10 Influential Albums – Day One

Oldies But Goodies Volume 1

A high school friend nominated me for this look at 10 influential albums in my life. I’m super excited and hope you’ll enjoy it. Each day I’ll look at an album that has been a big part of my life at one point or another. I tried to pick ones that have had a lasting impact on me. It hasn’t been easy and for every one I feature, I have one that I could have included, but then, it’s not 20 influential albums…

First up is a compilation. Some people say those don’t count, but I disagree, especially if it is one that first introduced me to several artists and songs that I love dearly to this day. This way my gateway to 50’s rock.

As a kid going on car trips with my family always meant listening to Dad’s music and that is what formed my foundation. Early rock ‘n roll, doo-wop, rhythm and blues, and rockabilly made up these collections. I loved playing them on the turntable! It was good, heavy vinyl, not any of the flimsy stuff that my current records were made of.  This particular album has so many great songs on it. Seems like Side 2 has more of my favorites on there. “Roll With Me Henry (The Wallflower)”, “Stranded in the Jungle”, and “Let the Good Times Roll” are definitely my favorite. These songs bring back so many memories, all good. I remember several years back Dad was able to burn this onto a CD for me. I honestly don’t know how because to the best of my knowledge he never hooked up his turntable capable of digital transferring, but he knew how much I loved these songs and somehow made it happen. 

It Could’ve Been

Chuck Berry – The Great 28

I know. Another compilation. However, it’s Chuck Berry. I’m not including this one because I have never gone and dug deep into Chuck’s catalog, therefore, as influential as he has been to my musical life, it doesn’t count the way today’s entry does. It does count in that it was an important part of my life when Glitter Queen and I got our second tattoo and this was the soundtrack. Full disclosure – we skipped past “Havana Moon”. That’s my least favorite Chuck Berry song.

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Thoughts on Christmas Music

I love Christmas music. I look forward to it all year. Not as much as some of my friends who start listening to it when October changes to November, but I jump in once Thanksgiving has come and gone.

My first Christmas music memory is listening to Gene Autry’s Christmas record, “The Original Gene Autry: Sings Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer” as a kid. I still have that record and it always brings back good memories of Christmases filled with GI Joes, Wrangler sleeping bags, and new Big Wheels.

As a teenager, I was excited to find out that the alternative bands I had started listening to also had Christmas songs to offer. Of course, the biggest one was the superstar collaboration, “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” by Band Aid. All those new wave bands, some classic artists (Bowie throwing in his horrible poem and McCartney with a silly, Beatles-esque spoken word on the remix version), and current stars of the day, Phil Collins and strangely Kool and the Gang. I’m not sure if they’re actually British or just happened to be in England when it was being recorded and were able to join in.

It was not easy to find this music though. I remember staying up one Christmas Eve listening to the local college radio station, WRAS 88.5 as they played a 2-hour set list of alternative Christmas music. I recorded it on my boombox and listened to it for years afterward. One radio station was the self-appointed, Atlanta’s Christmas Station for some years in my early adult years, but now it’s just the Christian radio station that plays exclusive Christmas music during the season. That’s all good and fine, and usually, it’s a good mix, but I can do without the cheesy banter of their DJs; although I do enjoy the Christmas wishes they give to some of their listeners; warms the old heart.

Eclectic is probably the easiest way to describe my tastes, and that definitely describes my tastes in Christmas music.

Classic Christmas songs, regular rock acts doing their Christmas covers, Eagles, Elton John, Springsteen, U2 and the like, and the alternative bands and their songs. It seemed the alternative bands more often than not had original songs. The one that stands out as the first one I heard is The Waitresses, “Christmas Wrapping”.  I even named a Pandora station after it with the idea of having an entire station of alternative Christmas music, but however the Pandora algorithms work, it’s now just a crazy mishmash of all the things I love about Christmas music. More recently, I’ve loved Weezer’s take on traditional Christmas songs and songs put out by The Killers’. I definitely recommend searching those out.

While this is about my love of Christmas music, the thing that I keep thinking about is how easy it is for people to find good Christmas music to listen to now. With Spotify and Pandora, you can find whatever you want within a few seconds. Sirius XM offers a few different stations, but the other two give you that download option.

