Sibling Assignment #39: Friday Afternoon Art

Silver Valley Girl gave this week's assignment. She asked us to write about something that happened before we went to college that contributed to being the teachers we are today. Raymond Pert's is here and Silver Valley Girl's is here. It am also using this for the Sunday Scribbling's word this week: Powerful.

When I was at Sunnyside School in Kellogg during my elementary years the teachers were known for certain art projects that were done each year in their classrooms. I loved that I could peer in rooms at recess and admire projects that I could look forward to doing if I got that teacher. It was powerful. Art was displayed at our school in amazing ways also. There was a glass case by the office that student work was highlighted each month. In the cafeteria the classrooms rotated their work so lunch time could be spent gazing at brilliant crayon designs, fall leaf paintings, and pencil sketches. Also, at PTA Chili Feed time we could feast our eyes on the student designed posters for a contest to advertise the yearly event. After forty- some years I can recall the artwork that influenced my early development of my creative side. Friday afternoon after recess seemed to be the time everyone did art! It sure gave me something to look forward to all week. Art was indeed powerful.

In Mrs. M.'s room in second grade I still remember the fall trees we painted. The class did an art walk in the neighborhood by the school picking up leaves along the way. Then we experimented with mixing paint colors to create autumn trees. I recall the smell of the fall day, the texture of the leaves, and the joy in creating those trees. The whole experience was more powerful when the works of art were hung on the glassed wall above the windows in the classroom.I also enjoyed doing a paper mache Christmas ornament and an Easter Bunny.
When I moved to Mrs. C.'s class in third grade we painted the American flag on butcher paper with tempera paint. I have fond memories in the intermediate grades of creating watercolor washes, designing chalk drawings, and rolling up tissue paper balls to make beautiful Christmas trees. All these projects were ones I had studied in the display case and the cafeteria. Art was important in our school and we were encouraged to be be creative. I hoped I would get Mrs. T. in 6th grade because she did my two favorite projects... the water color cartoon characters and the pencil sketches of shoes.
I did get Mrs. T. in sixth grade. I really felt like I was an artist when we did these two projects. She brought in comic pictures of characters like Popeye, Charlie Brown, Nancy, Henry, and Wimpy. They all seemed to be people. She showed us how to imitate the artist and sketch the cartoons. The part I loved about this project was using a tiny water color brush and painting our cartoons. I believe we actually outlined them also. When my picture of Emmy Lou was hanging in the cafeteria it made me feel proud.
I had an even prouder moment when we did our pencil sketch shoes. With this project we took our shoes off , put them on our desks, and pencil sketched and shaded our shoes. I had my worn brown saddle shoes on that day, but they were the perfect pair for the still life drawing. Mrs. T. entered mine in the AAUW art contest and I won a prize. Gazing at my picture in Hutton's window uptown and seeing a ribbon on my pencil sketch was a powerful moment for a sixth grade student that never considered herself an artist. KW was an artist. She could draw anything. I just was a wanna-be. That year I really felt like an artist.

I moved to junior high and never did any art again. I played in the band, but no time for art. In high school I couldn't take art because I was in band and choir. By then I didn't think I was good enough to do art.

Then I took Elementary Art Methods in college. That love for elementary school art came back. I knew then I would always try to provide creative opportunities for my students. When I taught elementary school I did just that. I don't know if we always had art Friday afternoon after recess, but we sure had art every week. I studied different art forms trying to expose my students to different experiences. I wanted them to feel how powerful art could be.

When I moved to middle school the students could take art class. I tried to allow them to be creative while teaching writing and drama, but art for Mrs. B. For my students that didn't take art, their lives probably became like mine did when I left elementary school. I was reminded last week when an artist came to work with drawing with my students that all of us need that quiet time to draw. My elementary teachers taught me to encourage students to take risks with creative projects. I took time to sketch the picture above this morning. It is a view of the lake from my window. I will share it tomorrow with my students and model how I need to build in more time for art.

Art is powerful in supporting that creative side of the brain. I am going to dust off my supplies, dig out those art methods books, and figure out ways to integrate art with my students again. I feel fortunate to have had such a rich art background in elementary school. I think that background has always helped me encourage students to explore their creative side. Now I want them to explore even more. Often teachers struggle with the balance between time spent on "core curriculum" so that "no child will be left behind". I'm going to see if our writer's workshop can include art! I would venture to say that students would score as well on a state write assessment if they could create a subject with sketches and color as they practice essay writing. That would be powerful!

You can find other Powerful Sunday Scribblings here.

