Category Archives: Learning

It’s not magic, it’s science

It’s been raining since early this morning. The rain is welcome as late August, all of September, and the first week of October have been dry, very dry. I awoke this morning to Ivy wanting to climb into bed with me, rather than lie at my feet as she usually does. This morning she was up by my head, then my chest, leaping off the bed and running downstairs, then racing back up, before I finally relented and got out of bed and began my Saturday morning. Long before the sun rose.

The rain has been heavy with thunder and lightning, which is what spooks Ivy.

I had a few appointments in the morning before I was able to get back to writing and thinking or thinking and writing. It’s been a couple of weeks since my last post. Last weekend was a three-day weekend and I started writing a post, but didn’t finish, so it’ll be one of those blogpost topics which flickered, but didn’t light. I haven’t forgotten kindness, but just been focused on school and home, and of course the long season.

The long season is winding down. The Astros, my team, have made it to the postseason and they’ve advanced to the American League Championship Series, they need 2 more wins to advance to the World Series. I am watching and rooting, though sometimes it’s easier just to listen or learn the score after the game, but that takes the fun out of the game.

It’s all about balance, because sometimes the forces of life are beyond my control.

a balancing act, science, not magic

Last week my science students were beginning their study of forces, motion, and energy. Our focus in class has been to wonder and be curious about how things move. I’ve introduced my students to the magnetic cannon and Newton’s Cradle and last week I balanced two forks with a toothpick on the edge of glass beaker. It’s easier than you think, it’s all about finding the right balance and then trusting that apparatus (the forks with the toothpick) will balance and realizing that if they fall, I can try it again, and again until it balances. Continue reading It’s not magic, it’s science

3C’s for Sunday

It’s Sunday morning and school is in full bloom and my bucket is full, in fact it’s overflowing. Trying to rationalize how time will be spent between the ‘want to dos,’ ‘need to-dos,’ and ‘have to dos’ is the challenge to leading a balanced life. I am thankful to the time I devoted this past summer break for helping me develop a new habit of starting the day with 20 minutes devoted to thinking about what happened yesterday, what will happen today, and how it will shape tomorrow. It’s in line with my first thing…

my Sunday morning view from the deck…

Curiosity
It takes curiosity to Make the Days Count. I am naturally a curious person and according to my principal in 2014, that’s why he picked me to teach 8th grade science. This is my fourth year as a science teacher and I finally feel like I really know what I am doing. It all comes back to that trait – curiosity and wonder. Last August, in 2016, I wrote a post about the 100 most influential Americans. I promised to reveal who the nine Americans I chose for my classroom were, I never did until this post. Continue reading 3C’s for Sunday

memory, never forget

16 years ago, this morning, my day was just beginning. It was my son’s first day of school.

our flag flies at half-mast today,

I was teaching geography, the water cycle to be exact. It was the end of second period when she walked into my room. She looked nervous. The bell rang, the students left, and another class walked in, sat down, and then she spoke. It was a prepared statement. When she was finished, she left the room and took the air right out of that room with her.

Our lives changed in that instant. It was quiet and we waited.

But our lives moved on, we learned to help others and be tolerant and work together. Sometimes it was easy, and other times very difficult. But we’ve moved forward and we look back. Abraham Lincoln wrote,

“The past is the cause of the present, and the present will be the cause of the future.”

It’s been 16 years. This morning, I’ll teach science and U.S. History to 8th graders who hadn’t been born when it happened. I’ll share my passion to learn and grow daily, even just a little. I’ll share the video below with my U.S. History class and speak every name aloud.

16 years later, my son is in college and he has faint memories of the morning, mostly from listening to our stories – he was 3 years 7 months 10 days old. But, I’ll never forget and every time I teach the water cycle, I remember.

I am a teacher. I am a servant leading with my heart, following with my head.

I am passionate, curious, persistent, thoughtful, energetic, positive, dedicated, caring, driven, faithful, thankful and grateful, tenacious, innovative, creative, courageous, strong, always learning, hard-working, diligent, patient (well, sometimes) understanding, inquisitive, old-school, and loving.

It’s gonna be a great day. I know I will make a difference today, and every day forward. Making the Days Count, one day at a time, one little step followed by another.

What will you day to make today a great day?

