Christmas Crafting

Before I begin I must express my extreme sorrow over what has happened in the school in Connecticut and publicly share my sympathies to all the families.  Words cannot express how much distress is in my heart about this horrific event.

Those of you who are creative, crafty types, as opposed to villainous, crafty types might enjoy seeing one of my Christmas bloopers.  And since Ana just gave me an Inspiring Blogger Award, (thanks Ana) just seeing the word “inspiring” might inspire someone to do a video tutorial on how to fix what you are about to see.  I did fix it, but I’ve decided that maybe hats aren’t my thing.  The number of times you will see me in a hat…oh yeah, I forget that most of you never see me in real life.  So you’ll never know if I’m truthful or falseful.  But, not only do I not wear them often, I’m not too great at making them.  This was one I made last Christmas season to try it out before I made my friend a hat for real.  Her hat is still sitting in a ball on the top shelf of my new bookcase. At least it’s out as a constant reminder to me.  If I’ve already told you this woeful knitting story, just press “LIKE”and move on.  🙂

Notice anything out of the ordinary here?
Notice anything out of the ordinary here?

First of all, I should have known this hat would be trouble.  I even had trouble getting the yarn out of its skein form and into a ball.  There was a HUGE knot in the middle of it!  AND I can’t tell you how often the crazy ball, with a mind of its own, rolled off my lap onto the carpet in the airport.  So after I struggled through making the ball, then knitting the hat using circular needles for the first time, I ended up with a twisted hot mess – oh yeah, I was the hot mess!  Anyway, the whole thing gave me fits.  It was a week-end quick, one-skeined wonder.  Hahahaha  Who writes those “this is going to be easy” books anyway?

Knitted pink hat2

This is how I solved my problem.  It worked and I redid it, and hated it.  So I took it to work.  I don’t have it anymore, so it’s in someone else’s closet.  Whew!!!

Did I ever tell you my sweater story?  Do you want to hear it?  So if no one pops over to visit me in Bloggerland, I can always knit.  Anyone want me to make them a hat?

Travel Theme: Circles

Definition: A circle is the locus of all points equidistant from a central point.

Ailsa of Where’s My Backpack, dreamed up a theme that made my mind go in circles trying to think of when I have ever photographed circles.  But sure enough, when I looked through my pictures, I found circles had snuck into my collection unwittingly.

Circles1

Members of the California Council for Social Studies checked out the hotel in Burlingame where we will hold our annual conference in March, 2013.  Circles abounded in this travel site.  Most obviously the tables are round, the best kind for facilitating conversation between a group of five or six people.  You probably noticed the floor before I did.  The carpet designer loved circles.

Circles 2In this picture we are not distracted by the roundness of the tables, so our eyes can focus on the circles in the carpet.  In this case we might almost overlook the round lights in the ceiling.  As a teacher I notice that the large circles, and some of the small circles form Venn Diagrams.  I loved using Venn Diagrams to compare concepts.  Venns are used in many occupational circles, but briefly this is how teachers use them in reading a text, for example.  Characteristics of item A are listed in Circle A on the left, and characteristics of Item B are listed in Circle B on the right.  The characteristics that the items have in common are listed in the intersection.   This makes it very easy to then write a comparison paragraph or essay.  (I veered off the straight path.  Sorry I had to include an instructional strategy.)

Circles3This shot gives a different perspective of the pattern in the second picture.  Ailsa must have been along when the designer chose the carpet for this hotel.  The carpet theme was definitely circles throughout the hotel, but there were slight variations in the patterns from room to room.  I wonder what the psychological effect circles have on conference goers, and vacationers.

Circles4

The carpet in the final conference room we examined has a different circular pattern.  This room is dominated by rectangular tables, podium, walls and lights.  The carpet mirrors that business-like rectangular flavor with definite  horizontal lines crossing the length of the room which were softened with some bolder, thicker circles than we found in the larger, more social foyer.

As this circular subject develops, I gravitated to the social aspect of circles:

  • circles of friends
  • round table discussions
  • circular conversations (which are VERY frustrating to me!)
  • circles for concept mapping capturing the ideas in our brains.

I wondered if there were specific psychological effects of circles that designers know about and employ to try and motivate us subconsciously.

