Monday, January 26, 2009

Foggy Day

Much to my surprise, Saturday as I was leaving my house, to proctor the SAT exam at my high school, I turned around and this is what I saw.





I have never seen fog in Las Vegas before and it was thick. As I drove the measly one block to school I couldn't see anything. I love the fog (not much fun to drive in), but it certainly makes everything look mysterious and romantic.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Ophelia Syndrome

In my attempt to create more authentic learning within my class, today my AP World History students read the article "The Ophelia Syndrome" by Thomas G. Plummer. Named after the tragic character from Hamlet, the Ophelia Syndrome manifests itself in persons who don't think for themselves, but who pass that responsibility onto someone else.

I remember on many occasions as I was growing up when I would get frustrated with a homework assignment. During those occasions I would turn to my mother and ask for help and most of the time she would tell me "you have to learn to think, there's no use in me telling you the answer." I would get so mad when she would say this because I though "who cares!" "just give me the answer, I don't want to think." I now fully comprehend the lesson my mother was trying to teach me, but I worry about how to teach that same lesson to my students. When I refuse to answer their questions they often just think I don' t like them or that I am ignoring them in some way. I am desperate to get my students to think and really question the material and not just learn to be parrots of the material.

After I read the article to my students we had a brief discussion about it and then I had them write a response and analyze where they thought they fit on the Ophelia scale. I decided to post two of the responses that I received because it gave me hope. A few of them caught what the message was all about.

Josh's Statement:

"I agree fully with the theory. Students should learn to think for themselves and today's society makes it hard for people to do that. However, I disagree in the sense that to go anywhere and to be successful in today's world you have to follow the rules. You have to play the game the right way. There are few people in the world that are in the positions to change this. Even so their bosses don't see it their way. Learning to think independently and doing the work to prove what you know have to be balanced. You need to be able to follow the rules along with not losing your individuality. This whole thing has to be a balancing act. You want to be successful but you don't want to be a mindless drone in the process. Now if everybody thought for themselves we'd all be in chaos. So we need people who follow and that are mindless, sheep in other words, or there would be mass conflict and chaos."

Kevin's statement:

"It's only natural for people not to question authority. Over 80% of America is religious. Religion tells us it's a virtue to have faith, to not question authority, to cure doubt with scripture or prayer. Most of the workforce wants followers, not free thinkers. That's how it's been throughout history. America is the most religious country in the developed world and maintains the lowest test scores and graduation rates. Is this just a mere correlation? I suppose the politically correct thing to say is no, but I doubt it, although it is true that correlation doesn't necessarily imply causation."

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Day of Transition

Today was a transition day at school. Normally, we have 4 periods each day for 85 minutes a class. This was the first day of the new semester and so we had all 8 periods. They do this because about 1/4 of the student's schedules change at the semester and it makes it easier for everyone to find their new classes. I gained about 6 new students overall and hopefully they will settle in nicely with my routine.

With having shorter class periods today, and because of the new semester and the inauguration of a new president, I decided to use this opportunity as a teachable moment in class. It was interesting to see those students who were really into what was happening and those that could have cared less. Regardless of whether President Obama will be a great President or not, today was historic. I kept assuring my students that this was one of those days that their kids would ask them what they were doing when President Obama was sworn in.

Only two of my classes were really able to see any of the event. During 3rd period we watched the swearing in of President Obama and 4th period was able to see his entire address.

However, because of all the new "change" today I decided to pose a few questions to my students:
  1. What do you like about this class?
  2. What would you change about the class? Why?
  3. What can I (Ms. Boivie) do to help you be more successful in this class?
  4. What are your goals for the 3rd and 4th quarter? Be specific
  5. Other comments and suggestions about how we can make class better?
After school I read all their responses. Of course, I got the typical "don't give us any homework," "the work is too hard." "I hate vocabulary cards." "Let's play more games," etc. My students really had dismall semester exam grades and then after reading their responses to the questions I was a feeling stuck. I try very hard to make class engaging, exciting and applicable but I know that for most of my students it is not hitting the mark. I intrinsically know that my students enjoy my class and most of them stated as much, but I want to make changes to my teaching so that they are able to connect to the information on a deeper level and I don't know the best way to approach it.

A few of the students had some good suggestions, but the things they suggested would just tack on hours a week of work for me to do and I am not looking to spend more hours teaching, but modifying what I already to and make it work better for them.

My dilemma is one I will have to mull over for a while as I transition into this new semester. I imagine that our new president has similar thoughts about how he is going to help fix the problems currently plaguing our nation. But for tonight, I am sure he has plenty of parties to attend and I have a good book that I will continue to enjoy.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Semester Stats

The semester officially ended today. I managed to finish grading the gargantuan stack of late homework, essays and tests that had accumulated since Winter Break and the grades are all in.

Out of my 179 students I had 21% who ended up failing.

This number is a little higher than my first quarter grades. I have never had a second quarter where my students have uniformly done as poorly as they have this year. Traditionally third quarter is the worst. I hope that it gets better third quarter this year as I try to pound it into my student's brains how important their education is for them.

