Sunday Post: Favorite Spot

Thanks to Amy for leading me to Jake who has the Sunday Post Challenge.  I have to think about where my favorite spot is, but I know it faces north.  I love to sit at the dining room table and write my blog, answer emails, and, or course, eat. I think I could sit here all day, but that wouldn’t be good for me.  When we first made an offer on this house, it was a HUD repo, and we couldn’t get inside, so we drove our pick-up out, pulled out the tailgate and began planning our dream home.

Where we used to park our pick-up.

We now have a patio there, and we go out and enjoy coffee out there, or on the front porch facing north.

Marsha’s Foothill  I didn’t plant the flag, though.

The reason for the northern direction is that there is a huge foothill at the end of our street, and you just can’t go any farther.  When I taught 4th grade, we brought our students on a bike trip out along this street and over the fence so that we could climb the foothill and see the Native American painted rocks in a little cave.  We loved to sit down and eat by the mortar holes where the native women ground acorns into flour.

Our neighbors called our foothill Marsha’s Foothill for a while because of the small incident I had up there.  My friend and I were hiking, and of course all the neighbor kids wanted to go with us.  So we started off.  The older kids, and my friend went on ahead leaving me to help the littlest member of our party, A 5-year-old little girl.  I had to lift her all the way because it was really too steep for her.  Big clue.  If they can’t climb it, don’t do the work for them!!! NO MATTER HOW MUCH THEY BEG TO GO WITH YOU!!!  We got to the top and discovered that everyone had jumped across the gap between the boulders.  The gap looks like no big deal from where I drink my coffee in the morning, but up there the gap widens.  I knew I couldn’t lift, throw, or otherwise transport her over the gap, so we decided to go back down.  All of the sudden the ledges shrank, and I didn’t trust her stay put on a little ledge and move on by herself while I climbed onto the ledge myself.  There surely wasn’t room for both of our little feet at the same time.

So we sat up there and talked.  I asked her if her mother hadn’t minded that she climbed up to the top of the foothill.  Big clue #2  When in doubt ask the mom for permission to take kids with you ANYWHERE- even if the kids beg and beg, and your friend is an attorney.

“Oh, she doesn’t know,” she told me innocently.  “She thinks I’m in bed.  I have strep throat.”

So there I was at the top of the hill with a sick 5-year-old at about 4:30 p.m. on a December afternoon.  The rest of the group was on their way down, but struggling and not wanting to come back over the GAP to help us.  We sat and visited. AND PRAYED.

Soon my friend’s and my husbands ventured by wondering why our walk was taking so long.  Neither of them felt like tackling up the steep incline.  I didn’t think it was that bad going up.  They went and got the little girl’s father.  Fortunately for me, the parents were good-natured about the incident.  It was no big deal for me to hand the little girl down to her dad’s waiting arms, so we were down that hill in no time, and I’ve never gone back up it.  The dad renamed the hill, and we laughed about it later.I still love to look north to the foothills from my home.  Marsha’s Foothill IS my favorite spot, I just don’t want to occupy it.

David Copperfield and the Common Core

A new blogging friend, Sharechair, blogged about a great Amazon offer of free audible books.  I rushed to Amazon and downloaded about ten of them.  The first one I listened to was David Copperfield by Charles Dickens, narrated by Simon Vance.

Vance transports you to 1850s England in a time before cell phones, cars, planes, or any kind of easy communication that we have today.  The wonderful fiction becomes a window to the world in that time period through the characters. and the descriptions.  If you are studying this period of history, David Copperfield,in my opinion, becomes a primary source.

I hope that English teachers across America are hearing this.  With the coming of Common Core, literature, as such, is deemphasized, and informational text is taking the forefront.  This will affect the high school English Language Arts class more than any other because by high school students will be required do 70% of their daily reading in informational texts including primary sources.  For teachers who love to teach only literature, there is a low outcry.  For those of us who teach history, there won’t be too much change.  History students have to read.  Now it will count as part of the day – reading informational texts, but history (and science) teachers can’t do it all even if they give 100% of their time to reading.  English teachers will still need to spend about 50% of their time in informational text.

