Tag Archives: teaching

W^2 – measuring up

W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday, September 21, 2022

A couple of weeks ago, I was mowing our lawn on a Wednesday evening after school, when I looked up to discover this young boy and his mom investigating the handprints in our sidewalk. His mother was patient as the young boy placed his hands in each of the handprints and repeated the process.

a young man investigates the handprints in our sidewalk, When, IL, Wednesday, September 7, 2022 6:18 PM

The first was the handprint made by our daughter who was four almost five years old and the other, our son who was eight years old at the time. Beneath each handprint, my wife had scratched their initials and the date. The year was 2007.

Our kids are grown. Our son is married, our daughter in college, and one day this young boy will be making his way after leaving his mark somewhere along the way.

We all leave a mark, sometimes it’s visible and sometimes it’s not. It’s in the things we do, the way we made people feel, thew tings we say and write, and the contribution we made along the way.

Today is going to be an amazing 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, leaving my mark.

How has your Wednesday been?

twenty-one years later

Twenty-one years ago, this morning, I was welcoming my seventh graders into my geography classroom. It was early in the year in the year, and we were building routines and learning. I was learning their names and faces and the lesson for the day was the water cycle.

The water cycle courtesy of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

I don’t remember the first two classes, but I do remember when a counselor came into the classroom towards the end of the second class, about 9:20 AM or so. She waited until the class ended, the third period class had entered, and settled and until after the bell had rung and then she made the announcement that earlier in the morning America had been attacked. Her message was scripted and every classroom in our school go the same message at the same time.

I don’t remember the exact text of the message, but I can close my eyes and go back to room B111 on September 11, 2001 and picture the layout of the room on that morning.

On nine-eleven two thousand one, I was 39 and my students were 12.

This past spring, I began volunteering regularly at Loaves and Fishes on Thursday after school. I had been volunteering on Saturdays since early 2020, but I decided to add a new day. Soon, I had been asked to be the lead volunteer for my part of the operation on Thursday afternoon. Loaves and Fishes is a wonderful place, and I am thankful to be part of an organization that helps people in need, especially when the cost of groceries and gasoline have increased significantly. I have also discovered a community of people who care about others, and I have met several parents of former students who volunteer for the organization. It’s a small world.

It was the last day of school and summer had begun when I walked into the market at Loaves and Fishes for my Thursday afternoon shift.

I saw Michelle and we greeted each other, and she shared a story with me. It went something like this:

Michelle – you teach at Scullen, right?
Me – yes, I do.
Michelle – Do remember Judy? She was the nurse.
Me – Yes, I remember Judy and I remember having her son Joey in class. It’s been a log time.
Michelle – I was at a going away party last weekend for Judy. She’s retired and moving to Wisconsin, and I mentioned I had me you at Loaves and Fishes. She remembered you and we were talking, and Allison overheard us and joined our conversation, do remember her?
Me – yes, I do. I do remember that name – it was our first year at the school and we were all new.
Michelle – well, she remembers you.
Me – WOW. Really? I remember her, too. I hadn’t thought about that name since she was in my class. That’s a long time ago.
Michelle – yes, it was and she does. She told the two of us that every year on 9/11, she remembers being in your class and being scared and that you were calm and reassured her and the class that everything would be okay.
Me – WOW (and at this point I am beginning to tear up)
Michelle – Ally’s married and has two kids and lives in the area.
Me – We all grow up, thank you for telling me this.

That’s how I remember our conversation and it’s stuck with me since.

This summer I started my baseball trip in New York City. The first game was Sunday at Yankee Stadium and after the game I drove to Washington, D. C. for another game. I returned Tuesday for third game and the possibility of visiting the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum. Unfortunately, the museum was closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at the time I was in New York City. But I figured I could at least visit the Memorial before I left for my Philadelphia and game four.

Tuesday night I set alarm for early Wednesday morning, before sunrise. My plan was to walk to the memorial which was less than a mile away from my hotel. It was early morning twilight, and I was surrounded by tall buildings blocking much of the light. New York City was beginning to waken, even though I suspect the city never sleeps, it’s always moving. Cars, buses, and trucks were beginning start the day and few people were walking with me. Some going to work and other heading home.

