This morning the sun rose at 6:40 AM, it’ll set this evening at 6:49 PM. It’s a cycle that has been repeated for as long as earth has existed and will continue long after I’m gone, my kids are gone, and their kids, too. It’s a cycle that continues without any help from man (or woman); it just happens and it will always happen. But, that doesn‘t keep me from thinking about it or forcing my students to think about it. I am the king of things kids don’t think about. That’s my job, and I love every minute of it.
Last week was gone in an instant and the week before it, too. Next week looms ahead full of opportunity and challenge. Time waits for no one. The sun rises, the sun sets, no matter what. It’s a cycle. Last year, I challenged my geography students to observe the world around them and a couple reminded me in the hall last week about the Sunshine Report. Last year’s geography students began each Wednesday morning looking at the sun’s angle, recording the sunrise and sunset, and we’ll do it again this year, but differently. Just as my students learn in my classroom, I too, learn from them: from good lessons that could be better, lessons that were awful, and lessons that should never be tried again. I learned from those students and this year’s group will teach me something different, something new. I can hardly wait.
Today is the Equinox. It occurs this afternoon at 3:44 PM local time. It’s the moment that the sun’s rays are at a right angle to the Equator and I trust the astronomers have gotten the moment right, because I live nowhere near the Equator and have no way of checking. Earth is moving, always is, and always will. It spins on it’s axis, revolves around the sun, and changes it’s tilt towards the sun. Earth is on the move. Today, places across the globe will receive almost equal daylight and darkness – on average about 12 hours and nine minutes of daylight. The nine minutes are from the way the time is measured – sunrise is the moment the sun peaks over the horizon and sunset is the moment the sun dips below the horizon. It’s a bit more than a complete and half circle and it’s the thickness of the sun that results in the extra time. Since June, the Northern Hemisphere has been losing sunlight, at first slowly but recently we’ve been losing about three minutes each day. On June 21st, Wheaton, where I live, got 15 hour and 13 minutes of daylight. Today, we are average – right at 12 hours and 9 minutes. Tomorrow, we’ll get about three minutes less and by next Sunday we’ll receive 11 hours and 50 minutes of daylight. But the good news is that it isn’t permanent. It’ll swing back in December and the cycle will continue.
Meanwhile my seventh grade geography students should be checking the Weather Channel website for their assigned city. I assigned them a city based on the geography text we use. Each chapter begins with the story of a person their age describing their daily routine. I am hoping to have 100 percent participation from my students but I have already learned that a few of them need to improve their work habits. I checked and logged the time for all twenty-seven locations plus three more locations in the Southern Hemisphere, just in case. We’ll check the sunshine again in October in class, and again on every 22nd of the month until school ends. I am excited about the possibilities and I am looking forward to seeing them learn about the cycle of life and how earth keeps a moving on. Stay tuned.
In English Language Arts (ELA), the students will be talking about Chapter 19 of The Giver and we’ll finish the book Tuesday, if they haven’t already. We are reading several texts at the same time and at first I was concerned they would be confused, but I am seeing many are able to see the similarities of the texts and beginning to identify the common theme – the community and make connections between the texts.
My own kids are chugging along, too. I am reliving my sophomore year of high school, something I had completely forgotten and probably for good reason. W had a great game Saturday and the sophomores are 2-2. The varsity is undefeated and have another big challenge this Friday night. O is all excited about her camping trip this coming weekend and getting to ride a horse. Oh my. The week will be gone in a flash and I’ll hardly notice the nineteen ‘lost’ minutes of sunlight.
I woke to a chilly morning this morning and it looks to be a great ‘last day’ of summer and ‘first day’ of fall – all at the same time. Today is gonna be a great day and tomorrow will likely be a million and six times better. But, first I need to tackle today, so I had better jump up, jump in, and seize the day. Making the days Count, one day, one sunrise, one sunset, and one step at a time.
How much daylight does your ‘burg’ get? What in the world are you planning to do with it?