I don’t cook, but I love watching cooking shows. Competition shows are my favorite. I love figuring out who will be eliminated, where the flaws are in their technique, identifying just what crisis will put the contestant in some kind of dire possibility of failure. But somehow, they do not motivate me to head to the kitchen. (Luckily, my husband, who does cook, also enjoys these shows and does get motivation from watching!)
Why is it that now that it is officially spring, the forecast for tomorrow is summer? The irony is that summer in southern CA generally arrives late…like July. But we are expecting temps near 80 tomorrow and Wednesday. Summer-like weather does NOT bring out the best in students.
Shoes make the outfit. At least that used to be my thinking. Lately I seem to base my clothes choices on which will allow me to get away with wearing tennis shoes. And somehow, I also seem to have more tennis shoes to wear! Granted, teaching means being on your feet all day long, so comfy shoes have always been a must, but looking fashionable (or even professional) has taken a back seat these days.
Just some random thoughts on a Monday afternoon in March (when I should be finishing up report cards)! What are you thinking about today?
Some days you just need a small book. One that takes only a few minutes to read, but that stays with you once you’ve read it. It might even make you want to pick it up and read it again.
A friend of mine gifted me this book a while ago. I read it then, then put it aside.
Today it found me again. I picked it up and read it again…and then again.
There aren’t many words, but the words there feel significant and the spare inky drawings seem just right.
Here’s a favorite page of mine:
“Do you have a favorite saying?” asked the boy.
“Yes” said the mole.
“What is it?”
“If at first you don’t succeed, have some cake.”
“I see, does it work?”
Some days you just need to have some cake. And maybe read this book, The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy, who says in the introduction, “This book is for everyone, whether you are 80 or 8–I feel like I’m both sometimes.”
If you need a lift…try this book, there are many more gems inside. Maybe I’ll read it to my class this week.
March has been a busy month with my Saturdays filled with writing project work. Today was the day for our much awaited Leadership Advanced Institute–a day planned to renew, reconnect, reenergize, and reignite the joy that we have experienced with our colleagues in the past. But three Saturdays in a row is hard.
Luckily we had planned the day we would want. A day filled with social opportunities, engagement with new ideas and thinking, opportunities to inspire writing, and feedback on those writing ideas from our colleagues.
This was our first large-scale in person meeting since the COVID shutdown in 2020. 32 educators gathered on a Saturday because we knew that interactions with each other would be salve to our battered teacher identities.
We created identity heart maps to allow us to connect or reconnect with each other. For some of us, it was the first time we had met off Zoom. A block party got us up and talking, catching up or meeting new friends. Later, we took inspiration from Brene Brown and Daniel Pink as we created maps of our journey from here to there–or there to here.
Our maps became a starting point for writing, sharing our stories–many filled with frustration, regret, and exhaustion. We listened to each other for those moments where the writer might go deeper or the writing might help to explore a complex topic. We talked and listened, knowing the writing would help us through whatever journey we chose to take.
After a lunch delivered–what a treat to sit and eat and talk with friends new and old–we wrote. Time to write is gold! This was not about homework. We will come back and write some more for part two of this Advanced Institute. But before we left, after recording our next steps in writing, we picked a single sentence to read aloud to the group. The symphony of voices and words touched our hearts, knowing we want to hear more, read more, write more. A day of work–but so much more than a job.
All week, spring has been on my mind. For those of you who live where weather is variable, that might seem unsurprising. But given the consistency of weather where I live–there are people who say we only have two seasons: spring and summer–thinking about seasonal change might seem strange.
Walking the beach this afternoon I was noticing how the slant of the sun feels different–and of course, we did just “spring forward” into daylight saving time. It’s becoming more intense, is it higher in the sky these days? And then of course, there are the spring breakers: lots of young, supple bodies laid out like fish fry, soaking up the sun.
When I got home I took a look at my email and was drawn into a New York Times California Today newsletter entitled “Love Letters to the Golden State.” As I skimmed through I noticed one about my place–and I stopped to read. Yes…this particular love letter captures some of what I love about this place where I live.