Finding music, new and interesting or old favorites has never been easier, and I’m not sure, but I think that it makes it easy to take it for granted. I remember finding songs at record stores or at the college radio station and being so excited. Or even just going a year without thinking about a certain song and then hearing it on the radio and being excited.

I love Pandora and I’m starting to see the benefit of Spotify. They both have reintroduced me to songs, bands, and albums that I’d forgotten about. Pandora, specifically, has introduced me to several bands that are among my favorite now. I can’t use the word “unfortunately” here because there’s nothing unfortunate about kids being exposed to and discovering music, but it’s definitely different than when I was a kid. I’m sure that’s similar to how my dad felt about me discovering music. Back when he was a teen and young adult, the only way to discover music was by what the radio was playing and what the department store had, and that was definitely limited for him in LaGrange, Georgia.

I’m glad my daughters can find new and old music so quickly. I love hearing one of them ask, “Is this Nirvana?” when one of their songs comes on the radio. However, it was a little bit of a slap in the face when I offered her the CDs to listen to if she was interested in hearing more only to be met with a blank look and this reply, “Dad, I can get them on Spotify”. I suppose I should just be happy that they’re finding music that is something different than just what’s played on the radio, but I feel like they’re missing out of some of the adventure and excitement my generation (and previous ones) had when searching out and finding music.

So, if you’re a lover of Christmas music, I hope you’ve been enjoying and digging the songs of the season. If you’re not that much of a fan, I hope you’re being tolerant of your family and friends that do partake. Don’t worry, in less than 2 days’ time, it will go away again until next year. Merry Christmas and here’s hoping you have a very Happy New Year!

 

Dragon*Con 2016!

It’s been a few weeks now since my favorite weekend-long activity has passed and I’m finally ready to write about it. For those of you that don’t know, Dragon*Con is the  “largest multimedia, popular culture convention focusing on science fiction & fantasy, gaming, comics, literature, art, music, and film in the universe!” The universe. And it’s held here in Atlanta every Labor Day weekend. I love it. I look forward to it all year, but the start of the school year really starts to get me amped up about it.

For several years once Dragon Con ended I would get a little depressed. It is such a hyper-stimulation experience that it pushes me into a manic state. That’s not an exaggeration, you can ask GQ. We actually even came up with a phrase for this post-Dragon Con feeling, Chasing the Dragon’s Tail. It excited me so much that I had a hard time coming down and just getting back to the normal pace of life, which is exactly what you need to do after experiencing a full weekend of Dragon Con. So, for several years, I’d spend the two weeks after the show chasing the Dragon’s tail. I can proudly say that this year I was able to let it go once I left the convention area for the last time on Monday afternoon. That’s a first!

Why do I love it so much? Well, apart from the quotation above – which contains almost all the things I love and hold dear – it’s also the weekend that I get so see some of my favorite characters come to life. I get to walk around in the same space as Captain America, Black Widow, Wonder Woman, Batman (of all shapes, sizes, and costumes), The Flaming Carrot, Wookiees, Stormtroopers, robots, pirates, aliens and really, there are so many more that I can’t even name them all.

So, you may be wondering, do I just walk around agog at the spectacles around me all weekend? Far from it! I also go to several of the panels offered throughout the weekend. This past year Glitter Queen and I got 4-day passes for us and The Girls. When you buy them at the end of the current year’s con you get a serious discount for the following year. This year is the first time that I went down all four days. For all the years that I have been going, I think I went to more panels this year than I ever have before. One of the challenges that attendees face is that sometimes you are interested in more than one panel that is scheduled for a certain time. For instance, this year there was a comic book panel at the same time one for the CW show, Daredevil, was. Dilemma? Not this time. In order to get into panels for big shows like Daredevil you have to line up at least an hour early, if not two. I am not a big fan of standing in line for that long, but will do so on occasion. This wasn’t one of those occasions.

