Tuesday, April 27, 2004


I am going to make my eighth graders calculate the volume necessary to hold 200 billion grains of pearl barley (rice-like stuff). In order to do this, they will HAVE TO COUNT HOW MANY GRAINS ARE IN 5 ML!! HEE-HEE! I CAN'T WAIT TO SEE THEIR FACES WHEN I TELL THEM THIS!

But this does have a purpose: to give them a better understanding of the size of the galaxy. Our galaxy has about 200 billion stars in it. And, our sun (which we calculated this afternoon) has a diameter of about 1.4 million km, and it is a medium -sized star, so just try to imagine 200 billion stars....it blows the human mind away. Which is why I'm doing this activity.

BTW- I did this myself and came up with 6 million litres! Tim says that is still an unimaginable number, so I'm going to try to calculate the volume of the school's new gym and see how many gyms it would take to hold it.

This seemed like a cute site. It is the galaxy according to Star Trek:


Hey, I must be cool because Google asked me to try out their new Gmail. I feel so special!

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Lesson Learned: Sometimes the scale isn't as scary as you might think.

Well, tomorrow I go back to school. All I can say is "BLEH." I don't want to go back! It is so nice doing nothing. But I will admit that part of me is looking forward to my usual routine: getting up, school, eating, exercising, friends, etc. And there are a few kids I do miss (don't let them know I said that!) and I do like teaching....when they are being good. My plan is to do a little ice breaker, take it slow and easy. I have the next 2 weeks sketched out for my 7th graders. I'm not sure what I'm doing with the 8th graders. *$hit* I just realized something....

...Ok, I'm supposed to be reflecting and analyzing my teaching and looking for areas of improvement and working on long-term plans my areas of growth. So, before the break I sat down with my BTSA support provider and we came up with a plan that includes portfolios, communicating the state science standards, and differentiated teaching. With me so far?? Anyway, I did all this stuff for MY 7TH GRADE CLASS, WHICH SHE DOESN'T OBSERVE! SHE NEEDS TO SEE ME DO THIS STUFF IN MY PERIOD 5 CLASS, WHICH IS MY 8TH GRADE CLASS! BLEH BLEH BLEH!! I guess I can whip up something similar tomorrow. I have a whole 2 hours with which to grade papers and plan out a unit's worth of curricula (*sniff* can you smell the sarcasm?).

Anyway, this will be a lesson in creativity. Yeah, that's it....it's a challenge to overcome, not just another brick on the camel's back.

I did want to share something with you all. This week I began organizing my housework . I figured I needed a program that showed me how to eat and lose weight, so maybe I could use a program to help me get the aptartment a little more organized. Someone on my yahoo group introduced us to FlyLady [for some reason, my hyperlink is not functioning. The site is http//www.flylady.net]. I've only been a Flybaby (her term, not mine) for a few days, but Tim said he noticed that the place does look better. That really made me feel good. I guess the lesson I really learned from all this is that deep down I am a perfectionist, and my perfectionism keeps me from trying because I feel that if I can't do it 150% right, then I don't want to do it at all. I think that attitude affected my weight gain by increasing my stress levels--I'd see all this work I want to or feel obligated to do right and would stress out, because I couldn't get it done on time or perfectly, so I'd eat. It definately affects me as a teacher. My self-esteem is particularly fragile right now because I don't feel like I'm doing the best job as a teacher. It's like my best isn't good enough for me, so I get stressed out and feel real low, so I eat (or want to eat) to feel better. Then I come home to a messy house and I feel more stress because my home is bleh, my classroom is bleh, so I feel bleh. The point is, I never saw myself as a perfectionist, but it does make sense. I do expect perfection from myself, but am very forgiving and supportive of everyone around me if they aren't perfect. Why can't I give myself the same allowances? I don't know. This is going to take a lot of self-reflection and positive self-talk, starting right now. I am a good person. My home isn't a showplace, it is somewhere I keep my stuff, where I relax with my fiance, where friends come over, etc. My teaching is good enough. That's all it has to be right now. How can I have all the answers to my classroom questions when I've only been teaching junior high for 4 months? I wouldn't expect anyone else to be an expert at what they did after only 4 months, so why should I be?

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Holy-Bajoly! Has it been that long since my last blog??

Lessons Learned
*Every junior high student has a cute kid inside them.
*It is OK to show a movie and relax in class once in a while
*Bald eagles are way cool.

