30 August 2007

hsks3 q & a

An owl has delivered a list of questions to be filled out for HSKS3. I have already been in contact with my spoiler partner and have sent her a small dissertation of information, but I will post these basic answers anyway.

1. What Hogwarts house have you been sorted into? Why, Ravenclaw, of course!

2. List your favorite double-point needle brands, including size and length. Or would you prefer circulars? I'm starting to get into Addi circulars for my socks. I currently only have 2 - #1's at 24". With dpn's, I prefer wood or bamboo to metal. I have 4", 5", and 6" dpn's, in #1, #1 1/2, #2, #3, and #4. I know, I know, Addi's are metal, but they're circulars so slip-age is reduced to almost nothing. Favorite brands of dpn's: Lantern Moon (oh, yes), Brittany, and Crystal Palace.

3. Would you like to try a new brand needle? If so, which brand? Size? Length? I have read about "Valley Farms" hard bamboo dpn's. I always enjoy Lantern Moon, of course. It would be nice to get #1 or #2 in a 9" or 8". **You do know that there are actually two sizes for #1 and #2...depending if you get the American version or the European version in millimeters? #1 can be 2.25mm and 2.50mm. #2 can be 2.75mm and 3.00mm. In some projects, this can make a difference. Metric is so much more precise.

4. If you are a RAVENCLAW, do you prefer the colors in the film or the book? Do you have a strong preference? I prefer the blue/grey combo simply because I am not fond of metalic yarns. However, a darker blue with a bronze/brown that is warm in tones would be nice.

5. Do you have any allergies? Thank goodness, no.

6. If you are swapping scarves - what is your desired length for the pattern? This will help your partner find the pattern that is just right for you and buy yarn accordingly. Nope. I only received my letter to come to Hogwarts this year. I'm a year one.

28 August 2007

ten split

I would rather focus on the positive than negative, but there is the dual concept of balancing opposites--the yin and yang of all things. Thus, I have split my "ten" for the week into two "fives."

Five peaks about my job:

  • Learning the code that unlocks the door to the brick wall that some children put up around them. That wall is their protection, their safety from something that has happened or is happening around them. But that wall also keeps them from learning, from being a child, from enjoying new ideas and skills. When I can show these children that my classroom is safe and solid, that learning can be exciting, there is a change in their perception of the world.
  • Sharing the joy of words, the world of books, the magic of numbers with children. I think that if teachers don't have a love of these things, if they are frightened by them, they shouldn't be teachers. A teacher's enthusiasm for learning is catching.
  • Discovering a new facet each year about the same curriculum. I keep notes about what worked/what didn't work on lesson plans. This helps me look at the curriculum differently to see how it can be tweaked or augmented to allow all the children to be able to access the material.
  • Learning new things by continuing to take classes and workshops. This is a requirement for teachers in California. Every five years, teachers have to renew their credential for teaching and show that they are on top of the latest teaching methods as well as keeping current on curriculum topics. I would be doing this anyway, since classes and learning is fun for me. It's a bonus I get "credit" for doing it.
  • Being part of a community. That community is the school, with the students and faculty, as well as the parents and extended family.
Five valleys about my job:
  • The separation and distrust among some teachers, both within grade levels, as well as the division between primary (kinder through third grades) and intermediate (fourth through sixth grades). At any school there is always a teacher or two who should wear a t-shirt that states: "Does Not Play/Work Well With Others".
  • Politicians and government (both state and federal) seem to relay the message that all of society's woes and ills are on the backs of teachers and their seeming inability to teach. This is one of several messy subjects surrounding my job. I just have to say, I am with my students for about six and a half hours a day (out of twenty four), five days a week, for about nine months a year. I don't go home with them, see that they eat a balanced dinner (and breakfast), see that they have a quiet, focused place to do homework, see that they have a loving home, see that they get to bed at a decent time to get the rest they need, see that their clothes are clean, see that there are positive role models in the home. That's not to say there are not any poorly equipped teachers out there...sure there are some who should not be in this profession, some who should never have chosen teaching, some who have been teaching for too long and have lost the "spark" inside. But, as a teacher, I see so little of these children in the coarse of a year's time, and am asked to perform as if in a bubble. Children and their families are dynamic, not static.
  • The constant assessment of students making it difficult to actually teach. Assessments are needed, and should be used by teachers to compare to what their objectives were for the lessons. Did the children learn what you needed/wanted them to learn? Was the "big idea" retained so it can be built onto? But too many formal assessments over the year put a strain not only on the teachers, who sometimes feel like their job depends on how well the children perform (see previous "valley"), but also on the students and families.
  • Having to teach something that most students are not physiologically and/or cognitively ready to learn. My degree is Child Development, where (I know--surprise) I learned about the growth and development of children's bodies and brains. Did you know that a humans brain continues to develop and mature until you are about 25? Humm...yet we are forcing children to learn some concepts of reading and mathematics earlier and earlier in their little lives. Wondering why they don't get it? Wonder why you had difficulty with (especially math) concepts growing up and then, somewhere along the way during college (for some, after college) the "light" turned on and it all became clear? The brain matures at the rate the body wants it to. Those synapses (connections between nerve cells) are being developed through learning, as well as over time. Can't rush it.
  • Having to buy many of the materials needed for the classroom out of my own "pocket." Parents are usually good about helping out their children at the first of the year, but remember there are nine months of school. Supplies don't replenish themselves. Pencils, pens, erasers, notebook paper, notebooks, Kleenex...these items are easier to find and stock. Art supplies for projects to help all the children access and get a deeper, richer understanding of a topic are more difficult to acquire, and more expensive. A classroom library, for the children to read above and beyond the language arts books/textbooks, is very expensive to stock and build. My classroom library is used for pleasure reading, research, literature groups, and more.

