Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Evil Narrative Report Cards Lead to Blog Post Thievery!

I've gotten home from school at about 9pm every week day for the last two weeks due to my school's requirement for narrative report cards. This means that after I have graded the kids' work (sometimes multiple times due to revisions), I have to write several paragraphs about each kids' achievement level toward the standards. Ugh.

Anyway, not to belabor. But, it is time consuming.

It was also Thanksgiving. I had 14 people over for dinner on Saturday and basically prepared a Thanksgiving dinner (modified creatively) in an extra large Easy Bake Oven.

I haven't had time to blog about it. But, my friend Barbara wrote about it on her I invite you to read her blog entry so I don't have to write one! 

Please click here to read it!

Some day soon (after Friday) I will have time to create my own blog and not have to mooch off others'. Counting down the minutes!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Trip to Denmarkia to visit my Denmarkian relatives...or wait, maybe they're Dutch?

You might think that Copenhagen (Kobenhavn in Denmarkian) is the capital...
but nope, it is Kebabenhavn...or maybe that is just a kebab stand! HA!
This past weekend, I traveled to Denmark again to see my cousins who live there, the Lauritzens. As always, we had a really fun time with lots of laughs! It has been a long time since I'd seen them all in the same place because Terese was studying in Massachusetts when I was visiting this past April. I saw her in June in Colorado but this trip was fun because everyone was together.

Both Nina Camilla (19) and Terese (16) have spent a year of high school in the US. While there, people always asked them if they were from Denmarkia and if they spoke Denmarkian. Or, they just thought that they were Dutch! So, all weekend, we made references to this.

The weekend started with a little I was on my way to the airport (I take a tram and then a bus and the whole trip is like 25 minutes), I realized halfway there that I didn't have my passport. AAH! I jumped back on the tram and then literally ran as fast as I could in clogs with a rolling suitcase back to my apartment. I grabbed a taxi back to the airport and made it to my flight with about 15 minutes to spare. But, the kicker was...NOBODY CHECKED MY PASSPORT or asked me for any form of identification at all since I'd checked in online. All that panicking was for naught! At least I only live 10 minutes by car from the airport! This seems to be a constant problem for me as the last two times I've left Germany,  I have forgotten my passport.

A selection of Grecian/Roman noses! (And two Denmarkian ones!)
Terese (left) and Nina Camilla (right)
On Saturday we went into Copenhagen and went to an art museum that is owned by Carlsberg brewery. Since my cousin, Lisbeth, works for Carlsberg, we mostly got in for free. They were having a Gaugin exhibit (not pictured above, obviously) which was pretty cool to see. Gaugin certainly got around the island circuit and after going to the Van Gogh museum, it was fun to see more works of Gaugin. Apparently the two of them were friends and had had a fight when Van Gogh cut off his ear. Gaugin was so freaked out by the craziness that he left and that was the end of them living and working together in Arles, France. Our favorite on Saturday was a painting by Gaugin that had a pooping pig. We're obviously very sophisticated art aficionados.

One of the Queen's horses. He was in love with Nina and worked his head over the
bars so she could pet him.
After the museum, we also walked by the Queen's Stables. These were all beautiful (and huge) horses used for fancy-schmancy ceremonies. Copenhagen is such an enjoyably bike-friendly city. There are bike lanes everywhere that are SAFE and divided from the rest of the sidewalk and from the street. It is possible to be a bike commuter without the constant fear of vehicular manslaughter, which is excellent. Düsseldorf has some bike lanes, but in the downtown area, there aren't any and you have to be willing to ride with cars and trams, which I am not.

Roskilde Cathedral.
All of the Danish Royals for the last 1000 or so years are buried in here.
The Lauritzens actually live about 30 miles outside of Copenhagen in a town called Roskilde. It is right on the fjord and their house has a view of the water and only about a five minute walk down to the edge. We went for a walk in the morning and it was very cold but still pretty sunny! Roskilde is also home to a very famous viking ship museum and so there is always a bustle of activity at the water's edge. For pictures of that, please see my last blog post about Denmark. Click here to read it!

I cannot lie. I love that I am only an hour's flight from visiting Denmark. It took less time to fly to see them than it does for me to fly from Denver to Omaha. I just can't get over that. Maybe someday I will, but for now, it is still a completely amazing and awesome novelty to get out of a car, plane, train in another country and you're IN ANOTHER COUNTRY! My logical brain understands it, but the rest of me does not.

Shout out to the Viking heritage!
I've been informed that I'm a bad Viking descendant because I don't like pickled herring.
That's okay. I really like pillaging so maybe that can make up for it!
It was a great weekend! I can't wait to visit again...and it is so easy and cheap that I likely will! They will be coming to Germany next though so I'm looking forward to hosting!

And now for a wee bit o' teacher talk...

If you are a science teacher or you know a science teacher...GET THIS BOOK!
My friend Melissa Botteicher, a PEBC staff developer and science instructional coach, recommended this book to me and I've been blown away by it. It is so simple- teach kids a framework (or Thinking Routine, if you will) to talk about their scientific discoveries. Practice using the framework. Have kids' evaluate each other's use of the framework. Create/construct understanding around the framework. And then, step back and watch as kids become so much more sophisticated in their scientific reasoning skills. In ONE WEEK since I've taught this, I have seen improvement. 

My "anchor charts" for using this thinking routine.
This framework takes out the "well, I watched this tv show about blabbetty blah and so I know that blabbety blah is true," and forces kids to really evaluate data they've collected. I want to throw this framework in the face of the evolution haters but because it is so based on evidence, reasoning, and logic they probably won't understand it anyway! They'll just keep quoting their "scientifical" evidence**. 

**(For those who don't know, a mom of a student a few years ago tried to "convince" me that there is no "scientifical" evidence for climate change and that they don't believe in it in their family and therefore I shouldn't talk about it in my class. I responded with the fact that I would be teaching evolution in a few weeks too. She said that as long as I don't teach it as fact and only a "theory." I reminded her that gravity is also a "theory" and we've put people in space based on that "theory." Ah, religious nutballs. Good times.)**

Anyway, I'm really looking forward to seeing how my kids' grow as scientists using this framework. If Danny Birmingham is reading this, tell the author (he meets with him weekly at Michigan State) that I would like to thank him! You could also show him my anchor charts, I wouldn't be sad!

I've got about 1 million papers to grade and report cards to write (significantly longer process when there are no numbers involved and everything is a narrative!) so I should end this!

Christmas is right around the corner and I'll be back in Colorado soon! Can't wait to see everyone!