Saturday, March 31, 2007

Here's a Tool I Can Use!

Recently BlogNetNews contacted me about their worthy endevor. They offer an aggregator that can focus on certain areas of the blogosphere such as state blogs.

Their introductory email to me stated they don’t have a political ax to grind and they promise they are a generation ahead of other aggregators that just reprint posts and tell you which ones get clicked on the most.

BlogNetNews will use state blogfeeds to create new content and information that will help to organize it.

For example, the Georgia page at BlogNetNews will provide the top news according to what Georgians are linking to the most.

They provide a state specific blog search engine that you can place on your site. I’ve already done so over at Georgia On My Mind, but I need to play with the color a bit. You can find the code to add the search engine to your site.

They provide a quick guide to the hottest blog comment sections in various state blogospheres.

They provide an index of the days most active state specific news and politics and a guide to the most linked to posts by other state specific bloggers.

I already see this as a terrific tool and it will only get better as more of us link to it and provide the content.

I’m pleased this has come along because I see it helping the Georgia Carnival to grow as well as other state carnivals.

Directions for getting your site listed on your state specific page and what they need from you to begin receiving your feed is all detailed very easily for you over at the site.

BlogNetNews receives this teacher’s gold star of the day!

So go on over....check things out... and introduce yourself HERE.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Carnivals, Carnivals, Carnivals

Run don’t walk to the Sixth Edition of the Georgia Carnival over at Blog for Democracy. Melanie did a fantastic job and we have some newbie submissions to enjoy.

There is a little bit of something for everyone in this edition…there’s a little history, literature, and self-examination concerning what being Southern means to some.

Throw in a famous Atlantan, the beauty that is Georgia, and dealing with cancer along with the future of education, small town photos, and big city politics, and you end up with a well rounded carnival that won’t take you all weekend to read.

The next Georgia Carnival will be returning to Georgia On My Mind on April 13th. Posts can be submitted to

Thanks for linking to the carnival and for mentioning it at your site to let more people know about it. :)

The Education Carnival can be found over at The Education Wonks and the History Carnival Aggregator is a new site that provides information regarding all of the various history carnivals.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Strength of the Triangle

We have a few wooden geometric shapes for students to use as math manipulatives including three dimensional globes, triangles, squares, and rectangles. As one of the Social Studies teachers for my team I don’t usually have any need for these figures, however, recently I’ve been accumulating and hoarding the wooden triangles.

Yes, if it’s March, then it’s time to seek and gather triangles while ye may.

The other day students entered the room to find several wooden triangles strewn about on the desktops as well as pictures of triangles taped to the board and one on the computer that projects up to the wall mounted television.

“Hey, Elementaryhistoryteacher, are we gonna do math?” asked one of my fiesty, loud, outspoken boys.

Another young man responded, “Nah, remember Elementaryhistoryteacher told us at the beginning of the year she don’t do math.”

A tall girl that I can always depend on to “remind” everyone about what they should be doing said, “I bet we’re going to do some art. Elementaryhistoryteacher, are we going to draw triangles?”

Little Girl Who Always Does Things Her Own Way immediately rushed over to the crayon drawer (this is the end of March….the 25 individual crayon boxes were torn up or disappeared by Thanksgiving….actually I’m blessed that I still have any crayons at all). She pulled the drawer out and placed it on the front table while Roll-On-the-Floor-Boy raced Falls-Asleep-All-the-Time-Girl to the closet screaming, “I’ve got the paper!”

I remained sitting behind my desk determined to ignore the proceedings as long as I possibly could simply wondering how far they would go.

Two of my Smarty Pants Go-Getters approached me and stood before my Den of Solitude very reverently. I finally looked up.

“Um, Um, Um, are we…are we gonna do something with pyramids?” asked Smarty-Pants One.

Smarty Pants Two said, “Oh, if we are going to start something on Egypt I have some models of the Great Pyramids. Can I bring them in?”

That got some others started……

“Did you know that they buried people in those pyramids?”

“It’s hot in Egypt.”

“Duh….it the desert.”

"Fieldtrip...Can we go?"

“Isn’t that where Joseph was?”

“That’s a good movie, I saw it.”

“Hey! Hey! Hey, this glass pyramid here… this a greenhouse? My grandmother has one of those. She won’t let us play baseball anywhere near it. I don’t know why. There just a bunch of plants in there.”

“Ewww, the greenhouse effect. Miss Science taught us all about that.”

I sighed….got up and walked to the front of the room and perched on my stool as this banter went on and on and on and on and on and on…….

Actually is was only about eight minutes, but when you are dealing with chattering loverlies eight minutes can seem like eons of time.

I sat and then I sat some more. Finally they noticed me sitting and calmly the drawing paper was put away, the crayon box restored to its nest and all hind-ends met up with plastic seats.

I made an inquiry with one word, “Paper?” Instantly (well, almost) everyone had a piece of notebook paper. I asked students to work with their study partner and look at the pictures of the triangles I placed on the board and on the television. I asked them to pick up a three-dimensional triangle from the table top and really examine it and think about the structure of a triangle. After a few minutes I asked, “What makes a triangle a triangle? Talk it over with your partner and make a list.”

After a few minutes I said, “When some of you were talking earlier many of you mentioned Egypt. Look at your list and discuss with your partner why you think the Egyptians used pyramids the way they did.”

Another few minutes went by and I went back to my stool. The kids have learned this is my silent signal that we are ready to begin, or I require their attention. I announced that I wanted the whole group to share about what they had been discussing with their partner. They all had discussed the general attributes of a triangle…..three sides, pointy ends, flat sides, etc. A few said some triangles are three-dimensional and others are flat images. Some volunteered the Egyptians used the triangle because it was an interesting shape and got the attention of people out in the desert. Some students mentioned it might have been the easiest structure for the Egyptians to make based on the environment and the natural resources available. One duo thought that the use of the triangle indicated the people were reaching up to Heaven, and the triangle is the best shape to reach upward.

“Let’s talk about the simple construction of a triangle,” I said as I walked over to stand next to a triangle I had drawn on the board. I indicated one side of the triangle with my hand and asked, “Do you see how I could say that this side of the triangle is pressing on the other two?” Some heads nodded yes, but others weren’t with me yet. I picked up a paper strip triangle I had made by fastening the side strips together with brads so that the sides moved this way and that. I held up the paper strips and students saw a perfect triangle. I said, “Now watch what happens when I apply a little pressure on one side against the other two.” Instantly the paper triangle collapsed. “Now, this shape is made from flimsy paper. Think for a moment about our stone pyramid you see in the picture on the television. “Do you understand now how all sides and edges push against the other two? Pick up the three-dimensional triangle you have in front of you and discuss it.”

In a few minutes I sat on my stool and things quietened down. I asked, “So, what did you decide?” Students figured out that perhaps the Egyptians used the triangle because it can be a very strong figure. When students brought up the fact that pyramids are larger at the bottom than the top I asked, “Where do you think all the weight is?” The top, of course, was the reply I received. I advised that since less weight is on the top and since the top presses down it has less weight and all three sides can support each other.

