Tuesday, January 31, 2017

New Books! No Time!

So on 23 January they announced all the Youth Media Awards at the annual ALA Midwinter Meeting and I immediately hopped online to order from both Scholastic and Amazon. And guess what? Both shipments arrived on Friday 27 January! I bubbled over with excitement in front of my students and exclaimed, "And today is FRIday so I have a little more free time tonight to READ!"

Guess what? Homework. That's what. I did homework Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and Today in order to be prepared for class this evening. I still have not read my new books.

But I got a photo so...there's that.

I also got an email from Nerdy Book Club saying my guest blog post is "terrific" and they're going to run it on Saturday 4 March, so I'll probably mention that somewhere when the time comes. I've never been a guest blogger before.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Whine, No Cheese--BYU Homework

I, having a sound mind, CHOSE to take on the challenge of getting my Literacy Endorsement (Reading Endorsement, whatever). And I truly have enjoyed it. I've learned so much! I KNEW it would take seven semesters and involve a lot of reading as well as the writing of papers (APA) and time. I am four semesters down, in the middle of the fifth, and have two more after that at which time I'll be "prepared" to face the PRAXIS, a big test I have to pass or guess what? I will not be endorsed!

The homework this week is a bit heavy. I shouldn't waste time writing about it and yes, I have started it, but just to know mentally the mountain I'll be climbing from now up to Tuesday night's class, I have to map out the route for myself.

And just for perspective, our homework for last Tuesday's class was this: Read chapters 3 and 7 and write a reflection paper. Not too bad, right? Just read 61 pages of literacy textbook and write a two page reflection. Check. Did it. With fidelity.

This class is every Tuesday night except...EXCEPT! Because of the way the calendar fell, we had to throw in one extra night and that was last Thursday the 26th. Except! Our professors (we have two this semester) decided to cancel the Thursday class and just assign the homework instead. Theoretically, we were to spend that block of class time doing the work at home. This is the work assigned for the 26th (which I have started, but have not yet completed):

Read the IRA position statement article (16 pages), read Chapter 2 (25 pages), read the Edwards article (28 pages), read the Linebarger article (27 pages), read a blogpost (length unknown, I haven't made it to that point yet), watch three short videos (not sure what short means, haven't watched them yet), and write a paper about it all. Hmm...that's only 96+ pages of reading! Way more than the week prior. And when I read, I don't just read. I'm borrowing one text, so I take notes on sticky notes and remove them at the end of the term and save them on regular paper in sheet protectors to review in preparation for the PRAXIS in January 2018. And the articles? I highlight them and sometimes write notes in the margins. I can't help it. If I'm going to do it, I'm going to do it right. I can't just skim and scan and hope for the best. How would I know which parts to skim? There's no better time than NOW to do this work. And when I write, I go over it all again and am earnest and thoughtful about my reflections. I don't really know how to be less thorough without worrying about missing something important.

And then of course, there's homework for this Tuesday's class. We have to read Chapter 4 (31 pages), Chapter 8 (33 pages), and Chapter 9 (36 pages) for a grand total of 100 pages. And then write another reflection.

So, to summarize, since we met last Tuesday evening, our professors have assigned us to accomplish prior to this Tuesday evening: Read 196 pages, read a blogpost, watch 3 videos, and write 2 papers.

And guess what? That's not all for 4 people in the cohort (fortunately, I'm not one of them). Four of our cohort mates have an ADDITIONAL assignment! They have to read ANOTHER article (each of the 4 have a different article) and then write ANOTHER paper about how that relates to the homework, and then LEAD A DISCUSSION for ten minutes at this week's class. I don't know who they are, but I feel sorry for those four who unwittingly signed up for those dates not knowing how much homework was coming down the pipeline.

Did I use my class time on Thursday evening to do the homework? No. After school (and bus duty), I took my car to get the safety and emissions testing so I can renew the license plates for another year. To my credit, I did get started on Chapter 2 in the waiting area and wrote notes on stickies. And then I, as a member of the stake council, went to meet with the 10th Ward at 6:45 p.m. to go on stake council/ward council visits to members' homes along with their ward Primary president. We had two appointments--one at 7 and one at 7:30. We listened a lot to the family of four at the first appointment. They are new in the area and all four (mom, dad, older sister, younger sister...and their cat named Sven) had a lot to say. At the second appointment we visited a single mom with three kids--fifth grader, third grader, and Kindergarten. We taught them a lesson about the Plan of Salvation and learned so much about their activities with sports and school and music. It was time well spent. My choice.

