Cee’s On the Hunt for Joy this week has the theme Let a kid decorate. I’m not around kids much anymore, so I went into my archives from my years of teaching. Since my language arts students were all of Mexican & Central American origin, we celebrated the Day of the Dead on the day after Halloween. In the school year 2009-10, the fifth grade classes made posters – they cut out skeletons and then, as a class, they had to decide on a scene and place their skeletons in the scene. When they were finished, we decorated the halls with them.
Below are their final products!
This restaurant scene was created by Ms. Strachn’s third grade class.
This class had their skeletons go to the beach!
This class’s theme was having fun at the cemetery! (4th grade) I only did this activity in the classrooms of my students.
First, the political: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for her remarks to a right-wing reporter, who asked her if she “hated” Trump. Pelosi said she didn’t hate anyone, that her Catholic faith had taught her not to hate, and that she prays for Trump “all the time.” Hear her full reply here: Don’t Mess With Me.
My personal pick is the Show Choir and other choirs at Chesterton High School in Chesterton, Indiana. Yesterday, Dale and I and my sister & brother-in-law attended a madrigal dinner at Chesterton High School hosted by the school’s music department. It was an elaborate affair, with all the participating students in full Renaissance costumes, with singers, servers, jesters, lords and ladies, and lackeys. (My grand-nephew, Josh, was one of the lackeys!)
They all played their roles to the letter, even using British accents when possible! Not only were we served a three-course dinner but we were also treated to the most wonderful performance of Christmas songs and carols. This is an amazingly talented group of young people. The videos I made aren’t great because it was dark and no flash photography was allowed and my view was partially obstructed by a pole with an advent wreath and candle on top. But one can hear how wonderful the singing is.
Some other photos I managed to take without flash:
This is an exceptionally musically gifted group of high school students, who worked very hard to put this all together, which is why I chose them as winners of the week. We all were very impressed and loved the entire event!
A footnote: We were seated at Table 11, called “Duke of Normandy” – I noticed this coincidence, because our family had all gone to Normandy, France together last June, and pointed it out to Josh, who’d had no idea and also appreciated the coincidence!
Yesterday, my friends and I went to Northwestern’s new Bienen School of Music to attend a recital. It had been a hot day and I had stayed inside most of the day, so the outing was welcome. We arrived early, had a light and delicious dinner at a vegetarian restaurant in Evanston called Blind Faith Café,
then went to Northwestern. From there, two of us took a walk along the lakefront in front of the university campus. There was a wonderful cooling breeze off Lake Michigan and the walk was so refreshing. There are lots of winding paths through green and leafy areas for walking or biking along this stretch of the lake. (Some of the photos are not very clear because I was using my Samsung Galaxy 7 cellphone camera, which doesn’t do zoom photography well.)
Chicago skyline in the distance on the shore of Lake Michigan
We saw lots of fish in this inlet off the lake. I wondered if they were carp, which is an invasive species that has become a threat to Lake Michigan’s ecosystem. I showed my photos to Dale; he didn’t think they were carp. Lots of students were out celebrating the weather and the end of the semester. Some were lying around in hammocks strung between trees,
while others donned their bathing suits and took a dip in the cold water or sunbathed. One group was roasting marshmallows for s’mores. Earlier apparently someone had been flying a kite because the kite was stuck up in a tree!
We passed the shiny new Kellogg Business School and I also took some close up shots of alliums.
Along the lakefront, there are a lot of large rocks and Northwestern students over the years have painted many of them – some have specific messages, such as marriage proposals, while others are just colorful cartoons.
The new Bienen School of Music is affectionately or sarcastically called “The Cruise Ship” and it’s easy to see why! Inside, the main lobby area is sparse with no furniture and minimalist artwork, such as this sculpture by Spanish artist Joan Miró.
The acoustics in the recital venue, Galvin Hall, however, are amazing. And so was the master’s recital we attended by Nathan Canfield, a young man who has been the accompanist at our church this year. This recital was in fulfillment of his Master’s Degree in Piano Performance.
He played an entire program, over one hour, completely for memory. Although he modestly said he wasn’t totally pleased with his performance, the audience was highly appreciative and applauded long and hard for him!
The first piece he played was J.S. Bach’s Capriccio on the Departure of a Beloved Brother, a short, moving piece. I’ve included a recording of it from YouTube here.
This will be my last post for nearly three weeks.We are going on a road trip to California, returning on Route 66, and I have decided not to take my laptop. So I’ll have a lot to blog about when I return!
Every year, the last weekend in April (this weekend!), our church has a huge rummage sale, our biggest fundraiser of the year. We always need a lot of volunteers.
The sale takes over nearly every room in the church. We have a clothing room (above), housewares (below – the biggest department), holiday, antiques, jewelry, toys, baked goods, books/CDs/DVDs, and outside there is a furniture tent and hot food (hamburgers, hot dogs, etc.).Our church also does mission work. One of our missions is feeding the poor and sheltering the homeless. Des Plaines has a local PADS shelter on Fridays at a nearby church, where homeless adults get a hot meal for dinner, breakfast, sack lunches, and a place to sleep for the night. Different churches sign up for the Fridays they prefer and get volunteers from their church to work the shifts and make or bring food. Some people work in the kitchen, preparing for dinner…
and then serve the food to the guests.
