Respite from school


Yesterday a small group of students and I did some clean-up work in Washington Park not far from school. The weather was absolutely perfect— that mystical gray of almost rain without any hint of chill in the air. Armed with rakes and large black garbage bags, students picked up trash and gathered stray wood and other detritus, but mostly found that wonderful balance between doing work and connecting with friends. Though all were engaged there was something luxuriously leisurely about the time spent on this community service project where nature definitely recharged our cores. What a welcomed respite from the routine of school and intellectual pursuits. We spent two hours in an urban park we knew little about, soaking up the many hues of green and moisture and spring.


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Private Diamonds


JB sent the following to me yesterday accompanied by his photograph (above) taken in our wet west garden:

Private Diamonds

Pain guides our lives very well.
Take the stone from your shoe
and by a miracle it replaces itself,
a private diamond. The peony buds
know exactly who they are and say so.

Jim Harrison
Dead Man’s Float

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Teachers on a four day trip to Washington DC with 130 8th graders


The photo above is what teachers indulge in when they are on a four day trip with 130 high energy and healthy 8th graders in Washington DC and they can’t have a drink.

The photos below are some of what we teachers texted to each other after we all returned home sometime after 10:00pm last night.

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Some middle school students’ answers on their World War I test






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Wordless three-ring circus

IMG_1517I do a lot of group work in my classroom so instead of desks we have a variety of large tables, four of them to be exact. There are lots of ways we arrange them depending on what we are going to do in the class.

However, when it is time to take a test, especially a factual one, it gets a little tricky because at large tables it is easy to be tempted to look at someone else’s paper. I give the students file folders that they can open up and use as a kind of temporary study carrel. It’s pretty effective.

Yesterday we took our World War I test and as the first students finished their tests, they began to gather the unneeded folders and spontaneously began to build a tower to the ceiling. While a few students were still finishing their tests, another group went to the back of the room to play “Ninja.” I urged them all to build the tower and to “ninja” as silently as was humanly possible so the others could focus on their tests.

And then I stood in the corner of the room looking over this amazing classroom landscape — silent and graceful tai chi ninja moves here, tower of no babel there, and a few scattered but concentrating test-takers. This wordless three-ring circus. This fluid and engaged adolescent choreography. An inspiring sight to behold.


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Hasta la cuerenta de mayo, no te quitas el sayo.


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Freshly picked fiddlehead ferns in dinner salad, tree peony, and daffodils




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