Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Boat Named Mary Lou

The trait that is the focus right now in writing workshop is ideas.  One of the mini-lessons for developing ideas uses "building blocks" (when, place, name, colour/size) to help students craft detailed sentences that help paint a picture in the reader's mind.  I wrote a simple sentence paragraph on the board which included the sentence, "The boat rocked."  With the students' help new sentences were created that added layers of detail:

The boat rocked.
Last night, the boat rocked.  (when)
Last night on Lake Superior, the boat rocked. (place)
Last night on Lake Superior, the big yellow boat rocked. (size/colour)
Last night on Lake Superior, the big yellow boat named Mary Lou rocked. (name)

I then said, "Hmmm, I seem to recall another boat named Mary Lou.  I wonder where I have heard that before?" I knew the answer, but often, just like a lawyer in a courtroom, teachers know the answer to a question asked.  To my surprise, two of my grade eight students who I taught last year (in a 7/8 split, which I also teach this year) called out, "It's the name of the boat from the book Holes (a novel study last year)."  Hah!  It's small moments like the above that bring joy to a teacher and make teaching worthwhile.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Imagine That

Last week I warmly greeted a colleague before the beginning of the school day.  He responded with, "I am trying to imagine you overweight."  Huh?  Then, realization set in.  Pop (my father-in-law) has been wearing a black Danier leather jacket to school to ward off the cool mornings we have been experiencing lately.  The jacket used to be mine, but it was passed on to Pop before the our family moved north.  Several staff members had complimented Pop on his jacket and he mentioned that it used to be worn by his son-in-law (yours truly).  Worn in my pre-running, overweight (250+ pounds) days.  The colleagues were surprised, and thus the comment above.  I guess I look slimmer than I imagine.  I often still feel like the 250 pound person on the inside, though the comment from the colleague helped me feel this a little less that morning.  It also gave me a much needed impetus to keep running, especially now that the dark and cool mornings make it more difficult to rise early to pull on the running shoes and head out the door.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Afternoon Hike

Yesterday afternoon we trekked out into the bush for some quality time with the Sprouts and Nana and Pop.

Our explorations took us to the beaver dam, the location of which we still have to pinpoint on a map. The dam is quite high, taller than the Sprouts, the resulting lake (with beaver lodge in the distance) just below my eye (and camera) level.

We explored the immediate area a little more, discovering all sorts of interesting things, including deer antlers.

Pop and Jo hammed it up a little.

By the expression on this Sprout's face, this adventure was a success.

2011 09 17 Afternoon Hike 031

Sunday, September 11, 2011

You Have to Know When to Stop

Balance is the new mantra for my spouse and I this school year. It's too easy to spend literally hours working away on a particular mini-lesson, searching for the best resource online for social studies, or discussing until the wee hours of the night the merits of differentiated instruction. 


We have resolved to start letting go of the nitty-gritty details that can so consume our teaching lives.  Instead the time gained from "knowing when to stop" will be spent pursuing hobbies that bring joy, or curling up in book nooks to read, or biking, or hiking, or canoeing, or visiting family, or drawing, or listening to music, or telling jokes, or cooking, or building Lego cities (and tearing them down), or playing soccer, or baking, or stargazing, or watching Star Wars on Blu-ray, or playing the guitar, or singing, or sleeping, or blogging...

Go Ahead, Make My Day

Go Ahead, Make My Day

Family Quote of the Day

JK: "Mama!"

EK: "Yes?"

JK: "Can I have some help putting my clothes on?"

EK: "Yes.  Bring them here and I will help you."

JK: "I can't."

EK: "Why not?"

JK: "I have a naked bum."

Randomography: Water Play

Thursday, September 8, 2011


 I am quite behind in the latest technology trends.  I don't have an iPhone, iPod, Blackberry, Android or any other portable electronic devices.  Yes, I do have a Kindle, but it took me six months to buy one after my spouse wouldn't share the first household Kindle.  I'm not familiar with "apps" or "ghosting" or "facetime".  My laptop is eighteen months out of date.  The family cellphone is almost ancient, and not far behind is my Nikon D80 camera. This is going to date me, but in my first year of high school I learned to type on a typewriter (typing).  The following year computers were introduced at school and I learned to write/type simple BASIC code.  Today, I teach my students "keyboarding", but with touch screen technology, I wonder sometimes, what's the point?

So, what happens when the long promised and awaited iPad's finally show up at school? Steep learning curve, that's what.  While most teachers yesterday oo-ed and aah-ed over their new shiny toys, downloading apps, music, programs and other things I can't begin to remember, mine stayed in its box until today, when I finally had courage enough to open the package to check out the contents and turn on the technological marvel.  I'm actually intimidated by my spouse and father-in-law who seem to have already figured out the ins and outs of the iPad in just a few short hours (though it seemed like minutes).

Sigh.  Am I slowly becoming a Luddite as time and technology marches on?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Word Play

While driving to school this morning there were several conversations going on at once. My spouse and I were talking about some school related issue while the Sprouts in the back seat interjected their own thoughts into the discussion. Often the thoughts were random and totally unrelated to the topic being discussed in the front seat. For example, JK kept asking questions about Pop ("Why is Pop at school?") and the previous week ("Mama, what did I do last Friday? Oh, right, I was in your classroom."). JK was in my spouse's classroom before 12:00 PM because it was a payday Friday and junior kindergarten students are dismissed earlier than the rest of the school.

The main conversation continued, but JK kept up the random thinking. "Pop is at school working"..."I had pop on Friday with my lunch"..."I like my Pop"..."pop tastes yummy". Then, some connection was made and all the random thoughts joined together in JK's mind and out came an emphatic: "HEY! There are two pops.  Pop the man and pop the can!"

Maybe I should ask the little Sprout to come in and teach a Word Study class for me...

Friday, September 2, 2011

Monthly Photo Challenge: Alliteration (Part 1)

The photo challenge for August was alliteration. If you don't know the meaning of the word alliteration, you can look it up here. I'm a little behind due to the start of school, though I have a second batch of pics to process and post (alliteration!) sometime in the next week or so. Here are the pics:

Sunset Skier

Powwow Potato Partners

Handstitching Happiness


Bemused Boy

Butterfly Blowing in the Breeze