Monday, February 22, 2010

Winter Break

This may be our last year of a February winter break and an April spring break.  Our school board wants to combine the 2 weeks into one March break.  Many of us are against this idea for a lot of reasons.  The board wants us to be able to get out of school a week earlier, which sounds nice.  The downside to that however, is that it extends the summer learning loss window.  Kids lose a lot of ground over the 9 weeks they already have off.  Adding one more week to that doesn't seem educationally sound to me.  In New England, the period of time between Christmas and March is a long dark tunnel.  The Feb break comes along at the height of flu and cold season, and does a great job of breaking up that cycle.  We will see what happens with the calendar - decisions will be made in a few weeks.

This year though my winter break is shorter than usual.  The kids have the whole week off; teachers just have M-W off.  We have workshops scheduled for Thursday and Friday.  This is a huge change, and one that we had no say in.  Don't get me wrong, the professional development time is valuable.  It's just that in the past, it wasn't scheduled into a 50 years plus-old tradition, and it wasn't sprung on us with no input.    There's a lot of unhappiness in the ranks. 

So what am I doing for this break?  On Saturday, we traveled to Boston to visit with our sons.  Son #2 lives in LA and flew east with his lovely girlfriend on business.  Son #1 lives in Providence so  he drove up and we all met at the Prudential Center.  We had a lovely day visiting the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.  I was fascinated by two of the special exhibits there:  Secrets of Tomb 10A: Egypt 2000 BC 
and Luís Meléndez: Master of Spanish Still Life.  The Egyptian artifacts painted a detailed picture of everyday life but I was so bothered by the fact that I haven't been able to teach social studies for the last two years.  I kept wanting to buy resources in the gift shop for the 6th graders, but I refuse to spend money on something I'm not teaching.  I fell in love with the paintings in the still life exhibit.  Meléndez's paintings of fruits, vegetables, and kitchen implements were amazing.  He was a keen observer and captured details like the water droplets oozing out of a cut watermelon, the reflection of fruit off a silver platter, and the iridescence of a freshly-caught fish's eye.  Imagine a cauliflower so true to life that it seemed 3 dimensional!    After our cultural enhancement we headed to the North End for a great Italian dinner on Hanover Street, followed by sensational cannolli  from Mikes Pastry.  

Yesterday I spent grading science reports and today I'm working on developing a new science unit on waves, sound, and light.  Thus I am reading the textbook and doing some research since high school physics was the last time I thought about wave energy.  I have the state GLE's and a ton of resources to use, so that's my game plan for today.  Tomorrow is tax day, and then Wednesday will be a day off.  Thursday and Friday it's back to school for work shops, and then it's the weekend. . . .I guess the break part is the fact that I can sleep in!

And I can stay up a bit later to watch the Olympics.  I am not a sports person by any stretch of the imagination,but I just love watching Olympic competition --- curling, bobsledding, skating, skiiing, I don't care!   My knitting is coming along - I probably won't finish my sweater by the end of closing ceremonies, but I'm giving it a valiant try.

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