Monday, October 20, 2014

A Few Odd Posts

WriteTribe has a seven post series about "Rediscovering your Blogging Groove." I decided to utilize these for filling in the gaps for the next few days when I need something to fill in my empty days.

The list goes like this:

  1. Write a List
  2. Answer a Question
  3. Write a Review 
  4. Link Post
  5. Write a Tip Post
  6. Ask a Question
  7. Tell a Story
These will not be the next seven posts in a row. I'll still blog about Robert's football, some poetry that I'm working on, and other family events that happen. 

A note on football: This week Robert's team's opponents forfeited because they did not have enough students keeping their grades up to maintain the team. 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

I AM Myself

An I AM Poem is a type of poem that I have taught in a couple of different classes at the instruction of the substitutes. After teaching them a couple of times, and with a couple of different themes, I decided to write a few of my own. With a quick Google Search, I was unable to find the origin of the "I AM" Poem, but here is mine. 

I am smart and silly.
I wonder what life will be like when I'm gone.
I hear the future approaching.
I see days bathed in golden warmth.
I want to visit that place.
I am smart and silly.

I pretend that I am a mother.
I feel a child's arms around my neck.
I touch their soft and silky hair.
I worry that they will not see their path.
I cry for they are not real.
I am smart and silly.

I understand that everything changes.
I say that we should change what we want.
I dream about the changes I will make.
I try to make those changes everyday.
I hope those changes take root and grow.
I am smart and silly.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Teaching Lessons Helps Me Learn

"Village Teacher" by Klein
The idea that students learn the most and cement it the best by teaching it to their fellow students is not new to me. I utilize it whenever possible in my classrooms. I never thought that I would be the one learning a lesson by teaching, and doing so outside of school.

Teen years are a time of struggling to find oneself and figuring out how to be an adult. Robert is one of the best teenagers in terms of responsibility, behavior, and intelligence. He is always learning, and continually improving. However, he has to learn how to be a respectful, responsible adult, just like any other teenager.

When Robert gets frustrated and angry that we are holding him to his word, I sometimes feel guilty and want to fix it. I want to tell him "It's ok, you can do this tomorrow, or I will pick it up tomorrow." However, this is not helpful to Robert at his current stage of maturity.

On this particular night, as dinner finished, Robert said, "I will do the dishes at 8:30." He said this without prompting or questioning, and indeed, he was scheduled to do the dishes that night.

When 8:47 came, and he had not emerged to start the dishes, but he had finished his homework, Will prompted him.

"I'll do it tomorrow," he replied.

Except that all of the lunch packing dishes were dirty, and we need to make three meals in the morning. We could not let him put off the dishes.

Hand Wash Dishes by Quadell
As Robert washed the dishes, he radiated anger and general teenage sulkiness. I wanted to take over and send him away, but I restrained myself. He agreed to the schedule at the beginning of the week; he set the time that evening, he is responsible for them.

He filled the dishwasher; then he stopped. Filling the dishwasher was good. He did a full load of dishes, and though angry and sulky, did not complain. However, he left the very dishes that were either needed or would be worse to wash the next day. These were the rubber maid lunch blox and the baking dish.

Last week, Robert ended up washing dishes nearly the whole week because he didn't finish washing the dishes, and left the worst or most needed dishes for the next person. After several discussions that this was entirely unfair to the next person washing dishes, we made him see just how it made the dishes snowball. He ended up doing the dishes until he demonstrated that he had washed all the dishes.

Apparently, he had not learned the lesson. As I said, he had left the lunch dishes and the baking dish.

So we put him back to work washing dishes. Now his negative radiation of emotion left me feeling more guilty, than when he was first washing dishes.

Then it got worse.

Eva na de Zondeval by Rodin,
Image by Michele Ahin
He said he had a test the following day, and had wanted to get to sleep early. My guilt exploded. Last year I would have sent him to bed with a warning about communicating needs and plans, as well as a reminder to utilize (or ask for help with) proper time management techniques.

After a year and a half of that, I knew he wasn't listening to words. In addition, he is a great kid who does help out around the house. Also,  because he is a freshman, now is the time to push the lesson, even if it makes me feel rotten on occasion. He helps out and does what he needs to do. Now he needs to learn it in a timely manner. High school begins the growth of greater independence, in which he will be under the guidance of a multitude of people, but none of whom will be able to keep track of everything, except Robert. If he doesn't learn the lessons now, while he can still recover before graduation, then he will ruin the future that he wants for himself.

