Thursday, December 30, 2010

New Computer

Well, big excitement, in the form of a new computer. After five years with my last faithful Macbook, I now have a new MacBook Pro so that it is all quite exciting although requiring a bit of adjusting. As much fun as it is getting something new there is always the familiarity of something old... I hope that it will inspire me to blog a bit more regularly but it's always an adjustment to using a new instrument no matter how great it is.

One of the nicest things about having two weeks off is the opportunity to catch up on reading. I just read a book that I really enjoyed. One thing I love about teaching grade six and seven is the opportunity to learn new things or revisit things you once enjoyed learning about but haven't for awhile.

If you follow this blog you know that I started science this year with the geology unit (last year I started with ecology and never really got to the other two units.) Now I admit I am still on the geology unit but at least I know my class did quite a bit on ecology in sixth grade as well. I loved geology when I was in school, not that I took it in university, but I always found rocks fascinating, as do my students. Fossils amaze us all!

The book that I just finished reading is my Tracy Chevalier and is entitled, Remarkable Creatures. I am a Tracy Chevalier fan. She wrote Girl with a Pearl Earring as well as one of my very favourites, Virgin Blue. I had read Virgin Blue just before I went to France several years ago, and brought it along for my friend who was travelling with me to read. She had another book on the go and I ended up reading it again as we traveled in the area near where that novel was set. I enjoyed reading it even more that second time.

Remarkable Creatures takes place in the early 1800's and is set mainly in Lymis Regis (a place I first discovered reading John Fowles' The French Lieutenant's Woman). The story is told from the point of view of two women who actually did live, Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot. The book is Chevalier's usual combination of fact and fiction. Mary is a local girl whose father has always been interested in "curios" but she is the one who really has the eye to find them. Elizabeth, from a higher social strata, moves with her sisters from London for economical reasons and her fascination with fossils leads to a friendship between the two. I think it is easy to forget how little status women had in the 1800's. This book is a good reminder of this. Mary's discovery of the ichthyosaur shook the scientific world and questioned the traditional biblical interpretation of the creation of the world, but initially she was given very little credit for this. Great read...

The weather has been amazing here, crystal clear. This picture was taken during a walk along the seawall in Yaletown.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Teach Like a Champion?

Sometimes it just takes awhile to get a blog finished! Today I am going to talk about Teach Like a Champion: 49 Strategies that Put Students on the Path to College by Doug Lemov. I was given this book last summer from a friend who isn't a teacher but had heard the author interviewed and thought it sounded interesting. I began with some skepticism as many of the "master teachers" cited seemed to be at charter schools and philosophical I have a bit of trouble with charter schools but I tried to remain open. In the end I decided that this is a good book especially for beginning teachers.

Teaching has become more and more complex through the years. I began my career for instance as a special class teacher. These classes were challenging and you certainly have the danger of children or young adults feeling "stupid" but the classes were small and generally manageable. These classes also meant that the regular teacher didn't have to generally deal with as many difficult students. Also curriculum was more set and there wasn't as much of an expectation of differentiation of instruction etc.

Now there are very few special education classes and most students are in the regular classroom. Initially there was good support but that support has lessoned as well. Also students with English as an additional language are also in your class. Once upon a time there were smaller separate classes for reception level students as well. Now I am all for integration but this all means you have a very wide range of learners with a wide range of needs and the expectations for the classroom teacher have increased as well. For instance, we are now expected to be computer savvy. Currently with the diminished funding there is less and less help from every angle.

Beginning teachers have a difficult time finding positions and are often subbing for several years. They also may find themselves if they do get a job making several assignment changes in a single year.

All this is to say that we may have long holidays, but we need them!!! We also find ourselves reluctant to say how difficult the classroom situation can be because in this city more and more parents who can afford to are choosing private schools thinking that their child will get more attention.

As I was reading this book I tried several strategies that were new to me with the children and actually found them quite effective. Having taught a long time and having access to a great deal of professional development as a consultant, other strategies were not new but I found them well presented in this book.

For those who need to see, there is also a dvd with sample lessons.

When our staff was considering a book club this year, I suggested this book, and since I had demonstrated and talked about some of the philosophy and methods, teachers were interested. Also previously, we had split into primary and intermediate book clubs so that it will be nice to all do the same book.

I think my favourite little strategy is SLANT, one with which many students at our school are now familiar. This acronym stands for sit up, listen, ask and answer questions, nod your head when appropriate, and track the speaker. Students are very good now in many of are classrooms at "slanting".

The following are a few more examples and they aren't exactly rocket science but good reminders to us all.

  • Technique #1: No Opt Out. How to move students from the blank stare or stubborn shrug to giving the right answer every time.

  • Technique #35: Do It Again. When students fail to successfully complete a basic task—from entering the classroom quietly to passing papers around—doing it again, doing it right, and doing it perfectly, results in the best consequences.

  • Technique #38: No Warnings. If you're angry with your students, it usually means you should be angry with yourself. This technique shows how to effectively address misbehaviors in your classroom.

  • I think this book is well worth reading as it is a good summation of how to set up an effective classroom. There is an art to teaching that can't be really though totally ever be made into a science. I am reminded of hearing of someone who would only go to places in Europe, even for a cold drink, that were recommended by Frommer in his guidebook. But this book is full of methods and ideas that are worth giving a try. And I think we may have some interesting discussions and anything to help the dedicated teachers at my school is valuable.

    Thursday, December 16, 2010

    Paint the Town December

    Well we successfully made it through the school musical, Paint the Town December. It certainly helps when your principal is a music teacher and takes all the students in groups for music classes, and you have a PE teacher who teaches all the dances and motions in PE class and in extra rehearsals. It helps when you have a teacher who is a professional artist and creates the backdrops with her students. It also helps when you have a teacher librarian who does a unit with your students who don't want to be actors so that I could have two periods a week for four weeks to work with the actors-from my class and the other grade seven class. And finally it helps when you have all the classroom teachers willing to put on a show. Our whole school did two shows yesterday. That is 350 children. We also had to borrow staging and chairs from my old school, Moberly (we are close by as our school used to be Moberly's Annex), as we were too late to get them from the board so we had to be creative for the finale when the whole school was at the front of the gym.

    This is a multicultural musical, celebrating various celebrations and traditions of December. Now one could say this was a bit forced but the music is great and I think it does give us cultural awareness and appreciation. Just looking at our actors, we do represent the world-students whose parents have immigrated from India, China, Vietnam, Miramar, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Pakistan as well students students with ancestors who immigrated from western Europe many generations ago. These actors have families who may practice Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, or Buddhism.

