Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Last Good Bye

Sunday was challenging, a friend had tried to reach me by phone.  When my phone got charged and turned on I read her message and returned the call.  A great friend of her's and her husband was gone.  We talked for quite a long time.

Sadly I headed for bed.  Dan usually reads the paper in bed.  As I came to bed he said, Pat died.   A second blow.  He had fought hard for a long time this man with gentle humor and a love of teasing.  Many of his accomplishments I knew some I wish I had known.  He was a complex man.  A man of vision.  A man who loved his family and his people.

Monday there was no school.  I stopped by the college to talk with John about my workshop Tuesday evening.  He had already done my printing.  I was antsy and subdued.  I still needed to get going.  The trip always takes me about an hour to make Pryor,

I had lots of time to think as first the weather was windy, then rainy, then snowing.  I arrived at the high school parked.  I was only a few minutes early I found a seat.  The color guard came in.

Most people have one major career.  Pat had three.  Tribal government - Tribal Chairman.  High School teacher of history and language. Retiring from that occupation he served as a pastor since 1978 to his death.

As we paid our last respects people filed past the open casket.  There on his chest was his bible. Placed on a corner of the open lid hung his war bonnet.  We had come to say goodbye to this good man.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

#31, What She Finds

A fissure opens
carefully constructed

something sinister

Desperate searches
deepest darkest
of the past

what she finds
could destroy everything
even her own life

From the back blurb of "Close My Eyes" by Sophie McKenzie. A friend passed this on to us. I haven't read it yet.

Monday, March 30, 2015

# 30, My Aha Moment - and the Word Varmint

Thursday is my traveling library day - I am at my second school.  I have a 5/6 combo, a 6, a 2nd and a 3rd.  My students at this school are mainly upper middle class.  It is always amazing to me to see the similarities and differences between the two schools I teach at.

My Thursday classes have been doing some individual writing.  I decided to share the Pensee poem, Chipmunks, that I had posted on my blog.  As a class we read and discussed it.  I then showed the entire post - pictures were a hit.  At no time did I identify myself as the author.

Several of the kids referred to the author as "he".  Internally I shook my head but went on with the lesson.  I then handed out copies of the poem and had them glue it into their notebooks.  I asked them to circle words that were interesting, important or  words they didn't know.

The word varmint was mentioned several times.  I shared this definition with them.

The kids did not like the second definition "a troublesome and mischievous person, especially a child."  I laughed inside and then asked, "Which definition was the author referring to in the poem?"

I then challenged them to deconstruct the poem.  We did line 1 as a whole group.  One of the boys thought he was being funny and stated the first line had two syllables.  The look on his face was priceless when I told him that was a great observation. Then I let them partner up to deconstruct the other four lines.  I gave them about 10 minutes to annotate the poem.  Then we debriefed.  

I then handed out a slip of paper with the template for the Pensee Poem.  I asked them to re-look at the poem in their notebook and another poem I projected, "Did the author meet the Pensee rules for each poem?"  They quickly evaluated the poems discovering that one of the poems had more syllables then the Pensee instructions.   (I realized that I had not done a great job counting the night before oh well.)  It turned out fine.  It created an interesting discussion.

Then it was there turn.  I told them to write about an animal (wild, pet, or mythical) using the Pensee instructions.  They got right down to business.  I didn't get one comment about what did I want them to do.

My "aha moment".  Deconstructing the poem first really helped them to understand the form as well as gain meaning. 

As they finished I looked at their work.  I then asked them to write two additional poems.  One about food, the second was a topic of their choice (school appropriate).   At the end of the time they asked if they could share their poems.   They were so excited about getting up in front of the class and sharing! 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

#29, Root Beer Memories

Have you ever drank homemade root beer?  Occasionally we would go to town and stop at the drive-inn and have a frosty mug of root beer or a root beer float.  I remember how creamy and smooth it was.  The ice cream, thick bubbles and laughter.  Eating my drink with a spoon.  Then finishing it up with the straw.  Root beer floats were awesome.  A very special treat.

We lived in the country when I was very little.  Mom and I would take daily walks along the paved road in front of our house.  We would pick up pop or beer bottles that had been tossed from passing cars.  If you turned them in at the store beer bottles were worth a penny and pop bottles were worth 2 cents. Later the pop bottles jumped to a nickel. These were put into the shed until there were enough to turn in.  That was our fair money.  Money to spend on rides and treats.

Usually once a year mom would make homemade root beer.  I remember her going to the store and getting a box of root beer extract.  We would sit at the table and she would carefully open the box.  Remove the folded recipe and instructions.  Opening the paper, she would read it over.  Then carefully lay out all her needed ingredients. There was a box of boughten bottle caps.  I would get the bottle capper stored in the back of the cupboard.   She would take some of the pop bottles, wash them real good and then put them in boiling water to sterilize them.

I can still see the big pot on the stove.   Bottles rolling, bubbles gurgling and steam hovering over the pot.  Then she would take the bottles out one by one.  Line them up  on the towels laying on the counter.  In another pot was the simmering syrup: extract, sugar, water, and yeast.  The brew even now I can see cooling just a bit.

The sterilized funnel went into the neck of each bottle.  Then she would ladle out the brew.   I watched as the dark liquid raced into the bottle crashing against itself as the line of dark brew raised to the top.  It was my job to notice when it was at the correct place on the neck.  Too much and it would pop early.  Too little and there would be no fizz.

Then it was my job to take one of the bottle caps and put it on the bottle.  Mom would set the bottle on the capper machine.  She would pull the handle down and it would crimp the cap.  After the bottles had been capped they would go in the wooden pop bottle crate.  From there they were moved to a dark closet.  I remember being told not to open the closet door because they needed the darkness to become root beer. She would also put a newspaper and towel on top of the bottles and under the crate.

As a small child I thought those bottles had to stay in there for months.  As I look online at old recipes it was actually probably only a week.

Occasionally you would hear a loud pop come from the closet.  That was a bottle that had not sealed properly and had exploded.  I'm guessing that was why the towel and newspapers were assembled.

I still feel the anticipation of finally being allowed to open the closet door and examine the remaining bottles.  The dark liquid beckoned.  I can still see that small person carrying a bottle to the fridge.  Until there were about six chilling.  Knowing that later mom would pop the caps and we would have the ultimate treat - cold root beer or maybe a homemade root beer float.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

How Do You Use Trading Cards?

Do you collect trading cards?  Do you create them?  If you do how do you use them?

Sports trading cards have been a main attraction.  I remember boys collecting cards when I was a kid.  I don't think I paid much attention though.   As an adult I'm still not collecting but am more aware.

The Library of Congress (think primary sources) have  a great collection of the old sports trading cards.  You can download copies of them at http://www.loc.gov/pictures/search/?q=baseball%20cards%201900-1920&sg=true.

For many years our district created trading cards of high school students - these students were chosen because of their accomplishments in academics, sports, music, etc.  The cards were given to the elementary schools to be used as rewards for goals chosen by the schools.  The kids on the trading cards came around and talked to the younger kids.  The kids who collected the most at the end of the time period got to have lunch with the trading card kids.

Recently I learned that many of the National Parks have created a set of trading cards (these can be downloaded) or collected in person.  The theme is Civil War to Civil Rights.   You can find out more at this site http://www.nps.gov/fopu/learn/kidsyouth/trading-cards.htm .    You can download them from flickr here  https://www.flickr.com/photos/tradingcardsnpsyahoocom/collections/72157629789961004/

Here are some unusual ways cards have been used:

Ways to create your own cards:
Bingo Card Maker - http://edubakery.com/Bingo-Cards/Make-a-Bingo-Cards-Game