Thursday, January 31, 2013

This Morning's Schedule...

6:15: Up and shower.

6:45: Roust children, make lunches, confirm that there's no stupid 2-hour delay for the kids like there was yesterday.

7:25: Out the door. Rush kids to Heather's for carpool.

7:35: Kids at carpool. Rush to meet Thom and others at van rental place. Will leave car there to help bring vans back from school at end of school day.

8:00: Meet Thom, drop off car. Rush to School to get there by 8:30.

8:35: Close enough. Rush to class to get attendance taken.

8:40: Whilst taking attendance, cell phone rings. It's Suzanne, calling from Washington, DC, to inquire why she's seeing chatter on Facebook that says that the kids' school is closed.

8:41: Call Heather, confirming that kids' school is, in fact, closed (apparently due to power loss from last night's heavy winds) and that they're at Heather's house.

8:42: Report this to admin, and inform them that I have to go get them because Suzanne is probably not going to get there from Washington, DC.

8:43: It becomes apparent that my car is at the rental car place. Cursing begins.

8:44: It becomes apparent that the Children's Theatre group has a gig this morning not far from rental car place, and that they're due to leave at any moment. Cursing quickly subsides.

8:50: Rush to put subbage is put into place for the day, pick up work to bring home and get into car with Children's Theatre people.

9:15: Back to rental car place (wasn't I just here?)

9:20: It becomes apparent that I have no desire to sit around the house all day with my children complaining of boredom. If I take them up to the Red House, at least I can get some work done and they can run around outside.

9:45: Stop at Wayfarer House to pick up supplies for children (Heather's and mine) to spend the afternoon at the Red House. Also, pick up hardware and equipment to do home improvement.

9:47: Realize that there is nothing to feed children for lunch except fruit and pretzels. Cursing begins again.

11:00: Pick children up from Heather's. Cursing stops because there are children present (who are not mine)

11:05: Stop at McBurger to throw food at children.

11:06: Children get all, "I don't like [anything on the menu unless it's the most expensive thing there]." Cursing and negotiations begin.

11:30: Children have food. I have headache. Off to the Red House.

12:00: Arrival at the Red House. Children go off to frolic. I go to work on the walls of the living room.

The afternoon was much less eventful and much more productive.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

10 Things Thursday (because it's a good week for lists)

My students started presenting today on their study strategies for learning vocabulary. Here are some of the ways they've found to be successful:

1. Flash cards. Some have pictures, some have individual phonics cheats, some have hints--there are so many ways my kids use them.

2. Make Gestures. A surprising number of my bunch learn very well from by simply making gestures to go with the words or expressions they're working with. It's funny to watch them make funny (and sometimes very extravagant) gestures during their exams!

3. Competitive Games. Nothing pushes some of us better that a good contest! Sometimes it's simple stuff like hangman, but I've seen them make their own rules and just go.

4. Lists, read right before bedtime. The genius piece of this is the time. The brain has this wonderful ability to recycle the last things it sees right before we go to sleep (it's why tend to have bad dreams after watching horror movies). Recycling French vocab in your sleep is like learning by osmosis!

5. Write words out over and over. For many, the act of writing is tedious and distasteful. For some, however, it is the perfect thing to get something to stick in the brain. My wife is one such person. I am most decidedly not.

6. Make diagrams and webs. An example is below. For people who process well through their eyes, this is a wonderfully effective way to see not just words and definitions, but context.

7. Mouth feel. I have a student with a hearing impairment who learns well via a combination of seeing phonics and watching someone say the words so that he knows how to set his mouth to recreate the sounds. We're still developing this, but it's proven pretty effective even in its beta form.

8. Drawing pictures. For whatever reason, I can't upload the image a student did that illustrates how it might be done with classroom objects, but trust me, it's impressive. Some students love to sit with words and doodle with them in my class. I figure this has to be a good thing.

9. Recording into their iPhone. Most schools would have a problem with this, I think, but I support this as a more-than-appropriate use of technology. Hearing one's voice like this is an excellent way to improve pronunciation and, for people who process well by hearing, it's a convenient way to have vocabulary at their disposal wherever they are. Have you ever seen a teenager without their iPhone?

10. Walk around. This is another thing most schools would chafe against, but allowing students who are highly kinesthetic learners to move around does a lot to improve their ability to retain information. You'll often see kids walking around my school with a partner and a pile of flash cards when they know there's an exam coming.

Do you have a trick for memorization that works for you? Tell me! I'd love to know!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Ten Things Tuesday: Wintertime in New England

Here are some of the many things one learns when living in rural New England during the winter:

1. Not all snow shovels are the same. Sometimes you need width, sometimes not. Sometimes you need payload, sometimes you have to sacrifice it for endurance. Sometimes you need something that glides or plows, and what's on the bottom of the shovel matters. Aluminum or steel lasts longer, but catches on everything. Plastic is smooth to push, but wears out. It's complicated.

2. Staying ahead of the snow is good. It is counterintuitive, but the amount of time and energy required to manually move 12 inches of snow is greater than that required for 2 inches of snow six times.

3. Fireplace ashes make excellent anti-slip material. They're also much better for the environment than salt or sand or other chemicals.

4. The plow truck will time its run precisely to coincide with your completion of the driveway. I don't know how this happens. It's like magic.

5. Proper church attire may include boots from L. L. Bean.

6. Sometimes, it is best NOT to snovel. A base layer of compact snow can, on occasion, make later removal easier and keep dirt and gravel driveways from being rough and chewed up. This is as great a hazard as ice because you can twist an ankle and fall, spilling your groceries all over the driveway. Don't ask how I know this.

7. On occasion, the routine of work and school must yield to Mother Nature. This is accepted and enjoyed by most.

8. You should look up when passing under buildings, to make sure there are no icicles that might fall on you.  Especially if those icicles are the size of you.

9. It is a wise person who gets the wood in during the spring.

10. Keep the cold water running just a titch if the temperature dips down too far. A small stream from the faucet will keep the pipes from freezing.