To keep this from being a ridiculously long post I am going to break the days down in separate posts; Friday, Saturday, and Sunday/Monday. I’ll leave you with a picture from last year’s parade. This guy got to come before the parade and kind of prep the crowd. He was having a great time getting the opposite sides of the street to cheer. How’s this related, you may be asking. Well, Dragon Con is completely run by volunteers like this gentleman here. They are dedicated, hard-working people that give up many, many hours of their lives to help out the tens of thousands of people that come and take part in this fabulous event.dscf1801

So, if you’re interested in reading more, look for three more posts over the next few days about Dragon Con.

 

Just Like Starting Over

 

(Full Disclosure – this post has nothing to do with John Lennon’s song of the same title. I was hoping it would, but not happening. On with the post…)

Here at Trinity School, we are always striving to increase our ability to help our students. One of the main ways this happens is through the professional development (PD) that Trinity offers. Our PD is meaningful and impacting.

This is my third year at Trinity, and I do not think it is an exaggeration to say that I have grown more professionally in those three years than in the 18 I was in public school. That statement is hard to believe, I imagine. I am sure that you may even think that I am employing hyperbole, but I honestly think it is a true statement.

I have mentioned in a previous post that we are not only expected to continue to grow as a teacher, but it is encouraged. Opportunities abound for teachers and staff members to explore areas and techniques that will benefit us in the classroom, but also in areas of our own personal growth. The administration knows that when we are taking care of ourselves, stretching our minds, learning new things, we will be more effective in the classroom, and ultimately that is our main goal. To become the best  that we can be in the classroom so that our students will get the absolute best education they can while they are at Trinity.

So, how does that tie into the title of this post? That would be the recent addition of the concept of mini-lessons to the classroom. What is a mini-lesson? From the Web Site, Teacher Vision, “A mini lesson is a short lesson with a narrow focus that provides instruction in a skill or concept that students will then relate to a larger lesson that will follow. A mini lesson typically precedes reading workshop or writing workshop, but it can serve as an introduction to a social studies, science, or math lesson.”

I have always been a whole-group teaching kind of teacher. I have relied on my ability to hold my students’ attention through my kinetic personality and delivery as well as finding ways to help the students connect to the lesson. I think I have been successful at this, but after learning about mini-lessons and seeing this approach from some of my co-workers I have made a decision that it will benefit my students more if I adopt this method as well. It is a big change in teaching styles and one that I am attempting to make this year.

Two critical factors in successfully implementing the mini-lesson strategy are keeping the lessons short and concise and the conferencing that occurs with individual students while the remainder of the class is independently working. I’m not necessarily known for being one to get directly to the point. My students learn that pretty quickly. I am learning to cut down my delivery to the very essence of the lesson I am introducing or teaching to the class. Doing so will help to ensure that the engagement of the students will be held. One on one conferencing takes time, practice and a very different approach than a whole-group style of teaching. As anyone who knows me will tell you, I’m not a quiet person, but in order to not distract the other students, I am going to need to find use my inside voice.  I have one, I just don’t use it very often. Learning to be unobtrusive as I make my way around the classroom to confer with students is something that I can see may be another challenge for me.

Luckily, I have the knowledge that challenges make me rise to the occasion. I have 20 years of experience in education. I have so many tools in my toolbox (teacher lingo, y’all). Most importantly, I have the support of an awesome administrative team and co-workers who will help me with this challenge. Their encouragement, advice, and observations will guide me along this path to taking my teaching to a new level.

To top it off, I am inviting my administrators and colleagues in my class to watch me this year as I am starting over. Robert Kaplinsky has issued the #ObserveMe Challenge, a chance for teachers to invite others in to observe them in the moment and look for specific feedback on different goals the teacher lists on a sign outside the classroom door:

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I am excited about this and a little nervous. As I said, it is a big change for me, but one that I know will be beneficial for my students, and above all else, as a teacher, I want to be the very best I can for my students. (Maybe I should have had a David Bowie song in my head?)

What challenges are you facing and what goals have you set for yourself this school year? I’d love to hear from you on these topics.

