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Showing posts from 2017

The Year

Well, here we are at the final day of the year.  The year had some good elements, but let's not ignore the elephant in the room. We have a bad president and he's messing up our lives bigly.

Husbandman and I just zipped through the blog for 2017.  We did a lot of cool things.  So what can we learn from this?  Even if you have a hideous president, you can have a good life and do fun things.

Winter Break Mystery Question #2

Hanging out in one of the 13 original colonies today.  Yesterday's drive was long and harrowing.  There were storms a'brewin' and traffic a'jammin'.  And yet we persisted and found ourselves in the heart of Atlanta, in an art deco building called the William Oliver Building.  The real estate developer Thomas Healey named this building after his two grandsons in 1930.  Mystery Question of the day.  What were the names of Thomas Healey's grandsons?
Right now, we're watching a movie about a big oil rig disaster.  It has Marky Mark in it. The last thing I want to do right now is work on an oil rig.  It's super dangerous.  People might say it's not dangerous, but guess what?  It is.

Winter Break Begins: Mystery Question #1

December 22 and our winter break begins.  I'm going to make the most of every moment.  So far, I've
slept in and now I'm having coffee and writing a brilliant blog post.  Twenty Something is here!  We're heading south to one of the 13 original colonies.  #1 Son will join us there.  We'll get together with my elders and my sibs.  What's the mission for today you ask?  Clean up, pack up, road trip, singing of the carols, happy hour at the hotel, perhaps a dip in the pool.  The sky's the limit!

FYI:  Road trip will be broken up into two parts.  Our mystery stop:  Athens of the South, a town named for this famous brigadier general:

Can you guess our mystery stop????

The Radar

I had lunch with two Thirdlanders yesterday.  They told me about an app called FlightRADAR24.  You should check it out if you feel like it.  You can look at all the planes flying in real time and see what they're up to.  Another great distraction for all of us who need to avoid the real world right now.  Thank you THIRDLANDERS.

The Efforts

I'm trying to think more about desired behaviors.  What do I want from my students and from myself?  For myself, I want to be more patient and calm.  I wish I were a robot teacher, always friendly and rational.  Like Roz in The Wild Robot. The Wild Robot is the best book in the universe.  We have ten more pages to read and I don't want it to end. Roz the Robot considers her purpose in life and I've been mulling mine over as well.  Roz the Robot is here to help others.  I guess I'm here to be the greatest long distance runner (in my age group) of all time.  I know my purpose, but I just haven't taken any steps to achieve it yet. A first step might be to purchase some new running shoes.

The Bumpers

I'm trying to catch up on some loose ends with the Thirdlanders.  With Thanksgiving and my conference trips, we got out of our good routines. I wanted to wrap up our six sessions with Jacob's New Dress with some bumper sticker design. One Thirdlander said, "My bumper sticker is going to just say, 'GENDER EQUALITY.'"    Another said, "I'm going to write, 'SAY YES TO GENDER NONCONFORMITY.'"

These Thirdlanders are fun to teach.  I'm heading back in, People.  Let's see what Wednesday brings.

The Tampa

It's time to say farewell to Tampa and to #LRA2017.  I had fun and thought about a lot of things.  Our talk went well.  There's a researcher by the name of Peter Johnston.  As you may know, I really admire this gentleman.  He attended our talk and after the talk he told us it was "great."  I wanted to take a selfie with him, but I didn't want to seem annoying so I didn't ask.  I'm sure he would have been fine about it, so why didn't I just do it? I'll probably never get that chance again.  Basically, that ship has sailed.  So, in line with my new life goal of worrying less, I'm just letting that go and focusing on the good things that happened.  Dinners with pals, walks by the river, learning about power pinners and curricular profiteering, improvisational learning, Critical Race English Education and artifactual literacies and the justice of now.  An added plus was seeing our good friend Slapdash cited on the big screen at one of the keynote…

The Thanks

Thanksgiving is here.  We have kinfolk here from Seattle, California, Louisiana and New York.  Oh, this modern world.

