Sunday, March 31, 2013

A to Z 2013! (Introductory Post)

First of all, Happy Easter everyone!

For the second year in a row, I am participating in the A to Z blogging challenge.  Last year, I decided to blog on random topics.  This year, I decided to be more specific.  And this year's topic is:

People of the Bible from A to Z

Last year, I did a 90 day Bible challenge.  It wasn't the first time I'd read the Bible cover to cover but I think it was the quickest that I'd ever read it.  I rediscovered a lot of things that I'd forgotten over the years and had a lot of fun with it.  So, I thought I'd share people from A to Z that I find interesting.

So without further ado, here come my disclaimers:

Disclaimer 1: I'm not looking for a theological debate. If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all.
Disclaimer 2: That being said, if you would like to add an additional observation about the person of the day that you have noticed or learned in Bible class, etc, please, comment.
Disclaimer 3: For my regular followers who aren't interested in this topic, please check back later in the day (the A to Z will generally be scheduled for 6 am central) for cross stitch and other stuff.  I know it's not for everyone.

For those of you joining me for A to Z, welcome, welcome and have fun!

I started using scripture from the NIV84 edition because that's what I normally use, but all the online sources have taken it down so we'll try the newest NIV.  I think that's what my church synod is going too..  I have some reservations about the new edition (they may have broke more than they fixed) but copy and paste is so much easier than typing everything in.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

How to teach multiple books in reading class

I had a very interesting comment on my Girl vs. Boy books post (you can find it if you scroll down a bit) and I though the response warranted a whole post.

I had stated that giving students a choice in what literature they read would be a good solution to getting stuck reading only "girl" or "boy" books.  The comment basically said that that sounded really complicated for the teacher.

In reality it sounds really complicated but it's not as bad as you think.

First of all, I give the disclaimer that this will not work in all situations.  Some classes just will not cooperate with you and force you to become the dictator.  Also, it really only works in grades 3 and above and if you have really weak readers you may not be able to do it until later in the year.

Second, what I am about to describe will probably need to be modeled.  Therefore, the first book read in the year may be teacher choice but using the principles you want the students to do when you "let them loose."  If the first book fails to work properly, you may have to try a second teacher choice book and if that fails, well, you'll probably have to go into dictator mode.

This whole process is often called "literature circles."

First, you will want to give the class a survey.  The survey will have a list of books and the students need to rank which books they want to read from highest to lowest.  The number of books on the list will vary by how many students in the class and also how many copies of each book you have.  It will probably be 5-7 books or so.  After you get the survey back, you will need to sort out which students want to read which books.  This will be the complicated part as you will have to keep in mind that you may not want certain students to be in the same group and you may have one student who was the only one who wants to read a certain book.

After you have all that sorted out and the groups divided up, the work beings.  And by work, I mean the work for the students.  If you google "literature circles," you will find a million templates.  You basically print these out as worksheets and the groups work through their individual books.  At first, the teacher will probably have to set up a schedule for each book (because some books have longer chapters than others).  There are generally different "jobs" in the literature circle and the group members will rotate through the jobs as they go.  At the end of the book, there will be a "culminating project" which you can assign as a group activity or individual activities.  These activities can range from writing a paper to creating a board game. 

During reading time at school, all you as the teacher have to do is walk around and monitor the groups.  Keep order.  Make sure the groups stay on task.  Spot check the literature circle journals to make sure that they are filled in.  Check benchmarks on the projects.  If it all falls apart, you just declare reading time over and start the next subject.  If it continually falls apart, then you may have to go back to traditional reading class.

For grading, you can grade several things.  First, participation grades for your "spot checks."  A grade for the completed literature circle journals.  And also a grade for the final project. 