 

Week of Service

This past week I had the pleasure and privilege to take part in the Week of Service with the Oak Grove UMC Youth Ministry. Five days out of the kids’ summer break were given to help different people in different parts of Atlanta with different needs. I participated Monday – Wednesday. My 14-y.o. did Monday – Thursday and my 11-y.o. did Tuesday and Wednesday. My plan was to include information that I took notes on each organization, but my phone took a bath and the notes are lost, so I’m just providing links to each organization for you to follow up on.13482932_296596774012852_935247682296494223_o

This is the first day and the group of kids that came with us. We went to Open Hand and delivered meals to folks in the Atlanta area. We broke into two groups and delivered meals to 21 people. Some of them invited the Youth in and visited with them. During our orientation, we were told that we may be the only people the clients see during the day. The team that got invited in was much smaller than our other team. We delivered meals to two assisted living communities on the same piece of property. All the clients were happy to see us, but also happy for us to go on our way.

Our second day we headed out to Mountain View Personal Care Home. For this day we were doing some maintenance around the facility. Some painting, some planting, some cleaning. The kids knocked it out very quickly and with only a couple of paint incidents (my 11-y.o. included). Luckily, the incidents were on the kids and not messes on the property. After finishing up our jobs pretty quickly, we loaded our buses back and headed for some good food for Taco Tuesday.

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The third day we headed over to the Toco Hills Community Alliance to help distribute food to families from the  Mobile Food Pantry. We watched as the truck pulled in and unloaded seven pallets of donated food to be distributed. It was hot work! The kids, however, were super efficient and super friendly. They greeted each family that drove through with a smile and arms full of groceries. We left feeling tired, but very grateful for what we have and happy to have been able to help those in need.13497928_297476123924917_4532408098611723673_o13528062_297476127258250_2968021674392176578_o13483395_297479697257893_3176185617188843107_o

The 11-y.o. and 14-y.o. showing some typical great Picture Faces

Thursday was my birthday (yay!) so I took this day off, but the Youth continued on! They made lunches for the Smart Lunch, Smart Kids program in Decatur and then delivered the lunches to some very appreciative children.

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The last day of the week, the Youth delivered care packages for girls ages 12-17 who have been  victims of sex trafficking. The last part of that sentence was painful to type, but it’s real and it is being addressed and helped by the Wellspring Living for Girls organization. Because of the severe nature of the organization, the Youth do not have contact with the girls living at the facility, but instead, they provided the aforementioned care packages to be handed out later. After delivering the packages they were able to help out around the grounds of the facility, doing some yard work and basic cleaning.

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Overall, the week saw 18-20 teenagers give 4 hours daily to help those in need. With summer swim league, jobs, summer reading, daily responsibilities and more, these kids showed up and put in a great effort to help others. It was humbling to be a part of this week. It made me more thankful for what I have. It also made me so proud to be a part of the ministry of Oak Grove UMC Youth. I love working with the kids anyway, but when I get to see them in this type of situation it really makes my heart swell with love and pride.

Earlier this year I spoke about the loss of my good friend, Katie. Katie was an integral part of the Central Night Shelter in downtown Atlanta.  After she died I was speaking with friends about how to move forward after such a loss of such a significant person. Someone who truly lived out Jesus’ words of, “Love your neighbor as yourself” in such a hands-on way. I hope that by taking part in this past week, as well as getting my Girls involved and participating, takes me a little closer to being able to follow in her footsteps.

I hope that you will follow one or more of these links and find a way to help at some point soon; whether by donation or giving some of your time to help. I can say, for me, it paid off tremendously.

Book Review – The Simpsons and their Mathematical Secrets

I’ve just finished my second non-fiction book of the summer. This one was given to me by my friend, Jill GoughThe Simpsons and their Mathematical Secrets, by Simon Singh. I don’t know why “their” isn’t capitalized. It makes me a little crazy, but the author has it that way on his Web Site, so, there you go.

simpsons

Now, I’m not a math person. Well, I wasn’t when I was a student. I didn’t have a math phobia or anything, I just had a complete lack of interest and understanding. This would have been bad enough, but having a math teacher as a mother and an engineer as a grandfather made it much worse. When I tell my students that when they’re at the dinner table doing homework and there are tears of frustration and anger and confusion I know what they’re talking about, I 100% mean it.

So, Jill knows I love The Simpsons, and she said when she saw this book she thought of me and she got it and gave it to me.

