Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Bowling on Eggshells

Today in math we studied the metric system.
After reviewing the different units and measurements that the metric system employees: I handed my students a worksheet that asked them to estimate the weights, volumes, and lengths of different objects.

One Question asked for the estimated mass of a bowling ball.
The thought, “Have these kids ever bowled?” ran through my head.

I gently raised the question, I really had no wish to explain how people liked to toss heavy balls down a long hallway to knock over wooden pins. I had visions of them trying out with garbage cans for balls and teachers for pins.

They all gave me odd glances.
“Of course we have bowled.”
“I’m good at it”
“Bowling balls are pretty heavy”

I had no idea there was bowling alley anywhere around here.

The next question was easy.
What is the estimated mass of an egg?

“What kind of egg?” came a voice from the back of the room.

“You know, a normal egg…”
My mind was reeling. What kind of egg? It took me a moment to even think of way to explain the type of egg we were questioning.

I find it difficult to determine which words and concepts will be easily recognized and which are foreign.

Bowling balls are something I would have expected them to know from movies and T.V. but not from personal experience.
Eggs are an item that is so ingrained in normal life that I never even considered it to be an issue.

I forget that powdered eggs are all too common in this area.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

imbeciles and scoundrels

I wonder, more and more often, if I am actually teaching my students anything.
When I ramble on and on about parts of speech, multiplication, and vocabulary, are they even listening?

Is the information I attempt to pass-on going in one ear and out the other?

Today in class a stack of papers disappeared from my desk.
"Who took the worksheets?' I question.

"Classmate did! That scoundrel!" a student tattled.

"Scoundrel" was one of last week's vocabulary words.

A smile passed over my lips.

Later as I wrote the days homework I mis-copied a page number and was corrected.
"You imbecile, it's page 13!"

Should I be angry that he called me an imbecile?
Or happy that he used a vocabulary word in the correct context?

The problems involved in the education field.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

gas prices

gas prices
Originally uploaded by jleeody.
For all of you who are digging deep to pay those slowly rising gas prices, I just wanted to put things into prosepective.

I am so glad I don't have a car up here.

my classroom

my classroom
Originally uploaded by jleeody.
I had a request or two for a picture of my classroom.

It seemed that some people were picturing an igloo with a chalkboard.
Maybe an icepick and sheets of frozen "paper."

Believe it or not; I have a normal classroom in a fairly normal, if very small, classroom.

So, this is where I fill young minds with a love of knowledge and a hatred of teachers.

Friday, September 16, 2005

The White House Bed and Breakfast

The White House Bed and Breakfast
Originally uploaded by jleeody.
I stayed the weekend in Bethel.
Here is where I hung my hat for those few days.

The owner of this establishment is a commercial fisherman in the summer and fall.
He also competes with his dog sled team in the winter.


Originally uploaded by jleeody.
This is one of the nine resturants in Bethel.
The menu of this resturant spans the common genres of food.

Here you can get chinese, japanese, american, italian, and greek cuisine.

No matter how far you travel some truths remain valid

The Bethel Highway
Originally uploaded by jleeody.
Standing on a bridge in the big city of Bethel I am reminded of Kentucky.

I think of all the times I have driven through the hills and suburbs of Kentucky.
In many front yards cars or trucks are perched on blocks.

The owners of these dilapidated, rusting yard ornaments certainly believe that in the future the inspiration would strike to actually make them drivable again.
Or at least salvage the parts for other vehicles.

Here is Bethel cars are not as easily dismissed.
Boats, however, litter the yards.

Some have holes you could put your fist through.
Others are missing the bottom.
Rusty metal remains and rotting wooden corpses of once loved methods of transportation.

There is no doubt that the owners believe someday they will repair the damages.
Or at least salvage parts for other boats.

These boats sit on blocks.

The Dock

The Dock
Originally uploaded by jleeody.
This is a picture taken in Bethel.

This dock recieves most of the food and goods we have in Bethel and the villages.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Where do germs come from?

I am slowly recovering from my first Alaskan cold.

On Sunday evening there was a tickle in my throat.
By Monday morning it had invited its friends and started to party.

When a person is sick unsanitary situations scream out like becons.

Teachers deal with practices that would make a member of the CDC run for a space suit.

Just today...
I turn away from my coffee for a moment.
Dirty fingers grab the mug and hide it under a desk.
I request its' return.
10 unwashed digits grasp the lip of my mug and place it back in its' place of honor.

I take a sip.

A student makes the journey to the front of the room.
She leans close to whisper in my ear,
"Can i" *cough* "go to the bathroom?"

I breath in without thought.

A student sneezes in his hand before picking up and giving me his homework.

I grasp the homework in my naked palm.
No time to wash my hands, I continue on.

A student spits in the trash can near my desk.
A student sneezes on the desk. The snot dries hard.
A student grabs my hand and pulls me to her desk.

I can't remember when if I washed my hands before I ate my lunch
I do know that as I carried the open tray to my classroom I passed a coughing child in the hallway.
Grems clouding up and setteled on my tacos.

Last night I sat in bed with a sore throat, headache, and cough and wondered how I could have managed to get sick.

