Saturday – President’s Day Weekend 2011

Snow remains in only a few places in the backyard, what a bright sunny February day

Most of the snow has melted leaving only pockets of grey dingy ice piles here and there. Fallen twigs and branches litter the backyard and deck leaving a carpet of brownish grey grass matted from the snow. That is what is left of the yard after twenty or more inches of snow and several days of late winter days in the forties. It is nice outside, thought the sunlight belies that temperatures in the thirties, which will probably remain there all day, at least that is the forecast.

It has warmed considerably, since last week when we reached ten below Thursday morning. Much has happened in the days since the winter solstice the days are getting longer and my drive to and from school are largely lit with sunlight and beautiful sunrises or brilliant sunsets of orange, red, blue and purple. Last night the moon was full and streamed moonlight through our bedroom window illuminating the room casting soft light everywhere. All of these changes make a huge difference in attitude and my outlook. Winter in northeastern Illinois can be bleak and depressing – if I let it.

Originally, we had planned to visit the cottage and ski. However, last week when we looked at the weather forecast for the weekend we decide to stay home instead fearing the warm weather would melt the slopes making the trip for skiing and snow sports a waste. As it turns out, the slopes are closed and they are expecting a winter storm Sunday and Monday. It was a good choice. We will get a chance to work in the house and catch up – for me it means cleaning my desk and organizing the week to come.

In my last post, I celebrated Day 100 – it was a good day as most are. My students are reading books and discussing them in small groups while writing written responses to share their thinking about their reading. The skill is a difficult to teach as they are developing thinking skills as some students have made the shift from concrete thinking to abstract thinking. I watch William who is in this stage and I understand.

The U-505 - click the picture to find the sub...

Yesterday, the school took a field trip to Museum of Science and Industry. It is an amazing museum with exhibits including the body, trains, autos, a coalmine, and explaining how things work. My favorite exhibit though is the U-505, a German submarine captured by the US Navy toward the end of World War II. While the kids are free to see the exhibits they wish, I always try to steer my group of ten to the sub. The beginning of the exhibit provides information about why submarines were hunted by the Navy and their impact on the war effort and how the U-505 was captured. Then, it spills you out into the exhibit with the sub; you are facing the sub’s bow looking down its entire 250-foot length. To see the entire exhibit, the exhibit funnels visitors down to the base of the exhibit passing through a station where groups have their photographs taken. Groups have the option of purchasing the photo when they exit the exhibit and I have several group pictures from previous field trips. It is fun to watch the boys look, read, and learn. The exhibit has several interactive parts to the exhibit and the boys learn by doing and playing, something which is difficult to do in a classroom – especially a language arts classroom.  The photo comes with a wallet-sized photo for everyone in the group and I will be writing thank you notes later this weekend to the boys with group photo. The thank you goes along way with the kids and it means more to me.

My desk in the basement, what a disaster!

Of course, there is no school in honor of President’s Day and Lincoln and Washington’s birthdays. I needed the break; I am looking forward to accomplishing some long overdue tasks and making a dent in some grading and planning. Maybe, I will get to take a nap, read a book, play with the kids, help William with a merit badge, or take Ivy for walk. Whatever it may be, I am sure it will count and make a difference in my outlook. Making the Days Count, especially a bright sunny late winter day!

Thanks for visiting MtDC. How are YOU Making YOUR Days Count?