Saturday, August 9, 2014

setting up my new classroom (again)

At my first school I was in the same room for 6 years. When I moved in it wasn't my room - I shared it with another teacher (I also shared another room with two different teachers) since I was split between science and math. So I didn't get to start from scratch. The second year it really was my room, but I was too busy to do much in the way of purging and organizing. After 6 years in that room, circumstances dictated that I move into another room in the building. I LOVED my new room, and I relished the opportunity to start fresh. I spent much time that summer organizing my new classroom. It was perfect. By the end of the year, though, I found myself applying for a job at school #2. During the summer I went back to school, packed up all my things and drove them up to my new school with the help of three amazing friends.

So, you can imagine my dismay when I learned that school #2 would be relocating at the end of the year to a temporary building, and then relocating permanently two years later. This means that I will have moved my classroom three years in a row!

I started packing up my room in March. It was hard to find things that I new for sure that I wouldn't need until next autumn. Luckily the district provided boxes, packing tape, box labels, and a wonderful moving coordinator. She suggested that we make an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of what is in each box (as well as labeling the boxes with numbers), and I am so glad that I took her advice. My TA's helped me pack and offered suggestions - I am always learning from my students!

This time I get to truly start from a blank slate. Our temporary building has been empty for some time, and was remodeled in order to be up to code for our two-year stay. I'm planning on taking advantage of this opportunity to start fresh with more intentional use of my new space.

Unpacking is challenging, to say the least. I arrived in my new room to find my boxes piled willy-nilly in the center of the room. Tables I requested from the old building were propped up on their ends. Boxes appeared to be missing. It was overwhelming.

After staring hopelessly at my things I finally convinced myself to start. But where to start? I decided to put my easel back together. It's the least important thing to do, but also the most obvious place to start since I knew where all of the pieces were and putting it together would allow me to move it out of the way more easily thanks to its wheels.

Student chairs were delivered while I was there, but so far no student desks yet. It makes my room look HUGE, but I know that as soon as those desks arrive it'll be a tight squeeze. My new room is long and narrow (like my old room was) but it's narrower by 2-3 feet.

I expect it'll take quite a bit more work to get my room student-ready. I'm planning on tackling it in small chunks so I don't get overwhelmed. Yesterday, my first unpacking day, I only spent three hours before going home. It wasn't very much time, but I feel pretty accomplished. Along with emptying 5 or 6 boxes, I moved furniture around and figured out how to open those huge, old windows.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

the DIG Field School

I cross the Cascades and the Columbia.
Made a stop at Dry Falls.
And the Grand Coulee Dam.
Eventually I entered Tatooine (or Eastern Montana, close enough).
We camped next to Hell Creek and woke up before sunrise every day.
By 7am we had eaten breakfast, packed our bags with tons of water, and headed out to the field in SUV caravans.
Sometimes we couldn't get the SUVs very close to our site. This picture, and the following picture, are taking from roughly the same spot, just facing opposite directions, to show you how far we hiked from where the ferry SUVs were parked (many of the SUVs did not have enough clearance to go all the way out - the roads were very challenging).

This is what the hadrosaur site looked like when we arrived. While we were there we helped jacket three large bones so that they could be removed from the site.
A close-up of some of the hadrosaur bones.
I touched dinosaur bones!
This is what the site looked like after a few bones had been jacketed in plaster.
We visited a site called Nirvana where we saw, and touched, the K-Pg boundary (that's the layer that documents the asteroid impact, and the extinction of the non-avian dinosaurs).

I saw many interesting rock formations.
I learned how to surface collect for micro fossils (croc scute, gar scales, bone fragments, turtle shells, etc) 
Someone in my group found a rib bone, which was jacketed in plaster for removal.
We brought back bags of in situ sediment, which were put into screen boxes and set up in the creek.

After soaking all night the screen boxes were brought out to dry in the sun.
And of course there were dino toys at dino camp.
On the way home I saw the wildfires.
All in all, I drove 941 miles each way. It was a long drive, but completely worth it.

One of the coolest things for me about this trip is that every piece of data we collected (sketches of sites, micro fossils, in situ sediments, measurements to determine how far above or below the K-Pg boundary, etc), every piece of data was useful for the DIG team. I helped collect real data that will be used by Greg Wilson and his team back at the UW and the Burke Museum in their research. How cool is that? As a middle school science teacher I don't get that opportunity very often. Most summer teacher programs focus on content and lessons, which are extremely useful, but this program focused first on doing real field work and secondly on lessons. I found it exhilarating. 

