Monday, October 30, 2006

An Update on My Special Soldiers

Hubby Dear and I along with Daughter Dear were so delighted a few days ago when two of my special soldiers stopped by to visit. After several months away in Iraq, Adam and Jess were home for a few days and managed to squeeze us in. I first wrote about them here and included pictures of their second oath of service taken in one of Saddam’s palaces.

They had been in the states already for several days visiting parents, grandparents, and taking a few days off to lay around on the beach in Hawaii. I certainly don’t blame them at all.

However, can you imagine being in one of the most dangerous places on earth, finally getting home, and then find yourself smack dab in the middle of an earthquake? While they weren’t at the most intense spot they did feel the quake quite intently. A different kind of adventure they said…like they hadn’t already been on one.

It was simply lovely to finally get to meet Jess since I didn’t get to attend the wedding. It was out of state and at the time my mother was not doing so well. Well, Adam did quite well for himself. Not only is she breathtakingly beautiful, she is also very articulate as well.

Adam and his younger brother, Seth, spent many days and nights at our house getting into all sorts of things with our Dear Son during their middle and high school years. They are the brothers Dear Son and Daughter Dear never had. As they left I hugged them both and told Jess what I always tell Adam, Seth, and their sister when we leave each other, “No matter what, no matter how old you are, if you need a place to be our door is always open.”

While we hope the happy couple is through with Iraq, little brother Seth has recently arrived in the Triangle of Death.

loved one

If you don’t already have a dear soldier to pray for please feel free to adopt mine. Seth is in a dangerous place with twenty-first century weapons aimed at an enemy with thirteenth century mentalities. The war we are waging is between parallel worlds millions of miles apart literally and figuratively, and my special solders are a part of it.

All of our special soldiers need our support whether we agree about why they are there or not.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Hurry Up and Wait, Part Two

As I’ve mentioned at this site before prior to becoming a teacher I dilly-dallied in the legal profession as a bona fide paralegal. I went to work each day, completed a must-be-done-today slate of activities, usually provided myself with a lovely lunch out in a real restaurant, regaled in stimulating conversation about tort reform, case law, and current events before journeying home to cook my family’s dinner and completing some type of at home project such as rearranging furniture or planting flowers. I felt important. I felt what I did mattered and was appreciated. The work I did was streamlined and efficient.

Now I teach.

It consumes my thoughts, my days, my nights, my weekends, and even my summers. It doesn’t appear that I can turn it off as easily as I could my legal work. I worry about students, I ponder over different strategies, I wonder why and what if much more than I should, and obsess over teaching so much I even have this website where I write about it. I now play some strange game of reinventing the wheel or justifying my actions for everything I do. I run the race to complete my work in a streamlined and efficient manner, but I never seem to reach the finish line.

Yesterday I began part one this post here where I explained a bit about my weekend traveling back and forth to be with Father Dear who had hip replacement surgery on the 27th. I detailed the hurry up and wait type of mentality that goes along with hospital visits. You hurry, hurry to get there to be with your loved one and then wait, wait, and wait some more to be supportive, helpful, and simply there if needed.

The day before Father Dear’s surgery I attended the social studies meeting along with approximately 49 other social studies teachers from across the county ranging from Pre-K through 12th grade. Georgia is rolling out new standards soon so I see the need to meet to set up a curriculum guide that will assist new and veteran teachers make more sense of the changes in their teaching area. The fourth and fifth grade teachers at my table are taking our task very seriously as we want a product we can sign our names to and, we know that it will be something we can use as well.

What doesn’t make sense is the hurry up and wait mentality of these sorts of meetings. I hurry up to get to the meeting so I don’t have everyone looking at me as I walk in late. I find I’m one of the first ones there. The meeting was supposed to start at 8:30 instead of 8:00. I wish I had gotten that memo…..kind of surprising since my email box at school greets me with at least 25 emails each morning.

As the minutes ticked by I found myself sitting, visiting with those around me, and sitting some more. The start time for the meeting ticked on by. We still sat. Last month when we met for two days we started late on those days as well. This time those in charge rushed about conferring over a computer screen, making quick trips to the parking lot, or basically moving boxes of unidentified stuff from one side of the room to another. Come to find out the paperwork different grade level groups needed to complete their sections of the curriculum guide had not been brought to the meeting. Hmmmm….Also the cords needed for the lap tops we would use to type up our sections of the curriculum guide were in South Georgia in someone’s trunk. Hmmmm…….and then a bombshell was dropped.

