Thursday, June 30, 2011

Pass Alongs

There is a tradition down here in My Beloved South that I love.  It's called Passing Along Plants.  (I'll be honest here and say that perhaps other regions of the country do it, but I never experienced it or even heard about it until I moved here.  And if Southern Living says it's a tradition, it's a tradition.)

Basically people here think nothing of giving you a plant to put in your yard.  For many people, gardening is a serious past time and hobby so passing on their love of plants is a natural.  I've had people give me irises, hostas, stonecrop, lamb's ear, and more.  In fact, a lot of the plants in my yard were pass alongs.

And when Mrs. Social Studies mentioned that her garden was a bit too much for her to upkeep and she was going to get rid of some plants, I volunteered to take care of them for her.  I arrived with buckets, shovel and gardening gloves and scored some hostas and a peony.  I have a very shady corner that grows very little and I'm hoping the hostas can survive there.  Plus I wanted a peony.  Always have, and I had a good location for one.

And surprisingly, for someone who's still trying to figure out what grows best where, I've actually passed on a few plants myself.  It's fun.  And it's a neat way of filling up your garden.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Fortunate One

Happiness is coming back from lunch in the middle of an in-service (one of those delightful 6 hour ones) and not only finding a parking place (yeah!) but one in the shade!  (double yeah!)

Monday, June 27, 2011

A Little Tweaking Here and There

Mrs. Eagle, Mrs. Angora and I were at another in-service today.  

Mr. Bluebird, when I got home today, asked me if this was finally the last in-service of the summer (alas, no.)  "It seems like that's all your doing," he commented, and in a way, he's right.  It does seem like it's all I've been doing, and if he thinks it's bad this year, wait until next year when STEM rolls down to 7th grade and I have to spend even more time taking in-services than I do this summer.

When I actually sit down and look at the time that Mrs. Eagle, Mrs. Angora, and I have put into our curriculum for the upcoming year - together and on our own - it's quite a bit of time.  And I suppose the thing that surprises most people is that we don't just recycle our lessons or procedures from year to year.  Granted, we do look at our old lessons to see what we did (and how long it took, and the notes we have on them about changes we'd make in the future), but we certainly change things a bit.

And this year it looks like we're changing quite a bit.

We're implementing science notebooks in all our classes this year.  (We tried them in two classes last year for the last semester to work out the kinks.)  

We're going to be revamping all our tests.  We used to give vocabulary tests along with a unit test, but we're eliminating the vocabulary tests.  For one thing, the vocabulary tests were basic recall, a pretty low level of learning.  Now we're going to redo our tests (and that includes looking at and possibly rewriting all the questions as we took a lot of assessment writing in-services this summer) and include several constructed response questions on the tests as well.  The new tests should have better multiple choice questions on them as well as the constructed response where the kids can explain their learning.

We're going to do more center activities, and more inquiry activities.  In short, more labs.  Going to the NSTA conference this last year was a gold mine in terms of finding new things to utilize.  This may pose some challenges in the classroom management and discipline areas, but we've got a plan in place for that.  (Want to goof off during a lab?  Grab your workbook, go next door, and do an alternate assignment.  They'll hate that.)

That's our start.  So, despite the fact that most everyone seems to think that teachers are sitting around drinking margaritas on their back deck or at a far-off beach all summer long, I'm sitting here at my computer working up rubrics, and assignments, and all sorts of things so we can hit the ground running on August 3rd, when school starts up again.

Come to think of it, I could use a margarita after all this work.

Saturday, June 25, 2011


Why is it the things I want to grow the least, grows the best in my garden?  If weeds were a cash-crop, I'd be wealthy.

Friday, June 24, 2011


You know it's going to be a good day when you drop the bagel on the floor and it lands with the peanut butter side up.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Well, I've Caught Up on My Sleep - Finally

My blog tends to be quite boring when I'm not in school because, well, I'm not in school.  School gives me a lot to observe, especially the everyday rituals of that creature known as a seventh grader, and being at home doesn't give me that opportunity.

Not that I haven't been busy.

