Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A Study in Ardence

Yes, I know the real word is "ardency." Either way, she's an eager, active little girl and I thought you might enjoy a few recent photos.

"Welcome to Hawai'i!"

Goldfish at the Dole Plantation. They were fat off the $0.50 feeder machine (which was already empty when we got there at 10 am).

At Hanauma Bay, where we took turns snorkeling while Arden ate applesauce and Cheetoes.

Monday, June 16, 2008

How to Breathe in Class

Today I told all the students (25 of them) in reading class to close their mouths and breathe through their noses.

The instruction was so novel that instant silence descended, except for the deep breathing-through-the-nose noises that began to emanate from the group.

I then told them to remember how this closed-mouth position felt. This is what their mouths were to feel like for the remainder of class (10 minutes) as they worked silently on their worksheet. What a new concept it was to some! At least two then raised their hands to inform me that they had colds and could not breathe through their noses. I gave them permission to breathe through their mouths :) !!

Ridiculous, I know. I did not premeditate the order. It was born instinctively as I realized I'd been fighting the hum of unnecessary chit-chatter all class period. What other way is there to actually get children's mouths closed? I'm glad to find I have some practicality left. I believe they got more done in that 10 minutes than in any other similar block of time in all the past week.

This will not be the last time they will be instructed in what a "closed mouth" feels like. Now that I've discovered how well physical cues work to reinforce "abstract" concepts...let's see...perhaps next class period they will all be told to lift their feet off the floor and then remember what it feels like to be firmly and solidly planted on their seat.

Where, oh where, are the days of teaching high-schoolers?!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Are You My Mother?

Oh, I should be writing lesson plans, but I have to tell you... There are pure white birds here who fly around juxtaposing themselves alternately against the tall, green mountains and the blue, clear sky. I don't remember what they are called, but they're one of the prettiest sights this island offers. They also enjoy following the riding lawnmowers around the cemetery by our house. Bugs must lose their cover and make ready meals right after a mow. It's cute and rather funny, because the stately, long-necked creatures act almost like dogs following their master, the mower. Hop, hop, perch.

Arden has a book titled "Are You My Mother?" in which the baby bird gets lost and asks all the things he meets if they are his mother. After he learns the cow and the dog are not, he ends by asking a "Snort" (at which point Arden makes piteous crying noises), which we all know is actually a red dirt-digger machine. She loves reading the book, though she agonizes with it every time through. I've started adding the line, "The baby bird is scared, but we know the Snort is really his friend!"

These white birds already know. The mower is both their friend and possibly their mother. Mothers provide food, don't they?!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Pineapple Shockers

I have news for you.
Ooops... not, not that, though I did turn into a pineapple and dance the hula for a moment there.

Recognize these?

In a recent trip to the Dole Plantation I discovered that pineapples do not grow on trees. This is a particular shock, as they themselves have always reminded me of fat little palm trees. How can this be? It's like finding out that eggs come from cows. Pineapples come from short, spiky bushes. Each plant only grows one fruit at a time, and it takes about 1 1/2 years to do that! After growing a second fruit, the whole plant is uprooted. Here is my question: where on earth is there enough land to produce the amount of pineapples I see in the stores??! (Wikipedia just told me, but I'll leave you the pleasure of finding out for yourself, lest I begin to sound like a middle-school social studies report.) I do need to thank those faithful people who have the patience to cultivate a plant that produces one fruit every one and a half years. You're much appreciated!

Another interesting bit of info I found out while taking a ride on the Pineapple Express (a bright little train that chugged us around the tourist plantation, pausing every few minutes of narration to play a rousing local folk song over the loudspeaker), is that pineapples are not native to Hawaii but to central South America. They were introduced in the early 1800's. Mr. Dole ended up buying an entire Hawaiian island just to grow them on. If this disappoints you, let me continue. Basically, almost nothing you think is "Hawaiian" is actually Hawaiian. Mexican cowboys brought the guitar (though a Hawaiian teenager did invent the steel-guitar trick), and the hip-shaking dance is from Tahiti (now I know why my grandfather liked to vacation there). Whether native or not, pineapples grow well here, and we certainly enjoyed the pineapple ice cream and floats they sold us at the plantation.

Their little outdoor eating area was one of the prettiest places to relax... can anything beat shade, glowing yellow umbrellas and plantings, and cool pineapple ice cream?

Arden agreed.

In spite of it all, I'm still having a hard time reconciling myself to the squat, spiky sight of a single pineapple sprouting from the ground. It's really a shocking sight. Shocking.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Grammar, Spelling, and Punctuation

Dear friends and neighbors,

It has been brought to my attention (thanks Lizzie!) that I have not been keeping up my end of the bargain regarding this blog. We've had a busy week and a half since Sam left. First off, I decided to take a job...(gulp!)...teaching middle school language arts! It's only a summer position, which is good. Mind you, I've never taught this age group before, and with the curriculum left up to my imagination, you can guess what extent of preparation I've been trying to do.

A friend of Dora and Sam's has come to stay for a week, and we've been busy traversing the island, hitting the best tourist spots we know. It's actually my first time seeing most of these things too...snorkeling in Hanauma Bay, boarding the Pineapple Express at the Dole Plantation, cracking open raw macadamias at the nut farm, attending a music festival in Waikiki, and being somber at the USS Arizona memorial. You'll have to wait for photos of all these things, because the camera's batteries have not been extremely reliable, and a lot of shots are on our guest's camera.

My greatest concern right now is creating good lessons for the students I will meet next Monday. I wanted a challenge, and I think I've gotten one. Those of you who know me well, just remember this one thing: spelling is a part of "Language Arts"!

(It has been reported back to me that a face-on photo of Arden has not been posted on this blog. It's true--she's such an active little girl that it's actually hard to get such a shot! But here is one, taken because my hair was pulled back and we looked rather twinnish with our wisps.)

p.s. She has plenty of teeth, she's just not showing them here :)