Saturday, July 31, 2010

Last Year

I was looking through my blog when I found this post. Wow - was I on the ball! All their back to school clothes bought by August 3rd? Who is that lady? And know what? NONE of those clothes fit them? Allison can fit into Nat's clothes from last year - while she is three years younger - and Natalie? Forget about it. She's two inches shorter than me - no way is she going back to Justice for her back to school shopping this fall - We're thinking Gap, American Eagle, = Regular Junior Clothes... My oldest is growing up. Sixth grade! HOLY COW!!!!! Where did the time go? Where's my little ten pounder? Somewhere in this soon-to-be-teen lies a snugly baby who wouldn't let her mom out of sight.

This Girl

Who as two thumbs and likes to wiggle by her mom while her mom drinks steamy hot coffee?

This girl.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

My New Love

I hope Jason doesn't feel betrayed....

Burnin' Love for the Pool

Last night, we had our annual pool party.  About 120 people showed it. The kids were real party animals..

That reminds me of the time I was pool manager.  We had the worst time with the heaters... and all the pool heating up one summer. 

One June morning, we noticed that the pool was too cold for lessons.  So, we put the tarps on the pool and decided to let the heaters do their work. 

I came in to check on things.  I opened the equipment room door and noticed that one of the heaters was on fire.

Wait a minute?


Yep... Fire.

Well... I grabbed the fire extinguisher, but decided to get some advice from the dispatcher first.

"Hey ahhhh  This is Bobbi from over at the pool... and we have a fire in the chemical room...  I'm going in... but if I don't come back online would you send an ambulance?"

They convinced me to wait for the fire department - but to go ahead and turn off the main gas line as soon as possible - of course, I needed some reminding of exactly where that was.

I remember waving good-bye to the firemen from the front door after they extinguished the fire.

And, that's how we got a new pool heater at the pool.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Stepping Up!

My nephew was diagnosed with diabetes one month before he turned three.  I remember Missi and I talking about Ethan's excessive thirst and constant filling of diapers.  It was impossible to potty train him because it seemed he would have to be in the bathroom all day.  Also, Ethan was very hungry.  I don't remember ever seeing a kid that hungry all the time. I asked her if she thought he was diabetic.  She nodded.

It took two weeks for Ethan to be diagnosed with diabetes.  At one appointment, Missi has giving Ethan a peanut butter sandwich.  The nurse practitioner checked his blood, and he was 80 (which is somewhat normal for a normal person).  She lectured my sister in overfeeding her son and wrote some nasty things in my sister's chart.

Missi was angry, but she really trusted her own gut.  She started monitoring Ethan's blood sugar on our grandma's glucose monitoring - sure to change needles for sanitation. One morning she checked him at Grandma's apartment, and the monitor read "HI." Mom called a family friend who was a lab tech - she told Missi to rush to the E.R. - his sugars were at least 600.

At the E.R., they gave Missi a syringe filled with insulin and sent her on her way.

Now, this was confusing....  Missi knew that she would bring Ethan to the doctor in the morning, but she had never administered a shot.  Something seemed wrong.

As Missi was driving home, another doctor from the ER called her.  Turns out he was paying attention.  He called the hospital in Grand Forks and had Ethan admitted.  Missi went home packed Ethan up and spent the next three days being trained on how to be a diabetic's mom.

Since the summer of 2002, there has been many breakthroughs in diabetes.  Ethan got his first pump in 2006.  With the pump, Ethan has gained a lot of independence and control over his diabetes.  The pump acts just like an artificial pancreas.  Insulin is pumped continuously into his system at regular intervals - pretty awesome, eh?

But of course, not as awesome as a real pancreas.

One evening last fall, Missi had been up late with Mykayla.  Mykayla had been throwing up a lot and laying around. She had an uneasy feeling. She called the doctor in the middle of the night wondering if she should just check Mykayla's blood sugar on Ethan's machine.  The doctor agreed.  Mykayla's sugar count was at 431.

If you've never dealt with diabetes, you might think that she could have a high blood sugar because she was sick - but if you are a diabetic mother, you know that no one has a blood sugar of 431 without being a Type 1 Diabetic.

Mykayla was three when she was diagnosed.  She was pretty P.O.ed that Missi was giving her shots and checking her blood.  She yelled at Missi and told her; "I don't have diabetes; you do!"

 Eventually, she got used to the shots and is expecting her first pump next month!  Hooray!

What's it like to be a mother of a diabetic?  Well, you know when you're kids are sick?  And you're up with them two or three times a night because they're puking and you never get enough sleep?  Well - imagine that every night.  Missi and Mark have to monitor their kids levels every three hours making sure they don't have a dangerous low... 