“Ok,” I said. “Let’s look at the edges of a triangle. Discuss with your partner about the weight along the edges of a triangle. Pick up the models and feel them, look at them.” Students decided that there would have to to be equal weight or equal power along the edges of a triangle or it could collapse.

“Sometimes we use a triangle diagram or graphic organizer to explain things we want to create an image for. What are some reasons why we do this? Think about what we have already discussed. What kinds of things would we want to illustrate by using a triangle graphic organizer?”

Students advised triangle diagrams would work when there were three parts to whatever was being illustrated. Other students advised that the connection between the three things being illustrated would have to be strongly linked, and they decided that the items would need to be things that could be equal or as one student remarked, “Each thing can’t have more power than the other or the triangle won’t be a triangle anymore.”

“Yeah,” someone else remarked. “You’ll just have a mess.”

I gave a big “Hmmmmmm, close your eyes everyone and imagine a collapsed triangle…a collapsed pyramid. Look over the big mess. Now, open your eyes and discuss how the big mess is like the results of the Articles of Confederation. How are the two alike?

Students remembered that the Articles allowed for unequal power between the Federal government and the states. The states had more power.

One young lady said, “Well, I know why it didn’t work and why the triangle collapsed.”

“Why?” I asked.

She got up and walked to the front of the room and put her hands around one of the flat triangles I had drawn on the board. The Articles of Confederation just had the Federal government and the states. That’s two not three. It was an incomplete triangle. No wonder it failed.”
Heads nodded around the room in agreement. Another student said, “Yeah, we need three things to make the government work.”
From this point I asked students to draw a triangle on their paper and began sharing the three branches of the United States government with them and launched into a discussion of how the process of checks and balances work. I drew a circle at each of the three points and labeled one point executive, another legislative, and the third judicial. The checks and balances between each branch was written along the sides of the triangle.

Later the crayons were pulled back out as students color coded their diagrams.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Thursday 13: Week 18 Take A Wild Guess Where I'll Be Next Week

Hard to believe I took most of these with a camera phone….Alabama does have some nice beaches. I can’t wait….this time next week I’ll be there.

Visit the Thursday 13 site HERE and meet up with other participants.

Wordless: Week 18

This woman has two faces…..

Last week’s explantion can be be found HERE

Join in on the fun with Wordless Wednesday HERE

Monday, March 26, 2007

Georgia Bloggers Submit Your Posts...Please!

There is a price to be paid for great scenery like this.

Here in the great state of Georgia we are becoming mired down in the thick yellow haze of pollen. It’s everywhere….even with doors and window shut a thin yellow coating can be seen on every surface even after dusting. I hear we aren’t going to to get any rain for at least a week. Any other time that would wonderful news, however, we depend on the rain to wash some of the pollen out of the air and it simply isn’t happening. My students and I are stumbling around high on Advil Cold and Sinus, Claritin, Benedryl, and Sudafed. Thank goodness we aren’t taking “that test” this week because students are falling asleep left and right because of all the meds.

The pollen index which I don’t really understand is set to where anything over 100 means folks with breathing problems need to take care….they might want to stay inside. Today’s reading was over 5,000….that’s how bad it is. I’m escaping to the beach next week to get away from it.

I’ve been having a bit of fun this week over at Georgia On My Mind with Texas history. Yes, I know….it’s supposed to be blog about Georgia. Some Lone Star folks including Ed Darrell at Millard Fillmore's Bathtub are attempting to get a Texas Carnival up and going, and well….some words were exchanged and I couldn’t help myself….I had to go and show off about what I know regarding Texas history. Go on over and see my last three posts to find out about a “BLOG CARNIVAL SLUG FEST.”

The Georgia Carnival will be ready for your reading enjoyment this Friday, March 30th and will be hosted by Melanie at Blog For Democracy. If you aren’t a Georgia blogger, but you know one please send them my way.

If you are a Georgia blogger what are you waiting for? You can submit your post to or you can also use the handy submission form.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Daniel Boone Was a Man...Yes, a Big Man!

Yes, the Tour Marm finally came up with the right answer for my Wordless image. Go check out her history puzzles here. My Wordless Wednesday this week referred to the nickname members of the Shawnees gave larger-than-life Daniel Boone.

My young historians will soon be leaving our studies of American government behind, and now the settlement of the West looms before us….Now don’t be confused. I’m not speaking of the sweeping vistas of Monument Valley as seen in John Wayne westerns-----I’m referring to our "first" west that I wrote about back in June titled
It's Important to Know Your Frontier.

Yes, Daniel Boone is a larger-than-life figure. There are as many myths and incorrect stories about his exploits as there are true ones. I could go on and on and on but here are five interesting facts about Boone that aren’t commonly known.

1. Daniel Boone was born into a family of Quakers---his father had come to the colonies from England in 1713 and settled in Pennsylvania. Later the Boone family left the Quakers and relocated to the Yadkin River Valley of North Carolina. It seems that Mr. Boone’s children kept marrying outside their faith and sometimes a child would be on the way before the actual marriage ceremony.

2. As some of us older types remember in the Daniel Boone series on television he was married to Rebecca and did have a daughter named Jemima, but what many historians now agree on is Jemima was actually fathered by Daniel’s brother Ned. Boone knew this but brought Jemima up as his own along with the many other children he and Rebecca had together. It seems that the relationship started between Rebecca and the brother after Boone was thought to be dead on one of his lengthy trips in the wilderness.

3. Boone was captured by Native American groups several times. Once when he was captured by the Shawnees he was made to run the gauntlet and having survived he was adopted into the tribe to replace a fallen warrior. He was given the name sheltowee, or Big Turtle because he carried a large pack and moved very slow. Boone stayed with the Shawnees for such a long time before escaping that his family went back to North Carolina thinking he was dead. His fellow frontiersmen hesitated to trust him after his “sojourn” with the Indians and for his troubles Boone had to undergo a failed courtmartial proceeding.

4. Boone wasn’t just a hunter, trapper, guide, and adventurer. He saw military action in the French and Indian War, the American Revolution, and many other Indian conflicts such as Dunmore’s War. In his lifetime he was a tavern owner, surveyor, land speculator, legislator, horse trader, and slave owner.

5. Boone spent his final years living in Missouri. He moved there in 1799 when it was still part of Spanish Louisiana. There he was appointed as “judge and jury” as well as military leader of the Femme Osage district.

Boone is known to have said, “I can’t say as ever I was lost, but I was bewildered once for three days.”

Yep, he was brave, he was fearless and as tough as a might oak tree!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Thursday Thirteen: Week 17 Constitution Convention Facts

My students have been learning about the formation of the government and thankfully they seem interested. You know they are interested when they don’t want class to stop for lunch. So, in keeping with my current classroom theme here are 13 facts about the Constitutional Convention.