Three things for Saturday

It’s Saturday morning and I am Up North for three days – Saturday, Sunday, and part of Monday. I am not counting Friday, because we arrived a little after midnight this morning. We left home Friday afternoon along with thousands of others escaping Chicagoland for one last moment along the lakeshore with family.

sunset. standing on the dock looking west in the sprinkles

It’s an old photo, but it perfectly captures the spirit of the lake.

Houston AstrSchool is back in session and the routine and structure of a daily schedule has returned. It’s a good thing, but it means less time to write. I’ve been yearning to write, but haven’t, I’ve had other things besides school on my mind.

First thing – Harvey
If you’ve been reading Making the Days Count for a while you may know that I am from the Houston area and all but one of my family members live in the area. I lived in the Houston area for the first part of my life from the early 60s until I moved away in 1987. In all that time, I remember only a couple of tropical storms and one hurricane – Alicia in 1983. Since then, the area has been hit by several large hurricanes and tropical storms. Recently by Hurricane Harvey this past weekend. Fortunately, all of my family are safe and their homes weren’t affected by the flooding. But there were thousands of area residents and many folks who my family members know who were impacted by the flooding.

Last night as I drove north, I talked to my mom and she shared all of the good things that are happening in the Houston area. I’ve read the stories about how the community is coming together to help those affected by the storm. It renews my faith and makes me #HoustonSTRONG. Continue reading Three things for Saturday

satisfaction: bottled sunshine

It’s late July, and it’s that time of the year. Back to school. O and I were out shopping today and stores are in full swing with their back to school shopping sales. I read Jen H.’s Weekly Photo Challenge post and I certainly identify with her, I love school supplies and office supplies. School is around the corner; 24 days and counting for my colleagues and I.

Monday’s sunset – getting in position….

Summer break has been satisfying, though I feel my bathroom scale is lying to me. Perhaps, summer has been too satisfying. O and I returned Tuesday morning for marching band camp. B and Ivy remained Up North by the lake. B’s awaiting her sister and her son – our nephew – who arrives later today. O and I will be back for the weekend. We’re both excited to see them and have fun at the lake. This weekend is race weekend and there will be fun by and on the lake, then fun as spectators watching the canoe race. And who knows what else we will find to do. It will be a great weekend.

At this point during summer break, I begin to panic. Usually, it’s where did summer go? Not this summer, it’s been largely a summer full of satisfaction. I read the week’s photo challenge and as always, it’s wide open. I checked the meaning of satisfaction and Merriam and Webster define satisfaction as:

2a: fulfillment of a need or want
2b: the quality or state of being satisfied: CONTENTMENT
2c: a source or means of enjoyment: GRATIFICATION

Summer break comes along at the perfect time in the school year for kids and adults. The learning and growing and teaching that happens requires a great deal of mental energy and by year’s end we’re both exhausted. This summer has had the right amount of contentment, perhaps according to my scale, a tad more contentment. Continue reading satisfaction: bottled sunshine

Tuesday’s Tune: Wonderful World

It’s is a wonderful world, indeed. When I first heard Sam Cooke croon,

Don’t know much about history
Don’t know much biology
Don’t know much about a science book
Don’t know much about the French I took

I was watching Animal House with John Belushi and laughing as only a teenager can. I’ve grown up, it’s been almost 40 years since I watched Animal House. I was in high school and dreaming of college, and I didn’t know much about history, or the French I took. I knew everything, or thought I did.

It was the start of my junior year in high school and it was the year which changed my life. Seriously, no kidding.

the photo says it all….really, no Raleigh.

Fast forward and I am much older, more experienced, and I still don’t know much about history and every day I am reminded of how much I still don’t know, and yet I still yearn to learn more and grow each day – to make every day count.

It’s why I am in Raleigh, North Carolina for a social studies conference. I realize I don’t know everything and I want to learn and be a better teacher. Continue reading Tuesday’s Tune: Wonderful World

collage – a photo challenge

It’s Saturday morning and I’m home, on the deck, again. It’s a lovely morning it’s cool and calm and the birds are chirping up a storm, or perhaps it is because I can hear the birds and everything else with much better clarity. Ivy sits perched at the edge of the deck surveying the yard and the garden beds beyond.

I wanted to write this post yesterday, but life got in the way. It was Bastille Day, France’s national celebration of independence. It was also Pandemonium Day, really, I am not making this up. Today is either tapioca Pudding Day, Gummi Worm Day, Orange Chicken Day, or Pet Safety Day.

