Wednesday, January 30, 2013

confessions of a test writer...

I'm half convinced that by the time my student teaching block is over, this blog will be taken over by the crazy things I've done in the first grade. Or I will have to start a blog about the crazy things I do in my classroom... Digressing. 

This week, I had a Barbie deposited on the keyboard of my laptop during recess, her elbow obviously dislocated, and the ... erm, mother of said Barbie looking obviously distressed while another girl insisted that we would have to find the super glue. [I gave myself a nursemaid's elbow as a two year old...]
Superglue is for sissies. And for bad cuts [Unless you're me, and you're told it's three stitches for the end of your finger, but that's another story] and I popped that elbow back into place, and sent them off. 

I have a 3/4 hand written and drawn life cycles test sitting next to me of which I am immensely proud - I can't decide if the tree life cycle will be pictorial with labels or if it will be sentences that they have to fill in. Not that I couldn't draw it, but there's already a lot of "label this, please" on this test. Decisions, decisions... 

So, I'm taking a time out, thinking about the gentry grey socks I left in my teacher bag at school with the super cute picot trim that I started last night. I was going to try picot with a 2x2 rib knit to see if the two would agree with each other or not - it's Paton's Kroy sock yarn. I'll use MAry's basic sock pattern from Ravelry as a basic guide. I've never used Kroy before, and I'm super excited because of the fiber content blend being wool/nylon, because I've heard they really don't require terribly special wash handling, they're warm like wool without the itch, and best of all will not felt. Not that I think the intended recipient a fool, but wool is ... yeah. Insert what ever nasty word you deem fit. Because just when you thought you were safe, out of the wash comes a sweater fitted for a sock puppet. 

If this is week 5, that means my placement is 1/3 of the way over. The student teaching part isn't freaking me out; [k, maybe like, day 2 and 3, and the day of my 1st formal observation] its the finding a job amongst the hoard of other unemployed teachers that's freaking me out. 

Still no batteries, so no pictures of the socks, or the test illustrations, or the tulips, or the new beans I picked up for class, because the old ones were fermenting [yep - holy intense nitrogen smell, Batman] Will rectify this by the weekend! - I love the first grade, really, I do. But I love words like rectify, hydroponic, supercilious, nonplussed, intense and contused. If only my brain came with a vocabulary off switch. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

pysanke soup for the student teacher's soul

I haven't cleared this with anyone yet... I'm not even sure anyone even knows what a pysanke is.

But I have some. And I'm a broke graduate student.... I think you know where this is going. I sold some at church a few years ago...

I eat dinner and watch an episode of some tv show on Netflix, and I usually light a candle and scatter some wax on an egg while I'm at it - 45 minutes of down time, I'm not wasting my down time. I just mixed up the last of my dyes - this year it will be Scarlet, Pumpkin, Yellow, Turquoise, Royal Blue, Light Blue, Brown and Black. (I could make Browns and Steelers eggs again...). I wish I had a green, no such luck.

In any case, my goal was to take the eggs that I have and try to sell a few this year. I've got about four in the works, simple ones. I usually don't start the complicated ones until later in the season, after I've had a chance to get the feel for the kistka back, after it's collected dust for a year. But with everything that's going on, I'll probably have to stick to the easy ones.

randomly discovered that an egg that started in a turquoise dye bath dropped in brown will come out sort of a lilac purple. That only white one, in the right front corner of the egg carton is now lilac purple. I was going for turquoise and brown. So much for that.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

in the name of love, on the altar of science

just wrapped up the... umm... third(?) full week of student teaching; fourth week entirely, because I had a halfsie week to begin with. If I wanted to know for certain, I would go count the log sheets... I have lesson plans to write for next week, and the kids are in the middle of learning about the life cycles of plants - we learned about trees today, and on Monday, we will be learning about seeds.

Yep, that's my pink paring knife. Preparing to sacrifice an apricot on the altar of science. As if there aren't enough seeds in the seed bin at school already, I stopped at the grocery store on the way home, mostly because traffic was horrible, the roads were the pits and I was fish tailing. Pittsburgh, you need more than a couple dozen plows. You need a couple hundred. Borrow them if you have to. Also, you put down way too much salt. Plow more. Salt less. But I digress. #FromwhereitsnowsMUCHMORE

The seed bin* did not have the pit from a stone fruit, so I snagged an apricot, and a lemon. Because there aren't citrus seeds either. Okay, fine, I grabbed the lemon because I want to make a lemon curd, but lemons also happen to have seeds. I happen to need be able to use the zest and the juice from the lemon; win, win. 
*The seed bin has acorns and butternuts. BUTTERNUTS. I have Butternut wood in my dovetail box. Native PA species; very hard to find. Was impressed.

(So... remembered the lemon, forgot the batteries for the camera. Sorry the pictures are a bit blurry - I had to snag shots before the camera shut itself off.)

