Saturday, October 31, 2009

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Monday, October 26, 2009

Micah Sings Gospel ABCs

video
Love love love. Lotsa love in the Crisp house these days. We're in a good groove. Quality time with each little boy daily, opportunity for the occasional date, reading nightly, homework after dinner, great conversations, and reasonable levels of stress for both Mommy and Daddy.

I love it when Micah sings because he is so intense. He wants to get it all just right!
In other news, Elijah's soccer team is about to play their championship game next weekend. They are undefeated. I haven't posted much about it because he has only chosen to play a handful of times. He actually had one really good game, but he hasn't played again since (by his choice, not the coach's). He's a tough cookie to figure out- he wants to be there but doesn't want to play. You gotta love him.

Its report card season and everyone is doing well in school. Micah's strengths seem to be just about everything except for gym. Elijah's strengths are definitely in math and problem solving. Isaiah's strengths are everything except for the occasional potty accident. Hopefully that'll clear up before junior high. We love the young men that these boys are becoming. Micah broke down in tears when I jokingly pretended to cry recently, Elijah thanked me for forgiving him after he disobeyed recently, and Isaiah sits on my lap and chats about his day for as long as I'll have him. Home life is good... and we want to see the rest of our families soon!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

My Education Rant

Today in a meeting at school with all of the 8th grade teachers and our fearless leaders, we were asked to watch a 10 minute clip of General McChrystal being interviewed by Dan Rather. The general was expressing that the war in Afghanistan was progressing, but just much too slowly. At every post he visits, he hears, "We're making progress," but when he delves into, "What progress," it is a very small step toward the end goals. There were numerous shots of McChrystal pep talking his men on the dangers of becoming complacent with small gains. "We must see more progress or we'll be here a hundred years."

What does this have to do with education? Our superintendent of schools, Stu, knows what he's doing. He has transformed under-performing schools into top-achieving schools in record time. The video was his way of pep-talking us I suppose. I think we were supposed to walk away with a renewed sense of purpose, with energy and determination to "wage war on the achievement gap." (Stu's words) And for some teachers in the room, maybe it worked.

But for me, I'm left dissatisfied and aching in the pit of my stomach. After the video, we were given color printouts listing students we are to target. This is our battle plan. We're not to stop teaching everyone else, but we are to hone in on this group of students, carefully grouped for us, color coded and graphed. It makes sense right? If your troops are overwhelmed and making small amounts of progress, you zero in on key areas where you need to gain control; get the job done there, and then spread out. I get it. Maybe I'm just not wired for this kind of thing because here's all I can think about.

I have 18 kids on my 'target' list. They aren't the 18 lowest performing kids or the 18 kids who have the poorest reading scores. They are students who are just a few points away from making it to the magic number on the state test and their subgroup information couldn't be clearer.

It is suggested that our time would be best spent on the kids who fit more than one and preferably more than two subgroup populations. For example, a student who is Hispanic, receives special education services and is on free and reduced lunch should receive more of my focus than another student of the same reading level who is white, has no identified disability and is not on free and reduced lunch.

Of course, no administrator would ever admit that their intention is to provide better educational opportunities to some kids based on their belonging to a subgroup population- but the message is none-the-less clear. 1) We're expected to somehow pull aside low performing students into small groups for specialized instruction that meets their needs while maintaining high levels of instruction overall. 2) There are too many needy students to be effective with all of them all at once. Ergo- maximize your efforts on the students that "count" in closing the achievement gap. And with Stu's track record of success, this is probably the best way. I'm just not made for this.

It's not that I don't enjoy the low performing kids. I love them. And I love the subgroup kids and the gifted kids and the creative thinkers and the linear thinkers. I want to teach them all, and I can't. That's what makes me crazy. If I'm focused on the subgroup kids, my lesson planning for the large group suffers, and my lessons are good but not great. And if I'm planning great lessons for everyone (large group and subgroup), my grading suffers and students aren't getting timely feedback on their work. And let's say by some miracle that I get caught up on grading, and my lesson planning is still great, then I'm certainly not having time to spend with my own family or participate in any extra curricular activities myself. (Like writing this blog for example)

So to Stu, I appreciate him and I think he is a valiant and courageous leader, but I'd just like to remind him of one thing. General McChrystal's ultimate solution is 40,000 more troops in Afghanistan.

