Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Blueberries for Nat- Slice of Life 6/29/10

"Little Sal picked three berries and dropped them in her little tin pail...kuplink, kuplank, kuplunk! She picked three more berries and ate them. Then she picked more berries and dropped on in the pail-kuplunk! And the rest she ate. Then Little Sal ate all four blueberries out of her pail!" --from Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey

The berries dropping into my plastic yogurt container made a muted kuplunk but still brought my mind back to one of my favorite children's books. Brave self-control kept me from copying Sal's picking method. The sun beat down, causing sweat to run down my face and warming the plump blue berries on the blush before me. Once again I was grateful to my ingenious husband. The rope tied to the plastic container and hung around my neck freed both hands for the picking of berries. I gently lifted the laden branches and picked the ripe fruit. It seemed the berries were ripening before my very eyes. No sooner did I think I had an section of the bush picked of all the ready fruit, then I would look back and see some I some how missed. Two containers full later I happily left the bush, knowing the birds and squirrels would be enjoying the fresh, ripe berries that I couldn't reach and there would still be more for us later.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sea Fever by John Masefield


I must down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea's face, and a grey dawn breaking.

I must down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull's way and the whale's way where the wind's like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over.

John Masefield (1878-1967).

Summer Reading Update 6/27

I've been doing a lot of reading already this summer. Since I am teaching all new curriculum AGAIN next year, I have reading to do for school, plus reading I want to do for fun, and reading for professional development. I decided to alternate. After I finish a curriculum book I get to read a book for fun. I have been adjusting that some what; if I read a fun book really quickly, I let myself read a second fun book. Some times I'm reading two curriculum books or a curriculum book and a professional development book before a fun book. So here is my list from the past two weeks:

"Grown-Up" Fiction
The Broken Teaglass by Emily Arsenault
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows

"Grown-Up" Non-Fiction
This Book is Overdue: How Librarians and Cybrarians will Save Us by Marilyn Johnson

YA/MG Fiction
Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
How To Survive Middle School by Donna Gephart
A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban
Smile by Raina Telgemeier (graphic novel)
Eli The Good by Silas House
The Kind of Friends We Used to Be by Frances O'Roarke Dowell

The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speares
Woods Runner by Gary Paulsen
The Crucible by Arthur Miller
Numbering All the Bones by Ann Rinaldi

Professional Development
Awakening the Heart: Exploring Poetry in Elementary and Middle School by Georgia Heard

Going Coastal

Monday morning we packed the truck and headed north. Destination: China, Maine. John really wanted to see the coast, so as we crossed over the Piscatiqua River from New Hampshire to Maine he said, "Should we get off the highway now?"

Being the born and bred Mainer with an ingrained dislike of all things touristy and natural avoidance of Route 1, I replied, "Not yet!"

When the "Toll Road, Cars, $2.00" signs popped up a few miles later I thought, Wait, we just paid $2.00 at Hampton! and suggested, "Let's get off here!" From York to South Portland, we traipsed up Route 1. Surprisingly, traffic wasn't that bad. It was Monday and still early in the season. But we both agreed taking I295 around Portland was the thing to do. By the time we reached Wiscasset it was late afternoon and I was ready to be off the road. We found a place that would sell us some iced coffee (seriously, if you've got "cafe" in your name, it shouldn't be that big a deal to sell a couple of cups of coffee to go!) and headed inland toward my parents'. We did make one stop to check out these really cool sculptures in a field. My favorite was Don Quixote, but we didn't get a good picture.

John had just a few goals for this vacation and we accomplished most of them: 1. Visit my parents, 2. Go to Liberty Tool, 3. Visit Lie-Nielson tool makers, and 4. Visit Thomas Moser furniture. Tuesday we went coastal (again) and struck out for Liberty Tool. It's this incredibly overwhelming, very cool place. It was fun to explore and see all the old stuff. It reminded me of being a kid and exploring my grandparents' and great-aunts' houses.

From Liberty we drove through all these cool little towns and ended up on Route 1 in Warren and at Lie-Nielson Tool Works. After glomming at the woodworking hand tools (are you sensing a theme here?) I voted for some lunch and we headed north on Route 1. Let me tell you, if you are ever in Rockland, Maine, go to Big Fish Cafe. Awesome food.

We did more exploring of Rockland, Owl's Head, and Belfast before heading back to my parents'. Oh, and if you are ever in Belfast, Maine and you love books and neat little cafes that actually sell coffee and baked goods, not to mention fabulous sandwiches, go to Bell the Cat in the Reny's Plaza. They share a space with Mr. Paperback- a match made in heaven, if you ask me!