1. The U.S. Constitution was written in the same Pensylania State House where the Declaration of Independence was signed and where Georgia Washington received his commission as Commander of the Continental Army. Now called Independence Hall, the building still stands today on Independence Mall in Philadelphia, directly across from the National Constitution Center.

2. Written in 1787, the Constitution was signed on September 17th, but it wasn’t until 1788 that it was ratified by the necessary nine states.

3. The U.S. Constitutuion was prepared in secret, behind locked doors that were guarded by sentries.

4. Some of the original framers and many delegates in the state ratifying conventions were very troubled that the original Constitution lacked a description of individual rights. In 1791, Americans added a list of rights to the Constitution. The first ten amendments became known as The Bill of Rights.

5. Of the 55 delegates attending the Constitutional Convention, 39 signed and 3 delegates dissented. Two of America’s “founding father’s” didn’t sign the Constitution. Thomas Jefferson was representing his country in France and John Adams was doing the same in Great Britain.

6. Established on November 26, 1789, the first national “Thanksgiving Day” was originally created by George Washington as a way of “giving thanks” for the Constitution.

7. Of the written national constitutions [in the world], the U.S. Constitution is the oldest and shortest.

8. At 81, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania was the oldest delegate at the Constitutional Convention and at 26, Jonathon Dayton of New Jersey was the youngest.

9. The original Constitution is on display at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.. When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, it was moved to Fort Knox for safekeeping.

10. More than 11, 000 amendments have been introduced in Congress. Thirty-three have gone to the states to be ratified and only twenty-seven have received the necessary approval from the states to actually become amendments to the Constitution.

11. Rhode Island was the only state [from the original 13] that refused to send delegates. Dominated by men wedded to paper currency, low taxes, and popular government, Rhode Island’s leaders refused to participate in what they saw as a conspiracy to overthrow the established government.

12. Patrick Henry of “give me liberty or give me death” fame also refused to go. The great orator said, “I smell a rat!” He firmly believed that state governments could protect personal liberties best.

13. George Washington reluctantly attended the Convention. He was suffering from rheumatism, despondent over the loss of a brother, absorbed in the management of Mount Vernon, and doubted the convention would accomplish very much or that many men of stature would attend. He delayed accepting the convention for many months, yet He was the one who was elected president of the convention. As such Washington did not particpate in any of the debate during the months the convention met.

Various websites provide this information far better than I can. Statements 1-10 can be found here. Statements 11, 12, and 13 can be found here.

Would you like some information on the men who were delegates from your state? If you live in one of the 13 original states you can find your delegates here.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Wordless Wednesday: Week 17

Which figure in American history is associated with a turtle?

You can find out more about Wordless Wednesday HERE

This week’s explanation can be found HERE

Monday, March 19, 2007

Are You Lost?

I’ve started out this week a little lost.

I’m tired, Dear Daughter isn’t feeling well, and I’m lost in “preparation for the state mandated test” that will be upon us shortly. I hate this time of year. You are simply made to feel like you are a terrible teacher if you don’t haul out “those” little booklets that the salespeople hawk at education conferences that administrator’s attend with the promise of higher test scores.

It just may be me thinking this but somebody somewhere sure is making a hell of a lot money on No Child Left Behind…..the kiddies and I are so glad we can help.

I’m also lost in a sea of things I want to share here and there, but the things I want to share far outweight my time to sit and post.

One thing I have wanted to share with you is an addition to the blogroll for those history types…..Southern Pasts is a wonderful site that I have enjoyed stopping by during my short and frenzied drive-by blogging of late. Comb your hair and get all “purty” and go
a-visitin’. It’s worth the time….just wish he was from Georgia.

One of the things I picked up while I visited Southern Pasts the other day is a reference to Lost Magazine and their website. I heard about this interesting idea for a magazine way back when on public radio. The editor was being interviewed and it sounded like a really interesting concept for a magazine.

Don’t you just hate it when you find something interesting and forget to write it down or your busy doing something else and then you completely forget about until something else jogs your memory? I lost my original thought about Lost and Southern Pasts helped me find it. I was so happy to have “found” Lost Magazine again.

So while I’m going to try to find my way out of this tired “test ready” fog I’m in go check out Lost Magazine.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Did You Know? Shift Happens!

I must have missed this back in August and in subsequent months as it became viral. I guess I stay immersed in the past a little too much and sometimes miss the present. This is an awesome presentation that really says so much. We are in times packed full of “shift”. :) Make sure you have your sound up....the music really fits the slides.

The original author is Karl Fisch from The Fisch Bowl fame. I finally became aware of it a few days ago when I was exploring Scott’s site over at Dangerously Irrelevant.

Thanks Karl for a wonderful lesson and thank-you Scott for pointing this slow-poke towards the fast-lane.

Thanks for visiting. See my most recent posts HERE

As Seen On My Computer This Week

Well, today is St. Patrick’s Day and Jarod over at Jarod's Forge gives us the 411 behind the holiday…very well done.

Mrs. Math Teacher on my team just completed our Pi Day celebration on the fourteenth, however, I was must impressed with Belleza’s little celebration to ease testing frustration and anxiety. Check out Marshmallow Day. I love her new look over there and the “look” of her pictures.

Mike over at Education in Texas was a little miffed that his site is censored in China. Seems he located a site that can tell if your blog receives “favored blog” status on the other side of the Earth. It’s kind of fun to enter your url to see if your site makes the cut. Check out the link at Mike’s post Can the Chinese Read You?

Carnivals abound……..the Education Wonks is holding the education carnival, Sharon of Early Modern Web is hosting the history carnival and Bill at Provocative Church is hosting the Georgia Carnival.

"Some Parents Drive Me Crazy!" so says Californiateacherguy while Mrs. Bluebird exclaims, "They just don't care!". All I have to say is, “Can I have an AMEN?!”

Open Culture looks like an interesting site……especially if you want to learn more about podcasts and wikkis, etc.

Not too long ago Graycie over at Today's Homework gave me a huge compliment with a Thinking Blogger Award. Thanks Graycie! I posted about the thinking blogger meme here, and had been remiss about getting my Thinking Blogger award up on the sidebar after I transferred to the new blogger. Today, I finally got that little job off my “to-do” list….only four more pages of “to-dos” to go.

Finally, here are two new sites I’ve added to the blogrolls:

The School of Blog
Cool Cat Teacher Blog

Check out all of these wonderful sites and have a wonderful St. Paddy's Day!

Friday, March 16, 2007

The Georgia Carnival-Edition 6

The Georgia Carnival is up.

It can be found over at Provocative Church.

Check out the pop up comments that make this carnival unique.

Be on your best behavior now and head on over to the church to see the news and views of a few Georgians.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Shopping Trip...A Guest Post

Mother put this story to paper in May, 2003. Two months later she would take a severe turn and would enter a nursing home. While my sister and I had heard numerous stories of Mother’s days growing up in Canton, Georgia this is a particular story I had not heard before and kept it in a special place. I knew that I wanted to share it with Mother’s family at some point.