    This is only the second musical our school has done since it opened as a main school seven years ago. Last year was the first. That whetted our students' appetites for the stage and shows what a small public school can do. People may think they need to spend thousands of dollars to send their children to private schools but once again I am so struck by what public schools accomplish. Most of our parents are working hard, often adjusting to a new country, and don't have a lot of time and money for activities for their children that "West side" parents can afford so the school teaches the academics but for many students we give them experiences that they don't have regular access to receive.

    I may not make a great deal of money compared to those in some other professions and occupations, but on mornings like this I feel a sense of accomplishment.

    Thursday, December 9, 2010

    Twilight is out

    Well the word is out in my class that vampires are passe! Everyone (well I exaggerate) is reading the latest by Rick Riordan, The Red Pyramid. Rick Riordan first hit the best seller lists with The Lightning Thief about Percy Jackson who discovers that that the reason for his hyperactivity is he is half mortal/half god, the son of Poseidon. The first book was made into a movie and this may have gotten many of my students into that series. Many have read all of the Percy Jackson series so now they are beginning the Kane Chronicles and The Red Pyramid is the first in that series. Here we have moved from Greek mythology to Egyptian mythology. Now of course teaching ancient civilizations in Grade Seven I think this is great. Both boys and girls are reading these. The Twilight series was very hot last year with the girls in my class but now that they have moved from sixth grade to seventh vampires are out and gods are in!!!
    I ordered Red Pyramid from the Scholastic Book Club but it was snatched from my hands so I haven't read it yet. We had a book fair at school so several students bought copies and students have borrowed Riordan's books from our library and the public library.
    It's fascinating how movies can encourage reading as the movie may have inspired the initial reading of The Lightning Thief. My "worse" reader who is officially ADHD is reading The Lightning Thief demonstrating good comprehension. He relates to Percy because neither has ever known his father. Riordan has hit a cord with my students.

    How did it get to be December???

    Time has definitely sped away! After the surprising snow in November when lots of leaves were still on the trees (and some still are) we seem to be back to our normal winter environment around here, rain!
    I have had so many good intentions about blogging but it obviously hasn't happened for awhile. I am actually currently writing this blog and my class blog. There is always that question does technology save time or take time.
    In my class blog I was just sharing some pictures of my grade seven class and their grade one reading buddies. I love teaching older kids but grade one students have a special place in my heart. And they have a special place in the hearts of their grade seven reading buddies. Now we do more than read.
    We just completed three sessions of skating at our local community center, which is about nine blocks from the school. Having my kids along makes the walk easier for the little ones and it really helps with getting all those skates tied (although some of mine have struggles in that direction as well). Our school is a school mainly of children of immigrants and skating is not always a familiar activity so that these sessions are great and can encourage families to have their children have skating lessons that are quite affordable. By the third session students had gained a lot of confidence and for most of the grade one children this was their first experience on ice.
    Once a week usually my students read with their buddies and make notes that they share with the first grade teacher. Yesterday we did something different. We brainstormed and then drew and wrote about skating together. This was incredibly successful. Seeing my students drawing and writing really inspired the younger children and of course, my class loved it as well. One really neat thing as well is two my students have siblings in the class. One has his brother,who adores him, as his buddy. Another decided that her sister would do well with her friend and she has her sister's friend as her buddy. It sure is great having this many teachers!

    Friday, November 5, 2010

    I am back...

    I am feeling once again guilty for my lack of blogging. I have had a cold for over two weeks and I think it has slowed me down a bit although I have been reading lots. One favorite has been The Sanctuary Line by Jane Urquhart. I missed seeing her at our Writers' Festival due to not booking a ticket early enough but I really enjoyed the book. Funny the triggers books have. It's a book of childhood memories and reminded me of my childhood and the many hours spent with my friend, May, who died in February, not that our childhood was as riveting or as traumatic as that described in The Sactuary Line but...

    I also had an interesting read, The Good Novel by Laurence Cossé, thanks to my friend, Emilie who works at a neat new bookstore in Vancouver, Sitka Books. I met Emilie at the much mixed Once Upon a Huckleberry children's book store on Main Street, a victim of the recession. The Good Novel is about a unique store in Paris where only the books that a committee of writers' believes to be truly good are sold much to the anger of some who seem to be causing harm to the committee and the store.

    I also finally finished Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver, which I started months ago. It's not a book to read a few minutes each night before falling asleep but when I spent a couple of days sneezing and sleeping I had time to keep reading. Having read The Help earlier and Lacuna as the American election was taking place, it helped give me perspective on the Tea Party mentality a bit. I can't help but think political activist, Kingsolver wrote this novel with purpose. Lacuna focuses on a Mexican American man who after a rather horrific childhood, ends up working for artist, Diego Rivera. Through his connection with Diego and Freida Kahlo, although totally non-political, he stumbles into being Leon Trotsky's secretary and cook. After he returns to the United States, he settles in the mountains of North Carolina and becomes a best selling novelist who eventually gets blacklisted in the McCarthy Era, causing another return to Mexico.

    Now I have also read quite a bit of chick lit and mysteries. I honestly haven't read much new children's literature or young adult literature, and I am already wishing I could go to the NCTE conference in Orlando and get my hands on those advance copies.

    My class though is reading everything in sight. I can honestly say they love to read. I actually did read a new novel, The Billionaire's Curse by Australian writer,Richard Newsome. We had a great day at the Vancouver International Writers' Festival. I had really wanted to take them to see Sharon E. MacKay who wrote Charlie Wilcox but the timing didn't work out so I asked Education Coordinator, Ilona Belks, for her suggestion and she chose well. We had a great morning with Kevin Sylvester, Richard Newsome, and Richard Scrimger. I always have loved Kevin Sylvester's sense of humour on CBC, but his two co-panelists were even more hilarious, especially Richard Scrimger, but also they were wonderful with the kids and had lots of great writing tips.
    Here's a picture of the three. The first picture today was taken on a walk in Steveston a couple of weeks ago, both with my new camera!

    Sunday, October 17, 2010

    Feel like a trip to Africa?

