Monday, May 31, 2010
After arriving home, I sat out on the front porch with a tall glass of chilled ice tea and the daily newspaper. I felt like I could have been in Mayberry RFD.
Suddenly, the winds picked up and the temperature dropped. Too chilly to sit outside, I went inside to finish the paper. Within the hour, the skys had transformed from Mayberry to the Twilight Zone. Clouds upon clouds rolled in in a variety of shades of grey. The winds blew and the leaves turned (always a sign of rain in my family's folklore.) Before long, we had rain to accompany the clouds and wind.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
However, seeing as we only have 18 days of school left, there is no way we will ever finish coasters for all the dads. Back to the drawing board I go!
Sunday, May 16, 2010
Today was another great DEN event. This time it was hosted by the South Jersey DEN Leadership Council. For over an hour Jason and Andrew of the Marlton Promenade Apple store walked the teachers through the many classroom applications of the iPad. Several of the teachers, already owners of the iPad, shared best practices.
After a fun time at Apple with many expressions of envy, the attendees were treated to breakfast at the nearby Panera. There teachers noshed and shared ways to use Discovery Media resources on the iPad as well as the lesser iPod.
read more anout this fun event at the NJ Den Blog http://blog.discoveryeducation.com/newjersey/page/2/
There was no sneaking in the house as Addie and Ahna, our two Portuguese Water dog sentries announced my arrival - loudly!! Uncharacteristically in heels after a long day I nearly stumbled on this likely spell-bound prince. Much to my husband's dismay, and the dogs continued barking, I simply HAD to take out my phone and snap a picture of the toad. He sat perfectly still and waited for me to photograph him.
Well, last year, my two sons bought me a small pink rhododendron plant wich I planted under our front Silver Maple tree. This winter, as most of you know, was a gorgeous, snowy, cold winter. Although I loved it, many plants and trees did not survive. I thought for sure, after pruning more than half of a dead plant, that this rhododendron too has succumbed. But, lo and behold after a warm spring jumpstart and some cool nights, I have a beautiful flower. It is awfully pretty after all.
Just what you mean to me
And now, now that you're near
Promise your love
That I've waited to share
And dreams of our moments together
Color my world with hope of loving you "
For those of you born in the last 25 years (Wow! Did I really just say that?!), these are the lyrics to one of THE most popular slow-dance songs of the 1970s - "Color My World" by Chicago.
Fast forward some 40 years (Really? Again?!) and colors make me think of Hailstones and Halibut Bones by Mary O'Neill. Every year I read this wonderful anthology of color poems to my students. They never cease to amaze me with their poems. Lines like:
Black sounds like an evil laugh echoing in your head,
Green smells like grass just sliced up by a lawn mower's blade,
Purple is the sunset when the color drains from the world.
What colors speak to you?
Sunday, May 9, 2010
The PBS Teachers Innovation Awards program honors teachers who are transforming classroom learning and providing children with the tools they need to reach their full potential and succeed in the 21st century.
I truly could not have done it without all of you. Thanks!
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
So, although it is a trite saying, sometimes the dog really does eat the homework!
Sunday, April 25, 2010
This time of year however is one of the worst. (Now and then again in early fall.) Trees are pollinating - you know that lovely chartreuse dust you see on your car in the morning, as are grasses and spring blossoms - lilacs, tulips, daffodils, azaleas - You get the picture.
Unfortunately for me, this lovely picture of spring means red, itchy eyes, sniffling, sneezy nose, and a raspy, old man voice. But wait, you ask, aren't there medicines you can take? Oh yes there are, and I believe I have taken them all, from Allerest and Benadryl to Allegra D and Zyrtec. I have tried cortisone sprays, shots, and pills, ear candling and neti pots, as well as desensitization shots 0 not once, not twice, but the trifecta of three times. Each time I had to discontinue because my reactions become too severe.
Since there doesn't seem to be any real relief, other than living in the Arctic, I do my best, buy lots of tissues and try to stay indoors on the worst days. Snow anyone?
As usual, Discovery had a great line-up of inspiring, talented people to share their stories and excite us. Dean Shareski from Regina, Canada shared how networking makes us all smarter. Then Christina Asquith (previously a writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer) author of Sisters in War spoke about her time in Iraq living with two sisters and their family. Needless to say, it was inspiring and tied in to Three Cups of Tea which I had just read to my class. Education really is a global force in so many ways. Up next in the day long event was Lindsay Hopkins showing how Discovery Media helps language learners. Carol Anne McGuire, of Rock Our World, followed and the day ended with DEN Manager Lance Rougeux sharing all the great, amazing events coming up in the DEN world. It was an awesome day. The best part is that all the presentations were archived. So, if you missed some or all of it, or you want to share something with your colleagues or administrators, you can. Click here (in a few days time) to find the archives.
