the classroom and it's annoying and then you have to give everyone a CHAIR DAY and that kind of gets annoying too.  But anyway, I bought the chairs and for the most part I like them and so do the kids.  Our first grade book buddies were coming over last week for some elbow to elbow, knee to knee genuine partner reading and before they got there a 3rdLander called out, "I think we better put these chairs away.  They're going to be a real problem when the first graders get in here."  All the kids joined in with shouts of "Oh no, we don't want them fighting over these chairs!" and similar refrains.  So the kids folded up the chairs and stashed them away.  Crazy talk.  But kind of funny. I guess it's just human nature to want special things.  And I guess it's human nature to anticipate that this wanting can cause problems.  
Off I go to work.  I'm determined to focus on all I did get done on Sunday at work and not worry about the growing to do list.  
BTW, we saw A Most Wanted Man last night.  Super good.  See it if you want to.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Truth

I love this!!!!!

The Independent Movie Review

 I read a piece in the NYT today about how writing makes you feel like a failure all the time.  I can't argue with that sage wisdom.  Got kind of cantankerous last night after a day of working with less than stellar results, but then Husbandman and I watched a movie called Drinking Buddies on Netflix and it cheered me up considerably.
Lw:  What did you think of Drinking Buddies?
Husbandman:  I thought it was a very watchable movie.
Lw:  Which character did you like the best?
Hm:  I liked the boyfriend of Anna Kendrick.
Lw:  What about the woman who worked in the brewery?  Was she bad or good?
Hm: What do you mean? Good actress or good person?
Lw:  Good person.
Hm:  She was alright.  She was fine.  It was not an issue for me, whether she was good or not.
Lw:  Fist of 5?
Hm:  I'm going to give it a very solid 3.
Lw:  I'll give it a 3.5.
Hm:  In that case, I want a 3.2.
Okay, that's a wrap.  If you have some time to kill, and some papers to grade, and some standards to map out, this could be a good movie to watch.  If you want to see it, you should.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Commitment

I want to tell you that I am 100% committed to writing in this wonderful blog more than once or twice a week.  It will get done.  I love this blog.  I'll stick by it through thick and thin.  I'm not sure if this week was in the thick or the thin category, but I do know it was busy.  I'm busy as a bee every day and I kind of like that.
 My new group of students in Thirdlandia continues to charm and entertain.  We had a few downs to go with our ups this week, but mostly we just stayed in the ups.  The good news is I love my job and that's something Husbandman hasn't heard for a few years.
 We're learning about publishing and editing and the kiddos are designing some logos for our classroom press.  Many of their logos feature POPCORN MAN.  Popcorn Man's been a big hit so I've also introduced Strawberry Girl and Latte Lad.
 A thirdlander is raising some chickens.  She shared this egg with us at morning meeting.  At morning meeting, Thirdlanders are also sharing book recommendations, local news, and sundry facts about tarantulas, since we're tarantula sitting this year.  We practiced tableau one day last week as a literature response and the kiddos are pretty great at these living photographs.  For homework, kiddos picked from a menu.  Four students chose the "Make a Sculpture out of Tape and Paper," and their families sent photos of these awesome sculptures via email.  We shared them with the projector and I have to say that these peeps put the C back in Creative.  Well done, Sculptors of Thirdlandia!
 There's a picture book that won the Young Hoosier Book Award last year and it's called Cat Secrets.  It's fun to read to kids so I suggest you get it at once.  We worked with Taro Yashima's Classic, Crow Boy, this week and had some awesome talks about friendship, talents, bullying, poverty, living in the village versus living far away.  One kid said, "Treat everyone right because you don't know what they're going through."  Nicely put, Thirdite. Also enjoyed a massage, a dinner with Eve, an afternoon of Truffling, and some talks with Nancer and 20 Something.  Life's full, and that's the way I like it.  #1 Son moved to his new house.  There was some gnashing of teeth and outright wailing, but then I calmed down and remembered he only lives about 6 blocks away.
The snakes are still there and I've photographed several.  Some have been relocated, but it's probably a losing battle.  I've made peace with the snakes and think of them now as my sisters and brothers.  Another busy weekend ahead.  Saturday is pegged for chapter revisions.  Sunday will be all about preparing for our third week in Thirdland.  But there will be movies and some walking squeezed in there too.  I'm missing my blog so much, so this is the week I try to squeeze in more posts.  Don't worry Beloved Blog.  I will not let you down.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Organization

Today's Organization Tuesday, as you all know.

I am slowly getting some systems in place in the new classroom.

In order to get organized, I've been spending a lot of time at school.  I wish my classroom could have an upper floor and that could be my house.  I would just go upstairs at the end of the day and crash out.  That way I would never have to leave and probably a lot more would get done.