There's some cooking happening, and some baking.  I'm on a 15 minutes on, 15 minutes off schedule today.  We've gathered materials for the hand turkeys.  This year, we're drawing on New Materialism Theory as a framework for our hand turkey assemblages.  You can read more about it here if you want to. Everybody's choosing different materials.  I, for one, plan on using water colors.

Stay tuned my friends.  And btw, I feel thankful for all of you today and ever day.

The List

Lately I'm obsessed with wanting to have a clean teacher table.  You should see how horrible my desk is.  I try to spend 15 minutes at the end of every day cleaning the table, but it's nowhere near enough.  All day I just throw stuff on there. It's dispiriting.  I know I would feel happier if my table were clean and organized.  I haven't figured out how to make this happen yet.

 I have a laundry list of things I want to do differently in my life.  Write more. Get back to the slogging.  Collect more plastic animals. Feel care free 24/7. 

Probably I should leave well enough alone for now.  November is a month where I hang on by a thread.  I hope Judith's ready for our car trip tomorrow evening to St. Louis.  4 hours isn't going to be nearly enough to catch up on the talking.  I basically have to leave the state to have time to talk with Judith.  What's up with that?

The Hybrid

There's an awesome Thirdlander I know who loves football.  He wants to play every minute of every day.  Unfortunately, his crew of footballers has switched over to a frisbee game they've invented. Awesome Thirdlander can not understand this.  He was blue yesterday and asked me to do something about the situation.  I said, "What do you think I should do?"
   "Make them play football with me."
I told him I wasn't going to do that and maybe he should think about joining their frisbee game.  He glumly walked away.  When I looked for him a few moments later, he was in the middle of the frisbee game, throwing the football up into the air and running and catching it.  The other Thirdlanders continued to play their frisbee game. He seemed okay.  They seemed okay. It seemed strange, but that's how it is sometimes in Thirdland.
Speaking of strange, are you watching Stranger Things?  You probably should if you feel like it.

The Regret

This was a week I was happy to see end.  When the busy-ness gets overwhelming, I get frustrated with myself and with the world.  Yesterday I took the whole day off.  I've worked the last 2 weekends and that was a mistake.  I need to have fun and frolic as much as the next gal.  Anyway, we went to the handmade market and the quilt show in the morning.  It's neat to see the stuff people make.  I bought a raccoon jaw necklace for myself.  I almost bought a pin for myself that says, "Don't tell me what to do."  I wanted that pin in the worst way and it only cost 8$.  Why on earth didn't I buy it?  The thing is, it's a little abrasive.  Still, I'm filled with regrets.  If you see that pin anywhere, please get it for me and I'll pay you back. 8 bucks.  Geez.

After the craft shows, I went to see Blade Runner by myself.  Husbandman had already seen it.  It's quite good, if a tad long.  I think you should see it if you feel like it.  At the end of the…

The Conferences

Conference season is here.  This week I meet with the parents of the Thirdlanders.  I worry about keeping these conferences on schedule, but the chats tend to be fun.  The parents like their kid and so do I. The parents think their kid is awesome and so do I.  We tend to be on the same page.  The Thirdlanders are amazing, so it's fun to brag about them with the people who love them the most in the world.

Then next week Judith and I head to Missouri for NCTE.  I'm not speaking this year and come to find out, I'm a little sad about it. Still, NCTE is usually fun. I'll hear some great talks and I'll get to visit Back and Forth hanging out with its new friends at the Heinemann exhibit.  I'll take pictures.  I'm talking about Back and Forth on Tuesday at our district PD, and I'm not done with the talk yet.  Today's the day to do my best and forget the rest.

I'm not done because I've been working on a presentation I'm part of for LRA with Mitz…

The Treats

Fair or unfair?  We live on a somewhat busy street with no sidewalk.  So we don't get trick or treaters.  None.  For 30 years of living here, we just sit in our home alone, while the rest of the world parties in the streets.  We don't even carve up the pumpkin and put it out on the porch because why would we?  Since our children grew up and moved away, I don't even display my fine ghost collection any more.  It sits up in the attic, haunting me in its own way.  Halloween.... dispirited frustration and longing.  That's just the way it is.