I also want to say that it was a pleasure to work with each and every one of the DIG team members. The team members ranged from PhDs, PhD candidates, graduate students, recent grads and undergrads. And everyone had something to bring to the table. And everyone was treated with respect and affection by Greg and co-director Lauren. That's the kind of team everyone strives to be a part of, and it was a treat to spend 4 days with them.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

where have I been?

Picking strawberries...

with the help of other people's children.

Going on walks.

And more walks...

Hanging out at the beach.

Watching the sun set.

Attempting to hike, only to be foiled by snow.

Exploring Box Canyon instead.

And a much more local hike.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

summer, so far

Summer has just begun - both in the astronomical sense, and in the school-year sense. Sometimes school doesn't get out until after the solstice, but this year we ended on the 19th, just in time. Of course this year saw me packing up my room, the science supply room, and helping my coworker pack up her room - and it all had to be finished before the 21st. We're moving to a new building and our former building is getting retrofitted and remodeled. Busy times.

So far, this summer (all four days of it) I've managed to...
:: begin a knitting project
:: make a batch of sun tea, which I am enjoying mixed with lemonade
:: eat the first ripe grape tomato from my garden
:: clean out and organize our storage, which was becoming a frightening place
:: finish my book (The Passion of Mary Magdalen by Elizabeth Cunningham)
:: organize and put away the few boxes of things I brought home from my classroom
:: get together with friends to watch the final Game of Thrones episode
:: get sucked in to a new show, Orphan Black, with Joe

Sometimes I worry that I'll "waste" my short summer break. I worry that I'll look back on my summer, and wonder what happened. Autumn comes quicker than I'd like, and even though it's my favorite season, it's often full of work-related stress and busyness. 

So here's to squeezing every drop of summer goodness before work starts up again. 

Pacific Northwest bucket list

There are many things I'd like to experience while I live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. I've been here for about 10 years, but I don't feel that I've taken full advantage of the opportunities around me. I'm making this bucket list as inspiration.

  • Seattle Art Museum - it's been years since we've been
  • Burke Museum - Joe and I went after I got back from the DIG School
  • EMP / Sci-Fi Museum Joe & I enjoyed a membership this past year, and we've seen many fascinating exhibits including Icons of Science Fiction, Horror, Game of Thrones, Battlestar Galactica, Stargate
  • Pacific Science Center I've taken students, and Joe & I have gone on our own. We saw the traveling exhibit with Lucy's bones when it was there.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

checking in: celebrate the seasons

We're halfway through 2014, and I need to check in on the goals I set for myself. I decided I wanted to work on three things this year: go outside, simplify inside, and celebrate the seasons. I intended to set mini-goals and check in monthly. For January, February, March and April that system worked pretty well, but once May hit it all fell apart. As a public school teacher, this makes complete sense. May is when state testing, science fair, modified schedules (thanks to state testing), evaluations, and general spring fever hit all at the same time. It's like tax season for accountants.

So, in the interest of personal accountability, I need to check in with myself. Here we go...

In January Joe and I finished our Game of Thrones inspired snowflake art, but it didn't make it up on the walls until May. In February I finished a quilt for my nephew, March saw me dying spring eggs, and in April I learned embroidery.

Now that summer is fast approaching, I want to work on berry jams, berry shrubs and my small garden.

I realized after beginning that most of my seasonal celebrations center around autumn and winter. Autumn is my favorite season and there are many things I do to celebrate the turn towards colder and darker days. This year, after my big job change, I struggled to have the time and/or energy to do those simple things that bring me so much joy, and so I set this goal as a way of making sure that didn't happen again. I hope this coming autumn finds me making applesauce, visiting the fair, diving back into soup recipes, knitting and wearing sweaters, listening to Muse, decorating with changing leaves, eating pumpkin, and everything else that helps me savor autumn.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

summer 2014

* make jam
* make shrubs (the drink, not the plant)
* thrifting
* kitchen cabinet purge

* pick strawberries
* pick raspberries
* pick blueberries
* camping
* hiking at Mt. Rainier
* hiking at Mt. St. Helens (ape caves?)
* canoeing / kayaking
* beach walks
* eat outside

Eats & Drinks
* blueberry boy bait
* strawberry summer cake
* applesauce donuts
* homemade popsicles
* shrub concoctions