Thursday, September 08, 2011
Since I last blogged, I have been to two parades, a family picnic, a church picnic, extra work, two doctor appointments, and an interview while filling in between the gaps with school stuff and homework. Whew!!
One of the top activities I have done was an interview of a multilingual person for one of my classes. It was an assignment that I needed to fit into my busy schedule. However, after missing an appointment that I made with someone, I ended up at my church with a member of the ELL for parents class that meets in my church. I met a remarkable lady and it was a really positive meeting. Her English is improving, but her story is amazing. She was originally from the Sudan. She lost her father when she was about 4, most likely due to the violence that started growing there. After years of war and loss, she migrated with her husband and two young children to Kenya. Her husband was a good man who was killed in the war--I think right in front of her. She kept on going and met another good man who married her. She now has 6 children. As the violence in Kenya grew and the lack of food was overwhelming, her husband went on to Uganda to fight in the war. She came to the United States where her youngest child turned 6 months old. She has been on her own here in our area since then and her youngest child is now 5 and entering kindergarten. She is a strong woman who has really experienced some awful things--but is a most positive person. Her work now is to parent and learn English. Her former work was farm work and she misses growing corn and working for "the company" to earn money and support her family. She wants to work again and I am sure that she will. I suspect that she will be hired to do work of a different type and it will involve caring for other people or sharing her story. I was energized and thoughtful after our discussion. I want to see her do the big things that I think she is intended to do.
I woke up Sunday morning to find my left hand numb. It is still numb--only on the back of my hand and up my thumb. It is not improving and it is a bit nerve-wracking. My knuckles are numb as well. Anyway, although it is not preventing me from working or functioning, it cannot be ignored. I called my doctor and he wanted to see me today. He asked me a lot of questions and gave me a complete exam. He asked me if I was worried about it being a stroke--and I quite honestly wasn't, but now I am wondering if he was concerned about that. That is a scary thought. He did a test with me keeping my eyes closed and he poked both of my hands with a sharp object. Apparently, I felt all of the pokes on the right and some of the ones on the inside of the left hand. He says that it appears to be some kind of neurological thing that is connected to my ring and pinky finger and goes at least to my elbow and possibly up to my neck. Oh my, a compressed nerve issue again. If it is only at my elbow, that could have been brought on by normal life activities. He told me that I am not to rest my arm on my elbow in my chair or at a table or counter at all. If it is up to my neck, that sounds like something I have dealt with at the other end of my spine and that is scary. I cannot get in to the neurologist until October 10 for the tests I need--they suggested that I call the neurologist and try to get on a cancellation list. Oh my--at least it isn't sore or debilitating. I hope it might go away as quickly as it came on...
I am knee deep in reading for my classes. I have a couple of big projects due in the next couple of weeks. I will be by Sparking as I can, but this work is important to me. I can only do as much as I can do. My regular pool reopened yesterday. The newly tiled floor looks wonderful and it was good to be back in my special workout place. I must admit that a month of outdoor exercise has been invigorating and if nothing else has left me with a nice tan that I am getting a lot of compliments over.
Time for me to head off--take care of yourselves!!
Friday, September 02, 2011
I have been a busy worker bee these days. I seem to have my motor on high gear and haven't been this active since long before arthritis. It is amazing how much I am doing and how quickly I can move around these days. I am so lucky that I found Dr. Miller and that I didn't talk myself out of it. She deserves an award of some kind--I'll take care of that soon!! I am thrilled to be so busy.
The primary teachers in my building are doing a unit on good health habits with the kids. I decided to work with them but to veer off a bit and to teach them vocabulary to describe their feelings--and I have told them that happy, sad, mad, and glad are kindergarten words so they must choose words that tells their feelings better. I never use the same books and materials with more than one group at a time, but I am doing so right now. I want to help them to build their vocabulary because it will help them to be able to respond to fiction, history, and biographies more clearly. We are using some great books: "Three Dogs at my Door" by Roach Van Allen, "Sylvester and the Magic Pebble" by William Steig, "Frightened" by the Wright Group, "C is for Curious" by Woodleigh Hubbard, "Feelings" by National Geographic, and "This is my School" by Mercer Mayer. These books have the best vocabulary, photos, stories, and interest levels for young children. I have several charts all over the school with three columns--a smily face, a so-so face, and a frowning face--that the kids are adding additional vocabulary words to. They are really learning a lot and I am so proud. In the meantime, I am focusing on early skills of book handling and directionality with some of them, high frequency words with some of them, using letter-sounds and meaning to help problem solve, and lots of writing.
I have spent the past two weeks teaching the letters M,m and the corresponding sound to the kindergarten children. Yesterday, I had them do water color resist paintings and the mystery figure was of course, the letters M and m. Today we finished collages of photos that had objects starting with the letter "m," and we used my "M" letter punch to decorate the outside edges of the pictures. We have made the letter M and m out of Wikki stix. We have written them on the magna doodle, on colored construction paper, and on white boards. I think they know that letter. On Friday, I am moving them to the letters R and r. My goal is to teach them a way to look at letters and to give them their own strategies for looking at print. The letter M was not random--all of our children's names begins with "M" and that drove the lessons after I introduced myself to them. The letter "R" is in honor of our new class pet. I got a bunny from a nice young lady on Freecycle who was in college and was worried that her bunny wasn't receiving enough attention. She is a spayed gray Rex who is pretty nervous right now. I expect that as she gets used to us, the kids will be able to take turns reading to her.