Wednesday we had a very nice visit with my brother and his family- my niece and nephews are getting so big! Thursday John did a few odd jobs for my folks, I rescued 5 boxes of my books from my parents' garage, and we headed home. You guessed it, we went the coastal route, at least as far as Brunswick.

We had a wonderful visit with my family, and truly fell deeper in love with the Maine coast, yet it was good to be home again.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A kid in a candy store

I'm feeling a bit like a kid in a candy store this morning. You know that overwhelmed feeling you get when you are told to just choose one treat or maybe you've been told "not right now" but you see so many things you like and want to have?

There are so many things that I want to learn, to do, to pursue.
  • I love teaching, especially English and would love to have a job teaching just English and to go back to school to study English; to get a masters degree in English/teaching English.
  • I love books; reading them and recommending them to others. I would love to get an MLIS (Masters of Library and Information Science) and work in a library or bookstore.
  • I love researching and writing curriculum and would love to get a masters of curriculum and instruction design and then write curriculum and help a school or schools develop and refine curriculum.
But I have very little time, money and energy. So I remain with my nose pushed up against the glass.

Slice of Life a day late

I didn't blog much last week. It was a busy week. Graduation Monday night, class trip to Six Flags New England Tuesday, last day of school Wednesday, then curriculum days for teachers, graduation party for my husband's niece, more curriculum days. Things have been a whirl wind, leaving me tired and feeling rather brain dead.

One of the tasks required at the end of the year is cleaning and packing up our classrooms. I always hate that aspect of the end of the year. The classrooms and hallways look so barren and sad. I've really been dragging my feet this year. Here I am on the first official day of my summer vacation and my classroom isn't done. I'm pretty much the last one. My hallway bulletin board came down yesterday. I still need to take down my boards in my room, remove posters from the walls, put away binders, sort files and papers, dust, and clean my desk. Usually I'm so much better about completing the tasks required of me. I like deadlines and doing what is right and required. Yet this year I've been very good at avoiding and putting off this one, final thing.

Maybe it is the prospect of not returning next year. Maybe it is not wanting to let go of such a good year. Whatever the reason, it must still be done. So this afternoon I'm taking lunch to my husband then putting on some good music and tackling my classroom.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

End of the year prank

Last week my 8th graders were talking about senior pranks as well as what sorts of things they could get away with at the end of the year. I didn't really think much about it.

"What if we started a fight at dismissal on the last day of school. You couldn't suspend us then."
"Come on guys," I replied. "Do you really want your mother to get a phone call from Mrs. Principal on the last day of school saying you'd started a fight?"
"Uh, no, I guess not." The wrath of mom still holds sway over these 14 year old boys.

So today I was supervising the worship team because the music teacher was away. The principal came in as they were setting up and asked to speak with two of the boys- they're both good kids and one is even our valedictorian. The boys never came back. The worship team warmed up, the classes streamed in for chapel, still no X or P. I was beginning to wonder what was going on.

Then my teammate, the math/science teacher came in with our homerooms, and several of my boys were looking quite glum. Seems she had quite the surprise when she walked into her classroom to start the day. Every single science book (probably about 200 books) was stacked on her desk. They had been removed from the top of the literature cabinets where they are stored and relocated to her desk.

She was not amused. Poor Mrs. Math/Science had had a rough weekend and did not enjoy starting the week this way. Several of the other 8th graders gave up the culprits. She got the principal. Mrs. Principal talked to the boys and made them put them all back, reorganized.

"We have to put them back?" The boys replied in horror. "But they're heavy!"

While Mrs. Math/Science and Staff-Mother of Culprit A had trouble seeing the humor in the situation, Mrs. Principal and I had a pretty hard time keeping a straight face about the whole thing.

Now, I'd like to say that if they had done that to me that I would have had the same reaction, and I'm pretty sure that I would; I'd laugh, I'd say, "Nice." and then order them to put the books back the way I want them organized. But I don't know that I'd be so forgiving if I had had a bad weekend as my colleague had. It did underscore for me that these are silly 14 year-olds who don't think, and that I need to make sure that I don't ever take it out on them when I am having a bad day. I don't want to be that kind of teacher. I don't think I am, but I work with middle schoolers who are very self-absorbed and easily perceive things the wrong way.

It'll be interesting to see if any of them try anything else before the end of the year.