Monday, September 29, 2014

An Adventure to Old Salem, a Living Museum

Nestled among the tree-lined and cobblestoned streets of Old Salem, North Carolina, are remnants and living examples of times gone by. As you look through the pictures, what do you see? What looks different from what you know? What looks similar, or the same?

Wooden shutters, opened wide, give glimpses into the Gunsmith shop.
This Gunsmiths LOVES his trade,
and talks about how they make rifles out of
wood and metal. 

Here you can see another craftsman producing
longrifles. We say he is producing them
"by hand".
Two examples of longrifles. The gunsmith often
engraves, or carves, a symbol that is important
to Americans. It's hard to see here, but the symbol
engraved on the right rifle is a very famous
Do you know what bird represents America?

I intended, or planned, to take this picture of a candle
in the window, but guess what else is reflected?

These are beams  in an old barn. There are no nails
holding them in place. Instead they used joints
and grooves
 to hold them together.  
The wood did not fit tightly in the holes, but
they say it helped the connections last longer
because the wood was able to expand and contract.

This is your bonus question--I couldn't find anyone to ask
what this machine was. It looks like a grain grinder, but I
wonder which of you history sleuths can discover what it is?

In colonial times, writers wrote with quill pens and ink. Sometimes
they wrote on paper, but they also wrote on parchment.  
Do you remember a very famous document that was written
on parchment paper in 1776?

This is a shoemaker at Old Salem. She makes about one pair of
shoes a month! The men who used to make shoes produced
about 6 pairs a week, but they didn't have to answer a lot
of questions from tourists!

These are examples of some of the shoes. I thought it was interesting
that shoemakers didn't make right and left shoes. Instead, they made
"straight" shoes, and as people wore their shoes, they became molded
to their right and left feet. (And by the way, the shoes are really heavy
and they don't have any cushioning!)

This is the yarn storage area. It was hard to get a
picture from the front. All of these yarns are
dyed with natural plants and herbs. You can
see a spinning wheel in the corner.

This is a potter. She is working at a kick-wheel
which spins when her foot kicks it. This lady
has been making pottery for 18 years, and
she loves what she does. You can see many of
her products on the shelves behind her. 

This is how kids got water for their homes. It's
a water pump. It's hard work! You might get sweaty
just pumping water for your bath!

Everything in here is handmade.  Can you spot a basket? A bucket?
A stool? A ladder? A wall?

This man is chopping wood. Look at the wood
behind him. Do you think he has done a lot
of work, or just a little?

This picture was taken in a garden. There is a wooden shed in the
background, and a small vehicle in the front. It has two wheels--do you
think it is a wagon or a wheelbarrow?
I hope you enjoyed the pictures from our day at Old Salem, in North Carolina. We are very fortunate, or lucky, to live so close to such a wonderful living museum. 
Did you answer all of the questions? 
Which was your favorite picture? 
Which job do you think you would have liked most to do?
What looks similar to your home or town?

Feel free to leave your comments below! If you have pictures, please send them, too!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Are you who you were a year ago?

Funny how small things like a question posed
at Abercrombie and Fitch in a mall
in Albuquerque, NM can spur your thinking. (2014)
It's been said that challenge spurs growth. New situations shake us out of our routine, and lend us new eyes to see things anew. Once in a zone of comfort, though, it can be more than a challenge to shake out of it or take that step into The Unfamiliar.

Those of you who know me will not be surprised to learn that stepping out of my comfort zone is precisely what I've done this school year. After 13 years in either an elementary or K-8 setting, I am back to my "roots" of teaching--at the highschool level. (Having K-12 TESOL licensure allows you to experience this wondrous dance.)

Change? You betcha.
Growth? In an almighty sense of the word.
A step out of the Comfort Zone? Neil Armstrong ain't got nothin' on this step.

One thing that is extraordinarily different for me this year, or at least this semester, though, is the fact that this is the very first year in 18 years of teaching that I do not have my own stand-alone class of students. I am co-teaching in all of my classes---and although they're similar thematically, it's a heavy content load for me. Not only am I learning how much content has to be covered in a single semester--Paleolithic Age through WWII in 80 days??? Wha...????---but I am also going to be uncovering and learning the ropes of co-teaching partnerships with a range of experienced and successful teachers.

Another distinctive gift is the fact that I am now working with many of my former students, ones I had taught during their elementary years. Some have changed mightily, while others are eerily reminiscent of their former selves, only bigger and with hormones. (Sigh.)

Needless to say, this semester will bring about myriad insights, so expect them to surface in this blog. Thoughts on co-teaching, differentiation strategies that can fit into well-established routines, having tough conversations, prioritizing skills and knowledge, balancing best practices in spite of testing rigors, and maintaining high expectations as part of a direct team will be on my mind. We also have several newcomers who were/ are directly involved with the immigration crisis at the border--yet another avenue of understanding. And of course, there will be thoughts and learning around opportunities for our language learners as older students preparing for their next level of life post-HS.

 I don't know about you, but I do love the opportunities brought on by change, and I'm pretty excited to be in this position. There are so many challenges, but so much to be grateful for. I didn't realize how much I needed a change in perspective, a different kind of push to my thinking, and how detrimental a comfort zone can sometimes be for one's creativity and lens.

As I filled out my self-assessment for our teacher evaluation last week, I was disheartened. Being honest with myself, I leveled my skills and abilities at "developing" (which is the lowest level) in the majority of areas. I had been increasingly successful the past few years, and had my routines down to achieve at much higher levels. I have much work to do--and while disheartened, I am also trying to be gentle with myself, remembering that we have only been in school 5 days. I have much growth ahead of me. And that also energizes me.

I will be reaching out to you, my readers, during this semester and year, and look forward to your suggestions, input, and advice. And as I do, ask yourself that question: Are you who you were a year ago? If not, good for you. :)