Friday, February 29, 2008

How many blogs do you have?

Help! I'm torn between blog spaces. This is my personal blog. I also have a blog where I write about my journey with technology (Classroom 2.0). Now I've started a service learning blog for my students, but I'd also like to have a teacher blog where I can post educational podcasts and teacher-type things. Holy moly, that's a lot of blog space. What do you do? Do you only keep one blog going at a time or do you have several?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Rebel Scouts

Perhaps you have an opinion about the Boy Scouts of America? I do, but I'm not going to share it here. Personal opinions become problematic when mixed with child rearing I've noticed. Not wanting to jade Collin to early or pass judgment as an example, I keep a lot to myself. Thus when he and friends wanted to listen to the Boy Scouts of America sales pitch one evening at school, I went. Jennifer and Hector went as well. Midway through the meeting I see Jen signal me from across the room. She's shaking her head, ever so slightly "no, no" --that and Hectors slash across the throat gesture pretty much told me that they weren't buyin' Boy Scouts. The presentation was a high-pressure, sign-on-line and give us a check affair. Our boys just wanted to go camping and shoot bows and arrows.

After the meeting I got to thinking. Couldn't we camp on our own? My Dad did. In fact he and the men of our neighborhood formed the Renegades. Fathers and sons went camping a few times a year as Renegades. Jen and Hector thought it was a good idea. We even got excited about buying our own bow and arrows and finding some badges we could give to the boys.

I missed the first camping weekend. Rick, Collin, the Gonzales family and the Tenneys went to Tomoka. I was working in Sanibel, but I heard all about their adventures. It rained. When I called Collin from Camp Janet, he declared that the boys were "being beavers!" Apparently they used shovels to dig a ditch and build a damn in order to protect the Tenney's tent from a flood. Our second trip was this past weekend. Rick and Hector went to camp early Friday to set up--they were off work and the boys were out of school. Jen and I drove up together after school planning to meet the Tenneys and their friends the Jacksons there. We were again at Tomoka State Park.

On the way up, Jen told me all about trying to get badges for the boys. They'd found a dealer (Town & Country) and thought that getting such things would merely require walking in and paying for them. Oh no, apparently not. You have to have a license or a special Boy Scouts permit to buy those badges. It's not like the boys necessarily care about badges and we certainly aren't trying to fake our way through Boy Scouts, but we did want to give the boys a chance to earn something. We brought bows and arrows. And Jen had this great idea for name plaques and totems. She ended up buying these wooden rectangle shapes which she threaded with a leather thong. She painted one with stripes: red, green, yellow and perhaps blue. On top of the stripes she wrote Rebel Scout (I love the name change!) and then below is a place for each boy (and girl by the way) to write their name. Then she found little wooden charms almost that the kids can tie to either the rectangle or the leather strap that holds it. Of course in camping-lingo those charms are badges. She found a fish one, an open book one (on which she wrote science) and another whose shape now escapes me.

Why? We love crafts. Truly we do. Sometimes our boys do too. Jen figured making the badges would be fun to do, especially if it rained. I was all excited about our new Rebel Scout status and she and I came up with all kinds of cool things we could do with it: logos, t-shirts, totems, etc.

When we drove up to the campsites, the boys were hip deep in a mud puddle and still digging. By dinner it seemed that Jack, Jen's oldest, had a fever and by the next morning he was throwing up. It was pouring rain. Perhaps normal rain, given that you have good shelter, would be ideal for doing crafts, but that was not the case this time. It rained buckets. We hardly had enough "tarp-ology" to keep tables dry much less ourselves or breakfast. The kids loved it. The adults? Not so much. The kids could have cared less about the rain. Lucky for them, Ryan and his cousin, Hunter, brought and entire tub of full-sized G.I. Joes. Who knew boys still liked G.I. Joe--they kept the boys occupied for hours in and out of the rain! The girls, however, were content to build a fort and hut in the dirt as well as read some books I found from NCTE still stashed in the back of my car. After the rain cleared it was frisbee and football, fishing and rock skipping, tag and smore making... perhaps we'll get to those Rebel Scout badges yet.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Titles, titles