No, we did NOT do another performance of the play but our room was still a wild rainforest on Friday morning. Much to the children's dismay, most of the trees and canopy leaves have come down. I have four copy paper boxes stuffed of play materials and props. I love when students donate what they have made. They are so cute when they say, "Mrs. Griffin, you can keep this." So, in the spirit of all the hard work and preparation, one more rainforest picture!
First off, it was the 40th anniversary of the first Earth Day. I hadn't realized it, but The first Earth Week debuted on April 16 to 22, 1970, in Philadelphia. U.S. Senator Edmund Muskie, author of the historic Clean Air Act of 1970, was the keynote speaker on Earth Day in Fairmount Park in Philadelphia in 1970. “Other notable attendees included consumer-protection activist and presidential candidate Ralph Nader, landscape architect Ian McHarg, Nobel Prize-winning Harvard biochemist George Wald, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Hugh Scott and poet Allen Ginsberg,” reads Wikipedia. As an interesting side note, Ira Einhorn , the infamous "Unicorn Killer" was a co-founder of the day.
Secondly, it was "Take Your Child to Work Day." Originally termed "Take Our Daughters to Work Day", the day was founded by Gloria Steinem and the Ms. Foundation for Women in 1993.
The day has generally been scheduled on a day that is a school day for most children in the United States. When I see the large number of children out of school participating in events of a dubious educational value, I have to ask why. Why do we do this during the school term instead of during vacation time? Why do we have children in elementary grades - specifically K - 3 participate? Why have parents taken this to mean it is "Take your child out to lunch day"? Perhaps this needs to be rethought as to its purpose and effect.
Finally, the biggest part of April 22nd in my classroom was Play day. It was the day my students performed The Great Kapok Tree for parents and guests after many hours of prop creation, costume conception and rehearsals - many, MANY rehearsals. I am proud to say that each and every one of my students performed magnificently! I am amazed at how well they rise to a challenge. From the soft-spoken shy student to the extra-energetic one, they all memorized their lines and acted with emotion and power. I like to think, that if given the same opportunity at that age, that I too could have pulled off what they do. But truthfully, I don't know that I could have. Bravo students of room 213!!
Many of my posts in January and February this year were of snow pictures. Snow falling, snow blowing, snow being plowed, etc. Since we had the snowiest winter - EVER - this made sense. But now it is April and I am still thinking snow. After all, it snowed in Denver this past week and I saw a Tweet from Budtheteacher about bringing his sleds out. My husband and friends already think I am slightly crazy for how much I enjoy the snow. This snow in April thinking will only serve to convince them further of that. When I walked out to my car today and saw the pile of cherry blossom petals mounding under the cherry tree, I couldn't help myself, I thought of snow. Enjoy the seasons, I do!
Monday, April 19, 2010
* We just had a week (actually 6 days) of state testing which has rendered my mind numb as well as my posterior. Way too many hours watching students take a test!
* There really has been nothing else going on. It has been very quiet, typical April days, not too hot, not too cold.
So, this past weekend I went to the big box home and garden store and saw these beautiful Gerber Daisies. I LOVE Gerber daisies and never seem to have any luck. But, these plants had a tag that says they grow in full sun (check) and bloom from spring until fall (check +.) I bought four plants - two light orange (pictured) and two a deeper orange.
I am keeping my fingers crossed that they do well.
Sunday, April 11, 2010
I really do enjoy seeing wildlife in my backyard. Although we live in a small suburban town, our backyard is full of trees, shrubs, and flowers. I keep the bird feeders filled, the bird baths clean, and even put up a couple roosting boxes. I love to see the foxes (unusual), possums, occasional dear, and the most frequent visitor - the birds.
For some reason the brightly colored birds stand out and make me stop and take notice. The blue jay, male cardinal or goldfinch all catch my eye. Sometimes I even get to spy a hummingbird. Today's sight was a thirsty cardinal. He was here long enough for one quick shot then off to wherever.
This year we replaced our old, worn wooden deck with a new, wood alternative deck. The deck sits much closer to the ground and I thought we would be safe. After all, it was no longer the familiar locale of old.
How wrong I was! Saturday morning, sun is shining, I glance out back and what do I spy? A fat, (probably pregnant) wobbly groundhog munching on my tender spring shoots and heading right for my deck. After snapping a picture I hisses and yelled hoping to scare him away. Hah! The little varmint just kept coming right towards the deck, towards the cacophony of noise I was sure would turn him right around.
