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Saturday, July 21, 2012

Time Flies, Whether You're Having a Good Time or Not

I have been percolating a poem this month. Although my life is very busy, knowing that I will not have the weekly grind of lesson plans has made me a very relaxed person. I like to have a full morning or afternoon to write, but I have been reading Christian Wiman. His poetry is life-changing. How did he know what it was like to live from paycheck to paycheck wondering if you will have that car accident that will upend your life?

I began this post on July 5th, well before I finished teaching Lego robotics this summer. I went from summer school to a quilting retreat without stopping at home. The UFO (unfinished object I was working on was a Mariner's Compass by Quiltsmart. I got the entire circle done, but the center seam wouldn't line up, so I folded it up and sadly put it away unfinished. Fast forward to Denver, the Dabrowski conference and July 21st. I had come with no apparent goal in mind except to learn more about the nature of gifted people and possibly make some friends in the gifted community. On one of the tables are handouts for NAGC (National Association for Gifted Children), which will also be in Denver. I had seen it earlier this week and immediately said, "I can't afford to come to Denver twice in one year." Today, as I picked up a pin from CAGT (Colorado Association for Gifted and Talented), in the center was a compass. (Cue Twilight Zone music.) What does it mean? What does it all mean? My brain is so stimulated by the presentations and conversations that I can hardly sleep. It means I will need some time to recover from all this thinking, time to sort through what it means, and time to integrate it into my life. And now ... on to some very stimulating conversations.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Lego Robotics I & II

Monday was the first day of Lego Robotics I and II. I am trying a new rubric this year. In the past, I have evaluated each student on creativity, concept acquisition, cooperation, and tolerance for frustration. This year, I intend to focus on cooperative learning behaviors. Let's see if having a rubric shapes behavior. The new behaviors I am looking for are: listening, openness to others’ ideas, contribution, and leadership. So far (Thursday), most of the students are doing fine. There are a few kids who just don't want to share. I had to physically take the machine away from one student and give it to another. Our problem is compounded by the high number of students in each class, due to site limitations. I will go over the rubric again tomorrow and see if the kids understand it.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

New Job

Today was my first day as a tutor. I have tutored before for school districts, but not for myself. The assignment for my student was to read for 20 minutes a day and write for 20 minutes a day. I promised her I would try to do it as well. Her topic for today was what she can do well or what she likes to do, so I shall do the same topic. The things I do well are reading, math, teaching exceptional learners, gardening, all kinds of needlework, music and swimming. This summer I am teaching summer school in the morning at Summer Wonders in Buffalo Grove, Illinois, where my primary students make amazing Lego creations with the Lego WeDo. We have 8 computers, counting my laptop, and I let the students videotape themselves and their creations. I honestly saw students dancing and singing while they worked today. It is such a joy to see students happy.

When I am not teaching, I am sewing or taking care of my 96-year-old mother. My church has a small group of quilters that I joined when I retired in May. I also spent Friday and Saturday learning how to fuse and embroider a quilt. The teacher, Laura Wasilowski, also loved to dye. She has a great many jokes about dying and sings during her presentations. I am now a graduate of the Chicago School of Fusing. Finally, I have a quilting bee with one other lady. We alternate meeting at each others' house and call ourselves the Scrappy Ladies.

Spending time with my mother has had a positive effect on me. At first, I struggled with the dilemma of finally getting to do what I want (thanks to retirement) and not getting to do what I want (because of my mom). Many of my friends are going through this as well, and they have all told me it is worth it to give up every weekend. I have grown to love our time together. It's not usually fun. She has lost a lot of her vision and hearing and teeth and confidence. But it is endearing. I am amazed at how few people understand the need for a good, home-cooked meal each night. Is this just a woman thing? Guys? I haven't done a lot of cooking the last few years because my kids grew up and moved away. When they do come home, I have forgotten how to cook several things and have them all ready at the same time. When they all come home at once, my meals are not coordinated well. Have to take time to play with the grandkids, you know. Mom is making me slow down, cook good food, and do some hand sewing and writing. Thanks, Mom.