Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Views From Worthley Pond, or Skywatch Tuesday?

We all can smell it in the air and witness it in the familiar new sights around us, spring is on its way. Winter coats are being put away, yards can be seen again after their months under heavy blankets of snow, and birds are coming back from their winter travels. The view out my front window is changing, but the exciting sign of spring has not happened yet. The ice is still on the pond and it will be there for at least a few more weeks. I took this picture last Friday for Skywatch Friday but got too busy to post it. If you look carefully you can see my snowshoe prints walking off across the pond. Although I am excited for spring to come, and am sadly going to miss my afternoons of trekking on the pond enjoying the sun and fresh air.

Enjoy ~SJ

Monday, March 30, 2009

What Part Of Spring?

Thank you oh amazing internet quizzes! I am down for the count with a cold, up to my ears in class work, and trying to grade and enter student work. I keep thinking that I will feel more inspired and energized once spring is really here. This quiz kind of help....

You Are Chirping Birds

You are a very caring person. You especially feel for innocent beings, like animals and children.

You are keyed in to the world and very peaceful. You believe that everyone is connected.

You remain focused and in the moment. You are not easily distracted.

You have a good memory, especially for things that you hear. You listen carefully.

Enjoy ~SJ

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

iPhone and Music!

Stanford University has a musical group called the Mopho (Mobile Phone). The group uses the iPhone as their instruments and utilizes the various musical instruments apps available. Below is a movie on them from YouTube, now it just makes me want an iPhone even more!

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Best School Day Of The Year!

Today is one of those days that I have to remind myself that I get to have all this fun AND get paid - it was Black Mountain Day. In case you are not familiar with this local tradition, Black Mountain is the local ski mountain, and for one whole day we take the kids there (mostly for free to them) and we get to play. Most of the schools in the area take a day and hit the slopes. My job today: ski the trails and make sure the students were all being safe. The first day of spring brought us a beautiful day of spring skiing. A raced a few of my students down the bunny slope (and won!), I sprayed a few kids with some snow (and got sprayed back by a few), I went off "the kicker" jump, a table jump that kicks you in the air - and landed! Basically I played like a kid and got paid to do it.

Now, today is not the first day that I have played like a kid on the slopes and gotten paid. I somehow landed the most amazing job this winter of taking students to the same mountain two afternoons a week to basically teach them how to ski and snowboard. A group of 30 students got free transportation to the mountain, lift tickets, and rentals for 10 weeks. These were afternoons where I again had to remind myself that I was getting paid to have all of the fun and laughs that I was having. I had one student who had to be brought down the trail the first day on a snowmobile because they could not ski, to being able to ski all by themselves. I had another student stand at the bottom of the lift for two days with her skis on because she didn't think she could ride the chairlift, today she was on the big trails making it down with her friends. This afterschool activity was paid for by the Pep and Access grants, and I certainly hope that they are able to do it again. The students learned how much fun skiing and snowboarding is, and have learned a new lifelong sport. I ended up looking forward to my afternoons on the slopes with them and it made the winter more enjoyable.

Enjoy ~SJ

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Pull-Tabs Make The News

The pull-tab project at school has been flying along! We easily reached the 15,000 original goal in less than two weeks. The kids were having so much fun with the project that we increased the goal to 1.5 million pull-tabs, this represents the number of children killed in the Holocaust. Today the Lewiston Sun Journal and the Rumford Falls Times both published an article on the class project. I can only link to the Sun Journal article, here, since it is not on the Falls Times website.

Enjoy ~SJ

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day

It is the one day out of the year that everyone can celebrate being Irish, even if you aren't. Interesting fact, SJ isn't Irish although her name my suggest otherwise. That doesn't stop me, I still celebrate the holiday all month long! Hope that your day was filled with green!

Enjoy ~SJ

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Pi Day!

Since today is March 14th that means that it is Pi Day. In case you aren't a math teacher, or a math geek, it is Pi Day since the date is the same as the first three digits of pi (3.14). I think that today can only be officially celebrated by eating pie and doing really long math problems, who's in?

Enjoy ~SJ

Save The Words!