As I understand primary sources, they are the fountain of information that historians use to discover the past – to “do” history.  As a “document”, David Copperfield, is a primary source because it is not “about” the past, it IS the past.  Written in 1849-1850 in a series of articles, David Copperfield enables the reader to unravel the past.  The reader experiences the language of the time, the overly polite way that English people conversed tinged with dry humor and a touch of sarcasm.  Through the book the reader  can observe the life of the middle or working class, and understand how desperate life was before there were social safety nets.  They can learn about child labor, and why laws were written to protect the young.  They also learn about the limitations that women, particularly young women, endured, and how women learned to navigate the waters to provide form themselves and their children.  They can view a time before compulsory education.  The book traverses the world.  Several of the characters emigrate to Australia, then still a colony of England.  There they find freedom and financial success. Students should use their map and math skills to realize the magnitude of that move.

This is my argument for using this piece of literature as a primary source, an informational text, if you will.  In order to do this effectively, however, I would also argue that the English teacher needs to partner with the Social Studies teacher in order to teach students how to dig the historical nuggets from the “informational document” rather than merely concentrating on the wonderful story line.  Reading David Copperfield as an informational text has a different purpose, and must be read differently.  The students are now on a quest to discover what life was like in mid 19th century England – and the world.  They need to corroborate the information they glean from reading the period fiction with other non-fiction sources that authenticate the information they read in Dickens’ work.

When reading informational texts, students need to read closely.  They can do a quick read for enjoyment of literature. For a typical language arts class they might read this fiction more  closely to pick the characters apart.  They might look at the way Dickens used words to describe characters, setting, and make an emotional appeal, but rarely do they go beyond that to look at the kinds of employment the characters have.  They probably wouldn’t ask, “What does that employment allow them to do?”  A language arts lesson might point out the social conditions in passing, but the historian might research the various types of employment that were available to men and women of the time.  What were the educational requirements for the choices they had?  Which careers were the most profitable?  Why were the characters who were unsuccessful in England, successful in Australia?  This book is all about economics and geography.

Looking at the Historical Analysis Skills listed in the Framework and in the Common Core Implementation Toolkit that I wrote in conjunction with other history-social studies consultants in California will help the language arts teacher use classics like David Copperfield as a primary source document by asking the analytical historical questions to help students uncover the past.  Or better yet, English teachers could collaborate local history-social studies teacher to plan what literature might help their students understand the time and places they study.

My final argument is that taking literature out of the curriculum for students is not going to help students any more than taking history out of the curriculum.  Students need to learn how to think critically and analyze facts.  Using literature as a primary source is one way to keep both fields viable, and teach students to think for themselves.

 

 

Spam

I haven’t figured out why my comments go to people’s spam.  I try to write nice comments, but maybe I write too many words.  Maybe my grammar’s bad, and WP thinks I’m not a real human.  Possibly WP thinks I’m trying to sell something that is not appropriate.  For whatever reason I’m in the trash more often than not.  For that I apologize, and hope that you will take the time to fish me out.  I have found that I’m not getting as many comments, and I truly miss you leaving behind your thoughts.

I check my spam each day, and lo and behold – normal spam.  “Lovely site man, I am appreciating your words, and hope to make examples of it when you visit my site, you will see it.”  Nothing from you.  If anyone knows how to solve this problem, I’d love to know it.  I found that it even happens when I go directly to your site, sign in, and the posting comment sign comes on, and then poof, my post is gone.  Probably out spamming.

Today on October 2, I found this in an article about the Admin Bar.

The gist of this is that when you are on someone else’s blog, and you hover the mouse over their name, the above menu pops up.  In the gray section is another line that states, “report as spam”.  If you do that accidentally or on purpose, it reports that site as spam to WP.  I’m not sure how they follow-up with it.  I also am not sure what you can do to unreport that person as a non-spammer.

I followed two new sites tonight, and clicked “like”.  They followed me back.  I tried to leave comments on both of their sites, and it never appeared.  It didn’t leave a message, “Your comment is awaiting moderation, either.”  I wonder if it will show up?  I’ll keep an eye out for it.  I’m on a quest!

