It’s late Saturday evening and the day is almost done. The sun set hours ago, and it’s dark now. The moon is visible in the clear western sky. Last night it lightly snowed and this morning when the sun rose its warmth melted the fresh layer of new snow. Spring, at least official Spring, is a little more than a fortnight away, but all indications are that Spring is here.
I woke early, made coffee and began work before the sun rose this morning. I was driving to church when I snapped the photo. It’s the road I take to church or downtown or whenever I visit the Northside of town. This morning was the monthly men’s group gathering and I joined this year. Most of the time I am the youngest member of the group. It was my turn to get donuts. Continue reading Road Taken – a photo challenge→
It’s Monday morning and I am looking out at the lake when I look up and to the left. It’s been beautiful this weekend and we’ve gotten to rest and relax – something all of us needed, including Ivy.
Normally on a Monday morning, I’d be at school getting ready for the day, but’ it’s President’s Weekend and a three-day weekend for O and I. We’ve had this weekend circled on our calendars since early January. We’ve spent many President’s Day weekends up at the lake. The kids have skied and I’ve relaxed. It’s that time in the school year when we all of us can see the end of the year. We passed Hundred’s Day – an important milestone for elementary kids – a couple of weeks ago, and as of tomorrow, Tuesday 2/21, there are 63 days of school remaining.
It is Sunday afternoon and the sun is shining. It’s Martin Luther King Jr. weekend which means a three-day weekend for me and O, W is out of school until next week when his college goes back into session.
Winter Break finished last week. I was back at school this past Monday and it was a whirlwind of a week; each day I came home from school promising myself I’d put together a post in response to the Weekly Photo Challenge – Names and I never did. Friday night, I fell asleep on the couch and yesterday I was laid low by the flu and took a day off, of sorts.
I spent the last week of Winter Break in Northern Mississippi visiting my step-mother, Juliana or simply J. It was intended to be a wellness check visit, she lives by herself and I worry. She has friends, but friends aren’t family. So, I worry,and my brothers worry, and we visit when we can.
I had asked J before I arrived if she would want to take a road trip to Vicksburg with me. I planned to see the Vicksburg National Military Park and possibly pay a visit to Jansen Schmidt, a blogger friend at the Baer House, J agreed. So, on Wednesday – January 4 we took off on a road trip. Oxford, Mississippi is almost two hundred miles from Vicksburg. The weather was great – it was cool in the mid-forties but dry. Perfect for driving into unfamiliar territory.
Wednesday morning got off to a slow start – I distracted myself with a technical issue that I discovered was a worthless endeavor. J was hesitant getting started, but once we were on the road we made good time and arrived at the park close to 2 PM. We were all in. Continue reading names – a photo challenge→
Thursday – December 29, 2016. Counting today, there are three more days in 2016. Then a new year, of sorts. Last year, I had three hundred sixty-six to count, the coming year brings three hundred sixty-five. For educators, like myself, the year is defined by the school calendar mid-August to June or early May with a break in June, July and early August. Which means new year marks the beginning of second half and new birth of sorts for my eighth graders.
At the moment, I am on winter break – Day 7. I wish I could report I had accomplished more than catching up on sleep, but I can’t. I prepared an amazing Christmas Dinner – roasted bone-in prime rib, au gratin potatoes, and Brussel sprouts with bacon. Ivy got the bones. B made the old-fashioned cream pie for dessert.
Today marks the beginning of a new path – thank you notes, cleaning off my office desk, a workout (this would be three days in a row), and maybe some school work – maybe.
We had snow in early December, the first Sunday of the month. The storm left several inches of snow covering the ground. A week later, we had another storm blanketing the area with a fresh layer if snow. The following week, we had bitter cold and last weekend we had rain and the most of the snow melted. The Monday after Christmas, I was outside raking leaves from the deck and cleaning up the yard a bit. Except for a few patches where the sun doesn’t shine, the snow is gone, it’s history. This afternoon’s forecast calls for a dusting of snow, but at the moment it is clear and sunny – a bonus for this time of the year.
I teach kids, kids that are 13 to 14 and getting ready to enter high school. It’s fun and exhausting; and even though it’s work, I don’t call it work, because when it becomes work, I think I’ll quit and never go back. I hope that day never comes, I mean the day when it becomes work.
That’s why, when I get an e-mail like I did today, it gives me the energy to keep going.
Congratulations! You’ve been accepted into the Recap Pioneer program! Here’s a badge for your blog. Please send us a short bio and photo for the Pioneers page.
I am excited.
Let’s Recap is free software that teachers can use to assign a question and students can respond by recording a video response. It’s easy to use and easy to use for my students. I’ve used it twice, once on a test run and more recently last weekend to gauge how well my students understood why the American colonists were upset with England and King George III in the period leading up to the American Revolution. In previous years I’ve assigned a protest letter and students wrote the letter and handed it in to me. This year I tried Recap and I was impressed with the results. My students still used the traditional planning with pen and paper- though it wasn’t required – but the results showed deeper thinking and I believe better transfer of the content. I’ll discover how well it worked next Friday when I give the unit assessment. Fingers crossed.
It’s Constitution Day, again. This year it falls on a Saturday, so I won’t be celebrating with my students until Monday. In the meantime, I am reminded of the importance to share and celebrate today, even if I only catch the end of Saturday and post late in the evening.