I have three projects due for my classes next month. I will start work on them over the weekend. I need to take the atomic learning class on using the school IPad. My current opinion isn't too strong about it. I prefer my laptop and I can't quite understand the IPad. However, when I learn more about using it, I hope that I will understand it better and like it more. We will be using it to do book studies at school, so I need to gain some proficiency with it. Taking that class will be a good start. I need to work on that over the weekend as well.
This weekend is a great one in our community. We have a parade in our little town on Saturday. There is the "Indian Summer Festival," full of rides and activities. Rock Island has a big kart racing event all weekend. Monday is the biggest parade ever, the Labor Day parade. Our church has a float that most of my family will be in. Marissa will be marching with the band in the parades too. It is the last day for Whitewater Junction to be open--my pool reopens on Tuesday, yay!! We will be doing at least one big family picnic and I am letting the kids plan it.
Busy can be really good.
life is good!!
Saturday, August 27, 2011
Today is our second child's birthday. He is 27 today. He is an awesome young man. He is teaching 5th grade in an inner city school in Davenport, Iowa. He runs every day, particularly enjoying running along the path next to the Mississippi River. He is the secretary of our church council and sings in the church choir. He is a member of the local ultimate frisbee club and goes to the fitness center a few times a week--when the pool is open, anyway. He is a good big brother and spends time with his siblings. He has a sweet new apartment in a refurbished turn of the century home. We are very proud of him.
He is having a combined "housewarming/ birthday" party this weekend with his former college roommates. We will celebrate his birthday on Sunday with his favorite dinner--homemade tacos, board games, and finally birthday cake. I had him come and get his birthday gifts today rather than wait because we got him a microwave and I thought he might like having it now since he has all of this company.
Anyway, this blog is about Mitchell and it is full of love, pride and admiration for his accomplishments and for being just who he is!! Happy 27th birthday!
Thursday, August 25, 2011
Here is a quick picture of the rest of my week... It is especially marred by the fact that my regular pool is still closed and will probably stay that way through Labor Day weekend and beyond. The brief time that I can go to the available pool (from 5 to 6) is really causing me a lot of grief. the tradeoff is that I am still getting pool time in and it has been absolutely gorgeous outside day after day.
Work has been hectic, busy in a positive way, and challenging. I am trying a new spin on my program that is allowing me to serve a lot more children. I am traveling into a couple of classrooms and I am supporting the classroom teachers with materials, planning time, ideas while seeing two groups of children in the time frame that I can only see one group normally. I have done work with their entire classes and am open to flexible work with both of them. I am enjoying a lot of children and some fun whole group instruction that is relevant to all kids. I am also enjoying the fact that I am physically up to scurrying up and down hallways in a way that I haven't been able to do for years and years. Hooray for that. We are also changing a staff activity that we have been doing to a format that I think is far better and that I have experience in managing at one of my former schools. I will be managing it again which gives me an entire new task to add to my work day, but I am so glad that we are improving on what was done, that I know it will be fine.
My fall grad classes start tomorrow. I have one class (Assessment of Bilingual and ESL Students) that meets on Thursdays from 5:30-8:10. There goes my pool time until the fitness center is open. The other class (Foundations of Language Minority) meets 4 weekends starting this weekend on Fridays from 4-8 and Saturday from 9-3. That takes the pool away from me on Friday evening as well--on Saturday, the water slide park is open until 6PM, so I'm good then. I'm glad that I have a bike, bands, stability balls, and weights at home to take up the slack for me.
Anyway, my week has whirred by. I have a doctor appointment after school on Thursday. I also had a lab work appointment with a different doctor today. Things just keep me hopping in a really figurative sort of way.
I'll talk to you soon!!
Monday, August 22, 2011
I am really overcome with thought on a topic and I wanted to share it here as well as on my teams. (This is quite different than my usual blog, but as a teacher, and a reading teacher this really hits home. I have always thought that children's books are a great avenue for teaching our children about life issues including the death of a loved one or a pet, divorce in the family, disabilities, illnesses, and other important life events. I am totally baffled by this or the need for it.)
I just finished reading an AOL news article on the "Huffington Post" entitled: "Disturbing New Children's Book 'Maggie Goes On A Diet' Encourages Young Girls To Diet." It showed the cover with a chubby "Pippi Longstocking" looking child holding a pink dress up to a mirror, imagining herself as a thinner child. The article went on to be very biased against this book. It pointed out that the target audience is girls around the junior high age although the cover clearly was for younger children. It told the story of a girl who worked to lose weight and became a soccer star because of it--and I think I remember that the girl did go on her diet using "exercise and hard work."
This article brought out pages of comments and lots of opinions from people. I read about 20 comments and stopped. I think the male author of this book has certainly pushed a few buttons and I thought I'd see if it might have pushed yours.
PS I was able to download my daughter's solo here. It took a while to do, but the directions at SP made it relatively easy. I hope you enjoy it too!!
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