Saturday, March 14, 2015

Getting Comfortable: #SOL15, Day 14

This month I'm participating in the Slice of Life Story Challenge sponsored by Two Writing Teachers. Today is Day 14 of 31. 

Is it possible to get comfortable on an airplane? 

I need to know because on Wednesday I will depart on a 13 day excursion "across the pond." The trans-Atlantic flight worries me. I'm not a fan of air travel, but I love to travel and visit new places. 

I'm rarely comfortable when flying, a mode of travel that feels dehumanizing for several reasons: 

  • No legroom.
  • Small seats.
  • Bad food.
  • Icky bathrooms.
  • Delayed flights.
  • Security protocols. 
More than anything else, my inability to get comfortable on a plane results from a ruptured disc in my back that I sustained a number of years ago. It doesn't keep me from getting up and going, but it does cause constant discomfort and often numbness in my left leg. 

To prepare for my trip, I visited Mary at Cielo Su Tera Day Spa so she could work her magic on my glutes. What was scheduled as a 90 minute massage turned into a 1:45 minute one. Had Mary and I realized her next appointment had cancelled, that massage would have turned into a two-hour one. 

I'm taking a tennis ball with me so I can roll out some of the knotted muscles after the flight and daily sight-seeing. I'm also taking a roller of muscle treatment for my legs. 

For the past decade, I've been getting regular massages, generally twice a month. Massage offers many benefits, so get comfortable and enjoy a massage.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons 

Friday, March 13, 2015

Back to Front Reading: #SOL15, Day 13

During March I'm participating in the Slice of Life Story Challenge sponsored by Two Writing Teachers. This is Day 13

Once upon a time two students, who were also best friends,  named Ashley and Aubrey disagreed about how to read a book. 

Aubrey's reading method bugged her friend. Unable to convince Aubrey that she should read her Nicholas Sparks book from front to back instead of peeking at the last page first, Ashley sought the assistance of her noble English teacher, Mrs. Funk.

"Mrs Funk, do you think it's a bad that Aubrey reads the last page of the book before getting to it?" 

Mrs. Funk's response that "It's your free reading. You can do what you want. I sometimes read the last page first, too" shocked Ashley.

"I just think it's a spoiler. Why would you do that?" Ashley crossed her arms and awaited a response. 

Then Aubrey replied, as her classmates looked on and listened: "It gives you hope and anticipation. Just reading the very last page sometimes doesn't make sense, but it gets you thinking about what will happen."

Continuing her argument for looking back before reading forward, Aubrey said, "I've always done that."

Ashley would have none of Aubrey's analysis: "It's stupid." 

I decided to have the last word: "I'm on team Aubrey." 

With that, other students responded in a chorus of independent readers. Some chanted, "Team Ashley." Others cheered, "Team Aubrey." 

Aubrey and Ashley "debate" the merits of reading back to front.
Colton and Savanna look  on and decide what team to join. 
The bell rang, and I reminded students to read. My fairy tale ending: "And all the students went merrily away and read happily ever after." THE END!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Grounded from Reading: #SOL15, Day 12

This is Day 12 of the Slice of Life Story Challenge sponsored by Two Writing Teachers. 

Conversation with a Kyrstin, a Senior: 

"You know I love reading when I get grounded form books."

Kyrstin shared this anecdote after class today. She held a copy of Winger by Andrew Smith and we began talking: 

Kyrstin: "Mrs. Funk, I love this book. I stayed up until midnight last night reading."

Me: "How much have you read?"

Kyrstin: "About half." 

Me: "What do you love about the book."

Kyrstin: "It's hard to put into words, but I just love it. I love reading." 

Me: "Well, hurry up and finish. I haven't read it yet because it's always checked out." (Note: I should have read Winger last summer, Duh!)

Kyrstin: "Last year I got grounded from books because I was reading all night and then falling asleep in class."

Me: "Is it okay if I take a pic of you reading Winger and use it as my slice today?"

Kyrstin: "That would be great!"

Kyrstin graciously posed for this pic w/ Winger by Andrew Smith.

The bell rang. Kyrstin was late for her next class but didn't seem to mind. She's an aide and is probably in a corner of the room reading!

*Thanks, Andrew Smith, for writing books both girls and boys love. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Celebrating HALF SANFORD DAY #SOL15, Day 11

As March begins ushering in sunshine and warm temps with a high of 65 here in southeast Idaho, I continue sharing stories in the Slice of Life Story Challenge. Thanks so much for sponsoring slicing, Two Writing Teachers (Stacey, Anna, Betsy, Beth, Dana, and Tara). These ladies do an amazing job. 

