Archive for August, 2011

August 23, 2011

Awkward in-betweens

by stryson

I find myself in the usual headspace that I inhabit during late August: I’m starting to get excited about school again, I’m itching to start thinking about school and making plans, and I’m simultaneously completely resisting caving in to that urge, because I know that two months from now, I’ll be up to my eyeballs in it and ready for a break.

I don’t think I’m alone in this phenomenon.

This summer has been very interesting for me, though. I’ve really been observing a lot of my habits and my thought processes, thanks to the meditation classes I’ve been taking, and I’m trying to take a more balanced approach to my life. This seems to be an oddity in my field, at least judging by those I interact with often. I’ve had to explain several times this summer that, no, I’m not going into school more than a couple of times over the course of the summer. No, I’m not working. I need to be away from work sometimes so that I don’t build up resentment, and so that I can restore and refresh myself so that I can be there 100% once school does start again.

Have I been perfect with this? No, clearly not. One only has to take a look at my posting history to know I’ve spent some time on schoolwork this summer. I don’t regret that, because I think that simply the act of making myself aware of my habits is a good beginning. And, yes, there are things that must get done for work over the summer, but I’m working toward eventually mastering a balance wherein I can keep it tamed and in the perspective that I want, not an obsessive monstrosity fueled by my own guilt, anxiety, or distorted work ethic.

I’ve needed to take time for me this summer, and I have. I suspect I’ll see this pay off in my attitude and health come the school year, but that’s left to be seen.

All that said, I’m going to enjoy the heck out of my remaining freedom. Hooray summer!

August 11, 2011

Berlin Wall

by stryson

Saturday is the 50th anniversary of the Berlin Wall’s construction. Reuters has a great article up right now about a bike trail that has been built in the midst of the pieces of the wall that remain. While a trip to this site is obviously unfeasible for many classes, discussion of the Berlin Wall could include this article. The link is below.

Berlin Wall Trail a Surreal Journey into City’s Past

August 10, 2011

George Washington’s Farewell Address

by stryson

While my husband and I were on vacation with some friends last weekend, we got into a conversation about U.S. Presidents. More specifically, someone in the group questioned whether or not our country had ever had any presidents that were completely uncontroversial, at least in the sense that we’ve grown up knowing politics to be. The group’s consensus was that the only obvious answer was George Washington. I took that moment to note that he didn’t even particularly want the job, which led to humorous quips about those most capable for the job not wanting it, and vice versa. In any case, this conversation led me to seek out a funny piece that I remembered Randall Munroe (of XKCD fame) composing: A Bastardization of George Washington’s Farewell Address.  He sums up Washington’s points in simplified, modern language, and I think it’s both brilliant and funny, though I feel that way about many of his creations. Enjoy!

(Also, if you’re interested in reading the actual text of Washington’s Address, it’s here.)

August 10, 2011

A Humorous Take on Reading

by stryson

This piece has probably already made the rounds of the internet, but I found it quite funny.  The reactions I’ve seen have included many protests among those who loved reading as elementary and middle schoolers. I, too, read voraciously as a kid, but I’ll state as a disclaimer before my link that I don’t believe that argument is the point. There are many kids (sadly, in my opinion) for whom this is completely accurate, and it is a humorous piece intended to play on stereotypes about reading. That said, click  to see H. Caldwell Tanner’s “What You’re Reading at Every Stage of Your Life.” You’ll need to click through one more level on his site to see the full cartoon, but the direct link to his College Humor article was acting buggy for me. Enjoy!

August 9, 2011

NASA happenings

by stryson

I went away for a long weekend, and it appears that the whole universe went wonky while I was gone. Coming back to emails, tweets, updates, and so on after being completely out of internet, TV, and radio contact with the rest of the world is always a surreal experience. I have not completely caught up on current events, and I will sheepishly admit that I don’t particularly want to. All I know is that while I was swimming, reading, and playing a lot of skee ball, apparently the country’s credit rating went down, the stock market plummeted, and people in London were/are rioting. I can infer the reasoning for the former two, and I haven’t explored the latter. This at least will give you some context for my completely incongruous post, which ignores all the real-time chaos going on in the world.

One of the more blatantly “nerdy” things I do follow the various Mythbusters on Twitter. Today, Grant Imahara tweeted a link to an article that I found pretty interesting.  Apparently NASA has found the crash site of a spacecraft they downed on the moon back in the 1960s. The link to the article is here. Be forewarned, the comment section of this article, as happens far too often on the internet, is already starting to fill with nonsense. The article is not long or detailed, but it is an interesting development to note. I also had no idea that NASA was working on a more detailed map of the moon; I’ll be excited to see that as it develops.

August 1, 2011

Pizza Fraction Fun

by stryson

As I’ve mentioned on this blog before, and as the subtitle above suggests, I am primarily a reading teacher. However, I have taught several other subjects, including social studies, computers, and math. While these are not my primary focus, I do spend a fair amount of time working in these areas. I no longer teach math in school, for example, but I have several tutoring jobs wherein our focus is math. With that in mind, I’m going to recommend a resource for math today.

When I work with children in math, I focus on keeping the lessons highly interactive, heavy on visual and kinesthetic clues, and full of fun. To that end, I utilize a lot of math games with my students. When we get to factions, there’s one game in particular that I’ve come to really like and my kids consistently request. That game is Pizza Fraction Fun.

I like this game because it’s flexible. The pieces can be used for a lesson, and there are 6 variations of gameplay provided in the box. Depending on your lesson, it’s  very easy to come up with challenges outside of these games, as well. It helps kids get a spatial feel for fractions, see how equivalent fractions work, learn to add and subtract fractional pieces, and all the while, it is amusing to them because it’s based around realistic-looking slices of pizza. If you’re looking for a way to make your students less hostile to learning fractions, I’d recommend this as a piece of your plan.