The Friday Freak Out

I'm heading to two doctor's appointments this morning.  Optometrist and then regular doctor.  My eyes are messed up.  Constantly watering, stinging and itching.  Now the skin around my eyes is drying up and peeling away.  I'll probably just have two old eyes floating around in the sockets soon, with nary a lid to hold them in.  It may be allergies.  It may be eye lid mites or flesh eating bacteria.  We don't know.  It's bringing me down and freaking me out. Why the eyes?  Why the eyes?

The Boxes (Thursday Creativity Share)

Remember when I used to do Thursday Creativity Share?  Well, it's back my friends.  For probably this week only.  But who knows?
Yesterday I read a book called Mr. Cornell's Dream Boxes by Jeanette Winter.  I learned that he took care of his brother who had cerebral palsy.  He lived on Utopia Parkway in Flushing most of his life.  He had an exhibit for kids toward the end of his life where all the boxes were installed child height.

I love Joseph Cornell's boxes a lot.  You probably do too  Everybody does. You should look at some of Mr. Cornell's boxes today if you feel like it.

The Berserk Male Syndrome

We journeyed to Apple Works yesterday, where we tasted various apples, ate biscuits with apple butter, listened to Kevin play his beautiful tunes and wandered over to look at this alpaca. In short, it was a glorious afternoon.

Nancer brought Back and Forth with her, so we took some photos of Back and Forth enjoying the pumpkins and the fall foliage. Nancer came up with a grandiose plan for putting Back and Forth in the pen with the Alpacas for some truly groundbreaking photos.  The plan could have worked well, but there can be risks involved when you mix it up with alpacas.

While alpacas are usually gentle, some (mostly males) experience Berserk Male Syndrome and can be aggressive toward humans and books written by humans.  The alpaca pictured here didn't show any of the tell tale signs of Berserk Male Syndrome but Back and Forth didn't want to take any chances. A field trip to Apple Works should only be pleasant and carefree.

The Connections

When we read a picture book with social justice themes, we do a lot of talking about it.  This week, we talked about The Case for Loving, about the Supreme Court case of 1967 that ended the ban on interracial marriage in Virginia.  It's a good book. Before we started writing, I read over the list of connection writing topics that the Thirdlanders had jotted down on their partner chat sheet.  The majority wanted to write about weddings they've attended, but there were some other original topics offered like:

I love people, too.Someone tried to stop me from doing what I want before.I want to end racism.Black lives matter.We got out our notebooks, grabbed our snacks, turned down the lights and put on some quiet music.  As we started writing, a Thirdlander yelled out, "I'm changing my topic because I want to end racism too. I want to write about that." 
"Sounds good," I told him and we all got into gear.  I wrote as well. Not about anything fascinating---ju…

The Felines

Let's backtrack to the weekend.  Exotic Feline Rescue Center. The home of the rescued Big Cats. My mom's in the golf cart with the guide.  Husbandman, D.A.D., Li'l Sister and I are walking along.  There's one young woman in the party with a long braid.  I don't know her name.  I think about introducing myself, but what would be the point really?

This braided gal loves the big cats.  She keeps getting off the trail to approach the fences to speak to the cats in a babyish voice.  I keep my eye on her the entire time, anticipating the use of Husbandman's belt as a tourniquet for her bloody stump of an arm. This really detracts from my big cat enjoyment.

During the tour, the guide shares horror stories about the cruelty of the circus and the stupidity of people who buy tiger cubs.  At the end, we are checking out a couple of servals when braidedGal says, "But why can't they be pets?  Why would it be bad?"

We are silent, until Li'l Sister takes ove…

More Favorite Frogs and some Fan Fiction

Ruth showed up unexpectedly with a 50 pound ham in a box.  It was cooked and cut in a spiral pattern. She was also grappling with a six pack of PibbXtra.
"That's a large ham," I said.  She told me it was a 50 pounder.  I said, "I didn't know hams could be that large." 
"The record is 180 pounds for a ham.  Look it up," she said in a combative tone I found unnecessary.
"PibbXtra?" I asked, changing the subject.  "Is that like Mr. Pibb?"
"Same drink, new name.  Can you move so I can come in please?"