OK, rant over. More pictures and video of kids to come soon.

Isaiah sings

video
I've been trying to record video of each of the boys singing. So far I've been successful with Zay and Micah. Elijah's is hardest to catch because he doesn't like an audience to his vocal talent and it usually involves lots of crazy dancing. Isaiah learned this song at school and sings it around the house often. And I love the paradox of cute songs while playing with potentially dangerous fake plastic weapons. Zay and I are the only 2 people in this house looking forward to snowy weather. :)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Lauren Winners

Amberly introduced me to her (Lauren Winners), and I've been doing some reading up on her. What an accomplished and thoughtful lady she seems to be. I found this list from a recent conference where she spoke, and I thought it was interesting.
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Twenty-One Things the World Will Say About Christians

Lauren Winner shares her vision during the Christianity21 conference.

Friends, I'm up late in a hotel room writing what is too good not to share, just like any good live-blogger does. Day One of the Christianity21 conference in Minneapolis has been full of provocative ideas, revelations, and creativity. I spent the chilly afternoon sipping Peace Coffee (I stepped on an ICE patch in the parking lot, thank you very much), listening to 21-minute sessions, and limping under the weight of my computer bag as I interviewed greats like Phyllis Tickle and Mimi Haddad (more reasons to stay tuned to Kyria in the months ahead!). While I can't describe every way the Lord is working in one late-night blog post, I'd like to share Lauren Winner's 21 characteristics that - if we all are faithful now - the world will say about Christians by the end of this century. In other words, she hopes that the average person on the street in the year 2092 might think of these qualities when asked what Christians are like.

By the end of the 21st century, Christians will...
1. Be peacemakers.
2. Be expected to be the first ones to show up when disaster strikes.
3. Rest, because they know they're not the ones in charge.
4. While resting, reconfigure their work.
5. Live well in their bodies, whether by their diet, their sex lives, or the clothes they wear.
6. Practice boredom. They will not succumb to the "fetish of the new or the cult of novelty" when it comes to their faith.

7. Be truth-tellers, even if the answer is "I don't know." Even "authenticity" and confession can be a pose.
8. Practice silence in small and big ways, including in solitude.
9. Live in communities where everyone has access to power, and everyone can and will share it with others.
10. Live in communities where women can do anything.
11. Go to church with the people they live near.
12. Persist in making Kingdom demands. This means taking the same request to God, over and over!
13. When we think about God, we think about what needs to change next. This is largely informed by Tozer: what we think about when we think about God is the most important thing about ourselves.
14. Eat fewer strawberries. We will tread lightly on the planet and not risk the energy and harm to our planet just so we can have strawberries in January.
15. See ourselves as small characters in a larger story. As Winner's colleagues at Duke suggest, a "saint" can fail in a way that a "hero" cannot, which opens the doors to ideas like forgiveness and new possibilities of God.
16. Lament. ("We don't do this well. Jews do it a bit better.")
17. Throw good parties. Afterall, we're here to practice for the heavenly banquet!
18. Not gossip. This means talking about someone who is not present. Period.
19. Have unity without obliterating diversity, and that's because of the Trinity.
20. Understand something about grace (despite our 19 wonderful attributes above).
21. Describe reality and the spiritual sacraments in such a way as to "make mouths water and hearts hunger."

Many thanks to Lauren Winner for these prophetic words."

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Micah

Micah laughs at the Cosby Show- hard. I love that about him since it is one of my most favoritest shows of all time!
This has nothing to do with the Cosby Show really. We were just watching it tonight, he was lying next to me on the bed and I heard him murmuring just under his breath- "Levit, itic, iticus. Lev... it... ic... us. Leviticus. Numbers. Deuteronomy." I said, "Do you know the books of the Bible?" He said, "Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth." Then he smiled one of those huge accomplished smiles. :)
I'm so thankful for caring teachers at church.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Idiosyncrasies

