Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Home Sweet Home

Well, I thought I would get some pictures of the home upload to this before I go and switch to a new one.
This is our front porch which looks out in to the bay. It is quite nice most times. Although the other day it was blowing quite a gale. I thought we were going to lose all of our plants. I should take another picture because a lot of things are in bloom now and it looks very pretty.

This is from the bottom of our driveway and looking up to our house. Its not bad at all just a bit too small for all of our junk.

These would be the girls. They were cuddling in the bed that once held both of them with extra space. Now though, they squeeze in... we should get them both one so there wouldn't be so many argument over who gets to sleep in it.

This picture is last because I forgot to flip it before I upload it. Just turn your head sideways to get a good look. :) Anyway it was a nice day so Cindy put out the laundry to dry. Well hopefully I will be a little quicker on getting the pics and everything on the next place. I hope you enjoy.

End of the Season

Well we practiced a lot and learned many things. The unfortunate part was we didn't get to play any games. Although I do consider the season to be quite a success. Many of the guys had never played and had only played a little catch with their father's or another sibling. So we started from scratch. Sometimes that is easier, I find that there were no expectations or prior items learned incorrectly. The following pictures were taken from a practice one day...

This is our one player who had actually played baseball. He was a great help to the guys when we were learning our basic skills. It was fun for the other guys to see things happen a "full speed" such as grounding a hard line drive. He really helped some of the guys out with their fielding.
We learned the concept of a cut off man. If only our center fielder had learned to throw better. He still would prefer to throw underhand like a pitch except the ball would rainbow way up and then not necessary go that far from him. I wish I would have had more time to work on a good throw with him. He lacked any if all upper body strength. But most of the time the guys were pretty good about running almost to him to get the cut off. It looked silly but managed to save some of his pride.

This is a great kid. He had never pitched before but was rather interested. He asked for some help after practice one day and I showed him the basics. He practiced at home for hours I am assuming since he improved so much. He had great speed and control. In the end more than the guy who was our original pitcher.

Trying to turn a double... they had never heard the term before... It shocked me since it was part of my vinacular from an early age. Once they caught on to the concept they were always wanting to turn a double and when we worked on infield drills they wanted to practice this idea the most. It was fun for them. They like the challenge of getting two out at once. In our scrimmage game they managed to do it. You would have thought that someone had won the lottery. They kept saying did you see that coach? Hmmm.... I wonder how I could have missed it. Where did they think I would be looking. Ahh boys! But they were happy that they had actually done something that we practiced so often in practice.

Overall I think we had a great time and everyone learned a little something.

Saturday, April 26, 2008


Well it seems as though I might be coaching a softball team here. I am very excited. My brother, sister and I grew up immersed in sports and we all did okay. The three of played softball/baseball and are still quite involved in it as well as a variety of other sports. Coaching seems to be a Godsend at the time though as I am sick and tired of working from home and to have the excuse to get out and "play" is excellent. It also gets me involved with the school close to my house which I wouldn't mind teaching at some day in the future.

The team is said to be the bad news bears and doesn't have much experience or hope. But I don't mind we grew up in a small school and know the pressures of play with what you have. The most importat thing to me though is playing. I truely believe that it effected our lives even now as a adults. Sports teach you things such as teamwork, never giving up when you are down, and how to loose. These are traits that I want to instill in children because it will make a difference in how you view life and react to what life gives you. Thanks to my parents who always let us participate in what we were interested in. I thought I had a picture of all three of us in our uniforms getting ready for opening day. I guess I didn't, so my sister will have to be the star of the show. She was always more apt to pose for the camera anyway.

PS For those of you who might have read my sister's post about her daugher and playing softball. It is hard to miss the similarities isn't it.... I guess the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. :)

Thematic Units

Well I have recently applied for a job teaching how to create thematic units for preservice teachers. So I have been think extensively about the units that I have already written as well as units that I may write in the future. I current gig wraps up in July and I will be a free agent. I hope not for long since I would like to teach others about writing thematic units.

Thematic units for those of you who don't know are lessons that are based around a theme. These can be all encompassing meaning that in one theme all subject areas are taught using the theme as the jumping point and connective tissue. Or they can be as simple as a reading unit all based around one theme for example friendship or journeys. Mostly I like to integrate science or social studies into reading.

So I've been looking through the old units that I have done trying to figure out if, God willing, I get an interview. What to bring to this interview to show the depth of the units I have written as well as the variety in grade levels. But some units I know for sure that I will include are a dinosaur unit that included all subject areas and was written as a summer school curriculum. We had students that participated from finishing grade one to finishing grade six. In the unit, students read a book or books on their reading level, they completed science projects and writing topics together as well as created art. It was the first unit I ever wrote that encompassed such a wide range of students and was highly successful.

I also have a unit on Ancient Greece that I had students make a 3-D museum using PowerPoint. The projects that the students produced as well as the information they learned was amazing. Yet it is hard to show these projects in an interview. So unfortunately it will probably get the chop.