Funeral

It is really difficult when I decide to take a day off work from school. I was fortunate however, that this week was semester exams. I wasn’t sure if I should take the time off to attend my grandfather’s funeral, but I am so glad that I decided to in the end. My substitute only had to give one test and so it was the most ideal day this week for me to be gone. Unfortunately, my father was taken to the emergency room the day my mother and he were scheduled to fly to California and ultimately they could not attend.


Rising at 3:30 a.m. Wednesday morning was not an easy thing for me to do, but I managed to get out of bed and ready for my early morning flight. My roommate, Tiffany, kindly offered to take me to the airport which saved me some time and money with parking. I have always wondered what it would be like just to walk onto a flight with no luggage. I must admit that it sure is easy to go through security and get on and off the plane quickly. To facilitate my travel time, I dressed for the funeral services, took a jacket and my purse and I was off. The flight was a quick hour and 10 minutes and once we landed I decided to check to see if I could catch an earlier return flight. I was scheduled to fly home at 10:30 that evening. The staff at United Airlines easily put me on standby which was nice.


After picking up my car rental I drove to San Rafael and I went to my Aunt Shari’s house where I spent a few hours talking to her and her husband Luke. Luke is an amazing guy from Belgium who was paralyzed from the neck down over 20 years ago. Even with his limited mobility he showed me around their place and we discussed his new business endeavor. Within the last few weeks he created a website with my cousin (his stepson) Aaron (www.disabledandprocutive.com) which documents his story. He hopes to feature other people’s stories and products that have proven to be useful to their rehabilitation. Shari and Luke are vegan’s and eat a totally raw diet. They were on a juice feast while I was there and Shari let me taste their juice and told me all about how they make their beverages. I have to say it was really tasty.


Due to everyone’s schedule Shari, Luke and myself each took separate cars to Santa Rosa for the funeral services. The viewing was at noon at my grandparent’s church building. For the family viewing I was able to spend time with my Uncle Bob and his wife Diane. Their sons Jason and Brian were also there and I haven’t seen my cousins in seven years. I didn’t really talk to them (I have only ever met them twice) but they are handsome young men. Brian is in the Marines and Jason is training to be a firefighter. In addition to their family, my Uncle Larry and his wife Deborah were there as well as some cousins of my dad’s and my grandmother Kay’s family. I was also glad to meet my grandfather’s sister, Betty who I have heard about but never met.


My grandfather married Kay in August of 1994 and during that time her family just really adopted them into their family. I could tell how devastated Kay’s grandchildren were over the death of my (and their) grandfather. It was especially hard on Jack and Jessica. My grandfather has helped raise them and has taken them to and from school everyday. They have routinely slept over and call him Pappa Carl.


The funeral service was beautiful. The Bishop gave the eulogy (which my father had been scheduled to deliver) and it was positive and really spoke about the kind of life my grandfather had created. I hope that at my passing similar accolades will be said.


I took my camera on the trip with me and had intended on taking pictures of my grandfather and everyone, but it just didn’t feel appropriate. Even though I saw my grandfather just six months ago, seeing his body just reiterated to me how our bodies really are just shells for our spirit. It did not look like the man I knew.


One of the sweetest part of the services was a song performance of “I am a Child of God” by a young man my grandfather had taught in primary. I can’t imagine a more difficult audience to sing to and the boy did a great job. I was singing along in the audience to lend him my moral support.


After the service we drove to the cemetery where the Military Honor Guard was present to play taps and present the flag to Kay. My grandfather had been an aviator during World War II, however he never saw combat because he was stationed stateside. The dedicatory prayer at the site was given by the Bishop and it was a really spiritual afternoon.


One of the things I love most about Mormons is their efficiency. By the time we returned to the church all the food was ready for the luncheon. The Relief Society sisters had taken care of everything. At this point it was already 4:00 p.m. and I need to leave by 4:30 to return to the city to catch my earlier flight. I managed to eat something quickly, give everyone another round of hugs and I left.


I wasn’t sure that 2 hours would be enough time to get back to the city. Santa Rosa is more than 75 miles from San Francisco and I was sure I would run into rush hour traffic. The roads were fine until I was within 10 miles of the city and then it was stop and go. By that time the road signs were indicating that it would be 40 minutes to the airport. My flight was boarding at 6:55 p.m. and the time was now 6:00 p.m. I was sure that I wasn’t going to make my earlier flight. I was trying not to stress out because I already had my boarding pass for the later flight, but I didn’t want to get home at midnight and the day had been emotionally exhausting.


The time slowly clicked away and I was moving less than 1 mile and hour. By 6:45 p.m. I was within 5 miles of the airport and the signs were indicating that it would still take 12 minutes to get there. Through all of this, I managed to take the wrong exit and had to spend a few precious moments turning around. Finally, I made it to the rental car area, dropped off my car and dashed to the shuttle back to the terminal. I entered the security line at the airport at 7:19 p.m. only to have my hopes dashed yet again by the long, slow line of travelers ahead of me. Once I got through security I hurried over to one of the departure monitors to see what gate my flight was scheduled to leave from. Now this whole way I had been praying that my flight would be delayed just 10 minutes so that I could get on it. Much to my joyous surprise the monitor said the flight would be leaving at 7:34 p.m. (it had been scheduled for 7:25 p.m.). I hustled to the gate and the attendants were wonderful and still let me slide into the plane before the shut the door. My butt hit the seat at 7:28 p.m. to my huge sigh of relief.