Nice Curriculum Lady referred to some forms that had been placed on our tables. One set appeared to be a list of social studies themes. She didn’t inform us which group but did advise the themes came from one of the national social studies groups. Then Nice Curriculum Lady began to tell us about a meeting that county folks like her had attended led by state officials. Apparently they were told the state would like for teachers to begin teaching thematically instead of chronologically with the implementation of the new standards. The room got very quiet, very fast.

Nice Curriculum Lady kept talking, but many in the room had stopped listening. We were too busy looking at each across the tops of our glasses, rolling our eyes, or choking on our biscuits. You could tell who in the room is close to retirement because they were saying under their breaths, “Well, if this is what it’s coming to I’m out of here.” I noticed one veteran teacher across the room push here papers back to the middle of the table and announce to those around her, “Well, I’m done….”

Yes, it looked like I was at the brink of rebellion.

Several people were asking Nice Curriculum Lady questions and, she quickly saw she had lost many of us in the room. She repeated some of what we had missed. Yes, state officials wanted social studies taught by themes, however, she and many of the county officials at the meeting balked enough for the state officials to finally agree to no requirement for thematic instruction, however, the units listed in the curriculum guides must have themes listed with them. In other words we must add themes to the wording of our units as window dressing to meet someone’s need in a tall downtown building to justify their ridiculous salary.

Nice Curriculum Lady dropped the next bombshell. Not only would we add themes as window dressing (my words…not hers) to our curriculum units we would need to come up with our own themes as a county system. This was met with lots of question marks…..mine included.

Ok, let’s get this right……the state wants conformity so they come up with a new set of standards, however, each system can set up their own curriculum guides and their own scope and sequence regarding when the units are taught. Additionally every county or system will arrive at their own interpretation of themes and add them as window dressing to each unit. Many at my table stated the obvious…..where’s the conformity in that?

We had a set of themes on our tables. A set of uniform, plug ‘em in where they go themes yet we were being asked to arrive at our own system themes. Many in the group asked, “We have them right here….why are we reinventing them?” No real answer was given. You see, that solution would be too easy. Too economical. Too perfect. Too streamlined and efficient.

The next three hours was spent attempting to get 50 teachers to agree on a set of themes that looked like the national ones yet were paired down to seven or eight instead of ten and were in words that students could understand. I’m sure I don’t have to state the obvious here….words a first grader would understand and words an average twelth grader would understand are vastly different. Angry words and accusations flew between high and middle, between high and primary grades, and between teachers and country officials.

Part of the problem was that many in the room didn’t see the need to do what we were doing. As it was discussed more and more it finally came out that the state would probably come out and issue their own themes at a later date. The room erupted in a firestorm frenzy after that.

As I finally trekked home at 3:30 p.m. that afternoon I couldn’t help but think my whole day had been a waste. It had been a waste for many in the room. All of us had been away from our students (in case someone has forgotten that’s the main reason why we teach) to participate in a fiasco of government waste to the max. It made me feel ill. It made me feel used. It made me feel sorry for John Q. Public whose tax dollars paid for a substitute for each of us to argue all morning regarding a set of themes that didn’t need arguing over.

I participated gladly in the hurry up and wait mentality to be at the hospital with my Dad. I played the hospital’s game because it’s what you do. You support your family member by waiting, waiting, waiting. You support your family member by sitting there to make sure they receive good care. You support your family member by simply being there. Yes, I care. Yes, I want to help. Yes, I want to show my love and appreciation to someone who has supported me, loved me, and provided well for me over the years. You do what you need to do because it makes sense.

On the other hand I am angry about participating in the hurry up and wait mentality of my other family….the school system. I see no need to waste my time, my student’s time, or the tax payer’s money discussing themes. Why do we keep reinventing the wheel? Why do we follow blindly without speaking up and out loudly? Why are we wasting our valuable time to arrive at a set of themes the state will come out with anyway? Why are we adding them to a fill-in box on each unit in the curriculum guide simply to satisfy somebody somewhere?

In this instance is it hurry up and wait? No, it’s more like hurry up and waste, and waste, and waste…..