And yes, I have seen this actually work in an actual classroom that I was observing in.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

PIcking up my Needle

Things seem to be looking up around here.  My husband is in the process of getting a job.  He's been running around the last couple of days interviewing and taking drug tests and getting fingerprinted (he would be installing alarms so you have to go through extra hoops) so I'm getting a taste of what stay at home motherhood is like.  So far it's been nice but today I have to try to get Zoé to preschool with Adèle in tow which should be interesting.  I'm hoping everything gets completed successfully.  It couldn't come at a better time because with the sequester, it sounded like my amount of unemployment was about to get cut.

With that being said, I've picked up the needle a couple of times in the last few days to work on my large epic projects.  I'll probably start something smaller sometime soon but I haven't decided which yet.

The HAED has still not covered a square inch...

Snow White Discovers the Cottage.  Hey, I see a tree root

Monday, March 25, 2013

"Girl" books vs. "Boy" books

As I've been reading different books toward my goal of reading all the Newbery books, it's struck me that some of the books are definitely "girl" books aimed at a female audience and some are definitely "boy" books.

For example, the one I'm currently reading The Sign of the Beaver is about a boy in the wilderness of Maine trying to survive.  Definitely a BOY book.
The Sign of the Beaver

By contrast, the book I finished reading yesterday, A Ring of Endless Light  was definitely a GIRL book.  The main character is a girl and she's trying to sort out her feelings towards three different boys.
A Ring of Endless Light (Austin Family, #5)

That isn't to say that all books with girls as the main character are girl books and ones with male characters are boy books.  In fact, I can think of one popular book with a boy as the main character that seems to be equally liked by both boys and girls

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Harry Potter, #1)

And also this book:
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

I don't know if it's the fantasy aspect or if it's because there's an ensemble cast of characters but I see girls and boys picking up both of the above series.

This all started when I was lamenting to my husband about how in grade school, I was forced to read "boy" books all the time.  I was a good reader and had no problems reading stuff on my own but I really hated most of the books that we read in school.  My husband pointed out that in his day (back in the 70s), he had to mostly read "girl" books and the pendulum seemed to have swung the other way by the time I was in grade school in the 90s.  His theory was that girls are more apt to read "boy" books than boys are to read "girl" books.  While I don't think that it's really fair to the girls, I would say that it's an accurate assessment. 

What makes a "girl" or "guy" book? 

Where the Red Fern Grows  Boy + Dogs + Hunting = Yeah, it's a boy book (but I like it actually)

My Side of the Mountain (Mountain, #1)  Boy + Hawk + Survival + Woods = Another boy book (I like it too)

Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret  Girl + Puberty + Other girls + School = Girl book

Twilight (Twilight, #1)  Girl + Boy + Sparkly Vampires + Romance = Girl book

My solution to this whole debacle?  How about some student choice?  Let the kids pick what they want to read from a list.  Would have saved me a bunch of headaches in grade school (for the record, I was a straight A student, I just despised reading class when we weren't reading something that interested me).

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A to Z: You Decide!

I've decided to take part in the A to Z in April like I did last year.  But, this year I want to be a little more specific and have a topic.  I had an idea but I'm not sure if it's what my followers would be interested in so I give you the opportunity to comment and decide

The two choices of topic are:

1. People of the Bible A to Z

2. Book related topics from A to Z (containing authors, characters, magical lands, books, etc....)

Please comment on this post and let me know what you'd like to see.  I'll make a decision at the end of this week (so as to give me time to start preparing material).

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A finished birthday present

My mom's birthday is coming up on Sunday (St. Patty's Day) so I figured I really needed to finish her present and send it off.