What's it like to be the sister of a diabetic?  Well, Mariah, Missi and Mark's middle child does not have diabetes.  She keeps an eye out for her older brother and little sister. The other day, she told Missi that she's mad at Ethan because he gave Mykayla diabetes. Even though she didn't get that part right, Mariah knows a bunch of medical terms and procedures that most adults don't even have a clue about. 

The only break Missi and Mark get is when Ethan goes to Camp Sioux for five days.  Camp Souix's counselors are nurses and pediatricians.  When Mykayla is old enough to go, I imagine that will be the first complete night sleep that Missi and Mark will have had since Ethan was diagnosed in 2002.

Last week, I added a link on the left side of my feed for the event "Step-Up for Diabetes."  This event raises money for the American Diabetes Association who helps kids like Ethan and Mykayla deal with their diabetes.   The event also helps raise money for Camp Sioux to defray the costs of the two, five day camps.

So- we've got our day planned out in October - where we'll meet at the Alerus Center in honor of Ethan and Mykayla- and Step-Up for Diabetes.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Professional Learning Community Ideas

One big push over the past few years in education is Professional Learning Communities, where teachers get together and discuss important learning trends.

  Back when I was student teaching at Franklin Middle School, I was impressed with the PLCs.  The teachers were reading How Full is your Bucket by Tom Rath and Donald Clifton.  They met once a month discussed housekeeping issues and discussed how the book could impact their profession and the children they serve every day.  Some of the teachers' groups really got into the discussions and really took the book to heart.  This was a pleasure to witness.

Some PLCs can be very literal and only discuss housekeeping issues. I never left those PLCs feeling refreshed or glad I was a teacher. These discussions embraced issues like "Dress Code - Bra Straps are Out!"  or  "Pieces of Garbage I've found in the Hallway."

I know there are some of my readers who really embrace the idea of deeper discussions with their PLCs.  Over the summer, I do a lot of reading on education and how to become a better teacher.  I take the idea of professional development very seriously.  I love the idea of getting together with other colleagues and discussing how we can improve ourselves.

I thought it would be fun to compile a list of articles and videos I think would be stimulating PLC topics.  The first would be "The Case of Summer Vacation" from Time.  I shared this with my Reading Concepts course at the ALC - I also notice that this is one article that Teacherscribe recommends too in one of today's post.

A good back to school topic would be this article Simple Two-question Can Help Identify Hungry Children  from Science Daily. 

Anything from Ted Talks is worth sharing...  I especially enjoy Sir Ken Robinson - which I have to admit Teacherscribe introduced to me last summer.  These two videos are especially worth viewing and discussing within a PLC...


Also, I believe there are a lot of good youtube videos that will spike educator's imagination - like these two boys from Fosston who organized their own school event surrounding Chuck Norris' 70th birthday.

Of course, there's the Gary Paulsen Video I've shared before to inspire teachers to remember how a book can save a child's life.

I bet there would be some lively discussion of Michelle Rhee in a PLC... And anything to do with Standardized testing...

I love the idea of an entire school reading Queen Bees and Wannabees by Rosiland Wiseman and watching her video about bullying.  Another good book on this topic is of course Barbara Coloroso's The Bully, The Bullied, and The Bystander.

Anyways... those are just some ideas. Of course, share more ideas with me - they are always worth reading and sharing again.

Monday, July 26, 2010

You're Invited!

Ethan, Natalie, Allison, Mariah, and Mykayla's Pool Party

Wednesday, July 26th

8:00 p. m. 

Red Lake Falls Pool!!!

Studying for the Big Test

Today, We'll be reading Gary Paulsen's "Stop the Sun" as a group.  We are going to use the short story to review the elements of the short story - you know - conflict, plot elements, characterization, theme, mood, tone, and conflict..  I'd really like to get a log in to a teacher's computer to show the kids this video.

Of course, youtube is restricted for students. I'm not a regular contracted teacher - so I've been logging on as a student.
I love how he says "I'm THAT other boy."  It brings tears to my eyes to think of it.  Gary Paulsen even grew up in Thief River Falls.  The same place these kids are living - experiencing many of the same frustrations as he did. 

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Writing Prompts

My students gave me some of their best writing this spring. My favorite reactions were to this prompt -

They were completely angry for the first minute of this video - I could see their eyes roll at their friends...  And then, of course it reversed.

I got them all hoppin' mad at the whole "Ohh - this is what people think of your generation... blah blah blah"  I'm sure if they realized that I was just trying to get them fueled up for their writing....

Their journals were an awesome read - Lot's of hope for the future!