Oh I do love the internet.  In the process of my search I came across a WordPress site devoted just to circles, Psychology of Circles.  Unfortunately the author only posted 9 articles during two months in 2009, and the one I wanted to read was only promised.  “Power Circles in Advertising” was never written.  Maybe his or her mind was just going in circles like mine, and couldn’t focus.  There are definitely disadvantages to circles!

Not satisfied, I entered the word circles, and found a company called Circles with this description, “Circles is the leading global provider of concierge, events and customized rewards.  … Our mission is to make life better and that pays dividends all around.”  There must be something to the use of circles in the hotel business!!!  I found another article describing how agitated certain animals became when they encountered crop circles.  No wonder most hotels with circular themed carpets don’t allow animals!

FAQs from Wikipedia

  • The circle is the shape with the largest area for a given length of perimeter.
  • The circle is a highly symmetric shape: every line through the centre forms a line of reflection symmetry and it has rotational symmetry around the centre for every angle.
  • A circle’s circumference and radius are proportional.

The human eye is drawn to a circle, which is perfectly proportional.  People are drawn to other people whose faces are proportional and symmetrical.   Cartoonists draw rounder, bigger eyes to make their characters mor appealing.  Are we more trusting of the circular shape?

It seems that very little has been written about the psychological effect of circles on humans.  I thought I’d hit the jackpot when CSU Stanislaus, but this list was the extent of their article:

  • Connection, community, wholeness, endurance, movement, safety, perfection
  • Refers to the feminine: warmth, comfort, sensuality, and love.

I was disappointed, but the truth is if someone is looking for a new topic for their doctoral thesis, here it is!!!

Have I come full circle?  Or is my circle yet unclosed?  I think the latter.  How does the circle affect you?

Book Review: Entertaining an Elephant

Thank you and congratulations to Larry Otter, the 30th “LIKE” on my new Facebook page, GOLD STAR!  Thanks to the many others that also pressed “LIKE”

Many of you are teachers, and many more of you have children, grandchildren, or at some point in time are expecting to have them.  A few months ago I went to a Common Core Conference, at which Dr. Bill McBride presented strategies to help teachers implement Common Core Standards.  His presentation style was just as interactive and fun as any I have attended.  I also purchased the book , If They Can Argue Well, They Can Write Well, a step-by step instruction manual on teaching students how to develop an argument. 

Entertaining an Elephant, on the other hand is a fictitious book about education, and I warn the reader to have a Kleenex or two nearby.  (That was clever, I wasn’t sure about how to pluralize Kleenex.  Putting es on the end, just didn’t look right, and ‘s did, but ‘s indicates belonging, so just a simple rewording solved my problem.  YEAH!)

by William McBride
by William McBride

Written by William McBride, Entertaining an Elephant documents the metamorphosis of a seasoned, but jaded teacher who encounters a new janitor that changes his life.

“Reaf wasn’t allowed to leave for a half hour, and he decided not to let the janitor run him out.” p. 7

His tired attitude helps you dislike this teacher right from the start.  He thought he knew what the kids needed, and I can just hear his gruff voice speaking to the peon janitor.

“You see, I’ve been in the business for a long time, and even though these kids have had a lot of schooling, they still don’t have the basics.  I don’t know what those teachers are doing at the lower levels, but these kids can’t tell a participle from a noun.  So I take it upon myself to make sure they understand grammar.  None of the other English teachers spend that much time with it, so it’s up to me to hammer it in.”

If that wouldn’t make a student want to take his class, I don’t know what would!  I’m sure the other teachers loved him just about as much as the kids did.  Every teacher loves to think their teaching taught the kids all they were expected to learn that year plus a little more.  They NEVER like to hear that the kids FORGOT any some of it – or worse, they never had time to teach it, or worse still, they taught it, but NOBODY got it.

The janitor was a wise, wily fellow, though, with some tricks up his sleeve.

“Unfortunately, most of them don’t use the grammar.  That’s why they’re going to be failures, which proves my point.  But that’s between you and I.”

“Me,” the janitor said.

“Yes, you.”

