Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Haven't Posted about Politics in . . . Ages

One of the things I was most looking forward to when I got hired to teach was being in the classroom during the election. I remember so vividly being in Mr. Tickner's 6th grade class in 1980--how he talked about the election and assigned each student a state and gave us electoral votes. How we painted our states red or blue and followed the election results to see if ours mirrored what happened nationally (yep--we both elected Reagan). I wanted to bring that same excitement to my own classroom.

But there's a problem.

This election sucks.

The debate was a debacle.

The candidates are combative and corrosive.

The issues are mostly a nonissue.

And quite frankly, I can't make myself care two cents about it.

I'm so disappointed.

I still hope that something changes in the next few weeks to spark some excitement so we can discuss it in class. Until then, here are my feelings after the debate on Monday (sung to the chorus of "Proud to Be an American"). My apologies to Mr. Greenwood.

I'm proud to be an American, but Trump doesn't "represent" me.
And we can't forget the men who died under Hillary in Benghazi.

While we try to stand up this election year
And vote what's right today.

There ain't no doubt I love this land . . . 

God Help the USA.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Tea for One, Twice

I don't know how this game got started one Sunday afternoon, but I would put money on Eve thinking of it. She loves to play tea party with fancy dishes and glasses.
This photo shows the cute little hole in her mouth. My baby is losing teeth.
Hyrum got in on the fun as well.
I obviously have neglected their formal placesetting training, but the Queen wasn't invited, so I think we're good.

Sunday afternoons are prime creativity time around here (block towers, forts, games, etc.), but this is the first time we've had tea parties.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Who Ya Gonna Call?

The call I answered:

"Mom, I locked the keys in the truck. And my phone. And my backpack. And I have to go to work right now . . ."

Lily got to work fine, but what do I do now?

Brad was in Texas visiting his cousin--with the only other key to the truck. After talking with him, he said to call a locksmith, but to be careful because they would try to raise the quoted price on me. I'm glad he warned me. That's exactly what they did. The price quoted over the phone TRIPLED when they were in the driveway, and I dismissed them before thinking about what I should do instead. We'd waited almost two hours at this point, my kids hadn't had dinner, and they still had homework, baths, and a football practice on the agenda for the night.

Who Ya Gonna Call?

I should have thought to call Tim before anyone else. Tim built our house. Tim dug our pool. Tim saved us from a flood. Tim sent his A/C guy when we were sweltering all night in 92* in-house temperatures. Of course Tim could fix this.

In thirty minutes he had figured out how to open the door (Lily tried to catch it as she shut it, so it wasn't shut tight and could be pulled open a little at the top) and fished the keys out through the small hole.

I love this guy.

Thanks, Tim. You're the best.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Another Star

Nothing can replace a great scoutmaster when it comes to scouting. Micah's leaders are so good--and he just received his Star scout award, well on his way to his Life rank.

The hardest parts of scouting are left--the last few required merit badges (dreaded personal management) and the Eagle project--but I love what scouting teaches my boys.

I didn't realize I'd sewn his badges on the wrong side of his band until we were at the court of honor. Just another project on my long list of stuff I should get done but never manage to do until I'm stressed out minutes before.

I love how Micah is Brad's Mini Me. That's pretty obvious from this picture, from the expression on their faces to the bend of their arms.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Making the Classroom My Own

My classroom underwent some remodeling this summer as well. That door leads to another classroom, and before the big remodel, all of the students coming to my classroom had to walk through the Geometry classroom first, disrupting their class on the way.

Here are a few pictures I took during the demo. This big pipe? It's sewage. They rerouted it along the ceiling and continued demolition.

Look how big and open it is now.

And here is how the room looks today. I write a new quote on this board every class period for the kids to discuss. This quote from Samuel Adams led the kids into a great discussion that week.
This photo is looking into the new hallway. For the whole first week of school, this new hallway was like a circus sideshow attraction. Kids would bring their friends into the room, exclaiming, "Have you seen the new hallway? It's amazing!" I don't know if it qualifies as amazing, but I think it's pretty cool.

I covered the old Geometry door with presidential campaign bumper stickers, hoping they would lead to some good discussions about the election, but so far there has been little talk of the issues and more personal attacks in the media. Here's hoping the candidates discuss something substantive so we can discuss something substantive. I won't waste my classes' time on character attacks.

Ticket Out is an assignment the class does once every other week or so, using sticky notes. As the class leaves, they stick their assignments right there on the wall.

And here's the view of my class from the back row (also known as Canada for some reason I don't fully understand). Unfortunately, the Betsy Ross flag had to come down when they redid the screen this summer, and I didn't have an iron with me the day they rehung it. I keep hoping the wrinkles will work themselves out, but I don't think it will happen now. Each flag represents one period of history that we will address this year. Do you know which each of them represents?

The class also sports two brand new maps--one US and one World. I love my maps, even though it took some fancy engineering to figure out how to hang them so they swivel out of the way when that big wall collapses to the right to create one HUGE room.

Do  you see my 1959 unabridged dictionary on the bottom left? Some of my kids take advantage of that dictionary and find a word of the day to share with the rest of us.

My classroom. It still sounds foreign, but the more time I spend in here, the more it feels like mine.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Making the Office Mine

I know I'm a bit of design geek, but getting my own office for the first time in my life sparked the decorator in me. I was so excited to make this little space my own. Little did I know in June how much time I would spend in here, and I'm glad I took the time to design it and do it right, because I have NO time for such frivolities these days.