Kit In the Tree: Photo Shoot #12

Yes, it is true. Every single thing our newest member of the cat family does is too cute. I let him go outside this afternoon and he decided it was time for a photo shoot of "Kit in the Tree". I am just glad I now have a digital camera.... I'd have to get a part-time job to afford the film with my 35 mm!
Again... who would drop off this gorgeous kitten? Their loss is our gain.

He ended his adventure outside by kissing McDuff hello. I think they will get along fine.

Autumn Images

Winter is an etching,
spring a watercolor,
summer an oil painting
and autumn a mosaic of them all.
~Stanley Horowitz

My Visual DNA

I had seen other bloggers' Visual DNAs and wanted to explore mine. It was fun choosing photos for my Visual DNA. What my DNA told me: I am a dreamer, escape artist, back to basics, and nice 'n cheesy. I think it came pretty darn close to who I am. Get your own by clicking at the bottom of my DNA.

Kit: Day 3

Day three and Kit continues to get healthier and friskier. He is also working hard at winning the hearts of the dogs. The dogs aren't used to a cat quite so friendly. Now Kit doesn't understand the herding dogs usually love to do the herding, but Kit has convinced Shelby our red heeler that kissing is okay.

Kit has loved on Annie since the first night he arrived. Annie is so excited she can't even sleep. She just follows this kitten and the kitten returns affection along with some teasing and playful fun.After spending so much time around the dogs Kit tried to point. I don't know if he is flushing up a bird, trying for a treat, or just getting his balance. It will always be a mystery where this kitten came from . Already he is a blessing in our home and we are glad he is here.

Native American Week at School

This week our school is celebrating Native American Week. The school community has enjoyed storytellers, crafts, music, art, and Native history. Recently murals were painted on the side of the community center in town. It is such a focal point when you drive toward the school. BS, the father on one of my students was the artist that did the eagle on the left.

This father came to teach my classes how to do drawing this week. It was amazing to watch him take an eagle and help us see how we can sketch this majestic animal. Students were very focused and also asked to learn to sketch roses, horses, and buffalo. Here is a start on a buffalo sketch by one of my seventh graders. There will then be an art contest and students can choose their best work to be judged.Here is a closer view of BS's eagle mural on the building. This was the advice he gave the students today. " All you need to do is take time and draw and draw and practice. Take a break from the video games and T.V. and sit with paper and pencil. "
Students were willing to experiment with other sketches after he left. I have many talented artists!

Meet Kit

This pure white kitten showed up in a tree by our deck yesterday. The dogs quickly let JEJ know there was a strange visitor on the property. Once he got the kitten down this cute little fur ball was loving and wanted to be petted and given attention.

We figured the kitten was about three or four months old, but couldn't really tell if it was a boy or girl. We named it Kit thinking that name could go either way. Kit sneezed and twitched his ears and had a big scratch on his nose. By his condition we thought he had been on his own for awhile. We decided unless somebody called and claimed this tame kitten we would take it to the vet to see how it was doing and keep it. Kit even liked the dogs! Last night after some food he was ready to play, send emails from my laptop keyboard and rip and tear through the house.
Today we found out Kit was a boy and had a fever and other kitten problems. The good news was he didn't have feline leukemia. After being prodded and washed and given a shot he came home worn out. He is now sleeping away in a cat carrier away from the other cats. I don't think Kit quite realizes that he found kitty paradise here. Okay... so we have six cats... what's another one? How do you turn away a kitten that looks like this?

Nice Matters Award

I was honored this week to be given this award twice. Thanks Ordinary Janet for thinking of me. Jackie (of the recently closed blog Jackie's Garden) also gave me this award. Nice does matter to me each and every day. Thanks to both of you for noticing that on my blog. It means a lot to me. Please feel free to recognize others with this award.

A Day Bringing Poetry Alive

Today our middle school had the pleasure of working with two performers from Poetry Alive for the day. Anita and Alan (above) began the day performing poetry, then taught the students to perform, interpret, and compose poetry. It was a high energy, creative day enjoyed by all. They started the day performing favorites like " Paul Revere's Ride" and "Fifteen" by William Stafford. Then some students helped perform " Casey at the Bat" with audience participation. My favorite performance poem they did in the morning was:

On Turning Ten
The whole idea of it makes me feel
like I'm coming down with something,
something worse than any stomach ache
or the headaches I get from reading in bad light--
a kind of measles of the spirit,
a mumps of the psyche,
a disfiguring chicken pox of the soul.