Heading in peeps.  Try to get organized today.  That's what this day is all about.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Needlework

We went to hear #1 and his pal Charles play some music this week.  We sat outside and reveled in the festive mood of the place and the peeps.  Saw 2 former students and their mom. I see them around town a lot and it's always a good time.  Hugs, chat, cheer.  Come to find out another former student was joining them.  A young man I hadn't seen in lo these many years.  When he arrived we hugged at once.  He has the same sweet little kid face, but he is in fact grown.  First thing out of his mouth to me was, "I need to tell you.  I still knit and crochet.  I make scarves and sweaters for people every Xmas."  I feel pretty good about this and it got me to thinking. Maybe I'll start some crochet in the Land of Thirds.
I'm planning a lesson on designing our own classroom press.  I'm inspired by Lee and Low, so I'm hoping our press has a cool logo like they do.  The lessons I'm writing are for a rewrite of the sample chapter I sent in a bit ago.  Editor likes the first half, but the second half she's not crazy about.  My goal now is to revise the sample chapter and write the intro by the end of the month.  Not going to lie. This is going to be tough stuff, what with my new gig in the Land of Thirds. But I'm going to give it the old college try.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

The Week

Rainy day recess
I always feel happy when the first week is a thing of the past.  There are so many routines to set up and the days are long after a summery break.  We worked in some creative stuff in the LandofThirds --- singing, mirroring, making a machine, haiku writing, water color.  We read a lot too.

I found a stash of Jaguar shirts in a file cabinet in the office and swiped one.  Wore it all Friday afternoon.  I'm making up some cheerleading routines to go with my shirt. My goal this year is to learn how to do a cartwheel while wearing my Jaguar shirt and shouting GO JAGUARS at the end.

The whole teaching thing is slowly coming back to me.  My major problem is losing track of where I put things, which is annoying as all get out. Also problematic is the fact that I worked a million hours this week and still feel way behind. On the good side, the work is interesting and engaging.
I just need to do my best and forget the rest.  Have some fun while getting it done.  Inch along, singing my song.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

The Library

We went to the library today.  Kids were so excited they were hyperventilating.

Our librarian who is also our pal JW is absolutely unbelievably amazing. She knows the kids. She knows books.  She knows how to bring them together and she does, in a joyful way that's inspiring to watch.

I've got one little guy who got a book about lizards. When he got back to the room he decided that he needed to go ask his sister what kind of lizards they own.  I told him to wait for recess.  After recess he told me that he knows now that he owns a gecko and he really needed to swap out his lizard book for a book about geckos.  I tried to explain to him that there was probably relevant information in his lizard book, but he got into that desperado state that they will enter when they've entered ONE TRACK MIND LAND.  So, off he went with a note from me.  Came back with a book with information about geckos.  Pleased as punch.  Everyone wrote about the library in their reflection journal at the end of the day.  Several kids wrote about how great it was going to be to have JW read them stories every week.  I think a few kids didn't get the memo that they don't have weekly story time with JW any more because that's for K - 2.  Not sure how I'm going to break it to them.  We'll cross that bridge when we get to it.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

The Snakes

New crew is awesome.  I will get into a groove soon and share the tales of fun times.  Right now, I'm bed-ward bound.  

Quick side note:  We have at least 2 snakes in the creek that runs through our playground.  I saw one that was quite large today. Then I saw another one that was smaller.  I'm not afraid of snakes, but the 2 I saw today were a bit too close for comfort.  The kiddos told me that they're not copper heads, that they're corn snakes and they're harmless.  Still, I was thinking that maybe they should be killed with a hatchet or a firearm. EcoTeacherPal said that the snakes are a wonderful part of our natural environment and a great learning opportunity. I see her point but I want the snakes to go away.  They're making me a nervous wreck with their insidious slithering and basking on the rocks.

Saturday, August 02, 2014

The Wall

I missed out on Thursday Creativity Share this week because I was actually creating something---a classroom.  See that purple wall?  I painted it with the help of KA.  See that cart of books?  Good friend JW chose them for my kiddos so we can start book shopping right away.  See those letters on the tables?  Most of those were picked up at Open House.

Open House went well.  The kids that showed up got right to work putting all their supplies in the various bins and boxes that I had out.  It's nice being in 3rd grade again.  The kids are little and big at the same time.

After Open House we headed over to the home of J and B for a fantastic deck party.  They have a VITAMIX now and the smoothies were creative and tasty.  We had various combinations of spinach, watermelon, strawbs, kale, basil, tomato, lemon, blueberries, and apple in our smoothies. The point is, we all need to get the Vitamix ASAP.

The Astronauts

 From a Lynda Barry book, I've used the idea to have the Thirdlanders draw self portraits on occasion.  Draw yourself as Batman, a monst...