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Thursday, January 28, 2010


Microscopes are so amazing. It's incredibly thrilling to see things in such a new way. I really could spend all day just scraping tiny pieces off everything I can find and making slides. Do you remember using microscopes as a kid? I didn't really get the chance until I was in high school Biology, and even then I don't remember using them much.'s your quiz:

Any guesses?

How about this:

or this?
1. Cody
2. plant
3. bread mold

Friday, January 22, 2010

Winter Wonderland

Sure, there are drawbacks to living on an outer island. This ain't one of em.
Ice is shot on the pond. Ball field is a mess. What to do for P. E.?
Get out for a hike and enjoy our spectacularly beautiful trails and scenery.
It also helps that we're studying enery levels. The kids walked by this shelf fungus and shouted "Look, Ms. Finn! It's a decomposer!"
There's so much fun to be had. Here Amber demostrates the correct way to break ice sheets with her head. Could that be construed as karate? Hmm.
You never know what you'll find when you let nature be the teacher for the day. As we started out on our walk, Teressa was next to me. She took a deep breath and sighed, "I love the smell of nature." Well put. We were bushwhacking, seeing what we could see, listing off our classifications of producers, primary consumers, secondary consumers and decomposers when we happened upon this gem.
"Mr Finn!" shouted Johnny. "It's real live BONES!"
That kept us occupied for about ten minutes as we discovered more of the scattered carcass.
Saylor was checking out the skull and noted the eye socket and clumps of hair.
Cadin found old beaver sign which thrilled him no end. There's just something that happens when you take kids in the woods. Invariably they'll all end up toting sticks and cracking every piece of ice they come upon. It's like a law or something.
We looked and looked for otter sign. Last time we were out we tracked three otters all the way Middle Beach. But today, we had no luck. Well, that's not true. There were some great crow, squirrel and deer tracks.
Finally, a picture of the entire crew. I set the timer and ran for it, only falling on my face twice in the scramble. A fantastic outing was had by all.

Let's Always Give Bradley Recipe Books for Homework

Sooo, I'm thinking we've got a good thing going with Bradley getting 'certain' kinds of books for homework.
Cadin said, "Ms. Finn, is there a How to Make Tacos book?"
Thumbs up for the homemade bread. I have it on good authority that it might not have been Bradley actually cooking up this recipe (thanks Becky!). When asked if it was hard to make, Bradley answered, "Nope. I was out playing." Ah ha.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Snow! Must be time for a hike.

Martin Luther King Jr.

I really loved this pastel project of the many colored hands. It's a great way to learn different blending techniques but it's also so visually appealing with the bright colored background.
We also got a chance to talk about Martin Luther King Jr. and his profound effect on the civil rights movement. I'm thinking these beautiful artworks might be showing up in the next Frenchboro Art Auction!

Setting up the Rack

We had some pretty happy campers when they saw that Mr. Finn had put together the bike rack. We couldn't leave them out of the they were tasked with lugging them out to the schoolyard.
As soon as they were on the ground, all the kids ran to get their bikes and park them for the first time in the new rack.
I think it feels especially good when you've worked for something and been a part of the entire process from start to finish. There's more care involved, too. In fact, it snowed over the weekend and several kids were worried that the bike rack would get hit by the plow. What's really nice is that all the bikes fit just great, no matter what size they are!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Bike Rack Arrived!


I think every body will be riding their bikes tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


For our writing curriculum, we follow 6 traits instruction which ascribes to the idea that good writing is not just about conventions, but just as importantly other traits such as ideas, organization and sentence fluency. We've been using our district rubric and anchor papers to see the continuum between papers with excellent ideas and papers that have weak ideas.
After a couple days of working with other students papers and working on papers of our own, several students were ready to share their work. Cody volunteered his paper and the students looked at it carefully, finding instances where his ideas really glowed and parts that he could focus on during his revision process.
Again, I was taking pictures with my computer, so pardon the blurry, cockeyed views.

Ceramics Class: Glazing

Jessica came in again for our first pottery class of the new year. She had fired all the pots the kids had made and believe it or casualities! All the pots were intact and ready for glazing. The kids learned about different glazes and saw samples of what their pots would look like depending upon which glaze they chose.
The glazes have to be kept separate or it can contaminate the colors, so each glaze was placed on a separate table and the kids sat at whatever color table they wanted. After dipping or painting their pots, Jessica will be firing them and then they'll have beautiful finished pots.

