Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A Search for Bread and a Few Carnivals Thrown in For Good Measure

No matter what is going on in my household each particular week two items always make the top ten list for the grocery store – milk and bread. Bread has been one of my focus topics lately for research.

I’ve been on another one of my wild goose chases for the last several weeks, but unfortunately the golden loaf of bread I’ve been searching for has eluded me for now. No, I’m not searching for sourdough, wheat or rye….my golden loaf involves a little fact I ran across regarding President Franklin Pierce.

See where my search took me in my latest posting at American Presidents Blog.


some of the web’s best blog carnivals have posted in recent days…..you can find the Education Carnival from last week over at Bellringers, the Home School Carnival at The Common Room, the Carnival of Family Life at The Expanding Life and the Book Review Carnival at Literary Menagerie.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Testing Tornados

It’s testing time here in the sunny, warm south. That means it’s time for the memos to begin a-flyin’ regarding “the test” and those ever so important ….insert fake echo effect here…”TESTING PROCEDURES”.

I do not think it is any coincidence whatsoever that the testing window in Georgia opens about the same time as our tornado season begins. It can certainly add a little more confusion to the chaos that CAN be created because it’s testing time.

While the follow is a good piece of satire regarding the atmosphere surrounding “the test” it isn’t too far off the mark regarding just how serious….and I mean ser-ri-ous things have become.

Hang on….here we go:

Please do not look out the window to watch for approaching tornadoes. You must monitor the students at all times. To do otherwise would be a testing irregularity and must be reported.

Should students notice an approaching tornado and begin to cry, please make every effort to protect their testing materials from the flow of tears and sinus drainage.

Should a flying object come through your window during testing, please make every effort to ensure that it does not land on a testing booklet or an answer sheet. Please make sure to soften the landing of the flying object so that it will not disturb the students while testing.

Should shards of glass from a broken window come flying into the room, have the students use their bodies to shield their testing materials so that they will not be damaged. Have plenty of gauze on hand to ensure that no one accidentally bleeds on the answer
documents. Damaged answer sheets will not scan properly.

Should gale force winds ensue, please have everyone stuff their test booklets and answer sheets into their shirts being very careful not to bend them because bent answer documents will not scan properly.

If any student gets sucked into the vortex of the funnel cloud, please make sure they mark at least one answer before departing and of course make sure they leave their answer sheets and test booklets behind. You will have to account for those.

Should a funnel cloud pick you, the test administrator, up and take you flying over the rainbow, you will still be required to account for all of your testing materials when you land so please take extra precautions. Remember, once you have checked them out, they should
never leave our hands.

When rescue workers arrive to dig you out of the rubble, please make sure that they do not, at any time, look at or handle the testing materials. Once you have been treated for your injuries, you will still be responsible for checking your materials back in. Search dogs will not be allowed to sift through the rubble for lost tests. Unless of course they have been through standardized test training.

Please do not pray should a severe weather situation arise. Your priority is to actively monitor the test and a student might mark in the wrong section if you are praying instead of monitoring. I'm sure God will put war, world hunger, crime, and the piracy on hold until
testing is over. He knows how important this test is.

Yes, testing time is important. Yes, testing time is serious. So serious you have to laugh sometimes to keep from crying.

The sound you hear now is me……heavily sighing.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Gift

Back during another lifetime in the 1970s you would have found me on Friday night sitting in front of our family television….the one where the knob had fallen off and we had to resort to using needle-nosed pliers to change it…patiently waiting for my favorite television show to air. There I was – gazing up at the screen – watching a parade of commercials and happily munching on taco-flavored Doritos – then I would hear the theme song I can sing to this day and even if you won’t admit it, you can as well.

Here’s the story…of a lovely lady…who was bringing up three very lovely girls…All of them had hair of gold like their mother’s…the youngest one in curls.

Here’s the story…of a man named Brady…who was busy with three boys of his own…They were four men…living all together…yes, they were all alone.

I loved the Brady Bunch. They were different. They were not a cookie-cutter version of my very average family. Not everyone was related by blood, not everyone got along all the time, but there was a lot of love and acceptance. Take two families with former tragedy and throw in a dash of Alice and presto! An Instant American family I would have loved to be a part of.

Look around your classroom or neighborhood. We have more families with steps and halves and live-ins than ever before, and if you are like me you have often side-stepped an important facet of American History….our family history.

It’s easy to ignore these days, isn’t it?

We have students who have their fair share of tragedy….parents on drugs, in jail, molestations, mental illness, a different uncle in the house every week or so, physical violence…a plethora of mixed families that make the Brady Bunch-type family impossible to achieve, so I can understand why educators might be leery of asking children to examine their families, to answer the question why their families are important, and to decide how their family fits into the American quilt even with all the baggage that sometimes accompanies family life these days.

