June 24, 2016
it's all about perspective
June 24, 2016
Thanks, Kelly Gallagher, for the Book Club!
Year after year I have struggled with reluctant readers in my classroom. I try and try to support outside reading and despise the read a book take a test option. I want so badly to ignite a love of reading in each and every student. I think I finally figured it out.
My students this year participated in a weekly book club (held in class). They had to prepare for each meeting by doing the following:
After the meeting they had to write a half page reflection about the discussions. I love using the Writer’s Notebook for all of these assignments.
Some groups were clearly more excited about reading than others – but they all did the reading. This was just one of four classes and they were all begging me to do the project again. They kept up with assignments, came prepared for discussions, and spoke passionately about their opinions. They annotated their reading and were ready with evidence when they had to explain themselves. Did some skip out on the work and only pretend – I am sure they did (I could probably tell you names) but I definitely had more meaningful reading than I have ever had before.
One of the hardest assignments for them was the artistic rendering – create something from nothing – inspired by the book. They could take any component of the story to find inspiration to create ANYTHING. They just did not know what to do with this kind of freedom. I said art and most of them heard pencil drawing.
But then, some of them were very original – from dressing in costume as one of the characters, to baking a fresh rhubarb pie!
We are getting ready to embark on another round of Book Club. I learned a lot from the last go ’round that I will implement. I will let you know how it goes, so check back!
And remember – smart people read!
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Flowers!!! So, my husband brought daffodils to my classroom the other day. He had cut them fresh from our front yard and wanted to brighten my day. Needless to say, it worked.
Many different analogies cover relationships and how we balance ourselves, how we judge our contentment and happiness. I choose to go with the love bucket. Perhaps you saw that I referred to it in another post – Slushie to the Face. Anyway, it is very obvious. When you are treated with kindness and thoughtfulness, when your needs are placed in front of others – your bucket gets a scoop of lovin’. If your love bucket runs empty then you have no way of filling anyone else’s. And that really is the goal, isn’t it? To fill others with love?
I try very hard to fill the love buckets of those in my life. On this day, though – my husband really nailed it. I had commented on how pretty they looked in the front yard and even said the words…whose day could I make brighter tomorrow by bringing them some fresh, bright yellow flowers? I promise this was in no way a passive aggressive hint to my husband that I would like for him to bring them to me. That’s just not how I work; or how he does. In fact, until this day I would have told you that I had a much better chance of having flowers in my classroom if I just cut them for myself rather than wait for him to do it.
Let me explain – that is not a slam against him – it’s just now how he thinks, generally. I mean, if he cuts them, then they will die sooner. If he cuts them and removes them from the house, then we cannot enjoy them at home…where we spend most of our time together. I get it. They are planted there – they should stay there. Now, that’s how he thinks. That all just adds to the gesture.
Wow. Nice one, honey. To be surprised after all these years. Not just by the flowers, but by the change in perspective. My bucket runneth over. Thank you for taking the time out of your busy day to make me feel loved. These daffodils are way better than any store bought flowers because we grew them together – gross, right? The grosser the sentiment, the fuller the bucket – that’s just how the love bucket works. Have you handed out your scoop of lovin’ today?
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I love to grab my phone and go out for an early morning run while on tour with my students. Unfortunately, exhaustion tends to take over and the rest becomes more important as we move through our 14 hour days of walking and sight-seeing while traveling abroad.
Still, when I am able to do this I am able to see a few things that I would have otherwise missed. Plus, running through town can really give you a sense of what it is like. I mean, you are on foot and don’t have the protection of a vehicle or a large group. You smell smells and hear sounds that you would otherwise miss – things that really add to the ambiance of a town. If it feels unsafe – you usually know it right away. Still, I would never run where I thought I might be unsafe. We always discuss the area with our tour consultant and folks at the hotel to ensure our safety – and I would never run alone.
While in Killarney, our first stop on the Britannia with EF Tours, my travel buddy and I went out for a short run – about 2 miles. We went away from town in the opposite direction from which we arrived. It did not disappoint. Our first lesson was to run on the correct side of the path. We were running on the right and the running path/bike path follows the rules of the road. We ran into only one person before we realized our error and began keeping to the left.
