Saturday, March 17, 2012

[Friday Free Day] What if...

A boss I really liked posed a question similar to this to me one day...

What if... we stopped teaching specific content for one week, one quarter, one year, and instead focused on the kids where they are at each moment.  Zero in on their learning edge and provide space, time, and resources for them to grow, learn, fill up their space?  

What would happen?

Friday, March 9, 2012

[Friday Free Day] Reminders

Here's a thought for a Friday.* How many reminder or warning bells are in your daily life? And, how many MORE reminders or warning bells are in your life than were, say, 10 years ago?  Here is typical morning in my world, with warning bells and reminders marked with a star.

At 5:30 my clock gives a buzz* to warn me that the loud alarms will be starting soon.  This is a gentle warning that the real warnings will be jarring. At 6:00 my alarm rings* for the first time as a strong suggestion that I should walk the dog. At the same time, my calendar dings* to let me know that 100 days are passing (long story, will share later). At 6:15 comes the stronger alarm bell* with the more overt reminder that it is time to get up and walk the dog. Between 6:15 and 7:00 the snooze alarms ring,* and at 7:00 the big alarm goes off* that lets me know I am now borderline late and a bad dog-owner for not walking the dog. When I start the dryer to finish dryer my clothes from last nights laundry, the dryer beeps* to let me know it started to dry.  At 7:05 the buttons on the microwave beep* to let me know I am pressing buttons to heat up my dog's food (a new trick to pretend it's fancy food). At 7:06 the refrigerator beeps* to let me know I've left the door open. At 7:06 the microwave gives a long beep* to let me know the food is heated. When I don't get it out right away (as I am making coffee) it beeps again* a minute later, and another beep* a minute after that. At 7:10 the dryer ding-dongs* to let me know the dryer will stop soon. At 7:15 the coffee maker gives a long tone* to tell me the coffee is brewed.

When I come back downstairs to pack my lunch and head out the door (late--my calendar has buzzed twice** to let me know I have a meeting at 8:00), the coffee maker rings* to say it will turn off soon. The dryer dings* to remind me I didn't take my clothes out. The refrigerator beeps* because the door didn't shut all the way again.

In my car the warning bell* goes off until I put my seat belt on. The cross walk light beep-bops* to let the visually impaired street crosses know to cross. My car bell* rings again as I forget to turn my headlights off when I arrive at the Rite Aid. The entryway at Rite-Aid ding-dongs* to let the employees know there is an early-morning customer. The sign directs me to "Ring the Bell"* at the pharmacy counter for service, so I do.

And that, my friends, is before 8:00 each day.  What does it say about our lives that this many machines need to ring at us, and that, in my case, I need to add rings and bells from my own phone and clocks in order to get my day started? I think it says something deep and important about the world.  I just don't know what it is yet...  Oh.  And I just got a text message*.  No joke.  I really did.  Ring-ring.

Monday, March 5, 2012

[Teaching Writing] Found Faces

Many surprising things happened today.  I woke up early, but not too early (!!!). I actually GOT up (!!!).  I took Stella the Dog for a walk after I got up (!!!).  And, I saw and took photos of fun things on my walk, AND I've already turned them into a writing prompt for today (!!!). Oh, and I haven't had any coffee yet. Yes, I think I've finished enough work for one day, I may just go back to bed.  Kidding (sort of).

When my dad was little, he had the "back room" at my Nana's house. The closet was made of wood and you could see the wood grain. He used a black permanent marker and drew the outline of a lady that showed up in the wood grain. I'm fairly certain he got in trouble for this. Happily for me, Nana didn't cover it up, and, a generation later, I was assigned the same "back room" and spent many hours contemplating that lady. I was sent to my room on occasion (what's the opposite of hyperbole?), and had plenty of time to imagine other people in that wood grain. Sorta like this:

On my walk this morning, I saw myriad faces. I thought I'd share them, and come up with a writing prompt from them.  Here they are. I did not move a single leaf, rock, or shadow to highlight these friendly found faces.

Try our video maker at Animoto.

Friday, March 2, 2012

[Friday Free Day] Stacks

I just loves me some stacks of books. It's one of the surest signs that I am, indeed, an English teacher at heart. I got to work at the butt-crack of dawn this morning, and was greeted with these lovely stacks.


The books I'm using as mentor texts at my presentation tomorrow morning.

 A partial class set of Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card for my 7th and 8th grade schmoopies. 

 A mis-matched class set of Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli for my 6th grade turkey-butts.


The book I grabbed from the library as I checked out the class sets, thinking I might read it and use it as a mentor texts for some of my more romantic turtle-heads.

Welcome to my Friday!  Share your stacks of books with me on my Wear the Cape Facebook page!  Maybe I'll pick a winner and send out a prize or something!