Posted in Sunday photos

My photography journey 11Oct20

We went camping at Roper Lake State Park for a few days. It’s a small park in southeastern Arizona.

Not much elevation, so it was not much of a relief from the temps at home (maybe a five-degree difference), but we had some shade in our campsite and the overnight weather was perfect for sleeping. Left the rain fly off the tent, looked at the stars, and slept in cool air.

This place is known for having a large variety of birds. Among others, we saw quail, roadrunners, and ducks.

The lake was small and sufficient. (I imagine at other times of year and/or other global health circumstances, it’s much more crowded, but we had the beach to ourselves most of the morning, then had just one other family at the other end.)

The reeds around the perimeter completely cut off field of view to the scrubby desert surrounding the lake. Very effective. We played on the beach a bit and did some kayaking. Fishing is also available; we didn’t.

The ranger warned us on the way in that there are raccoons and to keep all food and trash in our cars when we weren’t eating. We were slow on the first night getting our trash put away, and they took care of it in short order. We didn’t make that mistake again.

The dirt in the campsite combined with water available on site made for fun playing with mud for the younger among us.

On the island in the lake was a seemingly high number of tree stumps, many interesting to look at in their own right.

Around the lake and elsewhere in the park, plenty of other plants, most of them typical to the desert. (The first one here is a mama and her baby.)

And other bits and pieces

On the way home, we stopped in Superior, where there are some old mining bits on display at the visitor’s center.

The rock formations in that area are just stunning.

And the bathrooms were closed. The menfolk found a nearby public restroom that was open.

Fun to have a lot of opportunity!

I think my next lens or accessory will be for macro. I like taking close-up photos, seeing the details in things not usually examined closely. For now, I have plenty of work to do on skills that don’t have anything to do with the gear.

Posted in Sunday photos

My photography journey 4Oct20

You might have noticed there was no post last week. I hadn’t taken any pictures. I hadn’t done any learning. I had nothin’.

I’m happy to have pulled out the camera this week and have some shots to share with you!

My son was going swimming and wanted me to take some pictures. He had a head full of ideas, and when he finished sharing them all, he declared, “Now let’s make this dream a reality!” before running off to put his swimsuit on.

Here’s some of what we ended up with:

Some other things hanging around the area where I was shooting from:

The hibiscus has been blooming like crazy and while he was drying off, I took some shots.

A flower that was no longer thriving was still beautiful. I have three photos; the biggest difference between them is brightness. I can’t decide which I like best.

And when we came back in the house, The Kid said, “Mom! Do you still have out the Nikon? You have to take a picture of this! Look! With the reflection, it makes a heart!”

Posted in ebb & flow, education, follow-up, physical health, thoughtfulness

Reflections on the second week of pandemic teaching

The novelty of wearing a mask has worn off, and more kids are taking them off. I spent a fair amount of time during class this week showing empathy to their discomfort—I don’t like wearing one, either—and explaining why we’re wearing them. They didn’t seem to know. (That could be no one has explained it well. It could be they weren’t listening.)

One student took off his mask to sneeze. “But if I leave it on, the mask will get nasty!” I explained that they can go to the nurse and get a new mask, and take that one home and wash it. They had never considered this.

I also saw the custodian take off his mask, sneeze into his hand, wipe it on his pants, put the mask back on, and continue with his day.

People don’t get it.

One child came at me with “if oxygen to breathe can get through, the corona virus can get through.” Fortunately, I had recently read a bit about this and was able to tell her that the virus is about 200 times bigger. (I think it was actually 250, but 200 was good enough.)

In lighter news, some time this week, I stopped panicking mid-commute as to whether or not I remembered to comb my hair. Having appropriate clothes and combed hair before leaving the house has become a habit again.

We have fall break next week. I suspect the habit will weaken. I’m OK with that.

I used a different lid for my water bottle—one with a straw—and it helped. I realized, though, that part of when I would sip some water was when students had a minute to practice something on their own.

We’re not playing instruments. There’s no minute tucked in to grab a drink. But between classes it’s much easier, and when there are moments here and there, I do take advantage now.

We have a two-part plan in place at one of my schools: we’re playing instruments at home and bucket drumming at school.

Only a few 6th graders were motivated to take their instruments home right away. They started bucket drumming on Wednesday and were excited!

