Friday, August 29, 2014

What I've been reading/watching of late

Saw this tonight - a very well-done and entertaining film - if you love things French, you will love it.  And if you love food, you will love it, and if you love things Indian, you will love it.  That must cover everyone!!

Harry's favorite detail is the fact that the female romantic lead, Charlotte LeBon, has crooked teeth - and she's as cute as all get out!!  The acting is great - there's humor, pathos, sorrow, redemption, courage - and great scenery!!

Give it a look-see and let me know what you think!

This was on Helen's shelves when we  packed up her books, and it intrigued me, so I have started reading it - it's about Anne Hutchinson, the famous Puritan - and she's a blood relative to Grandma's kin!!  It is well-written and full of historical info that fleshes out the story.  I don't want to spoil it, but it's got a sad, but significant ending.  Now don't you want to read it??

This writer wrote The Train to Estelline series - it's light-weight but fun - with a bit of a mystery to keep you reading.  Would be great airplane fiction!

Saw the movie version of this last week.  There are actually four books in this series, and the movie combines elements of more than one book.  This doesn't spoil anything - guess they didn't want to make 4 movies!!  It was well-done - not exactly true to the book, but that didn't spoil the movie.  It's a great book - and it's a great movie too!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

"A chip off the old block!"

Is it just me, or does Sully indeed take after Henry?

The ages are different here, but the resemblance is not!!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Some words to consider!

Click on the above to be able to read the words - they are the whole point!!
Many years ago - in fact at least 24 because Noah is 27 - the nursery school director at SMCNS told me that even though her job wasn't high paying, it was "work worth doing" so she was content.

I thought about her words often - and often found myself thinking about tasks or assignments I had that seemed unappreciated or unnoticed - but I didn't mind because they were "work worth doing." 

In my 17 years of teaching school, I was paid pretty well by some standards.  But sometimes it seemed like I had to bite my tongue or just put up with unappreciative administrators, other teachers, and parents - not to mention some students.  At those times, I would remember these words and think, "This is indeed work worth doing, so I will just ignore the rest."

In retrospect, this philosophy had a lot to do with my decision to retire.  I honestly didn't feel that the change in the way we were expected to deliver services to students was really "work worth doing" and so couldn't summon the enthusiasm to put with all the attendant baggage this new method required.

That doesn't mean I think students are not worth working with.  They are - they are very much worth working with.  But for me, the methodology that the district adopted was not something I wanted to embrace.  I am banking on the cyclical nature of fads in education to give students what they truly need - and indeed some of my former students will benefit from the push-in model - and the others will hopefully get what they truly need sooner rather than later.

And I certainly plan to spend the years ahead finding other work that is very much worth doing!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

New beginnings!

This is me - 1996 - starting out as a half-time prep-time teacher at Wildrose Elementary. Dianne Lahti offered me the job - and it sounded better than subbing - and actually paid more - although it meant that I had to be at school every day.  And it meant that I had to start working on a credential, because I was on an emergency credential.

The job entailed going around to every 4th and 5th grade classroom 3 times a week and teaching P.E. one of the times and Science the other 2 times.  Looking back on it, I'm kind of amazed that no one told me what curriculum to use or what standards I had to follow - nowadays it certainly wouldn't be like that!

The concept of prep-time came about because the 4th and 5th grade teachers actually teach more minutes that the lower grades, and they wanted compensation - either monetary or time.  The district opted to give them time - thus I would come in and take over the classes in 45 minute increments - which meant that every 4th and 5th grade teacher got 2 hours and 15 minutes of prep-time weekly. 

I didn't have a classroom and that was tough.  No one seemed to care either - finally the janitor fixed me up with a cart that held file boxes.  He cleared out a closet where I could park it each day!  And I roamed around the campus with my cart!  (Or my bag of equipment for P.E.)

Overall it was a positive experience, although they had just started the 20 to 1 classroom ratio for K-3, and they were short one teacher, so for the first 2 weeks I had to teach a 2nd grade class all day until they got a permanent teacher.  I actually enjoyed that and thought about taking the job.  Upon reflection, however, I realized that teaching full-time and going to school full-time might not be the best thing for our family.  I'm glad I made the choice I did - since I ended up in middle school.  I'm pretty sure elementary teaching might have worn me out more quickly!

At the end of my tenure at Wildrose, Bill Card - our friend and principal at Clifton - called and offered me a half-time Special Education position.  When I had subbed, Special Ed looked so easy - all those helpful instructional aides and small classes - so I said yes!

So off I went to Clifton - and to a shift in the classes I was taking at APU - and we all grew together for the next 17 years.  That first year was a "dream" year in my memory.  I taught 3 classes in the afternoon, and the largest class had 7 students.  I had the van and Harry went with me as I took the kids on field trips to the Holocaust Museum and the Huntington Library, among other places.

Then the end of May dawned, and the Special Ed chairwoman came to me with a sheaf of IEP's - there were 10 to be exact - and she said, "You need to do these IEP's by June 10th."  So I said, "What's an IEP and how do I do one?"  (This was truly a different time and place - and it wouldn't happen today!)

She showed me the testing to do and did one IEP with me - and then left me on my own.  I truly learned by doing on that one.  As the years went on, I came to realize the absolute value of student teaching.  I learned everything by trial and error - my classes at APU weren't all that helpful although they were informative and interesting.  I could have saved a lot of grief with some direct instruction.

The following year I was offered a full-time position, and I happily took it!  By now I had a lot of the credential classes under my belt and only needed to take one or two at a time - and could take some online or through BYU Home Study.  My "student teaching" consisted of me paying them $1200 and someone came and observed me twice!  Like I said before, it wouldn't happen today!

