Wednesday, December 20, 2006

"Character is what you are in the dark" - UNKNOWN

What does this mean to you? How do you act when no one is watching? How do you act when your parents, teachers, or friends aren't watching? Explain.

What happens when you get home and reflect on the day? Do you remembe the kind words that encouraged a person in need of some uplifting or were you trying to impress your friends with words that damage the spirit, but made your clique of friends laugh? Each day, I try and take some time to reflect on the person I was during the day -- am I proud of every action, word, and deed? If I find myself lacking in some way, I work to make amends immediately and to change my path the next day to improve on who I am and how I am everyday.

It's hard to be the best person I can be on a daily basis. It takes constant reflection, monitoring and focus. In the dark, when I am alone with just my thoughts and the silence of the night, I hope that I act as I believe and make mental notes of how to change something that doesn't sit right with who I am, and what I believe in.

It is a never-ending process. I have seen people who, alone, are caring, protective, and supportive turn into angry, hurtful people trying to impress. I wonder how much damage is done by not following and acting in a manner that is consistent with who you really are when the silence of the night envelopes you and you are face to face with the power that is in charge of the universe.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

If you ever want to know why it is that things always seem to take so long to process at a school site, come and spend time in the office. There are many things that go on - parents dropping in, phone calls about things that seem quite random, student issues with behavior and un-wise choices -- it's been an experience. Sitting in the office for a day or shadowing an administrator will give you a diferent idea of what it takes to be successful. You need to be able to juggle, multi-task and have very strong boundaries so that you can tend to your own family at home. It's amazing what happens in one day!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

WHAT KIND OF PARENT DO YOU THINK YOU WILL BE? Why? What responsibilities do you face? What responsibilities do you think your parents face?

Prompt for the 11/15/06 WAVE Journal Entries

Since I parent students all day long, I am not sure how I would react with children at home as well. Deaaling with students asking the same questions, five times a day, with over 250 students going through my room during one school year -- not sure if the patience needed to tend to my own children would last after days spent teaching. Some days are better than others - and I leave with a sense of wonderment at seeing the world through a child's eyes, while other times I leave just wanting to go and live like a hermit in the mountains where I don't have to answer one more question ever again.

My parents' faced the responsibilities for two kids who were very easy to deal with. No big problems, we both liked school, enjoyed being involved but not too much, both liked doing things together as a family. Parents today with separate familes and sometimes both parents working and children scheduled to the max, often means that I as a teacher am spending more time with some people's children than they are. That is a tough balance -- kids need time to talk with their parents or in the case of adolescents, sometimes NOT talk with their parents. They are listening, they just don't necessarily like to show it.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Graduation Day is coming soon! May 19th (or close to that Saturday) is my long awaited graduation day for my masters' degree. It's been a long haul and I have learned more through that program than in years of working on my own. The hours of studying, working, writing, reading, and researching have finally paid off.

So enjoying having my life and my mind back so that I can work on things that I have been putting off for a long time-- my life is finally off from hold so that I can work on things for my own life. One day and one assignment at a time.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THINK A STUDENT SHOULD LEARN WHILE GROWING UP? WHY? Convince parents and teachers about passing this information on to the next generation.

I believe the most important thing a student should learn while growing up is how to learn. There are many different ways to view a situation, an event, a novel, a news story -- it all depends on your perspective and what lens you are using to put the items into context.

I never learned much about how to look at the world from the perspective of a historian or a scientist. My history and science education was serverly lacking. It is not that I didn't take the courses or do well in them - I did. It was just that I did not appreciate how to look at things from the scientific and historic perspective. What variables might have influeced A so that it ended up at Z? What observations can I make to help form a guesstimate about what is happening. Where do I go next to test out my theory? What do the theories say to support or negate my claim? This type of thinking has only come to me later in life.

Same can be said for the historical perspective. I learned facts, figures, names, and places but was never shown the big picture of how it all tied together. I never got that history is something that you are making and living everyday -- and I never felt that I got a lot of the cultural and global perspectives necessary to better understand current events. We used to "do" current events -- cut out an article, wtite about who, what, when, where, why, and how -- but we were never encouraged to look beyond that to see how things were tied together or the impact that A might have on B.