Monday, July 19, 2010


I passed out Reading Inventories today to find that none of my students admit to reading outside of class much less in class.  Sigh...  I tried to subtly point out the fact that this might have something to do with not passing the reading portion of their Reading Grad test.  I don't think it worked.

So, this is what I told them.

1.  Of course, we need to pass this test.

2.  Reading is good for us.

And when all else fails ..

3.  Make it or fake it.  - In order to comprehend what one reads - a  person either has to make a purpose for reading it - or fake it.

I've talked about good ole #3 before.  Teachers, bosses, grandparents, and just about anyone will hand something to us at some point in our lives.  And for goodness sake, there comes a time when we have to read it - because that person is expecting us to.  At this time, FAKE a reason to read it - We should talk ourselves into loving it...  Change our attitudes about what we are reading...

Yes dearies - in other words, it means opening our minds to something new we never thought we'd care to know about.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Summer School Reading

Tomorrow, I start another session for summer school.  This time, I'm teaching a Reading Concepts course. Basically, I'm giving students who didn't pass their grad test a review for their next test.  I hesitated because I wasn't sure I wanted to drive in everyday for one class.  At the end of the first four weeks, I decided to go for it because I like teaching reading strategies. I like teaching kids how to overcome test-anxiety.  I signed up.  Why not take another adventure offered to me.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Love the Way You Lie

I'm not all that hip.  I know surprising... isn't it?  For some reason, I was listening to this on the radio - and I was enjoying the meter, rhythm, and rhyme....  I know - what a dork right?  Then, at the end I heard it was a song by Eminem and Rihanna.

"Love the Way You Lie" tells the story of domestic violence. Rihanna's character in the song is the victim, Eminem's character is the abuser.  When I first listened to the song, I jumped to the conclusion that the artist was using irony and satire.  Eminem's character playing the typical "wife beater," and Rihanna's character giving her lover every excuse in the book.

When Eminem first came out, I thought he was a misogynist pig.  I didn't get the satire at all.  Many others didn't and still don't.  I'm not a more sophisticated rap enthusiast.  I've just had more life experiences.

I've clicked my tongue as a gal or two told me how their significant other was so perfect and kind.  I've cheered too many times thinking they would leave the abusive MO FO only to see the truck parked in the driveway the next morning.

I wouldn't have understood the irony of Rihanna's chorus while I  grit my teeth wondering when they'll finally see what they do to themselves. 

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Cartoon by Kurt Vonnegut

Lady Slippers - I miss them..

Two years ago, I was obsessed with lady slippers.  I wrote this little bit in celebration of their rarity.  I haven't seen any this year - yet.  Hopefully,  I find some soon!

Monday night as I was roller blading. I noticed some Lady Slippers. At least one hundred. As you probably know, they are a very rare flower. The take up to sixteen years to produce their first flowers. When I told Jason of my discovery, he was so excited. We drove to the patch after Natalie's softball game, and he took these pictures. (I wasn't taking any chances on poison ivy.) When he got home, he got on the Internet finding all he could about Lady Slippers and even called his mom.

Of all the information, I found the Ojibwa Legend of the Lady Slipper the most interesting...

A courageous girl braved a fierce snowstorm to cure her ailing family and fellow villagers. Wearing deerskin moccasins, she walked all day until she reached the wigwams of the people who have healing herbs. Worried that the illness at home may be worsening, she insisted on setting back immediately and lost her moccasins in the deep snow; still she trudged on, leaving bloody footprints on the white ground. Her valiant efforts saved the village and, when the snow melted, she and her beloved brother find lovely, moccasin-shaped blooms in place of her bloody tracks.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Two Days

I have two days left of summer school.  Wow.  I've learned so much in these two weeks.  I really like the book the ALC has for Multicultural Literature, and I find that while I enjoy reading the stories - some of the kids are really enjoying them too.

We read one of my favorites, "Here's Herbie", today.

The trailer doesn't do the short story justice.  Mike Feder does an amazing job examining how we perceive ourselves and those around us.

I'm not sure if you ever have had the experience of the pin drop - when all of the sudden everyone in the room is on the same page - well - literally- and really into the story - you could hear a pin drop.

"Here's Herbie" was THAT story for this class.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Teaching - a REAL Fun Job

In fact, I even hate to admit it, but my school passed AYP - mostly because my students decided to take it seriously.  It may have had something to do with that fact that I said "You'll need to understand these poetic devices in the future - say, in an MCA test or Mrs. L's class next year.

I did my job, and I helped my students do their job well - but not because of a test that took eight hours of class time spread out over eight days.

