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Tuesday, May 25, 2010


This past friday, we had a visitor. Maria Donahue, who works at the district office, came out and did a nutrition lesson with the kids. Maria is the health coordinator for MDIRSS and her job ranges from working to improve school lunches, to organizing pedometer programs that enourage faculty to get out and be healthier through exercise. She came out and worked with the students on the food pyramid and reading labels. I was a little alarmed by the information on serving sizes. I know I can scarf down my allotted 6 ounces of grain group in about five minutes flat. And let's not even talk about the ice cream. Thank goodness we get a lot of exercise because I've seen these kids at pot luck dinners and they can eat! It's so refreshing being around a group of kids that think the 60 minutes of suggested exercise a day is hilarious. Heck, they get that before they even arrive at school!

But seriously, folks, have you really looked at the sugar content in those energy drinks? 15 packets of sugar. And apple juice is almost the same. That would explain why I love apple juice. The tricky part is all that 'serving size' stuff. Okay, who drinks half of an apple juice and calls it good? Umm, nobody. Well, there are two servings in there, so it's 50 grams of sugar instead of 25. Wow. No wonder they say not to drink your calories.

I'm not sure I'm sold on the 2000 calorie diet and serving size portions, though. Everyone's different. I think if I stuck to that program I would starve to death. And yet I'm not a fanatical exerciser either. Not. Running. Marathons. Over. Here. Looking at the kids, though...they never stop moving, and they're growing like weeds in August, so maybe amount isn't an issue for them, but quality should be for everyone. Yeah, yeah, we all have nights when we sit in front of the t. v. and eat a box of Cheez Its, but hopefully it's not every night. That whole moderation idea is a good one too.

Now, pass that pint of Haagen Daaz and a spoon, will ya?

Week of Music

Bo Newsome and Graham DeZarn are two talented musicians from North Carolina and Virginia. Between the two of them, they play about a dozen instruments, and they can sing, too! It's enough to make Vivaldi jealous.
Each year, the students work with the musicians to put on an opera/musical performance. They get a chance to learn about music composition, song writing, things like tone, pitch, harmony, etc. They also get their hands on a variety of instruments including violin, piano, and drums. This year our performance is centered around William Steig's The Amazing Bone. I love William Steig, so I'm thrilled by this. Sylvester and the Magic Pebble was one of my favorite books as a kid, and last year, 6-8 read Abel's Island, so we're all fans.

This story is about a pig named Pearl who is walking in the woods one day, enjoying the beautiful springtime, when she happens upon a talking bone. The two become fast friends and manage to get themselves into a couple of tight fixes. As we read the story, the kids were calling out characters they'd like to play, mostly the bad guys, but at the end, Bo asked them why they thought he would have chosen this particular story to use for the opera.

Elijah said, "Because it has lots of action and characters."

Bo nodded, agreeing. "Why else might this make a good opera?"

Cadin, very seriously, replied, "It's got a pig."

Because, you know, all the good operas have talking pigs.

Add this to the list of Things Bradley Loves.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Ed and Claire

The week before last, two of my favorite people, Ed and Claire Blatchford and their dog, Tucker, came to Frenchboro to visit. I used to work at the school that Ed founded in Massachusetts and I became friends with his wife, Claire, who also helped out at the school. Both of them have an extensive background in education and Claire still teaches at the Clarke School for the Deaf. So I took full advantage of them being here to share some of their talents. Claire did an excellent art project where the kids imbedded their names into a pattern by using carbon paper to transfer their names over and over into a sort of pinwheel design, which they colored in.

Ed and Claire enjoying the swingset on our playground!

Then it was Ed's turn to show his stuff. He came fully prepared to teach the kids how to make boomerangs. Do you think the kids were into that idea? ummm, let's see....
Yeah, just a little. And miraculously no children were harmed in the throwing of these death sticks, I might add. Lots of ducking, though. These are the coolest things, like, ever. I sleep with mine under my pillow and call it Pookie.

I miss Ed and Claire already.

Monday, May 17, 2010


I have to share. I have this little grouse friend. I've named him Puddin'. He comes to visit me at my house in Cherryfield. Apparently ruffed grouses are known for this...befriending people. I'd never heard of such a thing, so imagine my surprise when this little chicken comes strutting up to me in the yard like we're old friends. He follows me around, and gets terribly huffy if I don't let him into the garden with me. So, I have to lift the edge of the deer fencing and he scampers in. He follows me around like a little pet! If I sit down and plant seeds, he comes and settles in beside me, rocking down into the earth, and his little belly puffs out, hence the name Puddin'.

Fish Hatchery

Our tour guide, Kevin, describing the life cycle of the salmon and how the eggs are 'shocked' after fertilization to separate the viable eggs from the unfertilized ones, which was news to all of us. They have a special machine that senses the opaqueness and all the 'bad eggs' are rejected. This really cuts down on the fungus problems that can happen with the unfertilized eggs.

We had a nice tour of the Green Lake Fish Hatchery out past Ellsworth. After raising our salmon in the tank for a couple months, it was amazing to see the amount of fish that the hatchery itself raises. We saw all the parts of the salmon life cycle and Kevin answered all our questions. He laughed that the kids didn't think it smelled badly in the hatchery as that's the usual comment when school groups come in. Tammy just said, "They're used to bait."


