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Monday, January 31, 2011

Polycom Day

Since we live on an island, and that island has very limited ferry service in the winter time, our polycom is a really nice perk in our classroom. On Friday morning, Ursula, our guidance counselor, met with the kids. She usually comes out on Fridays in the fall and spring times when our extra ferry is running. In the winter, we don't have a boat, so she meets the kids virtually. It takes a little getting used to, but we really like 'seeing' her!
She talked with the kids about decision making and priorities. She also addressed using positive words and encouragement when you work as a team. We are so glad to have a counselor who is so flexible and willing to work with us in this different sort of way.
In the afternoon, after PE, we had a workshop to attend. No joke. We really participated in a teacher workshop at the Island Institute. How awesome is that? We got to see Ruth and Hope, and even Paula from Isle au Haut. We were learning about Google Fusion, a program that we can use in conjunction with our GPS's to download our way points directly to Google Earth (something we were having difficulty with because of our MLTI laptops). If that sounds Greek to you, just ask the kids to explain it all to you.
Here are the kids all huddled together downloading away. Brody said something to the effect of, "We may not look smart, but we're ahead of them." AHHAHAHHAHA! Luckily we were on mute at the time. We're looking forward to going out and mapping more of our island to create our own personalized Google Earth maps.

Fun With Clay

I know, I know. This is an absolutely ridiculous amount of pictures for one post. Things are tough here with my new camera. It takes such great photos that I'm having a really difficult time filtering. Like this one of Cadin. This is Cadin's "Ms. Finn has the camera pointed at me...AGAIN!" face. But just keep in mind...for every picture posted, I probably have an additional dozen that I didn't post. So, the lesson here is: maybe take a few less photos. Period.
But let's face it, that's not gonna happen. The kids are far too cute and charming to miss out on any of their antics. I love this one of Myron. He's got his arm slung back over the he contemplating the universe or imagining where he's going to put his traps this summer? It MAY be ceramics on his mind. Maybe not.

Jessica's been into knitting. Like she needs any more things to excel at! She knit me a pair of fingerless gloves...because...get this: she had some left over yarn! I think maybe I'll casually leave trails of yarn in her yard and maybe she'll knit me a sweater. Here she is with her awesome hat that she just whipped up. And speaking of talent...check out Bradley's pinch pot mug. Isn't that amazing? He's 8. I mean, that's better than many adults can do! And....He's EIGHT!
Look at this bowl. A work of art, here, folks. He did this completely out of coils. You know how many coils it takes to make a bowl like this? Me neither. But it's A LOT! He's going to eat cereal out of this bowl...there's plans here for this bowl, you know. There's a VISION involved!

Okay, this may very well be the cutest photo ever. Look at his tongue! That is so adorable! He was concentrating so hard. Love. This. Photo!
Saylor taking a picture of me taking a picture of her. I know....who'd have thunk? A ceramic camera!
These are my creations. I'm all about cuteness. I saw something similar in a catalog and you know, I just didn't want to spend, like, fifty bucks. Brody made the littlest one to go with the owl family. Can't wait to glaze them.
Seth is less than thrilled about coiling and smoothing for an hour. So after about a half hour of work, Mr. Finn makes Seth a clay figure. This is Woody, of course. Couldn't you tell by the hat? This is highly entertaining for Seth. This little guy had some major adventures while the rest of the kids smoothed their pieces.
Jessica always tries to include real instruction on clay and it's properties. Here she is showing them the difference between bone dry and leather hard. The leather is cool to the touch because it still has moisture in it. So when potters are in doubt they can test by doing this.
You'd think he was being tortured.

I think Seth could have sat there all day with those on his face. So cute. What a great class, as usual. Thanks, Jessica!

Thursday, January 27, 2011


Thanks to the Gray weather service we have some great posters about clouds which help in our weather study. We've been slowly adding more and more complexity to our weather observations and data gathering. Clouds are very difficult to master. It's a lot different than going to the weather station and checking the temperature.
Mr. Finn has been doing lessons on the atmosphere and the different layers up there. Since most things that we deem important are happening in the troposphere, that's where we're spending most of our time. No pun intended.
The kids each got a copy of the cloud chart and began examining the clouds that happen in the upper troposphere, middle and lower.
Seth LOVED his chart. Especially the picture of the tornado.
He was very enamored by the big, dark clouds. The scarier, the better.
He's telling me to watch out for these ones.
Mr. Finn was also enamored by...everything. He did a lot of gesticulating while talking which he does when he gets excited by a topic. The kids are pretty used to it by now. I still find it amusing. After we were done with the keynote, the kids partnered up to practice identifying the different types of clouds. Then they started on their cloud calendars. It was all stratus on the 26th.

We Are The Ship

Have you read this book? It's not just a book, it's a work of art. Literally. Kadir Nelson wrote and illustrated it. Kadir is an incredible painter, and has been working on this book for years. It is the story of the Negro Baseball League.

Every year when I'm planning my curriculum, I get on the ALA (American Library Association) website and look at the notable books from the previous year. You can count on them choosing the best of the best. They are librarians after all. When I saw this book I knew I had to get it. I always try to have something special around Martin Luther King Jr. Day and this was a perfect example of quality African American literature and art. It just so happened to have won the Coretta Scott King award for excellence, too.
Here are the boys taking their test since they just finished the book. They focused on two informational text standards and it took them about two weeks to finish the book. They loved it because there were pictures.