Hurry Up and Wait, Part One

I spent Thursday and Friday away from my classroom. Originally the plan was for me to attend a social studies curriculum committee meeting on both days. Then Dear Father called and informed me his doctor had scheduled a hip replacement surgery on Friday, the 27th. Well, there was absolutely no way on earth anyone was going to put my Dear Father asleep without me being there first.

So the last three days have been very exhusting and can be described only as hurry up and wait type of days. You know, those types of days when you have somewhere you need to be and must be there by a certain time. Once you arrive breathless and tense because you hurried so you discover that the day will consist of waiting, waiting, and more waiting.

One of the hardest things to do is to wait. I’m not a very patient person. I like to be in control. Surgery is one of those areas I can’t be in contol of so I waited, waited, and waited some more in the waiting room of the small town hospital where every member of both sides of my family have been at some time or another for the last 50 years or so. I got there soon after Dear Father and Lovely Step-Mother had arrived. Sweet Step-sister and Energetic Step-Sister-In-Law were already buzzing around preparing Dear Father for surgery. How fortunate we all are that they both are nurses in the surgical department. It seemed to helped Dear Father’s feelings.

Zipping ahead in the story Father Dear came through ok though Young, Smart Doctor informed us that Dear Father has the largest bones he had ever seen and, he had to use the largest hip joint he had. I joked with my sister (that's how we handle worry) that they weren't lying to me when Mom and Dad used to say to me, "You're not overweight; you're just big boned." I must have gotten my big bones from Father Dear. Well, it sounds good anyway.......

Lovely Step-Mom, Dear Sister, and I along with Sweet Step-Sister's husband and Dear Father's pastor and his wife made small talk in the waiting room. Folks came in and spoke to various members of our group. I would lean over as the person would walk away and say, "Now who was that?" At one point one of the fellow waiting room waitees was identified as having the same last name as Dear Father. He was there for his wife. Another couple was identified as having the same last name as Dear Departed Mother's maiden name. They were waiting on their daughter. We are all cousins in some form or fashion I'm sure.

That's what I like about a small town. Life there is very safe and secure even though the area is growing by leaps and bounds. You never know how or when you will end up with family, but you'll be with family no matter what.

Dear Father slept on and off all day after he finally reached his room that burst at the seams with his children, step-children, friends, and step-grandkids. At one point the nurses were trying to figure out who all the people were milling about in their hallway. I had the job of informing them that there were husbands, wives, and kids who hadn’t shown up yet. “Oh my gosh,” she said in a surprised, wide-eyed way, “There’s more?” We quickly assured her we would come in shifts after the first day.

Day two was also another hurry up and wait day. Hurry up and drive the hour and a half to the small town where both my mom and dad grew up. Then wait, wait, wait sitting by Father Dear’s side in case I’m needed. My main job was to be there so Lovely Step-Mom could go eat lunch if she wanted to. Father Dear was more alert, but I feel his recovery will be a bit slow.

Stay tuned for part two where I detail the hurry up and wait mentality behind the social studies committee meeting I attended on Thursday. Here's a hint of the fiasco.........teaching thematically versus chronologically. Yikes! It can only be compared to what herding cats must be like.

Stay tuned.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Pop Culture Continues to Trip a President

I’m always amazed at what my students discuss with one another regarding their television viewing habits. I’m on constant alert to quash discussions regarding various reality television shows comingled with talk of Sponge Bob.

One young television viewer came in the other day and said, “Hey Elementaryhistoryteacher, did we really have a president who used to fall down all the time?”

I was caught off guard. This is not unusual since I generally have four or five kids talking to me at the same time and another two or three others poking me or calling my name repeatedly.

I responded to my televion viewer by saying, “Huh? What are you talking about?”

“Well, I was watching the Comedy Channel last night and I saw this show called….” He was searching for the title. The kids standing around began to pepper him with titles of shows. Apparently my students are well versed with the line up on the Comedy Channel.

Mr. Overexposed to Television made another attempt, “A show called ummmmm, ummmm, something, something live. He turned to the other kids and continued, “It was so funny. Everyone was calling him Mr. President and he kept falling all over the place. Then the guy stood up and said Live from New York It’s Saturday Night. Saturday Night Live!…..that’s it!”

