Sunday, August 30, 2009

At the Boat Dock

The rain and clouds only made it cooler-- they didn't chase us away from our church picnic at Camp Bratton Green! We ate salads of every kind, hummus variations, and pound cake. A really large bass was pulled from the lake while the children swam after making it to the platform at lake center by boat. I took my knitting along but was too busy keeping up with everyone and taking photos to pull it out.

Posted by Picasa

Friday, August 28, 2009

Wilting and Blooming

I love my three day weekends even when they include doctor appointments, errands, and cleaning. I love them even more when they also include a little sewing or knitting, and I'm looking forward to doing both on my own and with a friend this afternoon. On Fridays, I can catch my breath while the children are still at school for a few more hours and get ready for weekending with the family which will include some yard work, shopping at the farmer's market, and a church picnic if it doesn't get rained out.

My red sunflower has been slowly wilting this week. Yesterday, after teaching back-to-back classes all day, I felt the same way. I brought it inside to enjoy for a few more days. The only other sunflower from my seedling transplants to survive is now starting to bloom. It is a regular yellow sunflower, but it is small at only about 3 feet high.

Here's hoping that everyone feels more like the blooming flower than the wilting flower this weekend!

Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


These photos were taken at Sarah Campbell's Ask For More Arts workshop for teachers in Jackson Public Schools held on September 25, 2009, at the Mississippi Museum of Art. You can read more about the workshop here.

The first photo uses the frames from one of the chairs at which we sat in our groups. The second photo shows Sarah and a teacher sharing information from a small group activity. I like the frame of the entrance to the museum's "The Mississippi Story" gallery as the backdrop. The third photo is of a Casey Elementary teacher trying out her paper frame with the frame of the projection screen in the background.

I was excited to discover that many teachers are using photography in their classrooms either for documentation or for arts integrated classroom activities such as writing prompts. Out of 29 photos, I would only use 7 or 8 of mine for documentation or some other purpose such as a newsletter or blog. I learned how to use the burst feature on my camera, and I was encouraged that I have already been practicing some of Sarah's recommendations for classroom photography.

Thank you, Sarah, for a great workshop!
Posted by Picasa

Monday, August 24, 2009

Second Milkweed Pods

The milkweed we planted during Monarch season (April) is 5 feet tall. This is the second batch of exploding seed pods. No Monarch caterpillars showed up on the leaves, but maybe they will be there next year.
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sunday Afternoon in My Yard

When I was a child, I hated Sunday afternoons.
Now that I'm an adult, I love them.

Posted by Picasa

Saturday, August 22, 2009

My First Sunflower : 3 (or The Other Side)

I went outside to take a few shots of my sunflower in the early evening light. The previous two shots have been in morning light and early afternoon light. Of course, I snapped a photo "front and center" in the glory of petals and seeds.

But then I changed my angle and perspective for several shots, and ended up on the other side of the sunflower.

My amateur dive into photography is teaching me a lot about perspective-- and life. The other side can be just as beautiful as the obvious side.

Posted by Picasa

Friday, August 21, 2009

My First Sunflower : 2

The first full week of school is almost over. Today, I realized that I hadn't even had time to go outside to check on the sunflower. This morning, it is bent over from the rain, but I think it will re-orient itself as it dries out. Isn't she beautiful? I love the combinations of red, orange, and yellow.

Just as beautiful as this sunflower have been moments of all the teaching and learning going on around here. My daughter completed her first drawing homework for her visual arts class. She had to draw a portrait of me-- no small task. After getting over the initial hump of starting which involved its share of crying and self-doubt, she found her groove, smiled, and laughed. I think she even felt energized.

I felt energized one day this week after teaching a wordless picture book, Flotsam by David Wiesner, to 4 back-to back classes of third through sixth grade students. We talked about the interaction of words and images both in the text and in our minds. The children solved the mystery of the Melville Underwater Camera through closely looking at the marvelous illustrations in the story.

The image of one particular fifth grade student remains with me this morning. He arrived in literature connection class grumpy and withdrawn. By the end of the discussion, however, he was engaged, asking questions, and positing answers. A light-bulb turned on in his mind, and his face lit up like my sunflower.

Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Finish Line

The last few weeks have felt like a marathon with the beginning of the school year for me and the children. Finally, today, I feel like I can relax a little while the laundry hums in the background. The children are at school, I'm at home, and I don't have to go anywhere or run any errands today. I can make a short list of what I want to do (knit a little, sew a little, take a walk) to balance out that long, ever-present list of things I have to do.
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, August 16, 2009

My First Sunflower

I wish I could grow a field of these.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Backpack to School

New backpacks,
new teachers,
new friends to make,
a new school,
and new classes.

Some happy stories,
some frustrations,
lots of rules,
forms to sign,
and no homework!

Posted by Picasa

Friday, August 7, 2009


Be kind, work hard, with joy, freedom, and hope.

This has been a work week for me-- back at school-- back in the library-- with all the basement critters including many, many spiders and a small Mediterranean house gecko living in a box of random papers. I don't want to know about the critters I didn't see.

Even though this work week is hard because of childcare issues, I love this week of being with my fellow teachers and preparing the school for the new year. There are vibes of hope, excitement, and jitters coursing through the air. Teachers, too, get the jitters on the first day!

I've created a teaching and learning "motto" for the year. The first part, "be kind, work hard" comes from Rafe Esquith, author of Teach Like Your Hair is On Fire and famous for his yearly classroom of Hobart Shakespeareans. I was lucky to hear him speak two years ago. His motto is simple: "Be Nice. Work Hard."

I pledge to be kind to my students. I pledge to work hard to be prepared and do my part of the teaching/learning equation. I expect the same from my students.

The qualifiers of my motto, "with joy, freedom, and hope" describe how I most like to teach and how I most like to learn. They describe how I want to feel when I walk into my library and how I hope the students feel when they visit me twice a week. They describe how I feel when I am able to choose a wonderful book, open its cover, and experience growth and change through words strung together on the pages. It's magical really. Hmm. . . maybe I should add "with magic."

If a library is anything, it should be a place of joy, freedom, and hope. This is not to say that information we discover or things that happen in stories will not make us weep or make our blood boil with anger. These are emotions I have often felt when reading books. But because I have been changed by reading and feeling these emotions and because I know that there is more than sadness and anger from reading, I feel more hope than despair-- more joy than bitterness.

The photo above is of a bookshelf in my family room at home. We have quite an assortment. When I peruse the titles, I am reminded of who I have been and wonder at who I have become.

More than anything, I want to share a love reading with my students. I want them to have a shelf full of books in their homes-- and in their minds and hearts-- that will always remind them of who they once were and where they are going. I want them to find joy in reading and learning. I want them to experience the freedom to read what they want to read. I want them to know how reading transforms a soul and a life with hope.

Posted by Picasa

Monday, August 3, 2009

Waiting and Watching

for guests from Arkansas. . .

for birds. . .

I'm waiting for work to start
and school to start
very soon.
It's time.

Posted by Picasa