Save The Words is a website that allows you to adopt the words that have been deemed not worthy of the dictionary. Every year words analyzed to determine if they are used enough in language for the year. If they are not used often enough they are retired. Save The Words allows us to adopt these "unworthy" words, I adopted Virtival: A metal support for an axle. I plan on using the word as often as I can, go and do your part for these homeless and unloved words. Not only do you get to take care of this wonderful word, but you also get a nice certificate to show others that you care about unwanted words.

Enjoy ~SJ

Friday, March 13, 2009

Unusual Silence

Dear Valued Readers,

Sorry for the quiet blog-waves. I have been working on class work, and all the other stuff of life. I hope to be inspired over the weekend with the increasing temperatures. Until then....

Enjoy ~SJ

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Archaeological Find!

It has scientifically been proven, my driveway is made of tar. All winter a glacier has been forming at the end of my driveway making walking treacherous - I invested in ice cleats to make shoveling safer! After some quality time with my ice chipper and shovel (ok, and some nice warm weather thanks to Mother Nature), I cleared away most of the glacier that had formed. Along with some creative drainage ditch creating my driveway is looking ready for spring.

Enjoy ~SJ

Teacher Man

My first book to arrive from Paperback Swap was Teacher Man. It has been sitting on my to-read list on Good Reads for months now, and I have finally gotten around to reading it. I have read Frank McCourt's other books, Angela's Ashes, and Tis, and since I am a teacher was looking forward to McCourt's witty perspective on life. The book lived up to my expectations, and while reading it I made a list of people who need to read this book. All week at school when the kids would get frustrating I thought back to McCourt's observations and had to laugh that students everywhere have always been like this.

Here is what Amazon had to say:
For 30 years Frank McCourt taught high school English in New York City and for much of that time he considered himself a fraud. During these years he danced a delicate jig between engaging the students, satisfying often bewildered administrators and parents, and actually enjoying his job. He tried to present a consistent image of composure and self-confidence, yet he regularly felt insecure, inadequate, and unfocused. After much trial and error, he eventually discovered what was in front of him (or rather, behind him) all along--his own experience. "My life saved my life," he writes. "My students didn't know there was a man up there escaping a cocoon of Irish history and Catholicism, leaving bits of that cocoon everywhere." At the beginning of his career it had never occurred to him that his own dismal upbringing in the slums of Limerick could be turned into a valuable lesson plan. Indeed, his formal training emphasized the opposite. Principals and department heads lectured him to never share anything personal. He was instructed to arouse fear and awe, to be stern, to be impossible to please--but he couldn't do it. McCourt was too likable, too interested in the students' lives, and too willing to reveal himself for their benefit as well as his own. He was a kindred spirit with more questions than answers: "Look at me: wandering late bloomer, floundering old fart, discovering in my forties what my students knew in their teens." As he did so adroitly in his previous memoirs, Angela's Ashes and 'Tis, McCourt manages to uncover humor in nearly everything. He writes about hilarious misfires, as when he suggested (during his teacher's exam) that the students write a suicide note, as well as unorthodox assignments that turned into epiphanies for both teacher and students. A dazzling writer with a unique and compelling voice, McCourt describes the dignity and difficulties of a largely thankless profession with incisive, self-deprecating wit and uncommon perception. It may have taken him three decades to figure out how to be an effective teacher, but he ultimately saved his most valuable lesson for himself: how to be his own man.

Enjoy ~SJ

Friday, March 6, 2009

Skywatch Friday!

This was the sky over Worthley Pond this morning as I warmed up the car. Pretty dreary and dull. On the up side the Hermit Island reservations came in the mail yesterday, the Music Man and I will be enjoying two camping trips there this summer. So let's hope that I can get more Skywatch Friday pictures that look like this! The Hermit Island Gods were smiling on us to get such great reservations, I think the offering at the Hermit Hut helped!
Enjoy ~SJ

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Flower Fun

What a fun thing to do on a winter, but we want it to be spring day. You can create your own virtual flowers on Zefrank. Come on, I know you want to waste some internet time create your own beautiful creation.

Enjoy ~SJ

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Pull-Tab Project Update

Less than one week into the pull-tab project and we already have over 10,000! That means that we are over 2/3 of the way there and our advertising is just starting to get into full swing. The kids want to up the goal to 1.5 million for all of the children in the Holocaust, we will have to see how much longer the 15,000 goal takes us. In case you missed the original post about the pull-tab project you can read about it here.

