Category Archives: teaching

Wednesday and Philly

Wednesday night’s game four of my baseball trip concluded with a pop up out to center field. Twenty- seven outs. It was a good game; the Atlanta Braves bested the Philadelphia Phillies.

Yesterday I arrived in Philadelphia, site of game four but also the site where this great American experiment came to a head some 246 years ago.

the room where it happened, Independence Hall

Less than a mile from where I sit, the founding fathers discussed, debated, and argued about next steps in 1776. The eventually came up with a statement, a written declaration, of complaints and desires. The Declaration of Independence was intended for King George III, who never read it. But it didn’t matter the world was in motion, as it still is today. Evolving, changing, succeeding, failing.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

I wonder what the founding fathers would think of where we are as a nation of people today. Continue reading Wednesday and Philly

Tuesday’s Tune – Reunited

It has been quite a long time since I wrote a Tuesday’s Tune post. It isn’t that I haven’t been inspired by music because I have, but it’s been a time issue especially during the school year.  It’s the third week of summer break and while I have more time to write, I also have the time for all those things I said I’d do when school was finished for the year, and now I have that time.

It’s Day 18 of summer break, the first real day of summer and I have been slowly carving away, and adding to, my TO DO list.

Our son was married the Saturday before Memorial Day and it was a weekend of family and friend time. It had been a while since I had been to a wedding, and we had a wonderful time celebrating our son and our new daughter-in-law as well her entire family.

School ended three weeks ago Wednesday and I finished the following day. It has been an interesting two and a quarter years since that last Tuesday’s Tune post – Tuesday’s Tune – Everything’s Not Lost.

The Friday’s weather, the first day of summer break, was sunny, warm, and perfect for watching the birds at the feeders in the backyard. I have placed the feeders so we can see them from the kitchen and sometimes I stop to watch the activity at the feeders. That first Friday afternoon, I looked out to watch for birds and I discovered an unusual bird latched to the tree bark. I stared and realized that it appeared it wasn’t a native bird. I was busy and when I came back later, it had flown off, and didn’t think anything about it the rest of the night.

The next morning, I was putting the trash out when I saw a bird walking in the street, it was the same bird I had seen the day before in our backyard. I bent down to pick up the bird and he climbed on to my finger and I picked him up. I guessed the bird was a pet and it had a purple (mauve) band on its left leg. A neighbor who had been walking his dog stopped to help and neither he nor I knew anyone in our neighborhood who had a pet bird. I placed the bird on a tree branch and took a photo so I could post a “have you lost your bird” post to our neighborhood’s Facebook page. I then headed off to Loaves and Fishes for my regular Saturday morning volunteer shift.

I couldn’t get the bird off my mind, I knew it was some family’s pet, and I felt guilt for not doing more to reunite the bird and its family. So, I turned around when I was almost halfway to Loaves and Fishes so I could retrieve the bird and put him (I was assuming it was a ‘him’) in Fern’s crate until after my shift. Fortunately, Fern and Ivy were (and still are) up north at the lake with my wife and daughter – which is a good thing, because if Fern had been in her yard, the bird wouldn’t have fared well. The bird was where I had left it and it got on my finger right away. I took it inside and placed the it in Fern’s crate, gave it some water, and birdseed, created the “have you lost your bird?” post, and headed off to Loaves and Fishes for my shift.

Continue reading Tuesday’s Tune – Reunited

what I am planning for summer break 2022

It’s summer, day 9 to be precise. I am a counter. I count the days and I try to make the time count, too. Sometimes I do, sometimes I come up short, but I am reminded that

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens…. Ecclesiastes 3:1

It reminds me to do better and to be present.

I am at the lake for a short trip, and I am headed home early Monday morning to do some of the things I said I’d do when summer came and so far, it’s a work in progress. This morning I awoke to a silent lake and fog lifting off the surface and hanging over the lake. It happens when warmer water interacts with cooler air – it’s science in action and I love how it looks in the early morning light.

morning fog, Lake Margrethe, Grayling, MI June 11, 2022 at 6:29 EDT

I re-read last year’s summer post Three things for a mid-June Sunday morning and I did well in 2021. I wrote when I could, and I enjoyed the backyard birds and even branched out to birding by the lake. I re-centered myself last summer and I think last school year was my best year as an educator, yet there is still room for growth, there always is.

Today’s post will be the first post of my 13th year of blogging. Oh, how far I have come and yet I have never left where I began. Continue reading what I am planning for summer break 2022

W^2 – wonder

W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday, May 25, 2022

How in the world did the balloon get inside that flask? Wonder. Scullen Middle School, Naperville, IL May 24, 2022 10:45 AM

This week for my W^2 post, wonder.

I snapped this photo yesterday in class after four straight demos of the scientific principle,

As temperature increases, the volume of gas increases. As temperature decreases, the volume of gas decreases.

And while my students watched the demonstration, some understood, but some are still wondering what happened and how that balloon got inside the glass. Is it magic? No, it’s science.

It is Wednesday, the middle of the week and there are as I sit and type FIVE more days of school this year and then it is summer. I can’t wait, they can’t wait. But we are going to make those five days count.

I know it is going to be going to be a great day. I know it and I can feel it, so I’d better jump up, jump in, and seize the day. Making the Days Count, one day at a time, making the most of every day and trying to compress learning just like air particles can be compressed.

What makes you wonder these days?

W^2 –moon, calm

W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday, May 18, 2022

sunset on the lake, waxing moon, calm. Lake Margrethe, Grayling, MI Saturday, May 14, 2022 8:59 PM EDT

This week for my W^2 post, the calm after the storm.