Now that I am older (not old, just older) I wonder what my life might have been like had I had those additional lenses to look through at the events in my life. I am excited about learning more, now that I have some tools about how to do research and how to look through different lenses. Wish I would have had that when I was traveling and going to school - if I had encountered one teacher who looked at things through patterns or changes over time-- how different my world view. I feel like I am playing catch-up. I feel a bit cheated. Maybe I can help my students to see that world as well, while they are still on the path of discovery rather than at the stage of reflection.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Ending and a New Beginning

I am finishing an extended journey. I have been living and breathing an incredible time with a courageous group of twelve. We have struggled, cried, triumphed and learned more in 15 months than can be easily put into words. We have been through two weddings and a baby, countless hours of work away from our families, and mountains of books and papers.

We have been reading, writing, pursuing understanding of new concepts and the integration of those already slightly familiar into our existing schema. We have been writing and reading and researching. We have been questing to find what it takes to make sense of the material for all of us. We have been learning.

I have learned that what makes me a better teacher is also being a continual student. Whereas some instructors inspired through example, as Miles Horton put it, some of my best teachers were the worst teachers. I also learned what NOT to do and what it must feel like when I am not clear with directions, when I change requirements at the last minute, have no clear goal for assessments, other than as a grade to put into a book, and what happens when the experience of my students is TOTALLY ignored and make no attempt to start from where my students are rather than with the same lessons the same handouts, the same method of attacking the material.

I have seen this incredible group of intelligent folks become behavior problems out of self-preservation, so we would not lose our minds in classes that did not adapt to our needs, our experience, our collective knowledge and find a way to push us to learn more. I have seen those who have struggled meet the challenges of technology and wrestle with concepts that are the antithesis of their core values and come through as more enlightened educators.

I have also learned that through it all, I can perserve -- one page, one paper, one assignment at a time. I learned that I can rise to a new level of expectation and meet it even when I have only had three hours of sleep. I miss the time to spend with family and nature and I know that this too shall pass and soon those simple pleasures will be available to me again.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Task: Read "No Sweets, Please" about a girl who shares food with a friend who has a pre-existing condition that on a restricted diet. The goal is to finish the story taking into consideration Marsha's concerns that she may have contributed to an adverse reaction and what she would do to change her behavior to help her friend.

Marsha decided to go to the library and do some research on diabetes to find out if the food she had been sharing with Jergen might have had an impact on his condition. When she found that diabetics need to monitor their blood sugar carefully and that Jergen was known for not following those directions, Marsha decided to change her ways.

Part of Marsha's plan including starting to say "NO" to things that she really didn't feel like doing, but did anyway so that people would like her. Marsha let her friends talk her into many things that she didn't quite feel right about, but again, she didn't want to make anyone mad at her or to upset anyone.

When Jergen returned from the hospital, he once again, asked Marsha for her desserts. However, Marsha was prepared. Since she didn't like sweets anyway, she had asked her father not to put any sweets in her lunch. She explained that she didn't eat them anyway and that they usually got squished in her lunch bag.

So, when Jergen asked for the dessert that he knew Marsha would not eat anyway, he was suprised when Marsha told him, "Sorry, Jergen. I don't really like sweets, so I just asked my dad not to spend the extra money on them. Instead of the Twinkies and other sweets, I am getting the money that would have been spent buying those things that I wasn't eating anyway in my allowance.Why don't go and take a lap when we are both done with our meals and after you have checked your blood sugar."

From then on, Marsha's friends noticed that she was a "pushover" no more. She only did what she really enjoyed and often offered alternatives rather than just going along with whatever anyone tried to get her to do. Marsha and Jergen made walks at lunch a regular event and eventually set up a walkathon fundraiser for the whole school for the American Diabetes Association and donated the monies in Jergen's name.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006 picture source
I long for the mountains! The last one that touched my soul was Mt. Whitney that I climbed with an honored group. It was incredible to see the sunrise , to hike higher and farther than I ever imagined that I would ever be able to achieve. I have yet to summit -- there was blasting that day and I had many issues including battery issues (when you start at 12:01 am it is a bit dark). It was incredible.

I am so happy to be able to get back to the mountains and to get to the outdoors yet again. Soon!
WAVE PROMPT: What do you like most about yourself? Least about yourself? Why?

I listen. I have a natural ability to pick up on where people are in their life's journey and a means of connecting to the person on the inside, behind the mask. I see the core and am able to filter out the manifestations of protection that occur when one has been hurt along the journey. I enjoy that I can be a great listener, although lately, I haven't been able to process much or take the time to listen to the lives of others. I like that I "get" people and look beyond pretense and bad days, knowing that the people who are in my life are there for a reason. I have something to learn from them and if I am willing to truly slow down and listen, I will be given an invaluable piece of the my life's puzzle.