Friday, September 09, 2005

blustery day

I have successfully completed my third week as a real teacher.

The weather, in all its windy, rainy, cold, and cloudy glory, speaks volumes to my day.

It all began as a typical Friday in my world.
I woke up late, the coffee maker was empty, and I had left my raincoat at the school.

I got to work with a song in my heart and swing in my step.
(the song was "So What," from Metallica and the swing had something to do with a sharp pebble in my shoe.)

Class work began as it should.
Kids listening.
Kids working.
Kids quiet.

Math, my favorite class, started the downhill spiral.

Now don't get me wrong.
I know I have spoken often about the terrors of teaching, but I do love my job.
For the most part everything is going great.
There are just two students that have a habit of driving me nutty.

In math one of my students decided to skip.
I guess learning the finer points of Mean Median and Mode did not intrigue him.

Almost a half an hour into class he was caught by the principal, slouched into the classroom, threw down his books, and collapsed in a heap on his desk.
Head down.

So, far I have said nothing.
His head is buried in his arms, feigning sleep or apathy.

"Sit up Student," I say, mid-sentence.
The rest of the class giggles.

I continue with the lecture while standing dangerously close to the offending child.

"Sit up Student," I repeat in a louder voice.
The rest of the class giggles again.

"Last chance," I attempted again, this time trying out my teacher voice.

Still his head remains pressed firmly against the surface of the desk.
His arms creating a pillow.

The class is slowly losing respect for my.
I can feel their urge to disobey my growing.
Instruction is slipping away.

I move in front of the student's desk.
"Alright, here goes."
I pull the desk forward several feet.

He starts at the sudden lack of sleeping surface.
He looks at me scowling.
The rest of the class howls with laughter.

I am the teacher. You cross me, you lose.

In defiance he tilts his chair back against the wall.
"You want to lose that too?"
He knows I'd do it.
He relents.

I win.

True to the cliché’ form, you win one you lose one.

In a later class I allowed a Student to scampered into the library for a new book.
A few moments later The Principal motioned me into the hallway.

The Student was caught talking trash about me, in Yu'pik.

There is a Yu'pik word that is vaguely similar to my name.
It has a meaning that is related to a female body part.

Another teacher whispered the word to me.
It's one of those words that you just don't say out loud.

I believe it's pronounced "oo choo"
Now you know a Yu'pik curse word.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

burning holes in pockets

There are small plastic cards in my pocket.

They want to be used.
To be loved.
To be drained of the money they represent.

I have a theory.
This month I will not be buying gasoline.

While most memebers of this country shell out dollar after dollar to pay for the increased gas prices, i will be sitting pretty.
That hard earned money will remain in my pocket.
Burning holes.

Here is the theory:
I should put that money to good use.

Well, maybe not good use...

Apple has released the new ipod.
The ipod nano.

It is adorable.

Everytime I see this web page the plastic in my pocket shoots out another tounge of flame.

I get paid in a few short days.
Should I buy it?

Thursday, September 01, 2005

The bus system

The bus system
Originally uploaded by jleeody.
Today we are heading out on a field trip.

The school is loading up and heading out into the tundra to pick berries.

The transportation for this journey is, of course, boats.

Each kid had to bring, along with the permission slip, a life jacket to school today.

I learned something interesting about the berry picking tradition.
One of my feamle students told me they would not be joining us.

I asked why.
She told me she was on her period and would not be allowed to pick berries.

She had no embaressment in telling me this.
It was just a simple fact.

It struck me as odd.
I am from a culture where women can do just about anything.

No one would dare say that we couldn't do something just because it's "that time of the month"
Especially if it's "that time of the month."

Sara, the berry picking fool

Sara, the berry picking fool
Originally uploaded by jleeody.
Here we see Sara.

She is the transitions teacher and though she is a third year teacher, she too is new to the Akiuk site.

Tammy and her empty bucket

Tammy and her empty bucket
Originally uploaded by jleeody.
This is Tammy.
She is one of the middle school teachers here at Akiuk.

She and I will be co-teaching Middle School Science.
That's right, I just picked up another class.

Her goal for the trip. Fill the bucket without eating half of them.

Pickin' berries

Pickin' berries
Originally uploaded by jleeody.
Upon arrival, we all began to pick berries.

Some of us ate more than we put in the buckets.

I can successfully say that I filled and froze a whole bucket of berries.

I have blue berries, red berries, and black berries.
The blackberries are not the same as those found in the lower 48. They are more like blueberries, just black.
And a bit milder tasting.

I am the queen of the world

I am the queen of the world
Originally uploaded by jleeody.
The kids were playing with my camera.

This picture was taken out of context, i swear.

When berries get boring, roll down the hills...

When berries get boring, roll down the hills...
Originally uploaded by jleeody.
After about 30 mins of berry picking some students began to get bored.

Flinging their buckets onto the tundra, they started playing other games.
Like "who rolls down the hill faster"

A little while later they started a game of chicken fighting.
You know, the water game where people divide into pairs, one goes on the others' shoulders, and they try to knock the other teams down.

This game would be considered a dangerous pass-time anywhere but here.

The tundra is very cushy. It feels more like a matteress than earth.

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