I dove right in and was amazed to find out that so many of the writers of the show had advanced degrees in mathematics. I mean, several times during the book when the author is introducing writers that he’s going to talk about he says that as they were finished grad school they were looking at careers in applied mathematics, but then decided to pursue their love of comedy writing also. I love smart humor, and well, the writers of The Simpsons have it in DROVES.

The author goes through several episodes pointing out bits that unless you’re a capital m Math Person, you would not get at all, and there are LOTS of them. Some of them I got after reading the book and some of them were WAY, WAY, WAY over my head. I have two friends in mind that I want to pass this book on to, (both grads of Georgia Tech, both engineers, and both fans of the show. The author assures the reader that even if they don’t have the working math knowledge he’s going to talk about they can still understand it, and you know what, he’s right!

In addition to The Simpsons, there is also a section on another favorite show from the same creators, Futurama. The math in that show is even more in depth and probably one to two more “WAY”s over my head.

One of the neat things about the gags that the writers inserted into the shows is that they were not the focal point of a gag. Oftentimes they were put in knowing that in order to fully appreciate them viewers would need to record the show on their VCR (anyone remember doing that?) and use the pause button repeatedly.

If you’re a fan of The Simpsons or Futurama, I recommend this book. If you’re a Math Person, and a fan of either, or both, of these shows, I highly recommend it. I gained a greater understanding of some mathematical concepts (and quite a few remained out of my reach) and my respect for the writers of these shows went higher than it already was.

Here are a couple of scenes from episodes that are discussed in the book:

Bart The Genius

The Wizard of Evergreen Terrace

Homer3

There are many, many more episodes discussed.

Book Review – /The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth/ by Alexandra Robbins

preface statement – I hate that I can’t underline or italicize the title up there

book cover

I found this book on one of the tables in the Teachers’ Lounge at Trinity back in late April or early May. I wasn’t sure I’d get to it, but it’s title grabbed my attention. I started reading it a few days after I took it home and got drawn in pretty quickly.

The author, Alexandra Robbins, follows six individuals for a school year. Each one is given a categorical label along with their name:

  • Blue – The Gamer
  • Whitney – The Popular Bitch
  • Regan – The Weird Girl
  • Noah – The Band Geek
  • Eli – The Nerd
  • Joy – The New Girl

In addition to introducing each of these people, Robbins also gives background information on what she calls the cafeteria fringe – “People who are not part of or who are excluded from a school’s or society’s in crowd.” She goes on to explain how very often those who a part of the cafeteria fringe go on to much more successful lives than the popular, or in crowd, people. She acknowledges that getting through those times of lack of popularity is not easy, and is a “gut-wrenching social landscape”. Robbins backs up her claim of the cafeteria fringe’s post-high school successes with something she calls Quirk Theory – “Many of the differences that cause a student to be excluded in school are the same traits or real-world skills that others will value, love, respect, or find compelling about that person in adulthood and outside of the school setting.”

The book is divided up into six parts, late summer-early fall all the way to late spring-early summer. In between each section Robbins introduces new ideas, explores different perspectives and shares stories of current well-known people that were not part of the popular crowds when they were in high school.

As I got further into the book I was amazed time and time again with how horrible high school students can be. I saw myself as part of the fringe when I was in high school, but I was really a floater – I could move pretty easily between groups at school. I did not fit into any easily definable category. I wasn’t a jock, but I swam for my school and played softball and basketball for a church league. I definitely wasn’t a nerd, my grades were far too low to be considered that. I didn’t drink or do drugs, so I wasn’t a stoner. I liked punk rock, but also many other types of music, so no to that too. I had the good fortune to be able to make the choice to walk away from the popular crowd at the end of 8th-grade. I say this as opposed to those that were never given the opportunity to be part of that crowd, more than an arrogant boast.

Robbins’ stories of her subjects are fascinating, sad, alarming as well as funny and touching. One of the subjects has an interesting twist that I won’t spoil. I highlighted over 30 parts of the book that struck me. There really are too many to go into, so I’m just going to try to hit some of the ones that really stuck out to me – positively and negatively.

The whole idea of popularity is split into the standard way of looking at it – the opinion of a person from another to perceived popularity – “how students rank a classmate’s reputation rather than their personal opinion”.