Ruth walked into the kitchen to set down the 50 pounder and the Pibbs.  I wondered what to say because I didn't eat ham and I was pretty sure Ruth knew that.  She popped a Pibb and found her way to the livingroom, settling on the couch in front of the tv. I texted people I knew who might come over to eat ham on a whim. Within 20 minutes, people started arriving.  I created a macaroni salad while people collected around a…

The Frogs

I took a bunch of great frog photos awhile ago.  I'm probably going to post all of them, bit by bit.  I'm on fall break.  My mom, dad, and sister are here.  Great times.

The Cards

In Thirdland, I'm seen as someone with quite a bit of street cred when it comes to Pokemon.  #1 Son collected the cards way back when, so I shelled out quite a bit of cash for the cards, watched the show every day after school and came to have my own favorites, including Squirtle and Bulbasaur.  Sadly,  I had to put the kibosh on the whole shebang of Pokemon at the school site by announcing to the Thirdlanders that Pokemon is now banned.  They weren't surprised.  The trading had reached a feverish pitch and even they could see that they needed someone to step in and get control of the situation.  These kids were trading like they worked on Wall Street.  Recess became a hyped up Let's Make a Deal show.

Don't worry about the ban. They'll get in to something new soon, and after awhile, they'll start wreaking havoc with it. That's just how we roll. In Thirdland.

The Podcast

Well, yesterday was a big day.  We had a celebration for Back and Forth.  We ate tamales and cake and drank wine.  The house could barely hold all the friendship and fun that frolicked through the place yesterday eve.  I wish my handful of blog readers that couldn't be here for the party could be here now.  I would give you leftover tamales and we could samples some of the fabulous wines that were gifted to us last night.  Fun times.  And one more thing.  Have you listened to the Heinemann podcast yet?  Brett did a great job of telling the story of the book with his questions and editing.  I do a bit too much laughing as I talk but does that really surprise anyone???? I'm so glad I went to Florida to tape the podcast.  I hope you don't think I'm going overboard with blogging about the book, but you've been with me through the hard times and I want you here now during the good times.  Thanks, good friends.

The Herons

So first off, let me tell you that everything's going well here in the heartland.  My colleagues threw me a surprise party for the book on Friday morning.  Funnest time ever. We saw U2 on Sunday night and that also was the funnest time ever.  And C., I took these photos of the mysterious green heron a few weeks ago. Life's just rolling along and I'm basically just singing my song.

The Bees

The 3 day weekend is over, but my illness isn't.  I spent the weekend on the couch, watching movies and sleeping.  Yesterday I pulled it together to write the ILA proposal, so that's good.

Frankly, I'm irked, but I know things could be worse and I should just be happy that I didn't have to write sub plans for this illness which I'm calling Fatty Fatigue Syndrome.  I hope you don't get it, because it really knocks you OUT.

Still feeling punky, to tell you the truth, but I'm heading in to teach because I'm teachering up and that's how we roll.

My weekend was not the bee's knees.  It was just the bees.

The Fries

I'm thinking of calling any blog I write on Fridays, 'The Fries.'  Good idea?  Let's see.

Recap of the week's highlights, in a bulleted list.

Open House went well.  I talked with most parents about our tarantula.  I enjoyed that.Katie Wood Ray agreed to present with me at ILA next summer.  I started working on the proposal this week. A copy of Back and Forth arrived at the house.  To be honest, I'm in love with it.Judith gave me a cupcake.My gentle yoga class was effective at calming both my mind and my body.The Thirdlanders are making some awesome creations at our Well, well, well inquiry centers.

The Enjoyment

My mom was born 87 years ago.  She's not feeling as spry as in her heyday, but she gets up every morning, exercises, writes letters to friends, and watches our president's antics on the news with appropriate scorn and disdain. She looks after all of us and makes sure we're doing okay.  When I called her on Sunday from school, she said, "Lee, I thought you were going to try not to go to school on the weekends anymore."
I gave my usual excuses about Open House coming up blah blah blah but then I stopped and said, "Who am I kidding, Mom?"
"Only yourself," she answered.
She's right.  I'm kidding myself that x y or z will happen and then teaching will be all sewn up by 4pm and I can go off on my merry way.  I'm not doing anything wrong.  My job's not a mystery to be solved. Teaching requires lots of teacher time outside of the school day and that's how it is. It's a good job and I enjoy it. That's someone else's man…

The Ponderosa

Here's what I'm pondering.  Do I want a blog to tell people about the book or do I want an actual web page?  I'm thinking on this daily and doing some casual explorations on the internets, as seen below.