27 August 2007

bandy, exchange, swap

There are only a few days left to sign up for the Hogwarts Sock/Scarf Kit Swap 3. You have until the end of the month. Spots are left... Go quickly to the site and sign up! I know...it's another swap but it's not secret, so you and your partner get to know each other well. There's no questionnaire to fill out (not that I mind but sometimes, if you are involved in too many swaps, it can seem redundant to say the same thing in three spots). Requirements: make a bag, gather a sock kit, include some other items,--well, you go to the site and check it out for yourself.

14 August 2007

ten sites to share

As children, we thought of the world as so large, so unknown, so adventurous. Before the internet and cable television, our access to that world was limited by books in the library and dated encyclopedias.

The world is still large, unknown in the sense that there is always some new facet to learn, and adventurous, but now more accessible with technology. We have always been connected to each other with a fine web throughout the world. Each event is connected to all others and is felt on some level by each of us. Here are ten of my favorite sites to share with the rest of the world.

  1. Our hold on life is fragile. This site offers each individual a chance to share with others their inner-most secret(s) using a handmade postcard with art and few words. http://postsecret.blogspot.com/

  2. And just when you thought you had it all for your computer or iPod or iPhone...here are some fantastic covers. http://www.gelaskins.com/

  3. Looking for something unusual to buy that's handmade (but above the level of ceramics you did in art class for seventh grade)? Look through this web site. http://www.etsy.com/

  4. Canadian holiday location #1. Winter. Summer. Lodges. Quiet. Nature. Check it out! http://www.goldenalpineholidays.com/

  5. Canadian holiday location #2. Sweet...1938 era with cabins and nature. http://www.outpostlodge.com/

  6. Want to work/teach overseas? This site has many avenues to explore. http://www.escapeartist.com/jobs34/jobs34.htm

  7. Teachers: need some infusion for your language arts lesson plans? have a specific lesson in mathematics you would like a fresh perspective on? Check out this amazing site. http://www.marcopolo-education.org/teacher/teacher_index.aspx

  8. Discovery Channel and TLC have a super resource for teachers. http://school.discovery.com/lessonplans/

  9. Does your taste in decorating lean towards eco-friendly, modern, sleek designs? This is a site for you. http://www.dwr.com/

  10. Looking for a travel trailer that doesn't require a huge, gas-sucking vehicle to pull? Want style and a slick look? Direct from the factory. No "middle man". http://www.casitatraveltrailers.com/happycustomers.html

**Added later: Wonderful journals. http://www.littleotsu.com/catalog/

09 August 2007

from 5 to 500

Numbers seem to be a theme lately. Sally C. recently noted a meme I can "live" with. Name five things you'd like to have 500 of.
  • Five hundred square feet for a work area. The building design: a Quonset hut, stained concrete floors, sky lighting, covered porch (need to have inside and outside work areas). Those who know me won't laugh at the Quonset hut design. I absolutely love the design, the shape, the simplicity of them. Work use: knitting/fiber area (duh), small library, pottery/clay area, and drafting table. Yeah, ok, I'd like a bigger Quonset hut...I'll share the other 500 square feet with my DH so he can have a space for his welding and metal work.

  • Room in my library for another 500 books (that I don't already have but would then have room to acquire).

  • Five hundred square feet for a walk-in closet and dressing room. Cedar walls in the closet. Glass blocks high on the wall for natural light, maybe a sky light.

  • Five hundred free hours of bill-able time from a contractor for work on the house.

  • Five hundred hours of holiday time spent with my husband in a place of his choosing.

07 August 2007

ten things i will/would never do again

There are sometimes changes in life's decisions from the past one may want to change or adjust. The old saying of "hindsight is 20/20" is true. It's easy to see all the pathways a little clearer once past them. Not all the chosen pathways of the past are mistakes or regrets, some were just fast and furious rides without a seat belt. Written below are ten "rides" in my past.

  1. I will never join the military again. I truly enjoyed my work and responsibility. I enjoyed not having to think about what to wear each day. I have friendships that have continued twenty years later. However, the political ebb and flow of the country is inextricably connected with one's job in the military. For better or worse, whether one's political views swing left or right, the mood and focus of the military is very different now than it was for me at the time.
  2. I will never jump into a new job without doing extensive research on the "foundations" that underlie the ethos of the "community" I am thinking of entering.
  3. I would never stop at having just one child. Life happens and circumstances played out in the past for a reason that have lead me to where I am now. However, I miss the depth of a larger family unit. I love to watch the "firsts," to teach, to share, to love.
  4. I will never perm my hair again. Enough said.
  5. I will never again be able to fit into a size 3. Body changes over time. Gravity pulls and readjusts. Hormones change. *sigh*
  6. I will never again attempt to climb the Great Wall of China in the summer months of heat and humidity.
  7. I will never again (knowingly) swim in a swimming hole infested with leeches. This was a summer "ritual" for us growing up, spending hours in a fresh water spring and peeling leeches off each other afterwards. Now I shiver at the thought.
  8. I will never again have a vehicle without air conditioning and a radio (in that order). I can hum to myself but there's only so many clothes one can legally peel off trying to get cool in the breeze of opened windows while driving down the freeway.
  9. I will never again hunt with a gun. Now, that is not to say I don't or won't eat meat. I am an omnivore. But I can't hunt down an animal. I wasn't fond of it when I was a youth, and even less fond now. I will not be pulled into a debate on how my meat that I eat is raised or killed. I am an omnivore.
  10. I will never again go through an internship which involves two years of my life working full time, going to school full time, and attending several meetings a week.