Right now, I least like the fact that I have to say "NO" and focus on myself more than I ever have at any time in my life. I am coming up on a major deadline, with parameters and requirements that seem to change daily. Frustration is the least objectionable and most politically correct term that I can use to describe the process of trying to meet the ever-changing, and rapidly-approaching deadline. I want to be able to sit and reflect and to ponder the universe. I miss having time to listen for the messages that have been left for me. I miss my time for reflection.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Sharing Day
Sharing day was interesting. We used a protocol to share the writings from Wednesday. Everyone switched books and looked for a quote or a statement that they wanted to comment on. Everyone got a chance to share their quote and we moved around the circle. For the first practice done as a group, we commented on just one quote throughout the whole group before moving to groups of four and one group of five.

Some comments....
>students don't like to be passed over when asking for responses to questions
>students working in groups like to be responsible for a section of the work they can call their own
>many students expressed some very stereotypical views about people who were different from themselves indicating that additional work on tolerance and anti-bullying may be in order

Thursday, September 21, 2006

I spent 10 days at Space Camp and learned more about what it means to be a teacher and more about myself than I have in many years of professional development. I learned that when under incredible stress, I tend to forget to look at other options-- I develop tunnel vision. Also when under stress, I forget to just relax and this leads to that tunnel vision as well.

I learned that wonder can come regardless of the level of experience. I was one of the few non-science teachers that attended the Boeing-sponsored Teachers' in Space Camp and often felt out of place and as if I had taken someone else's spot. Yet, each night in my room I reflected and realized that you don't have to know it all to get excited about a sharing a topic with your students. It's the wonder and the passion and the excitement that you share that will inspire -- the rest is just the details. I had never made a rocket of any kind and the bottle rocket that was constructed by my group was the only one to stay in one piece during launch and "re-entry" (aka crashing to the earth).

On the last day, we launched rockets with gunpowder engines and once again, mine held together. It was amazing to sit under the trees in the 98 degree heat with 98 percent humidity (at 9am) and realize all that I had learned. I also lamented not getting into science earlier and never having found a teacher who turned me onto the wonders of nature and also never finding a history teacher who was focused on more than dates, places and battles to help me develop that type of historical thinking as well. Sad. I would have liked the journeys or to at least have that type of thinking and looking at the world in my arsenal of tools. I now wonder if I would have thought differently about the many camping trips that we had taken if I had been equipped with a more scientific and historic view.

I hope that from my experience at Space Campt that I will be able to help inspire some scientific and historical thinking so that my students will leave knowing a bit moer about a different way of viewing the world. How many geniuses have we overlooked because we didn't let them explore and didn't equip them with the necessary thinking tools to be successful.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Who is your favorite/least favorite relative and why? Do you behave the same or differently with each person? Explain. Our 9/20/2006 Writing Prompt for WAVE.

When I am in the company of my blood relatives I am a different person. I laugh, smile, and most importantly, I feel at ease. I don't have to worry about saying or doing what would be thought of as a the wrong thing. I am accepted for who I am and where I am in my life with no questions asked. My Michigan family is this for me -- no worries, no need to send something on a specific day or time, just unconditional love. What is expected is to stay a piece now and then and give some of my time to hang out at their homes, sit down and enjoy a meal, and to share what is going on in my life. My grandmother is currently the hub of all this activity and she is the center of the visits in Michigan.

When I am in the company of those whose culture and social-cultural norms that are more foreign to me, I feel on edge and constantly on guard. I have to watch what I say, how I phrase my words, my actions, my tone of voice, my dress -- all very stressful. Love seems to be more conditional in these settings, based on outward apprearances and outward shows of affection rather than the internal ones. I don't have many situations like this anymore as most of my relatives have now passed away who represent this cultural group.

I am who I am and although I can always make changes in how I deal with life and those I love, I am essentially at the core the same person I have always been, although, hopefully, more highly evolved and aware. I am approaching a milestone and when people say that you become your parents -- I see it as a compliment not a criticism.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Response to Writing
Schmidt, Sabine. "Trip to the site of the World Trade Center is an eye-opener for children." The Daily Breeze 6 Sept., 2006: A2.

This article reminds me that Sept. 11th may not be as memorable for my students as it is for me. I lost a friend, Ruben Ornedo, on a plane that crashed into the Pentagon. The day of remembrance is something that I take very seriously and this article that we read in class as a reading sample, helped to remind me of the many emotions of people who had different links to this day that changed history for many.

