Museum Day

Yesterday, my family went to see the “The Girl with the Pearl Earring” exhibit at the DeYoung Museum in San Francisco.  It was truly great to see all the Dutch Master paintings.  One of my all-time paintings was there as well: “View of Haarlem from the dunes at Overveen” by Jacob van Ruisdael.  There were also many works by Rembrandt (many, many!) plus works by Steen, Heda, Claesz, van Dyke and Hals.  As an Art Historian with a penchant for Dutch Baroque art, and with Vermeer being my favorite artist (Girl with the Pearl Earring), I was in heaven!  It didn’t even bother me much that the museum was overcrowded and that this American crowd had no concept of museum etiquette; the art made it all worth it.  Much to my surprise, even my kids liked the exhibit (they have traditionally hated museums, though this time they went willingly – I guess I’ve finally worn them down!).

Picture 001

The passes we had bought also got us into the other parts of the museum.  We didn’t see the Asian art exhibit that day, but we sort of ran through the African exhibit, and then spent a great deal of time in the American exhibit.  There was a lot of truly great art there, and the collection spanned about 500 years, starting with Aztec Art and going all the way to Modern.  There were also a number of paintings I recognized from Art History text books that I didn’t know were at the DeYoung.  My favorite piece was a sculpture of a Gothic Cathedral that had been made out of bullets and gun parts.  It was spectacular.  I also liked the “Susanna and the Elders” painting by Thomas Hart Benton.

The trip to and from the museum was also entertaining.  My son volunteered to drive.  He still has his learner’s permit and today would be driving through rush hour traffic and the narrow streets of San Francisco.  This type of driving is not for the faint of heart.  He did just fine.  I used Waze to find all the accidents along the way, though ultimately, we couldn’t avoid them because all the streets in the area were backed up today.  We just crawled along until we got to SFO.  Things were a breeze and we were only 10 minutes late by the time we parked in Golden Gate Park.  Our walk from where we parked (the arboretum) was not all that far to the DeYoung – maybe half a mile.  We had the foresight to pack sandwiches and drinks so we ate lunch while walking to the museum.  After our museum tour was over, we wandered around the “gazebo” area for a bit then wandered back to our car.  As is our new family tradition, the kids took many “bench tour” photos along the way (we can’t travel anywhere now without many bench pictures – a trend the kids had accidentally started at the Gemaldegalerie in Munich three years ago).  We drove most of the way home, and then stopped in Mt. View for some unique food shopping (things we can’t get in Milpitas like fancy French cheese and gourmet peanut butter) then ate dinner there at Chevy’s.  When we got home, it was time for our Lifegroup to meet at our house, which is always a party.  The last of that group cleared out at 10:30 after a couple of games of “Mafia” that my son likes to lead.  What a spectacular day!

The week in review: week 1, module 2

I had the first week of module two off.  The break was welcome after module one.  It made for a nice transition between the two classrooms.  I look forward to starting with 7th grade World History Class next week.

I met with my new master teacher at the conclusion of my first six weeks of student teaching so I could get a jump on his class.  He has given me a teacher’s edition of the textbook to study, and the handouts he will be using next week.  We also went over the schedule/plan for the next five weeks and I like the flow a lot.  He has just started a chapter on Medieval Europe and it appears that we will hit Feudalism, The Crusades and the Catholic Church while I’m in his classroom.

More history than you ever wanted to know

I guess since I have the week off, I can do some blogging.

Today I did only two things: Tax Preparation & Homework.  I suppose I also ate on occasion, and I did download an old favorite album of mine to get me in the mood for tax season.  The album was “The Completion Backwards Principal” by The Tubes.