OK-thanks for tuning in. Let me sum up what's been going on.....
Well, my kids did finish their project-based learning things. It did go over pretty well. Most of them did excellent jobs; only a couple out of my 150+ misused their time (ie: only 6 Fs were earned!) I'll definitely have to do it again, perhaps in June.

Let's see.....basically I wrapped up what I could before spring break. Everyone took a test and then we spent the last couple of days just watching Finding Nemo . True, it just came out and everyone owned it, but I love this movie and the kids did enjoy it. My awful 6th period was the cutest of all. They were all singing and saying the lines right with the movie. It really was cute to watch; I had to keep from giggling!

Then SPRING BREAK!! Tim and I flew up to Washington, rented a car, and road-tripped across the northern part of the state. It is beautiful. I highly recommend that everyone check out the San Juans and Olympic Peninsula at least once. We didn't do much hiking, but saw lots of green; very different from here. True, now is the time when California is green and flowery, but they don't call Washington the "Evergreen State" for nothing! We wanted to check out Mt. Rainier, but got talked out of it by the Parks rep. at the REI store in Seattle (correction: the uber-REI flagship store; very cool, very large). Anyway, we had a good time, even though Tim got a head cold the last half of the trip and I forgot my wallet on a ferry and didn't realize it until we had driven 2 hours into the Olympic forest....Luckily, Tim is a wonderful and understanding person. I thought he'd be really frustrated and cheesed-off, but he was fine. He told me about the time he had made his friend Tone hike back 10 miles with him for his flashcards he left on a trail, and someone had taken them, so they hiked and extra 20 miles for nothing. That did make me feel a bit better.

Well, the San Juans were lovely. We stayed a couple of nights on Orcas Island (not named for the whale but for some Spanish viceroy) and went kayaking among some of the smaller islands where we saw a pair of nesting bald eagles. Bald eagles are much cooler in the wild than they are in a zoo, since the zoo birds are those that have been injured, rehabilitated, and unable to survive in the wild. The ones at our zoo don't fly;I think one is blind in one eye....We also saw some murrelets, which are endangered as they nest in old growth forests.

There is a lot of water in Washington. I guess, having been born and raised in SoCal, I tend to notice the water and green plants the most when I travel. I mean, WA has rivers with water in them all the time! And in this part of the state there are lakes, channels, sounds all over.

I also liked the tall, rugged snow-capped mountains we saw. We did a little walk in the snow up Hurricane Hill in the Olympic Mountains. That was beautiful. (BTW- saw the Canadian Jay) The Hoh rainforest was pretty cool, too. We did 2 of the 3 trails they had. That may not sound like much, but their 3rd trail was 17 miles long and led up to a meadow in the mountains. Only the first 9 miles was open, the rest being under snow. But walking through the ancient forest was great, especially since all around the National Park were forests that had been harvested and replanted, waiting for the next harvest. The logging companies had signs up letting you know when that forest had been last chopped down, replanted, and will be chopped down again. There were also lots of cleared forests. Seeing this made Tim say how it is enough to put you off buying wood products, and I would have to agree. Well, at least now they are doing the replanting thing and have left a little bit of old growth forest alone.

We also saw a bunch of banana slugs, which always makes me happy, as well as some smaller black slugs, which Tim pointed out to me. It's nice how he knows me so well! I also got to show him some American robins.

We happened to arrive in Washington at the beginning of their month-long Tulip Festival in the northern part of the state. WOW. Tim had once showed me a picture of just huge stripes of color and some trees taken in Holland. I had no idea what I was supposed to be looking at until he said that the stripes of color were from the tulip fields. That is what we saw in the Skagit valley area. Geez! I had never seen so many flowers like that! It really was amazing. Just big, orderly sections of bold colors: reds, pinks, yellows, and even purple.

I think we both could see ourselves settling in WA someday...

*These trips began as a search for areas we might like to live in with affordable housing. We want to buy a home in 5 years, so are looking for areas we like as much as this one. But now that seems to have shifted, and we are now enjoying some areas of the country we've never been to. I did look at the prices of some homes on the market, and there were homes that were a lot less expensive than here, obviously. We saw a listing for a 7 bedroom house, perfect for a bed and breakfast, in the San Juans for only $350K. While in the past Tim and I have had fleeting thoughts of owning a bed and breakfast, I learned on this trip that Tim is more serious about that than I thought. He said he wouldn't mind running one someday and had contemplated taking business classes. Food for thought.... I do like the idea b/c we would own our own business, work from home, and live in a beautiful place, the kind of place people would pay $250-400/night to stay in. ;)