I really don’t know how I did it but I managed to read it aloud at Mother’s funeral. All of her sister/aunts were there except for Aunt Dee, the oldest. She had paved the way for Mother and had already arrived in Heaven.

The picture I have here is one of the last times Mom was able to be with all of the sisters Mom is in the red shirt, and right next to her is Aunt Dee. Aunt Nelle is next learning down, and in the back is Aunt Blanche while Aunt Claudine is wearing the pink jacket. The gentleman is their cousin.

Mother’s family is a classic southern family in that things are little mixed up....the result of a father and son marrying half-sisters. So, the aunts were really aunts but they were more my mother’s age than my grandfather’s. While Mom was very young they were aunts and as she got older she referred to them as sisters. They were all very special to Mother and they are very special to Dear Sister and I as well.

Today is Mother’s birthday. It is very hard not to have her here to celebrate with. Publishing her story here at History Is Elementary is the best I can do to fully remember her wonderful ability to share her memories. Here is my Mother’s story in her words:

The Shopping Trip

The same four aunts who had entertained me as a small child when I ‘d visit their home we all lovingly called “The Homeplace” were now all entertaining me once again, but in a different way. Once a year they all four went into the city of Atlanta to shop, and they had invited me to go with them.

How well I remember not being able to get enough sleep the night before and spending my money a jillion times----just hoping I’d have enough for all the ‘treasures’ I hoped to find. After a big breakfast, we’d all stand down on the main road waiting for the big “Smokey Mountain Trailways” bus we all rode so much since we didn’t have a car. My heart was beating a mile a minute as we saw Mr. Honney, the bus driver, coming around the curve and down to where we were waiting. Finally, he stopped, and we filed onto the bus one at a time, each of us giving Mr Honney a “Good Morning!” and a “How ya’ doing?” since he seemed like family to us.
We went on back to our seats that were covered in a velvet-like material all in red. I made sure I got by the window so I could see the old four-lane highway rolling by us as we went south towards Atlanta. The traffic was nothing like it is today some seventy years later.

Finally, we pulled into the bus station, home to many different buses with different places to go. We went inside the building where the waiting areas were and where we could borrow their bathrooms before starting our journey up Peachtree Street where all the best shops and shoe stores were located. My Aunt Dee, my oldest aunt, would always lean down and softly say to me, “Don’t sit down, and be sure to wash your hands when you finish.” Then she would drop a dime into the slot and the stall door would open.

When walking through the waiting area to get back outside we saw mamas and daddies and lots of soldier boys all seated on wooden benches and scattered all over the place. Some seemed to be on their way home and some probably going to God knows where. Everyone seemed on schedule as the loud speaker would say something and groups here and there would begin to move.

The aunts hurried me outside and we crossed first one street and then another before getting on the right side where there was a cement walkway all the way down in front of all these different shops. The blouse shop was a favorite, and so were a couple of shoe stores including Butlers and Bakers. It was at Bakers that I chose a pair of brown loafers with a space under the tongue up front where you put a shiney copper penney for decoration as my first purchase of the day. From there we continued walking happily down the street.

Aunt Dee found the long black coat she hoped she would and got it at a nice dress and coat shop. By now Aunt Blanche had found a real pretty green dress, and like me Aunt Nelle had bought shoes, BUT Aunt Claudine hadn’t found her treasure yet. The day was young, however, and she was bound to find it later.

By now everyone was beginning to get hungry so we took a vote and decided to eat at the five and ten cent store called Woolworths where they had a really nice place to eat. Later we could browse around the store and look for more treasures. The five of us would almost fall into the booth with all of our purchases, leaving them all in on booth, and us sitting together in the next one, with somebody at the end and seated in a chair.

We often ordered their really good chicken and dressing that came with mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, cranberry sauce, a big, fat yeast roll with butter, and the best sweetened ice tea with a wedge of lemon stuck on the glass, OR we would order the big hamburger with all the trimmings like lettuce, tomato, and onion with a big handful of potato chips and pickle on the side. Forget about dessert…we’d have no room, but later on we might stop on the way back for an ice cream half-way up the street at a little honest-to-goodness little ice cream shop with tables covered with red and white checkered tablecloths and painted white chairs. The only problem was making up our minds regarding the flavor we wanted because there were several available. I always settled for choclate while Aunt Dee usually chose peach. Blanch, Claudine and Nelle always chose strawberry which looked quite tasty too.

Before we left Woolworths we always looked around for a bargain and I would always give the post card rack a turn or two. I’d stop at one of a pretty Atlanta mansion with different flowers out front, and choose one for Mama. Since Daddy was a big fan of the Atlanta Crackers, I would get him a card with a baseball player on the front.

I enjoyed reading comic books and for a dime I picked up an issue of Archie with a picture of him and his girlfriend, Veronica, on the front. I usually picked up the latest issue of Andy ( the Panda) too.

Walking back up the street we shopped some more and revisited a shop where I had picked out a baby blue sweater set earlier, and here Aunt Claudine finally found her treasure. She bought a pretty solid green slip-over with a floral sweater to match. Later my mom said I had made a wise choice with my sweater purchase and I wore it many times. Aunt Claudine wore hers as well.

We were all so tired out when we finally got back to the bus station and boarded the big old bus. We’d be very quiet all the way back up the old four-lane that led us out of Atlanta, through Canton, and to the outskirts of town. We all usually went to sleep just about the whole way home.

All those shopping trips with my aunts were so much fun, and gave me a lifetime filled with precious memories with them treating me like the little sister back then, and they still do, but I tell them I am catching up and in a hurry since I am now 70.

My life has been so blessed and filled with so much love from these ‘young’ ladies.

My cup does runneth over.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Wordless Wednesday: Week 16

Last week’s explanation is HERE
This week’s explanation is the comments…..

Mother's Chronicles

Yesterday, I shared with you my sister’s tribute to our mother where she advises that Mother chronicled much of our lives in spiral notesbooks and on calendars. I wanted to share this with you a little and to document the precious treasure she left our families. You see, Mom didn’t just write down every deal of my life and my sister. She also added in our husbands when they came along and of course she recorded every minute she spent with our children.

Here is one entry regarding my son and his 7th birthday.

August 21, 1992 7 years old $38.87 (the amount Mom spent for his birthday)
Found a cute puppy dog card. Blank inside. Front had three cute puppies on it and inside I wrote “You are so special to me and I love you so much.” I put a $5 bill inside card…mailed it before his birthday, so he would get it before the 21st.

Got him a pair of jeans, Rustler “Wrangler” brand from K-Mart size 10 regular-----and a Bugle Boy shirt from Belk in a royal blue color with different Bugle Boy “sayings” on front of shirt----short sleeves

Also at K-Mart…found him a remote big wheel truck on sale! Battery toy truck with big wheels and a hand held remote to press buttons to make truck go forward, reverse and turns, and lights on front that come on.

The reason why Mother always recorded how much she spent was she was a stickler on being equal and fair. If she spent thirty-eight dollars on one she would make sure she spent the same amount on the other kids. It was maddening for all of us but it was so totally Mother.