    I just have been reading my friend, Honey's blog, written as she volunteers in a school in Uganda. I think many of us, well at I at least, wonder what we will do when we retire. Honey has never really retired and has done many interesting things and this is the latest. This school is different than most African schools, aimed to be student centred and started by another Vancouverite.
    I am behind-busy weekend. Big event for 18 students in my class was We Day on Friday. Most of my class belongs to our very active Me to We Club and our school has raised 3000 dollars towards building a school in India so that although not all club members were able to attend, quite a few were able to do so and even got front row seats.
    I missed the main event but I went to a follow up that evening, thanks to my friend, Susan. We didn't really know what we were going to see but we ended up being able to spend an inspiring evening with We Day speakers Al Gore, Martin Sheehan, and Jesse Jackson as they were interviewed by Craig Kielburger for the program, Shameless Idealists, that will be broadcst on CTV. More later... Happy week!

    Monday, October 11, 2010

    Second month...

    It's the second month of school. It's so nice to be there for a second year. So much easier. All ten of my sixth graders are with me for a second year now in Grade Seven and nine more of the students I taught French last year. And even most of the students I didn't teach I knew. Also now everyone knows me and what I am like. My former students are very good at explaining routines and expectations.
    I find it hard to believe that in my first four years of teaching I changed schools each year. After my first year of teaching I quit and went to Europe arriving back in late September and managed to get a job within a week. I think it had something to do with my willingness to teach special education. I didn't seem to really find it difficult and although they were really challenging teaching positions and I really wasn't well prepared for what I was doing, each job taught me a lot and I had some wonderful colleagues. And the last six years I got to live in Montreal. Youth is definitely resilient. After that I had longer stays. My last job in Montreal was four years long and I only left to move to Vancouver thirty years ago where I have taught at five schools with a bit of subbing when I first moved here.

    I think this year is probably the last but I honestly am having a really good time. In a strange twist of fate I spent my first 20 years of teaching, teaching special education or doing learning assistance from high school to primary, and then I was integrated. And I honestly fell in love with teaching Grade Six as tiring and challenging as it can be (the class size alone). I became a consultant because I think it was something I thought I should do but though it was a great experience I can't say I loved it. I wanted to go back to the classroom but it really wasn't easy. It was exhausting and I sure wasn't always feeling as if I was doing it as well as I should. It's so much easier telling others what they could do as opposed to doing it yourself.

    Now I haven't hit report cards yet this term, but this year is good. I have a great class, not without it's challenges, but that is of course part of the fun. I never seem to have enough time to teach all that needs to get taught for one thing. And I miss Wednesday early dismissal and those lunch hours sure are short, but I am coping much better with having to make lunch every day!

    I have a class that honestly loves to learn. They are enthusiastic. They are captivated by learning about rocks and Early Man. They work together well. Right now they are preparing projects on different aspects of life in St. John's, Newfoundland (I figure these West
    Coast kids need a little Eastern Canadian knowledge.) They love our novel study of Charlie Wilcox set during the First World War in Newfoundland. They are excited about starting buddy reading where they work with grade one students. Most of them are involved with our Me to We Club. They are fun (even if a bit chatty). And technology though our class moodle actually is enhancing the learning experience. Plus now I am familiar with the Grade Seven curriculum (and I even have reports my former students feel well prepared for Grade Eight math). I don't have to try to teach grade six and seven curriculum though I my old grade sixes enjoyed being in that split.

    In teaching like life there are definitely the good days and the bad days but you need to celebrate the good.

    By the way I need to apologize to my followers (I still find it hard to believe this blog actually has a few followers) I tend to publish posts and then realize that my editing was imperfect. Then I go back and reedit! Just regard it all as practice in your proofreading skills!

    The Help

    First happy Canadian Thanksgiving! Four day weekend for those of us in the Vancouver School Board, not sure it makes up though for losing my early dismissal Wednesday afternoons. I miss them! Oh well! While I was in a yoga class Friday morning someone nicked my car backing into a parking space. Fortunately he left a note and actually still was there so my car will be repaired free of charge but a bit of a bad start to the holiday. To cheer myself up I went off to the local library and in the fast read section found a copy of The Help by Kathryn Stockett. The book had been recommended to me about six months ago by a friend so I was pleased to find it. My approach to libraries tends to be, "let's see what looks interesting on the shelf" rather than methodically putting in requests on line.
    It was a perfect read, the kind of book you can't stop reading and because it is a holiday you actually can keep reading. I tend to be a late night, early morning reader.
    It is set in the early 60's in Jackson, Mississippi. It is told from the point of view of three woman. Skeeter has just graduated from university and badly wants to go to New York City to work as a writer and editor while her mother thinks she should be finding a husband like her friends. The one job she finds is giving house cleaning advice in the local paper and she turns to her friend's maid, Abilene for assistance. In the meantime, Abilene's best friend, Minny, has just lost her job and can't get another due to a run in with one of Skeeter's friends. The book is told from all three women's points of view. With the assistance of these women, Skeeter ends up writing a book about what it is like being the Help. Although it seems doubtful to Abilene the times are changing. It's definitely a morality tale to some extent, and Skeeter's old friend, Hilly, has to be one of the nastiest women fiction has seen for awhile. Again the book tries to describe a situtation that seems almost indescribable to someone not brought up in this time and place. The book is soon to be made into a movie.

    Monday, September 27, 2010

    Just to say hello and give you some reading power!

    Happy Monday! Busy times-and trying to limit my digital addictions. Let's see-there is the class moodle to keep up (where students can post assignments etc.) and I now have put our reading association, LOMCIRA on Facebook. Just wanted to give you a couple of news updates on other sites. Both our local Reading Association, LOMCIRA and our provincial association, BCLCIRA, have new updated websites so please have a look.
    All you Reading Power fans will be happy to know that Adrienne has a new website as well. What a great resource! Just hit the links on the side to access all of these any time!
    I am having posting pictures today!

    Sunday, September 19, 2010

    Newfoundland-the end of my trip...

    I have so many other things to write about I need to finish off the Newfoundland report-well to be exact the St. John's and surroundings report.
    After going to bed at about 2:30 am, we managed to get up and on our way for more sightseeing (unfortunately missing the after wedding brunch).  We took a great walk over to The Rooms.  This is an incredible building inspired by the rooms where fisherman used to clean and dry their catch.  This building is opened  five years ago and houses the Provincial Archives, an art gallery, and a museum.  It also probably has the best view in town of the city.  I totally recommend the restaurant for the food and view!  We did quite a thorough tour of the art gallery and museum.  Having been to Cupids we really enjoyed the exhibit on its history.  This is on until January in case you are planning a visit.  Another interesting permanent exhibit was about the Irish in Newfoundland.  In the art gallery we enjoyed the permanent exhibit and there was a really great exhibit of Ed Pien's work, Haven of Delight, on loan organized by the Musee d'art of  Joliette, Quebec.  I loved walking through a giant cut out maze.

