Sunday, February 17, 2013

Long Time No Visit! How Is It Working?

I love the idea of blogging what is going on, especially in my classroom.  It helps to see it more clearly - stating the obvious! But...when you are uberbusy, writing a post takes a backseat to everything else, even cleaning the bathroom! Reading blogs from several of my fellow flippers, new and seasoned, has spurred me to churn one out before my Sunday morning walk.

After attending the Flipcon12 last summer, I have been working on the main element in a flipped class - taking the "lecture" out of class and replacing it with more meaningful activity.  The bulk of my time has been spent in two ways, then. Revamping my PPT's and turning them into online videos that the students watch at home and researching and creating additional activities in class to support and enhance what I want them to learn.

I have come to realize that biology, for the freshmen, is really like a foreign language.  We have anywhere from 30-50 new vocabulary words in each unit, and half or more are totally new to the kids.  So one task  has been to create various ways to learn and use the vocab. I have been fortunate to be able to create a healthy little competition with a simple game of "I Have...Who Has..." between the classes. The repetition seems to help quite a few of the students.  I always ask at the start of class if they want to play, the answer is almost always yes. Another game the students love, "Talk A Mile A Minute" works really well as a test day review before the test.  Both games take 5-7 minutes tops and make vocab much more manageable for them.

With many, many thanks to Laurie Westphal, I have a lovely bank of product ideas from which to create a menu (full blown or mini) or just to create a new way to do an old boring task.  I can't wait till her high school menu book comes out next fall! A couple of the seasoned flippers discuss the asynchronous aspect of their class in their blogs and this idea intrigues me quite a bit.  A menu of activities, both required and choice, seems that it will fit quite nicely with this asynchronous idea.  In addition, I am teaching freshmen, and while it will be a huge challenge for them and me, I really like the idea of getting these little 9th graders to be more self-sufficient, self-directed learners. I feel a bit like Rudy in that respect. (You remember - the movie about the kid who wanted to play at Notre Dame)  He always gave 110% in practices, getting the starters ready for their game. If he gave less, they would not be prepared. I want to set the freshmen up for success not just they year they are with me, but for the next three+ years. That will be my goal for next year.  This year, I just want to get things in place!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Still Here

It is mid April and the slide into the end of the school year is beginning.  I am happy with the way this year progressed, but am excited for next year.  I will be attending a conference on flipping my classroom and am very excited about this change.  It is a huge undertaking, but I feel great about it.  Three other teachers will be attending with me, so we all can support each other as we embark on this endeavor.

We have started the legwork for the kitchen renovation this summer.  The house is 25 years old and the kitchen is well worn.  It needs a facelift.  Thanks to all the sales during income tax weekend I was able to order several of the appliances under budget, on sale with free shipping and no tax!  New oven, warming drawer, wall mounted range fan, gas range, sink, and faucet.  Pretty much got the granite nailed down too.  Looking at lighting fixtures, and will shop for fridge soon too. 

Reading my last post, from November, I still miss and think about Jackie often.  Rhonda commented a while ago that Jackie would have loved Pintrest.  I think that every time I log in there!  It has been a great place to gather ideas for our kitchen renovation as well as classroom ideas and other miscellaneous.  I could spend hours looking at all the other ideas people have pinned.  She would have loved it for sure. 

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Measuring Stick

You often hear that girls marry men like their father and guys marry women like their moms. As a newlywed, I questioned that old wives tale quite a bit. Gary shares many qualities with my dad, but Jackie and I??? I was not so sure. I just did not see it.

The mother-in-law measuring stick seemed to be 50 yards long, and I was only 3 feet tall. Mom was very budget conscious and frugal, budget was almost a foreign term to me. Mom was very direct, straightforward, and efficient. I tend to meander and wander, and take way too long to do and say too many things. Mom would start a task, and not stop until she was done. Me, I start a few projects at one time, flit from one to the other, and take twice as long to complete them. I was not so sure I would ever measure up.