You tell me it is too early to be looking back,
but that is because you have forgotten
the perfect simplicity of being one
and the beautiful complexity introduced by two.
But I can lie on my bed and remember every digit.
At four I was an Arabian wizard.

I could make myself invisible
by drinking a glass of milk a certain way.
At seven I was a soldier, at nine a prince.

But now I am mostly at the window
watching the late afternoon light.
Back then it never fell so solemnly
against the side of my tree house,
and my bicycle never leaned against the garage
as it does today,
all the dark blue speed drained out of it.

This is the beginning of sadness, I say to myself,
as I walk through the universe in my sneakers.
It is time to say good-bye to my imaginary friends,
time to turn the first big number.

It seems only yesterday I used to believe
there was nothing under my skin but light.
If you cut me I could shine.
But now when I fall upon the sidewalks of life,
I skin my knees.
I bleed.

Billy Collins

Students worked on performance with "Poem" by Langston Hughes and then were given a variety of poems to interpret in groups at end the day. Students shared their own original poems with our performers at break time and were excited to learn they could be chosen to publish on the Poetry Alive website. Many of you remember my passion for poetry, especially during National Poetry Month when I shared a poem a day. You can well guess I was in seventh heaven today.

Anita and Alan travel all over the United States with Poetry Alive. They were in San Francisco last week, then our rural northeastern Washington this week. They next head to Michigan, Kentucky, and Wisconsin. They love their jobs. You can learn more about Poetry Alive here.

Sunday Scribblings: "Hi... My Name Is"

"Hi... my name is Inland Empire Girl and I have a passion for creating bouquets. "

At the beginning stages of gardening at my present home I decided I would plant a cutting garden. I wanted to have my own bouquets instead of ones from the grocery store. Starting the flowers from seed instead of buying them as bedding plants in the spring was less cost and I could plant a wide variety. Thus.... a new passion began.

Two raised beds in the garden have been designated just for cut flowers. I read a very informative book called The Flower Farmer by Lynn Bycznski which outlines types of flowers that work well in a cutting garden and how to create unique bouquets based on texture, color, and time of bloom. I have enjoying trying new varieties of marigolds, sunflowers, and zinnias. The second book that was an invaluable resource when it came to deciding on these choices was Reader's Digest's The Cutting Garden: Growing and Arranging Garden Flowers by Sarah Raven.

After creating a cutting garden I then began to study flower arranging. I realized with summer annuals it is easy to just grab a bunch and throw them in a canning jar with a little raffia around the rim, but I wanted to learn more about the design of flower arranging. After collecting used containers, jars, and vases I paid more attention to how arrangements were structured. Raven's book was again an excellent resource.

I have donated bouquets to gatherings for table decorations. They have also made great gifts as a thank you or a birthday. A bed and breakfast close by asks for arrangements in the summer. This hobby has been rewarding and educational, plus has given me another way to explore creating beauty. I am glad now I have a digital camera so I could make a collage of my favorite bouquets for this season.

Raymond Pert and The Deke gave me a third favorite book entitled The Complete Flower Arranger by Pamela Westland . Not only does this book illustrate how to create fresh flower arrangements, but shows dried designs, garlands, swags, wreaths, and pressed flowers. In the winter when seed catalogues arrive and we are all yearning for spring again I will post some flower suggestions for a cutting garden.

You can find other Sunday Scribblings with this title here.

Sibling Assignment #38: Road Trips Through North Idaho

Our sibling assignment this week was to take the song "Sleepless" our friend Tim O'Reilly had composed as a soundtrack and create a video of pictures we had taken or scanned. Then we were to post it on You Tube. I had never made a video or downloading anything on You Tube so this was quite the learning experience. You can view Raymond Pert's video here and Silver Valley Girl's here.
This was my composing process. I listened to the composition numerous times with my eyes closed to see what images came to me. I saw scenic pictures and people from my road trips this last year through northern Idaho. Tim grew up with us and shared many of the same images, so I also tried to imagine what he would see. Thanks so much Tim for the music. I love the song. Enjoy!

