Tuesday, April 15, 2008

At what point do we as teachers say, "Enough is enough. There was a deadline and I do you no favors by constantly allowing you to turn things in late." I know that the point is the learning: what did the student learn that is documented in this assignment. But what are they learning if they never meet deadlines, or constantly lose and ask to do over assignments, and we always let them? For how long during the school year can we say, "Yes, it's okay that your printer ran out of ink," before kids think, "Hey! I don't have to meet deadlines or be responsible. I can just say I had no ink!" I am at the end of my patience with this, particularly since it is fourth term and these kids are going to high school next year. Our high school is no-nonsense, and so many of these students are just going to sink--or else rapidly mature this summer. I think it's good that spring break is next week. I need to be away from them. They're like little soul-suckers right now.

My Burpee order came today. I have twelve seedlings, five bare root raspberry plants, and three dormant lilies waiting for the time to be right (which will be as soon as they're acclimated to being outside in the sun). Today was another beautiful day; the kind that lulls you into thinking, "I could put my tomatoes out under row covers it's so nice!" But I didn't. I'm saved from that temptation by making sure I ordered my warmer veggies to come in after May 1. I know myself too well...

I did plant rhubarb, though...

Monday, April 14, 2008

With Spring come thoughts of Shakespeare...and Sugar Snap Peas

My students have turned in their poetry books, and it's on through the curriculum hike into Shakespeare. We "bridged" today with sonnets, which went better than I expected. The typical bugaboos: it's hard, he's not speaking English (?!), I don't get iambic pentameter. Beautifully, we avoided most of them. I started with a quick activation of background knowledge, and then I took the first line of sonnet 130 (My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun) and put one syllable on ten sheets of paper. The unstressed syllables were written normally, the stressed were in bubble letters. I got ten volunteers (one for each syllable page) to come to the front of the room, and we practiced saying the line in sing-song quiet BOLD voices. When were were done, I had the volunteers pair up into their "iambs" and we defined iambic pentameter. Every kid seemed to get it. Then we read sonnets and talked about them, and the kids defined the form and worked on tackling their own. All in all, a good beginning to the unit.

To add to my good day at work, when I got home the sun was still shining and it was in the 50's, so I planted some seeds! I worked in about 180 pounds of compost (wow--when I write that it sounds like a lot more than it felt like while I was doing it...) and planted radicchio, fennel, arugula, sugar snap peas, kale, radishes, swiss chard, huazontle (Aztec/Mexican spinach) and spinach. I was so overly excited my husband has taken to calling me Garden Geek.

After a yummy dinner (Rachael Ray's Artichoke and Spinach Pasta--like the appetizer, only with pasta) we took the pups for a long walk. There was a huge freighter being maneuvered through Quincy Bay into the Fore River, so we watched it and its three tugboats for awhile. I love ships; they're so massive and airy and squat and graceful all at the same time. This one was riding pretty low in the water, so we figure it had some freight to deliver. She was called Sylvia's Express--not an especially glamorous name, but a very imposing sight none the less.

Our walks are especially wonderful right now. "Nature's first green is gold," and it's showing up all over the neighborhood. Their are daffodils and hyacinths everywhere, and the forsythia are beginning their golden showers of bloom. The neighborhood has a few large magnolias, and their creamy pinkish white blooms are filling the air with their scent. Plants are leafing out all over, and I find myself walking around saying things like, "Hello, Mr. Catmint! It's so great to see you back!" Garden Geek, indeed. It is a label I wear happily, though.