Sunday, June 30, 2013


the new skyscraper in cincinnati has an impressive entryway.
after you pass through the circular room, you come to
the main lobby area which has columns of light, a
football-shaped fountain, and
architectural beauty.

happy sunday!

Friday, June 28, 2013

COSI - stuck on the unicycle over the lobby

 from the mezzanine you can see the foucault (foo-KOH) pendulum in the lobby of 
 proof that earth rotates on an axis, it swings slowly, knocking over little pegs at intervals.
 the planets circle the sun the way they do, but overhead
 a person rides a weighted unicycle.
 while we were there, a child got stuck on the wire.  
the boy wasn't strong enough and didn't have enough momentum to push the pedals.
 the man at the base spoke calmly to the child.  
he kept the young boy occupied.  
i wondered, though, how he was going to solve the problem.
talking, talking, that's all he seemed to do.
but then
i noticed the person with the long hook on the floor below.
ah!  dragged to safety.  

life is an adventure.

joy to you!

Thursday, June 27, 2013


At 7:30 on a summer Saturday, lots
of people are pulling there boats in a slow line to
the Ohio River.  They have water bottles and sunblock, and one boater brought her dog.  
The wide river looks crowded.
You can bring your boat or rent one.
Boats arrive on all different cars.

Volunteers make the day.

Summer beauty.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

COSI - garbage moths

 in may, a student did a research project on the sphinx moth, so
when we walked past this replica made of miscellaneous pre-used materials, 
it caught my eye.

license plates, hubcaps - the artist made arthropods from them.  

industrial, botanical beauty.

joy to you!

common core - six shifts, 6

the last of the six shifts in reading with the new common core standards is for children to learn academic vocabulary.  

this involves direct vocabulary instruction using more interesting strategies than just, "write the word in a sentence."  

children can't "own" a word until they've used it many times.  this shift requires using word webs, learning synonyms, nuances (how would the sentence change if you used a synonym for the word?)

vocabulary is divided into three tiers:
1.  basic words everyone needs to know, but these words rarely require direct instruction
2.  high frequency or multiple meaning words - these need to be taught.
3.  low frequency, context-specific words - these words are learned in science, math, social studies, when fishing, traveling, etc.  

depending on what the child is reading, tier 2 and tier 3 are where we spend our time.

to recap all six shifts in the common core reading:

1.  more informational reading
2.  reading instruction in the disciplines
3.  staircase to increase text complexity
4. using text-based answers
5.  children writing from sources
6.  academic vocabulary

it's summer.
back to our beach reading and family adventures.

joy to you!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

COSI - construction zone

 after driving through highway construction to get there, we weren't too 
surprised to see that the center for science and industry was expanding.
 it was pretty early, but after a bit it hit us - the machines were clean.
 they weren't moving, and
 there were educational signs in front of them.
 we arrived just as the center was opening, but after walking around a bit you could see
 small children in the drivers' seats.  
bob the builder come to life!
no lane changes necessary.

industrial beauty.

joy to you!

Monday, June 24, 2013

common core - six shifts, 5

back at it - shift #5 - 

writing from sources

this shift takes us to the text.  instead of journaling, children write about what they are reading.  they cite evidence from the text.  

also, students write from multiple sources on a single topic, and share their learning with an audience.  

using this, children generate their own informational texts.  

no surprise here.  
joy to you!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

COSI - Columbus - water

the center of science and industry in columbus, ohio, has 
an intense and impressive water learning area.
the lighting is dark, there are spontaneous floor fountains, and
water facts that glow.
poseidon is over the main fountain, and you can aim water spouts.

you'll get your hands into things, and 
 hear the results.  this bowl is full of water. if you move your hands on the handles, 
it hums.
who knew that water is sticky?

want to make waves?
here's your chance.

science is so much more fun with your hands in it.  

learning beauty.

joy to you!

Friday, June 21, 2013

common core - six shifts, 4

we're half-way through the six shifts in education recommended by the new common core standards being adopted by most states.

1.  balance informational and literary texts
2.  build reading skills in other disciplines
3.  the staircase of text complexity

number 4 is for children to use text-based answers.  

this is useful because it focuses students where they should be working - 
in what they are reading.  
it encourages conversations and habits that lead back to the text.

sounds simple, right?  and makes complete sense?

when i was in grad school, and getting my reading certificate, one of the recommended skills for children was connecting the text to him or herself.  

this shift lets that connection go.  

no problem here.

4 finished, 2 to go.

joy to you!

common core seminar, 6 shifts, 3

 so far, the common core shifts we've looked at are:
1.  increasing informational text
2.  having teachers of science, social studies, math, religion, etc. consider themselves reading instructors, using the standards to guide them.  
 the third shift is called the staircase of complexity.  
this one is tricky.
at the seminar, they referred to the goal of having children read "above grade-level texts".  in short, these more challenging books are very close to the child's frustration level.  

let's look at the three sides of the triangle:
1.  quantitative measures - this is the readability and other scores of text complexity, and can be measured by a computer.
2.  qualitative measures - these are things like levels of meaning, structure, language conventionality and clarity, and knowledge demands.  these are best measured by attentive people.
3.  reader and task considerations - these include the background knowledge of the reader, and their motivation and interests.  assessing this requires educators to use their judgement, creating or assigning tasks that are appropriate.  


have you heard of lexile scores for books?

they level books, and the levels are increasing the rating for each grade.  here's the new chart:

K-1st grade - Not applicable - build foundational skills
2nd - 3rd grade - 450 - 790
5th - 5th grade - 770 - 980
6th - 8th grade - 955 - 1155
9th - 10th grade - 1080 - 1305
11th - 12th grade - 1215 - 1355

beware!  grown-ups need to be part of choosing books!  lexile scores do not tell all.  
for instance, to kill a mockingbird has a lexile of 870, and 
the diary of a wimpy kid has a lexile score of 950.  

here's my take:
if we can create enthusiastic, voracious readers, we'll need to worry less about making sure the books they choose exactly match or just exceed their abilities.  
my goal as a teacher is to grow kids who read for pleasure.  
i know if they do that, their vocabulary, comprehension, and fluency will benefit.  

of course, we still need to teach the comprehension strategies, but our job is so much easier when children want to read.  

more on that when we look at shifts 4, 5, and 6.  

literature is beautiful.
happy weekend!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

ambar india

 vegetable korma and raita
 aloo nan
 vegetarian biryani, medium spicy
 chicken tikka

best indian food in cincinnati - ambar india.

if you have a favorite restaurant, do you over-order?  we do.  for a treat called leftovers.

joy to you.
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