Monday, March 19, 2018

Body on Break, Brain Back at School!

Welcome back to school! I really needed that week of vacation to recharge my batteries. It was a nice mix of scheduled and free time, connecting with family and friends, and doing vs thinking. The funny thing is that I can be away from school but my thoughts aren't far from school. Here's a quick summary of what I did and how it led me to thoughts about education.

Saturday, March 10 and Saturday, March 17, 2018 = Sewing Classes

These were my last two sewing classes, and I was sad to see them end! I'm finally getting the hang of sewing now, especially because of my wise and wonderful sewing teacher. Having said that, I've made HUGE mistakes trying to make these "simple" pajama pants. I stitched my legs together and had to rip them all out. On March 17, I cut out the extra fabric that I thought was there erroneously - but it turns out that was the extra space for the behind, so the pants may not work anymore! My teacher was patient and showed me how to put an elastic into a pants, avoid fraying connections with a zig zag stitch, and many more things. My fellow student Tamra asked me to tell her everything she missed, but it's really hard to sum up several hours of mini- and mega-lessons when you weren't there to experience it first-hand.
Link to Learning: 1. Document, document, document! (I took a lot of photos to remind myself what things should look like when done right.) 2. Don't be afraid to make mistakes. (You can almost always re-do it - unless you cut stuff!) 3. Taking time to try helps learning sink in. (Natalie let us stay past our regular time and that helped a lot when we weren't limited to 90 minutes to absorb things.)

Natalie shows me how to pin the elastic in the waist

Natalie demonstrating how to pull while stitching elastics

March 10 progress - need to finish the seams so it won't fray!
Showing me how to CAREFULLY remove stitches

Saturday March 10 to Wednesday, March 14, 2018 = Calgary, Alberta

You already read about my son's first time on an airplane and our weekend in Calgary. As we predicted, we went to Banff on Monday and Drumheller on Tuesday. We could have crammed a lot into each day, but we refrained and only spent a few hours in each place. I'm glad we did, because it prevented us from being absolutely exhausted at the end of the day, and it allowed us some quality, low-key time with my sister. For Banff, the goal was the gondola up the mountain. In Drumheller, the focus was the Royal Tyrrell Museum.
Link to Learning: 1. Don't try to accomplish too much at one time. 2. Do the things that are outside your comfort zone (that gondola was pretty high up and although I'm not exactly scared of heights, it was a little spooky realizing that just a few cables were all that held us up). 3. Little things are just as special as big things (i.e. I enjoyed going over French flash cards with my sister as much as I did examining T-rex bones).

Beautiful Banff

In a gondola, passing a gondola

My son and my sister on a throne of ice

Wise tips when in the Badlands of Alberta!

Everything is dinosaurs in Drumheller!

Thursday, March 15, 2018 = Marriage Prep Class

This was our "catch-up" day, filled with errands and ending with the second-last marriage preparation class. I've written three times about teaching marriage preparation so I won't go on at length. We didn't lead this session and we weren't particularly pleased with how it went.
Link to Learning: 1. Stick to your principles. 2. Proper preparation and training are key. 3. Humour helps.

Friday, March 16, 2018 = Canada Blooms

My parents need to get out more, but it's tricky to find a place or event that appeals to them. Thankfully, my brother reminded me about Canada Blooms, the flower and garden show. I bought the three of us tickets (thank you CAA for the discount!) and we went on Friday. I am not a gardening fan. It's not my cup of tea but my mom and dad had a wonderful time. My dad even took photos while he was there. I had to show him multiple times how to use the camera on their cell phone, but he managed. (The photos here are the ones I took.)
Link to Learning: 1. There's something of interest for everyone as long as you are willing to look for it. 2. Making others happy can make you happy too.

My mom and dad held hands wherever they walked

"The Old Folks" having fun at Canada Blooms

Saturday, March 17, 2018 = Breakout Con

My daughter worked at the ROM all March Break so on Saturday we spent a few hours at Breakout Con, a board game and role-playing game convention. I wasn't really enjoying myself until I met up with my friends Denise Colby and Jen Apgar (and Tasmin). The five of us played Lost Cities (a game about launching expeditions) and Celestia (a combination collaborative/competitive game of sailing and wagering if attempts will be successful). We had tried neither of these games before but we had two separate people come and teach us how to play. Jen made a great observation that I vowed I had to blog about - "explaining how to play a game is like teaching mathematics; you might be able to do it but not everyone that's good at it is good at introducing people to it". She had plenty of other nuggets of wisdom about play and practice and math and what makes a good game / math experience. I wish I wrote them down! Denise pointed out the benefits of explaining the game in multiple ways (especially with visuals). Jen's explanation led me to buy a game that may be a bit young for my teens at home but I think my school children will like (Food Fighters).
Link to Learning: 1. Hang out with people who make you think. 2. Math is everywhere. 3. Excellent mathematicians do not always make excellent math teachers - making something make sense to someone new to the concept is a talent.

Getting ready to play Celestia

Oops! We had the ship upside down the first time!

Celestia set-up!

Learning to play Food Fighters

Helpful sign - needed elsewhere?

I didn't talk about a lot of these things at school, because of a post Jennifer Brown tweeted.

Kerri Commisso balanced this in a wonderful way in her classroom today and I was fortunate enough to see it. She gave the students time to talk, in groups of their choosing, about their time away from school. After a reasonable amount of time, we returned to our organization of our guided reading groups. I complimented her on her approach and she said she read Jennifer's tweet, adding "we don't have to make students write about everything". Great point! I couldn't resist writing here, but no one forced me, and my blog is my "back-up memory". Hope everyone else had a beneficial break.

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