Enjoy ~SJ

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Reader

While cleaning out the bookshelves last weekend in search of books to list on Paperback Swap I came across a few books that I had not read yet - an amazing and exciting find! One that I discovered was The Reader, upon discovery I remembered that this book (now movie) was up for a few Oscars. According to the Oscar website The Reader was nominated in five categories: Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role, Achievement in Cinematography, Achievement in Directing, Best Motion Picture of the Year, and Adapted Screenplay. Although the movie was up for five nominations, it managed to sweep one away from Slumdog Millionare, the Best Actress award. I'm not sure why I am going on so much about the movie since I haven't seen it yet.

More about the book..... although it is a short and quick read it is packed with events that make you contemplate decisions that people make. Here is what amazon.com had to say:

Michael Berg, 15, is on his way home from high school in post-World War II Germany when he becomes ill and is befriended by a woman who takes him home. When he recovers from hepatitis many weeks later, he dutifully takes the 40-year-old Hanna flowers in appreciation, and the two become lovers. The relationship, at first purely physical, deepens when Hanna takes an interest in the young man's education, insisting that he study hard and attend classes. Soon, meetings take on a more meaningful routine in which after lovemaking Michael reads aloud from the German classics. There are hints of Hanna's darker side: one inexplicable moment of violence over a minor misunderstanding, and the fact that the boy knows nothing of her life other than that she collects tickets on the streetcar. Content with their arrangement, Michael is only too willing to overlook Hanna's secrets. She leaves the city abruptly and mysteriously, and he does not see her again until, as a law student, he sits in on her case when she is being tried as a Nazi criminal. Only then does it become clear that Hanna is illiterate and her inability to read and her false pride have contributed to her crime and will affect her sentencing. The theme of good versus evil and the question of moral responsibility are eloquently presented in this spare coming-of-age story that's sure to inspire questions and passionate discussion.
Enjoy ~SJ

Garfield Monday

It is well know that Garfield the Cat does not enjoy Mondays, this has been one of the many themes of the comic strip. With the snow days that we have been getting on Mondays lately the teachers of the Western Foothills of Maine have not had to suffer through too many. Today is another snow day, filled with relaxing and then shoveling.

Enjoy ~SJ

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Donna Brazile

While I was in Dallas a few weeks ago I was the winner of a book by Donna Brazile, Cooking With Grease: Stirring The Pots In America. Now I'm not one to follow every American politics story and was not sure how I felt about this book, or if I would even read it. Last weekend I found myself short of reading material and decided to try Brazile, after 30 fast pages I was hooked and shocked. Her story is moving, her style captivating, her book enlightening. Here is what amazon.com has to say:

Harvard professor, Washington power broker and former Gore 2000 campaign chair Donna Brazile's life might make for a pretty entertaining Hollywood movie if an actress could be found gutsy enough to take on such a complex and intimidating leading role. From humble blue-collar Louisiana beginnings as one of nine children, Brazile went on to organize voter registration drives, marches to commemorate Martin Luther King, Jr., and ultimately national political campaigns. In her memoir Cooking With Grease, Brazile shares candid perspectives on her employers and causes. And while Mike Dukakis and Dick Gephardt fans will be pleased to know their men are included, it is the insights on the charismatic preacher/activist/presidential candidate Jesse Jackson and Al Gore, whom Brazile insists won the controversial 2000 election, that make this a must read for devotees of modern political history. Her accounts of being backstage in the Gore camp shed valuable light on the tense political climate of that year's election and post-election recount mess in a way that only a select few from either the Bush or Gore campaigns could legitimately offer. Still, none of the candidates shine quite so brightly in this book as the author herself. Washington is, after all, operated, with a few exceptions, by moneyed white men and for a black woman from a humble background to succeed requires determination, a quick wit, and a powerful intellect. As Brazile climbs the political ladder, those qualities come in to sharp relief. But while Cooking With Grease is inspirational, and Brazile really ought to be auctioning the film rights if she hasn't already done so, it doesn't preach, inspiring by example rather than exhorting the reader to follow Brazile's own course of action.

Enjoy ~SJ