    Then we were whisked away by my old friend, Daphne, who lives in St. John's and is originally from Newman's Cove.  She took us to the Johnson Geo Centre at Signal Hill.  Since I have to teach geology in Grade Seven science I thought this might inspire me.  And I have to say it did.  Too bad I can't just take my class there!  They like the idea of a Newfoundland field trip though! The main exhibit was really informative and I must admit I quite enjoyed the special exhibit on the Titantic-what a story of human hubris and error and corporate greed.  Also it was definitely interesting virtually visiting an offshore oil platform.  There wasn't too much discussion of accidents though.

    Next on the agenda was a visit to a visit to Quidi Vidi Village, a small fishing village a short distance away.  This was a neat area and we had to buy samples of the local beer.  Two houses have been built that take away from the picturesque view and flavour though.  Not sure how that happened? They aren't in this picture.

    Then Daphne took us on a great tour of the old historic residential area of the city (that we had walked a bit through on our way to The Rooms)  telling us some great stories.  We ended our tour with great ice cream at MooMoos.

    Somewhere in there I managed a bit more souvenir shopping.  Daphne dropped Ginny and I off at the condo Diane and Bob (the groom's parents) had rented near our hotel.  So we enjoyed a bit more visiting and eating with some of the wedding guests and called it an early night.

    Note that my camera was still having battery problems and batteries seemed hard to find.  Otherwise I would probably have had another 100 pictures to sort through.  (Note to self, always travel with back up lithium batteries though I usually do.)

    The next day I felt  sad to have to leave especially since Ginny and Diane went puffin watching that day but I think I managed to have a wonderful time in a few days.  I totally recommend a trip to Newfoundland and Labrador.  The link is to their excellent tourism site.  I know you might not get to go to a wedding but...
    P.S. Security including the non-line up took me less than three minutes and I still managed to find a few more souvenirs in the airport.

    Sunday, September 12, 2010

    The Newfoundland Report Part 3

    Well I should finish this and move on to other topics!  Friday morning we were off to the Memorial University of Newfoundland Botanical Garden.  Our walk only took in a small part of this large property but we certainly enjoyed the part that we were able to see.  Sometimes one does think of Newfoundland as The Rock so that one can almost think of a botanical garden as being a bit of a contradiction in terms but there is indeed interesting plant life especially due to the unique geography of Newfoundland.  Some plants were ones we see here in coastal British Columbia and not in Central Canada for instance.  Plants that had stopped blooming here long ago were still blooming there as well.  And of course there are those blueberries.  To learn more visit the garden's very good site.

    I have to note that we were thrilled to have a close up look at Newfoundland's provincial flower, the Pitcher Plant.  This plant has adapted to harsh conditions so that it doesn't need soil nutrients but can get nutrients by capturing insects.  I learned that some native orchids supplement their diet as well this way. The Pitcher  Plant  was chosen as the provincial flower because it represents natural beauty, strength, character, and resiliency very representative of Newfoundland and Labrador and the people there.

    It was time to return the car as we really didn't need it any more.  Typical of the hospitality we found in St. John's, we were delivered to downtown St. John's to meander and shop our way back to the hotel along the oldest street in North America, Water Street, and later Duckworth.  I am not sure if I have mentioned how steep some of the streets are, so steep that you can use stairs at some points.  Then there are the wonderfully colorful houses that are now being renovated madly.  It's probably just as well the room in my suitcases was limited but I had a great time in The Weavery, the Heritage Shops, and the Craft Council Shop, Devon House.

    Of course, as you may remember we were here for a wedding and the wedding was a about to begin so we were picked up by bus and for the next 11 hours were on a Newfoundland adventure that included the ceremony at St. Patrick's Church (a church built by fishermen), a stop at the bride's parents' beautiful home in a subdivision surrounding a lake (you can go down the backyard onto the pond for a row and to fish) and finally to the reception at the Murray's Pond Hunting and Fishing Club in Portugal Cove.  The picture is from there.

    Now as you can see I am a compulsive picture taker, a bit hampered in the latter part of my trip by battery problems but I have to include a professional shot taken by the bride's brother in law, Nate Gates.  You just have to love it. 

    I thought that I would finish the story today but Newfoundland Part 4 will be the end, I promise.

    Wednesday, September 8, 2010

    Newfoundland part 2

    Well yesterday was the first day of school-mind you I only had my 10 former grade sixes and one student for an hour but after two days off always a bit of a shock to the system but always the excitement and anticipation of the first day...  I don't get my whole "real class" until Friday as we make sure the numbers fall in the correct directions.  I have decided to start the year with a bit of a unit on Newfoundland including beginning with the science unit on geology and social studies unit on artifacts.  My read aloud will be Charlie Wilcox by Sharon E. MacKay.  I am keeping all my last year's grade six students and they were actually wildly enthusiastic about studying about Newfoundland if it involved project work.  They love projects.  Also I am happy to say that they all seemed to read this summer as well.  I am so excited with only having to deal with one grade level curriculum and always thankful for my wonderful teacher-librarian!

    Now as I unfold more of my recent journey you will hopefully see the connections.  My journey along the Marine Drive where I took some of the pictures on my last blog.  When we visited Middle Beach and saw all these rocks my mind turned to Grade Seven Science.  We returned to St. John's and went up Signal Hill which we could always see clearly out our hotel window.  Then we drove out (with a little confusion due to one way streets and two bridges) to Cape Spear, Canada's most easterly point.  We saw the most incredible sunset!  I realize we should have perhaps done sunrise but sunset was amazing!

    This is just one of the views we had.  It was a really magical evening listening to the pounding surf (wondering a bit of Hurricane Earl was going to sweep over us in a couple of days).

    Thursday we set off for Brigus and Cupids.  Brigus was highly recommended by Verena, and it was an amazingly beautiful place.  Once a major sealing port with a harbour filled with ships it now is a town rather lovingly restored.  The streets are narrowed and windy so I happily abandoned the car in a lot as Ginny and I explored.  We ended up in Hawthorne Cottage, home of Captain Bob Bartlett, famed Arctic explorer, I began thinking that Brigus seemed strangely familiar.  Sure enough, when I asked the helpful tour guide, it was indeed the setting for Charlie Wilcox, a boy who sneaks off to board a sealer rather than go to high school but instead  finds himself heading to Europe during World War 1.  Captain Bob also figures in Wayne Johnston's great adult novel, The Navigator of New York.
    When we went up to the old church on the hill, I thought of Charlie running up there to see if his father's ship had come in.

