Sunday, August 31, 2008

Noah's Ark


These days when the kids want to play outside, I just put the baby pool out so they can get wet while they're playing, because it's just too hot to play outside dry right now! We go to the big pool most nights to, but this lets them be outside during the day without totally overheating. Maya put her car in the pool the other day and I said, "Maya, did you put your car in the pool?" She said, "A boat".

After looking inside, I think she may have been playing Noah's Ark!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Our First "Podcast"

One of the other big parts of my job is being in charge of our school's News Club along with the P.E. teacher and the music teacher. We produce a weekly "podcast" that the students watch each Friday. This year we have 48 5th and 6th graders that are in News Club. They are divided into 2 big teams and each big team is divided into 4 small teams. The small teams each have a leader that was part of News Club last year. Each of the two big teams is in charge of a podcast every other week. They do all the planning and filming and also a lot of the uploading and editing. They took all the pictures and chose the order, chose the backgrounds, fonts, transitions, music, interview questions, etc. This is our first podcast of the year. I was happy with how it turned out.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Do Yourself a Favor

Many of you know that I am so geeky about politics, that I had hours and hours of DNC coverage recorded and watched it until about midnight every night this week after the kids went to bed like it was the last game in the World Cup or something. This convention was truly amazing! All of the speeches that I watched were good, and many were great. If you haven't seen them, I highly recommend watching Michelle Obama's, Hillary Clinton's, Joe Biden's and of course Barack Obama's speeches. I think it is absolutely wonderful that so many people came to enthusiastically participate in the political process at this convention. I heard there were more than 80,000 on Thursday night. It gives me hope that we can turn things around in this country. Anyway, I am posting the speech because I think you owe it to yourself to watch it even if you think you disagree with his politics. I just think everyone owes it to each of the candidates to listen to what they have to say directly instead of relying on second and third hand information and rumors. If nothing else, you will enjoy it from a public speaking standpoint. I am fully in support of Obama and Biden, but I will still watch John McCain directly address the country next week so that I can hear his ideas first hand. If you haven't yet had the chance, watch it!

If you did watch it, before or now, I would love to hear what you think of it.

Happy Birthday Rick

Just wanted to write a quick "Happy Birthday" to Rick today on his 36th. I like to remind him that he will ALWAYS be older than me! He and Shayne went to a Cardinal's game tonight to celebrate. We will have a family celebration tomorrow :)

Monday, August 25, 2008

My Take on Homework

Thanks for all of the feedback on the homework question. I agree with all of you personally and professionally that most teachers give way too much homework. In my most recent 7 years in the fourth grade classroom, I went with a short packet (about 4 pages), a book log, which they were supposed to read 20 minutes at least 4 of 7 days (could be with a family member, to a family member, getting read to, by themselves, etc.) and a "family activity", which was usually some sort of learning game or learning craft that they could do together at any point during the week. They had Monday-Thursday to do those things. I thought that was edging on too much, but Shayne has more than that already in first grade. I know my nephew had more than that in Kindergarten, which of course is ridiculous. The nice part about Shayne's packet is that they send it home on Friday, so we try to knock out most of it on the weekend when he isn't so tired. It isn't that it takes too long, just that it is such a chore getting him to do it. I think there is some value in having a quick review-type thing or an interactive assignment that you do together as a family, but generally speaking, I think as far as homework goes, less is more.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Now that we have been in school for awhile, and most of you all will start in the next few weeks, I would love to hear your thoughts on homework. What do you think of it? What have your experiences been yourself or with your kids? Too much? Not enough? Too hard? Too easy? Depends on the kid? I am interested in this personally and professionally, and have a lot of thoughts of my own on the subject, but would like to read your thoughts first. Also,don't forget to vote in the poll on the subject!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

First Day of Preschool

Maya's first day back at preschool was today. She is with the same teachers as last year, all of whom are absolutely wonderful, but now goes in the afternoons instead of the mornings. She was happy to be back and fell right back into the routine.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

At Long Last

Most of you know that we have no family members here in Arizona. Also, our daughter sometimes has trouble with changes in her routine like a lot of kids her age do. Lately, she has pretty much just gotten upset about age-appropriate things, but about twice as upset than most 4 year olds would probably get. She used to get about 10 times more upset. Add those two things to working oppostite schedules and the house being a wreck half the time... What do you get? No babysitter and no going out for years! Yes, we have had a babysitter 3 or 4 times since Shayne was born, and we go do things ocassionally when we are near family members, but we have never found anyone that could babysit for us consistantly and that we fully trusted with the job. We are happy to report that we have finally found someone! Her name is Alison (like their aunt) and she is one of the aides in Maya's preschool class. She knows Maya well and Maya likes her. In fact, Maya let Alison do her hair almost every time she went to school in cute little pig tails and barettes last school year. On the last day of preschool in May, we asked her if she would be interested in babysitting for us and she said yes. Shayne likes her too. I believe she is one year out of high school and she lives down the street from us a mile or two. She just babysat for us for the third time in about 6 weeks on Saturday. The second and third times, Maya didn't even cry when we left. They are happy when we tell them she is coming over. I should have taken a picture, but I didn't. We are so happy to have found her and so happy to be able to go out again.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

New Job

I wanted to wait at least 2 weeks to say/write this publicly (don't want to jinx it), but I love my new job (Media/Technology Specialist). In teaching, we're all usually too superstitious to say things are going well until the year is practically over, some are even too fearful of everything falling apart to even think things are going well until it's over. There are a lot of responsibilities, but the schedule is considerably more flexible than it was in the classroom, so I have a fair amount of time to get everything done. I felt perpetually out of time in the classroom. I get to see all the kids from Kindersteps (sort of like pre-K) to sixth grade. I actually enjoy all of the ages and it is a fun challenge to completely shift gears when I have Kinder and 6th back to back some days. I liken it to being a grandparent instead of a parent. I get to enjoy them for 30-45 minutes a week, then send them back to their classroom teacher (the parent in this analogy) who is with them all week. It is amazing how patient I can be knowing there is a 45 minute maximum with any group (K-3 get 30 mins. and 4-6 get 45 mins.) Plus all the kids love doing activities on the computers, so that really helps. The other big part of my job is helping all of the teachers by making sure all of their technology works (computers, projectors, document cameras, printers, email, passwords, etc.) The teachers I work with are wonderful, so that part of the job is enjoyable too. I also have cafeteria duty every other week with the K-2 kids, so I am in there when Shayne is eating with his class, which has been fun and insightful. One of the best parts of the whole thing is that there is so little stuff to keep track of and keep organized. More accurately, the stuff is mostly on the computer, and I have always been very organized on the computer so it plays to my strengths. In the classroom (and I did enjoy it most of the time) there are crayons, colored pencils, tissue paper, glitter, books, paper, pencil shavings, backpacks, jackets, lunch boxes, math manipulatives, student work and all kinds of other things to find places for. Some people do that naturally, but for me it was a constant struggle. Now, my desk is cleaned off every day and I actually know where everything is in the lab. I am realizing that when I only have to keep track of my own stuff, I am pretty good at it. I even felt a little guilty during the first few days during the times I didn't have classes and everything was clean and quiet. Now I just enjoy it and get an impressive amount of work done without the distractions. Having that quiet time every day has really helped me to be more happy, patient and clear-minded. My goal is to find small ways to spread that serenity to the classroom teachers, who are the ones that really need it. Anyway, I won't go on any longer, but so far, I am very happy with the change.