“Oh yeah,” I say. “That’s an old show. It started back when I was in high school.”

“Golly,” one sweet cherub states, “that’s really an old show.” I ignore the comment and simply smile.

Another student speaks up, “Saturday Night Live still comes on. I watch it sometimes. They have this neat cartoon that shows gay superheroes.”

I think to myself that I remember a time when kids thought the word gay meant to be happy and cheerful. Remember? Wasn’t it the Flinstones who had a “gay, old time?

The student expounds further, “…and they have a car that looks just like a…..”

“Alrighty then,” I quickly interject. “Let’s get on with what we need to do today. Turn to page…..”

No, I will NOT be the lead story on the five o’clock news today.

In case you are not aware the characters my student was speaking of have a car that resembles the male body part.

Of course the president Mr. Overexposed to Television was referring to was none other than Gerald Ford.

Poor Gerald Ford…forever saddled with the ‘clumsey guy’ lable.

So maybe my fellow educators and I need to prop poor Gerry up to the kidlets because most of what they internalize about him is what pop culture feeds them.

Want to know more? Visit American Presidents here to learn more about President Ford.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Famous Explorer Cortes Spends the Day in Elementaryhistoryteacher's Classroom

Would you be willing to wear short “pumpkin’ pants, tights, and knee high boot to motive kids? Mr. Schinella did, and the interest level regarding how people lived in the 1500s greatly increased.

Not only did he wear a period costume all day at school he taught the majority of the lesson and worked one-on-one with many of the kids. Here are some great pics of Mr. Schinella in his “tights”.

Cortest Visits Our Classroom

The focus of his lesson was the Renaissance period and how advances in technology gave birth to sailors having the ability to sail much further and for longer periods of time. Mr. Schinella is pointing to the powerpoint of mine he used throughout the lesson to show additional images to students. You can make out a portrain of Prince Henry there but not the text.

I like using various slides as we introduce material. Students saw real images of Prince Henry’s school of navigation in Portugal which trained many of the Portuguese sailors and enabled them to have the knowledge they needed in order to sail around Africa and later to reach the coast of India. These were the first real stand-out events in the Age of Exploration.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

A Conundrum For You

Well, I’ve been back from the beach for a few days. I don’t know which is harder….the torture right before a break or the turmoil when you return from a break. I think Chinese water torture is easier in both cases.

I have a ‘things to do list’ which is longer than my left leg, and things are being added right and left as we speak. I’ll get to everything eventually, but it may take me some time. I have many more things to share about the beach and my trip, however, I think I’ve rubbed your nose into my paradise enough for now, and I bet you are ready for History Is Elementary to get back to the business of being about history and teaching so without any further beach talk here we go…..

These days everyone’s family tree is a little confusing due to the increase in divorce, remarriages, and cohabitation. I wouldn’t want to be a genealogist in one hundred years or so trying to decypher family lines. Activities and projects which revolve around the family unit can mean a teacher is treading into dangerous waters. A few years ago I thought it would be a really great activity to have a group of language arts students interview family members and obtain the receipes for special dishes that family members always want to have at family gatherings. You know, Aunt Mary’s Creamed Corn, Uncle Jim Bob’s spare rib sauce and so on. We were going to take the two or three receipes from each class member and students were going to write out the recipes and illustrate the pages. All of the pages were going to be bound into one booklet, mass produced, and shared with the entire class.

Sounds like an interesting activity right? Our first experience with history is learning our own family history. I was trying to jump start that a bit and get some conversations going at home.

I only had two kids to bring in recipes. Most never brought anything and I had five parents who wrote nasty notes wanting to know why I was prying into their families or informing me they don’t associate with family members.

Needless to say the subject of family can get a little touchy.

Southerners are always getting dumped on regarding our family trees. I’ll admit it…some family trees down here in the nether regions of the country are confusing. Hell, some family trees don’t even fork.

I have a confession to make. My maternal tree does fork, however, that sucker is inundated with the thickest, largest kudzu vine you ever did see. (If you don’t know what kudzu is click here.)

Many days ago I began thinking about Mom’s family. I hopped into bed with pen and paper and began diagramming all of the connections.

Hubby groaned. “Oh no, you’re not going to write about that, are you?”

“Now, now,” I soothed. “It’s not like Granma and Granpa were actually related.”

