Sunday, October 4, 2009

Rainy Days, School Days, and Books

I had a perfectly lovely rainy Saturday. My house was relatively clean, my schoolwork was caught up, no major errands on the agenda, and I had the morning to myself. I chose to spend it quite lazily with extra coffee, knitting, and my Netflix disk of Dark Shadows episodes #126-135.

I've recently started watching this old soap which started in 1966. When it first started airing I was in 6th grade, living in what was then called Bridgewater Township, NJ, just finishing the year with one of the best teachers I ever had. (I wonder if that's why I teach 6th grade now!) Mr. Stroh was terrific, though when I found out I was assigned to his class, I was scared. He had a reputation for being mean. But once I got into his class, I discovered that while he was strict, he was very patient, very concerned that you do your best, and very supportive. I don't recall him ever raising his voice or "yelling" at a student. I think he got the reputation because, looking back, he was the first male teacher anyone was ever exposed to! Male teachers in elementary school were unusual; it wasn't until junior high or high school that we expected male teachers.

In my school 6th grade was still "elementary" school and we were taught in a self-contained classroom.(unlike how my district organizes things.) So Mr. Stroh was our teacher for everything. I have Mr. Stroh to thank for at least two things: he taught me how to write a response to an essay question, and he taught me how to solve word problems in math (or arithmetic, as we called it, back in the day!) I can remember agonizing over the "mixed nuts" word problems in the arithmetic book. If a pound of almonds costs $2.49 per lb. and walnuts cost $1.79 per lb, and you buy 1/2 lb of each, how much would you spend? I could never figure these out! They were almost as bad as the west traveling trains and the east traveling trains meeting in Chicago problems we encountered in algebra a few years later! I also remember how excited he got when we studied Mesopotamia. I think that's when I first got excited about ancient civilizations and social studies. It gives me food for thought as I wonder what my current students will take away from my classroom. I do know that sometimes it's not what we think we're teaching that they learn!

Earlier this week I finished this book, which I really enjoyed:

A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I am not a hiker nor am I someone who voluntarily chooses outdoor recreation. Bill Bryson's book about hiking the Appalachian Trail almost persuades me that I'd like to be! He doesn't sugarcoat the physical difficulties in undertaking such a hike. In fact he and his hiking companion actually only complete 870 miles of the trail due to the physical and mental hardship. I especially enjoyed the history and background information about the AT and the places it crosses. This is the second book I've read from this author. I really enjoy his conversational style, and his talent for description.

View all my reviews >>

I also finished (FINALLY), The Time Traveler's Wife.
The Time Traveler's Wife The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I wanted to really like this book, but in the end I have to say I was disappointed. I got bored about half-way through, and although I finished it, I never got the point of it. The ending just seemed to peter out, as if the author got tired of writing. I guess I just missed the boat on this one.

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We ended the day with an evening out with friends. We went to dinner and then to see a musical at a nearby community theater. While the restaurant was disappointing, the show was terrific and we always have a good time with our friends.

I had planned to go to church today but part of the disappointing restaurant experience seems to include an unsettled digestive system, so I think I have to forgo church. I do have some business bookkeeping to attend to, and I should work a bit on the paper that I need to write. So I think I'll just stay a bit close to home today.

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

I loved The Tiem Traveler's Wife, but was affected by the hype surrounding Bryson's fact/fiction and so read WitW with a jaded eye.
Hope you're feeling better!