This past weekend I asked my wife I made a quick trip to the lake and back. Up late Friday afternoon and home late Sunday night.

We had chores to do, and I was looking for a bit of calm as the school year winds (and grinds) to a finish. As in my previous post, W^2 – beauty and the beast, weather intervened. The skies opened and a thunderstorm rolled across the lake bringing hail and almost an inch and half of rain in about thirty minutes.

Once the storm passes, the skies cleared and there was calm. Calm enough to sit at the end of the dock and admire the sunset or flip the other way and admire the moon rise.

It was an excellent weekend, and I got a taste of summer, early. We also got the calm we needed and craved.

It is Wednesday, the middle of the week and there are as I sit and type ten more days of school this year and then it is summer. Today and I going to try and convince my 6th graders that there is a lot of space in the atmosphere for air particles (aka atoms and molecules) to move and I hope it provides the calm they need to weather the final days of the year. I know it is going to be going to be a great day. I know it and I can feel it, so I’d better jump up, jump in, and seize the day. Making the Days Count, one day at a time, making the most of every day and trying to compress learning just like air particles can be compressed.

What brings you a little calm these days?

Be Curious, not Judgmental

It is the Saturday morning before Easter and I am up early, before anyone else. Normally, I’d be at Loaves and Fishes volunteering helping families in need of food get the food they need, but Loaves and Fishes is closed for the holiday. I did work Thursday after school as it was the last day that families could get food this week and it was terribly busy.

trees along the path, Herrick Lake Forest Preserve, Wheaton, IL. April 10, 2022 5:29 PM

Yesterday I was reading my devotional, The One Year Uncommon Life Daily Challenge by Tony Dungy. I was reading the entry for July 21st. I know yesterday was April 15th, but I started reading the journal a couple of years ago and I started almost two years ago on April 25, 2020, by starting with the January 1st entry. The intent was to read each day and finish a year later on April 24, 2021, with the December 31st entry, but that didn’t happen. Things happen and life gets in the way of good intentions. But each time I have read an entry; I have felt as though the passage is speaking directly to me. Yesterday’s title was “Discernment instead of Judgement.” As I read the entry, I reflected on its meaning, and I immediately thought of the TV comedy series Ted Lasso. Last week, a colleague and I had been talking about teaching science and the topic of Ted Lasso wisdom had come up. He mentioned a Ted Lasso quote, “Be Curious, not judgmental,” and we chuckled because I encourage my students to be curious and full of wonder in science. Continue reading Be Curious, not Judgmental

W^2 – restorative

W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday, December 15, 2021

The lake has a layer of ice in the background, winter is near, Herrick Lake Forest Preserve Wheaton, IL December 11, 2021, 3:25 PM

Saturday afternoon Fern and I took a walk at our local forest preserve. It was the first time in while she and I stepped out together on a hike. I couldn’t find my gloves, it was very windy, and my fingers were cold holding the leash and my new hiking stick. Temperatures last Saturday were above freezing, but when we passed the south end of the lake, we could see a crust of ice coating the surface. I did learn one thing, don’t use a hiking stick with Fern on a leash.

It was a good walk to clear the head, move the legs, and breath some fresh air. Like so many things in life, I just to make time for them. Restorative.

There are six days, counting today, until school is out for winter. The solstice arrives in five. It’s going to be an amazing day and it’s already begun. Making the Days Count, one day at a time, working on ways to restore, refresh, and move. Peace.

Where did you go for your most recent walk? Please share.

W^2 – waxing moon

Venus and a waxing moon, DuPage Forest Preserve Headquarters, Wheaton, IL November 7, 2021, 5:26 PM

We’ve been watching the skies in my science classes this past week. We have been watching Jupiter, Saturn, and Venus in the early evening sky. It has been fun to watch the planets as well as my students when I begin class by asking,

“Did anyone go outside last night?”

Their eyes light up and some even produce photographs of the night sky they took on their phones. It’s exciting to see the wonder and enthusiasm for discovering something new. I found the video below and I was excited to learn about a partial lunar eclipse on the evening of November 18-19. You can check it out below. I will set my alarm to see partial lunar and I hope that it is a clear night. Watching and listening to my students makes me realize I am doing what I am supposed to be doing as I begin my seventh decade today. Yes, it is my birthday, and I am 60. I still feel like a young man full of curiosity and wonder. Making the Days Count, one day at a time, thinking like a young person keeps me young and full of excitement about what’s coming next.

What keeps you going?

W^2 – evening walk

W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Fern and her shadow on our evening walk, Wheaton, IL October 12, 2021, 6:35 PM

The days are getting shorter, and the sun sets earlier each evening as a reminder that we are headed into winter. Then the process will reverse again as it always does. Until that time, fern and I will have to start earlier in the afternoon. We’ll continue to Make the Days Count, one day at a time, one step, or sniff, at time, starting earlier each day.

When do you make time walk?

W^2 – huge oak

W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday, September 29, 2021

the huge oak, Blackwell Forest Preserve, Warrenville, IL September 12, 2021, 9:24 AM

I often joke, “I put the late, in Clayton.” This week’s photograph is from three weeks ago when Fern and I took an ambitious morning hike at a new forest preserve to us. I’d been there plenty of times but never taken Fern for a hike. It was a steamy morning and we turned and headed home before finishing the planned distance. It was a good hike but both of us were spent. I had for too much to accomplish on the 15th and again on the 22nd, so on the 29th here is the huge oak, it’s a tree not a street. It looks like it’s been where it is for a while, and I anticipate it’ll be there long after me, even if I am on time. Making the Days Count, one day at a time, sometimes a delay and sometimes on time.

What is your timing, are you punctual or late?