Some of my favorite thematic units I have ever done were not ones that I tediously planned but ones that developed out of discussion in class. For example, a health unit that I used to do while teaching on the reservation blossomed after talking with a student about the sheep's heart after they had butchered for some family event. It developed into a great unit in which we studied both Navajo culture, health systems and novel unit. Another great unit that I developed under similar circumstances was a unit about dying wool and the chemical reactions that occur. In this unit, the students studied geography, geology, plants as well as a variety of chemistry concepts and Navajo culture. The students read children's books and then created reader's theater plays for younger students to watch.

I have it seems units upon units that are in the brainstorming stage or things that turned into a unit but have never been put together in some sort of logical format for someone else to view or even use. So in all of my spare time.... I will write more of these units to share with others or for myself when I return to the classroom whether it be as an elementary/middle school teacher or a teacher of preservice teachers. If you have ideas or thought for units that haven't been made or there just doesn't seem as if you can find much information on it. Send me a note maybe that will be my next project.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Planning a new unit

Well I have completely given up telling this teaching story from the beginning in New Mexico to where I am now in Canada. I guess I will just tell it as I think of things or I am inspired in such a way. I was recently going through my pictures that I have on a website of my last two years. One of which I taught in Korea and the other I am still working for the school in Korea writing them a new curriculum but living in Canada. Although between teaching in Korea and coming home to Canada. I took a cruise. It was my first ever and now of course I am hooked.

This was our first view of the pyramids.

But back to the topic which is planning a new unit. After a whirlwind tour of Egypt, I am planning on writing a new unit on Egypt. I have taught ancient Egypt many times and was impressed and often times overwhelmed by what I saw. I included pictures of the sphinx and pyramids. Even now months later, I think did I really see that? I did and it is with this that I am planning my new unit. I will focus on the ancient Egypt studies as that is always covered in middle school ancient civ. but I am going to try and include a portion on current Egypt now. I was so shocked to find that in certain months you can't see the pyramids because the pollution is so bad. I was also shocked to see us passing men and sometimes women in a cart behind a donkey on the highway. I was prepared for the vendors selling at all of the major sites. But I think what I was ashamed of was not really realizing the state in which most Egyptians are currently living. I and I believe many others are romanticized by the ancient past that we forget that, yes, Egypt is a part Africa and that Africa is a third world continent. I want to write lessons that teach children about the wonderful history of Egypt but I am now going to try and incorporate some lessons about what Egypt is now and where they are going.

The far picture is of the step pyramid and the one below is taken from a ridge not far from the pyramids of Giza. You can see the pollution of Cairo in the background.

This last picture is one I love... I think of my dad (he loves dried dates) every time I look at it. They were just starting to harvest the dates. This picture is taken from the bus as we were waiting to get in to explore the step pyramid.
Sorry this was very disorganized and not much on topic. I will attempt to clarify myself a bit more another time.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Things we aren't prepared for

I was planning on doing this blog in a nice logical order talking about my first years and then moving on to my present aspirations. But well life happened... In teacher's college they prepare you for many things such as how to manage your classroom, how to write exciting and engaging lessons and how to discuss a child with a parent. But what they don't prepare you for is one of your students dies. I had T as a 7th and 8th grader. He stood out. He was the only "white" kid in the middle school. He had it rough that first year but he was a fighter and he wouldn't give up fitting in. By the middle of the year he had made it he was in with the class even though he was highly religious (not many of the students were) and a voracious reader (once again not many of the students were). But when he graduated from our middle school to go on to high school he was loved by everyone! He stood up for what he thought was right and he would take the fall for someone if he knew he could take it or would be in less trouble than the other. He was a fun student to teach and always had interesting and insightful comments to add to a discussion. Unfortunately his life was cut short. Although if I were to talk to him he would smile his smile and with a chuckle tell me that it was his time and not worry because he is in a better place. It is with knowledge only that I can feel some peace at his young passing. I will miss him incredibly and any time I look at a young adult fantasy I will remember him fondly.

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Beginning

This blog is in response to my younger sister and mother's request. It is also a good place for me to record the stories I have accumulated over the years of teaching and that I plan to gather in the future. So where to begin is the question...

I guess in the beginning. After I received my education degree, I set out for New Mexico. I taught on the Navajo Reservation for 7 years. It was quite an eye opener. I had done my student teaching at school in which most of the students were either children of the local doctors or the professors at the university. The majority of the students at that school wanted to learn and their parents surely wanted them to be engaged in the learning process. Although I had had a great experience at my training school and my cooperative teacher was quite excellent, as well as job offers from two schools that would have had me working with middle class students. I felt called to the Dine of the Navajo Reservation.

So my parent's, two good friends and I set off to move me to the Northwest Corner of New Mexico. That it in itself is another story that I may tell some time as my parents and I found out that one of my friends was quite a drama queen. Not at all what we had expected. But back to the beginning, I finally arrived at the school. We unloaded the trailer and found that the house that was provided for me had some items that I had brought with me already in it. So I sent my kitchen table, couch and lazy boy back with my folks. The school was a mission school they provided housing and two meals a day at the school. Although it was just cafeteria food. I was quite thankful for this though, as my salary for my first year of teaching in 2000 was going to be $5000 before taxes.

This was my beginning... my love for the Navajo children... and it will be part of the stories I tell here.