Posts Tagged ‘Random’

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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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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Ode to the Library

The View from the Top of the Library

Last week was winter break in our area so my kids and I both had a week vacation from school and teaching, respectively.   My graduate school classes continued and there was enough work to keep me in one of my favorite perches, pictured above, at the top of the library.    There is a desk which overlooks the main quadrangle and faces west so I spent as much time as possible there basking in the sunbeams.   It wasn’t enough because I am still feeling overwhelmed but they tell me this is normal.

This is one of the buildings with a rooftop in the picture.

Where I\'m spending my summer

This is an interior view.

A detail on the front door.

Another view of the doors.

The quote says:   The doors of the present open to those who seek to know what man can do to master his fate by science, sustain his spirit with arts, and guide his life by wisdom.

It’s a very beautiful campus!

A nod to Chris who helped me with my picture posting problem.

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     My first student teaching block ended on Wednesday.   I will miss the students and the school very much but it’s time to move on to a new experience.   Moving up to high school and more advanced Chemistry will be fun.   However, when I tell people where I will be teaching, they look horrified and then proceed to share whatever recent story they have heard or read about my next school.   I think it will be fine because kids are kids but it’s hard to ignore all the bad news especially when people won’t stop talking about it.

     My life has been a whirlwind since last May when I started studying to become a teacher.  There were two weeks off in late August and that was the last real break.   Yes, I had thirteen days off at Christmas but given that it was a major holiday AND I have kids AND I went out of town to visit grandparents AND I had to plan a Physics unit for January – it doesn’t count.   Right now, I have another thirteen days off from teaching.   I plan to catch my breath, cook enough to stock my freezer for the next whirlwind, exercise a lot, and catch up with friends.   Oh yeah, university classes start again on Monday so I guess it really isn’t a full break.

     The picture is from a Chinese New Year celebration at a local restaurant on Friday.   Gung Hay Fat Choy!

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Raking in the Starlight

My Neighborhood – Antique Streetlights by Starlight


     OK.  It’s not dancing in the moonlight but it’s close.   Earlier this evening, I was a little crabby.   The source of this foul mood was probably too many hours in the library over the past few days, but the result is progress on a mountain of work that needs to get done in the next two weeks, one way or another.   On top of that, the snow had finally melted, revealing a sodden mass of damp leaves that needed to be removed before the next snowfall, and there is potential for that tomorrow.    My most excellent leaf rakers are all on their way back from Connecticut so I was solo on this chore.   I kept thinking – I should be writing, or reading, or reflecting, or…  Where are those darn kids when you need them?

     Then, as I was raking – a meditative sort of activity – I finally took the advice of a friend and remembered to breathe.  I realized that I was feeling happier and more peaceful.    I was enjoying the physical activity.   The stars were showing clear through the breaks in the clouds.   It’s cold enough to snow.  It was beautiful!  I thought about the fact that before I started grad school; I was always outside.   I was gardening, hiking, swimming in summer, and always moving.   Now I am mostly inside and mostly sedentary – does anybody have any solid ideas for reading journals and writing papers while moving?

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     The weather cooperated magnificently for Science Stars this week.   It was sunny and 70 degrees with a light wind.   My partners, Mike and Dylan, already wrote about our astonishment that, even with the nice weather, the students did not want to go outside.    The girls pictured above collected data on eight launches and were adept at using the equipment.   Working with these amazing students – they named their group “Girls with Brains” – is the best thing about the program.

     One of the next best things is working with my colleagues in the science teaching cohort.   We meet as a large group before the time with the girls to talk about our plans and get input from each other.   At the end of the session we review the session and talk about what went well and what could use improvement.   I have learned a great deal from them including things that I will incorporate in my future practice:

– Many of the groups have done a great job using icebreakers – described here on Kristin’s blog and here on Sean’s blog – that I think have led to better group cohesion.   This doesn’t come naturally for me but I will need to work on using classroom cues, which we talked about last week in Seminar, to create a ritual framework and structure.

– All the groups have been using concept maps in one form or another to help the students understand modeling and the reiterative nature of science – one method is described here on Jim’s blog.   A variety of approaches have been tried but it seems like having “preprinted” factor blocks to move around has been the most successful for the groups and we will use that approach next time we meet.   I am thinking about ways to make concept maps a natural part of instruction and reflection in my own classroom.

– Time constraints have been an issue as we try to keep things open-ended but yet keep things moving to meet the objective of wrapping up a complete investigation in early December.   Discovering the quantity of scaffolding necessary to support the students without guiding them excessively is part of this balancing act.   My experiences with Get Real Science Camp this summer, Science Stars, and my field observation have made it clear that I need to get used to feeling time pressured.

      We met on Tuesday which was also election day.   I wore my “I Voted Today” sticker and the girls, who had voted in a mock election at school, all had stickers too.   We talked excitedly about who we hoped would win the presidential election.    I was pleased with that result;  however, the setbacks in California (Proposition 8), Florida, Arkansas, and Arizona make me realize that there is much more work to do to eliminate the -isms that divide us.

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