Her notes when on to say:

Hadn’t got K. (Dear Sister’s daughter) nothing in real long time, so I found her a little denim draw-string purse. It was light blue with a row of eyelet trim around the bottom, and four satin flower buds ( 2 orchid/2 pink).

Mother continues:

M. (my son) will start to school August 24. K. will go into the third grade while M. will start the second grade. God willing M. will have a little brother or sister this time next year! (I was pregnant with Dear Daughter)

A folded piece of paper in this same birthday journal tells me that on Mother’s Day, 1993 we had the following meal at Mother's-----

MeatLoaf, Mashed Potatoes, Butter Peas, Steamed Squash with carrotts and onions, orange congealed salad with fruit, Corn Bread squares, hot homemade biscuits, sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, and radishes and finally, Sour Cream Poundcake. Mother also included a note that it was my daughter’s first Mother’s Day with us.

In an entry for July 11, 1993, Dear Husband’s birthday Mother included this bit of information that I should have in a baby book for Dear Daughter, but don’t……

R. is growing. She can flip over from her stomach to her back. She coos and smiles and was so good.

And not to leave out my son Mother added:

M. got in the pool and showed me how well he swims----I’m so thankful he can.

Yes, sad times are detailed as well:

Christmas, 1987
Such a sad and mixed up time!
I was sick. Sooooooo sick. Mentally as well as physically.
Yes, it was a crazy mixed up time.
Mother always worried about others and never wanted to be burden to anyone. Her writing dwindled while she was in the nursing home, however, every now and then it would rally. In the last spiral notebook she had written a letter that was never mailed......I'll stop this post by providing the ending to her letter. It's a fitting way to end this post with the last lines Mother ever wrote:
I had better stop for now.
I love you and may God bless you.

Monday, March 12, 2007

A Most Excellent Remembrance of Mother

My mother’s birthday will be Wednesday. As some of you may know she left us very quietly on July 15th. Many of you have been kind as I’ve used this site to post many personal memories of her. I know that you will understand as I devote the next three days to remembering her and letting you know a little bit more about someone who influenced my life so much. The picture featured here is Mother with Dear Sister's daughter.

The following piece of writing was written by my sister at the time our mother passed way. This piece was read at Mother’s funeral by my pastor. Dear Sister sent it to me in advance before the funeral. After I read it for the first time I explained to Dear Sister that I rarely award a student with a high A in writing because writing is never finished. A piece of writing can always be corrected…altered…revised in some way. It can always be improved. However, Dear Sister captured the essence of who our Mother was so intently that I told her I would give it my highest accolade…a well deserved “MOST EXCELLENT” and a numerical one hundred. Here are Dear Sister’s words….

If Mother was anything, she was CARING. She CARED about everything, and most things too much. She cared about family and friends, and stray animals, and strangers in need, and people in the news.

She never forgot to send you a card, or telephone to let people know she remembered their special occaision. If you were sick or experiencing a hospital stay you could count on a card from Geri. She was forever finding things in magazines or the paper that she thought you might need or find interesting. She took care in cutting it out, writing a note on it and mailing it to us.

She loved to cook. She loved to write. She would sit at the kitchen table for hours on end and write letters and stories. Mother had written down every memory growing up around Mt. Carmel and Canton. She had penpals and loved to swap information on their different lifestyles and countries. She had friends…real friends. They took each other to lunch on their birthday. Mother’s favorite place was the Picadilly at Greenbriar Mall. A stuffed green pepper and a piece of pie and she was happy.

She was an organizational icon. As far back as I can remember, she provided you with something you needed to know. Family and friends anniversaries, births and deaths, graduations, when someone called her and when she returned the call (and what time), whether it rained or the sun was shining on a particular day…..everything went on Mother’s calendars and in her spiral notebooks. And just for a point of reference----today if we needed to know what our family had for dinner on Wednesday, June 4, 1968---just check the calendar. It’ll be there…and you’ll find it because she saved each and every calendar and notebook. [Elementaryhistoryteacher] and I have snapshots of our life history detailed in these calendars and notebooks.

Was Mother a packrat? She said no, she was a gatherer of treasures. Every kindness, every gesture, every gift and momento was saved. And true to her organizational icon standard, you know it was tagged with who the sender was, the occaision, AND the date. Laundry markers were purchased regularly at our house growing up.

Mother wasn’t a rich person. She wasn’t a materialistic person, but she was one of the wealthiest women I knew. She was wealthy in the sense that she had all she required to live a wonderful life. She thought herself so blessed to have the family and friends she had.
What she never really realized is how blessed we were to have her touch our lives.

You can read about my thoughts on family bibles and all about Mother's Bible here.

Tomorrow I’m going to share with you a few pages from one of those spiral notebooks, and on Wednesday, Mother’s actual birthday, I will be presenting one of HER stories here for you to enjoy.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Monroe Crossing the Delaware

Monroe crossing the Delaware.

That sounds strange, doesn’t it? The name of the famous painting should be correctly termed Washington Crossing the Delaware. I misnamed it on purpose to bring another president to the forefront because President James Monroe is also depicted in this famous painting.

Do you see him? The boat is rather crowded, isn’t it? You might notice several different figures of interest. Can you pick out the man of Scottish descent? What about the African Prince Whipple? Can you find the two frontiersmen? The two farmers? What about the man who looks very feminine? No, this isn’t going to be a replay of The Davinci Code…..but, you’ve got to admit the man with the red shirt does look feminine, or at least many art scholars seem to think so.

Continue on over to American Presidents where I have posted the remainder of the story.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Writing Across the Curriculum Using the American Revolution

Can fourth graders write five paragraph essays? I believe they can if they are given a large amount of support and if they are shown a process that is easy to follow. I’ve tried several strategies, but by far the easiest one I have utilized that also provided the best results was the A-B-C method. In an earlier post titled The Causes of the American Revolution I detailed the process of analyzing the prompt, brainstorming, and categorizing the information.

Once students had their three-columned organizer in front of them it was only a matter of treating each column as a paragraph. Students began crafting their own sentences from the information we had collected together in the brainstorming session. Once student got down to the business of writing it was at times very quiet as minds were at work and at other times the noise was deafening as students talked to each other and to me about their papers. Yes, I won’t lie…..there were a few who constantly had to be redirected and once I took a seat among the kids I had to move a couple closer to me to keep them on task, but overall they did a fantastic job.

Here are three examples of my students’ work. Notice that each essay begins with a question that they had to craft for themselves. The main idea sentence was given to them in the framework as well as the remainder of the introduction paragraph. The first sentence of each detail paragraph was also given to them to keep the students within the parameters of a five paragraph essay. Parts of the ending were also provided. Some may think I gave away too much in my framework for students, however, it needs to be remembered that this was their first opportunity to write a paper like this, and many had never written anything longer than 10 sentences before. The framework gave them something to hold onto in order to get their ideas on paper about the details. The details….the causes and how each student interpreted them was my main goal in this process. Anything else was simpy gravy.