    Next we ventured off to Cupids, the oldest English language settlement in Canada.  Only the week before it celebrated it's 400th anniversary.  There is also an extensive archeological dig there and an interesting display from the National Art Gallery of reproductions of famous Canadian portraits on the street but I must say a highlight for us was a late lunch at Cupid's Haven and then a walk that included wild blueberry nibbling.  Okay, again I need to go to work.  Stay tuned for more!

    Tuesday, September 7, 2010

    Such good intentions...

    Two weddings and two weeks away later and here I am blogging again.  I had good intentions of a blog while I was away.  I was all set to go in the St. John's, Newfoundland airport only to discover that my somewhat antiquated Macbook  couldn't pick up the free hot spot there.  Same thing happened to me in a Kingston, Ontario hotel etc.  So here I am the morning before my first day back at work writing.

    The weddings-one in Vancouver and then one in St. John's.  Both couples live in Calgary and one member of each couple was born in Montreal-doesn't that say something about contemporary Canada.  The first I was the maid of honour at the bride's parents' wedding, and the second I have known the groom since he was a toddler and can remember him refusing to take his Star Wars boots off before I attempted to make him go to sleep.  It was great spending time with old friends and seeing these neat young people taking these big steps.  Both weddings were beautiful-the first at Cecil Green House with an ocean view on the UBC campus-the wedding ceremony was outside and much time was spent admiring the views.  The second took place in wonderfully historic St. Patrick's Church followed by a reception at Murray's Pond, another beautiful setting.

    In between I flew to Montreal, a visit sandwiched with a weekend in Kingston again spending time with old friends.  I am bringing my Queen's mug to school today.  The last few days I spent in St. John's.  Another former John Grant (the special ed high school where I taught in Lachine)  and I flew off to another former colleague,  Diane's son's wedding.  Ginny has been almost everywhere but had missed Newfoundland and I hadn't been there for 34 years so we were planning some serious sightseeing as well.

    I really fell in love with St.  John's.  Fortunately my friend Verena had been there a couple of days earlier and made some great recommendations from coffee shots to places to visit.  Nothing like a fresh traveller to guide you.  We rented a car for the first couple of days until the wedding festivities pulled into full gear so we took full advantage.

    We stayed at the Sheraton, formerly the Fairmont and we were pleasantly surprised that we had a view right up to the top of Signal Hill and into the harbour where a cruise ship was moored.  The location was perfect.  Verena recommended the coffee shop, Coffee Matters, across the street and in the next few days we ate breakfast there everyone day as well.  A friendly local transplanted from Toronto saw us studying our maps and lead us to our first tour, Marine Drive.  Okay I have to get ready for school so I will have to continue this later.  The pictures are from our drive along Marine Drive-just wanted to begin to give you a flavour!

    Wednesday, August 18, 2010

    Phases of Summer

    Back for a week after a week spent in Bowen Island, Gabriola Island, and Whistler.  Each phase of summer seems different-sun rising a bit later each day and now when you come out of a movie it is dark.  Days are getting shorter. The last few days have been hot and we Vancouverites seem to have a love hate relationship to this.  Most of us don't have air conditioning in our homes so we tend to moan a bit.   I am in the midst of having the outside of my house painted so that I am hoping the rain will hold off until it is finished.  I have missed our old Mount Pleasant outdoor pool, and now we have the new Hillcrest Pool with all its bells and whistles but although great for kids a bit of a circus and twice as expensive. 

    I am going away for the last two weeks of summer so that I am realizing that there are a few things I planned to do that I won't be doing and trying to fit a others in.  That stack of professional reading doesn't seem much smaller.  I have to admit I did lots of summer frivolous reading-some would call it beach reading.  I now seem more ready for a bit more serious reading.  I am reading 2009 Man Booker prize winner, Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel.  It's huge and I have it as a fast read from the library but I am not making fast progress and am wondering if I should buy it and take it back east with me.  I am really enjoying it.  I have always had a bit of a fascination with the Tudors and her depiction of Cromwell is fascinating.

    I have spent a fair amount of time looking at new Mac Pros-trying to decide if could survive with a thirteen inch monitor or not, playing with IPads and IPhones, and still here I am with my five year old ibookG4 and my very simple cell phone still.  Mind you if I had an Ipad or a Kindle taking Wolf Hall with me would be a bit lighter!

    Now for a happy summer beach shot from Gabriola with Maggie and Jake.

    Tuesday, August 10, 2010

    12 Sides to Your Story... Simple steps for turning ordinary writing into something extraordinatory

    I'm in Whistler with a couple of friends and it's raining-rather novel of late-we hadn't had rain in about six weeks until a couple of days ago but hear the sun is returning tomorrow.  I went to Gabriola Island for a couple of days and refused to bring a raincoat or umbrella so feel a bit of responsibility for the change in weather.

    So yes I am actually going to talk about a professional book, 12 Sides to Your Story by Graham Foster. This is one of those nice flip books from Pembroke.  I may have mentioned that I felt quite guilty when author, Melanie Jackson, came to my class, and gave an excellent presentation on plot and I realized that I had been remiss about doing much really creative writing, fictional story writing, with my class.  Non fiction writing seemed to be more of a focus.  Now as someone who had given innumerable workshops on writing this doesn't sound too good but realities of the classroom sometimes vary from the ideal.  After Melanie's visit, we spent time on fictional writing. 

    One thing I decided is that I would put more of an emphasis on story writing early this year so that I was interested in checking out this book.  The book is designed to be used by teachers or students but I know there are those amazing students who would conscientiously read this but probably more likely to be used by teachers.  I think it's a good step up for teachers at the grade six to nine level who are already familiar with writing workshop and six trait writing approaches.  If anyone wants some suggestions for materials for good starting points for these,  just let me know.

    This book is divided into the following sections:  using story writing strategies; organization; content; sentence structure; vocabulary and voice; conventions; and revising and sharing.  There are good ideas and examples in each section.  I like the layout as well.

    I think I am actually staying still for the next few days so am going to force myself into doing some planning for the coming year.  Last summer more closely reading Nancy Atwell's The Reading Zone made me rethink again silent reading and reading strategies that I had been using in classrooms in which I had been working as a literacy coach, and in my classroom it helped me hopefully create more avid readers. I find my classroom practice is influenced by a number of professional books so that my silent reading program has elements  I am also looking forward hopefully this year to have a bit of time to do some co-planning with some of my fellow teachers around reading and writing.  Summer is definitely a great time for battery recharging!  It's no longer raining but still cloudy skies here in Whistler.  Just thinking of the long title of 12 Sides to Your Story-I think I like just thinking about turning anything ordinary into something extraordinatory.