A Contrast of White and Blue: Road Trip Part 2: Jesuit Missions

When we took the recent road trip to the southern part of Ferry County we took time to appreciate the Catholic Missions located on the Colville Indian Reservation. The history behind the Catholic churches in the Inchelium area where I teach has been an important part of stories told by the elders when they remind us of the history of the area. The Jesuits ministered to Native Americans throughout the Pacific Northwest, beginning in the mid-1800s, and built many small churches for their congregations. In 1918 Jesuits built the first Catholic church in Inchelium and named it in honor of St. Celestine. The name may have had something to do with the Jesuit priest who built the church: Father Celestine Caldi. When the Columbia River was filled with the water from Coulee Dam to create Lake Roosevelt, the church from Old Inchelium was moved up the hill to its present location. The parish (pictured above) is called St. Michael's Mission. The first time I entered this parish much about it reminded me of the Cataldo Mission close to my hometown in Kellogg, Idaho. That day we also stopped at the other Catholic parish that used to serve the people in the south end of the reservation. It is called Rogers Bar Community Church (named for a gathering place/campground on a sand bar on Lake Roosevelt) and is located about twenty miles south of Inchelium on Silver Creek Road. It is used now twice a year for services and also for special events. I was awestruck by its beauty. The parish sits on a hill above Lake Roosevelt and is surrounded by trees and meadows. There is also a cemetery up the hill further. When you peak in the windows you can see Christ of the Columbia carved into the altar, but the statues and pews are covered with protective tarps. I loved the rich hue of the elderberries hanging from a branch at the entrance of the church. It is obvious parishioners take great pride in this building. It has been maintained beautifully. It was the location for our picnic lunch as we took a break during out road trip.Once again I gained new appreciation for the beauty of the buildings and scenery of the south end of the county in which I live. It was a glorious road trip.

And Then There Was Rain.... Finally!

" I grew up in this town, my poetry was born between the hill and the river, it took its voice from the rain, and like the timber, it steeped itself in the forests." -Pablo Neruda

You know it hasn't rained for awhile when 7th graders cheered as a downpour began outside our classroom today before class began. They were so ready for a weather change.
Then all eyes were focused out the window instead of on my teaching. Ummmm! What is more interesting out the window? Large crows were flapping their wings like little umbrellas on the bare branches of a tree. When we took a break most decided it was too cold and wet to even play under the roof.

My classroom sits near the end zone of the school's football field. In the mist the scoreboard stands surrounded by a forest of green and clouds of gray. The chill in the air and the change in the weather indicated that the summer season was coming to an end.

Sedum: The Plant I Have Learned to Love

When I first started landscaping and flower gardening I just didn't like sedum. I don't know why. The previous owners of my house had overused it quite a bit. Maybe that was it. I gave all mine away to my mom. Arriving at her house a few years later while my fledgling flower beds were bare, she had showy, yellow flowers trailing over flower beds that were gorgeous. They were the sedum plants I had given her. My opinion of sedum changed.
I have a particular affection for Autumn Joy sedum which is just opening up now in one garden. Ground cover sedum has been planted in many places around the yard as fillers. This sedum is pretty, require very little water, and spreads quickly. They are easily divided and can be shared or moved when they are young. In the picture above you will see an old bird bath that we had a hard time with. When the water was clean, the cats taunted the birds. When the water got dirty it just looked unappealing. Now it is a sedum container garden. It is the best thing that ever happened to that bird bath. If you haven't tried different varieties of sedum, they are a hardy, no fail plant for the growing seasons of the year.

Personal DNA: Benevolent Architect

I followed my siblings lead today and figured out my personal DNA. You can find out "your true self" by taking the personality test here. I found it fairly accurate and you can read what I learned about myself here. When I was younger I loved taking these kind of tests. I do believe though that I answered the questions like the person I wanted to be, not the person I really am. I don't know if it is a sign of maturity or just a stronger sense of self, but now I seem closer to my real self in a test like this.

Benevolent Architect

If nothing else, I love the sound of my new personal DNA... benevolent architect!

Southern Ferry County Road Trip: Part 1

I live in Ferry County in the state of Washington. Our county covers 2,200 miles of rugged, mountainous terrain in the northeastern part of the state. Lake Roosevelt is along the eastern border.The Colville Confederated Tribe owns the southern portion of the county, while the northern half makes up a portion of the Colville National Forest. The population is about 7400 people.It has often been stated that the only ways in and out of the county are over the highest year-round mountain pass in Washington (Sherman), aboard a ferry(Inchelium/Gifford ferry), or through a foreign country(Canada).

