Saturday, December 31, 2016

Celebrate: Endings and Beginnings

Discover. Play. Build.

There's a symmetry I like in our family holiday celebration. We end and begin each year together as family. 

Our boys and their families come home to celebrate over New Year's.  6 kids, 3 dogs, 5 adults.  1 bathroom.  It's chaos. I'm not going to lie.

And I love every minute of it.

Morning begins with cuddles for Grandma. We'll have coffee and hot chocolate and talk before the other grown-ups come down. I'll find out about school and listen to silly conversations. I'll find out what books they like to read and what books they are reading in school (not always the same thing, as you know).  Chloe and the other dogs will do their best to budge in on those morning cuddles and grab a few of their own.

We'll make plans for summer and Grandma will begin her countdown to lake time. 

Saturday afternoon will find basketball and football games on TV. Card games and board games will be played. And there will be food. Lots of food.

Presents will be exchanged. Love shared.

Movies watched. Lots of conversation. 

New Year's Eve we will watch the ball drop and say good-bye to 2016. And while there were good MOMENTS in the year, we'll be happy to see it go and hope to DISCOVER better things in 2017.

Happy New Year to you and yours. The adventure awaits.


Friday, December 30, 2016

One Little Word

I wasn't really thinking of my One Little Word, but I knew one day it would find me. It always does.

This week, I was on Twitter and someone posted something about OLW. I thought back through my past words (Connect, JOY, Aloha, Balance and Moments) and how they move through my life, even now.

But that's not when it showed up. Not really.

My OLW has been following me around for awhile, always present, just waiting for me to notice it, embrace it. My OLW wanted me to think it I chose it instead of it choosing me.

And, one day, in my wanderings and musings, it screamed at me....

DISCOVER

I will turn 60 in March and like it or not, I am at the end of my teaching career. This year, my school district is considering offering an early retirement plan, and if they do, I'll take it. And while at first I was excited, I'm also wondering what this new part of my life will bring. Who am I, if not Mrs. Day?  

Really.

Who am I?

So, whether I retire or not, this will be a year to DISCOVER who I am and what I love. 

Join me.

It's going to be an adventure.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Revisiting MOMENTS



2016 has been bittersweet.
Staying in the MOMENT has been difficult.
But I tried.

I wasn't sure I could write this post, that there were any joyful moments to share. I seemed to have blocked many out. So I took some time and scrolled through my Facebook page. Do you know what I found there????

Lots of joyful moments. Moments important enough that I shared them with friends and family.





My students created many of these moments. Speech kids always give me laughs and reasons to be proud. While last year wasn't our best, it definitely had fun moments for us all.  Throughout the year there were unexpected meetings with former students--JOYful meet ups that reminded me I have made a difference in at least a few lives.

I also worked with an amazing student teacher last year, who gave me back my enthusiasm for teaching. I credited her with my JOY in teaching this year.

There were moments with friends and family. My husband and I love spending as much time as we can with those important in our lives and 2016 made that more important.  In September, we lost our dear friend, Tom, to cancer. Tom wanted one more summer at the lake. He got that, passing away on the first day of fall.

But before he passed, we shared many cherished moments with Tom and his family and our friends. Each concert, each meal, each day spent sharing memories became more precious. And while we are sad he is gone, the summer reminded us why it's important to stay in the moment.

So good-bye 2016. You are leaving, but the moments will remain as precious memories.


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

CPLit: The Introduction

I teach a one semester College Prep Literature class each year.

One semester.

That's it.

One semester to cram in every text they should have read before they go to college.

But I know that's impossible.

So, I started with the end in mind. What is it that I wanted them to know and be able to do when they left my class.

These are my notes from my summer of reading and planning---notice my "ultimate goal".  "To get students to think for themselves."


That was, and continues to be, what I want from my students. This semester, I have a small class of ten students. Eight girls and two boys. All good students. All students I've had before in various other classes and activities.

We begin our semester with the essential question, "Why do we need things in books?"  This question actually comes from Neil Gaimon's introduction to the sixtieth anniversary edition of Fahrenheit 451, and, not so coincidently, the first book we read.  We talk about that question and I get stock answers--to learn things, because we have to,  for enjoyment, etc. Not the answers I am looking for, but it's a start.

We start the year with Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 and I want them to think as we read--
  • think about a world without books
  • think about their education
  • think about the technology in their lives
But these are high school kids used to vocabulary sheets and comprehension questions (and I am as guilty as anyone), so I have to move slow.


I assign the book in three sections. After each section, we discuss. The first discussions in this class are not what this literature loving teacher wants, but I know it takes baby steps. We begin, usually with comprehension questions--the I don't understand this part kind of questions. 

It's OK. I know they are reading.  

Fahrenheit 451  is the only book that I hand out questions for. Some are comprehension, but others require them to think about what they've read and they lead us into some pretty good discussions.  What do you think about school in the book?  How is it like ours--or not like ours? What do you want from your teachers and your education? What book would you try to memorize?  

Most of the time, the answers were a little shallow, but they did show that kids were thinking about what we were reading and that's what I really wanted at the beginning of the year. They did a wonderful job discussing characters and the motivations of those characters.

But it wasn't enough and I needed to push them further.

This happened when we began reading Night by Elie Wiesel.