Saturday, April 30, 2011

A Rainy Day

Even though it was pouring rain today, the Sprouts went outside to play.  Each have their own umbrella, though JK put his aside quickly in order to play with buckets and the like.  FK took the scientific route, making observations and checking out various wet weather treasures like worms.

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Before & After

Here's a before and after photo of our oldest Sprout.  I liked the capture and wanted to "rescue" it if possible (I readjusted the camera's exposure at the time but the moment was lost).  I used Lightroom 3 to edit the photo (cropping, camera calibration: portrait, lens correction enabled and preset: Black & White Look 4).  Not sure if I'm happy with the outcome, but the great thing with shooting RAW is that you have more options with post-processing than with JPG.  I'll let the edits sit for awhile and come back to the photo later to see if I'm still happy with the second version.  What do you think?

Musical Interlude: Umbrella/Singin' in the Rain

Ugh. It's raining today and will probably do so tomorrow as well. We had a wonderfully warm week (a high of 20C yesterday!) and the Sprouts spent lots of time outside. Time to pull out the LEGO, games and craft supplies, and maybe have an afternoon viewing of Megamind.

Here's a mash-up to kick off the weekend:

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

I Wonder What Would Have Happened If...

...Kindles had been around five or six years ago. Would our oldest Sprout and I have visited the library as often as we did back then? Would the same love of books have been instilled in our daughter at that early age if all I ever carried around was a Kindle? Would we have visited the market in the square for our ritual "coffee" after visiting the library? Would I have the same amazing memories that I do today of that time being a stay-at-home parent if I had had a Kindle in my hand?

Just wondering...

When Life Gives You a Lemon...

Sometimes parenting is just plain hard. I'm not talking about getting the Sprouts dressed, fed and out the door on time everyday for school, or helping them come to a solution to which TV show to watch without verbal (or physical) fighting. That's day to day stuff which is most manageable.

Today one of the Sprouts experienced disappointment. It's hard not to bend over backwards to prevent my kids from ever experiencing disappointment. I really, really want to protect them. But they won't learn from it if I do. Instead, I need to teach them that disappointment is a part of life. Accept the disappointment, learn from it and move on to an acceptable outcome.

The scary part is that now I need to be more aware of how I handle disappointment in front of the Sprouts. I'm their role model and have to show them how to find unexpected yet positive outcomes, even when things don't go my way.

The great thing is, a listening ear and a hug goes a long way to helping deal with disappointment, as it did today.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Rubber Boots + Puddles = ... gleeful little boy.

ROFL, or Hyperbowl

"So, how was the movie?" my spouse asked.  "It was good," I replied, continuing with, "It showed great use of hyperbole."  She arched an eyebrow, so I added, "We learned about hyperbole today in class."  She smiled knowingly (yes, I like teaching more than I admit) and went back to reading a book on her Kindle.

This week's poem, "I Can't Forget You." has a line where a graffiti artist resists using hyperbole.

"Mr. K, you said it wrong.  It's hyperbowl."
"No, it's pronounced hahy-pur-buh-lee."

Hyperbole is a statement or figure of speech used to exaggerate for effect, most often in humourous stories.  Phrases such as "ice cream cone a mile high" or "this book weighs a ton".  Or, the examples I wrote on the chalkboard to help my students understand the concept:


"What does ROLF mean?"
"It's rolling on floor laughing!" 
"When you're typing, do you roll on the floor?"
"No, of course not.  How can you type and roll on the floor at the same time?"  Laughing ensues.

"Here's another example."  I wrote "mosquitoes as big as dogs" on the board.  More laughter.
"Mr. K, mosquitoes here only get as big as bees."

Yep, they get the idea.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Writing Success, Little By Little

Two students are now experimenting with poetry as a result of reading and discussing a poem each week in class.  Thesauruses are placed on their desks each day to help with interesting word choice.

Another student is writing in the style of Jeff Kinney, though with his own voice and illustrations, after reading "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" and its sequel.

Others are using "bold beginnings" and "endings that work" from six traits writing.  Students are recognizing the intertwining relationship of reading and writing. 

It's taken almost two years, but...there be writers (and readers) in my classroom.

Breakfast Vignette

JK:  "Papa,  I want hot dogs for breakfast."
Me: "Um...we don't do hot dogs for breakfast."
JK:  "But I want some!"
Me:  "When you grow up and move out, then you can have whatever you want for breakfast."
JK:  "I don't want to ever grow up.  How about when I grow down?"