As Schmidt says: "No doubt, Sept. 11 has changed our lives forever. Now is the time to do our part. In the long run, it's going to protect our children's future."(Schimdt A2)

Sunday, August 13, 2006

World Trade Center
I watched the movie with my boyfriend today. Some question whether it was too soon to release it -- I would have to say, for me, no -- it was not too soon. Whereas I almost wanted to bolt due to the incredibly strong emotions that the movie was bringing up, I realized that I was beginning to forget some of the facts from that day.

Will never forget the emotion as it was one of my best and yet my worst days of teaching. I feel that I was absolutely in the right place, where I could offer what I was destined to give, however, was tough when I was touched with a personal note when one of my friends was identified as being on the plane that crashed into the Pentagon.

I remember all of that. My students and I cried a lot during that week or so as we shared news of relatives and talked as much as we needed. We gave everyone what they needed -- some needed space, others needed to be busy, some needed rest.

What the movie did for me? It helped me connect with the human-ness that cropped up as a result. Those connections with humanity that in the interim have been pushed a little farther down the list of what is truly important and the movie brought that back to the forefront for me. The movie reminded me of my time in Michigan with my mother and grandmother earlier this month, and that warm, fuzzy feeling that comes when you feel centered, aligned body, mind, and soul. That everything you are doing, feeling, including how your are living and what priorities you have are in perfect balance. It's one of those -- I am okay moments that happen so rarely.

Is it too soon? Guess it depends on where you are. For me, it was perfect as I get ready for another school year and reconnecting with my friends and family. Not sure if it may be the right time for someone else or for my students. If you do venture out to see the movie with middle-school-aged students, I would make sure to set aside time afterwards to talk about life, the event, and some of your core values. You may also need to be prepared to answer some questions.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

What I Believe - Summer 2006
I believe that inspiration and self-knowledge can come from the most unlikely sources. I learned to think outside the box, to trust in myself and my abilities, to handle stress and frustration. I learned that even though you ask the questions, there are times when you will not be given the answers and will be held accountable anyway. I learned to believe in myself and my instincts. I learned to fly -- to the stars and back, even if I didn't do it perfectly. I believe in family and unplugging from the grid. I learned the beauty of a mid-summer night in Michigan can illuminate more than just the sky during the frequent lightning storms. I learned that there is much more to life than "plugging in" and "turning on." I also learned that there are times when you just have to jump with the things that are thrown at you -- sometimes in the middle of the night.

I believe in the coming school year and the promise of an incredible school year. I believe in making so many memories that you just want to share then with everyone (rather they really want to hear it or not). I believe in going beyond your comfort zone, maintaining balance, and the odd healing powers of trashy TV.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Day Two at Space Camp in Hunsville, AL. It has been an incredible experience, however, I am feeling very inadequate with my science knowledge and need to bone up on things and my math. Have plans to incorporate all that I am learning. If you want to see the kinds of things that we are doing this week go to and look for the educator links. It's been amazing and I am hanging in there despite still fighting bronchitis. When I return, get to hit my room and clean out LOTS of stuff (been waiting for two years for the dead items to be cleaned out).

Sunday, April 30, 2006

I love my family-- can you tell we are related? Aunt Evelyn, me and my Mom posed for a family portrait as we do every year at my Mom's place. We have a great time together hanging out together and swapping stories and talking about things. It's so fulfilling and so nice to catch your breath and just really relax with people who care about you and who enjoy spending time with you.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Third Trimester begins...

This trimester am trying a version of the five week project but with two new options. Want to make sure that we cover everything that the students want (and I know they will need to use) and also have some ownership of the class. Want the students to have some ownership of the class... we can learn together from one another rather than it always being a one-way street. I enjoy that type of learning more than the stand and deliver type of teaching.

This is also the trimester with the wacky schedules so should be a challenge. Looking forward to learning about podcasting (we are going to learn together) and post some podcasts for the ESMS part of the district website. One student, one assignment, one day at a time.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

I PROMISE to never lose faith in students and to understand the frustration that they feel when they just DON'T GET IT!
Learning the kid ipod language... eek.. Now I know how our students are feeling when they are learning new things... lots of questions... need to remember to leave time for the students to answer all their questions... keep it simple and make sure that the demonstrations are matching EXACTLY what is going on... The trip out to Palm Springs went really well. Students... enjoy TIM and then be sure to get to your postings on blackboard... The link for the quiz will be found at if I am not able to update the website from here.