So that’s my latest update on Spamming.  Still learning, still experimenting.  🙂

Packing Table Grapes

My friend’s son went off to college in Louisiana.  His sophomore English teacher asked the class what product comes from sheep.“Cotton?” his fellow student answered.   At least he didn’t answer grapes.

I don’t excuse the teacher for asking such a kindergarten question, but the answer clearly indicates that there is a vast divide between the American public and the agricultural productes they consume.Even for those of us who live in the heart of agribusiness most of the time when we drive past fields of crops all we see are crops.  Fruit, nuts, cotton, corn and others quietly, stealthily growing.   No people.Yesterday as my friend Connie and I drove back to her home from our lunch at Orange Works, we passed a grape field teaming with activity.  Cars lined both sides of the streets parallel parked neatly in the dirt.  I had to stop the car and see if these folks would let me take pictures of them working.They were all so gracious.  They kept working as they smiled at me.  I didn’t want to disturb them for long, or to ask many questions, but I thought you might enjoy seeing them at their task of insuring that you have grapes to purchase at the store.  The weather was perfect at just past 1:00, the temperature was still in the 80s, maybe creeping up to the low 90s, but bearable.  The dusty air was still, and the workers chatted quietly or did not talk at all as they weighed out the three bunches of grapes to fill each plastic sack.  They did not seem hurried or frantic as they packed the sacks of fruit into boxes, carefully arranging them so that the sweet, plump, green orbs were as comfortable lying in their new bed as my puppy is in her bed on the bed.Connie, who grew up here in the Central Valley, told me that the rows of grape plants had white plastic over them to keep the grapes from blistering in the hot sun, and to keep birds from beating humans to the sweet treat.

I remembered way back to when my family had just moved west to Oregon.  It was August, 1967, and on the 30th of that month, the grape harvesters in Delano had just won a great victory.  They were allowed to have a union represent them.  They started to strike.  As we entered the grocery store in Portland, Oregon, a mass of people clustered around the entrance to Safeway pressing fliers into our hands and entreating with us not to buy grapes or uvas, as they called them.  As a rebellious teenager, I didn’t want to be told not to do anything.  I probably asked my mom for grapes even though I could take them or leave them – I preferred a 100% diet of chocolate ice cream, and weighed slightly over 100 pounds then, so felt justified in eating chocolate over grapes any day.  I don’t remember what we did, I just remember being indignant at being accosted by strikers, and thinking how different shopping was in the West compared to shopping in Indianapolis.  Little did I know at the time what a huge impact that strike had nationally.

The origin of that great strike was in Delano, California just 7 miles south of the Tulare County border.  If the strike made an impact nationally, it certainly made one in this county.

At our California Council for the Social Studies CCSS Conference in March 2013 we will honor the 50 year anniversary of the Birmingham marches for civil rights.  At the same time we will honor the reflection of those times in our own area – the marches and strikes for minimum wages and safer working conditions for agricultural workers.

So the next time you pop a healthy grape into your mouth instead of a spoonful of chocolate sundae, I hope you will consider the kind workers helped bring that table grape to you.  AND to any city slickers like my former self, PLEASE DON’T EVER TELL any professor that grapes – or cotton –  come from SHEEP!

 

 

Orange Works – Rural Restaurant

Where do you eat out when all you see around you are palm, olive and orange trees?  If you happen to be driving from Porterville to Lindsay on California Highway 65, there is only one answer.  Just outside Strathmore is the most popular rural restaurant between Bakersfield and Exeter, Orange Works.

Their fame and name came from the trees that surround the quaint wooden building.  They make their own orange ice cream.  You don’t have to eat your lunch first to have ice cream, but if you order their lunch special, you won’t mind at all.  For $7.99 you get an amazing sandwich, chips, a drink, and ice cream – orange or one other choice, or a combination of the two.You can eat outside almost all year long.Or you can eat inside.Many people eating here also purchase fresh farm products such as honey, or nuts that are also grown in Tulare County.So if you are ever in the neighborhood or out for a drive to see the country.  Drop by the Orange Works.  It’s famous in these parts.