The first essay I want to share with you is from a student who was born in Ghana. It was interesting to see his interpretation of events:

How did our country come to be? The United States began because of the American Revolution. The causes of the American Revolution are the French and Indian War, taxes, and the colonies were ready to govern themselves.

The first cause of the war was the French and Indian War. Colonists were crowded, and they wanted to move to the Ohio River Valley. The Proclamation of 1763 said they couldn’t.

The second cause of the war was taxes. Parliament made the colonist pay the Stamp tax, a tax on any printed item. The Sugar Act included many items that were taxed. The Intolerable Act was passed after the Boston Tea Party as punishment for the people of Boston. The colonist said, “No taxation without representation!”

The third cause of the war was colonists were ready to govern themselves. The colonists had been there foro a very long time and they thought they could make their own law and didn’t need a king.

The American Revolution happened for many different reasons. They three main causes were the French and Indian War, taxes, and the colonists were ready to govern themselves. I’m glad the American Revolution happened because I don’t want to be a British man.

The second essay is from one of my top students. His essay was our school submission for fourth grade in a writing competition that will go on to the county level and state level. This is the third year one of my students has submitted work in this contest.

Do you know about the American Revolution? Our country began because of the American Revolution. The causes of the war were the French and Indian War, taxes, and the colonies were ready to govern themselves

The first cause of the war was the French and Indian War. It was a war fought over the Ohio River Valley. It was a battle between the French and British. Many Indians were allies of the French. The British won, however, the colonists were mad because they didn’t get to live in the Ohio River Valley.

The second cause of the war was the taxes Parliament made the colonists pay. The names of the taxes were the Sugar tax, Stamp tax, Townshend taxes, and then the Intolerable Acts were passed. A group of people named the Sons of Liberty did not like this. Finally, war broke out between the colonists and the British. The first battle was called Lexington and Concord. The colonists won this battle.

The third cause of the war was colonists were ready to govern themselves. Britain had been controlling the colonies for a long time. They were ready for independence. They fought many battles for this and the colonist finally got independence.

The American Revolution happened for many different reasons. The main causes were the French and Indian War, taxes, and the colonies were ready for to govern themselves. I’m glad the American Revolution happened because if it didn’t happen I wouldn’t be alive.

The final essay is from a young man who is extremely intelligent, but has many problems at home. He likes to pout and many days ends up rolling around on my floor. I generally ignore the behavior and eventually he gets back into his seat and begins the assignment. I’m careful to only give him attention when he is doing what he needs to. There were times during the process of completing these essays that I didn’t think I would get a final product from this young man. When the assistant principal asked me to display a few of our essays in the front hall of the school I made sure this young man’s essay was one of them.

Do you know about the American Revolution? Our country started because of the American Revolution. The causes of the war were the French and Indian War, taxes, and, the colonies were ready to govern themselves.

It started from the French and Indian War when colonists were crowded and wanted to move to the Ohio River Valley. The French were already there. The British won. The colonists could not live in the Ohio River Valley. Then taxes were passed to pay for the war and colonists were not happy.

The colonists had to pay taxes like the Sugar and Stamp Act. The colonists did not like the taxes. They formed a group called the Sons of Liberty. Next, the Boston Massacre happened and five people died. The Boston Massacre happened when colonists threw stuff at the British soldiers and the British fired. The Boston Tea Party happened when colonists threw tea into the sea.

Many people who study history know about independence. Many colonists had their own government and didn’t need Parliament. James Otis made a famous statement when he said, “No taxation without representation.”

The American Revolution happened for many different reasons. The three main reasons were the French and Indian War, taxes, and the colonists were ready to govern themselves. I’m glad the American Revolution happened because the colonists got their way.

His last line cracks me up because part of his problem is he always wants his way.

This kind of work from students is not easy. It takes several days of deliberate intent on my part and mostly on the students. They got tired, they got bored working with the piece of writing over and over, but I kept telling that they all needed to persist. They would have a great feeling of accomplishment when they had completed the entire assignment, and they did. A few weeks later when I asked my language arts students to complete a persuasive essay regarding why someone would want to read The BFG by Roald Dahl, a read aloud that had been completed, I reminded them about th process of the American Revolution essay and told students to write in the same manner. This time I didn’t given a framework other than an opening sentence. They saw their original persistance paid off because many said to me, “Gee, this is pretty easy!”

Friday, March 09, 2007

As Seen On My Computer This Week

Archeo-Porn! Did you know it exists? While I will admit Josh Bernstein, host of Digging For the Truth is a rather hunky guy I’m not referring to him. I am referring to the buzz that was created by a recent Discovery Channel bit of hype concerning the DNA of Jesus. Elisheva over at Got Bible? has the scoop about James Cameron’s newest bit of fiction and calls it Archeo-Porn. I have to agree with her.

Have you ever had anyone delete you from their blogroll or shut down your feed? I’ve had my first disconnect (that I know about) and it got me to wondering why. I found this article titled Why Don't You Like Me? Top Reasons Why People Unsubscribe to Your Feed. Interesting….

So, why can some kids remember better than others? Miss Brooks at Teaching for Understanding is writing about Remodeling and Constructing Memories. Good stuff!

A brand new blogger, 30plusteacher, provides her views about homework. Did you know that the Chinese have begun banning homework? Go check Best Practices In Education.

Can there really be a relevant staff development out there? Yes, and yes, and yes! The Science Goddess over at What It’s Like On The Inside has posted an excellent education carnival. Check out the 109th Education Carnival----The Staff Development Edition.

I received a troubling email a few days ago from my friend Dennis Fermoyle. Do you know Dennis? Have you dropped by From the Trenches of Public Ed. and let your opinion be known lately? Dennis has had some interesting and sometimes heated conversations going on, and he does a wonderful job of faciliating (like any good classroom teacher would do) and simply throws topics out for his participants to discuss and occaisionally slug it out….only in a verbal sense, however. Dennis wrote me a note about one of his participants who we both have had interesting conversations with many times about public education. His name is Steven, and and he is facing a far greater challenge than the problems and solutions with education today. Please read Dennis' column regarding our friend Steven, and if you do that praying kind of thing please throw some good words Steven’s way.

Finally, the Tour Marm over at The Educational Tour Marm has me in a quandry. Does anyone out there know the person associated with her Wordless Wednesday? She did give me a hint…..the person is American. Help!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Thursday 13: Week 16...Mining Minds for Data at the End of a Unit

Upon completing a unit I like to focus student’s attention towards the new material they will learning. Following the assessment for the American Revolution I asked student to respond to the following prompt:

Cornwallis has surrendered at Yorktown. The Treaty of Paris has been signed. Now that the colonies are independent what will happen next. Write three to four sentences regarding what you think will happen next.
Here are 13 of my student’s responses. I use these to see where their head is at and to gauge prior knowledge that they might have about the Constitution. This information helps me to know where to start with the government unit. However, please understand this is not the only way I collect data for prior knowledge.

