Thursday, March 25, 2010

What Have I Been Doing?

Wellllllll . . . Lately I have been spending way too much time engaged in activities that a friend's daughter says are just mindless activities that give you a false sense of accomplishment - computer games. Most notably, Farm Town and Country Life on FB. Argggh! I quit Farm Town back in the summer because I was spending several hours a day on the computer just playing that stinking game, but I unblocked the application a couple of months ago, and unluckily for me, my farm was intact. Then, being the follower that I am, the same friend whose daughter calls computer gaming mindless activities with false senses of accomplishment (which they are), sent me a request to help her out in Country Life - so I did!!! Now I am sitting here once again with this stupid game occupying me in the evenings.

Sitting here putting this down in black and white makes me feel ashamed of myself. I can really see that it does no good at all, and it does, indeed, induce a false sense of accomplishment since there is no real-life gain in playing these games. Yes, you build up a bank of coins and goods, but what can you do with it? In a way you are competing against others, but there is nothing measurable achieved. As a teacher, I have viewed video and computer gaming as the enemy because many children neglect reading and homework and physical activities in favor of their virtual counterparts. Now I find myself getting sucked into the very thing I have advocated against. Hmmmmn. Time for a change in habits for me, I think.

I can think of about three dozen things that I could do right now to take the place of my little addiction. Coming to the foremost, with the arrival of nice weather, is cleaning out the flower beds around here. That includes picking up the pukey remains of last fall's pumpkins sitting in melted puddles of what-used-to-be-orange, white, and green nearby the steps. Soooo attractive to look at. I always do that - leave them for spring and I always un-enjoy it so much! As long as they are hidden by snow, I let them go, but they are always lurking under the snow and in the back of my mind, waiting for spring! As old as I am, you'd think by now I would be done with it and haul them down to the compost heap (so-called) in the fall.

Another upcoming job is too clean out the veggie plot. That, too, is a fall job that I didn't do this year. But it was kind of neat this winter to look out the back door and see, hanging on for their dear lives, the little pear-shaped heirloom yellow tomatoes that were left on the vines. (Unlike those lurking pumpkins!) I don't know why, but these particular tomatoes really stick to their vines. I bet too that they will self-sow if I don't get too aggressive cleaning that area. I loved those tomatoes in salads this past summer, too.

Another big thing I can do to stay away from computer games is my continuing self-directed professional development. I have spent many evenings this winter reading and researching and relearning many early primary best practices for teaching reading. My big job change at the beginning of the school year prompted this flurry of PD, and it feels as if it has really paid off. I am much more secure lately in my knowledge base and my teaching practices. I think that increased confidence has benefited my students, too. Either that, or just their natural developmental progression has increased their growth through the school year, but I like to think my intervention has helped! I am still reading and rereading my Jan Richardson, Debbie Diller, and Richard Marzano. Another hugely valuable resource that I continue to explore is the Florida Center for Reading Research web site maintained by Florida State University. This database is vast and although I have downloaded and copied all the materials for grades K-3, I haven't read or evaluated it all, yet. Of the eight-ten activities I have tried, I found several worth using again, so I will definitely keep sifting through this treasure trove of materials looking for teaching materials to use with my students.

The other things keeping me busy lately have been hand-made goodies. I am hosting a traveling round-robin swap through my paper doll group on Swap-bot. That endeavor has been semi-sucessful in that one person dropped out after not sending on the dolls she has received for the past couple of months. I think she has deeper issues than the doll swap, though, so I hope she gets everything in her life straightened around. She is a talented artist in real life, but her health and employment issues are not where she needs to have them. The other swap participants have hung in there and are creating some really cute outfits for the dolls. Don't know who has my doll right now, though! I've also been making a BUNCH of jewelry. I finally used the bright red coral nuggets (huge and honkin!) that my hubby bought for me at a bead and gem expo in August. Now I need to think of something exciting to do with the biwa and dentil pearls I bought there as well. Now they are GORGEOUS! I really need to come up with a special design for them. I also have been making a lot of Pandora style keychains lately. They are pretty cool. I've also been experimenting with some fabric creations, but I am not trotting them out for a while. I need to work on my technique! And last, but certainly not least, I finally found out that my flip book of paper dolls is being published in the summer issue of Somerset Studio's Gallery magazine. I can't wait to see how they feature it. I hope it will be a multi-picture spread just so people can see the diverse group of dolls I stamped and embellished. And that, Folks, it all there is for this update!