Here’s what I read:
“I LOVE the seasons in San Diego. Yes, the seasons. Being a native, I grew up hearing the transplant residents commiserating, ‘There are no seasons here!’ as they stood in their driveways, happily donning sunglasses and short sleeves.
They’re missing it, I’d think. The changing shadows, the subtle and beautiful shifts in the Chinese oak trees, the brilliant and changing hues in the morning and evening skies, the homey smell of wet neighborhood streets, the ebb and flow of the scents of desert herbs … and so much more.” — Sylvia Padilla Sullivan, San Diego
Those seasonal changes fill the air–if you stop to pay attention to subtle changes. It’s about color and air…and the ocean too. And of course, the weather gets warmer, our chances for rain decrease…and it won’t be long before the foggy part of spring comes to put a nice damp gray blanket on our days.
But for now, I am enjoying the emerging spring with longer brighter days. I’m watching for the cactus flowers to appear, for the succulents to bloom, and the beach parking lots to fill. What are your markers of seasonal change? Are they obvious or do you have to pay close attention using all your sense?
Back on Monday I wrote about my students and their foray into the garden to explore some photography techniques. We’ve been continuing our project, first by carefully examining each photo, noticing the technique used to take the photo, and then selecting their 3 favorites…one from each technique. Those three photos were then edited. I showed them two main function of the native iPad editing tool: how to crop and/or turn a photo and then had them use a filter to change their photo from color to black and white. (After all, we are studying Ansel Adams!)
Today, the choices got more difficult. They had to select their one favorite of the three edited photos to use as their inspiration for writing some captions–in the form of equations. One of my fellow slicers did a lovely photo essay (I wish I did a better job of keeping track of the blogs I read and leave comments for) where she used Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s This Plus That: Life’s Little Equations as her caption format. I knew this would be an excellent format for my young writers–and after reading and discussing what we noticed in Amy’s book, these 6 and 7 year olds set off to write their own–inspired by their black and white photos.
Here’s a few to share with you (along with the photo inspiration)…please keep in mind that these are first draft efforts!
I absolutely love B’s buckets–there is something perfect about the light and dark of them. Here’s one of his captions (he was quite pleased by this effort!):
Our warm weather obviously had an impact on A:
Only a few students risked subtraction, I love R’s sentiment!:
You’ve got to love the first grade angles! Here’s H’s view:
This unusual view of sweet peas inspired C’s caption:
In addition to the photography lesson, the actual photos, and the captions, students used technology to edit and also learned to upload photos to Google Drive, share them with me, and absolutely loved getting to choose from three different black and white filters.
And here is my own–I had to join in the fun!
Maybe you’ll want to head outside and give this a try! Be sure to share if you do!
Last week we learned about Jane Goodall and her passion for animals. Today we began learning about Ansel Adams and his passion for nature and photography. I want students to see that there are lots of ways to take action to make the world better–and following your passions is a great place to begin.
It’s surprising to me that I haven’t had students use their iPads to take photos before this point in the year. I’ve used iPads sparingly this year–I think partly in response of the intensive use of devices during COVID times. So today was the day I decided that we simply HAD to do some photography.
I started by showing my students a slide show with three photography techniques: bug’s eye view (a view from a low perspective), bird’s eye view (a view from above), and using the rule of thirds (framing the subject using grid lines to help with positioning). We did a quick practice in the classroom where I could give some immediate feedback by walking around the room.
After lunch, we came back to the classroom where I gave a few pointers about taking our iPads outside, and then we headed out into the garden to take photos using the three techniques. I limited them to 10 photos, but encouraged them to explore and experiment, deleting any that weren’t good.
There’s nothing like watching first graders take photos. They have no hesitation about laying on the ground, crawling under a plant, or taking an angle that I would never have imagined. As we walked back from the garden, we made a few stops to snap a couple of extra photos of some California golden poppies growing along the fenceline, some other wildflowers, and a lizard doing some sunbathing. And of course, I couldn’t resist a bird’s eye view shot of the class on our way back.
Back in the classroom we took a few minutes to look through the photos, identifying which technique (or combination of techniques) we had used. Tomorrow we will explore some editing…and select our best three for some caption writing.