    Saturday, July 31, 2010

    Favourite Summer pursuits in Vancouver

    I think I have definitely moved into lazy summer mode.  Last night a friend inspired me to work on cleaning out my office-a never ended process it seems.  Let's face it those thousands of slides overwhelm me just looking at the boxes!  And then I look at all the educational books that I have only thumbed through... and half done projects... but last night a few things did get put in boxes to give away or throw.  And my sense of urgency did get kick started...

    I just thought today I would talk about things I love about summer in Vancouver.  First of all the weather-it's been absolutely perfect-warm days and cool mornings and evenings.  I love early mornings when I can go out barefoot onto my deck, check out my flowers, do a bit of watering, and visit with Holly the cat who who thinks the deck furniture is just for her or to share with a friend or two.  Some mornings I go to Granville Island, take my coffee and muffin and read the paper as I look at the action on False Creek.  The other morning I took my bike and checked out the new pool complex in the new community centre at Hillcrest Park.  I have been mourning the loss of our outdoor pool that was just a few blocks away at the old Mount Pleasant Community Centre that I used regularly in past summers, but I have to admit the new pool is beautiful and you can see outside!  It opens today so I definitely am going to use it sometime this weekend.

    I love not having to rush to school!  I have to admit a friend had organized an interesting sounding seminar that started at 7:00 am downtown and I have to admit I just couldn't do it.

    That reminds me.  I love Canada Line- a five minute walk away it can take me downtown or the airport in minutes and you only ever have to wait a couple of minutes.  It's amazing.  Okay I admit I have only taken it once this summer but I love having it here.  I think it reminds me of fun times in Montreal in my twenties for one thing.  Building its path was a nightmare but now that it is here...

    Summer-I love walking along Spanish Banks-best in the morning or early evening.  I also love dining on the patio deck at Jericho Beach Sailing Club-wonderful view and the minute the weather begins looking like it might be summer I try to head down there.

    In the summer I love to dine where there is an ocean view - other favorites have to be Monk McQueen's Oyster Bar and Steveston's Tapenade Bistro.  Just being there makes me think summer.
    Steveston is a place I have always loved-I first started going there long ago and have watched the changes and developments because I am not the only one who finds it charming so now it's a tourist mecca with a lot of newer housing.  Honestly I have to stop with the restaurant guides but I love the charm for lunch of Cannery Row any time of the year.

    Then there is Bard on the Beach.  A couple of weeks ago partly by chance and partly by plan I went to Antony and Cleopatra and to Henry V the same week.  The setting is magical and from the big tent you can see the sun set over English Bay.  After Henry the Fifth, which I thoroughly enjoyed, I walked with a friend back to her place just before Granville Island.  It was beautiful with all the boats lit up along the path.

    Maybe I should end this here-note this doesn't really link too well perhaps to Later Literacy but we tell our students to write about what they know and love so...  Stay tuned for more favorites...I mean we haven't even discussed prowling farmers' markets, baking with berries, canoing with beavers etc.

    Monday, July 19, 2010

    Into summer

    Hmm... summer.  Well as you can see blogging has fallen behind and that is probably okay.  I can't believe how fast time has actually gone!  I haven't gone very far afield.  I spent a couple of days in Whistler the week after school ended where I saw not one but two different bear cubs in the not very wild.   Other than that it's been quality time in Vancouver, a rather lovely place to be in the summer.

    The first few days of the holiday were not good weather wise-felt like winter but then suddenly we had a mini-heatwave and then it settled into perfect weather-sun but not too hot.  Every morning is a gift it seems.  I love looking into the garden when I first get up (or not) and seeing blue sky.

    I have been doing lots of reading, most of it very non serious.  I just finished the latest Elizabeth George mystery, The Body of Death.  I followed it up with another novel by another favorite mystery writer and I just couldn't get into it I think because Elizabeth George is such a beautiful writer it didn't bear well on the other book so I put it aside.  If you haven't read her Thomas Lynley series, I totally recommend them to all mystery lovers.

    Currently I am on The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, a book I picked off the shelf of the library, vaguely aware it was one of The Books of the year (Oprah stamp of approval).  I am actually really enjoying it and finding it quite motivating as I engage in the usual summer activities of trying to clean things out and trying to get a few projects begun and finished.  I am also thinking back to my teaching year and thinking what I want to change next year.  Several years ago one of my friends noted that people seemed to be always studying depression but not happiness, which she thought would be more productive, and it seemed as soon as she said that I started seeing research on happiness.

    I thinking if I make these entries short there is a better chance of getting them up!  That will, of course, make me feel happier!

    Saturday, July 3, 2010

    Horror anyone or Beware of Pixies

    And then I think there has been the influence of Twilight.  I can't say horror or the supernatural is my favourite genre but there were lots of these books at the International Reading Association Convention in Chicago.  I guess we could also call them fantasy.  I note that Harlequin has sunk its teeth into YA so it must be fantasy!
    Anyway I read a few that I honestly enjoyed. Let's start with those Pixies.  I was a Pixie as a Brownie in my childhood and I thought they just helped people in fixes, but now that I have read Need by Carrie Jones, I know better.  They are not nice, and often dangerous, especially if you let them kiss you.  Zara is having a hard time after her step-dad dies and her mom decides to send her to live with her step-grandmother in Bedford, Maine.  We initially think the main reason  Zara is sent there is due to her depression but the real reason is that her mom thinks she needs more protection than she can provide.  Leaving Charleston for wintry Maine is not thrilling for non-violent, Amnesty International fan Zara and she doesn't find everyone at her new school too friendly especially when she gains the attention of two of the school's heart throbs.  Also teenage boys are disappearing and Zara seems to be the only one who can stop this happening.  This is a fun book with intriguing characters and a plot with lots of twists and surprises.  To paraphrase one reviewer, Stephen King meets Twilight.

    Another teenage girl with problems is Emma in Lee Nichol's  Deception: Haunting Emma.  Her parents literally leave her alone, managing their antique business  in San Francisco as they go off to Europe.  Their manager has quit and her daughter, Emma's best friend won't have anything to do with her anymore.  Emma's brother is off adventuring as well and nowhere to be found.  She makes a new friend at school who tells the authorities she is living alone with no parents in the picture, and the next thing she knows she is in foster care.  But to the rescue comes a friend of her brother's who whisks her off to the East Coast to attend his old school and live in his mysterious house.  Sounds sinister but of course he is a hunk and a total gentleman but he isn't home much and the servants have a tendency to disappear.  Like Zara, Emma has powers of which she is unaware.  She is a ghost keeper extraordinaire.  She can communicate with ghosts and more.  Again there are many twists and turns of plot and it's difficult to know who to trust but a great read with an interesting heroine.