Some people make going to work fun just by being unique, supportive individuals. My colleague T. J. Sanford, who began his career as a student teacher in my building, and who teaches math, and Introduction to Statistics through the ISU Early College Program, brightens our halls with his creative teaching methods and by celebrating life in fun ways. 

T.J. looking spiffy as he visits my room w/ his cart of goodies.

On his "HALF BIRTHDAY" T.J. celebrates by wheeling a cart loaded with treats around our cavernous building and he stops by classrooms to greets us with goodies. T. J. visited my room this morning, wearing his Mr. Rogers T-Shirt and party hat, to plan his visit during my 4th period Communication 1101 class, which he has supported vigorously through the years. 

T.J.'s HALF BIRTHDAY is such a momentous occasion that his students join in the celebration by wearing stickers with T.J.'s picture and a variety of fun T.J.isms. They have time to prepare for the celebration because T.J. builds the day into his course syllabus with an entry that reads: HALF SANFORD DAY, a day marking the half-way point to his next actual birthday. 

This year T.J. dressed up for his half birthday celebration; most days he wears T-Shirts "designed" by his children and students. I never know what fascinating drawings and sayings these shirts will offer as passing entertainment. 

A day when T.J. visits my neighborhood in Lower B-Hall really is a "beautiful day in the neighborhood." Happy HALF BIRTHDAY, T.J. 

T.J. judging culinary creations in Foods. w/ some other colleagues: Ted, Kevin, Velda

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Puck and Snug Share "Where I'm From" Poems #SOL2015, Day 10

Week 2 of the Slice of Life Story Challenge sponsored by Two Writing Teachers continues. Thanks for stopping by. This is Day 10/31.

Seniors started a poetry unit today in English, and since I did not write an introduction to myself last week, I figured the best way to get to know me is to get to know my dogs, Puck and Snug. The boys decided to try their hand at writing "Where I'm From" poems, using George Ella Lyon's poem as a mentor text, as this is what students in English did today. I named both Puck and Snug after two of the mechanicals in William Shakespeare's comedy A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Puck's "Where I'm From" Poem

I'm from "I was here first" 
from white Westie and from I don't know.
I'm from balls I like to catch and hide under the couch
(plastic, squeaky, soft, round 
oblong orbs I like to catch and chase)
I am from the pound, from abandonment,
the bane and fear of changed minds.
I'm from sloppy kisses and hugs.

I'm from trips to see Dr. Alpert,
     from into my "garbage gut" 
     to dumps in the yard
     from bariums and X-Rays to see what I ate.
I'm from vet bills paid with love
from a tumor on my leg and 
from the "Cone of Shame."
I'm from popping pills for my allergies
     from sneezing and wheezing
I'm from standing by the cookie jar
     waiting on dad to give me a treat.

I'm from waking up at 4:00 a.m. when dad snores
     and barking for my bone.
I'm from playing at the Ellis Elementary playground
     where dad throws me the ball and mom chases me.
I'm from mom and dad looking for my ball and 
     from playing catch from morning to bedtime, 
     when I sleep on my own queen-sized bed.
I'm from stealing naps on mom's pillow.
I am from mom choosing me from a picture in the paper.
I am one of the boys, dad's little hoodlum,
I'm from a whole lot of love and filling the empty nest.

Puck with my granddaughter, Kayla
Puck in the "Cone of Shame" always smiles.

 Snug's "Where I'm From" Poem

I'm from old dog spirit
From a cage at the Idaho Falls animal shelter
I'm from barking at the air and strutting my little big man stuff
     when Ace roams the neighborhood
     when those cats from next door dig in my yard.
I'm from sitting in the window watching, guarding, waiting.
I'm from German Schnauzer and part poodle,
     from near death and emaciation
     from mom telling dad to bring me home
     when he texted her the picture of my sad face in the cage.

I'm from Alpha dog putting Puck in his place as though we're not neutered.
I'm from early to bed 
     after mom brushes my teeth each night.
I'm from sad looks and letting it all hang out
     so I can scratch my back.
I'm from begging for food at the dinner table with Puck
     where dad taught us to go when it's time to eat. 
I'm from barking at strangers and licking their hands
     when they give me a treat. 

I'm from snuggling up to mom
     from sleeping next to dad's feet
I'm from my buddy Greg, mom's brother.
I'm from marking my territory,
     from sneaking out of the house 
     when no one is looking.
I'm from Ma and Pa's Grooming
     from dad combing my beard
     from getting dressed up in my new scarf each month.
I'm from Bark Box treats but I always give Puck the ball.