I like this LITLEARNACT wordpress blog a lot, but once I tried to create a wordpress and it didn't turn out so great. But let's face it, how hard can it be?  But maybe I should stay loyal to blogger. These blogspot blogs REFLECT AND REFINE and CATHY MERE are excellent and really get the job done. 
Sam and Quinn use web pages to send their stuff out into the world and I like their pages, Sam Quinones and Quinn Sternberg
I made this weebly for my classroom press last year, but I didn’t add to it because our district blocked Weebly, for some reason. 
So I'm all over the place.  Please weigh in.If you feel like it.

The Bests

I'm not kidding.  I've got to get those Best Year Ever pieces done today.  This is no joke.

The Papers

Open House is coming up and I don't feel like putting any student work up on my walls.  We are working every day on stuff, but I can't guarantee any of it's going to be finished by Tuesday night.  I'm thinking of having Open House catered.  If I carry around trays of sushi and small glasses of sake, I doubt anyone's going to care that much that their kid doesn't have stuff on display.  I decided to take a "gentle yoga" class.  Tonight was the first session.  There were moments where I thought, "NOT GENTLE! NOT AT ALL GENTLE!"  But most of it was fine.  It's important to take yoga classes and not worry about posting student work.  Teachers in Finland don't go crazy with the hallway displays.

The Wonderings

I'm about to run some ideas by you, so settle in and get ready.  Someone suggested that I make a web page or a blog for the book.  And that I create some new lessons that go with the book to share on that web page.  I'm not sure if I want to do a webpage or not.  I see some people have cool sites on wordpress.  Not sure what to do yet.  Please discuss among yourselves and get back to me.

The Sun

At my workspot, no one can go outside during the eclipse, but we can go to the science lab and watch it on a big screen. My classroom doesn't have windows to the outside, so we won't be able to see the darkening skies, but we can think about the eclipse and maybe write some poetry about what it's like to be so close and yet so far.  We don't want to leave anyone's vision behind on eclipse day, so we're going to stay inside for safety. Some families are taking the afternoon off to enjoy the eclipse experience.   I want everyone who's able to see the eclipse to just go ahead and have a good time. Luckily,  I'll probably be able to catch the next eclipse in 2024.

The Pencils

1.  There's a book in my room that one of the Thirdlanders really likes.  He has encouraged me to read it to the class about 15 or 20 times a day.  Today I finally decided to read it.  When I walked over to the reading area with it in my hand, he jumped up and stood in front of me.  Addressing his classmates he said, "I want everyone to know that I highly recommend this book.  It's one of the best I've ever read.  And I'm sure you're all going to enjoy it a lot.  And you'll see at the end that it's based on a true story."  Then he sat down and we got on with the book.  It really was pretty good.  It's called Ketzel the Cat Who Composed. At the end, I said I wasn't sure the cat really composed the music.  He walked across the keys, but his guardian is the one who wrote the piece.  The Thirdlander in question disagreed vehemently.  "That cat walked across the keys, creating the music.  He was the original creator of the music.  He made…

The Zen

Day 5.  These Thirdlanders are pretty darned nice.  Today they worked on writing in the morning. Some were even revising with green pencils. We read The Name Jar and I mispronounced the main character's name, so I'm going to have to correct that tomorrow.  We talked about Crow Boy and made some sketch notes.  We are building our reading stamina.  According to the Daily 5 book, the teacher should read as well at the beginning of the year, until the class gets to know the procedures.  These kids actually read a lot and are very focused, so I could've probably started reading conferences today, but I decided to keep reading ZEN TEACHER for one more day.   I'm enjoying the heck out of that book.  Our calm day had some riotous moments.  Case in point. One Thirdlander spent a considerable time in the restroom. When I asked why, the Thirdlander said, "My butt was exploding! It was almost having spontaneous combustion."  Besides this outlier, the day proceeded prett…