Friday, April 9, 2010
This morning, before the day's testing began, my students and I worked on feeling poems. We discussed how anger, excitement, and fear taste, smel, and feel. As I watched my students begin day 2 of the testing I cam up with this.
Smells like freshly sharpened number 2 pencils,
Tastes like minty gum guaranteed to help you focus,
Sounds like students struggling to write quietly,
Feels like rolling the dice in the game of Life,
Feels like waiting for a judge to deliver your sentence,
Feels like spinning a wheel on the boardwalk, hoping to win the big prize,
Saturday, April 3, 2010
Today's picture was taken as I drove by a local farm. Every spring hundreds of people converge on this local farm to pick their own strawberries. What looks like a lake in this picture is actually last year's strawberry fields. Hopefully they have planted elsewhere for this season or we might not see too many berries. The weather forecast for this weekend though is sun, sun, and sun. We are all looking forward to it!
Monday, March 29, 2010
What is it about worms that is appealing and repulsive at the same time? Think about it, gummy worms?! I think of the book, "How to Eat Fried Worms", the poem "Nobody Likes Me", and my childhood favorite "The Hearse Song."
The Hearse Song
Didn’t you ever think, as a hearse goes by,
That you may be the next to die?
They wrap you up in a big white sheet,
And bury you down in the 6 feet deep.
They put you in a big black box,
And cover you up with dirt and rocks.
And all goes well for about a week,
And then the coffin begins to leak.
The worms crawl in, the worms crawl out,
The worms play pinochle on your snout.
Worms, delights for the harbinger of spring, robin red-breast. C 'mon spring!
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
After lugging my many bags into the house, (no, you may not ask how many!) I quickly changed. Then it was out back to sit on the deck and soak up some spring sun - the best kind around. DH came home from his basketball tournament and we enjoyed the sun and a dip in the newly cleaned and refilled hot tub. Pure bliss. Then, I promptly fell asleep until Monday morning!!
Monday, March 22, 2010
First day of Spring and in Philadelphia it was apparently glorious. Highs in the seventies and brilliant sunshine. I say apparently because I was pending the day indoors at the NSTA conference. Now, I thoroughly enjoyed the conference. I met a lot of great educators, experienced many exciting activities, and in general, had a great time. But really, after the winter we had, the first really nice weekend...did it HAVE to be this one?!
At least I did get a few minutes outside walking across Arch Street to the legendary Reading Terminal Market. Best city market I know. From Italian butchers to Amish bakeries to Asian sushi. The market has it all.
all is not shown here. On both sides of the chair are large glass cases filled with jewelry of varying style and cost.
evening's festivities with a cold drink and what else, but a bag of popcorn. After some brief introductions, the lights dimmed, and the theater grew silent. I am not sure how long episode one lasted, but I do know that the theater was silent except for an occasional sharp intake of breathe. Amazing photography does not do the film justice. I have no idea how the film makers were able to elicit sympathy for a fly, but that they did.
Episode one aired this past Sunday on the Discovery Channel. If you didn't see it, make sure to catch episode two next Sunday. If you did see it, you know to catch episode two.
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
March has been an extremely busy month and my pictures/blogging have suffered. Although I don't have the time, and I really need to pack, and I really need to work on my presentation, and I really want to read the paper, and I really want to go to bed...I had to post a picture from tonight's fun DEN event. Discovery Education hosted a great evening at City Tavern. Many Discovery people, including some of the Student Adventures people shared great food, swapped cards and stories and enjoyed a pleasant evening. Thanks also to our gracious servers seen below.
Sunday, March 14, 2010
After 24 hours of torrential rains and hurricane strength winds, there was bound to be downed trees. Driving through my neighborhood this morning I saw tree after tree just upended root ball and all. Most of the trees were massive evergreens like this one leaning against the large deciduous tree. There are branches and twigs everywhere. I wish our town had some sort of program whereby we could chip all these branches rather than just put them in the garbage.
After a very snowy winter, March came in like the proverbial lamb. It was sunny and almost 60 degrees for three or four days. People were smiling again. And even though there were still many piles of snow, people believed that winter was over.
Indeed, winter may be over, but Mother Nature is surely not finished with us. Saturday brought torrential rains - upwards of 4-5 inches. I kept thinking how much snow that could have been! Not only rain, but hurricane sized winds as well. Backyards flooded, rivers crested, and many lost power. It is amazing how much damage a simple storm can cause.
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Left school this afternoon and noticed that my car thermometer was at 65 degrees! What a beautiful almost-spring day. Made it home in time for a lovely walk into town with DH and two dogs. Stopped at Starbucks for a green tea lemonade. I know that rains are coming, but it sure was nice today!