After those appointments we met back in the office of 10th Ward's bishop for some debriefing and I got home at 8:30 p.m. So tired.

This morning is Ward Temple Day. I have a family name ready to go. We're supposed to meet in the chapel by 7:45 or 8:00 a.m. for the 8:15 session. Not going to make it (unless something changes drastically in the next ten minutes). We are so tired. My husband went to the doctor this week and received medication for his illness. Our neighbor is getting baptized today and we've decided to go to that at noon. Their family has some challenges right now and we would really like to support them. So I've been doing homework since waking up at 5:15 (no alarm, that's just when I woke up) and this has been a rather long study break, but I just to had park it all here because sometimes it's like, "Which good things on my list of things to do should I just flat out ignore today?" I don't really like saying, "I'm going to ignore the temple today." But that's what I'm saying, isn't it?

I wondered if this reading endorsement could count toward a master's at BYU. When I asked an earlier professor he said, "No, BYU won't recognize these credits as graduate work." And then he laughed.

I have church tomorrow from 9-12. I am going home teaching with my husband at 1 p.m. because his companion has a brain tumor right now and is waiting for surgery. And then we have 10th Ward's Ward Conference from 3-6 p.m. I didn't correct the science tests yesterday and I forgot to bring them home. I don't know if I can even make it to school today. I just need to focus on homework and get to the baptism. I hope I'm choosing the right things. I love church so much! And I LOVE my job! And I still love this reading endorsement. I love my husband too, which is why I sat next to him on the couch for 90 minutes last night watching a DVD of his choice, while holding hands. I love it all. Like Shakira sings, "I Want To (Wanna?) Try Everything!"

They always talk about good, better, and best. Well, these credits are helping me to renew my teaching license in the next couple of months, so they are necessary. So is that best? Is that better than the temple? Sunday is busy. Monday is work and Family Home Evening. Tuesday is work and BYU class. Wednesday is work and Scouts. Thursday is work and stake Primary (ward conference home visits, Round Table, or presidency meeting). Friday is...work and exhaustion/date night at home/whatever I can squeeze in, and yes, I did homework last night. And Saturday is...whatever seems most urgent.

Back to work!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Dear President Trump

Because I teach American History to my fifth graders, we watch the presidential inaugurations. No matter who is leaving office, I get so emotional when they take off in that helicopter! After we watched it I asked my fifth graders to pen letters to the new president and here is a bit of what they said:

"Trump, Today you have been officially called as the President of the USA. Here are some important things you should do. First, you need to fix insurance. I don't know how you are going to do that, but just fix it. This is one thing you shouldn't do. DO NOT BUILD A STINKIN' WALL!"

"Dear Donald John Trump, I hope you are a good president. Do not build a wall, it's fine if people are able to sneak into the USA, just put a bunch of guards along the border."

"Dear James Trump, I hope that the military of the USA will be very strong and tough. All I've ever wanted was to have a better future."

"Dear President Trump, Some things that I would like you to do are to be kind to everyone at all times, keep a good marriage with your wife, make good laws, and play with your son."

"Dear Trump, Congratulations! I'm so happy you beat Hillary yet I think Ted would be better."

"Trump is now the president. Barack Obama is done."

"Dear President Trump, I was in fifth grade when you got elected for president, very exciting. I would have voted for you if I was old enough. When I watched the news I noticed that you don't smile that much and so I hope you learn to smile. Also, you should make groceries cheaper because I don't have a lot of things to eat at my house because food is really expensive. So that would be really great if you made food go cheaper and I hope you know that you will be a great president. Congrats by the way."

"Dear President Trump, Please don't build a wall. We're not China. I believe we should help the refugees, not lock them out. I hope you can make America better in your years in office."

"Dear President Donald John Trump, I hope that you do make America great again. I hope that you will unite the people of America and always do your best at being peaceful and friendly. Maybe you might even learn to smile again. Everyone likes presidents who smile."

"I think that Trump will be a good president. I don't really know everything about what he will do with America, but I trust him. Even if he is bad he will just be impeached."

"Dear Trump, Your responsibility is one of the highest in the nation and you should take care of our country with that. I think you will be a good president."