“Wasn’t your grandmother your grandfather’s wife and aunt at the same time?” Hubby asked.

“Well,……yeah. Technically,” I answered.

“Wasn’t your mother’s father also her grand uncle?”

Gee, I was amazed Hubby remembered all of this. “Yeah,” I answered, but….”

Hubby continued as if he was the District Attorney grilling me on the stand, gr“Wasn’t your grandmother’s father-in-law also her brother-in-law?”

As my family pride began to sag a bit I said, “Yes, that’s all true, but you’re making it sound like we all have three heads, one eye in the middle of our foreheads, and we’re cross-eyed to boot.”

Hubby raised his hand to shush me, “Wait,” he said, “I’m on a roll.” He peered over at my diagram and examined it for a minute.

Finally he said, “Your great-grandfather was also your great grand uncle.” He lay back on the pillow smiling and all full of himself.

“Hmmmmmm….Is there such a thing?” I countered. “Is there a distinction of grand uncle? But yes, I guess if you want to go that far you could say that my great grandfather was also my great grand uncle.”

I was getting exasperated at this point as I said, “Look, what’s your point? It’s my family tree. I thought I would share this information to introduce the topic of overlapping presidential administrations for a post over at American Presidents.”

“Oh. Well….Never mind then. That might be an interesting way to approach it.”

And it just might be an interesting way to approach the subject, but first see if you can untangle my family’s kudzu vine. I’ve even posted my family connections in green to make it easier for you to see all the twists and turns.

These family connections, as suspect as they may be, are all true. We are not deformed, and no laws have been broken so how about it?

Give my puzzle a whirl…

What makes these family connections completely innocent?

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Maintaining My Claim

As the picture confirms I’m still maining my claim on the beach. Day two and I am settled into my lounge with umbrella, Coke (a good Southern girl never goes anywhere without the elixir of life), cell phone, and plenty of paper and pens.

All is right with the world…..

The beach is busy this morning---not with people but with the business of being a beach. Small, greyish-white crab-like creatures scurry here and there diving into holes in the sand before my poor “graded too many papers in my lifetime” eyes can focus in on them clearly. I mimic their actions as I scurry from spot to spot camera phone open attempting to snap a picture. I hope Daughter Dear isn’t watching her crazy mother from the balcony of the condo. I finally give up leaving the minute creatures their solitude.

The birds, large and small, are soaring overhead or walking the beach nibbling this and that. Their little heads bob in and out as they walk along as if they are saying, “We’re eating this and that, this and that, this and that, this and that.” What is it that they see in the sand that I don’t?

It’s right before noon….the sun is still a bit to the left. As my gaze pans from east to west I see a long column of condo buildings as far as the eye can see running parallel to the white ribbon of beach and the blue-green of the water. Along with a long stretch of condos to the east is the Alabama-Florida state line or Floribama as the locals call it.

Directly in front of me looking out towards the horizon I see an expanse of what appears to be huge silver sequins winking and twinkling at me as the sun catches each little ripple of the water. Various kinds of boats dot the horizon here and there.

view in front of me

To the west the water reverts back to the blue-green, semi-transparent depths. Empty lots complete this end of Perdido Key and are dotted here and there with sea oats stretching down towards the jetty.

to the right/west

Occaisional trios of pelicans soar by on the prowl for tasty morsels.

If I remain patient, vigilent, and by fixing my gaze on one section of water at a time I am rewarded with the occaisional water ballet that mini-schools of small, silvery fish perform as they come in close to shore turning this way and that. The sun shines through the waves as they curl one last time to reveal brown seaweed churning in the water. A small boat motors across and as it reaches me a wave curls. For a split second I’m able to see a large fish swimming inside the wave parallel to the boat. It’s just a dark shadow but it’s a three to four foot long shadow. Is that a triangle-shape fin sticking up along the top edge of the creature? Hmmmm….I wonder if the mighty fishermen realize their prize catch is only a few feet from their deck. I think of Dear Husband. He’s been out since 5:30 a.m. on a charter boat with twenty other manly men from our church. I hope he’s having a good day and the fishing/seasick gods are being benevolent to everyone aboard.

The waves are pounding today----much larger than yesterday---more distinct clouds and a steady, steady wind. I have to fight my favorite writing tool….the spiral notebook….to keep it steady as I perch it along the handrail of my lounge.