The lessons he is learning with exercises like these are:

  1. Do what you say you will do.
  2. Communicate and discuss needs and desires in a timely manner, not after you dig a hole.
  3. Use (or ask for help with) good time management skills.
That last is because if we try to govern his time management he gets angry. He's a teenager, so I can't force him to adhere to a time management schedule, but I can let the consequences of his choices happen, and hope he learns from them.

However, I am learning lessons from Robert as well.
  1. I have to let him dig and then climb out of his holes. I won't be there to haul him out all the time.
  2. I have to learn to compartmentalize. Letting his negativity ruin my evening, when he dug his hole, is stupid and creates a downward spiral.
  3. When I see him struggling to climb out of his hole, but my hand of help was bitten off, then I need to let him fall on his face.
By teaching Robert lessons about growing up, I am learning lessons to continue my growth. These are lessons that will be infinitely valuable in the future. It doesn't matter what the subject matter is, or who the teacher is, if the teacher does self-reflection then they will find that they learned something as well.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A Night of Tricks

As darkness falls across the land this night,
We travel, race, to hide so safe in homes
Behind tight closed wood doors in warmth and light.
At night the monsters rise and walk from tomes.

The ghosts and zombies, witches, warlocks, all
They wander darkened streets in packs and herds.
They knock on doors, from house to house they crawl
Collecting chocolate candy, sweets, and Nerds.

For this night children are their nightmares, dreams.
From princess to black witches, from knights to ghosts
They receive sweets and sours, and candy creams.
Each sweet a treat, not trick, from happy hosts.

This Hallow's Eve make sure to watch the walks
With treats in hand, as past the parade stalks. 

Trick or Treat? by Ryo Fukasawa via WikiCommons

Sunday, October 12, 2014

More Football

Robert is still playing football. He is really enjoying it. He is on the special teams. In my understanding, this means that when the kicker kicks the ball to the other team Robert runs out to stop the advancing team from catching the ball and running toward their goal with it.

He does a good job at it, and I understand why it needs to be done in the larger scheme of the game. But I still don't get the game in general.

This week, he played against Belton. Robert is 42 in maroon and white, while the red and white team is Belton. They scored one goal, and got their two point conversion. KHS scored five goals, but didn't get any of their conversions. (I have no idea what the point of a conversion is.) This means that the score ended 8 to 30. I think, I would go check the score, but no one has entered it into the system yet.

Another thing that is happening on the field this month is Breast Cancer Awareness, so several of the boys (on both teams) have their pink socks on. I think it is wonderful that they are so supportive. However, the cynical part of me wonders if they know what they are supporting or if they are just copying what they see the pro-football players do in their games.

Next week's game is against a local high school, and I do not know if they will be in the stadium or at the school. If possible, I will be sure to get pictures for the blog, and let you know how his team did. If you'd like to see the rest of the pictures from the games, check out the album on google plus/picasa.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

An Adventure in Meter, Part I

We play a lot of role playing games around here. In one of them, I'm playing a bard. So, I figured I would practice my iambic pentameter by putting my bard's adventures into a Shakespearean like play. (Yes, I know it's terrible, but at least I'm trying to expand my creative horizons.) We are going through the initial Adventure Path of the Rise of the Runelords, so if part of it seems familiar to you gamers, that is why.

Gora, Goblin Rogue by Who Drew This
A bright new temple, Sandpoint built to gods
of many. Planned a dedication party large
The whole of Sandpoint came, with many from
Afar to celebrate the great cathedral built.
As sunlight brushed the buildings, goblins came.
They over ran the town. They lit some fires.
And rampaged, laughing, dying under blades.
They ended ceremonies 'fore they start.
One lit the fuel for Tower flame to give
The other goblin's torches, free of charge.
A second stuffed itself on fish. This e'en
Though he was ringed by ready heroes eager.
When attacked, fought back with is at hand -
A fish!

- - A fish? And what could salmon do?

It pricked the pride of a paragon of faith,
Who quickly killed the small offending thing.
Then moved he onto bigger

- - fish?

- - No, those
small goblins. One of which did ride a dog.

a dog?

