Lee Skywatcher

What fascinated me today was the sky.  On the way home from work in the west was a block of grisly gray from high in the sky to the ground.  On the east was a dust devil.  That just seemed wrong, but what was really wrong was that I didn’t have my camera.  So I got it out when I came home.

Fortunately for me, the sky stayed diverse long enough for me to get tired of taking pictures.

By the way you don’t want to plant eucalyptus trees too near your pool.  They don’t clean up after themselves.  I faced east as I took these first two pictures.  Watch when I turn about 135 degrees.

Gray adds depth and interest to the sky, maybe even to one’s life if you believe the philosophers. As a hair color, and according to my fashion expert and co-worker, Glenn,  gray should not be an option in my wardrobe either.   But it looks nice if the sky is wearing a little of it – in places.

What made this evening particularly interesting was the next turn.  Looking straight south you could almost imagine yourself in another world.

You should neither spit into the wind nor take pictures into the sun. But in the spirit of providing you all with an accurate recording today’s sky display, I did it anyway.   If you live in the midwest or east, these skyscapes may not seem spectacular to you.  But in this area if you have something other than dusky,cloudless,  lifeless blue, you grab your camera and point up.

Relaxing After Work

A technician told me the other day that he didn’t mind driving home 35 minutes from work.  When he had lived 2 minutes from work, he always took a drive out into the country to relax before he went home.    His story inspired me to take you on a drive with me as I relax on my way home from work.

You are seeing rural California at its best.  The temperature is a perfect 80 degrees.  The air smells fresh and clean.  You can open your car windows, forget about air conditioning, and let the wind mess up your hair because you are going home.

I stopped along the way to take these pictures, and walked out into the middle of the street.  I could take my time snapping pictures because there is only evidence of human habitation here – telephone poles, garbage can, and, of course, groves and groves of trees, not so many real humans.

The foremost crop in this part of Tulare County is citrus.  Oranges have just been picked for the most part, and although there are still a few in the trees, they are small.

Without irrigation, this area is very arid.  I took this picture on  May 22, 2012, and the hills are already brown, and there are not even any weeds growing along the side of the road.

This is one of my favorite turns in the road.  It changes season by season, but is always beautiful.  Dark clouds, sometimes a heavy downpour, come occasionally from December until maybe as late as April and create a dramatic skyscape for the snow-capped peaks.  In early spring the white peaks of the Sierra Nevada contrast with a bluer sky.  On a windless mid-summer day dusty air hides the mountains, and in the fall the few deciduous trees turn orange and yellow.

Coming from the Midwest, and later the Northwest I had to develop an appreciation for the color brown.  In the Central Valley of California water comes from wells, reservoirs, and we also import water from the north.  A few years ago many, many trees died because farmers couldn’t get enough water.  Now those groves have been replanted.

You can see the drip irrigation hose wrapped around the first tree and stretches to all the trees in the row.  Some types of groves are flood irrigated periodically instead, but this is the most common method of watering citrus trees that I have seen in this area.

I grew up in cities.  I love them, the activities, the lights, the people, but my technician friend was right.  When I lived there, my family and I always took drives into the country to relax before or after going home.  Now I relax by going home, but have to go to cities  so I don’t turn into a vegetable.  I am blessed to have both in my life.

Common Core/History-Social Studies Presentation

The Six Shifts in the Common Core Standards for English Language Arts impact all subject areas K-12:

  • an increase in reading non-fiction texts
  • content area literacy
  • increased text complexity
  • focus on text-based questions
  • focus on writing arguments
  • academic vocabulary

Saturday, April 14th Mary Janzen, Fresno County Office of Education, Dr. Melissa Jordine, California State University, Fresno, and Marsha Ingrao, Tulare County Office of Education, all members of San Joaquin Valley Council for the Social Studies, formed a successful tag team to present an awareness session to history and language arts teachers, literacy coaches and principals about the effect of the Common Core Standards in History-Social Science classes.

Getting acquainted with  Kagan Strategy, Stand Up, Hand Up, Pair Up

Administrators, college professors, and teachers wondered how the Common Core Standards will impact elementary, middle and high school history instruction.

Mary Janzen explains the Six Shifts.
Teachers discussed different perspectives between the strategies language arts teachers use to teach reading of information texts in the content areas, and the specialized strategies unique to social science.

Teachers examine the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution to answer, "Did the states have the right to Secede?

Dr. Jordine shared the Civil War Blueprints, a California History Project document on which professors and teachers worked collaboratively for over a year to complete.  This extensive resource  contains lessons, primary sources, and strategies to help teachers integrate the Common Core Language Arts Standards in this Civil War unit of study.  Teachers in the workshop compared the legal rights of states in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution to answer the question, “Did the South have the right to secede?”

Teachers examined a Toolkit which aligns the Analysis Skills of History-Social Science to the skills of reading, writing, listening, and speaking to assist teachers in crafting quality critical thinking questions in both reading and writing    Marsha Ingrao explains ways to use the Toolkit to implement the Common Core Standards using existing materials in both language arts and history.

Teachers paired up to strategize how to use the Toolkit effectively in the classroom.

They also read and discussed a sample 6th grade Reading Informational Text assessment for 6th grade.

“Students trace the line of argument in Winston Churchill’s “Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat” address to Parliament and evaluate his specific claims and opinions in the text, distinguishing which claims are supported by facts, reasons, and evidence, and which are not. [RI.6.8]”  Common Core Standards Appendix A p. 91.

Thursday, April 12th, Mary Janzen and Marsha Ingrao also made a short presentation to student teachers in Robin Perry’s Fresno Pacific University‘ s teacher preparation class about the Common Core Standards and the Toolkit.  Students were also invited to become members of the San Joaquin Council for the Social Studies.

 

 

 

The Common Core Standards provide  justification for elementary teachers to spend more time teaching history-social studies during the language arts’ block of time.  Teachers in middle and high school learn more reasons to collaborate to effectively implement the rigorous and relevant Common Core Standards.

To present effective instructional strategies specific to teaching history-social science analysis skills,  additional workshops will be held May 16th at Tulare County Office of Education, then in Fresno at Literacy Conference on May 22nd.  This summer, July 16-20th, Tulare County Office of Education will host a 5 day Common Core Institute featuring special presenters, as well as a complete roll out of the Toolkit, and technology training appropriate to implement the standards.