Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Do You Have Any Questions?

I get so frustrated when I get a new piece of technology and someone smugly asks, "Do you have any questions?"  No - is my basic response.  No because I don't know enough yet to know what questions I have.  I look at my tormentor and think, "Of course I have questions!"  "Like where do you turn it on?"

I went from a vintage 2007 (one of the sales clerks said "oldddd and wrinkled her nose" - Motorola flip phone to a Droid Charge.  Talk about a learning curve.  The sales lady turned me over to a couple of her younger colleagues when I had questions.

The girl was fairly patient and then I left with my new gizmo.  Only to walk a couple of feet and realize I hadn't asked, how to get to the contact section.  I walked back to the kiosk at Sam's Club and the young man happily said I will show you.  Which he did, (fast).  I am now old enough and self confident enough now to tell sales clerks - "Stop I need to do that again but slower, and I need to be the one doing it."

The young man looked at me and reluctantly said, "ok here" when I told him I wanted to do it, while he told me what to do.  He became very anxious - he wanted to do it for me.  I knew he was frustrated that I didn't get it.  I could see from his expression it was painful for him to watch me struggle with such a basic step.  I thought of my students and how often I have asked, "Do you have any questions?"

This new phone is a marvel.  I figured out how to answer it.  I accidentally discovered you can put facebook information into your phone contacts.   Did you know that if you hit the right button and sync it to your phone, facebook information it will download all your friends information onto your phone?  I didn't even know facebook knew their phone numbers.

I intensely dislike being intimidated by a machine.  I downloaded the manual to my husband's new laptop.  I bought it for him for Christmas.  His technological comfort zone is running the computer remotely.  "Honey, would you look up ______?"

When he opened the package he was both pleased and frustrated.  He wanted one, but would probably have been happier with a new rifle.  I wanted him to learn how to operate a computer and figured if he had one of his own he might try to figure it out.  I also high-handedly told him I would find out when classes started at the Community Center.

His measured response, "I don't know why I have to take a class, you could teach me."

"Honey, I tried that.  You tune me out.  I think if someone else showed you, you might pay attention."

I really want him to have the skills to enjoy using a computer.  He's not so excited.  Kinda like my students when I tell them we are going to work on _______________.   As an educator I realize my students need scaffolding.  Sometimes I don't always get how much.  

My helpful teaching style is kind of like my phone - I start to type and it tries to anticipate what I want to say. Only to make me frustrated because it adds letters I'm not interested in.  I asked those young sales people how to turn off that function.  They looked at me and said, "Just type.  It will figure it out."

Hmm - I'm not so convinced.

I discovered that Verizon is offering a class on how to operate Droids during my winter break.  I signed up.  When they ask, "Are there any questions?"  I'm going to say yes - "How do you shut off that function where it tries to type words for you?  It really is annoying.  I would rather do it myself."

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

"Librarians Rule the World"

Saturday I stood in line at Costco for 1 hour and 22 minutes to have Christopher Paolini sign his fourth book "Inheritance".  One copy was for me and the other was for the Washington Elem library.  When I told Christopher I was a librarian.  This delightful young man's eyes twinkled as he said, "Tell your students, that I said, 'Librarians Rule the World'."  He made my whole week with that remark.

My one regret was that 13 years ago I did not buy his book Eragon when I had the chance.  Christopher had self published this first book at the age of 17.  Barb and Ron Scherry owners of the Great Northern Bookstore was carrying his autographed book at our Book Fair and I was broke.  So sad.  That $25 dollar book a couple of years ago sold for over $500 on ebay.

In line I was sandwiched between 2 young men.  The young man behind me had brought in several books to be signed.  They were loved to death, several of the paperback books were tattered and torn.  Proof of the eight times he had read each book.  The other young man held a stack of his books, reverently stowed in their case.  Two young men who are ardent readers.  This was evidence that touched my heart as a librarian.

Did I mention that the book signing was in Bozeman Montana approximately 140 miles from my home in Billings.  Through miscommunication we got a late start and didn't leave town until a little after 11:00.  The book signing started at 1:00.  I was at the back of the line at 1:22.
We didn't even stop to take the picture of the bald eagle standing in the middle of a frozen pond.  He looked kind of perplexed as he stood on that ice.

Life is filled with choices.  Some we take, some we don't.  Here's to all the people who make the choices and follow their dreams. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Are You On Santa's Naughty List?

Did you ever write a letter to Santa?  I remember my Mom helping me write one every December when I was little.  How I would watch the mailbox anxiously waiting for a return response from Santa.  I recall the magic when finally I would open the mailbox and inside was a fancy letter.  There were always colored drawings on the outside.  That's how I would know it was from Santa.