Saturday is always a busy day, even if it is Saturday. The past several years we’ve spent our Friday nights watching a high school football game, but W, my football playing son, graduated from high school in May and is no longer on the team. So we don’t have to be at all of the games. We’ll still root for the Tigers, but we won’t catch all of the games. Besides, O, my softball playing daughter, had a softball game Friday night and we rooted her and her team on to a win.
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” Preamble to the Constitution.
Seven Articles. Twenty-seven Amendments. 229 years and the framework is still valid. It still works. At the time, it was divisive. Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay came together to collaborate on articles to influence the passage of the Constitution. These articles published anonymously are better known as the Federalist Papers and have been used by the Supreme Court justices to help decide many of the decisions they’ve handed down since the Constitution became the law of the land on June 21, 1788 when New Hampshire became the 9th of 13 states to ratify the Constitution. Virginia and New York, the two most populous states would become the 10th and 11th states to ratify the document before George Washington was elected our first president. North Carolina and Rhode Island would join the Union while Washington was in his first presidential term. By the time Washington made his farewell address in 1796, the Union would grow to 16 states with Vermont, Kentucky, and Tennessee joining the original 13 states.
But you don’t follow me to read Constitutional theory or even U.S. History, though it’s interesting. Just admit it, it’s okay. You click MtDc to find out what’s happening and read a little bit of positive in a world filled full of negativity. Continue reading We the people→
Yesterday was my first day back to school. Summer break was great, but it’s time to get back to school\work and a regular schedule. I’ve been busy all summer getting ready for today.
I know it looked like I was having fun at the lake, but I was really thinking and planning about how to begin the new year with my brand new 8th graders. AND, this year I have a bonus, I have my very own 8th grader at home – so I can experience 8th grade 24/7 without interruption.
I vaguely remember my own 8th grade experience. I struggled all year, and if it weren’t for an amazing teacher – Mrs. Atlee in RWS (reading, writing, and spelling) reaching out and giving me a hand when I needed it – the year might have turned out differently. I am grateful for her help and continually try to pay back her assistance by paying it forward to my students.
The key to getting a great start to a school year is how the first few days of school are organized and set up. My most successful years have been the years when I spent the first few days creating a climate in the classroom that fostered learning and curiosity.
In the 41 years since I was in 8th grade (the first time), the classroom has changed significantly. It’s changed because as educators, we better understand how students learn and grow, and technology has had a hand in changing how students learn as well.
I am going to sound old, but let’s face it, I AM old – relative to my students. When I was in 8th grade, television had seven or eight channels, tops. Television, books, and movies – that was it for media, oh and radio. We had the major networks CBS, ABC, NBC, and PBS as well as three or four independent channels. Today, television has hundreds of channels and comes in all sorts of flavors, and then there is the internet and the media programming available online. What is available to my students is overwhelming, but the reality is my 8th graders are still 8th graders with 13-14 year-old’s brains still developing like my brain was developing 41 years ago. Today’s students are exposed to more content, but in reality, they learn it differently. Continue reading the one hundred most→
It’s Thursday morning and it is the twenty-seventh day of summer break, almost two-thirds remain. There is a myth which persists that teachers don’t work a full year. It’s not true, it is nowhere close to being true and the myth misrepresents what educators do to be ready for the coming year.
Class starts in an hour.
This summer I am taking a professional development class, in fact the last several summers I have taken PD classes. Classes are taught by fellow educators and are filled with rich curricula and new methods to help students grow and learn. This summer I am taking a two-week long class at the local high school. The class is offered through Fermilab Education and W’s freshman biology teacher is the instructor, he was also one of W’s wrestling coaches. It has been an interesting eight days of being transported back to being fifteen again, and then morphing back to my real age. It’s been forty years since that high school freshman year, I’d mostly forgotten that very awkward time.
I was young, very young when Cassius Clay changed his name to Muhammad Ali. And, I remember kids calling me Cassius, but I didn’t understand until later that it should have been taken as a compliment, even if that wasn’t the intent. Kids.
I began using the quote, “Don’t count the days, make the days count” long before I began blogging and even longer before I knew it is attributed to Muhammad Ali. It is likely that Ali is not the origin of the saying either, but Muhammad Ali is the one gets the credit. It doesn’t matter who, or when, or how, he was the Greatest.
I can imagine how he said it, though. It was days before a big fight, could’ve been Frazier, or Foreman, or a lesser known fighter and Ali was asked by a reporter if he was ready for the fight with only days away. His response was classic Ali,
“Only a fool counts days. I am the Greatest, I don’t count the days, I make the days count. And when I step into the ring the only countin’ that’s gonna be goin’ on is the referee counting to ten when I knock that sucker on his back. I am the Greatest.” Muhammad Ali
Last Saturday I was at Cantigny, the former estate of Robert McCormick Chicago industrialist and publisher of the Chicago Tribune. The estate is now open to the public and houses the First Division Museum, the McCormick Museum, and has many open gardens. McCormick was a colonel in the army during World War I and led troops in the First Division. After the war, he renamed his estate Cantigny after the town in northern France that his division had liberated in their first action. He served through the end of the war and returned to run the Chicago Tribune until his death in 1955.
I was at Cantigny for a professional development class, FDR’s “Forgotten Man” vs. Hoover’s “Rugged Individual.” The forum was offered through the Teaching American History organization. It was an amazing discussion and it gave me the energy for the final days of teaching American history to my eighth grade students. Last weekend there were nine days left in the school, now there are four days – two of which are celebration days and a final promotion event with awards and then, off to high school. Continue reading the face of determination→