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     I never would have believed that I would be grateful for the start of Daylight Savings Time.   One of the most ridiculous things about the fact that I am pursuing a teaching career – especially in seconday schools – is the fact that I am not a morning person.   David Letterman and I were on a first name basis for years including those in which he didn’t start until after midnight.   Now, the phone rings at 5:15 a.m. and I am grateful because it means that they need a sub and I will teach that day;   I have worked every day for the last two weeks.  

     When you live on the North Coast, the winter days are short and the November skies are gloomy.    As a creature of the light who celebrates the Winter Solstice and the onset of longer days with a fervor most people reserve for birthdays, anniversaries, and other major holidays, it is odd for me to consider this timeshift beneficial.  I have long railed against the shift to an early sunset and nights that seemed longer but then I had only been awake for sunrise on very rare occasions, such as camping and staying up all night.        

     This year, I celebrate this day!   Now that my days in late October rarely include sunrise, I have a new appreciate of the time shift.  Tomorrow, my kids will be able to safely ride their bikes to school again and I may actually view sunrise during my drive to tomorrow’s sub job.

(Photocredit:  Tech Boy (my oldest) from the driveway)

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Nobel Controversy

Photocredit - niznoz from flickr.com (used with permission)

     No, I’m not writing about the recent controversy and subsequent media fanfare about the Nobel Peace Prize although I was pleased with the White House response that the President was “surprised and humbled” by the award – perfect pitch as usual.  I’m more interested in the discussion about this year’s Chemistry prize.  

     There was a bit of a skirmish – noted here on The Skeptical Chymist blog –  over whether the work rewarded was more Biology than Chemistry.  This year, three scientists are cited for using x-ray crystallography to prove the structure of ribosomes, an essential cell component where proteins are produced based on information encoded in DNA.     There is no prize for Biology;  Nobel Prizes are awarded for Physics, Chemistry, Economics, Literature, Medicine, and Peace.   In my mind, atomic structure is all Chemistry – even for really big molecules essential to biological functions.    My senior research project for my Chemistry degree involved bonding of oxygen and carbon monoxide at various stages of hemoglobin saturation;  another big molecule that is important in biology.

     I’m intrigued by changes in how scientific disciplines are distinguished.  In the 18th and 19th centuries, scientists were scientists and explored a broad range of natural phenomenon.  The 20th century saw the disciplines divided into specific fields – physics, chemistry, biology, geology, etc.;  school departments and teaching were similarly split and scientists dug deeper into each of those areas.   In the 21st century, the sciences are converging to reflect the reality that it’s one system.    

     When I teach Chemistry, I frequently use examples from Biology and Earth Science.     How else to make something as abstract as Chemistry real and relevant to students?   The sciences are interrelated and college catalogs now advertise majors such as biomedical engineering, biochemistry, geochemistry, biophysics, etc.    How long will it take until high school schools recognize this and change the curriculum to allow students to use the sciences together to solve problems in classes that are interdisciplinary?

      Now about the fact that only four women have won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry…

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New Address

New Address

     This is a new location for my blog.  I moved for a variety of reasons including a newer version of WordPress with more features for all of us including the ability to subscribe to follow-up comments.   I was also tired of the pharmaceutical spam in my RSS feed on my old blog – an ongoing problem probably related to the older version of the software.    This space shouldn’t be too much different –  I’ve added a picture and additional information to my “About Me” page.

     Within my University cohort, we have had many spirited discussions about the public nature of blogging and some have wished for more anonymity.   I am taking the approach that my online identity is part of who I am and will curate it accordingly.   I do not feel the need to use this space for saying things that I would not say publicly.   I am usually somewhat careful in using proper nouns about other people and institutions but am fairly open about who I am.   The New York Times had an interesting article on some of the ramifications for lawyers of ranting in their blogs including some analysis of the generational difference in attitudes about blogs and public presence.  

