What’s Your Angle? SOLC 2019 Day 21

When was the last time you used a protractor?  Drawn a circle?  Measured an angle? We spent time earlier this week doing all of those things in my classroom.  There’s nothing like a new tool to pique students interest…and the protractor did just that.  Students were fascinated that protractors also have rulers on them, they couldn’t wait to experiment with them!

We used those protractors to draw a half circle on the fold and then open the full 360 degrees of circle.  Each student then had to measure an angle–one randomly assigned–and cut that angle out of the circle.  The cut out angle became the mouth of an “angle fish,” the piece removed became the caudal fin.  Some designing soon resulted in a whole school of individual angle fish!

img_9956

Why bother with angles and protractors?  Simply for a cute crafts project?  You probably know me better than that.  My students are just beginning to pay attention to angles, to recognize those perfect square corners that measure 90 degree.  To understand that triangles exist that are not perfectly equilateral, with equal angles as well.  They are starting to understand that attributes can categorize without diminishing the diversity of possibilities within those categories.

I hope geometry lessons can teach ideas that transfer far beyond polygons, sides, and angles.  I want my students to recognize that each of us brings our experiences, genetics, family backgrounds, and opinions to who we are.  That they will learn to see diversity and difference as opportunities to enrich their own experiences, to add value to our world, to push beyond their own status quo.  That they will step outside the comfort zone of sameness, and consider the view from another perspective.

I’m pretty sure my students understand the categories of acute, right, and obtuse angles…the rest will continue to be a work in progress.  After all, I’m still working out my angles too.

 

Balancing: SOLC 2019 Day 19

Sometimes it feels like I’m the only one struggling to balance the demands of work with the pleasures of leisure.  More often than not, work wins, creeping into my mind, occupying my thoughts, even when I am sleeping.  And I’m lucky, I love my work.  It gives me purpose and satisfaction…and a fair share of frustration.

It’s report card time, the time when I most feel the tug threatening my balance.  My shoulders start to knot, carrying the unspoken conflicts of the mechanism of reporting student progress.  Somehow my students are also feeling the tip too, rocking like those weeble dolls of days gone by, out of sorts and out of focus–just when I need them to be so much more.

Walking on the beach on the weekend, I noticed some other people seeking balance.  I watched an engineer/artist drag quite a few rocks over to a large algae covered boulder facing the low tide seas–the perfect canvas for this temporary art.  With careful precision each rock was placed, with an eye to both balance and beauty.

lrg_dsc02255

Nearby another person sought to achieve balance of the body.  Crouching low and tipping forward, lifting first a toe, testing the raising of each foot until both feet were raised and balance was achieved–if only for a few seconds.

lrg_dsc02254

Instead of planning assessments for tomorrow, my students will be making wire fish sculptures.  Using floral wire and buttons, they will bend and crimp, thread and fold until beauty emerges from one long wire.  Ultimately, they will create a mobile, seeking to balance their wire fish on a piece of driftwood with the help of fishing line.  I’m pretty sure their efforts to create balance and beauty will create an oasis of balance and beauty for me too.  I’ll tackle the report cards later.

With My Head in the Clouds: SOLC 2019 Day 18

Some days I find myself with my head in the clouds, my mind floating on thoughts of projects to be done, problems to solve, reflections on what happened before.  Like a helium balloon, I float on the air currents, directed by my inner monologue.  When my head is in the clouds I risk missing what is right in front of me.

Like most Mondays, today was a day for laying groundwork for the rest of the week.  The hours pass like minutes, the minutes like seconds and time rushes through my fingers like a waterfall…not stopping to pool at my feet as it disappears, just out of reach.  I get into the hurry up mode, chasing time ideals set in my plan book.  I get impatient with my students, wanting more from them as I feel the pinch of time.  Trying to find the perfect ratio of time to learning.

When the bell rang ending our afternoon recess, I headed out the classroom door to pick up my students from the playground.  My head was already running through all we would accomplish while still leaving time to clean up, pack up, and gather before dispersing at the dismissal bell.  Out of the corner of my eye I noticed a lizard, sitting on the sidewalk, soaking up the energy and warmth of this amazing almost-spring day.  I almost rushed by–feeling the tug of time.  But instead, I stopped.  I watched and noticed.  I crept closer, wondering if I would capture an image of this grounded creature.  I snapped from afar, then crept closer.  The lizard seemed to keep an eye on me, unwilling to relinquish the warmth coming up from the sidewalk and down from the sun.

img_9935

That lizard reminded me to take a breath and appreciate the moment.  And also to remember to appreciate all those moments that students need…to tell the seemingly unrelated story in the middle of my lesson, to ask question after question–and then the same question again, to need directions…again…and my patience and encouragement, even when I feel like my own well has been emptied.  I need to spread my toes and grip the ground, feel the earth beneath me grounding me, giving energy and reminding me to use those roots to connect and grow and to support my students as they connect and grow too.

I guess I have another ratio to work out…the ratio of head in the clouds to feet on the ground!