I passed a church that was refuge on 9/11 and the days after as people sought comfort. Continue reading twenty-one years later

The Lion Sleeps Tonight – part 2

Yesterday was my twenty-fourth first day of school, well, not completely. I was with teachers and administrators for meetings and new school year information, but kids will arrive Thursday. I am excited and I am sure the kids are, too..

I have one more day of meeting and a FULL day to work in my classroom and prepare for Thursday’s real first day of school with kids.

After school, I asked a colleague to film the solution to the riddle I posed in last week’s Tuesday’s Tune – The Lion Sleeps Tonight.

In the jungle, the mighty jungle
The lion sleeps tonight
In the jungle the quiet jungle
The lion sleeps tonight

Before the solution reveal, let’s review the rules.

  1. The raft needs at least one animal to paddle it across the river, and it can hold at most two animals.
  2. If the lions EVER outnumber the wildebeest on either side of the river (including the animals on the boat if it is on that side), the lions will eat the wildebeest.
  3. The animals cannot just swim across – there are crocodiles in the river, there are no tricks, the animals must use the raft as described in rule #1.

Did you give it a try?

If so, how long did you persist in the challenge?

And now the solution…… Continue reading The Lion Sleeps Tonight – part 2

last day of summer break

It’s Sunday and I am sitting at my summer office and listening to the gentle whirrrrr of the hummingbird at the feeder to my upper left. It’s Sunday morning quiet and except for the occasional car, truck, or airplane I can hear the birds singing in the trees. Fern and Ivy laying nearby enjoying the time outside.

Friday evening, I noticed it seemed darker than normal at 8:15 PM. Early Saturday morning, I read the morning New York Times email which confirmed Friday evening’s observation, summer is waning.

Confirmation of my observation piqued my curiosity so, I researched. As it turned out, Wednesday August 9th was also the final 8 PM sunset for this summer where I live. The next 8 PM sunset won’t occur for another 274 days or until May 9th. Being curious, I researched further, here are some lasts and nexts, in case you are wondering:

  • the last 7 PM sunset 9/15/2022, the next 7PM sunset, 3/17/2023
  • the last 6 PM sunset 10/22/2022, the next 6PM sunset, 3/12/2023
    change in daylight savings time occurs 3/11/2023
  • the last 5 PM sunset 11/5/2022 at 5:41 PM but the shift away from daylight savings time makes the sunset on 11/6/2022 – 4:40 PM, the next 5PM sunset, 1/27/2023
  • the earliest sunset occurs at 4:21 PM between 12/3 to 12/14/2022

If you are curious, you can research your location using the Time and Date sun calculator. There is a plethora of information: sunrise, sunset, sun angle, and more.

I am an early riser. At the height of summer, the sun rises early, and it is light before 6 AM. The sunrise has been later each day, too. Summer is waning. Continue reading last day of summer break

Tuesday’s Tune – The Lion Sleeps Tonight

As a kid I never gave thought to what teachers did over summer break. I was free. I could sleep late, stay up late, and read what and when I wanted.

I am finishing my twenty-third summer break as a teacher. That first summer, 1999, really wasn’t a break at all. It was spent applying for jobs, and interviews, and finally landing a teaching job in the middle of July.

photo courtesy of the Express – click to read the article – King of the jungle: Dramatic moment ferocious lion kills wildebeest in just 60 SECONDS

I remember that interview well, it was more a conversation than an interview. I remember walking out of the principal’s office and seeing the eleven o’clock interviewee waiting and thinking that I had nailed the interview. Actually, we both did. Both of us were hired that year and will still teach at the same school, today.

Now twenty-three year later, I know teachers are busy but I can still do those things I did as a kid. But school is coming and it’s like a lion.

In the jungle, the mighty jungle
The lion sleeps tonight
In the jungle the quiet jungle
The lion sleeps tonight

The end of summer is like the lion, it sleeps and then roars. School begins next week, and I’ve spent summer doing those things I said I’d do when school was out, and I had more time. I’ve also spent time thinking and re-thinking how I am going to approach this year. I took a class, and I taught a class and though it all, I am ready to get back to school next Monday.