Leaving the Nest

The going "joke" in my classroom is that when my students are constantly asking for help (when they can very well do their work, or are a bit too lazy to work it out themselves), I tell them "I can't follow you around for the rest of your life.  You have to do the work to figure out the answers."  Or if a fellow students shouts out an answer to a problem for a student whom I have called on to solve a problem, "Unless you want to follow around so-and-so for the rest of your life and give them the answers, it would be helpful if you let him/her try to figure out the problem on their own."  So now my students actually use these phrases in class.  "Unless you want Mr. K to follow us to high school, you need to figure out the solution..."

My grade eight students are impatiently counting down the days until graduation, summer and, more importantly, high school.  And yet, they are typical grade eights in that they are still trying to figure out who they are, secure in their identity and yet insecure.  Some of my students will be glad to not have me teach yet another year (two years was more than enough), but others show their worry and fear of the next stage of their life.

"Mr. K, are you teaching us in high school next year?"


"Why not?"

"I don't have the credentials to do so."

"Why don't you go back to school so you can get them?"

"I like teaching grade eight."


"But my door will always be open if you need help.  You can drop by any time."

"Can we come to your house (said with a smile)?"


Friday, April 8, 2011

Monthly Photo Challenge: Texture

This month's theme, picked by my friend DJ, is texture.  I don't know if I'm getting the theme right, but I'm getting lots of use out of my new macro lens.

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Thursday, April 7, 2011


Basically, onomatopoeia is used to describe words that look like the sound they are describing.  For instance:

buzz, ratchet, crackle, hoot, creak, flush, whoosh, zip, boom, bang, meow, slurp, gurgle, moo, kiss, oink, meow, click, rustle, cuckoo, slurp, crunch, ring, clang, hiss, ...

Well, you get the idea.

I introduced this concept yesterday during our poetry time (each week I pick a poem from Nancy Atwell's Naming the World which the class reads and discusses a few minutes each day).  The poem "Night Songs" uses onomatopoeia extensively, so I wanted my students to understand how it works and how to use it in their own writing.  The lesson must have resonated with some of my students, for today, as class started, they began sharing other onomatopoetic words they had thought of the previous evening.  They might not be able to pronounce onomatopoeia (I find it difficult!), but my students now understand the concept.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Just How Big Was That Booger?

Towards the end of this morning's math lesson my students started whispering to each other and quietly giggling.  As the class began work on their assignment, the giggles and whispering continued, especially after my students glanced at me from time to time.  Students pretended to need help, only when I arrived at their desk, they seemed more interested in sharing a quiet laugh with fellow students.  I clued in quickly that something was amiss with my appearance.  Was it my hair?  My clothes?  My fly?  Did I have something on my back? 

When the class was a little calmer I quickly exited the classroom and went to the washroom.  Looking in the mirror, I noticed that I must have wiped some chalk dust on my face, placed just under my nose.  With a grin, I wiped it off and returned to the classroom.  All my students looked up with big smiles on their faces.  I started laughing (to do otherwise would have been foolish).  "Did you see it, Mr. K?  It looked like a giant booger on your face!  What was it?"  Still laughing, I explained that it was just chalk dust.  We all took a few moments to laugh and be a little silly, knowing it's okay to not take one's self too seriously.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Enough, Already!

I had written a blog post this morning about "how you know spring has arrived when..." and was all set to publish it after a trip into town for church and grocery errands (most importantly coffee, which the in-laws helped me finish off this week).  However, it seems that Spring was just coyly teasing us with the beautiful weather we enjoyed this past week.

It has snowed, then rained, then snowed, then both, and now has turned into just snow.  I look out the kitchen window (that is now free of its weatherproofing plastic) and see wet, heavy snowflakes blanketing the areas of bare ground uncovered this week during the melt.


I wonder if FK knows any Harry Potter incantations to transport me to a sunny beach somewhere...

Sunday Morning Vignettes

Before breakfast:

"Pa - paahhh, I'mmmm hungryyyy!".  As usual, JK wakes up on a weekend morning, hungry for breakfast.  And, as usual (weekend ritual), I have to pick him up from his bed and carry him downstairs.  Not sure how much longer I'm going to be able to carry him and navigate the stairs in my bleary, morning state.

At breakfast:

JK decided he didn't want oatmeal after all, but FK did.  "Who are you and what happened to my daughter?"  She never eats oatmeal.

We are running out of two things this morning: milk and coffee.  Which is the more desperate situation - coffee or

Definately coffee.  Have to go to town today for supplies.

After breakfast:

FK is walking around with a blanket for a cape and a chopstick for a wand (JK following her everywhere as her assistant), chanting incantations from Harry Potter.  I wonder what the next phase is going to be....