Once more into the breach

It’s hard to believe the last post was only a week ago. When I think about how I was feeling then, all that I still had to accomplish, and the huge unknown of all those students, it seems distant, even though we’re now only four school days into the year. Last week I began getting to know my students. It is a fun process. With my lower grades we went through several activities that asked students to examine personal voice through their roles in life. Then they explained the words they say in the role to a classmate, who interviewed them and delivered a short oral introduction. This weekend two classes of the four will be writing an essay to introduce themselves in the voice of a parent or guardian. The other two will write it tomorrow or the next day. Getting started is tricky, particularly this year when there have been so many changes and assemblies, so two classes are behind. No matter, we have time to work together now. But the first thing is to get their buy-in. I think I may have already begun to do so with some of them. One of the foundational ideas I must get across is that I see them as individuals. With this group, it will be easy to do this. I’ve taken most of their pictures and begun a database in my phone. I’ve learned most of their names–just a few left–and I know that counts for something. So far, they are charming. Well-behaved (mostly), willing, and ready to learn, what teacher could ask for more?

And me? Well, I just love the classroom. I’m not where I want to be just yet, meaning I still have to get more things written down, get my website approved, and the plans I’ve been thinking about fleshed out, but I think I’ve made a good start. This year will be wonderful for one reason. I am working with a much larger portion of my brain than I did last year. Because of a disintegrating disk in my lumbar spine, my life last year was mostly governed by pain management. And that meant pain meds. After a successful fusion surgery on June 14, I am not completely free of the need for meds, but I take only a small percentage of what was necessary to get through the day last year. Hallelujah! I can think again!

Thank you, God for a good surgeon and a chance to share Your love yet again.  And thank you for these lovely students!

Of course I’m nervous

Tomorrow the students return to school. I’ll have 53 freshman (in three sections), 16 sophomores from our tech academy, and 14 “college” students, who are actually seniors in a Dual Enrollment class. I am excited to be teaching both ends of what our school has to offer me at once. My curriculum is going to be heavy in grammar in all levels, and doing that in fun, measurable ways is going to be a challenge. The theme for my underclassmen year is “English by the Numbers.” We’ll be paying attention to the numbers in the Comp 101, too, but not in the same way.

I’m going to ask students to measure the time they read, and the number of pages they read each reading session. They will also graph how many days they read each week. That might be all for reading. Perhaps they should graph how much they enjoyed each book? How long it took them to read it? Those might make the list.

For writing we’ll be using the heck of the the six traits rubric. They’ll be asked to score themselves first. They’ll be asked to score many pieces they write and graph the results.

There will be numbers, numbers, numbers. Will I survive it? That remains to be seen. But tomorrow will be the start. The we-can-do-this-together day. I have to try to sleep. Your prayers appreciated.

It’s a numbers game

 

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Looks like Backgammon, but we call it ace-deuce or acey-deucy (sp?). Dennis taught me to play when we were first married and lived in a cozy one bedroom furnished apartment in Pekin, Illinois. Cable TV was just getting started (really!), and we generally had better things to do than watch the tube anyway. Hey, I hope you’ve all had that much fun. But we liked this easy numbers game and still do.

It’s two parts strategy and one part luck of the roll, more when you’re on a streak. The board is four neat quadrants of six. The numbers on the dice may be moved separately–one piece per die–or together–both numbers by one piece. Doubles entitle the roller to four times the number shown and a second roll. Ace/deuce gives you the one and two, doubles of your choice, and a bonus roll. You move from your home quadrant to your partner’s and then roll off the board. It differs from backgammon because you begin with an empty board rather than with pieces poistioned on the board and the nifty bonus rolls described above. We also have no idea how to use the doubling cube that comes with the board. The directions don’t even help me much. It’s just not part of our game.

I love the rhythm of this game, the patterns of six around the board, the feel of the dice in my hand, the sound of their roll on the felt. I also love the competition with my fella, our focus on each other and the game. We’ve rediscovered the game recently, now that we’re alone together more than with others. Oh, and after 32 years we’re still having all kinds of fun. Love, love, love to you all.

A little piece of heaven

I would stay here forever if I could. Even on a hot day the cool greenness of this spot in Balsam, NC is delicious. I’ve been blessed to vacation here with my family for the past 29 years. Today we stopped to collect a few rocks-they are scarce in Florida-but ended up staying a bit longer than planned. The car trouble was pretty minor after all. The delay meant a visit with old friends and the chance to enjoy the sound of the creek on Chad Crawford Road.

When I first saw this place I was awed by its beauty. Today it struck me that it will always be that way. Always. Twenty, thirty, even one hundred years from now, the creek will still make music, the balsam still smell sweet. Praise God!

Another Blog?

Yes, it’s true. I find my thoughts regularly go beyond 140 characters, and this platform seems to be the most friendly to mobile users, so here I am again, tinkering with settings and thinking about what to say. Who would have believed even 20 years ago that any and everyone would be able to spout off their two cents worth, publish to the world, and even manage to find some sort of audience? Some days this seems miraculous to me, other days nightmarish.

But mostly I’m beginning this blog after reading some fine ones, and wanting to do more than comment. So, thanks go to  Hannah, Lizzie,  and Sara  for inspiring me more than once. Check out the work of these ladies while I rev my engine to get started.

More to come…