Sunday, April 25, 2010

April 25, 2010 The Attack

This picture sums up perfectly how I feel today. I am not sick, nor really tired, just under attack. I am under attack from invading foreign bodies - namely pollen. Being born with allergies to everything from trees and grasses to mold and dust means that I have some sort of allergic symptoms all the time (probably why I do like the freezing cold, blizzard days.)
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?

Virtual Conference 4-24-10

Yesterday was Discovery Education's Spring Virtual Conference. Unfortunately, I did not have an in-person event to go to. So, after a quick trip to the used bookstore and the drugstore I was home at my computer.

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.

The Play Part Deux

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!

4-22 Earth Day, Take Your Child to Work Day, AND THE Play!

What an incredibly busy day it was today!

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!

April 20, 2010 Greens

April showers bring May flowers the saying goes. This year it seems speeded up a bit and we have so many April flowers. One of my front beds is full of so many shades of green. The yellow narcissus and tiny purple vincas peeping out seem so delicate and fair-like. It reminded me of stories of fairies and gnomes, and such. I don't hear much about fairies anymore and wonder why.

Monday, April 19, 2010


I know, I know, I know! I have fallen behind in my picture a day blog. I have lots of good reasons too. And no, they are not just excuses.
* 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

Welcome Visitor

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.

He's Back!

I know how Bill Murray in Caddyshack felt. Every year we are host to one or more groundhogs. We have tried trapping and releasing them. They seem to return before we do. We have tried euthanasia - perhaps there IS life after death. Nothing has worked.

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.
Welcome back!

Friday, April 9, 2010

State Testing

We are currently on day two of our Reading & Math state tests - the PSSA's. I am not sure who dreads them more - the students or the teachers. I do understand why we have state tests, and I think there is some value in them. I do worry however about the costs. The loss of instructional time, the effect of students' self-esteem, the amount of paper used and destroyed... Is it all worth it?

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.

State Testing

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

The weather did indeed change for the better, and we got to enjoy that rare occurrence - a warm, evening rugby game. DS #2 plays for his college club team and we try to get to as many games as possible, knowing that it will all be over before we know it. I love seeing him run and play, but I still get nervous when he is under a pile of large men. Being the mother of boys comes with some nerve-wracking moments.

The Rains Continue

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!