The Hall Family


Blog #27



Zoo Day








   We went to the Akron Zoo today.  Although it rained before we were finished we had a great time.  Brigitta and Svea had a enjoyed feeding the animals in the petting zoo.


   I had over 100 families visit my classroom last night.  The "student led conferences" went very well and my students enjoyed showing their parents all that they have accomplished so far this year.


   Check out the Movie Page for a clip of Annika taking a few steps; just added today.



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Blog #26


Annika's First Steps


   Annika took her first steps this morning.  Before school I was watching her stand with one hand on a chair and in her other she had a cracker.  She took her hand off the chair and was eyeing another chair that was only a few steps away.  She looked as if she was thinking about walking.  After she grabbed a hold of the chair again I picked her up and brought her to the center of the room.  I stabilized her into a standing position and let go.  In my mind I silently began to count; at two she took a step toward me and then paused.  At count eight she took another baby step and reached for me.  Altogether she took two steps and remained balanced on her own for about 10 seconds.  I still donít expect to see her really walking for awhile; but weíll chalk this up as her first official steps.  I have to admit that it was a surprising and emotional experience; I really only hoped to see her stand for a few seconds.


   Last night at dinner Svea asked asked for a challenging question.  I orally spelled out n-o-o-d-l-e and Svea sounded it out.  After a few more words and praise Britta asked for a question.  Svea immediately responded with "t-e-n", followed by Joan stating, "That's too hard for her".  Brigitta responded by blurting out, "ten".  All heads swung to Britta in amazement and our dinner table erupted with laughter.  I can't believe that I used to teach kids to read as a first grade teacher and I actually asked myself, "When did Brigitta learn to read?".  She's really not reading consistently yet, but she is starting to put words and sounds together.


   Today was a beautiful and warm day.  I went kayaking and saw dozens of swans, geese and a few ducks.  I also could see the newest Goodyear Blimp being tested near its airdock at Wingfoot Lake which is less than three miles from where I was paddling at Mogadore Reservoir.  Joan and Papa tilled a section of the garden today and planted a row of lettuce and a row of peas.  They have also set up a few cold frames outside and have a variety of starter plants sprouting in the porch.  The forecast for tomorrow is also good and Joan and Papa look forward to more yardwork.


   Tomorrow IHM is hosting Student led conferences.  Svea will be showing Joan what she has been learning in school and her teachers have a variety of activity centers lined up.  Students in all grades will be bringing their parents into the computer lab after their conferences to show them what they have learned and been working on in computer class this year.  I'll have to work from 7:30 A.M. to 8:00 P.M., but we do get Friday off.


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Blog #25



All I Want for Easter are My...

   Svea and I went to the dentist today.  She had three very loose teeth and all three were easily pulled.  Svea is very sentimental and decided to give just one tooth to the Tooth Fairy; she's keeping the others.


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Blog #24



Old Kayaking Movies From Hawaii


Submarine chasing in Hawaii                          Kayak surfing in Hawaii


   I've spent a good chunk of the weekend converting and editing two old analog 8mm movies from our Hawaii days.  Be sure to check them out on out Movies page.  They are each available in 720 x 480 TV resolution or 320 x 240 broadband resolution.  The 720 x 480 movies are huge (175 MB & 76 MB) so if you want to see them in high resolution plan on starting the download and just go to bed or eat diner.  I recommend right-clicking on the link and selecting "Save Target As...".  Editing these clips brought back some great memories.  If any of you have ever heard me talk about kayaking and kayak surfing in Hawaii the surfing clip pretty much shows what its like to surf tame waves.  I never dared to take the helmet camera out in the surf on big wave days.  I always would end up getting churned up in a wave and I think the big helmet camera would have torqued my neck pretty hard or it just would have come off.  Joan and I were just discussing what a shame it is that we didn't take more movies in Hawaii. 


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Blog #23



Annika Just Loves Strawberries


   Annika broke out into spotty rashes Friday morning about 30 minutes after having three sips of a strawberry smoothie.  Her rash was a little better last night, but worse this morning.  It looks awful, but does not seem to bother her at all.  Joan just got back from taking her to the doctor's office.  He agrees that her reaction is probably from the strawberries, but her rash could be from a virus and the timing with the smoothie could be coincidence.  We are not terribly worried, especially since she is her usual happy self. 