I'm title-challenged. Titles actually stop me in my tracks. For instance, I'd like to start a podcast show--you know record musings perhaps weekly that I can broadcast on blog or upload to iTunes. Not that I would have much of an audience, but I'd like to think through my ideas and you never know... sharing ideas always engenders more. I'd like to start a podcast show, but I can't think of a title. I've been playing around with the idea for months and I'm still stuck. Here's a short list of titles that have caught my fancy:

Literally Speaking
Technically Speaking
Literally Yours
Technically Yours
Teacher Talk
Room 222
Literacy Matters
Inside Teaching

The list goes on. I just searched several of the titles in Google and they are all being used by someone... for instance, I got 17,000 hits from "literacy matters" and over 99,000 for "literally speaking." Of course, Room 222 used to be a television show in its own right-- I like the idea but that title doesn't really speak to me either.

In my frustration, I decided to search the web for a title generator. Amazingly there are over 2 million title generators online. Who knew?

For fun I plugged some words into Fiction Alley's title generator: bright, thinking, books, on, busy, mind, ideas, a literacy, speaking. These words rendered these random titles:

Title One: bright books on busy ideas
Title Two: a busy literacy
Title Three: a mind on bright books
Title Four: bright literacy
Title Five: a speaking mind
Title Six: thinking ideas
Title Seven: speaking books
Title Eight: busy thinking
Title Nine: thinking for ideas
Title Ten: speaking and thinking

I kind of like Literacy Bright (like a play on that old Lite Bright toy) or Literally Bright, hmm... that's interesting, but too much like the Smart Girl label I got tagged with at school. !Ay Caramba! These titles. Do you have any ideas?

Bye for now!


PS: I also found a job title generator --quite amusing. I might have to start using one of the new titles it gave me:

Lee Ann Spillane, Analog Education Tutor

Lee Ann Spillane, Real-time Phenomenon Advocate

Lee Ann Spillane, Psychoactive Research Diety

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

What's Your Work Week?

Are we done with th 40 hour work week? So asks a recent MSNBC article I googled after discussing work weeks with Rick. Our district pays teachers for a 37.5 hour work week. How many hours do teachers actually work? Here's a tidbit fromt he article:

A globally connected economy has made "9 to 5"
little more than the name of a 1980 film. With the economy ever more
service-oriented, the line has blurred between the average wage-earning,
coveralled Joe and his salaried, tie-wearing boss.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Animal Collages

I'm on a strange collage kick: maps, animals, torn paper. Who knows what I'll do with them, but it sure is fun to sit and just piece together things. A little whimsy ...I suppose.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


This morning one of my students said, "why is Florida's weather so bipolar." Interesting how teens use that word. Here's Collin's weather study... I love the snow man!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Saturday Night Live

Collin's buddies, Jack and Robert, are spending the night. After playing inside for a couple of hours, building legos, running cars around, playing chess (yes, chess of all things), I shooed the boys out to basketballs or soccer--crickets and sunsets. Of course I thought of late afternoons on Darcey drive when all of the Moms in the neighborhood seemed bent on barring the kids from the door until dinner. The Sullivan's six o'clock supper bell still rings in my memory.

Robert, Jack and Collin all groaned, much like I'm sure we did as kids, I'm sure. They begged to come in, but I didn't relent. After about ten minutes they were playing away--some combination of football and basketball in the driveway. That or they were bombing the fire ants with balls.

At one point, I glanced out of my office window and saw them running around the drive with their shirts pulled up over their heads. I laughed out loud. My first thought? Cone heads from Saturday Night Live seven-year-old style. Of course, I had to grab the camera. Kids are so funny to watch. Once they came in and I got dinner going they re-discovered the old swing set. Before rushing out though Robert begged for a bath. Indeed, he loves our bathtub. He wanted to take a bath before dinner. I had to laugh--and of course promise that the bath would be there after dinner... complete with bubbles and jets!

They monkey'd around outside for another hour at least and played bats. Thankfully the animal and not baseball kind. Hanging upside down, their faces turning all shades of red, they competed to see who could hang upside down the longest. Remember those days? Jack even came in and requested that I take pictures (those didn't come out as well...too many poles in the way). At some point I realized that they were all outside sock footed--well all except Robert, he had one sock on and one foot bare. Before dinner, they peeled those socks off like their feet were bananas and came in for pizza. Boys, such fun they are.