Recently we did a road trip and explored the southern portion of the county. JEJ had logged in this area many years ago. Students and friends live in this part of the county, but I had never taken in the road trip. I discovered another area of the inland empire that was breathtakingly beautiful . It was a sunny, late summer day. We packed a picnic, the camera, and the dogs. We captured images of places I had always wanted to see.We headed down Silver Creek road and were first greeted by a mix of farmland, hills, and mountains in the horizon.
Heading south along Lake Roosevelt we enjoyed a favorite view of mine. This part of the lake between Inchelium and Two Rivers (where the Spokane River connects) is spectacular.We then explored some mountain roads that were bordered by underbrush, creeks, ferns, and towering pines. Driving along another dirt road we spotted some horses by an artesian well.
Box Canyon is a landmark well known to the people of Inchelium. We stopped several times and found the sun dropping behind the rocks a lovely site.
At the end of our road trip we stopped to get an image the setting sun behind these trees. It was a joy to discover so much beauty and such an untouched part or our state. Stay tuned for Part 2 of this road trip.

Top Ten Things That Put Ms. InlandEmpireGirl Over the Edge!

I gave my students a little quiz at the end of last week to see what they remembered about their teacher, classroom procedures, and the rules. During discussion these were their answers when asked to list :
Top Ten Things That Put Ms. InlandEmpireGirl Over the Edge in the Classroom:
10. Breaking brand new pencils in half and throwing them.
9. Laughing when somebody does something and feels embarrassed.
8. Hooking all the colored paper clips together to make a necklace, then putting them back in the holder.
7. Bullying.
6. Becoming aliens from a different planet when a sub comes.
5. Turning the slightly broken chair into a carnival ride on the slick floor.
4. Being tardy.
3. Drinking pop.
2. Announcing the state of the air quality in the bathroom upon returning to the room.
1. When answering the phone announcing to the principal, "Yes, she can come to the phone...she doesn't look like she is doing anything!!"

After two weeks.... I have not gone over the edge. I haven't even come close. It does help to have the same students a second year. I had a sub Friday that raved about the students' behavior. What a great start to another promising teaching year.

The Last Rose of Summer

"Tis the last rose of summer,
Left blooming all alone,
All her lovely companions
Are faded and gone.
No flower of her kindred,
No rose bud is nigh,
To reflect back her blushes,
Or give sigh for sigh."
Sir John Stevenson

Sibling Assignment #37: You Can Call Me Al

" If you'll be my bodyguard
I can be your long lost pal
I can call you Betty
And Betty when you call me
You can call me Al ."
Paul Simon

I gave the sibling assignment this week. "Think about a pet that has been a part of your life. Think about a significant event that happened with that pet that made you realize you were glad the pet was in your life." Raymond Pert's is here and Silver Valley Girl's will be here.

In 1990 I adopted my dog Lucy. She was a springer/cocker/maybe poodle mix. She always got along famously with my first springer spaniel Nikki. Early on Nikki "taught Lucy the ropes". The two pictures blended together above show the two of them enjoying the beach on the Oregon coast, but later that day Lucy was the bodyguard for anyone that needed watching. Lucy was a part of my life during the years when the most changes occurred. A marriage dissolved, her other owner went away except during hunting time, we moved to another town, her best buddy Nikki grew older causing her vision and hearing to wane, we moved to my current house, my dad died, Nikki died, Emily came into the household, and JEJ came into our lives bringing another dog. The day Lucy came home with Nikki and me.
Once my brother started singing Paul Simon's song " You Can Call Me Al" as he watched Lucy's protective bodyguarding around me. Of course later I don't know who was Betty- Nikki or me. The significant event I remembered was when Nikki got lost while on our nightly run. When I first started teaching in Inchelium I lived in teacher housing by the school. Across the road was the football field. It was a perfect place to take the dogs for their run each night. Unfortunately part of it isn't fenced. Nikki was sniffing, exploring, and running in the dark when she disappeared. I saw Lucy, but no sign of Nikki. I knew she was having a hard time seeing and my shouts would not be heard because of her slow loss of hearing. I looked down the hill toward the lake hoping she had not caught a scent and headed there.

All of a sudden I saw Lucy guiding Nikki back around the fence. I had seen her do this before, but that night it was profound. Lucy became Nikki's eyes and ears. In the football field in the dark I was so glad I had Lucy in my life. Nikki was just loping beside her as if nothing was wrong. Lucy continued to be a bodyguard. Most of the time it was with Nikki, but she protected me also. Everyone knew that Lucy was never going to let anything happen to the rest of her family (author note: right after that incident with Nikki I got a doggy Christmas collar that had blinking red lights so we never lost her again!).
Dogs sense our emotions when things change in our lives. Lucy had an intuitive sense that she needed to help both Nikki and myself during that difficult time. Whenever I hear Paul Simon sing "You Can Call Me Al" on my MP3 player I forever think of Lucy. She was my bodyguard.

This was our last day in Kennewick before we embarked on new life in northeastern Washington. (1994)