And here's the back:

I also wanted to show my Snow White Discovers the Cottage progress:

Starving our children in the name of "eating right"

I face a similar scene every afternoon when we get home from school.  The teenager comes in and immediately heads for the pantry where she grabs two packages of ramen and goes into the kitchen to make it. 
Me - "Supper will be in an hour."
The Teenager - "I don't care, I'm hungry."
Me - "Didn't you eat lunch?"
The Teenager - "It was disgusting.  It was some kind of wrap and it was whole wheat so I picked the meat out and threw the rest away."
Me - [sigh]

The first time this happened, the Teenager wasn't complaining about the food being disgusting but the portions being incredibly tiny.  After doing a little research, I found out that the USDA had passed standards for this year for the school lunch program, limiting the amount of calories.  For the Teenager, it's 750-850 calories per day.  To meet this calorie limit, school cafeterias are having to serve smaller portions and have switched most bread products to whole wheat (which includes tortillas and pizza crusts, I'm told).  I'm not a wheat fan myself and I know a lot of teenagers aren't either.  You can get decent tasting whole wheat products but they aren't cheap and schools are on a budget so it's not likely to happen.  As for the portions, all you're allowed to go back for seconds but only for extra fruits and vegetables. 

This is going to force all the students to eat healthy, right?  If you said "yes," then you're fooling yourself.  I was a schoolgirl once.  I'm also a picky eater.  One summer my mother put me in KinderCare because she was working and she needed someone to watch me.  We went on all sorts of cool field trips.  But I hated their food.  If I didn't like what was on the plate, I didn't eat.  Period.  I went home hungry several times during my summer stay.  My meal was thrown away.  What a waste.

And wasting is exactly what kids are doing.  A school in Florida was actually considering putting cameras by the trash cans so they could document what the students were throwing away.

My husband noticed that after school, the local Sonic and Jack in the Box and McDonald's and Taco Bell are packed.  Why?  Because our starving students are going out to eat after school for something tasty.  And they're not picking healthy stuff.  NO.  They're going for fast food because it tastes good. 

You would think that packing your lunch would be a great option.  If you don't like what the school is serving, don't eat it.  I did that on days I didn't like what the hot lunch was.  However, I recently read that a four year old girl was forced to eat the school's lunch instead of the nice lunch that her mom packed her because it "wasn't healthy enough."  They sent the uneaten lunch home with a note and a bill for the cost of the school lunch.  The mother was outraged.  I would have been too.  I also read what the mother packed.  It sounded nutritious enough to me. 

What's the solution?  Well, like everything, it has to begin at home.  We feed our 2 and 3 year olds fruits and vegetables.  I don't feed them a lot of processed food.  Most of our food is prepared from scratch.  They are a little picky because they're so young but we try to get them to eat a large variety of foods.  My 3 year old's teacher says she eats her school lunch well on most days.  I notice other mothers are sending their kids to school with happy meals for lunch.  I don't do that.  Happy meals are an occasional treat.  I'm trying to teach them to eat healthier at home.  When they go to school they might eat a bit better than the other kids. 

So in conclusion, the way to get children to eat healthy is not by force.  You have to educate them.  It worked for smoking.  It can work for food.

Florida and trash cans
4 year old's bag lunch not good enough.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

I have no idea what I'm stitching

I've been working quite a bit on Snow White this week.

As you can see, I have the bottom two squares completely filled in.  It's a lot of confetti but I've been working one color at a time over the course of a square and then parking the thread. 

The only issue I have is that I don't really know where in the picture I am.  I know I'm somewhere in the middle.  I think I'm stitching a tree but I'm not quite sure.  Eh, it will become a little clearer while I stitch.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Weekend Stitching

I got a little bit of stitching in this weekend.  It was supposed to be my weekend with the knitting circle at the library but I didn't go because I was rather ill the night before and one of the ladies has immunodeficiency issues so I thought I shouldn't risk it.  I was also planning on getting some stitching done Friday night but that didn't happen due to illness.

I started filling in two more squares of HAED.  The edges of this is mostly solid color with a bit of confetti so I've been doing the confetti and then filling in the rest of the square.  I'll probably change tactics when the color changes are more frequent.

The gridding has worked so well on the HAED, I thought I'd try it on my UFO Thomas Kinkade piece.  I tried a different type of gridding that I saw on someone else's blog and I like it so far.  Jury's still out on which one is better.  I actually stitched a bit on it too.  It's so much easier with the grid.

I started in the middle of that piece so it's an odd place to grid.