There's a wonderful bird sanctuary and rehabilitation center nearby, so when we went off island last week to release our salmon, we stopped by Birdsacre. Grayson was our guide for the day, and he brought out a young Barred Owl to show us. It was a young bird named Perry, after Perry, Maine, the town it was found in. Perry was very mellow and seemed comfortable with our close proximity. It was amazing to get up close and personal with so many birds. The preserve itself is 200 acres and though we didn't get too much time to explore, several kids checked out some of the trails. We hope to go back again and explore even more. It's hard to believe that such a large refuge is right there on the main road going into Ellsworth. Really impressive place! Go visit if you're in the area. Stanwood Preserve

Monday, May 10, 2010

We Heart Rebekah Raye

This is Rebekah Raye. She is a local author and illustrator. We are lucky enough to be a part of Island Readers and Writers, a wonderful organization that brings out talented people like Rebekah to work with our students.
Here Rebekah is sharing the original artwork she did for the cover of Thanks to the Animals, a Passamaquoddy tale by Allen Sockabasin.
Rebekah did the artwork for this year's Big Read. She did two paintings to illustrate Buck and dogsledding in the Yukon. She showed us the techniques she used in order to get the desired results. She uses goose quills from her pet goose!
Here's Brody doing the last stage of his art piece. He started by drawing his image on tracing paper and transferring it to watercolor paper. Then he used his goose quill to trace the edges of his drawing with liquid watecolors.
Here's Cody spreading the watercolor out across his paper.
Jan Coates, the director of IRW, always accompanies the artist and/or writer. She's displaying Rebekah's original for The Call of the Wild next to the calendar version. Note the slight coloration difference.
Last, but certainly not of our favorite parts of each IRW visit is when the kids get their autographed copies of the book. Rebekah signed each with a special little illustration of the student's choosing.
Saylor wanted an eagle. Some kids chose dogs or wolves because of The Call of the Wild. Cadin was absent, but I knew his favorite animal is a cheetah, so I asked that his have a cheetah. I even got a copy for my neice and nephew. I told Rebekah that my neice loved bunnies, but that all my nephew ever talks about is cars, so she drew a little rabbit driving a car! What a great day. Thanks to IRW, Jan, and Rebekah for a most memorable experience!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Demolition Math

In Math class the kids have been working on tearing out the old doors and putting in new ones. They spent a lot of time with the demolition and then had a lot of measuring to do to make sure the new doors fit perfectly. They also had to put up new trim boards around the doors. We love the light that the new doors offer, as well as the added energy efficiency. Future DIYers at work!

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Call of the Wild

Going through my 5th and 7th graders papers about The Call of the Wild, I was so impressed with this exerpt by Dylan:

"One of the reasons Jack London might have written The Call of the Wild is because he wanted to talk about what happened to him in the harsh cold Yukon. He might want to talk about how these people treated their dogs as if they were a can of soda. Use them to drive them around, then just let them sit there and starve, throwing them away. Then Jack London might have saved a dog, and kept him as a pet. He might be making John (Thornton) him.

In The Call of the Wild Buck loves being a pet, being loved by man and getting whatever he wants, not needing to get his own food. Then he gets brought into the real world, hates it until he knows that he can become a leader. Now if he saw Judge Miller I bet Buck would not run to him. He would rather be in Alaska hunting his own food and killing anything in his way.

In that way The Call of the Wild is one of the best books I've ever read. It talks about a dog changing his ways and learning to deal with the natural world around him, and to become what he really is inside.

The Call of the Wild has great vocabulary, and great sentences describing the building or land Buck is in. For example, on page 128, "And truly Buck was the Fiend incarnate, raging at their heels and dragging them down like deer as they raced through the trees." You can picture yourself watching Buck chasing after the Yeehats and scaring them off away from John Thornton's dead body. Like I said, this book had many sides and many choices you could choose from. You could vote for a dog named Spitz in one of his battles, and a sled runner named Francois vs. Hal. But the book, the way Jack London wrote the book, made you want to vote for one of those guys. The way he only let you hear about Buck's background made you think Buck had it harder than the other guys. Jack London made you think that Hal was awful to the dogs, and Francois was better, but not perfect. With Spitz treating Buck like a jerk, it makes you want to vote for Buck and want Buck to kill Spitz instead of Spitz killing Buck. That's one of the many things that I like about this book. And I would recommend this book to anyone who believes in luck, trust and faith. The book The Call of the Wild is not a normal book. It has fear, proudness, sickening feelings, and joyfulness.

If you read The Call of the Wild you'll find a hero that you'll look up to, but you'll also find a monster that you would never trust. You'll find soething to say, "At least my life isn't as bad as his." You will read about him working hard, and having his stomach begging for food, but you will also read about a monster killing anything in his way, no matter if it's a Grizzly, moose, or a Yeehat Native, he will defeat it. You will also read about a hero, a hero to all dogs, giving them hope that you can survive in the harsh winters in the middle of the Yukon, and you can try to outmatch your owner by beating the laws of the club and fang. He'll teach you how to survive no matter if you have someone like John Thornton to back you up or not. He'll show you how to hunt in this book, and he'll give you a story you'll never forget. Something you'll dream about."

This is the ending of a two page essay. Nice job!