First, we saw a flock of sheep in a field with a lovely backdrop. OUR FIRST FLOCK!!!
We ran to a bridge as saw this lovely view.
We went out a mile and then backtracked. There was a lovely gentleman selling strawberries near this bridge and he gave us a taste. They were fresh and yummy.
Our tour bus never did make it this way. I feel like I won a special prize when I get to experience these places with a short run. Stinky clothes remain the problem. I can put them in ziplock baggies with dryer sheets, but they really need a washing machine!
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Read about more group travel trip here.
Read about my first marathon here.
Mt. Vesuvius is the one of the most dangerous and most closely monitored active volcanoes in the world – according to our awesomely amazing guide – ANNA. It stands 1293 meters and was last active in 1944 during WWII – at which point the area was evacuated. I mention the war, because I remember something about an airbase there at this time losing lots of planes to the heat and the ash. Again – tour guide, ANNA.
Our group took a special journey to the top of the volcano. We walked through gravel to the top until we peered over the edge into the crater. The trail goes around the top of the opening, but did not go the distance due to our schedule. The stairs in the featured photo led to the other side of the crater.
As we traveled from Rome to the Naples Region and Mt. Vesuvius we saw the Italian country side from the bus window.
From the window of the bus on the way to the drop off point. I love the tree on the right, giving the photo depth. Anyway – this is the port of Naples.
As we drove up part of Mt. Vesuvius, the roads were very winding and narrow. Sometimes I did not quite know how the bus driver did it. Pure luck, because the rode was not wide enough for one tour bus, let alone, a second bus coming down the hill. The photos above, again, were from the bus window. The buildings and life surrounding this potential firestorm are amazing.
We arrive to the point where we could get out and walk the rest of the way. Lots of souvenirs made from the lava rocks from the volcano. The girls above are in their this is my life pose. And so…the climb begins….
They do offer tour guides at the site. We were held up a bit, actually, because they would not let our tour guide lead the group – we had to hire theirs. Honestly, we did not even want a guide, but we were required to have one. She was kind of awful. So boring. Too quiet, she seemed like maybe she, herself, had looked at this crater one too many times. Eventually, we trailed off and kind of left her. I am sure we missed out on history of the hill this way, but I could not help it. There is nothing worse than a boring tour guide when in the presence of such amazing history and beauty.
And so, we make it to the top.
Looking to the left….(above)
And looking to the right….Naples, Italy…then zoomed in. Literally felt like we were on top of the world. Breathtaking views, beautiful wind, and the excitement of knowing the thing could erupt at any moment (not really, but I’m just sayin’)
Also at the top of Mt. Vesuvius…
Remnants of a once functioning cable car ride to the top of the volcano. The guide did not seem to know anything about the history of that or why they removed it. I would imagine, perhaps, it is a gruesome, tragic tale better forgotten. I rode on one of these in Chattanooga, TN once. ONCE.
Another little visitor on the top of the volcano…I caught him mid color change.
Beautiful flowers in the harshest of conditions…in gravel and stone…with such a backdrop!
Views of the inside of the crater wall. The steam coming out of the holes in the ground tell us that this is, indeed, an active volcano.
This is the view from our lunch spot, half way back down the mountain. The Island of Capri is in the distance…going there tomorrow.
After our climb and a little lunch, a guided tour of Pompeii awaits us. The mountain in the distance is Mt. Vesuvius. If only all of those pesky people were not in the photo!
Both locations – worth every penny. If you are in the area and have the strength, I totally recommend the climb to the top. I will always remember that view with the wind in my hair and the sun in my face. Also in fields of poppies – check out the post about Pompeii.
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Wow – what a way to end a brutal 10 work hour day. Tonight after a day of teaching, an afternoon of coaching, and an evening of parenting teenagers – my other half seemed to be having some philosophical questions as to the purpose, and perhaps futility, of parenting and vented them my way: “What does it matter? They are just going to do whatever they want when they get out on their own. None of this matters – they are who they are.” That was the gist.