Sunday, March 7, 2010
My fourth grade students are currently studying water. They are learning about how little fresh water we have on our planet and how crucial water is to our survival. One of the early experiments has them predicting what happens when a drop of rain falls. This prepares them for the water cycle which comes further in the unit. My students enjoy dropping water on bricks, wood, sand, and other surfaces and making observations. They are always surprised when the water piles on the wood, or soaks through a brick. Hands-on-Science is the best!!
Every year our school does one large, school-wide fundraiser. This year we were going to raise Pennies for Peace. Based on the #1 New York Times Bestseller Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace, One School At A Time, by Greg Mortenson, children the world over have been earing, saving, and donating pennies to other children. Through there actions children on both sides of the equation are connecting with one another.
As I said, we were going to do pennies for peace. The catastrophic earthquake and the resulting damage and destruction led us to change our focus to assist those people in a more immediate crisis. After discussing the earthquake with my fourth graders they decided to "sell" hearts for Haiti. For one dollar, students could purchase a heart. They could then decorate the heart or write a wish for the Haitian people on it. We have formed the smaller hearts into large hearts as seen here. So far, we have four large hearts. I am so proud of my students for the care and concern they show others.
After a record breaking winter of snow, ice, and more snow (Which I thoroughly enjoyed by the way!) March has arrived. Unfortunately, March is my least favorite month of the year. Save for St. Patrick's Day and the rare Easter, there are no holidays in March. The weather is no longer winter crisp and clear with hopes of snow. Yet, it also isn't yet warm. March is the month of mud. The month of brown from winter and not yet green of spring. March is morose. Have you gotten the sense that I dread March?!
For all its faults however, March is usually when the daffodils start to poke through the just thawing soil. No one has told them that the nights are still cold and the risk of frost remains for another six weeks. And somehow, even if they could be warned, I know they would soldier on. For daffodils, like no other flower, embody the hope that beats within us all. We know that it will get better. The sun will come out tomorrow, or the next day.
To paraphrase Petula Clark (Downtown) When you're alone and life is making you lonely, you can always get daffodils.
Monday night I had the chance to see the Wolftones - again - with some dear friends. We can't remember if we have seen them four or five times in the 20+ years we have known each other. One thing is certain, we always have a grand time.
The venues have changed over the years, but the songs remain the same. Everyone knows all the words and singing along is encouraged, even expected. It is amazing seeing people in their early twenties singing along with those in their sixties and up. This group transcends gender, generation, and time.
Céad míle beannachta
Friday, February 26, 2010
See a penny,
Pick it up,
All the day,
Have good luck!
See a penny,
Let it lay,
All the day,
You will pay.
So, what do I think of besides that rhyme when I see a penny? I think of penny candy stores with glass cases filled with Mary Janes and Root Beer Barrels for just a penny. I think of the Franklin Mint here in Philadelphia and tossing them on Ben Franklin's grave outside. I think of wishing wells and fountains. I think of Abraham Lincoln and the Lincoln Memorial. I even think of math manipulatives. That is where these particular pennies are heading. To my classroom to help students figure out fraction of problems.
So, what do YOU think of when you see a penny?
Thursday, February 25, 2010
I was dismayed to see my beautiful crepe myrtle broken and battered. About a third of the tree is down, presumably due to the weight of the snow. While I know that we are a little north for a crepe myrtle, I had thought that it was sheltered enough in the corner between the shed and the house. In a normal Pennsylvania winter, this was sufficient protection. This winter however is far from normal. This evening's weathercast said that we have received almost 80 inches of snow so far this winter!! This is by far a new record. In addition, the amount of snow in February would rank 5th for the snowiest season!
Many people are feeling desperate with talk of another possible snow storm next week. I can't say this too loudly, but I have to admit that I am gleefully hoping for one or two more big storms before spring.
Robinson makes an excellent case for following our own star.
Check out the PA blog for session materials.
called "Indoor Gardening Tips from a Man Who's Very Scared of Plants" starring a deadpan Christopher Walken. He puts googly eyes on all his plants from cacti to ferns so they aren't so "scary". We still aren't sure how the eyes got there, but we have our "eye"deas.
Monday, February 15, 2010
Today, we aren't really allowed to have a "party." We may have a small celebration with an exchange of cards. I make sure that my students know that IF they choose to participate, they must bring a card for everyone. In addition, there may be no special cards or gifts for anyone distributed in school. So, our celebration is the distribution and opening of cards and a small treat.
I do however fondly remember the school celebrations of my youth. Valentine's parties with shoebox mailboxes decorated with heart doilies and stickers. Washington's birthday with cardboard hatchet boxes and hard candy cherries. St. Patrick's Day with irish potato candies and shamrocks. Yes, some of our celebrations seem less today than in the past.