Here are a few before pictures.

The previous US History teacher cleaned the office out quickly, and I was glad, since I had big plans for the space.

Notice the bumpy, torn carpet that couldn't be replaced.
Part of the school is a remodeled church, and my office and classroom are part of the original chapel. Since the building is 60+ years old, remnants of old electricity, strange crawl spaces, plumbing pipes and crazy angles come as part of the package. Some of the idiosyncrasies I embraced; others I shamelessly hid.

First thing I did was remove three of the four shelves lining the walls. I hate clutter, and I knew I wanted a much cleaner space visually.
I also ditched the small filing cabinet and all of the furniture left behind--time for a clean slate.

The classroom has a big teacher's desk in it as well, and I brought Eve along with me to clean out the pen/pencil drawer.
She took that job very seriously, filling three shoeboxes with writing implements, which she brought home to test and keep the prettiest ones as her payment.

Once both spaces were clean, I made a plan--a plan on graph paper and everything. (The OCD side of me loved this little piece of graph paper and carried around for much of the summer to make small adjustments and dream how it would look. I know. Design geek at work.) I stewed over that plan for more than a week before I could get keys to the office, and in the meantime, I  . . .

. . . researched pieces on the IKEA website. I didn't want to invest a ton of money, but I did want it to look clean and fresh. 
The IKEA research is when I started getting really excited, but I still didn't have the keys. I took Micah with me to IKEA anyway.
My little boy isn't that little any more. He is strong and helpful and I was glad I brought him and his muscles.

After I got the keys, the office came together a little at a time. Here's the east wall after I removed one of the shelves. I was stumped on what to do with that ugly wall of electrical stuff (only the white plug in the middle even works . . . ), and

that board covers the entry to a crawl space underneath the tiered seats in my classroom. So the board had to stay as well.

I needed a chair in the office (as per my detailed plan on the graph paper), and I knew this one that I bought it at a yard sale over ten years ago would be perfect. Originally avocado velvet, I recovered it in the yellow and red to match the library in our last house, and when we moved here, it landed in the guest room. For its newest location, I pictured it in a grey flannel, and it only took one trip to SAS to find the perfect fabric.
Here's the office when I started bringing in my stuff. The carpet has a big tear in it, but I didn't want to invest in a rug that would get beaten to death. I found this outdoor rug made of recycled water bottles, and it's perfect--a little bit of texture without being overwhelming or hard to maintain.

I needed drawers, and the red locker-style drawers work to store little stuff and as an end table for the now grey chair.
I brought in a four-drawer filing cabinet to replace the small two-drawer cabinet that was there previously. That filing cabinet already saves me from so much clutter on the desk and shelf. I love having it. The clock--I thought I'd keep it, but it was so noisy, it found a new home somewhere else at the school.

Here is the office just yesterday, now full of things that I love:

That desk wall--I measured and remeasured it, trying to work in the biggest tabletop I could fit, and this one fits like it was designed for the space, thankfully. Just a fraction of an inch bigger, and it would have been a huge mistake--I lucked out on that, since I'm not the most careful measurer.
Since I removed three extra-long shelves, I knew I needed something to hold stuff. This IKEA bookshelf is much better visually, and it holds all the stuff I need. The globe is the only thing left in the office that was there when I arrived.
It may be hard to see, but next to the globe is my crown. And yes, I do wear it. Sometime I'll have to describe the classroom simulation we've been conducting--a simulation that teaches the kids how America and its Constitution came to be. It's been fantastic. But the simulation does require a monarch, and since I'm the teacher . . . and since I'm the one with the crown . . . Yeah. It all works out.

I couldn't replace the crawl space cover, but I ordered a vintage train sign from Latvia (not because Latvia has any special significance . . . but because it was the right size and it is so cool) to give the board a little personality. I still need to mount a hook or something to prevent it from falling down all the time.
Can you see how I made the outlets disappear? I bought that table runner on clearance, staple gunned it to the low ceiling, criss-crossed it with twine, and it instantly turned into a picture wall.

And that Friberg print? Brad's mom gave it to him at least 20 years ago, and we never had a great place to hang it--until now. My students all laugh at my OCD mugs with my favorite mechanical pencils and red and blue pens.

I've had these wood files hanging in the hall outside my kitchen since we moved in, and I never really used them much. They always ended up collecting papers that I'd never look at again. I thought they might work well in my office since I teach four sections, but I was skeptical that I'd ever use them since I never had before.

Was I ever wrong. I use them all the time. They are perfect for sorting tests or as placeholders for my classes' sticky note short classroom assignments.

One of the last things I did was change the door from this . . . to this.
That's me--Mrs. Denton. Weird.

Just a reminder. Here's before:

And here's after.

Have I mentioned how much I love teaching? And the office design was just a little bonus thrill thrown in . . . just for fun.

Tomorrow I'll show you the classroom and the hall remodel.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Football Adventure

Last Saturday we had an adventure . . .
Took a few kids to watch the BYU Cougars defeat the U of A Wildcats.

That stadium is the coolest. I love the huge screens and comfy seats.
And I loved sharing the evening with these monkeys.

Too bad the Cougs couldn't pull off a last-second win this last Saturday.  Doesn't matter too much; still love the Cougars.