The birds see something in the water. They are literally belly flopping into the surf diving straight down like Kamikazee pilots except they are able to crash into the water and careen right back up in the wild blue yonder proudly munching on their catch.

A large…..wrong word……a giantic bird has landed in front of me. I freeze. He....she turns around and looks my way. I mean I think he/she is looking at me. How can you tell since the eyes on the side of the head? I begin to think about my exit strategy if gigantic bird begins to come my way. This took some thinking since my “I’m not overweight just undertall” body does not always move quickly in the most graceful manner. Two groups of people walk by. You would think gigantic bird would get nervous and fly off. He/she just kept gazing out at the sea totally ignoring me and the folks passing him by. Finally he/she begins to flap and transports his/her body from the left of me to the right of me where he/she continued his/her sentry duty over the water. This continued for about five minutes before he/she finally just walked on down the beach. Just another tourist… least speedos weren’t involved.


As the afternoon wore on I watched the sun slowly slide on down the other side of the sky. The huge silver sequins that winked and twinkled at me earlier are also moving further and further to the west. Occaisionally a fish flips up out of the water for an instant and slides back in. I began to see gangs of dolphins swimming towards the jetty. They gave me my own personal floor show as they literally jump in and out of the water as they sail by. Wow, who needs Sea World?

Star Trek begins with these words, “Space….the final frontier.” I beg to differ with Captain Kirk. Here I sit on a fine line between the edge of a continent and a great abyss. Space is fine. I get it the need for space missions but I think even with all of our technology we have lost the determination needed for that next great discovery or accomplishment. The Cold War fueled our desire to win the space race and now it’s over and our desire has cooled. We also don’t seem to have that same collective drive or spirit as it were to have a major accomplishment. What has been the greatest space news lately? Some yahoos (and not even a full compliment of yahoos) decide Pluto isn’t a planet. It’s disheartening.

The oceans are where it’s at. This is where we should focus our attention. I sit here and look at the edge of a world we are aware of but yet we still know so little.

Deep thoughts…….

….and another day ends

…. and I still maintain my claim.

sunset day 2

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

I Conquer This Beach in the Name of Elementaryhistoryteacher!

The beaches along the Florida and Alabama Gulf coast are lovingly referred to as the Redneck Riviera. It’s true---you see more cars with Georgia tags in Panama City Beach than you do on an Atlanta interstate. Dear Hubby is on a fishing trip up the beach with the men from church while Daughter Dear and I are ensconced in a condo somewhere between Pensacola and Mobile Bay. It’s my first time here and I want to come back. It’s simply lovely.

It’s fall ya’ll, but summer is apparently still tugging away at folk’s hearts. It would appear that my compatriots here on the beach are all Southerners----our accent gives it away, you know. We’re a mixed bunch from Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, and Kentucky. We’ve all been true to our Southern selves as we have smiled politely, said our how do you dos and where ya froms before retreating quietly to our own plots of sand. We’ve all claimed our small little colonies. Individuals and groups, large and small, huddle around their rented chairs and umbrellas with assorted coolers, bags, books, buckets, shovels, nets, and other beach accoutrements.

I’m reminded of the European explorers who arrived at shores like these sans condominium and came ashore bringing their supplies staking claim to land in the name of the king or queen back home, eager to explore their new land, and oblivious to the fact it belonged to others. We Southerners have done much the same this morning on our plot of sand as we planted our coolers in an effort to make the statement, “Here I am….this is MY space.” The explorers who came to the shores of North and South America were all different and they came for different reasons. I can’t help but sit here as I observe my fellow Southerners and make a few comparisons between them and various groups that came to the New World.

Two women, two kids, and whiney girl are nearby. Whiney is about six or seven----a butterball of a girl that I suspect whines simply to be whining. The repetitive music of the waves is broken every two to three minutes by a whine that resembles the beginning of a good cry but never quite develops beyond the opening notes. She whined because another girl was playing too close to her spot in the sand. She whined to go in the water, she whined to go back to the beach, and she whined to go up to the pool. Three hours of her whining and I was quite ready to slap her. Just to be sure I wasn’t being too hard on whiney girl I asked Daughter Dear to observe for a few minutes.

Daughter Dear said, “Damn, she is whiney!”

