Thursday, June 18, 2009
Who knew I was a compulsive blogger trapped in a teacher's body? What on earth am I going to do now that school's out tomorrow? I know: GARDEN! Woohoo! Here's the Frenchboro Community Garden. Garden tilled: Check. Fence up: Check. Second fence up to ensure deer cannot catapult over it: check. Gate up: Check. Plots sectioned off: Check. Signs made and posted: Check. Seeds in school plot: um...sort of. Carrots: check. Lettuce: check. Radishes: check. Various squashes: check. It was a bit of a free for all as kids began planting willy-nilly in their family plots, coming back and saying things like, "Ms. Finn, how do we know where we planted the seeds?" and "Ms. Finn, I planted the seeds right here!" (All together, in a hole, right next to the sign went pumpkins, lettuce and who knows what else.) I thought the whole 'modeling' before hand in our school plot was going to be enough. SO, a note to parents...whatever comes up in your family plot may be conceived as a bona fide miracle. It was a joy to hear that after school Myron, Bradley, and their whole family were down digging away in the dirt and planting all sorts of goodies. I made Doug go down and take photos as I took a nap after school! He was posting the sign he had painted himself for the garden. I was so proud of the cute little flower that he made! If not for him, a lot of my 'brainchildren' would not ever come to fruition as I am tiny and weak and cannot fix machinery or build anything besides a lopsided birdhouse. He said, "Honey, I don't mind doing the building of the fence, but I'm not a big weeder." I still think I get the easy end.
Ever participated in the buoy toss or the lobster trap run? If not, you're obviously from 'away'. Field day in Frenchboro was yesterday and we all gathered at the ball field for the afternoon festivities. Kristi brought a watermelon and Becky supplied the water cooler, buoys supplied by Ski and Marissa, rope and traps by Nate and Katie, we had a lot in store. Back to back linked arm races, obstacle course, dizzy bat, sponge race, tug of war, and of course the water balloon toss. We ended up with a rousing round of kickball. Man, can that Mikey boot a ball...we know where Myron and Bradley get it! Thanks to all for helping and to the kids for being so great and fun.
Dizzy Bat was one of the funniest activities of the day. I had to 'demonstrate' the technique. I have a hard time staying upright after spinning around once, let alone five times. The kids were much better at it, though Tyler, as you'll see, was a little unsure of where he was supposed to run!
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
The fence is up! What a great group we've got at Frenchboro School. Due to the massive amounts of rain recently, we had a bit of a swimming pool and for some reason, perhaps because they were all wearing Muck boots...the kids could NOT stay away from that mud pit in the middle of the garden. Though they were supposed to be on either fence duty, rock duty, or wire duty...it was like a magnetic attraction. Thank goodness for those boots! The few kids who didn't have rubber boots on...Johnny, Elijah and Amber, managed to stay relatively clear of the mud, though Mr. Finn had to explain to Johnny that his Crocs weren't really 'waterproof' since they had holes in them. "Johnny, that's like saying you're bathing suit's waterproof." Gravedigger was fired up and took a few runs thanks to Brody, so now almost all of the garden is tilled. In the next few days the deer fencing will go up above the wire fencing, zip-tied to rebar, for a cheap, temporary setup that's easy to remove. Up next: seed planting...finally!
This afternoon, we took the signs that Mr. Finn had made and the students painted them for all the folks who've signed up for a plot at the community garden. We were shy one sign, but the kids did a great job and I think all the families and community members will enjoy the result. There was some confusion with the whole, "don't mix the paint" but all in all it was a successful venture and we're looking forward to seeing the signs down in the garden.
Monday, June 15, 2009
Doug has known Rob Gorski since college and they've kept in touch over the years. Rob is an emergency room doctor in New York City. He's been practicing medicine there since he finished school. Rob came to visit us when we were teaching in Alaska, a rare treat, since Nobody wanted to fly all the way out there for a visit. He did a lot of lecturing, showed medical pictures, let the kids experiment with some of the tools of the trade, and hopefully inspired the next generation to pursue medicine. When we moved here to Frenchboro, Rob was keen to come to the beautiful island and see the sights, meet the kids, and share some of his knowledge. Here he is going through the 'welcome line', an old school tradition where all the kids line up to introduce themselves to newcomers.
The first station that the kids, ahem, doctors, got to experience was surgery. In Alaska, we actually used a fetal seal to dissect when Dr. Rob came to visit, but alas, having no fetal seals handy, we used what I think was left over material for outdoor tablecloths. Close enough. In order to do surgery, though, the docs had to dress appropriately, right down to the snazzy face masks, swine flu watch out, these even have splash guards to protect your eyes! The doctors used sutures and needle drivers, but it was harder than it looked!
At this station we got to experiment with instruments like stethoscopes and otoscopes. Who knew it was so hairy inside our ear canal? Dr. Rob refers to the deposits of wax as "potatoes". Now that's a medical term for ya. The potatoes are scooped out with a little tool that looks like a little dental pic. I didn't get my potatoes checked, but most of the kids did and they got to ahve a look, too. It was fascinating to hear all the different sounds our hearts make. Some fast, some slow, some with a deep resonance, and others a higher pitch. The specialized clamps were also very amazing...a whole different sort of tool box than we're used to.