    Once again we are in New England for Vampire High Sophmore Year.  This book by Douglas Rees is the sequel to Vampire High, which I haven't read.  Our hero, Cody Elliot, in the first book, moved from California to New Sodam, Massachusetts, and when he wasn't doing too well at Cotton Mather High, he transfers to Vlad Dracul High, where most students are vampires but they need a few humans for the water polo team so that they can stay accredited.  Cody doesn't have to do any work to get A's but he decides to actually to take on the challenging curriculum and makes friends with two vampires and gains the school's respect.
    In this book, his difficult cousin arrives on the scene and the two of them end up involved in a project to start an art gallery in an old abandoned mill in a ghost town section of town.  This project stirs up old animosities and makes him temporarily lose his best friends. 
    Now I am far from an expert on vampires but these vampires seem rather different than others I have read about.  I didn't think vampires could be werewolves or selkies but I am no expert.  Anyway this book had lots of humour as well as suspense. 

    Friday, July 2, 2010

    More books briefly reviewed

    This is an entry that I thought I posted but didn't!
    This week my class and I went to Sun Yat Sen Gardens (now of course that was now a couple of weeks ago), a field trip I totally recommend.  It gave my class a real feeling for life in China long ago.  A book that I recommend to tie into Grade Seven Social Studies is  Along the River by Adeline Yen Mah whose own story told in Chinese Cinderella sounds rather interesting.  Set in China in 1942, after she suffers  a  head injury, CC finds herself drifting into the setting of China's most famous painting, set in the Sung dynasty almost 800 years before.

    A new book by popular author, Kimberly Willis Holt (author of when Zachary Beaver Came to Town) is The Water Seeker.  I found this book quite fascinating but not sure if it would appeal to my students.  When I was a child, living in a rural area in Quebec, I would hear stories of dowsers who could feel water with a stick so that people would know where to dig for wells.  This is the story of a father and a son with this gift describing their journey from the Missouri Territory to Oregon.  This is the kind of story you didn't hear from Little House on the Prairie.  But again this is a story that takes you on a journey, one that would be hard for my students to imagine.  It really describes how hard life was then and how tough pioneers had to be and hopeful.  Lots of unforgettable characters in this novel.

    Thursday, July 1, 2010

    End of year thoughts

    Well I did it-I made it through a year of teaching after four years giving advice to others on what to do.  Monday afternoon we had our special Grade Seven assembly and it felt really  special to be a Grade Seven teacher at their special school assembly.  They all looked so gorgeous and grown up, receiving their certificates in front of the whole school and their families. I thought how glad I was to have made this decision to come back to teach before I retire.  Tuesday seemed to last forever and a moment.  It was such an emotional time I think for the grade sevens, their last day as students at their elementary school.  One student who usually smiles all the time looked so sad.  My most "active" student didn't want to leave the classroom.  There were lots of hugs and a few tears.  My poor grade sixes had to just go along with all the drama.
    We had our final assembly Tuesday morning.  It was wonderful to see how many kids were involved in badminton and track and field as well as how many library monitors there were and most of our grade sevens were peer helpers.  Teachers on their own time make these extras possible.

    Our Minister of Education and my M.LA was moaning about how schools are getting worse today on the basis of not very conclusive data-the implication being that we are doing a poor job rather than the Ministry doing a poor job of course.  I thought why don't you see the job our teachers do?  You can't measure the success of education in the short term you have to look at the long term and somehow that seldom is done.  Many of our school's students don't have easy lives nor do their parents.  We are a school of immigrants-people coming here to make a better life for their children but that has costs-parents  busy working so that children don't always get enough time with their parents and money is often an issue.  We are losing population because of the cost of living in a city like Vancouver.  For many of our students school is definitely their second home, a place where they can see possibilities and they feel cared for and treasured.

    I am tired and I know that I did not do the most stellar job this year but I feel a sense of satisfaction no matter what the Minister of Education may think.

    Saturday, June 26, 2010

    Sitting here in the early morning

    I am sitting here in the early morning alternating between typing lists of all the good things my students wrote about each other and reading essays from The Best Women's Travel Writing 2009.  I have been compiling the lists for many years, inspired by a true essay I read  in the original Chicken Soup for the Soul.   I have a hard time reading this story out loud without crying but the idea of having a list of everything good your students in your sixth or seventh grade class I think is a nice one and an experience former students always do remember, whether they keep the lists or not.

    This is my first year actually being a seventh grade classroom teacher so this transition period leaving elementary school to go to high school is really up close and personal this  year.  Such a funny period of life, caught between childhood and adolescence.  Yesterday they were telling me how one of my students who had just turned thirteen shaved the night before and he complained how hard it was. Many of my students have spent their whole school life in our small school so it is very much their second home and exciting yet painful to leave.

    I am in the midst of writing various certificates, and I still don't have my report cards back to deal with any corrections, sign them, run them off and file them with only two school days left before they are sent home.

    Last week I survived Science World and Sun Yat Sen Gardens field trips, both went well but I was tired at the end of both days and then there was Sports Day and the end of the report cards.

    This week we made it through the grad luncheon, a buddy picnic, and a day at Spanish Banks West Beach.  Although there are many beaches in our city and they are free, most of my students had never actually been to this beach.  To give city kids a day like this is always a wonderful experience.  The weather was perfect as well. 

    I came home a bit salt encrusted, tired, planning an exciting evening of laundry, house cleaning, and working on certificates, lists, etc.  I had forgotten all about a fundraising event at Nu Restaurant for Room to Read when a friend phoned to ask how to get to the restaurant.  I ended up joining her and her husband, getting to sit out on the deck on False Creek under the Granville Street Bridge celebrating a great organization.  We had a chance to chat with chapter leader, Sharon Davis, who recommended two books I want to read now. One is    Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sharon Wudunn.  I can't believe I had missed this one about educating and empowering women to fight poverty and extremism.  The second is Dead Aid : Why Aid is Not Working and How There is a Better Way for Africa by Dambisa Moyo,  Moyo, originally from Zambia, is an international economist who writes about macroeconomy and global affairs. Rumour has it that she will be speaking in Vancouver sometime soon.

    It's finally looking like summer here and I must say I am looking forward to it.  Mind you it has clouded over here.  I have to go and water my fertilized lawn and pull lots of weeds and contemplate making it through a couple more days including a Grade Seven assembly etc. Hmm... all those good things.