Aah, such memories; My old band, Passion, used to cover “Talk to you Later” off that album, and members of the Tubes once stopped by in Monterey (during the Pro Am) to hear us do that song… and they liked it! (We were playing the 5th floor bar, they were playing on the 6th floor stage)  Because of that encounter, we later opened for the band in Hanger One at Moffett Field.  I do sometimes miss gigging back in my youth.  Doing taxes also reminds me that I spent most of the last year working for my now failed start-up in a converted office space that used to be a famous club and 1980’s “meat market;” a place that I used to play at (Gilbert Zapps/Bodega).  At that site, we opened up for the Dave Berry Band, and later, did our own shows there.  Just across the street, at what is now a very fine Italian restaurant, used to be another famous bar that we occasionally played at (Pumas).  This bar was made famous because Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham used to play there before they joined Fleetwood Mac.  At that club, we would sometimes open for the local band “Wildfire,” and sometimes, just for fun, they would open for us, or simply pick up our instruments and play when we were on breaks.  My band and their band had some serious mutual respect going on.  Our two bands were among a select few who had succeeded wildly in the club scene but hadn’t made an album, and didn’t care to; we didn’t want stardom – we played for fun!  What I remember most about Pumas was that the stage was four feet off the ground, so hauling gear up to the stage was painful, and after a gig one night, I found a bustier on my car (someone had been fooling around near or on my car?).  Not far away, Smokey Mountain was a much easier bar to set up in.  We played there a lot.  And just across the street from Pumas is (to this day) a recording studio (two actually – the second one belongs to Dave Berry) that I used to record at (Soundtek Studios).  While I was still in Passion, we did our demos there; shortly after I left the band, the band started to rehearse there (getting away from the highly questionable “Rock Garden” space – a formerly condemned Salvation Army site that still had that feel of being condemned).  After I left the band, I also used to be a “musician for hire” at Soundtek for a few years and even later, when I was running my own studio (the short-lived Heartbeat Records), we would do our final mix-downs there because I lacked the analog equipment that Brett Tyson (the engineer/owner) had.  My studio was 100% digital.  Alas, once I got my engineering job (in semiconductors, not music), I got out of all studios and clubs and began playing in churches.  Twenty-two years later, I’m still at church, loving the hours and the clientele.  I also play with a couple other musicians who had club bands back in the day.  I guess church is where old club musicians go to die.

Oh well, back to taxes and homework!  I gotta go to school soon.

The week in review: week 6, module 1

Well, I made it through a week of teaching (not to mention the end of a six week module) without any difficulty.  On the whole, the classes treated me well, and I was able to complete everything I had set out to do (Basically teach a chapter from start to finish); even with the ELL class.  All the classes kept on pace.  I even had fun!

All this week, we talked about humanities from the 1800s, so we did a little art, music and literature. I wrapped-up today (being a minimum day) by showing a preview video of the next chapter, then and collecting / passing out classwork.

This week, being the week I taught all classes, was the week I’d concentrate on learning some classroom management skills.  I had already tried “The Spot,” which was mostly successful (My master teacher noted that once I stepped out of the spot, the kids would start talking again, so based on her suggestion, I revisited the rules and demanded that they stop talking  until given permission.  It worked better after that.).  This week, I would also hand out detentions when needed and I would be a bit firmer in my tone.  The detentions worked just fine.  My tone was sort of hit and miss, though I did see a significant improvement in the class when I got a bit more strict.  The other thing that I did, almost on a whim, was to write down a quiet bellwork assignment and a noisy bellwork assignment at the beginning of the class period, with the noisy one being much more involved.  Much to my surprise, the class took this as a clue to be quiet.  The class also became self-monitoring: any kid who started talking would be shushed by the rest of the class.  I didn’t have to do a thing!  By giving the students a choice, the students were self-selecting the easier assignment and demanding that everyone else obey the rules so they could enjoy this privilege.  It was brilliant – a truly happy accident!  It worked so well, I did it the next day in class with the same results (Rules: the quiet assignment is silent and only three sentences.  If you talk, it goes up to five, if you continue to talk; the class does the noisy assignment, which is closer to 15 sentences).

After classes today, I got in touch with my next master teacher.  He and I went over what I would be doing for module two.  He already has the next six weeks planned!  My new master teacher is much more regimented than my old master teacher, but he also does a lot of hands on things and his lectures are interesting (at least to me).  I had a chance to observe him teach his ELL class some time ago, and I was very impressed how he could manage the class, teach, and still offer individualized help when needed.  I’m going to really enjoy learning from him!

He also gave me homework: I have to read three chapters from the textbook (teacher version) to become more familiar with what we will be teaching over the next six weeks.

The week in review: week 5, module 1

Wow, this week just flew by!  I guess it was because the subject matter was interesting to me personally and maybe to the students as well because they had exemplary behavior this week.  It didn’t hurt that the week started with a video on Lewis & Clark and ended with a Jeopardy review followed by a chapter test.  It gave me great fulfillment to hear many of my students comment prior to the test that they felt they knew all the answers because for some reason, this section was more interesting and memorable than most.  This is why one becomes a teacher!

