Saturday, February 27, 2010

Best Sounds

Some of the best sounds in a home are those of a family getting settled for bed. From a bedroom you can hear a mother telling stories to her son as he is about to be tucked into bed, reading in such a way that the books seem to come alive (I hear roaring - is it about lions or something else?). From another bedroom comes joyous humming and singing and the occasional page turn as a daughter enjoys her books and reading to dolls. Sounds that make you glad to be a father and husband.

Sshh. Listen...

And now, the best sound of all for parents after a busy day of chatting, discussing, laughing, hollering, shouting, crying, yelling, whispering, singing, murmuring, humming, screaming, giggling, snorting, demanding, and chuckling:


McDonald's Squared

Today was the first day in awhile in which we had to go to town on a Saturday for a grocery/library run. Of course, being the morning person that I am, I suggested getting up early so that we could have breakfast in town. All agreed, so we piled into the car at 7 AM this morning, drove to town and had breakfast at McDonald's at FK's insistence. This was ok by me, even though I prefer Tim Horton's breakfasts, because McD's has televisions which are showing Olympic coverage (and they also have coffee; definately need coffee in the morning). As we don't have satellite TV, to watch clips and reports from Vancouver was a welcome luxury. I even got a little verklempt watching a clip of speed skater Charles Hamelin skating to a gold medal finish, his girlfriend (silver medalist Marianne St-Gelais) jumping up and down, screaming and finally running down the stands jumping into his arms. Yes, I'm a) a proud Canadian and b) a hopeless romantic (but don't tell anyone).

So, filled with eggs and English muffins (and coffee, did I mention coffee?), we set off to do errands and visit the library. As we drove away from the library, it was once again decided that we would go to McD's for lunch. Sigh. And double sigh when the kids didn't even eat their food. And I, who feels guilty when there are leftovers, had plenty of delicious, scrumptious, McD's French fries. Triple sigh.

This afternoon I went for a run, burned off calories from two of the aforementioned French fries, and at least felt a little human again. And for supper, a delicious fruit smoothie to end the day on a healthy eating note.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Goodbye, Monkey Hat...

On Wednesday morning we dropped JK off at daycare wearing his beloved monkey hat. It was a gift from an aunt and JK loved to wear it (and we adored having him wear it as it suits his personality and makes for great pictures). When I went to pick him up at the end of the day, he was wearing a different hat. "Oh no!", I cried, "Where is your hat?" JK just looked up at me and grinned his infamous grin, oblivious to the crisis at hand as he was in his favourite element, snow. We have searched the daycare high and low for "monkey hat", as have the daycare workers (who run a great daycare). The daycare people were still looking for it today and plan to tomorrow as well (which also shows how much they love having JK at daycare). But we think it will be to no avail.

So, goodbye monkey hat. We will miss you, and miss seeing you in your rightful place, atop JK's head.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Scribbler's Stew

Today my class published it's first edition of Scribbler's Stew. It's a writing "magazine" of sorts, introduced to the reader with the following:

Welcome Reader! A good-tasting stew becomes a fabulous stew with the addition of a little bit of this and that. The grade seven class would like you to enjoy this collection of stories, which, like a fabulous stew, is a contribution of many good things.

One thing the class has learned about writing is that good writers practice writing everyday (!), and not only that, have their writing published so that others can read it. While it's necessary for students to do their work in class, have the teacher read it and post it on the Writing Wall in the classroom, it's another thing entirely when others outside of the classroom read their stories. When I came into the classroom this morning with copies of the classroom magazine, the students were giddy with excitement. "Have you given this out to the other classes, yet?" was a constant refrain.

The positive feedback from other teachers and fellow students was tremendous and a HUGE encouragement for my students to keep writing their ideas down on paper. They are already anticipating the next publication...

The smile of the day award goes to our secretary, who, upon receiving her copy of Scribbler's Stew, said "Yummy!".

Sunday, February 14, 2010


This past Thursday we finished reading Hatchet by Gary Paulsen. Throughout the year I have been reading from various types of books aloud to the class, for a few minutes at the end of each school day before the students go home. The class, though not receptive at the beginning of the school year, now loves this time of day. They have especially loved the story Hatchet, in which a city boy named Brian Robeson suddenly finds himself stranded in the middle of nowhere and has to survive on his own until help arrives, if it does at all. There recently have been times when I finish reading a section of the story, creating a cliffhanger to be finished the next day, and my students would call out “No! You can’t do that!” My inside teacher voice yells “YES!” when that happens.

This story resonated with my class on several levels. The boys loved the parts about Brian trying to survive in the wilderness with nothing but a hatchet. They could identify with Brian, as most of them have shot a moose or deer, fished, or cleaned a “foolbird” (grouse). For that matter, so have some of the girls in my class. The story takes place in a similar geographic location as where we live, so the students were able to visualize (reading comprehension strategy!) more easily the descriptive scenes as the author unfolded them. I think, too, that my students are experiencing a similar growth that Brian did in the story. There has been a growth this year from adolescent youngsters to mature young men and women who have had challenges and joys of their own that are shaping and refining their qualities and developing their character.

Of course, that doesn’t mean they still don’t act like adolescent youngsters from time to time…


Because Friday was PD Day and Valentine’s Day fell on a Sunday, Thursday in class we used Valentine’s Day as a jumping off point for writing. I wrote “Valentine’s Day” on the chalkboard and asked the students to come up with word associations, think of their five senses, or think about how people feel on that day, and so on for a “brainstorm” session. I listed what the students called out, some of which included: candy, red, wishes, cards, lonely, love, Cupid, nervous, rings, movies, happy, hearts, roses, chocolate, kisses, hugs, Hershey’s, sad, alone, gifts, birthday (a student has a birthday on the 14th), February, flowers, and, well, you get the idea. The students were then to pick an idea from the list and write about it. For a suggestion, I mentioned that they might want to pick a POV (point of view) from something on the list. Perhaps the POV of a florist (I don’t know how these ideas come into my head, but they do). Gumgirl incredulously says “A florist? Florists put down floors, don’t they?”

Um, no.


No, not a spelling mistake! This past week Fearless Leader brought in a stack of thin, wooden boxes filled with a row of wooden pencil crayons to our classroom. Though the students were told it was for the excellent work they are doing (which they are), it was mostly to clear some things out of the office which have been sitting around for a long time. I found out why they hadn’t been passed out before when I looked at the boxes closely. The caption on the box read “Student Achivement Award”. The funny thing is my students didn’t even notice the error…

This Time Around

Paul Brandt, my favourite country and western singer, sings many a song about living in the moment as "this time around is the only time you get". Life is too short to miss and not enjoy those in-between moments which are often more interesting than those that are "picture perfect". This past year has challenged me in many ways, including expanding my creative horizons. One challenge has been to teach writing, which is certainly not my strong suit. This blog is in part a writing exercise, a way of practicing what I preach in the classroom. But it's also a way of journalling about moments that make me want to kiss my wife, get on the floor with my kids, laugh, cry, run, shout for joy, take a picture, jump up and down, think out loud, reflect, pray, and, well, you get the idea.

Each waking moment's what you make it
Don't let a minute pass you by
This is the only chance so take it
All you have to do is spread your wings and fly
This time around
This time around

From "This Time Around"
(Artist: Paul Brandt; Album: "This Time Around")