Wednesday, April 27, 2016

My Best Friend's Wedding

Gemma and I were in my friend Nancy's wedding. Here we are - my husband, my daughter, and me - all dressed up for the occasion.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Week in Review

A smidgen of what we did this week...

We've been reading Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book (we're currently on "The White Seal"), and we saw The Jungle Book movie. It's VERY different from the book, as movies always are, and while I did think the Peace Rock scene was amazing, I thought the movie veered too far away from its inspiration.

We are reading (and loving) Life of Fred: Butterflies.
For fun, I'm reading Life of Fred: Trigonometry. I'm on page 78. It's made me curious about the Fred as a stand-alone curriculum vs. Fred as a supplement debate. Before reading any Fred, I thought it was a supplement, but now, reading (and enjoying) Trig, I'm thinking it could work as a stand-alone. Thoughts on this?

Gemma is reading aloud The Magic Treehouse: Sabertooths at Sunset.

We did some Duolingo Spanish.

Daddy took Gemma to the beach, and stopped off for a Push-Up on the walk home.
This is how Gemma is learning to alphabetize:
I noticed this scene in Gemma's dollhouse, and had to ask what was going on:
She said that the girl in the tube is disguised as a palm tree. I'm assuming that the girl is studying a plan of how to disguise herself as a palm tree, to make sure she's doing it correctly.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Weeks in Review

Gemma just finished reading her third chapter book - The Magic Treehouse: Dingoes at Dinnertime. We finished reading Life of Fred: Apples and started Life of Fred: Butterflies. We are slowly reading The Ology by Machowski - an Easter gift from my uncle, aunt, and cousin - one page at a time. We've also been reading My Book House, of course. And, when the buses around town began advertising The Jungle Book movie, I started reading aloud Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book. We're almost 90 pages in, and Gemma loves it. She occasionally speaks wolf in public, and I feel obligated to explain that she thinks she's Mowgli.

Here is an update on Gemma's root-view garden:
Her carrots are growing, too! :)
She made a spectroscope (and got pink cowgirl boots)...
And she built this from a Klutz kit called Lego Chain Reactions...
She's also learned a bunch of multiplication facts using Times Tales. The DVD has nothing to do with math and is so not CM, but I recommend it. I'll have to do a future post as to why.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Art Lesson: Pheasants

I'm currently reading aloud The Secret Garden to my fourth graders. (I love this book.) A couple of weeks ago, we read this passage:
My students didn't know what pheasants look like, so I did what I often do -googled on my phone and put my phone under my document reader. This is the image I showed them:
This is a Lady Amherst pheasant. My students immediately asked if they could draw a pheasant for their next art lesson.

Not being an artist, and having never drawn a pheasant, I was hesitant to say yes, but I said yes. Because that's the kind of teacher I am. I think this is something really important for you to know about me. 

There are teachers who like to do the same lessons year after year; I'll call them the perfecters. In March, their bulletin boards are decorated with 30 identical construction paper leprechauns, a no-fail craft. Cut on the dotted line, and glue where you read "Glue here." Perfecters do activities that can be completed (and cleaned up) in a single sitting. Their rooms look like pages from a school supply store catalog, what we believe a classroom should look like, images of which student-teachers' dreams are made.

And then there are teachers who need to learn along with their students. Let's call these the learners - or the masochists. (Drama teachers are a good example of learners; they do different plays every year.) There is always a project in progress.

In elementary school, the perfecter teacher is more common than the learner teacher. The perfecter doesn't say yes when students ask them to teach something. In fact, the perfecter's students learn early on that their teacher won't deviate from her lesson plan book, so they daren't ask her to. The perfecter is in control, and she's staying that way. As a child, she was good at school. She read the directions, followed the rules, and only put glue where she read "Glue here." She isn't about to start failing now.

I'm not a perfecter.

Here are a few of my students' drawings...
This afternoon, I took my students into the iPad lab so they could zoom in on pheasant images, and work on their pictures.
Here is the first finished pheasant:
She even put in an earthworm and a crushed soda can. She paid attention to detail.

The most exciting thing about teaching the students to draw the pheasant was that they got the idea of proportion. They didn't try to squeeze the feet into the image. Some of them had tail feathers that extended beyond the frame of the picture.

As a public elementary school teacher, it's easier and more accepted to be a perfecter. Often, I wish I could change. 

But then I have moments like this. I don't think I could feel this kind of happiness looking at a bulletin board of identical leprechauns.