G said: The Americans will celebrate their victory, and the American colonists will take more land. The Americans will bring new inventions, create a better army, and name the country the United States of America.

No name (There’s always one in the group): They will have a hard time with the government. They will have to fight for land. They will have a hard time with the loyalist because they are still loyal to the king.

J: There will be a war about the slaves. The colonies will start fighting with the Indians again. There might be a third Continental Congress. (Actually I referred to this response today in our lesson about the Articles of Confederation since students always want to know who was leading our government since George Washington didn’t immediately become president. The student who wrote this learned there wasn’t a “third” continental congress.)

D: The Americans needed their own government and president, so they choose George Washington. They are happy they are free from Britain. They can now dwell in a free country. ( I kid you not she really did use the word “dwell”)

T: The people of Yorktown are happy. They are no more wars between them. Cornwallis is sad. He’s mad that the treaty is signed.

A: They will think about slavery. They might have another battle to decide what happens. I think that the Americans win because there is no slavery today. (A good logical deduction….he knows something had to happen to stop it….he’s just not sure what)

M: The US formed a country and the colonies finally got the Ohio River Valley. The colonist started to have many, many slaves. There was not so many battles fought after the Treaty of Paris was signed. The Indians left the United States.

A: The colonists were very happy and tired because it had been a long war.

A: Now, I think the colonists are going to get confused. They won’t know how to elect people for president. They would not know to govern themselves. (She’s right but she’s discussing THIS century not the time period we are studying, wouldn’t you agree?)

B: I think he [Cornwallis] got hanged. He breaks free and kills people. (Of course, I never discussed Cornwallis except in relation to Yorktown. Apparently this young man watches too many crime dramas or perhaps even the news)

T: Cornwallis had to give his sword to George Washington, and surrender his troops. Then Americans got independence and land.

J: The US is finally a country. They picked George Washington as president. They still had problems with slavery. It would take a long time for slaves to have their freedom.

K: Cornwallis migh have to go to Court. C. might be banished. C. might be killed. (This is someone who didn’t like having to write the name “Cornwallis” over and over and she’s all about people getting punished)

Overall, I’m ok with their responses. I wish more students had told me about government….that the colonies turned states needed some form of government, but it didn’t happen.

So, this means I’ll begin the unit with a discussion on why we need government and its purpose. I was very happy, however, to see so many students mention slavery. Though we began a thread on this topic many months ago when we discussed African kings and the Portuguese and have mentioned slavery at the appropriate times since it is not something I have drummed into their heads. It’s nice to know that student’s “slavery thread” has not become frayed, and I can continue to use it as we discuss the horror of the Three-Fifths Compromise, the Missouri Compromise, and many other concepts as we get near the end of the year.

I am happy to have the "big bear" of the American Revolution conquered. I will post examples of students' essays on the causes of the American Revolution in the next few days.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Wordless Wednesday: Week 15

A very historical ship.......Do you know why?

Last week's explanation can be found HERE.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Teaching Strategies: Scourge or Savior for Education

How many professional development seminars have you sat through and heard the people around you say:

“Here we go again….”

“That won’t work with our kids.”

“I can’t believe they spent money on this.”

Yes, I know. There’s at least one I’ve said, but I won’t tell you which. Most of what frustrates me about professional development and particular strategies being mandated is often educators are not given sufficient time to study the proposed strategy, to analyze the data behind the strategy, to practice with the strategy, and to reflect on the strategy. Too often new mandates in content delivery including the use of new curricula materials are thrown at teachers in a haphazard, hurried fashion and on the way out the door a manual a foot thick is thrown at you for you to digest “when you get a minute.”

What if we treated our students this way?

I don’t remember very many strategies being taught in my education school when I was a a candiate for my student teaching. I remember lots of information on Dewey, Piaget, the history of education in American (I lapped that up, of course), and unit after unit I had to plan. When I look back at those units I don’t see any variation for learning difficulties, learning styles, or any variance of strategy other than sit, get, and regurgitate. I would hope anyone who has read my posts regarding how I teach my classes understands that I do engage my students with relative content and meaningful learning experiences. This wasn’t always the case. Most of what I know today I’ve picked up in bits and pieces from those dreaded seminars, door-stop binders I’ve lugged home, and basically self-study.

So, are teaching strategies that important? Well, Socrates used a strategy. So did Plato and Aristotle, and they are educators who are remembered. I like to think of a teaching strategy as a plan…..a plan to meet the goal, and the goal, of course, is to meet the objective.

As I mentioned before the introduction to specific teaching strategies are often minimally accepted in a teaching community because of the manner in which they are presented. Teachers aren’t given sufficient time to practice, to plan, or to implement the strategies in their classrooms. Even with the advent of standards most state curriculums are still a mile wide and a foot thick. The ever present knowledge of “that test” looming in the spring inhibits teachers from using certain strategies that take a large amount of classtime. Also some teachers choose to ignore certain strategies because of the content itself. From grade level to grade level the content is fragmented which means a strategy that is high on the inquiry side might not be used if the teacher wants to lead students away from delving too deeply into content that won’t eventually be tested. Another factor that inhibits the use of various strategies is assessment. Like it or not paper and pencil assessments are still the norms in most school systems including “that” test. Unfortunately, strategies that employ sit, get, and regurgitate fit nicely with that type of assessment. Finally, supervision and evaluation of teachers inhibits the number of strategies that are used. Many districts are opting for content delivery models like Max Thompson’s Learning Focused Strategies that basically do the evaluation job for the principal. They come in and have a nice little check-list on which to evaluate the teacher. Does the teacher have a word wall? Check. Does the teacher have essential questions up on the wall? Check. Does the teacher begin the lesson with an activator? Check. Does the teacher employ one of the approved Learning Focused strategies for content delivery? Check. Are graphic organizers used in the lesson? Check.

Do you get my meaning here? Check.

I would like it to be known here, however, that the Learning Focused model is like any other model out there. There are good things and there are things that should cause concern as well.
If teachers know principals are looking for particular strategies then those are the ones certain teachers will use with no deviation.

In the book A Place Called School by Goodlad it was noted that in elementary schools only three or four different teaching strategies were ever employed. Middle school students rarely saw more than two different strategies, and by the time they reached high school only one strategy was used….the ever popular lecture.

Think for a minute. Can you identify at least five students in your class or classes that the current design of school is not working for them? I can. I know you can, too. These aren’t just the kids who disrupt and disturb our learning environments every day. These should be our bubble kids as well. What I mean by that is the kids that seem to hover right at the magic score on “that” test, but they never seem to break through the bubble. It’s obvious our past efforts with these children have not worked. What will?

While I strongly feel that there are extremely dangerous children in our schools mainly because I’ve witnessed them many of our unmotivated and uncooperative students simply aren’t being served to meet their needs. I guess you can think of it as the Leave It to Beaver or Family Affair generation meeting up with Wife Swap, Jerry Springer and Jack Ass. Children from my day are eons apart from children of today. Children today have more choices due to technology and a parenting style that isn’t June and Ward Cleaver. Mr. Sabastion would be aghast.

