Thanksgiving, Thank Goodness!
Winter storms are piling up outside the Golden Gate, bearing down upon us this first wet weekend of the break. I love it, love the first blush of green on the tawny hills, the patter of rain on the roof at night, like mercy, forgiveness, it washes away worry. Or it should do except I find it actually stressful to relax – gives me a bit of a headache at the start of most vacations! But I’m going to try, and I hope you will too.
On Friday, the kids were all excited and we have an unexpectedly great day – 7th looked for graphs in news and science magazines. Amazing how little they understand at first glance, really glad to have spent some time helping them look, interpret and find who the author was, publication date etc. I really didn’t expect that. But then they got it and were happy as clams, sharing their new knowledge and finding breaking news stories. They are set to do “Hot Issues” so much better this year, especially as I finally updated the “Hot Issues” sheet.
Ugh, one graph and map set in New Scientist was showing that a 12 degree global warming will make many parts of the world fatally hot for several days a year. So you’d die even if naked with a fan. Places like the middle of Australia, Sub Saharan Africa (as usual in the cross-hairs of catastrophe 😦 ) and, oh wow! The south east quarter of the US.
8th grade are feeling competent by now at measuring mass and volume and calculating the density of water with only 2 dropper-squirting mini-incidents. The sweet spot of enough structure for them to know what to do and what’s expected, with a little freedom to figure things out for themselves. I avoid the recipe book approach – boring, and the results so much less delicious than in the kitchen. Remember those at school? Yeah, you do what it says but mostly you talk to the new, cute guy who just came to the school. Maybe you absentmindedly doodle on the desk heart, heart, heart and practice signing your name 400 times, maybe as Mrs.(fill in name of current crush). Not that I did that. Ever.
One of my boys has been talking ALL THE TIME. But the stuff going on at home, you would need the support of your friends at school too. We’ve also had a rash of suspensions but shhh, in our community, we don’t talk about what’s really going on with our children because that would make it true. Quietly, we’ll address some of the issues within our curriculum as the opportunity presents.
Truth, honesty, the solid ground from which we can launch effective solutions. I just love forthrightness in friends, when you know that if they can tell you the bad news, that then the good news really means something. I guess that’s why I find science so relaxing and refreshing too. It’s about the way the world really is and it’s so much more interesting and beautiful than you could make up. But also more frightening and ominous.
Do we protect our children by not telling them the truth about their health? About parental illness and marital break-ups? I actually asked my 7th graders and they overwhelmingly said no, tell us what’s really going on. One girl has a gene making her more likely to get skin cancer and she’s known about it for several years. She takes precautions to reduce her risk more seriously than the average 12 year old but she says she’s not freaked out by it at all. I’m usually surprised by the sensible-ness and resilience of children, but also how hard they can take an off-hand remark.
How about the environmental bad, bad news? This year, I’m not going to show the sad slide show about global warming. Instead, I’m going to let them figure out more of the pieces themselves. There’s a difference between beating over the head and giving information they are interested to hear. Proselytizing even for a good cause is less effective in the long run – I have several 8th grade boys who seem turned off to environmental issues to some extent because of the focus in 7th grade.
We are turning toward multi media projects this year where students have to energize and inspire others to act. I’m pretty excited to discover after only TWO YEARS of owning this pc, that there is a great, FREE moving making software installed with it. Make my first effort yesterday in about 30 minutes with a sound track and everything. So duh. I’m energized and inspires so they’ll have to be too :-).
Happy Thanksgiving all who stop by here. My sister’s due at SFO in a couple of hours, the kitchen smells like cottage pie and quiche.