For the last couple of years one of my favorite television shows is the Amazing Race. I have always wanted to audition for the show and Wednesday was my first taste of the stress at trying to catch my flight at the last minute. I of course arrived home with no incident and managed to get to bed at a reasonable hour.


Spending time with this side of my family is a little different. I have only been around them a few times in my life and consequently they are virtually strangers, but a funeral makes you realize how precious life is and how important it is not to waste the time we do have. I have been working on a book about the Boive’s for a while and after talking to my aunt and uncles I decided I would try and come back this summer with the book completed and to spend more time getting to know my family better.


As much as my grandfather will be missed, the day was beautiful and reassuring to me about the love of our Heavenly Father. It was also a reminder that in the end all we have is the love we have given to others and the service we have rendered. Everything else is irrelevant.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Obituary

My sister-in-law Heidi found the link to the obituary for my grandfather. I have copied the message found on the site below.

Carl John Boivie

Passed away peacefully on January 10, 2009. He was born in Walla Walla, WA on June 16, 1923. Beloved husband of Katherine Joanne Boivie of Santa Rosa; loving father of Richard Boivie and wife Carol, Sharon Dehouer and husband Luke, Robert Boivie and his wife Diane and Lawrence Boivie and his wife Deborah; step-father of Natalie Allen and her husband Kevin, James Canada and Joseph Canada; grandfather of Douglas, Greg, Garret, Steven, Krista and Scott Boivie, Joseph, Joshua, Jack and Jessica Allen, Aaron Burke, James Canada, Jr., Jason and Brian Boivie and the late David Boivie; great-grandfather of 14 adorable children; dear brother of Betty Hall, Paul Boivie and the late David Boivie; He was a Pilot in the US Air Force during World War II. He was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Rincon Valley Ward, Santa Rosa; a past president of the Ignacio Rotary Club in Marin. He was a Flooring Contractor and owner of Marin Carpet Service for many years; an avid Water-Skier and a second degree black belt in Jujitsu. Friends are invited to a Funeral Service on Wednesday, January 14, 2009 at 1:00 p.m. at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Rincon Valley Ward, 5301 Badger Road, Santa Rosa. Interment, Santa Rosa Memorial Park.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Spice Thief and Other News


As I walked into my classroom last week, turning on all the lights and mentally preparing myself for another of school I discovered to my horror that one of my spices was missing. I am sure the question out of your mouth right now is "Why would you have spices at school in the first place?" To answer your question, when I was in Turkey (summer of 2007) we went to the famous Spice Bazaar in Istanbul and I bought a container that held a number of spices. In my World History classes we often talk about spice trading and economy and I thought it would be a useful visual. I lovingly have them displayed on my bookshelf and one of my precious students had the audacity to steal one. This is the third item I have had something stolen this year. First, it was an Eiffel Tower pushpin, Second, my ipod and Third, the spice. I am hoping there won't be a fourth item gone.

In far less trivial news, Saturday morning (January 10) I found out that my sweet, wonderful Grandpa Boivie died. A little over a year ago he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer, but he was informed that it was at a very aggressive stage and at his age they elected to just have it run its course. He turned 86 in June and I am so grateful that I decided to take the time and visit him this summer. When I saw him in July he looked every bit as healthy as I remember him, but he was starting to lose his short term memory. I will remember the times he would take me out on "dinner dates," and the unconditional love I always felt from him.



The service is on Wednesday and I will be flying up in the morning for the day and will be back late that night.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Resolutions for a New Year

After reading "The Happiness Project" blog I decided to change the way I look at my new year's resolutions. This year I am only setting resolutions that I will enjoy keeping. Here are my nine resolutions for 2009.
  1. Read more books. The stack of 20 books next to my bed will soon be a thing of the past.
  2. Go to the movies more frequently. I have a couple of movie going friends and so this should be fun.
  3. Paint. I would like to take a couple of classes this year to learn how to paint and complete some more pictures.
  4. Cook. Through taking the cooking classes at the Creative Cooking School, I have decided that I really enjoy cooking. This year I will start to cook all of those exciting recipes I keep saving.
  5. Comment on my friends and families' blogs. I always read them, but I never say anything. You now have my promise that I will start interacting with your postings.
  6. Smile. I sometimes catch myself with a scowl on my face, then I wonder how long it has been there. I need to smile more so that people will see that I am approachable and friendly.
  7. Sing. I have always loved singing, but I haven't seriously done it in years. Now is the time to pick up a mic and start reconnecting with my old love.
  8. Post 100 Blog entries. Since staring my blog, I have discovered that I enjoy writing down my thoughts, feelings and activities (regardless if anyone reads it). Now, I just need to do it more often.
  9. Pamper myself. I always put myself last and of course there is never any time left for me. My feet are ready for their first pedicure of the year. :-)
I challenge all who read my blog to create your own list of resolutions you will enjoy keeping.