A Bradley Breakfast

Of course I had to forget my camera on the day that Bradley cooked us all breakfast, so pardon the grainy images as I took them with my laptop. The breakfast treat started because his reading homework just happened to be a book about how to make pancakes. So Bradley thought it'd be great to go ahead and practice! We wholeheartedly agreed.

The pancakes were awesome, replete with syrup and fresh strawberries.
Mr. Finn suggested that Bradley's book for tonight be How to Make Pizza.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Still Life with Watercolor

As we have grown as artists this year and last, I'm seeing a lot more attention to detail from the students. We've learned that good art takes time, so the rush to just 'get it done' is not prevalent anymore. Kids who didn't see themselves as artists are now gaining confidence and producing beautiful works.
The idea with this lesson that I found on my favorite art website is to use just one color, with differing gradations of saturation, avoiding the same tone next to each other.
Another difference that I've noticed is that the kids are more independent in their choices. It used to be that they would choose the same colors as their friends, or be highly influenced by someone in class that they admired. Now they seem comfortable being individuals as evidenced by the boys at this table who all chose different colors: Elijah with red, Dylan with green, Cody with traditional blue, and Brody with turquoise blue. The end results were beautiful and I've got to get a picture of them!


Since we only have three ferries a week in the winter, it's difficult for our guidance counselor, Ursula to visit, so she set up times to check in with the kids over Polycom. She goes to the high school and uses their system to connect to us. She did a talk on bullying, showed some videos and the kids did research on their own laptops then shared out what they discovered. Did you know that up to 25% of school students report being bullied with frequency? And that as many as 160,000 students may skip school on any given day because they're being bullied? Most schools have a zero tolerance policy for physical violence, but often verbal bullying is left to run rampant. Our kids talked about ways to avoid being bullied, to identify instances when they themselves might have bullied and statistics about the long term repercussions for people who have been bullied as well as the bullies themselves. Thanks to Ursula for sharing her expertise and being willing to work around our strange ferry schedule!

Just Had to Share

My happy thought for the day.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Gearing Up

I'm not the only person who thinks Frenchboro is a really special place. An anonymous donor gifted the students of Frenchboro money to buy sports equipment. Being able to have the kids decked out in proper hockey gear is a dream come true.
The kids were seriously psyched. They couldn't wait to put the pads and helmets on. Here's Saylor...making pink look tough.
Dylan and Myron: Show us your game face, boys!
Along with the protective gear, there was enough left over for sticks, goals and skates. The ice was beautiful just before winter break and we were out playing hockey every day...sometimes playing once during school and then down again for more hockey after school. Unfortunately, we lost the good ice for a while due to a thaw, but now it's refrozen-a little bumpy, but we're going out today for gym class for our first game of the new year!

Pen Pal

We have a pen pal. Her name is Carol and she lives in Australia. Carol has always had a special place in her heart for Maine, and she happened to catch the Oprah episode about Frenchboro, so she decided to write a letter to us. Around Christmas time, she sent us a couple packages with special gifts like an Australian flag, stickers, even a calendar. When she writes to us, she always includes interesting details about her country, and since we are practicing our mapping skills in Social Studies, all the information is very helpful. It just so happens that I have a special place in my heart for Australia as well since I lived there for six months as an exchange student. I hope the kids in Frenchboro School take advantage of any opportunites they have to travel the world as it's incredible experience to learn about different places and cultures. Hi Carol! Thanks!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Happy New Year

Every time I log on to this site, I smile. It's that photo of all the kids standing on the porch. I marvel at how they've changed in the course of the year and a half that I've been privileged to know them. And they're so darned cute, aren't they? All those unique personalities. Sometimes I hear their voices in my head, usually a funny comment that they've shared or that I've overheard. I'll be minding my own business, working on something, maybe reading a book and in will pop things like, "Look at me! I'm a crazy elf!" or "Oh. Poo." Kids are just so hilarious, much more so than adults...maybe it's the spontaneity, or what goes for a normal conversation between five year olds. Our neice is that kind of kid. She was outside playing with her mom and they found a toad. She came racing in to exclaim to her brother, "Ben, Ben! We found a turd!!" I mean. How can you not fall over laughing at that? I hear her voice, too, for sure. Here's to all the little people, may we appreciate them for all their special gifts...and their unique command of the English language.