June 30 2010

Word of the Day:

My pot of coffee was postponed by my son dumping Biology Day all over the kitchen floor when he tipped the shelf over.
The coffee grinder dial refused to stay put. I need a new coffee grinder.
Making coffee made me late to work.
I won a coffee-flavored contest.
It smelled like coffee when we left the programming room at the library. My student and I said so at the same time.
Coffee house for knit night tonight.

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June 7 2010

Teaching Link of the Day:

Adventure of the Day:
First day of Summer School with my One-Room Schoolhouse:
1 kindergarten girl, 2 boys, 2 3rd grade girls, 2 4th grade boys, 1 5th grade boy, 1 6th grade girl, 1 8th grade girl.

Thoughts of the Day:
Some supplies are better off distributed at the time of the activity and not in individual's boxes.

Boxes should be better labeled with names and such.

I burned my hand on a pan on the stove cooking the agar for the bacteria cultures. Review kitchen safety with students doing kitchen projects.

4 cups of water to 4 tbs agar is WAY too much for 14 petri dishes. I recommend 1/2 cup to 1/2 tbs per 10 dishes. I put cherries and apples from lunch into the remaining gelling agar and it's kind of bland--much better with lime juice or something under it. Texture is better than Jello.

Room fans and paper do not mix.

Long rolls of paper across the table are awesome for students to do group projects.

Cheek cultures are best taken when kids are in a line and things are prelabeled.

Prelabel stuff. It may get the younger kids to learn how to spell their name, but reduce their workload on the other end, then.

Have lots and lots of water available. Juice is nice but not as effective as water. Set your own cup somewhere where you will remember its location, and somewhere between workplaces so you can grab a drink as you go by.

Letting the older kids debate something as simple as "What makes it alive?" is good enough to keep them busy while you work with the littlest ones on name writing, and giving the littlest ones some rulers and having them trace the rulers and "measure" things is enough to keep them busy while you join the discussion.

If you have a one-room schoolhouse planned for any reason, do not expect to stop moving for the duration.

Remember to ask the quieter kids to answer specific questions sometimes instead of just throw questions out there.

I do not want to run a classroom for a living.

I had fun. I can't wait until next week.

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June 4 2010

Teaching Link of the Day
Scripps Spelling Bee

As we have no television, we went to a family member's house for the Spelling Bee. My daughter--an avid reader reading at 2x her age level--is a mediocre speller. She doesn't find it interesting, or particularly useful. She did not want to watch the Bee. Then the ten kids walked on stage--kids! She was intrigued. The live show and the profiles of the spellers kept her spellbound for the entirety. She was breathless as the timer counted down, and when they got it right (she read the letters at the bottom of the screen) she jumped and clapped and sighed in relief, and when they got it wrong, she was bummed. Maybe she will want to study for Spelling Bee 2016 after all.

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June 2 2010

Thought of the Day

The following is an article I wrote for the personal finance blog right about the time I stopped writing for them. I never submitted it and it's never been published. I've been hoarding this article for a year, and it's time to let it out into the world. Unfortunately, the topic of the post is as relevant today as it was a whole year ago. Oy!

It's a monster out there. I have created a monster, just for the sake of frugality, of keeping a few extra dollars in my own pocket, I now have something I can barely face. When I must, and I know that day will come, I will dread it.

The story goes something like this: My husband hates recycling. I've been trying for years to turn recycling into something that is natural not only for me but for him. Different bins, different locations, different methods. Certain things we recycle and certain things we don't. I manage to keep up after him, but it's still an ever-present thing.

About a year ago a coupon book came in the mail advertising five cents more a pound for aluminum. This peaked his interest and gave us some direction. It's pretty easy to drive some aluminum cans to a place not a whole mile away. We started saving our aluminum. Instead of hauling it to the curb with the recycling we have to pay to have picked up, we figured we could offset that cost by taking the aluminum downtown. It turns out, we are not very prompt people. Our pile grew. We added to that the full bag of crushed cans my mother-in-law accumulates in a month. And our aunt's aluminum. Bags came home and overflowed a box. A big, wooden box.

One day I loaded up the car to take them down to the metal recycling place. Before I took off, I decided to call around and make sure the coupon which came in every coupon book was the best deal. It wasn't, and the recycling place with the best deal wasn't open that day. So I waited. The next day was not convenient. Nor the next. Then the kids and I went (in the car without the aluminum, the seats in that car were all taken) to the recycling center for a field trip. I learned that the aluminum prices are greater during the winter. I came home and removed the cans so we could use the car again, and waited for winter.

Unfortunately, with winter came snow, and buried my bags of cans. As spring approached, I was faced with a big, wet pile of aluminum cans. All for a few cents a pound more, I'll have to spend several hours of a day to rebag, dump, and reload all my cans.

Is it really a small price to pay? Is it worth it?

I start to wonder --as the idea of going out there and "taking care" of my aluminum recycling haunts me-- if there are more things I am doing for the sake of saving money that are really just causing me stress and extra work. It is not pleasant to hoard. What is it? My quiet desperation to revive my xeriscape and kill my weeds every summer? The piano that isn't tuned because I don't own the tools? The sacks of things to fix in my basement because throwing them away and replacing them is out of the question?

It would not cost me any more to put the cans on the curb with the rest of the recycling, but it will cost me time and gas to load them up and drive them down.

Tomorrow is recycling day. I can't...let...go...

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June 1 2010

Teaching Link of the Day: National Summer Learning Association (formerly, National Center for Summer Learning, of John Hopkins University)

From the site:

A recent Johns Hopkins study found that 65 percent of the achievement gap in reading between poor and more advantaged ninth-graders is due to unequal summer learning experiences during elementary school years. That gap makes a difference in whether students decide to drop out or go on to college.

Adventure of the Season:

Summer has arrived!

Time for new students, a new schedule, and faster progress.

I am hosting a Summer School for 10 family and friends. It is a one-room schoolhouse, K-8th grade, cross-curriculum, immersive design. It is 3 hours one day a week. Each week's day has a theme, with each day contributing to the development of the others as well as proving independent development. (It's also free!)

The 10 week curriculum looks something like this:
Biology Day
Hammer Day
Park Physics Day
Magnetism and Electricity
Water Day
Fire Day
Rock Day
Lego Day
Paper Day
Uncle Remus Day

For details on the curriculum for each day, tune in every Monday starting June 7 through August 16. I'm not sure if I'll post on the day of school, the day before, or the day after, but I'll include assessments of the activities and the experience of the schoolhouse design, which I've never done before.

In addition, I have six signed contracts, three pending contracts, two potential contracts, and three potential call-backs. That makes 14 potential students by the end of the summer. I expect to be quite busy!

10-15 hours/ week on medical advertising copy writing/editing
Homeschooling my own children, the kindergartner learning to read, write, and perform sums and the elder learning American History and multiple-digit sums and preparing her end-of-year train project.

Random Fact of the Day:
National Summer Learning Day is Monday, June 21. This is Park Physics Day. I'll be registering this event, and any additional attendees are welcome. Contact me for details.

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©20092010 | by TNB