- - a goblin dog, and carried that
great knife, a dog slicer, which many do.
This nameless junk minder had trapped a man
named Foxglove Tight midst heaps of useless junk.

To this did come those three great heroes named:
Aramis de Leon, a Paladin
Then Baena Inic, Monk of Eastern Ways;
Last Swift Flight, Bard and student always, still.
They all sent goblins running fast to death.
They leaped from buildings over walls to die
And none did stay to question, given choice
And garbage searchers managed intel by
Just talking to the fleeing bodies quick.

A longshanks -

- - Long shanks?

- - Human, tall one sent
Us into town to burn and kill

- - But why?

Like we know?

- - Come. You will tell us.

- - No! Don't!

They cannot tell what they do not know.


You see? They do know.

- - Not all, but yes some.

And what is it that you do know?

- - Just this!
That he was looking through the graves in town.

And where?

- - O, behind temple newly built.

And who did this dark villain seek?

- - Don't know!

Now tell us else we will be quick to pry
Such intel through your pain and suffering!

This goblin does not know! Does not!

- - Now Rey,
It is quite possible that this poor mite
Does not know which man's grave the "longshanks" sought.

Suppose he does.

- - Or not. There are some clean
And easy ways to find the name he sought.

Oh bah! Then get on with you filthy junk
And garbage delver.

- - Now, to graveyard go
To find an open wound of dirt, a name.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Fahrenheit 451, Part I

I have never read this book before. However, Robert's 9th-grade class is reading it. So I picked it up too. Will and I are both reading it so that we can discuss it as a family. Since I have to read it slowly and cannot do a single end review, and then I'm going to do it in short sections. I'll start with posting the quotes that spoke to me from "Part I: The Hearth and the Salamander," and why they spoke to me.

Note before I begin: my copy of the book may not have the same corresponding page numbers. Please double check the page numbers and make sure you line up the quotes if you choose to use them in a paper that you write.
"It never went away that smile, it never ever went away, as long as he remembered." ~ page 4
 This sentence is particularly creepy. It feels a little like there is already a subconscious fear or a niggling worry. Also, because it is permanent, it becomes almost disfiguring. Humans should not have permanent expressions.
"I’m seventeen and I’m crazy. My uncle says the two always go together." ~ page 7
This is so true, and should be written on a shirt.  Unfortunately, I don't think that very many people would know where the quote came from.
"... you answer right off. You never stop to think what I’ve asked you." ~ page 8
Unthinking response makes for a smooth conversation under normal circumstances, but if you want a deeper connection then, you have to take your time and answer slowly.
"But what do you talk about?" ~ page 10
This quote highlights the problem with the world today. No one talks to each other. They scream at each other, but they do not talk.
“That’s sad,” said Montag, quietly, “because all we put into it is hunting and finding and killing. What a shame if that’s all it can ever now.” ~ page 27 
Montag's sadness might be referring to the machines that we create. It may also be referring to the children we raise. What comes after us, will be heavily influenced by what we show it, and what we teach it. Most will never think beyond that.
"Social to me means talking to you about things like this. ... Or talking about how strange the world is. .. But I don't think it's social to get a bunch of people together and not let them talk, do you?" ~ page 29 
In the 1950's "school" meant a lot of time listening to lectures, and responding by rote. It had nothing to do with collaboration. Beliefs about education, and how teachers teach is something that has improved over time. However, we still have 'social' events which are more 'ritual' than 'social.' These include weddings, graduations, and funerals. The parties all happen as separate events afterwards.
"... nobody says anything different from anyone else." ~ page 31
Society, both in the novel, and in reality does it's best to make everyone agree with everyone else. What happened to "We can agree to disagree" and continuing the discussion?
"None of these books agree with each other." ~ page 38
See the previous comment.
"And his eyes were beginning to feel hunger, as if they must look at something, anything, everything." ~ page 41 
I understand this feeling completely.
"We need not to be let alone. We need to be really bothered once in awhile. How long is it since you were really bothered about something important, about something real?" ~ page 52
About something that affects people for the long term? We worry about little things that affect no one, and will disappear when the next 'major' thing comes along. We are getting better about this; we watch celebrities be activists, donate money to a cause, and then forget about it until the next cause becomes a fad. How many of us actually are activists?