"Dear Trump, I'm happy that you're president and it's going to be a fun eight years. Things that need to be improved are ObamaCare and wars. Everyone counts on you for ending terrorist wars. ObamaCare was good, but you could improve it to help people and you could maybe not build the wall because it will use too much money and it will take more than an eight year span. Good luck."

"Dear President Trump, While you are president I would want you to fix Obama Care and not get rid of it so the medical prices will go down. I also want you to not build that wall. It would be great if you can help make more national parks to protect more land and animals. You could also set up a program to clean up trash in the ocean and on the beaches. I hope you will be a great president and help America a lot."

"Dear Trump, I hope you're happy. Please make it so we have no homework. I hate homework. Science has shown that homework doesn't help the human mind."

"Dear Donald J. Trump, I want you to know that I was hoping for you to win. I hope that you will make America great like Obama didn't."

"Dear President Trump, I hope that you will be a great president. I hope that you will make America great again. I hope that you will keep America safe. Also, I hope you will make the wall like you said you would. I also hope that you will be a strong and great president. I also would like it if you would make recess a little bit longer."

"Dear President Donald J. Trump, There is a situation I think you should work on. Illegal immigrants. Hundreds and thousands of illegal immigrants come to America each day. Terrorist groups can easily walk across the border. So what are you as president going to do about it?"

"Dear Trump, I hope you help Army Veterans to get home safely. Please don't build a wall around us. Most of my family lives in Mexico."

"Dear Mr. Trump, You will be a not so great president and you are SO sexist. It is terrible."

Dear DT, You are my absolute favorite and I am so glad you WON! I don't know what I would do if you lost! Something that I would really to see is a wall around AMERICA!! I think you are going to be the best President of all time! When you were in the election I would always say, 'Get off your rump and vote for Trump.' I can't wait to see what great things you do in the future and I think you're a great guy. Never give up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Well, there you have it, folks. This is the fifth grade reflection of what their parents are saying at home. This is the Hope of America. I'm glad they recorded their thoughts on Inauguration Day so that in years to come they can read back over these things and compare them to how things actually turned out.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Our First Snowshoe 2017

Our reading curriculum last week focused on finding patterns in nature, expository text. Ha! I can show you some patterns in nature! I wish all of my students could have come snowshoeing with us yeaterday. It was so good to get out and just chat and walk and take pictures and feel grateful. Yesterday was a gift! To walk is a gift. To see is a gift. I love that rose hips provide pops of color in January. I love that there's an occasional orange rock to break up the scenery. I love it all!

Chichaqua Trail

We went to Iowa for Christmas and I just didn't snap very many photos. Christmas Vacation was shorter this year and we stayed late before taking off the morning after the last day of school so we could join K's work crew for a wonderful meal at Tucano's. We slept in Laramie, WY the first night and Omaha, NE the second night. We finally woke up Christmas morning and drove straight to Grandpa's Farm in Iowa on Christmas Day (after stopping for Church...and leaving that Sacrament Meeting about 15 minutes early), arriving around 1:00 p.m. for dinner (they said dinner was at Noon, but it still wasn't ready when we arrived, but we told them to go ahead and eat without us). Since we didn't/couldn't contribute to the meal in any way, we did all the dishes.

We enjoyed the afternoon with everyone at the farm as well as the gift exchange and watching the little kids play, then we headed to K's parents' home. The following morning, we celebrated Christmas by opening gifts after his brother came over. I believe this was the first time in my life I've ever had "Christmas Morning" the day after. It was nice of them to wait for us. It was also nice to not be rushed. Usually, the gift opening starts at 7:30 a.m. (K would rather sleep in) and lasts for a couple of hours and then it's, "We've got to get to the farm!" So we rush around and load up the van and are usually early to arrive. Then we make the food and others trickle in. This year was just...different. Also, we usually help K's mom with some of the baking, especially the frosting and decorating of the sugar cookies, but all of that was finished, of course, by the time we arrived. It was nice not having to be anywhere. K's mom made a wild rice soup in the Crock Pot the night before, so we feasted on that for lunch after the gift opening. They are all the nicest people! So generous and loving!

One day we went out for a walk. The weather was unseasonably warm so we took advantage. There's a program called "Rails to Trails" where they convert old railroad grades into walking trails. Just a couple of photos.