 

 

Silent Sunday: March 17, 2019 and SOLC 2019 Day 17

For a number of years now I have participated in something called Silent Sunday.  On Silent Sunday (every Sunday for me), I post a photo that I’ve taken in the past week that tells a story through the image.  I include no words, hoping that others take a close look at the photo, letting a story emerge in their own minds.

Sometimes the image provokes a conversation on my blog or social media.  Other times I’m not sure how the photo is received.  I can imagine using Silent Sunday photos as writing prompts for my students (although I haven’t up to this point).

So for this Slice of Life entry, I submit my Silent Sunday photo.  Although I’ve included all these words to explain the process, I will not provide words to accompany the image…I will leave that up to you to interpret!  (I’m happy to engage further through blog comments or social media if the image provokes that response.)

Here’s my Silent Sunday and Slice of Life Challenge entry for today:

lrg_dsc02259-1

When is it Worth it? SOLC 2019 Day 16

When is it worth it to fly halfway across the state for a Saturday meeting?  Up at 3:45am, driving before the sun has even begun to think about peeking over the horizon, at the airport waiting for a flight before my regular wake up time.

Arriving well before the meeting time–because airlines work on their schedules, not yours.  Searching for coffee on a sleepy college campus, a futile exercise on a Saturday morning.

img_9903

(Luckily a Philz was right off campus…a pour over experience to fuel the day to come.)

img_9909

When is it worth it to meet face-to-face?  Our hunch was right.  We needed to be human, to be real, to not only see and hear one another, but to feel each other too. We were in need of an opportunity for a shared experience AND spaces for those small, informal conversations that build relationships and enhance the more public and formal interactions.

A network is a network when we are connected.  Today’s long day that spanned hundreds of miles of travel for our group was definitely worth it.

img_9906

I’m filled with information, inspiration, and hope…for the network, for the work, for the future.  And I feel the warmth and comfort of relationships reinforced, bonds renewed, and the tingle that will lead to growth and new ideas.

And the cherry on the top?  I was able to change to the earlier flight home!

img_9915

Team Bird: SOLC 2019 Day 15

Today’s walk had me watching pelicans.  And as I observed their precision maneuvers, I started to think about how birds compare to sports and their athletes.  Pelicans are like synchronized swimmers, matching their moves and depending on the precise movements of each to create the desired formations as a group.  I sometimes see one peel off, slowing down or heading off in a different direction, but most of the time they are working the V, adjusting position and speed to ensure that the entire group gets where it is going with speed and efficiency.

lrg_dsc02232

Seagulls are more like that pick up game of basketball or soccer.  They have shared interests, but there is always plenty of squabbling and trash talk.  There are definitely leaders and followers and lots of jockeying for position (and food).  Seagulls seem to laugh a lot (at least in my mind), they love to play in the wind currents and hang out together on the beach.

lrg_dsc00735

Osprey are those elite individual athletes–the Mikaela Shiffrins or Serena Williams of the bird world.  They are strong and independent and ferociously focused on their goals.  Osprey are beauty in motion, each muscle toned, each movement made with grace that makes the nearly impossible seem easy.

img_9729

Egrets are steady, patient and observant.  They wait for the perfect opportunity, a lot like the utility players in football or basketball.  They have that grace of movement, but they don’t draw your attention until you look away from the shining stars of the game.  But when you do look…oh la la, they are poetry in motion!

lrg_dsc09977

Sandpipers are team players all the way.  They move together, eat together, and watch out for each other.  Like a finely honed World Cup soccer team, they seem to read each others’ minds, moving separately almost like one.

lrg_dsc03164

I’m always encouraging my students to be a team, reminding them that we need to support each other and create a space where we all can learn.  But after watching the birds, I’m wondering if I need to refine my language.  What kind of team do I want them to be?

What Does it Take to Thrive? SOLC 2019 Day 14

I walk below these cliffs all the time, noticing the canyons and wrinkles wind and water carve along their faces.  I see evidence of human interference, the places where lawns and ice plant hasten the natural erosion of sandstone along the beach.  I’m mindful of walking too close to the cliffs, remembering days when huge chunks let loose and fall to the shore.  I wonder about the multimillion dollar homes perched on the edge–the ones with the incredible views of the Pacific Ocean–that are in danger of dropping into the sea during the next big storm.  Are those homeowners insured for cliff erosion?

Today’s blue was intense, blues that need words like cerulean, azure, and cyan to begin to describe the richness of the color.  And the blue was punctuated with thousands of small orange butterflies…on a mission headed north.  It was almost as they were emerging from the sea, flying straight for the cliffs, then up, up , up.

lrg_dsc02210

Oddly, though, my eyes were drawn to a small bunch of yellow flowers high on the wind-blown cliff, a tiny patch of blossoms flourishing in hardscrabble sandstone.  I’m reminded that some of us make the best of where we are planted and take advantage of whatever resources are available…not dependent on soil amendments, special fertilizers, and protection from wind and other elements.  What does it take to thrive in sandy soil and harsh conditions?  Sometimes the blue skies, mild temperatures, and more plentiful than average rainfall is enough.

lrg_dsc02218