Sunday, March 21, 2010

Found in a Box

Since the "flood" I've spent blogging evenings sitting amidst boxes and boxes of "teacher stuff" that's been waiting to be sorting since we moved in ten years ago.  I've found a few gems that I'll be sharing over the next few weeks perhaps!  This is the first.  Let me preface: 1) I have absolutely no idea where it came from who gave it to me, 2) I am not sharing it in bad taste or to be sacreligious (as a Lutheran deep in the heart of Lent, it cracked me up), but in humor, and 3) If you know who wrote it, please let me know so I can give credit where credit is due!
Blessed are the Teachers:

"Now when He saw the crowds, He went up on a mountainside and sat down.  His disciples came to Him, and He began to teach them saying:
     Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 
     Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
     Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
     Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
     Blessed are the merciful, for they will obtain mercy.
     Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
     Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God.
     Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

Then Simon Peter said, " Do we have to write this down?"  And Andrew said, "Are we supposed to know this?"  And James said, "Will we have a test on this?"  And Phillip said, "What if we don't know it?"  And Bartholomew said, "Do we have to turn this in?"  And John said, "The other disciples didn't have to learn this."  And Matthew said, "When do we get out of here?"  And Judas said, "What does this have to do with real life?"  And the other disciples likewise. 

Then one of the Pharisees who was present asked to see Jesus' lesson plans and inquired of Jesus his terminal objectives in the cognitive domain.

And Jesus wept.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Flood...

Well, the fans and dehumidifyer are in place... the PuroClean folks "The paramedics of property damage" are doing their job...  the dry boxes and plastic containers are upstairs in the family room, living room, and anywhere they'd fit (waiting to be sorted, sifted, and condensed).  Who knew a water heater expansion tank could spring a leak and send a torrent of water across the basement?  Who knew that it could shoot a six-inch hole in the crawl space wall?  Who knew that I'd be spending my spring break cleaning and organizing?
     The damage?  We'll let the adjuster decide that on Monday. 
     The good news?  It could have been worse.  As I was leaving school on Friday (after my wife called in a panic), one of my students said, "Remember, Mr. Allen, stuff is just stuff!" and another said, "The good news is nobody got hurt!"  And, luckily, my wife saw the geyser, turned the water off, and jumped into action!
     It's such a little thing, compared to other things happening in the world right now.  But, nonetheless it's created a bit of unneeded havoc in our family.  Don't know where to start!
     In honor of our little flood, I thought I'd post a few of our family's favorite books about the great flood...

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Mary Smith

I love Andrea U'Ren's illustrations.  Mary Smith is one of my favorite books.  I use it for think alouds and shared experiences with Drawing Inferences, Synthesizing, or Activating Background Knowledge or Background Experience.  It's a terrific read!
     Back in the days before there were alarm clocks, there were "knocker-ups" whose job it was to wake the townspeople for a few pennies each week.  When I first show the cover to students, they are sure it's a work of fiction about a woman who "likes to shoot spitballs" or "shoots peas at a target."  But the moment I open the book to the opening photograph of the real Mary Smith, they realize that there's more to this book than they first imagined. 
     It's a wonderful tale of Mary, whose peas hit windows of the townsfolk each day with a "Tock! Tock! Tock!" or a "Click Clack Snap!"  She wakes the laundry maids, the fishmonger, the mayor.... The mayor tells her, "Without you, everyone would still be asleep in bed, no one would be working, and I wouldn't have a town to run because everything would be shut down!"
     BUT, Mary forgets to rouse one person... which makes for a surprising and humorous ending (you want to know who, don't you)!  I love that Andrea U'Ren provides an historical note at the end of the book which explains a bit about Mrs. Mary Smith and the role of the turn-of-the-center "knocker-ups."
      Andrea U’Ren re-creates for the reader a delightful narrative of a typical morning in the life of Mary Smith... one of many turn of the century "knocker-ups".  You can visit her work at: 
     Read about real-life knocker-ups and listen to a sound bit at:

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Philo Farnsworth

Don't you love Kathleen Krull (author of Wilma Unlimited)?  You can see her work at: There's something about her books that always makes me stop and look.  
     She has amazing ability to write creative and thoughtful biographical text.  The Boy Who Invented TV:  The Story of Philo Farnsworth is another winner!
     While plowing the potato fields, Philo dreams of making pictures "fly through the air."  Always inquisitive and interested in invention, Philo had a mentor in his father who nurtured his passions for anything mechanical.  And this book tells his story.
     As a young boy, he read the Sears catalog with longing and wonder... despite the fact that the only thing he ever got out of the catalog was a violin.  Philo was fascinated with electricity and the prospects of "television."  And, while plowing the fields he dreamed,
(and dreamed big) about the possibilities.  He was a genius inventor and this story details the life of Philo, who was almost forgotten as the man who invented "one of the greatest inventions of the twentieth century."  In the book we learn the details about why he was not credited with the invention.
     I love the illustrations in this book.  They fit the text with authenticity and a sense of the eclectic.  I especially love the variety of televisions represented.  
     I'm adding this one to my collection of "stamina and endurance" books!  I'll print and fold up these little tidbits in the front of the book.  I think his is a fascinating story (Philco... get the connection?): and

Friday, March 5, 2010

Pennies in a Jar

This is a wonderful book by Dori Chaconas about a boy whose father is fighting in WWII.  He's shy and wary of horses... the ragman's horse (Josephine), the milkman's nag (Nell), and the garbage wagon horses (Billy and Bucky).  The horses' big teeth, wild eyes, and feet as big and heavy as buckets full of iron all make him a bit apprehensive.  But before his dad left, he told his son to be brave.  And, he misses his dad and wants to make him proud.
     The boy saves his pennies in a green glass jar for the perfect birthday present for his father.  He ends up getting his picture taken on a pony named "Freedom" with the money he's saved.  He finds the courage it takes to do something special for his father and overcomes his fear of horses.
     Ted Lewin's paintings are, as always, captivating and amazing.  The historical aspects of this story make it a wonderful read... and they capture the spirit of the 1940s and WWII perfectly.  It's a perfect book to share with students when studying endurance and stamina.