The part I am going to include now really blows me over. Even reading it again for this part just leaves me speechless. This comes from the mini-chapter, Understanding the Popular Bitch

When I asked a popular boy from Arkansas how people at his high school treated               students who were different from others, he said, “We crushed their dreams. We             had a kid who wanted to be cool, but he wore eyeliner, so we invited him to a party,         got him drunk and pushed him into a fire and then some guys peed on him when he         passed out. He moved the next week. [Supposedly due to technicalities, charges               against the aggressors were dropped.] We cut off a Pentecostal girl’s hair and hid             her skirt in gym class, just because we were all Baptists and thought Pentecostals             were weird. We felt it our right to do whatever we pleased. Part of being cool was             uniformity and anything that isn’t part of our hive mind needs to be mocked.”

I’m just going to let that sink in for a minute.

There’s nothing at all that get me to understand that mind set. Nothing. And the thing is, those kids were probably seen around their town as good, upstanding Christian boys and girls. It’s madness!

There is a section called, The Courage of Nonconformists that I really liked. I’ve always considered myself a nonconformist, and in high school I embraced that. Reading this section made me feel good about that, especially with all the science Robbins includes that shows how our brains are mostly hard-wired to conform. Looking at my daughters now, I can see some of the same non-conformity that I had. GQ had and has it in equal, if not greater quantities than I do.

Robbins talks a good bit about how school systems are designed to get kids to think inside the box when almost every article written about what America needs to do to get education back on track is help to develop students that can problem solve, and almost all of those articles mention students that think outside the box are the ones that are usually best at doing that. I have been fortunate enough to work in three schools where the usual is not the case.

The last part of the book that I’ll talk about is the end where Robbins gives three sections devoted to what students, parents and teachers can do to help this situation. For the students, it again is a little heart-breaking. To be told to hang in there, it will get better seems so shallow, even though it is, for the most part, true. I don’t know how many students will read this book, but I think if they do they can find some hope and some connections with the subjects. I guess the part about the parents seems to be what GQ and I naturally try to do for The Girls. I think the part about what schools can do may be just as hard as what students can do. So much in education is set in stone. So many rules and laws and standards come from people that are not in school buildings daily, with the students. Everything Robbins says is necessary, but not easy to attain at all. However, if an administrator or teacher reads this book and recognizes some changes they can make to help students on the fringe feel more valued then that is a step in the right direction.

I think that The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth should be required reading for anyone going into education. I also think that anyone considering being a parent, or has recently become a parent should read it also. It’s eye-opening on many different levels. I think that anyone who relates to children at all can find something that they can use to make a connection where there might not be one currently, and again, that is a step in the right direction.

The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth is available for Kindle (currently $2.99!!), hardback and paperback.

Current Favorites (fka Top 10 List)

The Cheeps

These chickens. They’re known as The Cheeps here at the Benefield Homestead. Each year Trinity School kindergarten students hatch chicks. Lots and lots of chicks. Since our last chicken experiment didn’t end up like we had planned we decided to start from scratch. I brought 5 chicks home so they could be with us and get used to us (and all the other animals) and hopefully stick around with us instead of flying the coop. Literally. We spend time with The Cheeps every day so as they get older they will not run away from us like crazy chickens, even though that’s what they are. The two white ones and Tina, the caramel colored one seem to get that idea. The two black/gray ones, not so much. It has been fascinating watching them grow. We think that one of them is developing into a rooster – the black/gray one with the growing comb on its head – that we will give to a rooster-friendly home before he starts to crow.  As summer goes on look for updates and pictures.

Keeping Kids in Motion

I have the great fortune to work at a school with some amazing PE teachers.One of them, Justin Cahill, blogs regularly about exactly what the blog is titled, Keeping Kids in Motion.
He also has a Facebook group under the same name. It currently has 921 members! People from all over submit articles, videos, and pictures of games, ideas, thoughts, questions and more dedicated to helping keep our kids, our students, ourselves active. I love his passion and dedication.

