Saturday, October 27, 2007

Driving golf balls in an elementary classroom

Teaching is a bit like golf for me. Although, I admit I do not prepare for golf a fraction of the time I prepare for teaching nor do I know as much about golf as I do about teaching. Which proves my point even further. The point is a lot can go wrong before it goes well, even if you know a lot. Lots of lessons veer into the woods to the right before you have that magic shot that is easy, effortless, straight, makes the right sound off the club, feels perfect, and lands near the pin. You work for years trying to perfect your game/teaching to fit your style and ability. You love both, but can experience moments of almost debilitating frustration that can ruin a moment, a day, a round and make you wonder why you thought you could do this. It isn't always bad. In fact, it's mostly pretty good and mostly rewarding. You still get to the hole; sometimes it takes you a few more shots. You teach a good unit; it sometimes takes a day or two longer.

But every now and then you do hit that great shot. You realize the materials are just the right club for the distance, you know the course (no pun intended) well enough to be flexible and make adjustments, and you see your students making connections you knew were possible even if you didn't quite expect it. Which makes me ask...why didn't I expect it? I've certainly prepared. And makes me do I do this again? It's amazing how one perfect shot in a thousand can keep you playing.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

blog, blah, blah!

I'm taking an online course about blogs. It is my hope I can turn this online writing, sometimes conversation into something that will transfer into student achievement for our third grade students. I see the potential...really, I do. I have a few favorite bloggers (see below) and I'm always getting ideas, thinking new thoughts, laughing, reading some of their favorites, and trying new things in my writing because of them. I think third graders can do the same given a chance. I am not sure how I actually get things on this page sometimes but, heck, at least I'm trying. I find I am doing things on this page out of need and want before I even have the right words for them. In my first assignment for this class I did some exploration of blogs and realized I had only a miniscule understanding of the vocabulary involved in this kind of writing. I continue to look for the right words while bridging my technical achievement gap.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

eric carle museum of picture book art

Today I made my second annual pilgrimage to Last year during my first visit to this sacred spot amid the farms of Amherst, MA I was so moved by the aesthetics of the space, the spirit with which it was founded, and the joy it represented, tears fell as I walked into the main hall. It was church. (Click on photo to take a virtual tour) As I once again walked reverently through the galleries a dozen happy thoughts filled my mind ... all had titles with nature's creatures as the main character. Each included a cozy reading spot, an attentive child (including my own three), the subtle richness of science and math and heart, and a gentle lesson. One gallery showed the common subject of birds expressed in the uncommon artistic styles of Leo Leonni and Eric Carle. Another gallery showed the progression of taking theThe Spiderwick Chronicles byTony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black "From page to screen." The last gallery held a hauntingly comprehensive repertoire of picture book art and interpretation by Allen Say. In this same gallery a year ago was the art of The Wizard of Oz.

Last year I walked leisurely in this kid-friendly environment, breathing in every interpretive caption trying to memorize every photo and painting. I walked into the library or as it's called, "the museum's living room" to see kids and parents reading together. I stopped in the studio and after overcoming my fear of making a mistake, created a collage of my visit using the papers, pens, glue, and cardstock provided, figuring if I can't freely create something artistic here, where can I?

Today's visit was different from last year' was way too quick. I got to the entrance with 30 minutes til closing mistakenly thinking the museum closed at 5pm not 4pm. The admission price was 1/2 since I was so late. An enormous bargain even with 30 minutes to go! I didn't read every caption or try to memorize the visuals. I did have a moving experience, though and can't wait til my third annual trek back.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Sostantivo casa due*

My home visits (post 2)* for 2007 are almost over. They have once again literally opened my eyes a little wider. They were:

  • hour long (sometimes more) conversations and sharing
  • images of hard working parents (chefs, construction workers working in other states, salesmen, retail store clerks, restaurant servers, building supervisors, moms, dads, single moms and single dads, housekeepers, manicurists, computer technicians, government workers, bank personnel, staff assistants)
  • grandmothers, grandfathers, cousins, aunts, uncles, boyfriends of aunts, older and younger siblings, friends, and pets listening and sitting with us to support their favorite students
  • doors opening to the sight of over animated, excited students greeting me
  • the sights of libraries for children in the homes of families whose first language is Spanish or Vietnames or Korean or Urdu, small desks with pencils and crayons, neat homes
  • the sounds of a trumpet and keyboard played by two students and singing by another whose talents were hidden from me til then
  • delicious bites of hot Indian food, grilled salmon with potatoes, orange juice and crackers, cold water, fresh fruit, offers for more food and beverage
  • translators who thought they were coming to provide parents access to negative news (they told me so)
  • a fresh look at how I would start second quarter
  • three weeks of afternoons, weekend mornings, and evenings (I have a supportive husband) that I wouldn't trade for anything else I do professionally