Also while I was at the store, smug with my apricot and lemon, I tripped over a forced bulb display. Part of the unit written in the science book is about how plants grow and change, and it features tulips. And an oak tree. But if I tried to bring an oak into the class room, I'm pretty sure my co-op would kill me. Unless it was an oak bonsai, but the only specimen I know of is at Phipps, and I think Phipps wants to keep it there.  

So tulips. Score. They had tulips. In clumps of three. I know a little about forced bulbs, and that is that they've been duped into thinking it's spring, when it obviously isn't outside (see today's sultry high of 14 degrees Fahrenheit.) My friend Katie knows a thing or two about plants, and fortunately was able to take my frantic on-the-spot cell phone call about how to keep one of the tulips alive - or at the very least, un-bloomed - until I was able to present a lesson to my students sometime next week. 

Several hours later... I get home and remove the pathetically root bound tulips out of their four inch plastic pot. Two of the tulips were bigger and were obviously going to produce blossoms sooner than the third. I pulled the roots apart and rather than set one of the bulbs back into the plastic pot and pack it in the dirt from the pot, I put the two large tulips into their own wide mouth mason jars, splitting the dirt between the bottoms of each jar. There was some Spanish moss covering the base of the plants in the original container, so I wrapped a damp paper towel around the top of the bulb to help keep moisture in and put the moss on top.  That, by the way, is an ice cube on top of the left plant, because the soil was extremely hydrophobic. The ice cube is going to slowly melt into the hydrophobic soil below, so I don't shock it by dumping a cup of water on it. No one was watering the plants at the store. [hydro = water. phobic = fear. Thus, hydrophobic = afraid of water, effectively]

Glass jars because we're in first grade, and it's all about observation.

The smaller tulip is going to live in the fridge until it's time to dissect it! Katie pick the plant with the smallest growth [check] for this enterprise, and that would survive with out dirt, but to wrap it in a damp paper towel and put it in a cup at the back of the fridge to trick it into thinking that the temperatures had dipped again. She said not to be surprised if the leaves fell off, but this should put the growing on pause until the lesson. The goal is to keep the tulip in the back of the fridge from blooming, which would strip it of its big chunky bulb. I can't do I dissection if I don't have a bulb. Someone suggested garlic if I got desperate, because those are bulbs, but it isn't my classroom. We would reek.  I will likely have to dissect before school starts, and keep the bulb in the fridge. Eh. It will still be cool.  If I bring the tulips in now, we can watch them bloom, and then I can cut apart the bulb...

 Now, as far as the two other tulips are concerned, I might bring them both into class, so that the students can observe how the two different plants are growing. Or I might share one with the other first grade. :) 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

a bulletin board for school

One and ah half weeks of student teaching down! Woohoo! I am enjoying the kids and I very much like my co-op. I realized somewhere at zero dark thirty that I would have to start looking for jobs in short order because even though it's going to feel like I have a job, I'm not actually an employee of the district.

Which made me wonder, if I couldn't find a job in the dear old 'Burgh, where would I want to look? The world is my proverbial oyster. This is not guarantee of employment. But it doesn't mean I can't look.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. 

A few days ago we learned about contractions - you know, can't, couldn't would've

The kids had a blast making these Contraction Kids - everyone got a card with either a contraction or the two words that form a contraction. Then they circulated around the room looking for the match to their card. They decorated their kid, and then we matched the contractions together to be hung in pairs on the bulletin board outside our classroom. We did have to have a discussion about what was appropriate for school - I informed them that I was okay with Angry Birds, rock stars with face paint, FBI agents and Gangam style kids, but I'd better not see very angry faces, or we'd have to call the guidance counsellor to find out what was what. 


If I was doing this later in the year, we'd [ha!] have done contraction kites, with the contractions and source words written on bows on the tail, and a sentence using the contraction on the wound bit of string at the bottom. 

I used blank 3" x 5" note cards for the contractions [which I hand wrote], and the students trimmed them down later. I free-handed a ginger bready looking person - two fit on an 8 1/2" x 11" piece of paper, trimmed the copies in half on a paper cutter, and let the students trim up the edges as they pleased - some of the students wanted their person to have a dress, so we followed the lines mostly, but cut across about where the knees would be for a dress, then flipped the kid over so the lines wouldn't show. Ditto for longer hair, ponytails, etc. Draw first, mostly follow the lines when cutting that area. Hope this helps you out - I just wish I could figure out how to get a copy of my Contraction Kid print out up here...

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

a new chapter

Tomorrow is the beginning of my student teaching experience. It's 15 weeks long, and is going to require a lot of time and energy. It's the culmination of three semesters and a summer of hard work. I will not say I'm terrified, but I'm certainly apprehensive at this point. First day jitters - I never thought I'd be doing this.

I left the pieces of Sarah's gypsy throw at my parent's house, as well as five other finished tops. Mum said she'd bring Sarah with her at commencement, and I could resume work on her then - I only hope I remember where at my parent's house I stashed the fabric. The Flower Garden and Kaleidoscope are rolled up and tucked away in the top of a closet. Can't touch them until I'm done, either.

it's only 15 weeks. Time to channel my creative energy into other avenues.