Let's far, three in services and another one on Friday and another one on Monday.  Got together with Mrs. Eagle, and Mrs. Angora (who will be teaching both 7th and 8th science next year) to sort of map out our nine weeks of lessons along with our new scope and sequence.  Fortunately the powers that be saw the wisdom of moving a few things around so we'll be doing biology at the end of the year and all the physical science stuff at the beginning.  It flows better that way.  And, of course, we looked at what did and didn't work last year and are making a few changes to how we do things.  I'm actually kind of looking forward to some of it.

I've been doing lots of yard work (we grow weeds like nobody's business down here) and have enjoyed my first beets from the garden.  We've had a lot of heat, and a lot of rain, so things are doing pretty well.  Only problem is it's too wet to mow so I may have to borrow some of Mrs. Angora's goats to eat my lawn.

And I've been watching a lot of sports (and knitting) on television - the end of hockey season with the Stanley Cup (thank goodness Boston won, I can't stand the Canucks), and of course the College World Series which is another favorite.  And I've been walking at least an hour a day.  Usually pretty early in the morning before it's so blasted hot, but not always.   But I'm still doing it, even today, when I have a cold.

Yeah, believe it or not.  I'm home for the summer, away from infected kids, and I get a cold.  Lucky me.

But so far, I'm doing some research, I'm getting stuff done, and catching up on my sleep.  So much so that while I was at a Civil War Round Table meeting this past week, I looked over at Mrs. Eagle and said "this is the first time in months that I haven't felt exhausted after 6:00 pm at night."

I wish there was a way to store up sleep.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Another Use for a Dissecting Tray

So although our last day of school (for teachers) was on Tuesday, the day after Memorial Day, Mrs. Eagle, Mrs. Angora and I, along with our assistant principal and former science Teacher, Mrs. Sparrow, showed up on the first of June to go through and organize (and clean out) our science lab.  This was all brought about because of the huge focus we're seeing in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).  It was also brought about because that lab, in the five years we've had it, is a mess.  People don't clean up after themselves, people have dumped things they don't want in there, and there is a lot of stuff in there that we've had for years and years that no longer applies to any curriculum, that we really don't need.  (Like a box, a big box, of science fair certificates - and we haven't had a science fair in six years.  That went to an elementary school.)

So we went through every drawer and every cabinet, labeled and cleaned what we needed to keep, and had piles of stuff to go to the high school, and the elementary schools, and then a huge pile of just plain trash.

And they had some aluminum dissecting trays.  Which got me to thinking...

I'm having trouble with a crow.

For some reason this year Mr. Bluebird decided he wanted me to plant some sweet corn in the garden.  I'm not sure where this came from.  It's been years since I've planted sweet corn mainly because it takes up a lot of space and I can get it a lot cheaper and easier from the local farmer's market or the Amish farmer I buy from every Saturday.  But, whatever, I said okay, we'll plant sweet corn.

So after the huge rains we had - again - in May, I went and planted a square of sweetcorn.  And about a week later, while looking out the bathroom window at my garden early one morning, I saw a big black crow poking holes in the ground where the sweet corn was planted.

Upon further inspectionI discovered that the darn bird had dug up each and every seed I'd planted.  He'd left tell-tale little holes he'd dug.  This was not good.

So, since I had more seeds, I'd planted another batch of corn.

And a few days later, he'd dug them up again.

This was getting ridiculous.  In the meantime, Daddy Bird and I were at Lowe's (we always seem to spend a lot of time there) and saw that they had sweet corn seedlings in among all the tomato and pepper seedlings.  His idea was to plant the seedlings and then pull a joke on Hubby by making him think that the crow didn't really get the corn and it had come up anyway.  I'm all for a little joke here and there so we bought the seedlings and I planted them and we were all ready for our joke which we were going to do while hubby was cooking steaks on the grill.

Except I went out to the yard about an hour before we planned to start cooking and that stupid crow had already gotten into my garden and pulled each and every seedling up and thrown it on the ground!  ARGH!  I quickly replanted the seedlings, we had the joke on hubby (he figured it out because neither one of us can keep a straight face) and in the meantime I found some gardening fabric I had in the shed to put over the corn seedlings to hopefully keep the evil crow away.

But then I saw those aluminum dissecting trays...which, cut up into eighths, and strung on a string across the garden box, might just keep that stupid bird away from my corn.

So far, so good.