Aside from teaching two periods this week, I was also running my TPA #3 experiments with period four.  TPA #3 is all about assessments, so I put several in place so I could choose the best one to write about.  As required, I also had a couple of scaffolds for key individuals, which hopefully will contribute to their assessment scores.  As a final assessment, I can also see how period four did on their chapter test.

As stated earlier, Monday was mostly a video on Lewis & Clark.  We were also able to start the last section (war of 1812), except for the ELL class.  I had the ELL class last week, and they got behind as a result.  My master teacher had to work hard to catch them back up.  I felt bad about this – in just one week of teaching that class, I had put them about two days behind.  I need to learn how to pace the ELL class better, yet still get them the education they need to succeed.

Tuesday was a continuation of the War of 1812.  The materials presented were interesting and the students paid attention.  Still, I couldn’t help but notice that my master teacher’s classes were much quieter than mine, so between classes, I asked her how she could get her classes so quiet.  She said she was able to because: 1) this is a looped class and they have had her for 1.5 years at this point; 2) at the beginning of the year last year, she was handing out detentions like they were candy, thus showing that she was serious about class disruptions.  She further went on to state that unless I started handing out detentions, I would be continually tested.  With this new knowledge, I ran the normally noisy fourth period with a little more firmness, and with detentions slips in my hand and you know what, they were quiet and attentive!

Wednesday was nice and easy.  For fourth period, I ran an experiment just for fun.  At the end of the War of 1812 section, I had table groups act out a particular historical event from the whole unit of study by way of review.  My goal was to have them sequence this event.  Most groups did not sequence very well, but the rest of the class was able to guess what the event was.

Thursday was Jeopardy day, which went well.

Friday was the chapter test.  Most of the classes finished well ahead of time, so in three of the classes, I was able to preview what I would be teaching next week by talking about the flag that was the inspiration for the Star Spangled Banner.  Next week, I’ll be teaching all five periods, and the materials will focus on: Music, Art, Dance and Literature from the 1800s.  As you can see, this unit combines history and humanities.

The week in review: week 4, module 1

Since it was a four day week this week (Thursday was an in-service day), my master teacher and I agreed that I would teach three out of her five classes this week: 1st, 3rd (ELL) & 4th (GATE), and two of her classes next week when we’re back to a five day week.  This will get me very close to “half time teaching,” the requirement for this week and next.

Next week, I’ll teach 2nd and 4th while my master teacher teaches 1st, 3rd & 5th.

We started a new unit this week, one that will last two weeks.  Monday and Tuesday were also the days that I was running my “experiment” for TPA #2 (one of four California requirements for teachers).  I had my two test subjects in period one, and I made their special assignments available to all the students for extra credit, but these two would be required to do the work (since my experiment was created specifically for them, they’ll also get credit).  On Monday, my supervisor also came to observe me during the ELL class, the hardest class to teach, since it’s both a Social Studies and a Reading/Writing class.  I do not think I did well during my observation, but I also don’t think the class suffered too much.  I just need more skills in the area of ELL.

Tuesday and Wednesday went very well.  I felt like I did alright.  I also spent these two days trying my best to emulate (in fourth and fifth periods) any technique I saw my master teacher doing during second period (after I had completed teaching first period without observing her).  In all cases, I think the later periods benefited.

Thursday was a teacher in-service day, which I attended.  The first half of the day was all about Common Core adoption.  I learned a bit, and it was interesting to see what the experienced teachers thought about it.  Most were overwhelmingly positive.  My Social Studies group was less enthusiastic about it because there is no Common Core for Social Studies, other than the 10 items for Social Studies contained within Language Arts.  The second half of the day was spent learning how to operate the Chromebooks the school had recently purchased.  Once you get to know how they work, these Chromebooks are pretty useful… if you can find a way to give up Microsoft Office.

Friday was free dress “sports” day.  There was a lot of Niner’s gear on campus.  I liked the atmosphere.  I don’t know what my students had done on Thursday, but they all seemed tired and wiped-out (not unlike the teachers – that in-service was long and crammed with info – my brain hurt!).  They did not seem to want to learn today, but they were also sleepy.  We got through the reading material, and then watched a video on Lewis & Clark, which we will finish on Monday.  All in all, a very good week.