“Shhhhhhh…….,” I said. No, I didn’t correct her for the expletive. There are times when damn is the appropriate response even if you are just thirteen. I just thought she said it a little too loud.

Whiney girl reminds me of the Portuguese who began the whole exploration thing anyway. Oh, what whiners they could be! Rather than sticking it out and angered at what they saw as an over abundance of Spanish flags flying in North and South America the Portuguese whined to the Pope in hopes they could be given more rights to explore additional land. This resulted in the Line of Demarcation of 1493 and is the basic reason why Portuguese is spoken in Brazil and not in more of the South American continent. Not satisfied they whined some more and a second Line of Demarcation was set in 1494.

Some family groups come out en masse….grandmas, grandpas, mom, dad, kids, assorted aunts, uncles, and cousins. They invade quickly and suddenly. They are loud, overbearing, and irritating. They vanish just as quickly as they drift away to explore more, do a little fishing, throw a football, or collect some shells leaving their stuff behind in their wake. They remind me of the Spanish who made such a presence in North America for a long time, but began to drift away as more and more of the English ended up on our shores. The Spanish bit by bit slowly sank away to bide their time in Mexico and South America.

Quiet man and woman on one side of me and ultra quiet no-sun-at-all woman on the other side of me are good neighbors. All three of us remind me of the many thousands of Europeans who came later after the initial explorers. They simply wanted to live their lives as they wished, beholden to no man. Quiet man and woman with their novels, me with my pen and paper, and no-sun-at-all woman with her crossword simply want to be. Yes, we are the stuff that will make this beach great!

A couple of spots around are all set up for folks but not a single solitary person has visited the claim, and I’ve diligently camped on my spot all day. I guess these folks could be compared to the French…..wanting a presence in the New World so much but too busy elsewhere to really make a lasting go of it. Yes, I remember the fur traders and I’m painfully aware of New Orleans across Mobile Bay from where I am sitting, but face it, they just really didn’t have what it takes to make it for the most part.

So here I sit…the sun is now to my right and it is slowly descending towards the water. Bit by bit my fellow Southerners are disappearing. Even Daughter Dear has gone in. Like my English forebears I still sit. They had a rough time of it in the beginning. Several attempts at colonization failed and there were starving times, yet they kept trying, and they remained.

I’m not leaving my colony on the beach. I’ve waited a year to be here, experienced a very sad life-changing summer and wind-blown, sun-baked, hippie beach guy will have to pry my cold, dead fingers from my rented lounge as I intend to see the sun set. I intend to be the last Southerner on this beach today. That sort of attitude is what won the exploration race and forged a great nation.

By the way…….I was the last Southerner on the beach!


Friday, October 06, 2006

Dr. Peabody and the Wayback Machine

When I was a much younger girl I loved to watch the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show. The section that held my attention the longest was the Wayback Machine segment of the show where Sherman and Dr. Peabody always visited some distant time. In those minute minutes I learned about the early Romans, ancient Greeks, fables, myths, and other bits of history that I could recall later during an actual lesson or as I read a book.

Earlier this summer I wrote about a lesson I attempt to give early in the year where students are taught that the very ground we walk on has a history as well. It is all around us if you just take the time to stop, look, and listen. If you missed the post you can view it here.

Another site I like to use when planning lessons is the Atlanta Time Machine. This site has hundreds of old picture postcards of Atlanta, pictures of Atlanta street scenes, even specific buildings and houses as they appeared 30, 40, even 50 years ago along with an image of how the property looks today.

Back during the summer Hubby and I tooled around on the site for an entire evening looking at places we used to go to as children such as Johnny Reb’s Restaurant, Lester Maddox’s Pickrick, Pilgreen’s, and Hartsfield (the airport). With the exception of the airport (a much, much larger version now) none of those places exist today. I’m actually glad Johnny Reb’s doesn’t. It was a horrible name for a restaurant. They actually had carpet on the walls instead of wallpaper. We always sat where some kid before us had gotten mashed potatoes on the wall. Yuck!

At any rate…..take a jaunt on the Atlanta Time Machine. Sherman and Dr. Peabody won’t be there but you may enjoy it just the same. I believe there are some links from that site to other cities.

Elementaryhistoryteacher is finally off to the beach tomorrow so posting may be sparse. We are taking the laptop but unsure if we will be able to use it.