May 28 – August 7

It’s summer break, y’all! It’s awesome. I am so thankful to have this time off. I know there are some teachers that like to say that summer break has nothing to do with their decision to teach. I have no time for that. Of course, it’s not the main reason to get into teaching, but to deny that time off as an absolute reason to celebrate? Come on! This summer break I am trying something new – New Directions! I’ve made a two lists: Things I Need to Do and Things I Want to Do. Unlike years in the past when I’ve made lists of things to get done over summer, this time, I’ve included plans for getting them done. Now, I am sure that not all of them will get done, but this past school year with the help and advice of my department supervisor I started making lists of daily goals to accomplish, so I have somewhat of a habit going. To many of you this may seem like it’s common sense, well, to me it’s still a new thing. The whole planning thing has never been a strength of mine, so I’m trying to develop a new habit.

Summer Swim Season

Both of The Girls swim during summer league. Coco swims year around, but Ramona has several other sports going on, so we give her a break. I absolutely love summer swim season! I understand that it’s easy for me to love it because it’s not me going to practice and exerting all that energy, but I love it nonetheless. I have many, many great memories of my years of swim team summers. The first meet is tomorrow! TOMORROW! And sadly, Coco potentially has strep throat and Ramona is out of town on a choir tour with our church. That’s okay! We have the whole month of June for other meets. I love cheering on all of the swimmers, not just The Girls. Seeing young people with amazing strokes and skills is very exciting. I have seen some amazing swimmers over the past 8 years that The Girls have been swimming. We are at a new pool this year, so a whole new batch of swimmers to cheer on!

Good Music

The Avett Brothers, “Ain’t No Man”

JR JR, “Gone”

The 1975 – “Love Me”

Fitz and the Tantrums, “HandClap

The Lumineers, “Ophelia

Podcasts

I have spoken before about how I like to listen to music a lot. I still do, clearly. However, I have recently started listening to some podcasts on my way to work in the morning, and I have to say they have been very enlightening and entertaining. Glitter Queen requests me to put some on her Nano, so I have gotten some from her. Here are a few that I’ve been listening to:

  • This American Life
  • Nerdist
  • Freakonomics
  • The Way I Heard It
  • Nerdette

Freakonomics just recently had a whole month to learning to be more productive. I don’t know if there could have been a more opportune time for me to listen. (I think GQ might have requested those on purpose so I’d get hooked into them) I probably will go back and re-listen to one or two of them because sometimes it is a lot to take in at once.

Trinity School

I have just finished my second year at Trinity School. It was another phenomenal school year. It was a very challenging personal year, but my class, their parents, my teacher team, the administration, and everyone else at Trinity really helped me through a tough time. I continue to grow professionally and personally. I am excited about training opportunities coming up, and equally excited about the upcoming group of students that I will get to spend time with next school year. I am so fortunate to be part of a great school community.

So, there you go, that’s what I’m into now. It’s not 10 things this time. Maybe I’m narrowing my focus a little bit. It tends to be wide-ranging and makes it easy for me to get distracted. Hopefully, this shorter list will help me stay on task a little better this summer.

How about you? What’s good with you right now?

 

 

 

 

Nostalgia is Funny

In social studies right now my students are working through the 50s and 60s. Three of the things invented during the 50s and 60s were Barbie dolls,  calculators, and cassette players. For a homework assignment, I had my students talk to their parents about these things. I included G.I. Joe for the dads. I told them they could write down their answers if they wanted, but did not have to. Two of them are pure gold and two are just kind of amusing.Barbie-Wallpapers-Cartoons-Disney-e1405610118291

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Claire B’s mom, Laura, said, “My biggest memories of the Barbie doll are that I played with them in my pool. I had the inflatable pool and slide. We had the Barbies in their bathing suits and we would swim with them all day. I had maybe 5 dolls. I played with them with my friends in the neighborhood, I think.”

“Cassette tapes were how we listened to music. You would put your cassette in your boom box and turn on Kasey Kasem’s Top 40 Countdown. As soon as your favorite songs came on you would press the Record button really fast so you could replay the song later.” Claire also said, “My parents used cassette tapes to record our voices in conversations we had to send in the mail to our grandparents! And our grandparents would do the same thing and send them back to us.” Laura emailed me later to tell me more, “I got my first boom box for Christmas when I was 10. I spent hours on that thing recording songs from the radio and replaying them. I still have a somewhat large cassette collection bc I can’t bring myself to get rid of them!! Mix tapes – remember those? I had a few boyfriends who were big into music and would make the best mix tapes for me. Totally still have a few – ha ha ha!!!”

