Saturday, December 31, 2011

11 in '11

It is time to usher out 2011 and welcome in baby new year 2012!


In the spirit of reflection I am joining the 11 in '11 Linky Party I encountered at Ms. M's blog.  Here are 11 things I enjoyed in 2011.


This would have to be the last one I watched which was My Week With Marilyn.  I'm not really sure if it was indeed my favorite but I liked it.  I really liked it.


Doctor Who


Anton's at the Swan





A Kindle! All the free Dickens downloads you want.  Tons of free books.  In fact, I was able to download almost the entire reading list from Joseph Campbell's comparative mythology course!


...What now?


My own?  It would be the one that was published by Teaching Tolerance. Hopefully the first of many now that I have been accepted into their corps.


Becoming a Doctoral Candidate!


There have been some wonderful pictures taken in 2011 but the first one that comes to mind is of my dog Nellie out in the snow.

This was taken a few months before she died of bone cancer and broke my heart. She loved the snow.  Although she was limping at this point and struggling with pain she seemed happy out there.

I miss her terribly.


Spending time with the people (and animals) I love.

It is more than one memory but wow, I am blessed!


My goal for 2012 is the same as my goal for every other year.

To be happy.

That covers a lot of ground.


Sunday, December 25, 2011

Real or Fake?

I am walking to class with my students on Friday morning when this conversation takes place...

Child: Is Medusa real?

Me: No.

Child: Is the Cyclops real?

Me: No, the Cyclops is not real.  These are all myths, stories that people made up a long time ago. None of it is real.

Child: Are reindeer real?

Me: No.

Child: WHAT?!

Me: What did you just ask?

Child: There are no reindeer?... So, is Santa Claus real?

Me: Oh, I'm sorry.  I wasn't paying attention.  Yes, reindeer are real.

Child: (visibly relieved) Okay.  Is Santa real?

Me: What do you think?

Child: I think he is real.

Me: Well, okay then.  Go hang up your backpack.

That was a close one.  The subject did not come up again - Thank goodness!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Santa Claus is Coming to Town

With little tin horns and little toy drums,
Rooty toot toots and Rummy tum tums;
Santa Claus is coming to town!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Coordinated Mythology

The Fall of Icarus
The brilliant Joseph Campbell taught Comparative Mythology at Sarah Lawrence College for nearly 40 years.

I have created my own kiddie version of this which plays out more like coordinated mythology. Whereas Joe discovered the underlying themes in religion and mythology across cultures and time, I am discovering ways to support my students learning experience with the Greek myths across the curriculum.

While I could never come close to Joe's genius, I do share his passion.

It helps to surround yourself with folks willing to share your vision.  I have that.

I coordinated my study of Perseus and Medusa with Donna, our artist in residence, who planned an art project (currently underway) built around making gruesome Medusa masks.  Donna borrowed some of our favorite books on the subject to help plan these little bits of fright and I can't wait to see how they turn out.

I am also working with Sara, our librarian, to plan which stories she will tell and which ones I get to unleash.  I am currently deep into The Odyssey with my first grade students.  Everyday they arrive in class and ask me if I am going to tell them another part of the story.  So far we have discussed - and acted out - the story of Odysseus, King Menelaus, Paris, Helen, Penelope, Telemachus, The Trojan War, Circe, Calypso, the Cyclops Polyphemus, Scylla and Charybdis and Tiresias and the Underworld. They don't yet know how the story ends and I am milking every last drop from this enthralling tale.

Sara shared the story of Persephone, Demeter and Hades two weeks ago.

Today she told them about Icarus and Daedalus.  I love when she sits in her rocking chair and mesmerises the children with these stories. Sara's stories are always interactive (for example, bringing in pomegranate seeds for the students to taste as they listened to the story of Persephone) and she encourages them to visualize.

After telling a story she invites the children to draw some part of the it that jumped out at them and caught their imagination. Today she brought in feathers and wax to attach to their artwork.  The kids loved it!

Next up...Theseus and the Minotaur!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Community is a big focus in elementary school.  We ask, "What is a community?",  "How do people in a community support one another?",  "How have communities changed over time?",  "Why are communities important?"

There are many ways to link communities with our basic human desire to have our needs and wants met.  Communities exist and develop to make life easier, more efficient and therefore, more enjoyable.

We all belong to more than one community and new communities are springing up all the time.  The blogging community is a relatively new development but the questions above can certainly be applied to it.

So it was nice to have received a show of support from the blogging community, specifically Xpressive Handz and Eh? What? Huh?, with the Liebster Award. Liebster is a German word that means dearest, beloved or favorite.  This award is bestowed on blogs that have less than 200 followers but deserve a bit more attention. It is a way to get the word out I suppose.

This award comes with some rules.
  • Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog.
  • Link back to the blogger who awarded you.
  • Give your top 5 picks for the award.
  • Inform your top 5 by leaving a comment on their blog.
  • Post the award on your blog.

And the Liebster Award goes to...
  1. Barbara at Looking2Live
  2. Pauline at Writing Down the Words
  3. Angella at 37 Paddington
  4. Joy at I've Got a Crush on...ME!
  5. Steve at Shadows and Light
Happy Holidays!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Who Would Win?

In the spirit of the Who Would Win? books that have my first graders entranced as of late, I decided to apply this question to a mythological battle between the unfortunate snake-coiffed Medusa and the one-eyed man-child Polyphemus (a.k.a. Odysseus' impetuous Cyclops).

The children wrote their responses to include a brief supporting statement as to why one or the other would prove victorious.

As I put this question to them I thought, "First grade rocks!"  Discussions can go deeper, students actually say things like "I want to add-on to what she just said" and we can tackle the Greek myths!

The outcome in our Who Would Win battle?

Drum roll...

According to my students Medusa would take Polyphemus down with one look! Although one clever girl based her answer on the fact that if Odysseus had already blinded the Cyclops (see The Odyssey) then Medusa's "turning to stone" thing wouldn't work and he could simply step on her.

Take a look at some of their responses below.

Medusa would win because she will turn him to stone.

I think the Cyclops will win because when Medusa is slithering the Cyclops will maybe get poked and go a little crazy and step on her. 

Medusa will win because Medusa will look at the Cyclops and turn him into stone.  Then the Cyclops will break.

If the Cyclops was blinded then Medusa can not turn the Cyclops to stone because he is blind and he could step on Medusa.


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