Saturday, August 27, 2011

Quick Trip to Flagstaff

I worked pretty much all summer.  So much for that old addage, that teachers love June, July, and August.  We didn't get a proper summer vacation, but we were thinking of going camping.  I came home from running errands one Friday and Joe said to get packed.  We were going to Flagstaff!

When we pulled into town, we went to the historic downtown part of Flag.  The Amtrak station is there and the boys wanted to see the train. 
Then, we walked around downtown.
There was a store with 100 candied apples in the window.  They looked so yummy.
The next morning, we went to the Pioneer History Museum and saw their train.
We also went to the Museum of Northern Arizona.
They have a dinosaur room where the kids can look at fossils.
Look at Joshua's shirt.
They have a trail outside, going down to the river.
This is one of my favorite pictures.
We went to the Arboretum
The boys wanted to do the Tree Ring Maze.
We finished our trip at Walnut Canyon Cliff Dwellings.

Click to play this Smilebox scrapbook
Create your own scrapbook - Powered by Smilebox
Customize a free digital scrapbook

New Life

Being a teacher is the best job.  Every year, we get to start over.  New life.

Last year, I took my kids to the burn zone.  Once, before the fire.  And once, a week after the fire.  There was devastation after the fire.  The mountainside was covered with burned trees, plants, and cacti.  We got very dirty and ashy that day.

This year, I am still focusing on the Arizona State Science Standards of Weathering and Erosion.  It's hard not to, when you have the state breathing down your neck to raise test scores.  But, I am also in a grant program for Science teachers.  I thought I would use my Weathering and Erosion unit for the program and kill two birds with one stone.  Then, I heard about the Disney Planet Challenge.  We selected the fire as our environmental problem that we want to try to fix.  So now, the Weathering and Erosion unit is for three purposes!

I didn't have ancillary yesterday (to be honest, I didn't get a break ALL DAY as I also had recess duty), so instead of sit around the classroom, we would investigate the burn zone.  A co-worker told me that we had student digital cameras.  When I inquired in the office about the cameras, they told me the cameras had never been used! Brand new!  A whole class set!

I did a short lesson on how to use digital cameras and how to frame a picture.  The cameras are not the highest quality and they don't have auto-focus.  So, I taught them about shooting too close or too far away.  We went to the playground and took preliminary photos to talk about the focus and lighting.  And then....we hit the burn zone.  The fire was a little over a mile away from school.  All twenty-five of the students stuck with me (no adults would go with me) and were very respectful.

We noticed a lot of new life once we hit the burn zone.  There were cactus growing on top of dead cactus.  Trees that appeared dead, now had green leaves.

The kids had a heyday, running around and spotting all the life; which included about a dozen horny toads.  We also spotted a rabbit run by and many butterflies.  New Life.

They found a lighter and hypothesized that it might have started the fire.
In fact, they were full of hypotheses.  I can't wait to really dig into this project!  New Life.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Field Trip to the Burn Zone

A few months after we hiked up Old Alchesay Mountain, it caught on fire.  The mountain is very close to our school, so we took the kids out to the field to watch it burn and to watch the fire planes put it out.  A week later, we went back to the burn zone to see the damage.

 When we got to the site, a hydrologist showed up and wanted to talk with the kids about the impact the rains will have on the slope.
 They noticed that some plants were still alive.
 They noticed that the cactus was charred, but still alive on the inside.
 They observed that the ash was just on the surface.
 Another cactus.
 They named this "powder rock".  As soon as you touch it, it turns to powder.  We still don't know exactly what it is.
 More "powder rock".
 Aluminum formations.  They hypothesized that they were formally pop (or beer) cans that had melted in the fire, and re-solidified into these formations.
The new class pet.  Even after the devastation, they found a horny toad, crawling along.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

THE boat

We recently took THE boat out on the lake.  THE boat has quite a story.

When we moved to Arizona, there was no room for THE boat.  I drove the truck with a U-Haul on the hitch.  Joe drove a big U-Haul with the Hyundai on the hitch.  So, Joe gave the boat to a friend.  In the 5 years we have been here, Joe saved up for another boat.  We took it out a few times, but when money got tight, Joe had to sell it. 

A few months ago, the friend in California told Joe that he could have THE boat back.  He said he never used it and it has been sitting for 5 years.  I don't think Joe waited a week before he drove out there to get THE boat back.  He was so excited.  Yet, the friend had lost the title paperwork for the boat and trailer. 

Undaunted, Joe called California DMV and got the required paperwork.  He mailed off the cashier's check and waited patiently for the tags to come.  And wait he did.  Six months.

Summer was drawing to a close and still no paperwork.  One Thursday, Jack and I prayed that God would have California process Joe's check and paperwork and mail the tags.  Monday, when we checked the mail, the tags were there.  Date stamped from Thursday.  What a great testimony to the boys.

Two weeks ago, we took THE boat out. 
Do you think the boys were excited?

They wanted to drive the boat.

Jack and his fishin' pole.

Josh and his fishin' pole.

The day was going great.  But, when we were on the far side of the lake, it started to rain.  Crazy monsoon rain.  8,000 feet elevation, crazy, monsoon rain.  We were so cold by the time we got back to the dock that we were numb.  Overall, it was still a great day with THE boat.

where Glory meets my suffering