In the summer, we have at least one church service outside, with special invited musicians and ice cream afterward! This is the Chicago Metropolitan Jazz Ensemble.Emergency workers are important in any community. The American Red Cross collects supplies for people in disaster areas.Teaching is a lot of work, even during special events when we look like we’re having fun (and sometimes we are)! Here’s a teacher holding up the flag of her alma mater during an annual College Day rally.
The music teacher works hard – and so do the kids – with the different age groups to put on an annual show for the different grade levels. Here is the 1st-2nd grade music show.
A student helps out on the last day of school by cleaning the chalkboards.
For children, school is their workplace and for very young children, play is their work; it’s how they learn. These kindergartners love building things with blocks.
And in December, everyone works hard on holiday projects. Here, a teacher’s assistant helps kindergartners make gingerbread houses.
Sometimes, people work to provide entertainment for others, either as volunteers or for tips, such as at a summer concert in the park.
While kids are getting their balloons, the band plays.
People with special talents perform for tourists for tips, such as this young man in Tallinn, Estonia.
Waiters in Japanese restaurants “perform” for diners, cooking their food right in front of them.
Some of the hardest working people work on cruise ships, in kitchens…or as stewards, such as this one trying to hold a tray of hot soup steady for the tourists on the windy deck of a ship in Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska.
Some athletes and actors make millions entertaining the public. They might even get a trophy, such as when the Chicago Cubs won the World Series in 2016!
Every school year, I would start with a clean classroom and vow to keep it that way. And I would – for awhile. As the school year got underway, at the beginning I was able to keep track of everything and find a place for every piece of paper that landed on my desk. I made files for my paperwork and kept them in a large drawer in my desk or in crates.
But eventually, papers would land on my desk that I couldn’t do anything with right away. I allowed a small pile to accumulate, but no problem – I’d go through it and find a place for everything soon, or throw it away if I no longer needed it.
Unfortunately, that pile began to grow, because I couldn’t find a home for every piece of paper and I was reluctant to throw anything away, in case I needed it again. I made binders to put templates, graphic organizers, packets from workshops, etc., to have a handy set of “tools” ready to use in my classroom.
But the life of a teacher is exhausting. Even if I could go through the pile(s) accumulating on my desk and dispose of everything in them, life soon became too overwhelming. I always had something more important to do – grade papers, work on lesson plans, make copies or laminate something, read and answer emails, even just organize my classroom. After spending a busy day there each day, I usually took a half hour or more straightening it up afterward – locating and putting away dry erase markers or smart board pens, putting away books and other supplies the kids left lying around, gathering up all the papers I had gotten from students that day, etc. The jobs were endless. I am not naturally organized, so I’m not the type to always put things back right away as soon as I am done using them – the ADD brain just doesn’t work like that. Although I made an effort to stay organized and consistent, any system I devised eventually broke down.
And the piles on my desk grew. (Because by this time there was more than one pile, each new pile being justified at first.) Sometimes, when I did go through them, I’d find things I’d either forgotten about or long since given up ever finding again.
Some of my students would notice my messy desk – always girls who had a knack and desire to help the teacher and clean up – and offer to organize it for me. They’d offer to stay in at recess to work on it. Of course, that meant giving up my lunch hour and staying in my classroom while they were in there, but I usually let them do it. If there were several of them, I’d assign them different tasks – one could organize the books, another could take down a bulletin board, while the remainder would go through everything on my desk and “organize” – or at least straighten – it.
It was impossible for 4th and 5th grade girls to actually reduce all those piles, since they had no idea what to do with all those papers – but they would occasionally ask me what to do with something. At least they drew my attention to them. They were really good at putting away things like scissors, tape, paper clips, etc. – things that they could generally figure out what to do with, or sometimes things that I had bins for, like markers or kids’ scissors that ended up on my desk.
When they were finished, they beamed with pride as I praised their great work. It was nice of them but sometimes I couldn’t find things afterward, because they’d put them where they thought they should go, not where I usually put them!
Meanwhile, I wasn’t the only messy one – some students had messy desks too. Sometimes it was surprising which students kept a neat desk and which ones didn’t. Sometimes a kid that daydreamed or fooled around in class had a very neat desk. I instituted a monthly or semi-monthly Friday afternoon activity of cleaning out their desks.
All the students would take everything out of their desks, sort it, take it home, throw it
away, hand it in – as appropriate. The kids with neat desks would help the ones who had hopelessly large amounts of crumpled papers, pencil stubs, eraser shavings, and a variety of items that they didn’t know how to keep neat. Then the neat students were in their “element” – helping disorganized classmates get organized! They sometimes would take on a sort of teacher-like role, admonishing their messy peers about putting papers away and handing in overdue homework.
I’ve seen teachers who use days like St. Patrick’s Day to have special elves or leprechauns come to the classroom after the students have gone home to inspect their desks and leave notes of praise to those who had the neatest desks. I especially enjoyed giving one of these notes to a kid who generally didn’t have a neat desk, but happened to have cleaned it out earlier that day! How proud that kid would be the next day, getting a note of praise which entitled him or her to some small prize!
I often counsel students on keeping their desks and folders organized, and handing in homework they’d forgotten all about. Sometimes I find things in their folders that they thought they had lost and had to do over because they had told the teacher they’d lost the first copy. Yet I secretly sympathize with these kids, because I see myself in them. It’s funny how I develop a special place in my heart for these messy, disorganized kids. I get it. I’m the same way!