But, how can we ask students to connect to a bunch of folks discussed in the study of history that they’ve never heard of and will never meet unless they can connect to how they fit in….how their family fits into our society no matter the baggage and no matter the circumstances?

A brand new book has dropped into my lap that I think would serve as a great reminder that families come in all shapes and forms. A family doesn’t necessary have to be a group of people all related by biology….they have to have things in common and those things bind us together in love.

The book I’m talking about is called The Gift. Its author and illustrator, Karen Craft, just happens to be my dear sister. In The Gift she tells the true story of Baby Boy who came to live with a family who wanted a little boy very much. The book covers numerous themes from family love, overcoming tragedy, and even an honest look at what makes the concept of family what it is and to be more precise what makes the concept of a mother….a mother.

As the first page of the book states, “A Mama isn’t just someone that gives birth to you. She’s someone that sits with you when you’re sick, and doesn’t mind. She’s the one who bakes you cookies late into the night, when you forgot to tell her earlier. She will clap louder than anyone at your piano recital. She reads your favorite book to you over and over. And over. She really listens to you when you need to talk and when you’re scared she makes you feel safe. She teaches you to be polite and chew with your mouth closed. She’s the last person you see when she kisses you good night, and the first person you want to see in the morning. You know in your heart that she’s your Mother, you Mom, your Mama. She’s your gift and you are hers. Sometimes biology just isn’t so important after all.”

The Gift is a great book to open the door to discuss adoption with students of all ages, to discuss blended families, to discuss losing a family member, and to discuss how non-family members….our friends and neighbors….are important parts of our families as well.

Children will love the story details regarding Da, Mama, Sister Dear, and Baby Girl. The story even has its own version of Alice in the guise of Nanni-K who in reality happens to be my dear niece.

It is a great resource for your classroom library, a media center, or a home library. Students, young and old, will love The Gift as a read aloud as they make Mother’s Day cards and presents, and the book lends itself well to small group reading activities for older students.

Karen Craft’s illustrations are brought to life even in more exact detail by artist Meghan Branscomb from Mornin’ Glory Studios. As you can see from the story illustrations I’ve scattered through this post they are exceptional and make the story even more entertaining. I’m already thinking about making a few slides of the illustrations in enlarged detail to show to students as the book is read.

It’s a great book to purchase for your child or another child you know. With Mother’s Day around the corner it is also a perfect gift for your mother, mothers you know young and old, and even those motherly-types you have in your life. I have a few of those….and I know you do too.

Visit Karen Craft's website, Just Sharing a Story , to purchase your copy of The Gift.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

An Unexpected Nod

I’ve been so out of touch lately, and I’ve missed a few nods from fellow bloggers. One such nod came from Teacher of One over at Boys + Academy. She’s been so very gracious to award me the Premio Dardo award.

"This award acknowledges the values that every blogger shows in his/her effort to transmit cultural, ethical, literary and personal values every day.”

Teacher of One was also nice enough to post the history behind the Premio Dardo award she obtained from K Squared Ramblings. Interesting stuff…..

Now I’m supposed to pass the nod along to 15 other blogs. It wasn’t hard for me to decide, so in no particular order:

The blogs with the asterisk beside them are Georgia blogs. They are located on my very, very long blogroll of Georgia bloggers located at Georgia on My Mind.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

April Fool's Continued....

Well….I don’t think anyone noticed, but if you stopped by yesterday my cartoon image of myself and my other identifiers on this blog were missing. Instead you would have seen the image and name of another blogger…..100 Farmers.

We participated in a little April Fool’s prank that was led by Mister Teacher over at Learn Me Good. You can see his “day two” post here where he identifies all of the participants. Mister Teacher states, “A group of us got together and decided that we would switch blogs for the day and see if anyone noticed. Looking around at some of the blogs involved, it doesn’t look like many people did notice.” He continues, “At any rate, noticed or not, ballyhooed or critically disdained, we had fun.”

Yes, indeed….we did.

Long story short my particular post regarding a college history activity I do with students was posted over at Scholastic Scribe , and the post from 100 Farmers regarding progress reports was posted here at History Is Elementary.

The whole thing was motivating for me, and I sincerely thank Mister Teacher for arranging the swap.

Here are the other participants:

100 Farmers

Bluebird's Classroom


History is Elementary


It's Not All Flowers and Sausages

I Want to Teach Forever

Learn Me Good

Ms Teacher

Scheiss Weekly

The Scholastic Scribe

So You Want to Teach?

Tales of a School Bus Driver