Who else would I be talking to, thought Reaf.  …then suddenly (he) realized the janitor had corrected him.  It is between you and me. … the teacher threw the grammar book he had been holding …

I have to admit that, as a teacher, I want to make sure my kids learn grammar, but I’ve also made MY share of grammar errors as an adult with lots of education.   In fact I’ve made the very SAME mistake that Reaf made.  It was embarrassing the first time I made it, sitting at a dinner table with a movie star, no less – and corrected by HIM.  It was worse the third time I said it.  And I was the EDUCATOR, but the star seemed like a Reaf to me, and he didn’t earn a fan that night.

So where did Reaf throw the grammar book?  What did the janitor do to cause the teacher to change?  What made the teacher so irritatingly uninteresting in the first place?  Why would you want to find out?

I’ll answer the last question for you.  Reaf learns and practices some new teaching and relationship strategies as the book progresses which change his life, but most of all HE changes, and the story is heartwarming.  Common sense strategies are easily employed by anyone, teachers or non-teachers, who want to see improved relationships and motivate others to learn.

The real question is, will YOU cry at the end?

Featured Blog

You must read and enjoy Sierra Foothill Garden if you want to learn more about the plant life in my neck of the woods.  This blog is more focused than my streaming thoughts site.  We really do get snow in the mountains and higher in the foothills than I am.  Sue has a handy list of California bloggers in her sidebar, which I am going to find helpful.  If you want to get more familiar with California, this is one place to start.

If you have already read the book Entertaining an Elephant, how did your react?

  • I threw the book across the room.
  • I cried.
  • I planted the book to see if I could get it to grow.
  • I gave it away at a White Elephant Christmas party.
  • Other responses

I wanted to reblog this well-written post because it did not come from the United States. It didn’t even come from a teacher, but it is a topic that teachers grapple with on a daily basis.

Sue Ann's Balcony

Many adolescent boys are disengaged and unmotivated at school, and their results reflect this. Boys are not hard-wired to sit at a desk all day and learn in the way that they are now being taught. Changes to the curriculum, standardised testing and a lag time in the education system’s adoption of new methods of teaching are all to blame. Paradoxically, as adults our Generation Z boys will need to be creative, lateral thinkers that can problem-solve and think globally in order to be successful.

It all starts on the first day of school. We bid farewell to our beautiful, happy, enthusiastic little boys as they run to the school gate. Fast forward ten years and they are in Year 9. We haul them out of bed with a combination of bribes and threats while telling them no, they can’t have the day off school and no, they need to…

View original post 1,152 more words

Sunday Post: Peaceful

water-dragon-poster1

I thought about the ocean, but sometimes it is NOT peaceful.  I considered farm animals, but they make a LOT of noise.  Then, I looked around for something at home where I feel most peaceful.  Who should be peacefully resting in my folder, but Mama Kitty?

Mama Kitty is peaceful

Granted Kalev is NOT peaceful.  Every morning she charges out to see Mama Kitty, her body twisting and writhing with excitement.  Amazingly Mama Kitty just stands waiting for her morning kiss from Kalev.

Mama Kitty is Peaceful 2

Scardy could do anything to her without rousing her ire.  Scardy mellowed in adulthood, but as a baby….  Mama had to have the patience of a  … oh yeah – Mama.Mama Kitty is peaceful 4

Even when Kalev first came to live with use, Mama tolerated her advances.Mama Kitty is peaceful 3

Mama Kitty can even bear the burden carrying a tree on her back without getting riled.

Other animals lose their cool from time to time, even me, but Mama Kitty is ALWAYS peaceful.

Featured Blog

I met Richard Tulloch’s Life on the Road just last week when I saw his Reflections post.  Richard writes children’s books, and travel articles so he has to be a new hero of mine, but since he is based out of Sydney and Amsterdam, I hadn’t heard of him.  From him I learned about a famous walk,  El Camino se Santiago, that my friend Leslie wants to take and invited me to join her – and any other brave souls.  I hope you’ll enjoy Richard as much as I have in the short time I’ve followed him.

Leslie's goal I just want to tag along.
Leslie’s goal I just want to tag along.

To participate in Jakesprinter’s Sunday Post:  Peaceful

1. Each week, he will provide a theme for creative inspiration. Show the world based on your interpretation what you have in mind for the theme, and post them on your blog anytime before the following Sunday when the next photo theme will be announced.

2. Subscribe to jakesprinter so that you don’t miss out on weekly challenge announcements. Sign up via the email subscription link in the sidebar or RSS.

So I learned something today.  How about you?

Here are some of the participants I gathered.