My students learned the most when they wrote their papers.  My students learned the most when they read important works by Gary Soto, Julia Alverez, Malcolm X, Sharon Creech, Jack London, and even Bill Cosby.  I even think they learned a bunch when two of the boys organized a 70th Birthday Party for Chuck Norris complete with local news coverage. At the Grand Forks Herald, the girls learned there was more to a newspaper than reporting.  They learned there were many clubs at the University of North Dakota than they ever thought possible or consider joining.

Some people may say I did my job because we passed the MCAs.  I tend to disagree.  I did my job because I love literature, journalism, writing, reading, and most of all.... I love helping kids and hearing their stories. I love being that extra little cheerleader in their lives.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Pool

I still remember the first day the pool opened - it was the summer of 85.  I was ten.  My mom had just spent three years fund raising every chance she could get and now her dreams were realized - Red Lake Falls would have a pool - a place where kids could swim safely.  Somewhere kids could hang out.

Mom was a member of the Pool Committee.  Every morning, she and dad would head over to the Brumwell house where they would discuss strategy on how to raise money for a public pool.  At the time, $150,000 was a lot of money.

We went to fairs, car shows, and parades selling chances to cars. My mom drove us all over town.  We went door to door selling chances on the cars.  We were recruits to the cause.  Once - that crazy committee even tried selling chances on a house - $100 a ticket.  That particular fund-raiser didn't quite work out.  Once the pool in Thief River opened up their waters for us to have a "Swim-a-Thon"  I earned a T-Shirt and the cap with a pom-pom on top each had the logo "I Helped Build the Red Lake Falls Pool"  Man, I was stylin' in that cap.

I remember that the Pool Committee was somewhat controversial.  I remember mom crying because people would shout things out her like "You're going to raise taxes!"  I remember classmates fathers giving her the finger. It was a hard core deal people.

And so - I remember the day my mom handed me the $1 and a towel.  She sent my sister and I on our bikes and we rode to the pool.  That summer would be the start of many summers of riding to the pool with a towel around my neck and a $1 clenched in my fist.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Weight of the Sky

I was talking to a fellow summer school teacher this morning before parting our separate ways.  We talked about our different AYP stages at our separate schools.  It turns out he is on the AYP committee at his school just I was at our school. We both met with the experts from the Northwest Service Center and remembered that 45% of all Minnesota schools are  on AYP because of Special Education cells. 

Hmmm...  Can you imagine the can of worms that opens?  How do you push a student to pass a standardized test when that student is anything but standardized. Can you imagine how difficult it is to fill in a bubble if you're dyslexic?  I hope you don't know what that feels like.  It's pretty discouraging.

Luckily, many of the students can have tests read to them.  They can go to separate rooms with less distractions.  They can have tests blown up so they are more easily read.  And even though these students have accommodations, there is still a pressure on them as heavy as the weight on Atlas' shoulder.

Guest Post - Anonymous

Here's a Guest Post - a reaction from my "Under Pressure" post... I find other people's reactions to my writing interesting - I'm sure you all will too!!!

I find it interesting that when it comes to teachers and performance, an entire list of excuses fills the page. However, the reality is that it is their job to teach, and to demonstrate that this goal has been accomplished, you need to take a test. If the students are failing, then the teachers have not done their job. What is do hard to understand?

Everyday REAL people with REAL jobs face job loss, and we deal with it. Many people, especially in white color jobs, rely on teams of people to successfully carry out their job. In my profession, I lead very large projects that involve dozens of people across in many different roles. If the project succeeds, I succeed. If not, well guess what, in the REAL world this can lead to job loss.

And yet, every single person on the project is critical. If one or two do not do their jobs, we will ALL fail unless extra effort is taken to compensate for the situation. I cannot simply throw my hands up and say "Oh well, we failed, but you cannot hold me responsible because this person did not approve the budget in time, and this one did put forth enough effort, etc... It IS my responsibility to deliver the end result. End of story.

And, why should teachers be above accountability? Look, if they think it is the students fault for not learning, then get out of teaching or move to a new school where the students "want" to learn. Or better yet, find a new profession.

I am tired of teachers making excuses. You would think that every teacher was perfect if you listen to them. And yet, we all know teachers that were poorly equipped for the profession, or worse still, those who no longer cared. And what happens? They continue along drawing a paycheck, mean while the students suffer. And then when the results are demonstrated on test, the list of tired old excuses is wheeled out.

Give me a break

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Summer School -

 This morning, our Fourth of July vacation ended. It was tough getting back into the swing of things.  I eased them back into class when I showed them a new video my cousin introduced to me. They are my new favorite band. Here is their video based on "Umbrella" by Rhianna.

My favorite comment from a student was "Yeah... and then, Rhianna had to go and ruin the song."

The students were surprised to learn that  The Baseballs are a German band that doesn't speak English.