I would hold the envelope in my shaking hands.  I remember asking for confirmation, "Is this my letter?"

Mom would smile, and show me my name on the outside of the envelope.  Then we would walk back to the house.  I guess I usually ran.  There I would open it and Mom would read it to me.   I remember the wonder.  How did he know all that about me?  As I look back I wish Mom would have saved one of those letters in my Baby Book.

I was an adult the first time I saw Santa's Sleigh flying through the air one Christmas Eve.  It brought back all that wonder I felt as a youngster.  Here in Billings Santa's sleigh can often be seen in the sky on Christmas eve.  The last few years it has become a tradition for my husband and I to go driving and watch for Santa's Sleigh.  Each time I see it I think of  Chris Van Allsburg's book the Polar Express.

This last week two of the teacher's at my school shared videos that Santa made for their children.  They were amazing.  New technology, but that Christmas anticipation was still there.

I decided to send an email to Santa at the Portable North Pole concerning my husband.  You see sometimes he's been naughty and gets coal in his stocking.  You guessed it Dan received a video from Santa.  If you would like to see it here is the link.  (He's ok with me sharing it.)   http://www.portablenorthpole.tv/watch/gCht1ABoWZEOAMUhKdc6qHw?utm_campaign=share-video&utm_medium=share&utm_source=copy-paste  

Santa is truly a technology leader, that old elf even has a facebook page.  Here's to Christmas magic.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Kids Make Me Laugh

The other day I was visiting with a friend at Costco (Box Store).  He was accompanied by his wife, young daughter (preschooler) and younger son.  While we were talking his wife found a potential present for their daughter.  She surreptitiously passed it to her husband.    She took the kids and continued shopping.

When they returned the package was visible in Dad's hands.  Daughter eyed it, and asked him what he is doing with it.  (He was so busted.)  Thinking quickly he explained that I was buying it for my granddaughter and he was just looking at it.  He carefully placed it in my cart.

Again his wife and children went to browse.  He reclaimed the package. Carefully he hid the package from his daughter's prying eyes.  His family returned.  I noticed his daughter eyeing my empty cart.  First looking at me, then her Dad.  I knew he was so-oo busted.  I hoped the package wasn't on the list of presents Santa was bringing.  As I walked away, I chuckled to myself.  He was so busted, she had noticed everything.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Have You Heard of Square Butte Montana?

What makes the community of Square Butte memorable?  There were actually several things.  We were returning home from Fort Benton and we came upon Square Butte.  We already knew that the post office had closed there in 1962.  So why did we turn off there?  We just were curious and decided to take the tour.  From quite a distance we watched two buttes as we came closer to the community of "Square Butte" named for one of the nearby formations.  Square Butte is visible for about 75 miles.  It is also the home to a herd of Mountain Goats (50-80 head)

In July 1805 Lewis described "Fort Mountain" after observing it through his telescope thirteen miles away.  The laccolith or butte was formed from magma pushing through previous layers of lava.  The process makes a blister on the earth.  According to Joseph Mussulman there are more than 2,000 geologic features in the US known as buttes.

Square Butte was one of Charlie Russell's  favorite laccoliths.  If you look through some of his paintings you will see Square Butte in the background. Look at his painting titled " Charles M. Russell and his Friends" 1922.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Are You Old School?

Old School - Square Butte, MT
Today's students learn 24/7.  This phrase resonated as I continued to read.  I thought wouldn't it be exciting to take the library classroom and move it more to the "old" poet/artist coffee-shop atmosphere of years passed.  The years that were noted for innovation and creativeness.  How can I re-create that creativeness in my classroom?

Stuart Woods opens many of his Stone Barrington novels with "Elaine's late".  In the author's notes he thanks her for extending fellowship to him and other writers in her restaurant and bar.  I want to create that atmosphere in my class.  I want my students to feel free enough to explore new learning and creativity.

I know from reading other educators' blogs, many of you have achieved this level of creativity in your classroom.  My question is how do the rest of us achieve this on a regular basis?  I know there have been lessons and days when I have achieved this; but it has been an unconscious achievement.  How do we replicate the successes in a conscious way?

This picture was taken in Square Butte, Montana.  There was a sign that said "Rooms" and a second sign said "make payment to Square Butte Water Committee".  That old school epitomizes ongoing change to me.  In my mind - learning happens 24/7 - takes on a cadence. I am reminded that education is a thread that runs through my life.  

I kinda like being "old school" with new dreams. 

I used http://warholize.me on the original photo.