Last week, I taught a class. It was a one-day teacher’s camp, and it was optional for all of us – teachers and learners, though only teachers came. The class I taught was titled, Lions and Wildebeest – using Puzzles to Engage 21st Century Learners.

The class was based on a lesson that I taught last spring. It was a Monday lesson before spring break. My science classes had finished a major unit the previous Friday and taken the test. We had five days before spring break with three days of state-mandated testing set for Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Experience taught me not much beyond testing would be done that week and I needed a lesson to encourage my students to be curious and full of wonder and be ready for the fourth quarter which would begin the Monday after break.

at my summer office… the tools needed to solve the puzzle

So, I introduced Lions and Wildebeest. It’s a riddle. The riddle challenges students to think and collaborate. Exactly what was needed for our students. The premise is simple, Continue reading Tuesday’s Tune – The Lion Sleeps Tonight

Tipping point

It is Sunday morning and my last day at the lake for this trip. I’ll be heading home tomorrow morning to focus on my summer to dos. I enjoy my time by the lake, and it serves its purpose: I am rested, relaxed, and getting closer to the restoration that I need after a year of teaching.

I was up well before the rest of the house. It was a beautiful Michigan July summer morning; temperatures in the upper 40s, fog hanging close to the still mirror-like lake, and clear blue skies. The past few days began the same with highs in the low 80s. It promises to be a beautiful day.

Friday afternoon on the lake under the sun

Today is also Day 38 of summer break with thirty-six days remaining. I keep track of the days only to remind myself that summer is finite. Yesterday was the tipping point of summer. It was the point at which the first part moves into the second part or the first half changes to the second half. Summer is an arc, either way it means that I am on the downward side of the arc. Continue reading Tipping point

Game 7, done

Saturday marked the end of my seven game, seven stadium, and ten team baseball trip. I was in Cleveland, Ohio for a baseball game between the New York Yankees and the Cleveland Guardians.

it was a Larry Doby jersey night, I got the hat on my own. Larry Doby was the first African-American baseball player in the American League and played his first game July 5, 1947

This morning, I will pack up and head home. It has been a fun time. I will glad to be home, even for one night before I drive to our lake house to spend week and the fourth of July with my family.

I have enjoyed the trip and I’ve loved being in the six cities I had never watched baseball in before. This trip increased the number of my baseball cities to 18. There are twelve cities I have not seen a major league baseball game played and I hope to make it to 30 before, well you know.

Along the way I ran into people who were doing the same thing as me – trying to get to all 30 major league baseball stadiums in their lifetimes. It was fun listening to their stories and telling mine.

I believe we all want to tell a story with our lives, with our passions, and with how we spend our time. Continue reading Game 7, done

Roberto Clemente and the Pirates

Last night, I was in Pittsburgh to see the Pirates play the Brewers. It was the BEST venue yet. Hands down.

I am not sure why, but everything clicked last night from getting to the ballpark to getting back to my hotel room and everything in between. Including an eraser on the pencil provided with the scorecard.

and the peanuts were good, too.

My dad loved baseball. He had two favorite teams; I believe. He loved the Cleveland Indians and the Pittsburgh Pirates. I think. I’ll have to go with what I think because I don’t have anyone to ask, anymore. Continue reading Roberto Clemente and the Pirates

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 at the Mets

Tuesday found me back in New York City for the third game of my seven game baseball trip.

I didn’t plan my drive from DC to NYC very well and I arrived at the peak of rush hour. I was able to make the game on time and I was in my seat with food, beverage, and a scorecard for the first pitch.

 

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A post shared by Clay Watkins (@makingthedayscount)

The Astros began with a walk to Jose Altuve, their lead off hitter and lightning rod for boos in New York City and most baseball stadiums. The next batter, Jeremy Pena, hit into what should have been a double play, but he beat it out on a manager’s review. It was all downhill for the Mets after that. The Astros sent seven batters to the plate, got four hits and four runs in the first inning. They never looked back.

I enjoyed my dinner, Buffalo wings with blue cheese (needed more blue cheese) and a celery stick, kept score and watched the game. Continue reading Tuesday at the Mets