“I don’t have too many memories about my calculators. But I do have a funny story. Once in college, I took my remote control to my exam instead of my calculator.”

Katrina R’s mom, Judith, said, “I played with Barbies when I was younger. I played with them with my friends about once a week or so. I had the Barbie Dreamhouse. My brother had G.I. Joes.”

“My mom had an 8-track player in 2nd-3rd grade. Then she got a Steed [sic] Miller band for Christmas in 4th-5th grade. she then got a Sony Walkman in 6th-7th grade. My mom used her tapes almost daily from 2nd grade to college plus. She would sometimes make tapes for her friends as gifts.”

“My mom used calculators throughout school. In high school she used a graphing calculator about once a week. She got a calculator watch in late elementary school (she had to earn it).

Some of the other responses, “Record off radio on cassette tapes. Bring in car to listen to music. Had to buy tapes in a store if you wanted to listen to music.” “My dad had 600 cassette tapes. He used it twice a day.” “My dad had 1 calculator. He used it twice a week.” Fascinating recollection right there!

Two parents sent in some of their old cassette tapes to the classroom and I was SO EXCITED! Luckily, I have a boom box with dual cassette deck to play them on!  I played Duran Duran’s Rio cassette for the students that morning. I told my students about making mixed tapes for friends myself and my girlfriend (now wife – GQ was the recipient of many, many mixed tapes from me).  It’s not exactly the one in the picture, but it’s close.

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I had a great time reliving some of these memories. As stated in a previous post, G.I. Joe was my favorite toy

Anytime I can be a part of students and parents sharing like this is always fun. What about you?  What were your experiences with Barbies, cassettes, and calculators?

 

 

30-Day Writing Challenge – Post Challenge Update & Students’ Entries

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This picture has nothing to do with this post. It’s just an old one of Coco’s and it’s one of my favorites of hers so I thought I’d put it here.

My 30-day challenge finished out with a sputter, I guess. The end of the month came on a weekend after a 5th-grade overnight trip. I already knew I wasn’t going to do any writing on the trip, and even though I wanted to finish it out strong, I was just wiped out from that trip.

So, I’m going to put some of my kids’ entries here.

Daily Routine
Ridely R – Wake up, eat and watch TV, brush teeth, sometimes shower, go to school

Gregory E – Wake up, take a shower, eat breakfast

Hayden C – Wake up, get dressed, brush teeth, eat breakfast, go to school

Grayson C – 6:15 – Wake up; 6:20 – wash face, take retainer out; 6:25 – breakfast; 6:45 – get dressed; 6:50 – do hair and brush teeth; 7:00 – pack bags; 7:15 – leave for Pipers’ house

Lawton J – Wake up, shower, get dressed, eat breakfast, drive to school

Finn S – Wake up, get dressed, brush teeth, eat, get in car, go to school

Claire B – “Too long, but 8 steps”

Trick M – Wake up, pack up, get dressed, eat breakfast, go to school

Astrological Sign 
Ridley R – Sagittarius – Fits me perfectly

Gregory E – Libra – Yes, I think it fits me

Hayden C – Aquarius and yes I do

Grayson C – A bull (Taurus) No, I don’t think it fits me b/c I am not very aggressive

Finn S – I don’t know  Libra?

Claire B – Scorpio and YES!

Trick M – A Taurus Yes, it fits me

What Would You Say to Actor, Athlete, Musician, Celebrity?

Ridley R – I love to watch you!

Gregory E – I’m your biggest fan. I’m so excited to meet you.

Hayden C – I am a huge fan of them, admire their skills, and ask for an autograph

Lawton J – You’re a good actor

Finn S – I love your videos. Keep up the good work.

Claire B – You are awesome. I love watching and listening to you sing. Awesome job!

Trick M – I would say I want to be like you

Marshall B – You’re my idol