Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Growing Patterns Classroom Project

Author and photographer, Sarah Campbell, visited my third grade literature connection class at St. Therese Catholic School on Wednesday, March 31st. She shared her new book, Growing Patterns: Fibonacci Patterns in Nature. You can read an interview I did with Sarah during the book's launch week, and you can read Sarah's blog post about yesterday here.

Even though Fibonacci numbers are not usually introduced in math curriculum until higher grades, patterns are very familiar to students even as young as three and four. Sarah's book and engaging persona help even math-challenged people like me understand the Fibonacci sequence and how to find this pattern in the natural world through the numbers of petals on flowers, spirals, and in nautilus shells. With the beautiful photo illustrations taken by Sarah and her husband, Richard, to explain the Fibonacci sequence, the book has appeal for mathematicians, naturalists, scientists, and artists of all ages.

Here, Sarah taught the students how to make a frame using scissors, rulers, pencils, and construction paper. This will help them practice framing photographs. Just as Sarah's book inspired good questions from the students, we believe that allowing them to take their own photographs of the natural world will inspire their writing. On April 1st, Sarah and I will lead students out on the pollen-covered playground (the yellow-green dusting happened overnight) to take photographs. We have 4 digital cameras to share between 13 students in roughly 35 minutes. Students waiting their turn for a real camera will practice and pretend with their paper frames.

After students have selected their best photograph, they will write a Fib poem based on their photograph. The home for this poem will be an accordion-style book also made using the first few numbers of the Fibonacci sequence. We believe these activities involving writing, construction, and measurement will reinforce the pattern of the Fibonacci sequence for the students, and it will also be fun!

Sarah answered a question from a student about how to take photos of animals or insects such as a wasp. "Very carefully!" she said. We discussed being very quiet, very still, and very patient. She asked students to think about what they might want to photograph by closing their eyes and imagining their playground and school campus for homework.

The third graders and I are very excited about this special project. I can't wait to see what happens today on the playground. Stay tuned for more!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Education Photography : Negotiation

Third through sixth grade students in literature connection classes completed their puppet creation for student-written commercials (in the style of early Jim Henson commercials) featuring Mississippi companies. This "group" project has already seen several class times of planning, playing, and putting together (more alliteration). Now, it is time to really hone in on the script, action, and personalities of the puppets. We are moving on to the production phase! All along, we have tested and developed our negotiating skills. Can you see students negotiating in the above photos?

Negotiating with materials was also a feature of the project. Students has to work with the "stuff" we had or that they brought from home. No new materials were purchased. We had bins and bags of felt, yarn, old socks, and lots of recycled objects such as bottle caps, boxes, and old craft supplies from past projects. Sometimes an idea worked, and sometimes it was back to the drawing board. It was always a little loud "down in the basement" because negotiating in small groups is not a silent activity. It was always messy because creativity with children demands a willingness for organized chaos. The results, even while the process may have been frustrating or challenging at times, are amazing. Light bulbs went off along the way, and I see some pride in accomplishment in the photos below. Negotiating with classmates and with materials was successful and made for some invigorating days of learning and teaching.

P.S. Sixth graders are not too old to play with puppets.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


Cinnamon swirls and simmering sauce on Sunday!

It may be a strange alliteration, but it describes what I've been doing this afternoon (with help from the children) in baking and cooking endeavors. Homemade cinnamon rolls and a huge batch of tomato sauce from scratch simmering on the stove.

Friday, March 26, 2010

At the Kitchen Windows

A few photos taken in just a few moments while my daughter worked on homework, and I joined her with Rowan in my lap. This is what happened.

P.S. The homework did get completed later on, and this was not the last time of the afternoon that Rowan took over an activity.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Log Cabin Domesticity : 3

All of the log cabin pillow tops that were "in process" for several months are now completed! Now, I'm moving on to some new log cabin projects.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Log Cabin Domesticity : 2

More log cabin pillows for the family room, but they look good outside, too. These were quilted with a layer of cotton batting and re-purposed muslin from the curtain of a previous home.

This one is my favorite-- especially in the sunshine and shadows.

Some of the envelope backs are different fabrics pieced together.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Log Cabin Domesticity

I started piecing the tops for these pillows about 6-9 months ago using the wonky, log cabin method. Two of the pillows were completed yesterday with a sewing friend (a perfect way to spend a slightly overcast spring break afternoon). Even though both of us usually have our cameras ready for "process documentation," we were both so engaged with sewing and conversation that we forgot about photography. My friend Sarah made a snazzy, string-pieced shoulder bag from an online tutorial that I had used earlier in the week with single pieces of fabric.

These cases have envelope backs. Instead of quilting the tops with a layer of batting and muslin, I used a single layer of flannel to give the illusion of quilting and to protect the inside seams while washing. I machine quilted them with a random, square spiral from the outside edge to the center.

I still have several other wonky, log cabin pillows to finish for other rooms in the house. These live in the kitchen on some old, painted-red wicker furniture that has seen better days but is now cheered up with squares of color and fresh fabric. The knitted log cabin blanket for which I'm still weaving in ends (photo below from some outside knitting earlier in the week) will also find a home with these pillows.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

From My Son

from my son on St. Patrick's Day

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

More Looking

Yesterday afternoon after our trip to LeFleur's Bluff, we had fun with binoculars closer to home in the front yard. Looking up into the trees against the gorgeous, blue sky, we spied a squirrel's nest. Two juvenile squirrels were wrestling on the branch outside of the nest until the parents started barking to warn them that we were all watching them. I brought out my mother's dusty binoculars.

If you look closely at the photo of the binoculars, you can see my reflection taking the photo. I like this image of lens to lens, so I may try to re-capture it in some better light and without the dust.

After the photo shoot, I settled in with some knitting on a blanket that was started last summer at the pool. The colors will go well with the little white and purple flowers starting to spring up in stretches of grass.

Monday, March 15, 2010


We were looking for birds, but we found other interesting things along the way like this textured tree bark, spring flowers, fossilized shells, and turtles sunning on logs. The binoculars came in handy for the turtles and for a robin high up in the trees. I wish I had brought a magnifying glass or a loupe to examine the tree bark and the flowers more closely. As it was, I only had the lens of my camera.

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Education Photography: Reading

Reading good books-- ones we freely choose to read-- is one of the best things we can do to keep learning and growing throughout life. With spring break approaching, I am making sure that my students and children have good books to read during their week of freedom. And me? Yes, I have a stack by my bed, too. Do you have some spring reading planned?

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Tuesday, March 9, 2010


dusk, night, and next day rain

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Monday, March 8, 2010


morning, mid-morning, noon, and afternoon:

opening to spring and new possibilities

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