The world of work has changed as well, and we need to make sure students are ready to enter the workforce. Over a twenty year period the Hudson Institute did a study where they analyzed the tasks involved in various entry-level jobs accoring to Blooms Taxonomy. During the same twenty year period they asked high school teachers to provide assignments that they routinely gave their students. At the beginning of the study 20% of entry-level jobs required skills at the higher end of Blooms. By the end of the study in the 1990s over 65% of the entry-level skills required higher-order thinking skills. However, the high school assignments only increased 8% over that twenty year period regarding the use of higher order thinking skills.

It’s clear to me that we need to teach better than we were taught. We need stategies that will engage all learners not just a few. As educators we may not agree with the state our world is in today, but our job is to prepare our students to meet that world and be successful in it. A strong look at teaching strategies may be the answer

Sunday, March 04, 2007

As Seen On My Computer Screen This Week

It’s Sunday evening and I’ve taken a strolling click through to various sites. Here are notes from my journey. C’mon….go strolling with me.

Gee, I take a few days off from visiting other folks and miss a birthday. Go on over and tell Strausser at A Teacher's Perspective happy belated birthday.

Dennis Fermoyle has been Discussing Education with Non-Teachers. Go on over and get an eyeful of what 53 comments looks like. I’ve never had that many. I weighed in twice over there. Go put in your two cents worth.

To go along with the previous post kdrosa has been posting about Teacher Autonomy. I agree with some of his thoughts over there, but teacher autonomy? What’s that?

Carol of The Median Sib fame had a nice conversation with a group of students regarding the Revolutionary War, and of course that led to a discussion about breakfast food.


See how the connection was made here.

I enjoy stumping a few people with my Wordless Wednesday images, however, The Tour Marm has stumped me not once, but twice. Check out her Wordless Wednesday and her
Figure It Out Friday. Perhaps YOU know the answers? These should be regular stops for you anyway….

Any great history teacher knows that current events turn into history within days, weeks, and months. They collect magazine articles, newspaper clippings, etc. never knowing what might be useful in the classroom. Dan over at A History Teacher understands perfectly. He’s already collecting a great Time article concerning the religion of Islam. Maybe you need to snag it as well for your files.

Write a history Book and Get Out of Jail? Well, that’s what M over at World History Blog is telling us. Go see!

Well, that’s all the strolling I could get done tonight. I hope everyone has a great week. I visited my classroom this afternoon to complete some paperwork (yes, I know it was Sunday), and noticed we have right at 12 weeks of school left. Wow! Time is flying!

President Wilson's Other Wife

Ask many people about President Woodrow Wilson’s wife and they might tell you things like, “Oh, she’s the one that took over the White House after Wilson’s stroke.”

Yes, some historians refer to the period immedately following Wilson’s stroke in 1919 as the Petticoat Government since Edith Wilson did curtail prying eyes from viewing the stricken president. The First Lady didn’t allow any visitor or document reach the President without her approval. She managed to hold off everyone long enough for Wilson to recover somewhat. However, what we need to remember here is Edith Wilson was the President’s second wife. in this post I’d like to take a look at the “first” First Lady during Wilson’s presidency.

In this week’s Wordless Wednesday I hinted that the painting in question involved a famous artist colony, the city of Rome, and government service. The title of the featured piece is Side Porch, Griswold House, 1910 and the artist is Ellen Axson Wilson, the first wife of President Woodrow Wilson.

The first Mrs. Wilson was born in Savannah, Georgia in 1860, the daughter of a Presbyterian minister. Most of her life was spent in Rome, Georgia’s own version of the city of seven hills. President Wilson also grew up in Georgia, and was also the child of a minister. Your can see his childhood home here.

Mrs. Wilson studied art at the Art Students’ League in New York. The New Georgia Encyclopedia advises she created crayon portraits from photographs and sold them. She often put her art pursuits on hold to run her household, attend to her three daughters, and to be available for her husband as he progressed through academic ranks to finally become president of Princeton in 1902.

In 1905, Mrs. Wilson returned ernestly to her art when her brother, his wife, and their son drowned in a Georgia river. She created a scholarship at Berry College in memory of her brother and sold various paintings to fund it. It was during this time that Mrs. Wilson did her most serious painting. She, along with President Wilson and their daughters, began to spend their summers in Connecticut at the bording house of Francis Griswold. Many Impressionist artists such as Childe Hassam and Frank Dumond stayed with Mrs. Griswold as well, and this community of painters became known as the Old Lyme Art Colony. Today the Florence Griswold home is a museum. Many of Wilson’s paintings bear only the initials E.W. as she did not want to overshadow her husband’s career in any way, however, her works often appeared in one-woman shows, she won awards, and some of her artwork was displayed at the Chicago Art Institute.

It would appear from his correspondence that President Wilson enjoyed the trips to Old Lyme as much as his wife. In his article Woodrow Wilson, A Lighter Side Edmund T. Delaney quotes Wilson from correspondence dating back to 1909 where Wilson advises

“Lyme is one of the most stately and old fashioned of New England villages, and we shall be boarding not with New Englanders, who get on my nerves, but with a jolly irresponsible lot of artists, natives of Bohemia, who have about cleared the air of the broad free world . . . Lyme is a delightful haven in which to sleep, sleep interminably, as I love to do, when I am worn out."

Unfortunately, the trips to Connecticut stopped for the Wilsons once Woodrow Wilson was elected governor of New Jersey. He noted, “if we take a house by the sea, it must be in Old New Jersey, which would not forgive us if we went elsewhere". Thus the family opted to forgo the seashore and settled for the hills of Cornish on the New Hampshire side of the Connecticut River.

Once the Wilson’s reached the White House Ellen Wilson did not give up her art pursuits. She had a studio with a skylight installed in 1913. Many of her biographers quote White House staff members fondly remembering her as calm, sweet, motherly, pretty, and refined.

Mrs. Wilson pursued more than just her art as First Lady, however. She worked for the poor in an attempt to clean up the slums of Washington D.C., she organized the White House Rose Garden, and besides the regular round of official duties and dinners she also arranged for the White House wedding for not one daughter but two.

Unfortunately, Ellen Axson Wilson died seventeen months into Woodrow Wilson’s presidency from Bright’s Disease. Currently she is the only First Lady buried in Georgia. She lies next to her parents at Mrytle Hill Cemetary in Rome, Georgia.
This post was also posted at American Presidents Blog and Progressive Historians.
Update: Fellow Georgia teacher, Terrell, over at Alone On a Limb advises the Rome area Heritage Foundation is attempting to get restored portaits of Mrs. Wilson hung at the U.S. Capitol and the state capitol in Atlanta.

He also posted information about Mrs. Wilson’s funeral held in Rome, Georgia. Check out his post to see real pictures of the funeral procession down the main street in Rome.