27 May 2005

Miss Cellaneous

First up, a couple of updates:

  • "DC" is continuing his charge at the department. This week, it was our department chair's turn to be asked the two questions. Our Chair gave DC the same answers I did...and you know how well DC likes to hear them. I believe their conversation ended with something like "I can teach here next year if I want to and there's not a damned thing you can do about it!" DC also told the Chair that none of us in the department care for his leadership. We laughed when we heard this and asked the Chair, "You mean that he thinks that you tell us what to do?!" It was also passed along that science department members are involved in "backbiting" (i.e. talkin' smack about one another). To which we also laughed. We are not always one big happy family in the science department, but we're not gossips. DC interviewed with the cushy district yesterday. We're all holding our breaths to see if he'll go if the job is offered.
  • The Suzanne Show went off without a hitch. At the end of the evening, I was dismissed with a "You can go now." Thanks! What a great way to wrap up nine years of these things. Not that I expected a brass band, champagne cocktails, and all the trimmings. There's a new teacher who will be Suzanne's lapdog next year. I wanted to tell her to buy a rubber donut to sit on. ..because her butt is going to be sore a lot.

And now for something completely different.

Wednesday and Thursday were wonderful days with my sophs. We are knee deep into our unit on Plants. Kids generally don't like plants because "they don't do anything." I have made it my personal mission over the years to at least convince them that plants do lots of things, even if they don't move from place to place.

I experimented with my kids on Wednesday. I wanted to know if there was a constructivist way to do vocabulary. I had two obscure-to-them terms: Monocot and Dicot. What the heck do these words mean and why should anyone care? So, I had them go out and pull some grass and a dandelion and look at the roots. We ate corn nuts and peanuts (after sending away the kids who had peanut allergies, natch) in order to compare and contrast the seeds. We looked at flowers. And they examined microscope slides containing sections of stems and leaves. I asked them to just draw or describe the observed differences---terminology was not important. As a last step, I asked them to create their own definition of each term and then provide at least 3 examples of each type of plant. The kids did phenomenally well with this. The observations were dead on. And they didn't have any trouble applying their definitions to different plants that they knew. Kewl!

Yesterday, I lectured a bit about parts of flowers and then we headed outside. (Can you believe it was 90 degrees yesterday? In the Pacific NW?) We tore apart all kinds of flowers. They had no trouble pointing out monocots and dicots along the way. And even more importantly, they started to classify plants beyond that. Gee, the flower from the scotch broom is just like the lupine...and like clover. Dandelions and daisies are alike. And so on. I was really happy with how all of this worked out.

I have the day off today. I've been working on getting the chores done and am trying to win my battle with a head cold and some nausea. Why is it that once you start to "let up" after being intensely focused on your work that you get sick? If I didn't know better, I'd think that stress is actually good for the immune system.

There is another beautiful day outside. If I feel up to it this afternoon, I hope to go down and enjoy the low tide and feel the sun on my face for a bit. If not, it is still nice to have a break and see the blue sky...and contemplate summer.

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