We returned from the lake, and the duck butts, Thursday evening. I had a couple of appointments yesterday and I leave for a three-day social studies conference in Raleigh, North Carolina tomorrow morning. I was born in Raleigh and I have not been back since I was a baby when my mom and dad moved, or returned (as I learned) to Decatur, Alabama. I image much has changed in Raleigh since – the population in 1960 was 93,000 and today it is close to 450,000.

I was enjoying yesterday’s early morning on the back deck, that time of day is the best time to enjoy the deck. The sun rises and brightens the front of the house and the entire backyard is in full shade, the deck remains in the shade until late morning when the sunrises higher in the sky. I was the only one up, except Ivy when my mom called – it was wonderful to hear her voice. Continue reading collage – a photo challenge

FOCUS – a photo challenge

It’s Saturday morning and the past week has passed quickly, much too quickly. Honestly, the past nine days have been a blur. Summertime is usually my blogging time, school’s out and I am on vacation, sort of. While the past week or so has been a blur of days, I have been focused.

Wednesday afternoon’s rain total – the rain gauge is OUT of focus

This past week I am doing what many educators do over summer break – professional development. I am taking a class on teaching science using the modelling science methodology. The class is certainly keeping me on my toes and I am taking notes and making sure I don’t miss anything. Trying to stay focused on why I am in class in the first place – to use the science modelling framework in my science classroom.

Big Red and me – my signature selfie and a possible future blog post

Last summer, similar class – Modelling Biology but, this summer I am taking Physics: Mechanics. The instructor was my son, W’s, physics teacher and W enjoyed having him – but the class pushed him as a student, just as my own physics class and teacher did when I was in high school. I am having flashbacks to Mrs. Matney’s 3rd hour physics class from 1979-80. The class content is definitely keeping me on my toes and I need to remind myself to stay focused. Coincidentally, Mrs. Matney is STILL teaching high school physics. I made a brief visit to my old high school in April when I was visiting my mom. I asked to see Mrs. Matney, she was out of school at a high school science competition. The year I had Mr. Matney she was selected as the high school’s teacher of the year. I learned a lot that year in science, but I learned more about myself and grew up, sort of. I sent Mrs. Matney a thank you e-mail over a decade ago and she responded that she was still teaching science. I am thankful for her dedication to teaching and especially her patience understanding with me when I was her student. Continue reading FOCUS – a photo challenge

Evanescent – a photo challenge

It’s the Sunday morning on the three-day Memorial Day weekend. The weather forecast for today called for rain, but it appears the rain bands have shifted north and we’ll be rain-free today and, possibly, tomorrow. I walked the backyard this morning in search of peony blooms for this post. The air was thick with humidity, yesterday’s sunny and clear day replaced by low grey clouds. Weather is evanescent, ‘tending to vanish like vapor’ according to Meriam and Webster.

coral is the color – it’s in the front yard and it blooms early

Admittedly, I’d never heard the word, I had heard of effervescent, but not evanescent. I had to look it up in the dictionary. I discovered it is the root of a word that IS part of my vocabulary – vanish.

We’ve had a warm wet spring. I checked the weather page in the Chicago Tribune to confirm what I had suspected – we’ve had almost twice the rain compared to normal. It shows in the blooms. The peonies are about to bloom and coincidentally, I have written about peonies before – two years to the day: Peonies and Time. Continue reading Evanescent – a photo challenge

heritage – a photo challenge

The interesting thing about our heritage is that we don’t get to choose it, it’s been selected for us and we have to wear and share it forward, or it ends.

Today, May 20 would’ve been my dad’s 84th birthday. I was looking for a photo to post on Facebook and I found a flash drive loaded with photos I had scanned on a visit home in August ‘11. I found family photos ranging from before I was born until my early twenties. It brought back memories. I remember that trip home as if it was the other day. Where have I been? – August ‘11.

my parent’s wedding day photo – left to right back row – my mother’s mother, her father’s mother, her father, my father’s mother and father. Front row – my mother’s sister – Joy, my mother and father, and my mother’s sister’s boyfriend – Frank

One of the photos I found was my parent’s wedding photo. They were married September 1, 1960. It was the same date as my mother’s parents wedding date 33 years before. Continue reading heritage – a photo challenge