By the way, I fully admit that I am not an activist. I like to read; I'll help out one person at a time, but organized mass help is not my thing. I'm always worried that my efforts are not going where it needs to go.
"Once books appealed to a few people, ... They could afford to be different the world was roomy. But then the world got full... Films and radios, magazines, books leveled down to a sort of paste pudding norm." ~ page 54
The idea of a "full world" makes sense to me. It also makes me think of both the Anne McCaffrey books Pegasus in Flight and Pegasus in Space. The talents are different, and they live on a large roomy estate. However, the rest of the population is crammed into "linears," which I interpret to be giant skyscraper apartment buildings, where the only difference in class is how high you live in the liner.

On the other hand, the idea that as there are more people in the world our entertainment shifts down to the lowest common denominator is quite normal. And certainly, many connoisseurs of different kinds of media have watched it happen.
"Classics cut to fifteen minute radio shows, then cut again to fill a two-minute book column, winding up at last as a ten or twelve line dictionary resume." ~ page 54 
Twitter anyone? 140 characters. A quick google search turned up a book published by Penguin called Twitterature: The World's Greatest Books Retold through Twitter.  A tweet by Olga Belogolova led me to a quiz that had turned the first line of classic novels into emoji (the little pictures) format. Finally, The Telegraph has an article that includes some examples of classic novels cut down to 140 characters or less. Just go read the novel, or at least watch the movie with an open mind.
"School is shortened, discipline relaxed, philosophies, histories, languages dropped, English and spelling gradually neglected, finally almost completely ignored. Life is immediate, the job counts, pleasure lies all about after work. Why learn anything save pressing buttons, pulling switches, fixing nuts and bolts?" ~ page 55
Learn what we need to. Nothing we don't. Kick back and enjoy life; however, we want to. It sounds like a good plan, except that if everyone does it then life never improves it stays the same.
"More sports for everyone, more group spirit, fun, and you don't have to think, eh?... More cartoons in books. More pictures. The mind drinks less and less." ~ page 57
No thinking! Don't think. Don't you even look like you're planning to think!
"Now, let's take up the minorities in our civilization, shall we? Bigger the population, the more minorities. Don't step on the toes of the dog lovers, the cat lovers, doctors, lawyers, merchants, .... The bigger your market, ... the less you handle controversy... All the minor minor minorities with their navels to be kept clean. Authors full of evil thoughts, lock up your typewriters. They did. Magazines became a nice blend of vanilla tapioca.... There you have it, Montag. It didn't come from the government down.... Technology, mass exploitation, and minority pressure carried.... Today... you can stay happy all the time." ~ page 58 
We cannot insult anyone. We cannot make a negative statement about a group, even if we have facts to back it up. We must sanitize it and dress it nicely so that no one gets upset. These days, with the fast communication, the "market," the "civilization" involved is the whole world.

Now, just to be clear. I agree that we should not insult anyone. I also agree that we should be careful not to anger people. However, a fact is a fact. If I have scientific data that says one thing, then it should not be couched in pretty language, or shoved under the rug. It should be brought to light, and we should deal with it together. If we need to find a deeper cause, then let's do it. If it means solving the problem, then that's better.

On the other hand, a single comment by single person should not result in fights or riots.

Also, the last bit, about the fact that government is not the one that initiated the censorship. It was the masses that did not want to insult each other and be perceived as being too hard. Does this sound familiar?
"With school turning out more runners, jumpers, racers, tinkerers, grabbers, snatchers, critics, knowers, and imaginative creators, the word 'intelllectual' ... became the swear word it deserved to be." ~ page 58 
It is wonderful that we are healthier (runners, jumpers, racers). It is beautiful that we have more people creating more things (imaginative creators). It is fantastic that we know more, and can discuss which things are worth knowing (critics and knowers). It is amazing that we have more engineers to create, and push us farther into the future (tinkerers). However, it is not good that we are producing more theft of all varieties (grabbers and snatchers). It is even worse that we cannot think about all of this together and discuss whether or not it is good. Why is being an 'intellectual' a bad thing?
"... our civilization is so vast that we can't have our minorities upset and stirred." ~ page 59 
See the comments two quotes up.
"She didn't want to know how a thing was done, but why." ~ page 60 
Clarisse sounds a lot like me.