     I can’t claim that I am quite as careful on Facebook but that is a difference between a somewhat private forum and blogging AND I have reined that in a bit too.   During a recent lunch with friends, I realized that I knew much less about what was happening in their lives than I did for acquaintances with whom I communicate on Facebook.

     Welcome to my new space!   Thanks for reading.

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Portfolio Completed!

     It doesn’t look like much in this picture but it took most of the summer to complete.  At first, I found the project completely aggravating.  The task was to review my work over the course of my program, synthesize it to prove my competence about ten principles of education, and collate the evidence to address almost 100 individual rubric points.   My irritation was that I wasn’t learning anything new, not doing any research, not extending myself and I thought it would be a book that never got opened after it was reviewed.  But… It was an opportunity to think deeply about education and something that I will probably review because it captures my naive beliefs and objectives for my future practice.

     It ended up filling a four-inch binder and is mostly appendices with the required artifacts – most of the papers I wrote during my program.  One of the hardest parts was that it felt like bragging – “This proves that I’m good at that.  That proves I’m good at this.”  It was a cloud over my summer but it is finished.    Now onto finding a job so I can put this learning to work.   

     I really, really need a job.

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Neglected Blog

     I’m back to my long neglected blog.    On another blog I read, Julie blogged about Living, not Blogging – I have a similar excuse.   It has been a busy summer with trips to visit family or drop off kids every weekend until this one when I actually find myself home on both Saturday AND Sunday – time to blog.    I have been to the Adirondacks for camp pickups and dropoffs, Ohio for a family reunion, Vermont for my niece’s graduation party, and camping on Cape Cod for a family beach vacation.  [Links to pictures]

     Ostensibly, this blog is about teaching.  I miss being in the classroom and am still hopeful about a job but also dealing with the reality that I may be substitute teaching this fall.   It’s not a good job market even for science teachers.   I am knee deep in my masters portfolio and although it’s a bit tedious, it feels good to be thinking about teaching and learning full time again.  After 14 months of intense grad school including student teaching, it was odd to not be immersed in it full time this summer.   On the other hand, I didn’t get to take any of those trips last summer.

     Another adventure got me thinking about how difficult it is to teach something you know instinctively.    The picture above includes the front of my canoe as I solo paddled on a recent canoe trip with my kids, some friends, and their kids.   I have canoed for most of my life – more than a few decades.   I didn’t know that my friends were novices – the kids all know how to paddle from various camps;  we no sooner pushed off when my friends asked how to steer.  I gave them the standard sailor response about moving the rudder in the direction you want to go.  They were going in circles as I came to realize that canoeing is almost completely backwards from that and they had no idea how to use a paddle as a rudder and were focused on paddling only.   We laughed hysterically while I picked the process apart and then taught them how to steer a canoe. 

     Fortunately, when I teach my students, I know that I need to prepare and break things down.    This was just another reminder of how difficult it is to teach something that is instinctive – chem lab procedures are like that for me but fortunately, in my professional experience, writing procedures for others including programs for computers was part of the job.

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Just for Fun

     This is a Word Sift of my blog over the last few months.   You can do this for any document by going to http://www.wordsift.com/ and pasting in a text selection.   I’m pleased that student was the most common word because that is the real focus!

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Hiatus – A deep breath

My Front Porch

     I walked graduation on Saturday – the use of the term walked designates that I am mostly finished.   I have one three-credit course left and that starts tomorrow.    Today, I am taking deep breaths and trying to excavate my life.   There is a huge backlog of projects and unfinished business that needs my attention and I’m having trouble staying focused.     I also need to finish collecting my work to complete my portfolio.   Oh, that and writing cover letters, polishing resume, and wishing that my CT would write my last letter of reference so I can start applying for jobs.   It’s hard to be patient and not bother somebody you hope will say nice things about you.

     I’ve been doing a bit of gardening and enjoying the flowers that return on their own every year.   You can see more pictures here.

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