We all have them right? Micah and Isaiah love to color, paint, draw etc. If Eric or I are sitting with them, they'll do it all day long. Elijah on the other hand, not so much. Lately though, he has been coloring large portions with us. He talks incessantly the entire time, making up stories about the character he is coloring, but he needs the fine motor skills practice, so I encourage the storytelling even though... let's just say they're NOT linear. So today, we were all painting or coloring at the table.
Elijah was coloring a storm trooper, chattering away about how you kill storm troopers, what they do, who they are, what color they can or can't be, where they live and a thousand other details. I've learned the fine art of, "oh yeah? Really. Huh," responses while thinking other thoughts. I'm glad I caught this nugget though.
Elijah: I really hate coloring the background.
Me: That's OK. Just color the parts you like.
Elijah: OK. I'm done with the storm trooper. I'm going to cut him out.
Me: OK.
Elijah gets the scissors and starts cutting around the storm trooper.
Elijah: Mommy, it feels good to cut him out because I feel like I'm setting him free from his background.

Ahh the places we could go with this.

Isaiah-isms

Kroger = Krogert
Black olives= Black Ol-O's

His brothers correct him, but he says he likes his way better.
I love that about him, but only when this stubborn confidence isn't enacted against me. Selfish but true.

Elijah on Love

I made a pillow for Elijah when he was a baby. It is blue checked fabric with white satin ribbon around the outside edges and a giant E sewed into the middle. Micah and Isaiah started asking a few months ago why they don't have pillows with an M and an I on them, so I told them I'd make them one.

Friday evening, Elijah has soccer practice so I took the other two to Hobby Lobby to pick out their own fabrics for their pillows. Micah chose McQueen and Isaiah chose race cars. On the way back to the field to pick up Elijah, Micah started the following conversation.
Micah: Mommy, won't Elijah feel bad that he didn't get new fabric for a pillow.
Me: I don't think so. Elijah already has his E pillow, and he loves it.
Micah: But our fabrics are cool and his is just all blue.
Me: I think Elijah will be happy for you, but it would probably be best not to brag to him OK?
Micah: OK, can I show it to him?
Me: Sure, just don't brag about it being better than his or anything like that.
----- Elijah gets in the van.
Micah: Look Elijah, we got fabric from Hobby Lobby to make our own M and I pillows like your E pillow.
Elijah: Cool. Can I see it?
Micah hands it back to him.
Elijah: I like it. What did you pick Isaiah?
Zay: Race cars
Micah: Elijah, sorry but we didn't get you anything.
Elijah: That's OK. I already have my E pillow that Mommy made me.
Micah: But don't you like our new fabrics better than your plain old E pillow?
Elijah: (pauses for a second) mmmmm.... No, not really. Cause my pillow is full of LOVE. Right Mommy?
Me: That's right Lij.
Elijah: Mommy made it special just for me, so I love it.

Micah was baffled, but it was the end of the conversation. :)

Pumpkin painting



2009 is the year of the white pumpkin apparently. We thought it looked ghostly... and fun to paint. I forgot to take a picture of the finished product. It is a colorful cornucopia!

Arts and Crafts





Can I just reiterate how much I love this little town? Wilmore arts and crafts festival was today. It is tiny- little booths line the 2 block main street, and there are no rides or parades- not even any elephant ears or funnel cakes. The food includes some hotdog and chili booths, lots of homemade goods like jellies, honey, bread and pickles. And there is the kettle corn tent. I love kettle corn. All three boys and I split a bag kettle corn and 2 IBC rootbeers- $5. We all rode our bicycles to the festival, Isaiah on the trail a bike behind mine.

A man from the art department at Asbury College was sculpting vases and bowls out of clay. The boys all sat on the ground and watched him, start to finish, enthralled. Isaiah kept asking, "How's he doing that?" No crowds. No pushing and shoving. Where else can you have this much fun for free?

Simile Metaphor Collection

Elijah after running: My heart is beating like a coconut rolling down a hill.
Elijah on urination: Pee is like horses galloping out of the gate. Once they get started you just can't stop them.
Elijah: If school were a human I'd give it a wedgie.
Elijah: I am like a hot rod and I just want to be a plain old Ford
Elijah on the fruits of the spirit: I've got them all covered except self-control. Its like a tiny green tomato and the rest are all big ripe ones. Especially love. Its like the biggest tomato we saw in the garden tonight.