    Saturday, June 19, 2010

    What I have been reading lately in young adult literature

    What a week!  Two field trips and Sports Day but I managed to finish and print off my report cards yesterday afternoon so now I am turning to this stack of books I have read and want to review before I bring them to school or give away to a friend who teaches high school.  Some of these books have not yet been officially released and I have been reading advanced copies.

    The first is one I had heard of but hadn't read, Cut by Patricia McCormick.  I very much enjoyed another of her books, Sold, about a girl sold into contemporary slavery.  Maybe enjoy wasn't the right word...  Cut is of course about a girl who cuts herself but I thought this book was very well written and engaging.  I thought it was an understandable story of why a girl would cut herself. 

    Teaching Grade Seven for the first time, I have learned a bit more about Ancient Cultures, and the students are certainly fascinated by them.  Invisible City. the first of The Joshua Files by M.G. Harris, is about Joshua whose father, an archaeologist, has mysteriously died in a plane crash in Mexico.  Strange things begin to happen in Oxford so that Joshua and two of his friends go to investigate in Mexico, and Joshua discovers that a contemporary Mayan culture is still secretly existing.  This is a great thriller and the first of a series for middle schoolers.

    Many many years ago I visited a beautiful part of the United States called The Outer Banks in North Carolina.  One thing we did was go to an outside theatre and see a play that has been playing in the summer for years in Roanoke Island called The Lost Colony .  The first settlement that the British made was in Roanoke Island in 1587 but then the settlement was cut off for several years due to the impending Spanish War and when a British ship finally returned, none of the settlers were found.  Cate of the Lost Colony, a well researched novel by Lisa Klein, tells the story of a fictional maid of Queen Elizabeth the first, who makes the mistake of falling in love with Sir Walter Raleigh, and is banished to the colony.  I found this book to be a real page turner and Cate an interesting character. It was fascinating imagining the contrast of life in Elizabethan England to that in the "wilds" of North America with the Croatoan native people.  Were all the colonists killed or died of starvation or did some of them just become part of the native community and hide from the ship's crew?

    I am, I admit a Jane Austen fan, every few years rereading all her novels.  Needless to say, I was Jane Austen's Best Friend, had a certain appeal.  Another well researched novel that is based on Jane's relationship with her real life cousin, Jenny Cooper.  Again, author, Cora Harrison, used research as well as her imagination to write this novel.   I found this quite an engaging read as one can perhaps see where ideas for Austen's novels began to hatch and get a picture of her own life.

    The Unidentified by Rae Mariz, is a science fiction novel, based on the idea of what if in an attempt to save money on education, schools end up in malls run by corporate sponsors.  I think this is one that would appeal to some of my students.  It presents a scary scenario with believable characters and has the appeal of a mystery.  The heroine Kid is bemused when after witnessing an anti-corporate prank, causing her mother to be thrilled and her best friend jealous, she is "branded" but also becoming involved with another group, the unidentified.  A good read.

    Well enough for now.  More to come-find out why I was shocked that despite being one in Brownies, Pixies aren't good after all...

    Wednesday, June 9, 2010

    Thoughts coming to the end of the school year...

    The end is coming rapidly or sometimes not rapidly enough and I am keenly aware of all I haven't gotten done.  I did okay with the first units of Grade Six and Seven Science (mainly because my resource teacher taught the grade six science for awhile) and our teacher-librarian did two units of Social Studies with the Grade Sevens and one with the Grade Sixes.  And let's face it Science isn't my best teaching subject nor probably is Grade Seven math (just hoping I will have it under control by next year).  One reassuring thing is I am keeping my Grade Sixes so we can continue onward and I am feeling very good about their math!  Those of you who follow this blog know that with many hits and misses reading has gone fairly well.  I somehow seem to have had them write mainly non-fiction so I think I will be beginning in with fiction and poetry next year!
    I had a fun mini-unit last week when I had a hodge podge of two classes due to the district track meet.  I focussed on wolves using fairly tale (I used the first story from the fantastic There's a Wolf at the Door,) an apparently factual book, Emily Gravett's Wolves, (well somewhat factual until the rabbit is eaten by the wolf as he is busily reading a book about wolves), and a factual article from National Geographic Kids and ending with them writing reports on wolves.  I think I needed to do more of this kind of thing!  We had lots of good listening and note taking and lots of using of strategies and everyone had a beautiful looking finished product in their own words.
    I am ending the year with the grade sixes presenting reports each on a city and the sevens picking a subject in Ancient China, Rome, or Greece and doing presentations since we ran out of time!  Mind you when I taught grade six I never finished the socials curriculum.  Some of my studies this year seemed to peter out and some never happened.  But now it's the point where I have to  realize this and hope that they have better science teachers next year but have acquired some non-fiction reading skills, and that they will finish Dormia and it's sequel on their own.
    But again maybe that is the great thing about teaching.  It doesn't end with us in one year.
    Next week we are off to Science World and Sun Yat Sen Gardens.  At the latter we are going to make gun powder.  They asked if they get to bring it home.  Hmm...
    P.S. I am avoiding writing report cards!

    Monday, May 24, 2010

    Thank you

    Thanks to the wonderful Brenda Powers through the Big Fresh Newsletter I discovered this website which is nothing but Thank you notes.  Brought up on the idea that one should always write thank you notes, this blogger, Leah Dieterich, has a thank you note each day.  She thanks objects  as well as people, which is rather neat.  So today, I want to thank long weekends, days when the sun shines, the rewards of flowers planted long ago that bloom year after year surprising me like the Columbine in this picture. Thank you for books, almost any books because I enjoy reading so much. Thanks for friends who share Purdy's chocolate bars.  Thanks for kids who make me laugh.  So many things to be thankful for so I am putting this blog on my list so I don't forget about it when I am in a complaining mood.

    As indicated before I have been busy moodling and encouraging my class to moodle as well.  One thing it does enable is my class to ask questions any time and since they are usually easy to answer it's not really a problem and I think they like it.  Now when they say they have lost an assignment they know they can check on the moodle site so no excuses.  There is still lots of old fashioned reading and writing going on in class and in homework assignments  but I figure this is another place for students to communicate in a focused way.  Notice we seem to have a new verb.

    I am finishing this Monday morning and the sun is shining and I am barefoot so the outdoor furniture may actually go outside today.  Dressed warmly I managed to do a bit of gardening yesterday but it looks as if it could be more pleasant today.  Yeah!  Thank you!