Have a great Fall weekend!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Yet Another Carnival

The most recent carnival of education is hosted by Andrew Pass at The Current Events in Education. If you haven’t already stopped by go find out what’s new in the education section of the blogosphere

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Didn't You Know? Old Is The New New

I received a lovely surprise this evening. My recent post regarding James Buchanan was included in the most recent edition of the History Carnival. If you haven’t ridden the rides at the History Carnival then you simply aren’t living.

A huge thank you to the person who must be thanked (you know who you are) for forwarding my post to this edition’s host Old Is The New New.

Go forth and enjoy!

Yet Another School Tragedy

My heart aches for the Amish people.

I see in the Amish the original promise of this great country of ours…a land that serves as a haven for the persecuted, the down-trodden and simple folk who just want to live according to their religious beliefs. Aren’t those the very reasons why so many of our ancestors arrived on these shores?

Though they do put up with being made into a side-show from time to time as we venture into Amish country to observe them in their daily lives the Amish continue to maintain their beliefs, their traditions, and their simplicity in a world that has gone stark raving mad.

It’s amazing to me that the Amish have been able to live for so long maintaining their strict, simple lifestyle amidst a technology laden world. They don’t try to push themselves on anyone. They don’t tell us how evil and wrong we are. They simply want to lead their lives. We should treasure these people, honor these people, and protect their right to live as they choose. Religious freedom is the one ingredient the majority of the thirteen original colonies were founded on.

Even in the midst of this terrible, terrible tragedy we see a group of people remain steadfast to their religious teachings expressing forgiveness to the terrible, terrible demon that invaded their school building yesterday. The few that have spoken on camera or whose comments have been relayed to us via a reporter express forgiveness, express God’s love for all people, and express that even this terrible tragedy was God’s plan.

Could we “English” as they refer to us act in the same manner?

Monday, October 02, 2006

Absolutely Amazing American Heroes

If you are like my husband and I you get numerous emails each week that are forwarded from one person to another to another to another. Many times those kinds of things don’t keep your attention long, and they are often bits and pieces of other forwarded pieces you have already received. We normally delete them because you can’t save everything, you know.

My husband received these pictures in an email titled Amazing Truck and whoever sent it was so correct. Now I don’t normally get into these types of things, but take a look at these pictures. The artwork is so amazing.

See how many historical figures or events you can make out pictured inside and out and even under the body of this truck. I’m still counting……












Wow! I was right, wasn’t I? So how many events or historic people did you find?

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Native American Projects

Well, my first project has been assigned. It’s a simple affair focusing on Native American regions and how regional resources influenced their food, shelter, and clothing.

Each student has been assigned a region and Native American group that just happens to be mentioned in our old textbooks. Now I wonder how that happened?

Before our old textbooks were removed from the building I managed to save a class set. I plan to target research for students from the old textbooks from time and time. As of last Friday every student had been given an opportunity to take an old textbook home to complete their research. Students were told they could use media center books and the Internet as well.

I also presented a poster to students to show them what I’m looking for. It would not have been fair for me to actually complete a poster on one of the assigned regions because I would have been doing some lucky student’s work for them. I chose a U.S. region instead. Here’s my classroom example:


I used Bar-B-Q and grits as part of choices for foods to get a chuckle from the kids.

I asked students to judge my poster based on the grading rubric I gave them. I asked students, “Would I receive an A once it as graded? Is there any requirement I failed to meet?”

The rubric states students must do the following in order to receive a grade from 90 to 100.
*project must cover the assigned topic
*information must be presented on poster board
*information cannot be printed from the Internet and glued to posterboard
*information should be evenly spaced on posterboard
*labels must be handwritten or can be typed using a word processing program
*pictures must be drawn by the student
*pictures cannot be printed from the Internet or copied from a book
*pictures should be outlined in black and utilize more than one color
*information is given regarding how the assigned tribe meets their basic needs for food, shelter, and clothing
*sources for food, shelter, and clothing include pictures and labels
*a physical map is colored and labeled indicating where the assigned region is located
*one or two sentences are provided giving information about the climate and physical description of the region

Most students agreed I could have done a better job labeling my resources. “Great,” I said, “Then you will remember to do that, won’t you?”

Projects are due October 13th. I anxious to see what they come up with.