   Look closely at the picture above.  We have also begun to realize that Annika has a slightly forked tongue.  We'll see if this foreshadows her personality in anyway. 



   Brigitta's preschool class put on a circus this Thursday.  Each child got to choose which circus performer/animal they wanted to be.  Brigitta chose to be a tiger and she got to jump through a ring of fire (shown in the picture above).  They sang five songs and paraded around playing instruments - Brigitta got Maracas. The circus ended with all of the children taking tumbling passes across a mat.  Brigitta did a great job, knew all of the songs and thoroughly enjoyed herself.


   Svea had a pizza luncheon yesterday.  Normally when we have pizza at home she eats one piece and doesn't always finish it.  Occasionally if she is hungry she will have two.  Yesterday she ate four pieces of pizza, a plate of diced fruit, some yogurt and lemonade.  I've never seen her eat so much.  A leprechaun visited her kindergarten classroom overnight and trashed their room.  I don't have a class first thing on Friday mornings so I stuck around and watched her teachers prepare their students with leprechaun hats, shamrock pins and rainbow glasses and then lead the students into their messy classroom.  Even though there are high academic expectations in kindergarten, it is nice to see that there is still time for fun and traditional customs. 


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Blog #22


All's Quiet on the Eastern Front

   Svea was selected by her teacher for a Citizenship Award.  Each teacher selects one student a quarter who exhibits kindness, helpfulness and a Christian attitude.  Later this week she will attend a pizza party with other IHM students.  We are very proud of her and hope to see more of this "citizenship" at home.

   I went kayaking on Saturday; it was my first time out in a few weeks.  Annika caught a bit of a cold and an ear infection.  For a few days both Brigitta and Annika were on Penicillin.  I've picked up their cold as well. 

   I've begun to work on my research methods class and my thesis/research project.  Normally graduate coursework must be completed within six years of enrollment but Regis University in Denver has granted me an extension.  The guide for my thesis is 58 pages long and most of it is vital.  I expect my thesis will be somewhere between 50 and 100 pages long, all APA style formal writing.  Here is a non APA style snippet of where I am going:

   State laws tell teachers that they have to teach certain ďStandardsĒ for each subject. Every lesson that a teacher plans must be based on these standards and the standards must be written into their lesson plans. Often the standards include everything imaginable with no indication of what is really important or how long it realistically takes to teach each concept or skill. A typical example is the Ohio Academic Content Standards for Technology; public school teachers are given a 360 page manual that outlines everything that students "need" to learn regarding technology. This isnít text that flows like a history book, its gobs of wordy language that is so full of non-practical fluff that itís nearly useless. I doubt if anyone at the state level has even considered whether itís possible to teach everything to a useful degree within the allocated time; they must just figure the more stuff they throw in the smarter the kids will be. We end up with the state practically forcing teachers to briefly introduce everything under the sun, but effectively teach nothing. Most good teachers recognize the situation for what it is, feed the state and everyone in-between what they want to hear/read, and just teach what they feel is practical, relevant and possible. In the long run itís just one more way that teachers end up wasting their time just to please authorities who have no real clue how unrealistic their aspirations really are.  Standards could be a useful tool if they were just written with realistic goals. This is especially for new teachers who do not yet fully understand their content area or curriculum; they could most benefit from a reasonable guide. 

   Last night I began searching for other state technology standards.  Arizona and Connecticut have technology standards that are 24 and 22 pages long.  Alaska's technology standards amazed me, they were only one and a half pages long, or 373 words.  In comparison that's nearly one word for every page in the Ohio technology standards.  The Diocese of Cleveland typically adopts Ohio state standards for all subjects and adds religious ideas where appropriate.  I hope to be the voice of reason when the diocese technology standards writing committee gets together.  My research project will be to present a reasonable research-based technology curriculum and standards.


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Blog #21




Happy Birthday Annika!


Today we celebrated Annika's first birthday.  I spent most of the day making a webpage commemorating her most frightening birth experience.  Check out the 27 picture webpage here.  A link to it is also available on our homepage



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