I started out sharing room 2 with Dalene Johnson - she was a mentor who taught me lots - lots that I continued to use each day of my teaching career.  Then I spent a few years in Room 8 in the main hall.  I loved that room and was sorry when they booted me out of it.   A new principal wanted to make it the discipline room.  Since it was next door to the counseling office, it was the perfect spot for it.  I was plunked in room 5 - much smaller and much less satisfactory I might add.  Room 7 in the main hall was vacant, and I kept begging for it.  When we got another new principal, I quickly asked for - and got - room 7 - where I ended my career last June!

I made the decision to retire somewhat quickly.  In actual fact, the Special Ed department at both middle schools in our district were re-structured.  The new configuration was based on the push-in model, which meant that I wouldn't have classes of my own to teach anymore, but I would go into other general education teachers English and Science classes and assist the Resource students there.  It didn't seem like something I wanted to do. 

 I didn't mind going to work each day.  Sometimes it was wearing and my feet hurt a lot!  The increasing interference from administration was often burdensome. But the joy at reaching kids and helping them learn to love and enjoy reading and literature made it "work worth doing."  The new model could very well be worthy, but I won't be finding that out for myself!!

I will look forward to the reports from others!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

More book reports!

More titles to report on - well, one more title anyway.  I finished The Unforgiven by Alan LeMay.  He also wrote The Searchers, which most people remember as being the movie with John Wayne and Natalie Wood.  Many years ago I saw the first movie version of it - with Burt Lancaster and Audrey Hepburn.  I remember thinking the movie was great, so I tackled the book.

The story is pretty gripping - you want to find out what happens - but the book is more compelling because of the very vivid picture it paints of life on the prairies of the expanding West.  We glamorize the settling of the West and the cattle drives and sod houses.  But the truth is, life was very harsh.  The more I read of "real" history, the more I realize that I truly would not want to have lived then!!

The characters are not quite as three-dimensional as I would like.  But it's fairly simple to draw your own conclusions.  The story and plot line are quite believable, but there is some "rushing through" some parts that is less than satisfactory.

The way the Indians are painted - pardon the pun - is probably accurate in several senses, but once again a one and two dimensional picture often emerges, rather than a truly historical painting.

It's a good story though - and a great summer read - or winter by the fire read too!

Thursday, August 07, 2014

A couple more -

Of course I forget two of the best books I read this summer - see post below - so I will add them here:

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd.  Secret Life of Bees was so wonderful, so when the author wrote The Mermaid's Chair and it wasn't so wonderful, I thought maybe she was a "one shot wonder!"  But no, this one is great!!  It's about slavery - and the general repression of women in our history - but told lyrically and sensitively - you will love it too!  I seem to find learning my history from novels to be preferable to just reading history!!  And part takes place in Philadelphia - where I am right now!!

Fannie Flagg's The All Girl Filling Station's Reunion is vintage Fannie Flagg - and that means interesting, informative, hilarious, and heart-warming.  No misses here on any score.

Will post more as I read more.  And photos will come - sometime - of my East Coast adventures!

A summer of reading, among other things!

It has been a busy summer - in fact, it's been busy and non-stop.  Heading back to school might even look like a vacation - but not quite! 

Hannah came before school was even out, and we had lots of activities on her bucket list to check off.  Phoebe and family was here for a week or more - which meant that other family members came by too.  I headed out to VA to visit Eliza - the lone sibling who wasn't in CA this summer - and then Robbie got home and they returned to Philly - where I am right now!!  We go home tomorrow, and I will miss being with "the little girls" and their families!

Photos will be posted later - they are still on the camera - but I have been doing a lot of reading.  Somehow, even with lots going on, I manage to read a lot.  So here's a brief rundown - not really in chronological order - mostly in the order I remember them in!

Fin and Lady by someone whose name I can't remember at the moment was a sleeper.  Phoebe left it when she came - said she'd picked it up at Costco on a whim - and it was slow starting - so many books are, aren't they?  But the plot took a circuitous route to compelling - about a young boy who is orphaned and entrusted to the care of his 18 year old half-sister.  Their adventures through the 60's was familiar - the war, the protests, the music of Dylan and Baez - maybe that's what I loved about it?

Picked up a copy of Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood in the Little Free Library in Eliza's neighborhood.  It is a dystopian tale - I don't always enjoys those but this one was helped by the excellent prose you can always count on with Margaret Atwood.  There are two sequels - the same story told from different points of view - not sure if I want to go there or not.  If I do, I will let you know.  It is a little creepy, but solving the mystery keeps you reading.

Looked at my Kindle Library and discovered that another Margaret Atwood book, The Blind Assassin, was there.  Harry may have gotten it - or Hannah.  We have a number of members in our Kindle Library!  It was not dystopian, but there was a compelling mystery to solve - and it's not sovled until the very end.  Halfway through you are sure you have solved it - but then you get to the end and you start thinking that maybe you got it wrong - and you did!  I do enjoy the author's style and use of language - she is a wordsmith extraordinaire!

Hannah mentioned that the current YA field of fiction was producing lots of new works that made good summer reads - so I read Gayle Forman's If I Stay and Where She Went. They are meant to go together, but the first one is better - the second one is better left unread!  It's about a young woman who is seriously injured in an auto accident that kills the rest of her family - and she is able to be present and see how everyone is responding as she lies in a coma.  It is a good summer read - at least the first one is.

I need something to read on the plane ride home - have checked the Kindle library for some possibilities - briefly started The Unforgiven - in the 60's it was a great movie with Audrey Hepburn. Also got hold of another Jane Robert Woods novel - she wrote The Train to Estelline - and there's always the two or three others on there that I've started a few times - but never got into.  Sometimes the 3rd time's a charm!