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Thursday, November 23, 2017

The Turkeys

My photos aren't great, but man alive, we had a good time making these hand turkeys.

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.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

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?

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

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.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

The Regret

Artist:  Betsy Glassey
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 day, we saw The Sklar Brothers at Comedy Attic.  I thought they were adorable.

A day off is a good thing.  Next weekend, Judith and I will be in St. Louis.  I wish #ncte was in a more exciting city.  No offense, St. Louis, but I have a real hankering for a trip to Chicago right now.  Or Tulum.  Or Vancouver.  I'll make do with St. Louis.  The Sklar Brothers recommend Ozzie Smith's restaurant.

Sunday, November 05, 2017

The Conferences

Art by RS
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 Mitzker and a new friend, Zawan.  I'm reading some stuff about New Materialism for this project, playing around with some Thirdlander book cover designs.  It's a cool project and I'm learning new stuff and I'm not confident that I really get what's going on yet.  So that's fun to be confused and nervous about the looming deadline.

A trio of conference events on the horizon.  November is Conference Month.  It's also Blog Renewal Month. I want to write on the blog 20 to 30 more times before the end of the month. Get ready for some subpar posts, my friends.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

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.

Friday, October 27, 2017

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?

Thursday, October 26, 2017

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.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

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.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

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---just some memories of adults telling me to stay away from certain kids when I was little.  A pleasant start to our day. I'm really liking this class.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

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 over. "They spray all over your house.  Smell that?  You want your house to smell like that?"
Braidedgal asks, "But can their glands be removed somehow?"
Li'l Sister stares at BraidedGal for a hot second and says, "They're. not. pets.  Not Pets."  She shakes her head and glares at Braided Gal. The tour guide echoes Li'l Sister's words. "They're not pets,"  she mutters as she drives golf cart down the trail.

We leave BraidedGal and the Big Cats behind. As we drive home, BraidedGal is our main subject of conversation.  You can probably imagine some of the stuff we say about BraidedGal.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

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 Judge Judy episode I was sorry to be missing. 

All in all, it ended up being a pretty good last night of vacation.

Saturday, October 07, 2017

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.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

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.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Podcast

Photo Credit:  Heinemann 
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.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

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.



Tuesday, September 05, 2017

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.

Friday, September 01, 2017

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.



Tuesday, August 29, 2017

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 mantra, but I may need to borrow it. No one can tell me what's enough though. Only I can do that.  We got all the stories done and a Thirdlander said, "Is this the only thing that's going to be on display at Open House?"
"Yes, these excellent Best Year Ever pieces are the only pieces on display."
Of course then I got the great idea to take photos of the writers, so I have those too to put up during lunch.
And there's a slim chance that we might do our wild thing monster heads today if there's time.
Who am I kidding? It's time to embrace the workload. And it's also time to roll out the new mantra of the school year:  Enough's enough.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

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. 

Friday, August 25, 2017

The Bests

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

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

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.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

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.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

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.  

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

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 notes. He is the composer."
I'm not totally sold, but I decided to drop it.

2.  I'm working quite a lot right now.  Not at all like the teachers in Finland.  2 X this week I was at school for 11 hours straight.  I was getting stressed about it, but then I got home, ate dinner and went for a walk with Husbandman.  Life's good now.

3.  A few minutes ago, I told Husbandman that I'm kind of thinking about the concept of the bully pulpit.  He said, "Okay."
"Do you know what bully pulpit means?" I asked him.
"Yes," he answered, busy with his computer.
"Prove it," I answered back, but he refused to do it.  So, I guess we all can only conclude that  Husbandman obviously doesn't know what a bully pulpit is!  Incredible!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Zen

If I had more energy, I'd crop and straighten this photo.

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 pretty much as planned.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Films


Rosalyn et Kyle
Our town has a summer film festival and this is the first time we've bought passes.  In the afternoon this past day, we saw Lost in Paris, a funny little film, full of nonsense.  There were 8 people in the theater, including us.  Then we went to another venue to watch The Other Kids, an interesting fictional documentary about high school.  Peeps, we were the only people in the theater!  The only ones!!!  So that's weird.  I feel like the film festival needs some serious help.  And I feel that someone needs to get their butt home and start running the film festival.  The films were good though and La Croix Water was a big sponsor, so I got to take home a case of LaCroix water.  I probably could have taken more, but I didn't feel like lugging it around. Welladay.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Shock


  After school today I tried a new approach to after school work. I packed up my old kit bag and headed to a coffee shop.  I worked there for 60 minutes, then I called it quits.  The barrista made me a special kind of iced tea which was refreshing.  The coffee shop was clean and quiet.  I had a muffin.  In other words, I'm being more like the teachers of Finland this year. 
At the beginning of the summer I wrote a blog entry pretending the summer was over and congratulating myself on what a great time I had. Do you remember that? Well, come to find out, I'm asking the Thirdlanders to write a similar piece, pretending it's the last day of third grade and they're describing why it was the best year ever.  Most of them are writing about all the fun field trips we took.  I may have to up my game in the field trip department.

One last thing.  I got an electrical shock this evening when I turned on the garbage disposal.  Now I'm not sure if I should turn it on again.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

The Beginning


A grand start today.  Sweet crew.  At the end of the day, I said good bye to them and I said, "Please, please, remember to come back tomorrow."  One Thirdlander said, "I'll be here!"  Another said, "Dr. H., our parents make us come here." Another sweet young man said, "This day went fast.  I guess it's true that time flies when you're having fun!"  We'll see who ends up coming back tomorrow.

Tonight I'm tired, but pleased overall with a stellar beginning.  Not really ready for tomorrow, but what can you do?  What does ready even mean?  Let's just do our best and forget the rest."


Tuesday, August 08, 2017

The House

The Open House was a success.  I have a strong feeling that the year is going to be fun.  The new crew of Thirdlanders came in with their supplies today.  While I mixed and mingled, they put their supplies away calmly and cheerfully.  They all seemed nice as can be. One little guy was a bit sad because his friend was in another class.  I held up my hand and said, "I am now taking a solemn oath that your Third Grade year is going to be awesome."  He gave me a high five on my oath hand, so I think we're going to be fine. Check back tomorrow for an update on the first day of my 33rd year of teaching.