I'm form a dog's purpose is to love and be loved,
     from taking companionship and from giving it.
I'm from mom not wanting Puck to be lonely.
I'm from sad on the outside and content on the inside. 
I'm form being one of the boys.
I'm from a place on the side of the road 
     to a home filled with good food, fresh water, warm baths, and love.
I'm from I'm glad there are no cats living here, even though mom wants one.

Snug guarding the stairs.
Snug scratching his back.
*This "Where I'm From" copy change poetry lesson is originally part of a unit I created for the NEA Better Lesson Master Teacher Project. The complete lesson and the entire unit can be found on the website. Puck and Snug wrote their poems specifically for the SOL15 Story Challenge.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Monday Morning Blogmenting: A Report on Blog Commenting #SOL15, Day 9

Good Morning, I'm Glenda Funk, and this is Monday Morning, Day 9 of the 2015 Slice of Life Story Challenge.

Did you remember to spring forward yesterday and sacrifice an hour of precious sleep and blogmenting--the fine art of commenting on blog posts--for the archaic practice of Daylight Savings Time? And how was that early morning "rise and blind" into the inky A.M.?

How did you fare in the weekend SOL blogmenting (read: commenting) challenge? On Saturday I managed to read and comment on 44 posts, and on Sunday I commented on 25 posts. The winter weather in the northeast continues its popularity among those trapped in Wintermagedon.

But there's lots of other things happening around the blogosphere. Some of Sunday's top stories follow: 
  • On the "I'm Writing, Too" blog, Kristi shared the joys of her daughter's piano practice and reminded me of the repetitive experience of reading papers on the same topic over and over and over again. 
  • Janice Ewing reminded me that there are all kinds of ways to approach the challenge; felt as though she heard the conversation I had w/ my husband this morning. Janice writes at write.share.connect so check it out. 
  • International Women's Day is the top story for Day 8 on Misty Stanton's blog, Rants from an EduMommy. Love that title and anything that draws attention to international women's issues. As Misty notes, our girls can study robotics, math, and while we've come a long way, we have more journey ahead of us. 
  • Deb left the Sunday blog post to Chloe's capable paws on Coffee with Chloe. Chloe took readers on a visual tour out her window and the things she likes to bark at when keeping an eye on her house. 
  • Pondering Preschool blogger Maureen keeps showing me how important play is in the classroom, and she had a wonderful poem for her Sunday post. 
Many more noteworthy stories woo me. I read about an adopted child who found joy in dance, about teaching students about the March on Selma, several posts about Daylight Savings Time, blogs about sick children, and an especially beautiful post about dancing and heaping kindness on a man whom others had showered with hate. 

It's no news that the world of slicers is full of hope, inspiration, like-mindedness.

I'm off to teach, learn, read, and blogment. 

Image Credit: Google images licensed for noncommercial reuse.
*Update and Side Note: I hope folks see this post as paying homage to all participating in the SOL story challenge. "CBS Sunday Morning" is my muse for the post. 8:23 MST

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Infrastructure: Abandoned Spaces and White Lined Paper #SOL15, Day 8

We find beauty in ruins. How else can we explain our attraction to decaying bridges, abandoned roads, ancient artifacts? Watch a design show and observe the rustic architectural elements juxtaposed with the pristine and new. 

During winter break my husband and I marveled at the abandoned railway and road that was once U.S 1 as we traveled the Oversees Highway to Key West. 

The "beautiful disaster" of a "lost highway" works as a metaphor for the way I think about building bridges and the role of abandoned spaces and white lined paper for learning in my classroom. 

After introducing my students to various online note-taking techniques and apps, with little success, and after countless students questioning my no-tech ,traditional method of note-taking for research papers the past few years, this year I have a group of students who PREFER to hand-write their notes. 


It seems as though the so-called "digital natives," having grown up in front of screens, like the newness of the old, the archaic, the tried and true, pencil to paper scratching I learned during the 1970s. 

Go figure. 

It seems as though students recognize "The Benefits of No-Tech Note Taking," which The Chronicle of Higher Education reports. After posting this article on my Facebook page, a couple of former students added to the conversation: "I always take notes by hand, so this research makes me happy," says Melissa.

Chelsea added: "My bachelor's degree is in Computer Information Systems, and I got lots of strange looks when I would pull out paper to take notes. It just makes so much more sense to me." 

Both young professionals learned to take notes on note cards during the research process when they were my students. 

From abandoned methodology a return to the blank page with blue lines. Beautiful, repurposed ruins.