One of the first memories of my newlywed life was the first time Gary's family came to Houston for a visit. We had only been married a few months. I was working full time and going to night school to finish my bachelor's degree. I think the family arrived on a Wednesday night. Gary and I both had to work Thursday, but would take Friday off. It was the start of summer break for them.

We left at the usual time in the morning, giving mom a quick tour around the galley kitchen. Jackie walked Gary and I to the door assuring me that they would all be fine that day. I don't think I will ever forget the mix of emotions I felt upon my return home. Jackie had cleaned and straightened the condo, started dinner, and washed ALL of our laundry for us. Now, I cleaned house before their arrival, and had planned to make dinner but would think about it when I got home and the laundry??? I felt like mom just discovered a dirty little secret, I hate doing laundry! That 50 yard measuring stick seemed to grow longer daily.

My feelings did not change much for the next few years. A psychologist might say it is a part of "first child syndrome" , wanting to please, to be the perfect spouse for her son, but always seeing that yardstick as way too long. We visited Mt Vernon, they visited Houston, and I kept hoping I was measuring up in her eyes, even if I wasn't in my own.

But somewhere along the way, as anyone with experience and hindsight would expect, I realized that there never was a yardstick. The thought I had during that first visit, that I did not do things well enough, could not have been further from the truth if it were on the moon. I learned that one of Jackie's driving forces was just to be of some help, in whatever way she could. Over our 30+ years of marriage, the times that Gary and I turned to her for help, guidance, or just a listening ear are innumerable . And she was always there to help.

She came down to Houston to help out after Craig and Chris were born, she and dad came to Houston to help out when we moved, she set my whole kitchen up, she babysat the kids so Gary and I could take some time for us, she helped me with sewing projects, she sewed a maternity wardrobe for me not once, or twice, but three times, she sewed clothes for the kids. The list goes on, but the reality was that Jackie was never more than a phone call, or later, an Instant Message, away and the answer was always "Yes!"

Looking at my "friends list" online these past few days has been difficult. Someone is missing. I found myself waiting for her name to pop up so I could say hello one more time. But mostly, I wanted it to pop up so I could say something I have wanted to say for a while, but did not realize it until this past week. Mom, I hope I can measure up to the mother-in-law yardstick when I become a mother-in-law myself . If I can, somehow I think you will be smiling!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Time Flies

Planning for the next unit in my Bio class and I realized that there are only 13 class days left until semester exams.  And it's only Halloween! I hope I'm having fun!  I'm too busy to think about it much.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Chief's Homecoming!

Well, it was in the stands not on the field, but still...there is something about the Chief that is just awesome! Have always loved watching, and I still shed a tear or two when I watch Chief's last dance.  So great to see him once again!  Welcome home Chief!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Monday, July 4, 2011

A Better Life

"I could point out to you a family whose grandfather was an Englishman, whose wife was Dutch, whose son married a French woman, and whose present four sons now have four wifes of different nations. He is an American,who leaving behind him all his ancient prejudices and manners, receives new ones from the new life he has embraced, the new government he obeys, and the new rank he holds.... The American is a new man, who acts upon new principles; he must thefore entertain new ideas, and form new opinions."

Letters from an American Farmer

Borrowed from a friend of mine, the above quote makes me think of my great-grandfather. He boarded a ship, the Waesland, in February 1892 at the age of 18, to come to America, looking for a better life. He brought some family members over, and went back once to visit when he was about 50, as far as I can tell. But each July 4th, I think of Great-grandpa Kellen and what he did. Were it not for the courage of men and women generations before him, there would be no "better life". Were it not for his courage, I would not be here. Leave home at 18 with the idea that you most likely would not ever see your family again, and also you might not even survive the trip across the ocean. It is unthinkable, and maybe even unimaginable, to many.

Happy Independence Day! Thank you, Great-grandpa for having the courage to build a new life, thank you to my father, father-in-law, nephew, and family friends who served or currently serve in the military to preserve those freedoms. Having now traveled internationally a small bit, those freedoms are so beautiful and precious.