My insides kind of imploded as I tried to understand the harsh feelings I was having in reaction to his comments. Don’t get me wrong. I, too, go to this dark place sometimes – wondering about the futility of it all…trying to
train teach teenagers/children how to be responsible, productive citizens. How to teach them to be kind, generous, honest, and humble (and how to write an outline). I want them to learn how to take care of themselves without being selfish and I do my my very best to lead by example. But today I sort of needed a rock to lean on when I got home, and instead, I got a slushie in the face. All day today I stood in the library with high school students telling me that there were no books…that is a post for another day.
Now, I try to raise my students with all the love and patience I give my own children, but, of course, with the added dimension of trying to teach research skills and strategies – and boy do I fall short sometimes.
So – my husband did not say that I am worthless. Not those words. He is not responsible for my reaction to and interpretation of his words. And when I told him what I was hearing…that my whole life has been dedicated to teaching and raising children on the premise that they can be nurtured and molded and he is telling me that it is all for nothing (ie I am worthless)…well…
he felt badly and immediately stopped speaking, gave me a hug, and told me he loved me. He tried with all his might to fill the love bucket he had just accidentally kicked over. he started laughing and went downstairs to bed. Ugh! Gracie!*
All people are the products of nature and nurture. The two are forever entwined. Some personalities clearly reside in nature and some abound with learned behaviors. Some bad and some good. If I did not believe in the effects of nurture I could not teach, nor would I have children. However – I also believe that most
kids people are average – and that is okay. I do not need to raise the valedictorian, or the sport superstar, or the trophy winning whatever. You don’t need to be the next President, you don’t need to make a million dollars, and you don’t need to be famous to live. Have aspirations – but be grounded.
I want my kids to know love, family, and hope. I want them to know joy and have faith. I want them to experience life and not fear it – even the bad parts. I want them to find success – however it is defined. If they do these things then, really, they will be anything but average. As a parent, as a teacher – I can give them these things – show them how to find these things for themselves. Maybe along the way I can teach them to read, write, and make an argument. I have worth. Indeed, I have worth.
*Gracie is the name that I gave my marriage years ago. After having kids and realizing how much work motherhood is and what having a solid marriage requires, I decided to treat my marriage like one of my kids. I try to give it just as much attention as the other kids demand. It is easy to loose your spouse in the family, put date nights off, and fail to connect as you push through raising those little cherubs. By giving it a name – Gracie – it helps me to remember to treat my marriage with patience and love. Tonight, Gracie is in a time out!
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***Update: My husband totally redeemed himself the next morning. As I explained to him the day ahead included attending a softball game to watch my students play I followed it up with “I know, I know I could just say no”. To which he replied as he made the bed, without missing a beat, and with nothing but compassion, love, and understanding in his voice, “no you can’t, that’s why you are a such a great teacher”. What I heard: What you do matters.
When I had my Etsy Shop (Miss Elaineous) I sold many memory boxes…they were so fun to make! I used an unfinished wooden box from Michael’s Crafts to start. I would decoupage the outside and the inside – leaving the inside side walls of box and lid bare and natural. Inside, I would put an embellished journal and an original paper bag photo album every time. Other items were usually jars of some sort to hold trinkets or souvenirs of some sort. This one was for a honeymoon couple. The jar pictured was for sand from the beach.
I wish I still had time to work on projects like this. I loved working on that shop and its contents. Maybe some day I will return to it.
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Every trip I take abroad with students can be relived while flipping through the smash book I created while on tour. Just keep things as you go and take notes – when you have a free hour, spend some time writing, pasting, and doodling. The end product is practically finished when you arrive home. The practice has grown on my trips and now multiple members of the group work on them as we travel. As for the others in the group, although they don’t care to complete a book, they do enjoy seeking out items to include in the smash book.
Post cards, maps, brochures. I am always sure to put several clips and various types of pockets in the book before I leave. It is also fun to try to fancy a pocket out of a travel trinket of some sort. This just adds to the unique, one of kind souvenir I take home. Also, I love to grab every free brochure at the hotels to cut the little picture out of the places that we end up going to. I also like to use the words and titles in them.
When I do finally make it home and print out all of my pictures from a trip, I will always get extra prints of a few of my favorite shots – usually the ones with the people in them – and put them in the book, too.