I realized that with masks on and earplugs in, it would be difficult to use voices to communicate, so I looked up a few ASL signs and taught those.

We have a lot of potential with those buckets! I need to come up with a good long-term plan, as I don’t have one yet, but what we were able to do in a couple of days was great.

And parents (or at least most, I assume) are happy that the buckets and drum sticks stay at school. If the kids are drumming at home, it’s been provided at home.

The 5th graders were excited to learn their band instruments, so we took a few days to learn how to open cases, put the instruments together, how to hold them, how to get them back in the case. I put videos for making a sound on their instruments in their Google Classroom where we had class for the first seven weeks of the quarter, with a link to FlipGrid. Half have already sent me a video of them producing a sound on their instrument. They’ll start buckets after break.

And on we go. While I wasn’t scratching and clawing my way to fall break this year, I’m not complaining one bit about having a week off! I’ll always take more time to do other things.

Posted in about me, ebb & flow, education

Reflections on a week of pandemic teaching

The district where I work had students in the grades I teach start back to school this week on Monday. It’s been … interesting. I can’t speak to whether this can be generalized to anyone else’s experience—this write up is just what my week has been like.

First, like many other things the last six months, it’s weird. Some parts are better than online teaching was; some parts are worse.

My district, like many others, has much more emphasis on sanitizing surfaces and students not sharing materials and less emphasis on aerosols. In their homerooms, students can have a pencil box or something with all of their tools in it—pencils, pens, markers, crayons, etc. I don’t want to acquire or store pencil boxes for all of my students but I have had to rethink how I do some things so they don’t need pencils yet.

We are all (or mostly all) wearing masks. I have encountered a handful of employees not wearing them or not wearing them much; it’s frustrating.

It’s hard to stay hydrated when wearing a mask all day. I’m frequently thirsty.

“Pull your mask up over your nose” or some variation of that is the current winner for statement most often used. Most of the students don’t pull them down—the masks just don’t fit well and fall down.

One student yesterday had a mask with tight elastic; it was hurting his ears and pulling them forward. I was able to rig up a strap across the back of his head using two paperclips and a rubber band. It looked a little silly, but he felt much better and wore it happily.

I’m a traveling teacher, and in the car between schools, I take off my mask, drink a lot of water, and sing all the way school to school. I don’t know if it’s the different breathing that singing requires or what, but it feels really good to put on some tunes and sing along for my car trip.

Some students are happy to be back. Others have said they’d rather do school online than school with a mask on and distanced from their friends.

Actually keeping kids six feet apart is an exercise in futility.

When I have enough space, I can seat them that way. Only a few have refused to leave their chair where I put it.

Getting them to and from my room is another matter. At six feet apart, a class could stretch out 30 or 40 yards. (My biggest class has 22 students.)

With students seated spaced apart and masked, the talkers just talk louder. It’s more difficult to know who’s talking. I’m mostly deaf in my right ear and rely heavily on visual cues. Some are still present—kids still look at each other when they’re talking to each other—and many are absent. It’s challenging.

I’ve seen each student three or four times, depending on which small group they’re in and whether they’ve been present in school. I don’t know most names yet. Both of my schools are uniform schools (students wear khaki pants or shorts and specific-colored polo shirts) which makes learning students’ names more challenging. Add masks, and it’s been a struggle. I’ll get there, but it’s going to take a little longer than usual, I think.

All that said, it wasn’t a bad week at all. Just challenging and tiring and different.

And long. I’m grateful to have the weekend to regroup.

Posted in Sunday photos

My photography journey 20Sept20

The Kid discovered that pushing the water towards the wall of the pool would make it splash out. It seems this took a long time to discover. I was fresh out of the cold water, sitting in the corner on the deck, trying to stay dry = good incentive to figure out how to splash without splashing.

We agreed that it would be fun to take some shots of the water splashing, and we were right!

His jaw dropped when he saw this one—by far his favorite. (It is pretty neat.)

And one from a cannonball:

Also, the garden is much happier since our temps have gotten out of the 110s and since the shade cloth went up. Here, we have cucumber- and corn-to-be. The lead photo is pre-tomatoes.

This … I wish you could smell it. Basil smells so good…

Marigolds to help keep the tomatoes happy, and lavender just because:

And finally, I like the bits of web here.