Stitches

I spent a few days debating it, but it had to given in. Single Stitch. Then I spent a few days learning it. Turn. And a few more to redo it. Half Double Crochet Stitch. But I now have about 3 inches long of cable crocheted scarf.  Front Post Trebel Crochet.  

I needed an activity.  I wanted something to entertain my hands but not necessarily my mind or body.  I was feeling the winter laze which, for me, is the strong desire to sit on the crunch and watch tv.  I decided that I could do that and crochet.  So, I could fulfill two desires.  Single Stitch. It has been years since I crocheted anything and to be quite honest, I’m not sure that I even have one finished crochet project.  This one, however, I will finish, and I will wear.  Cable Stitch.
 Anyway, I bought the crochet book with patterns for cable stitch scarf, pillow, gloves, hat, and afghan because I like books.  I also bought a quick beginner’s direction book, so I could read the directions in the pattern book.  Single Stitch. I picked out my yarn and came home happy that I got everything on sale, and the cost of the end scarf will be less than one I could buy.  Single Stitch.  So,  I learned the stitches, a single chain stitch, a half double crochet, and a front post treble crochet for the cables that I practiced on my gauge swatch.  A day of practicing and many removed stitches, I was confident that I could start the scarf and make it wearable.  You know, unique enough to be proud that it is handmade, but cool enough that it doesn’t look handmade.  Even better, I thought that I know had the skills to fill many cold winter days.  Cable Stitch
So, I started the scarf.  36 chain stitches, turn and 36 half double crochets.  Now, count correctly, or it won’t be even and the pattern now includes different stitches.  4 half double crochets, 4 front post treble crotchets until you have covered 36 stitches and end with the half double crochet. About an inch in, I have a wave of stitches and the scarf is so ugly that I can’t imagine even another minute working on because I will never wear this monstrosity.  So, I head online to watch videos.
First, I am not as adept as the women on these videos, but after I get past that, I realize that the directions are wrong.  I buy the book because books are more formal than online, and it’s wrong. It turns out that I need two rows of half double crochet so that the front post treble crochet can join the extended stitches.  So, loving books, I was betrayed by them and had to resort to online anyway.  I undid the day’s work and began again.  This time, it is right and I have a scarf that is unique and cool.  So, a few snow days and a project to work on, my hands are busy and the Gilmore Girls episodes are fun and enjoyable.  Now, I have 5 inches of crochet scarf, only Forty more to go.  Half Double Crochet Stitch.
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A “Fun” Activity

In first hour today, the kids begged to do a “fun” activity.  Really, they wanted to something like a craft for Valentine’s Day.  I heard them. We have been doing the mentally taxing and not creative nonfiction reading.  I was feeling that pull as well.  The pull to do something creative.  Yesterday, just because I wanted to do something fun,I made a friendship bracelet with knotted hearts.  I haven’t done something like that in years.  Anyway, in the classroom, I wanted more interaction and I really wanted to get the kids back to their writing choices.  So, I updated my lesson with some digital responses and introduced searching for a slice of life with my piece of writing, “Searching for a Slice.”

For the digital responses, we updated a boring lesson on writing factual and debatable questions for our research topics, to an interactive commenting lesson where students could post their own questions and see the rest of the class’ questions as well.  It was fun in the way that it was something new.  We hadn’t done response work like this before, and we learned some things about the operation of Google Drive, for example, only a certain number of people can comment on a common document at the same time.  Also, I can post a main comment and then the kids reply to that comment, so common ideas are nested together.  The kids left first hour telling their friends that Language Arts was fun, so for me, task accomplished.

With a few minutes left in class, I had kids set up a Slice of Life folder in their Drive.  I quickly shared some notes about writing a slice of life and some example slices that I’ve written that they could relate to.  I sent my earlier and shorter classes out into their worlds to observe possible slices.  My later and longer classes had some writing time.  I shouldn’t be surprised, but I was.  The small trinkets that they came up with were lovely.  They showed that pull for something creative, but also the desire for comments on their writing.  They showed class writing techniques that we used in more traditional essay writing, and they never complained.  Some were uncomfortable, with a common statement that “nothing exciting happened to me today.”  But, they were all able to write something.  I responded to all of my writers with words of praise and for some a quick next step that led from the work they had already accomplished.  It was very fun – introducing the concept to kids, reading kids work, and responding digitally.  It lifted the February funk and will liven up our days to come as I continue and introduce commenting on others.

So, as kids wished for “something fun,” I was happy to accommodate on that cold February day.

Winter

The grass is still green.
          But they say it’s winter.
The sun is shining.
          But they say it’s winter.
The temperature is 40 degrees.
         But they say it’s winter.
I am too warm in my knee-length parka.
         But they say it’s winter.
The snow falls from the sky
and piles on lawns and roads.
The temperature is in the teens;
I am warm in my downy parka
          Now it’s winter.
The snow falls again and again and again.
I shiver inside my parka.
         I’m sick of winter.

Anxiety and Meaningful Experiences

We started a new unit today.  Each time I begin a new unit, I find myself anxious and this time was no different.  I find myself making sure that the expectations are being upheld and that students are still making choices and decisions guided by teaching and conferencing.  I also like to consider the other experiences they have has thus far, in my class but also in orher classes.

This time, I know that my hesitation to start this unit is because I fear that they will be bored before they start due to work they did in their humanities class.  Now, each time, I have anxiety like this which I couple with extra preparation, I leave wondering why.  The kids are resilient and when you present things in a new way, it is exciting to them.  They are also naturally curious and they have a voice in the world,  they only eed the opportunity to share it.  And regardless of the unit, I give them opportunity to do these things, so I should be confident as we embark on a new journey.
So, we started nonfiction reading by previewing texts with topics like global warming, digital citizens, school  lunches, and cyber-bullying.   Paired with opportunities to talk with peers and contribute to class topics, they came up with ideas like school curriculum (AP/IB), technology in schools, celebrity culture, and social media.  Really the only requirements they had was to find a critical issue (i.e. something they are passionate about, something that is important to them and to others, and something that has evidence).  When given the opportunity to define their passion they had strong feelings and became very thoughtful.  They pulled from past experiences and grew even further. In the end, my anxiety was unnecessary because kids are awesome and the community we’ve created allows a meaningful experience.