Just look at this illustration! Kadir wrote that he was influenced by Ken Burns's baseball documentary and became fixated on the story of the Negro League. It is indeed a fascinating subject. He said that doing the research was the most difficult thing but that he had a lot of help and encouragement. He writes, "I h ope that I have done justice to these somewhat forgotten men and given them the tribute that they deserve. I have tried to honor them, to portray them as the heroes they were, and to further solidify their place in history. I hope that the reader will agree."

We do, Kadir. We most certainly do.

Recess Fun

The kids are on to my new camera. They know it can zoom so they hide from me. In the snow fort. But I got 'em. You just have to be patient. They have to surface sometime.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I Have A New Camera!

It has a great zoom. I took this from across the room. Yay! Lots more to come!

1/25/11 Weather

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

How Weird is This?

This was in the twins' math book today. Can you believe that? It's a nautical map of Frenchboro! And not just wee Frenchboro off in the corner of the's smack dab in the middle. Curious. Very Curious.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Adinkra Fabric

After studying West African art, we were ready to try out our Adinkra stamps. We thought of using real fabric, but it was hard to get the right amount of paint as it was, so we opted for paper instead and just cut it out to look like shirts. They got to choose their colors and the key was keeping the paint very thin, so we brushed it onto paper plates. If it was too thick, it would get trapped in all the crevices of the stamp and smear onto the paper which looked rather heinous. I know because I did it myself several times before figuring this fact out.

Here's Brody with his war horn stamp. There were some funny ones, like the 'ladder of death'. Easy now. It was of course, tremendously popular and got interjected into casual conversation as much as possible.
Bradley's has something to do with the soul's inability to be destroyed. He liked that one, and I know why.
Teressa's was about learning from the past, but really maybe she got a kick out of having the most complicated symbol for Mr. Finn to cut out with a scalpel.
The shirts were laid out to dry. I really liked the orange/green color combination. The next step was to glue the two sides together for a whole shirt. How fun.

Fat Rat

Don't let the title fool you. Fat Rat is a happening dude. Seth wrote this story. He's working on reading CVC (consonant vowel consonant) words. As a result, there are a lot of stories about fat cat sitting on mats and such. This time around he had a rousing character who steals, of all things, a skateboard. He does some tricks. He falls down. Apparently, after he falls down, he's not so keen on the skateboard and he gives it back. As Cadin, our 7 year old Buddha would say, "That's karma for you."

It may not look like it, but Seth was psyched about his book, and even more psyched to take it home and read it to Mumma.

Snow Storm for PE

Soooo, all you mainlanders had a 'snow day' during the recent storm that blew through here last week? Well, so did we. It was gusting and snow was blowing sideways. We decided to make forts for PE. That's what REAL Mainers do. Life throws us snow, we make forts!
Give the kids a shovel and there's nothing they can't do!
The older boys made a massive fort. It's still out there. Mr. Finn and a couple of the younger kids made a massive snowman. It's still there, too. I really should get a picture as it's awesome.
And some of us, you know, just....crawled around and covered ourselves entirely in snow.

Friday, January 21, 2011

And Speaking of Thanks....

Oh, and while I'm on the subject of Thank Yous...A huge thank you to Paul for coming FOUR separate times with his equipment to get Doug up on the roof to deal with the weather station. Paul's the kind of indispensable guy that many small towns have: he can fix anything and you call him and he shows up right away, does an excellent job, and pushes away your thanks and compliments like you're crazy for even mentioning it. Thanks to Jay as well, for all his help with the weather station, and to Roman for all his help with the soldering. Hopefully no more glitches with the weather station so we can stop bugging these guys all the time!

Wii Deca Sports

Many thanks to Becky, Mike, Myron, Bradley and Seth for their donation of a brand new Wii Deca Sports disc for our Wii system at school! Mr. Finn is anxiously awaiting a try at curling! Great gift, guys...thanks again!

Outer Islands Weather Blog

Our friend, Jessie, over at Monhegan turned us on to this great project she's involved in for STORMS. Some of the outer islands have a blog and are posting the weather, pictures and short videos of what's happening on their island in terms of weather.

Check it out! Outer Islands Weather Blog

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Rain Gauge

We've been getting some great rain/snow data to input into CoCoRahs lately, and supposedly we have up to 11 inches of snow to look forward to in our next storm. Bring it on!


Okay, so yeah...I made 'em s'mores. I never do this kind of thing, but we were missing half the class and I had an enormous amount of s'mores stuff from the holidays that I did not want to have to polish off myself. And just look at this face. The face of adoration No. Of course not. For SUGAR! Wooohooo! Teressa in the background....look at her eyes!

Officially I never was over the moon about S'mores. That is until my friend Louise used her broiler to make me some in the oven. Wow. It's all about the melted chocolate, really. If you've never given yourself this treat, you are truly missing out.

Brody assured us he could eat his in one bite.

He was right.

Penobscot Marine Museum

Susan and Cheryl from the Penobscot Marine Museum came out on the Sunbeam on Tuesday and they visited our school to give us some history and a lesson on sailor's valentines. The one pictured above is from a book, but it's a real picture of what they looked like. Sailors traveling from New England to Barbados would get these for their sweethearts or family.
Cheryl and Susan came with a huge tote full of gorgeous tropical shells. We were in heaven.
The kids could choose to put a historical photo of a sea captain in the middle of their valentine. Seth and Austin both liked this idea.

They came out great! We couldn't tilt them due to the wet glue, but you get the idea. Many thanks to Cheryl and Susan for the terrific lesson and visit!