No, we haven't had a sudden surge in accidents here at the school...this is station 3, Casting. Dr. Rob showed us the bones of the arm, drawn on Brody in marker, and a typical break for a young person. Several students got to experience casts that are very similar to ones you would get in the Emergency Room where he works. The cast was a little thinner, so it would be easier to cut through. After the casts dried, we even got to sign them!
Friday, June 12, 2009
Can you tell by this photo that a lot of hilarious things come out of Austin's mouth? Early on, during Halloween, we were introduced to the traditions of Frenchboro. This is unquestionably one of the best places in the country to be a child on Halloween. As we loaded into the back of the haunted hayride trailer, Austin pats the haybale next to himself. "Sit here, Ms. Finn!" So, I sat on the bale right beside him. "The haunted hayride is SO scary," he said. Then, very seriously, he turned to me, "Last year, I oopsey-daisy peed myself." Another time, we're all sitting in class and Austin, out of nowhere says in a dreamy way, "I love Judge Judy." It was one of those, "Did I say that out loud?" times. When we built our wetu shelter, the traditional Wampanoag Indian dwelling, in our classroom, as soon as it was complete, Austin piped up with, "I call livin' in it!" Like he was calling the front seat. So funny. Just recently, he rushed in, saying, "Mr. Finn, your head's just gonna pop off when you hear this news."
"Holy crud." Austin...every day.
So, from what I understand, here is how it works: Take a box to use as your pinhole camera, seal all the edges with black tape to ensure that no light will come in. Cut out a small square in the front of the box. Take a small square of flat metal that is flexible, like aluminum, and make a very tiny hole using a needle. Ms. Cotty uses accupuncture needles. Sandpaper the rough edges of the hole and clean it out with the needle to make sure the edges are perfect, then measure the hole (you'll need a magnifier of some sort) and write what part of a millimeter it is (i. e. '.4'). seal the metal square into the hole with black tape. Take your camera into the darkroom to 'load' it with photo paper, then seal the top with more tape, so that now the only entry point for light will be the tiny hole. Put a piece of tape over the hole before leaving the dark room, but leave a folded edge to grab, since this is your shutter. Depending on the weather and the size of your hole, the exposure time will vary tremendously. Don't even ask me about the complicated math that is involved here...consult a chart. It's important to keep the camera still, in fact, if you hold it while exposing the film, the slight movements of your body will make it fuzzy, so just place it on the ground or on a level place facing your subject. It will give quite peripheral view, so stand behind it. Pull the shutter and time your exposure to whatever time you have determined. Is this where F-stops come in? I've no idea, but it sounds good. Close the shutter, and run immediately to the dark room. No, you needn't do that, but that's how I felt...like I had a present on Christmas morning (that I couldn't open unless I was in the bathroom with the lights off....maybe a glow-in-the-dark present?) So, then you've got the baths. You heard me. You've gotta bathe your picture, not once, but four times. The first bath is to expose the image, the second I'm not sure, but it is water and vinegar and I think just sort of rinses it a bit, and the third fixes the image, while the last cleans it. Then! You can turn on the lights, but it needs one more bath in fresh water. Then you hang it to dry. Now, you're thinking....Wow! that's a lot of work to get a photo. Guess what? You're STILL NOT DONE! You have a negative. Now you've got to make a positive. Go back into the dark room with your dry negative. Place it in a frame next to another piece of photo paper and expose to what I'll call the 'positive light machine'. We exposed it to this light for 8 seconds, but it depends the negative. Don't ask, again, I've no idea. Then back to the baths. I'm telling you, these are the cleanest babies ever. After the four baths and then the clean water rinse. NOW, you have your photo!! Our 8th grader, Lance is way into this process. He was Ms. Cotty's assistant, staying late after school, coming early. He helped Mr. Finn and myself develop ours and they came out great. Future photographer in the making. Here's a photo of the negatives hanging to dry...more to come!
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Ms. Cotty is here this week working on pin hole cameras with the students. The cameras were already made during a previous session, so this week we get to go out and put the cameras to work, taking photos around town. As we headed down to the town dock to get some views of the boats in the harbor, we saw that Brody and Saylor's ducks were sitting on their eggs, tucked inside one of Zach's lobster traps. Brody and Saylor thought this would be an ideal subject for their pin hole camera photos. The other students spread out over the dock, sizing up where to place their cameras. Suddenly, shrieks filled the air as the rabid ducks charged Brody and Saylor, out for blood, apparently. "Ahhhhh!" The kids came running and the ducks waddled after them, quacking furiously. But, once the kids were suitably away from the nest of eggs, the ducks changed their tune. They instantly went from mad to friendly and, "Wack, wack wack," came over, hoping for a snack. When every student was done with their first round of photos, we headed back to school, our cameras holding newly captured images (hopefully!). Ms. Cotty will be showing the kids how to develop the images in chemical baths. We'll have finshed products to share soon, so stay tuned!
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
In Alaska, we never knew what strange manner of "share" was going to enter the classroom. One time it was a live seagull that a kid had tied to his wrist. Another was a frozen baby seal. I thought those days were over when I moved to Maine. I was apparently wrong. This poor frog entered the classroom, eyes almost popping out of it's head. And it doesn't end at school. The other day a couple of my students showed up at my house with a gigantic whale bone they found on the beach. I can just hear the parents saying, "Take that over to the teacher's house, they'll love it!" Of course, they're right.