Friday, May 22, 2009

I hate packing.

School is out for the summer.  Just finished closing down my classroom, which means putting EVERYTHING away.  Grading, recording, filing, sorting, boxing, organizing, cleaning.  The classroom is done at last.  Which means my house looks like a hurricane went through. Twice. Can't see the dining room table.  Mountains of laundry.  Dirty dishes.  Piles and piles of mail and bills to pay. And of course, dog hair.  Everywhere.  And we are supposed to leave tomorrow.  So what do I do? I quit.  That's right.  I'm done for the night. I am NOT packing anymore.  Right now I don't care if I drive to Anchorage tomorrow or not.  

We are traveling to California with a group of students from Kodiak Island.  It is a trip based around career explorations for the 8th grade students, which is actually a lot of fun.  Last year we traveled with them to New York City and Washington, D.C. Our flight leaves Anchorage Monday, but I was hoping to get there a couple of days early, since I have absolutely nothing to wear in the sweltering heat of Palm Springs.  But at this point, I don't care anymore!  Maybe in the morning I will care, but not now.  I am tired, I have a cold and I just want a day of vacation.  Sleep would be nice. Time to cuddle up with the dogs and relax.

Here is a current photo. This is what the front yard looks like.  Yardwork.  Woohoo. Something else to add to the list.  At least the snow is finally gone! 

Palm Springs, here we come... the yard can wait!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A Dog in School!!

My apologies for my TERRIBLE neglect of this blog.  Here are my sad excuses:

Lathrop Ballroom Dance Team Spring Show & Auction (I'm the team's assistant director)
and other Ballroom Dance Team performances
Prom (daughter #1)
17th Birthday party and overnighters(daughter #1)
14th Birthday party and overnighters(daughter #2)
Lathrop High School Musical, "You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown," 5 nights (daughter #1)
Track season (daughter #2)
Spring Choir Concert (daughter #1)
Spring Orchestra Concert (daughter #2)
UAF Graduation Party (2 relatives)
Physical Therapy Appointments (daughter #2)
Construction of a Box Kite (daughter # 2)
Solo & Ensemble Competition in Anchorage (daughter #1)
Retirement Parties
Various other school projects/reports/papers (2 daughters who needed "prodding")
...not to mention my own classroom family picnic, awards, field trips, field day, projects, papers to grade, report cards to finish, and yes, the ducklings that just hatched!!  Did I mention the taxes?.......  AUUUGGGHHHH!!!!

Well, at least I feel better now.  I guess I accomplished a lot over the last 4 weeks!

Despite the busy schedule, it is ALL FUN!  I just wish I had more hours in the day to enjoy it all.

Some of the greatest fun that I have had in a long time came through my connection with the famous Wimsey Bloodhound of Manhattan.  Over the last couple of months, his humans have written and illustrated a book for my classroom, detailing the history and some of the sights of New York City and comparing it to where we live in Fairbanks, Alaska.  My students have been enthralled with the project, and we read the book together several times.  We also looked at many photos of Wimsey and studied New York City on the internet.  In addition, we investigated hounds, learning the difference between sight and scent hounds.  We covered dog anatomy and dog care as well.  Of course special emphasis was placed on bloodhounds!  Last week we wrote letters to Wimsey and sent them along with some gifts, both for the canine and the humans.  My students were incredibly inspired by this wonderful hound, and wrote volumes for him, which was quite surprising in the case of several of the kids.  My principal even took note of the inspiration that Wimsey had on several of my struggling students, and discussed the project's positive impact on the learning environment in my classroom during an educational forum this week.  

How could I follow up on all this excitement in the classroom?  Well, I brought my own bloodhound, Gus, in for a visit, of course!  An ALL DAY visit!  Actually, this is his third year of visiting my school.

What a grand day we had!  Gus arrived with me at 7:45 a.m. and we made the rounds saying hello to staff.  He is always greeted with a smile and a pat.  At 8:30 a.m. my students arrived, and greeted Gus with squeals of delight.  He took it all in stride.  As the kids sat on the floor in a group to say hello, he rolled onto his side and wiggled around the group, touching each student with his nose.  For such a large, awkward hound, he is incredibly gentle with children. When my students went off to Music, Gus and I made the first of our scheduled visits to other classrooms to teach a little about hounds and dog care.  The kindergarten children sang the Dog Alphabet song to him.  We visited a 3rd grade classroom where he ate two pencils and a folder. We also visited the 1st graders and a multi-age classroom during the course of the day.

Gus met the one week old ducklings that our 2nd graders incubated over the last month. It was hilarious.  He was very hesitant at first, but then he and one of the khakis had a "conversation." Nose to nose!  I think the khaki won, because Gus backed off first!

Back in my classroom, we talked a lot about responsible dog ownership, like what to feed/not feed your dog, walking your dog daily and how to pick up poop responsibly.  We drew and colored pictures of bloodhounds and reviewed dog anatomy.  (Do YOU know where the pastern is?) We walked Gus several times and saw first hand how a bloodhound follows his nose.  At the end of the day, the kids were sad to say goodbye, and several wanted to keep the cardboard tubes that Gus had chewed for souvenirs!  What a WONDERFUL DAY we had!  I wish I could post pictures of my students with Gus, but for obvious reasons I cannot do that.

              (Gus says goodbye to the kids at the end of the day)

I am so proud of my big bloodhound.  He is a fabulous dog, gentle and nurturing with each child.  I am very lucky to have him, and to have a principal that is happy to allow a giant dog to come to class for an entire school day!