Saturday, July 14, 2007

June, July, August....Vacation for Educators? We All Know Better, Don't We?!

The old adage, "Three reasons to be a teacher...June, July, August" just have never been true! We all know that educators are still in their classrooms and education work place until (at least) the 2nd week of June and then return to the school sites as early as the first of August! Educators are busy in those few weeks in between taking classes; taking on 2nd jobs of painting houses, doing yard work, working at the Mall, teaching swimming lessons....the list goes on and on!

As I look ahead to next June when I finish my two terms as ISEA president and return to the classroom, I've had to give thought to renewing my teaching license (I don't renew until July 2009, but don't want to put myself in a box). This past week I took four days of "vacation" to participate in a class on the campus of the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls.

Each morning on my way to Rod Library where classes were held, I walked by the Campanile. It was built to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the university and as a memorial to the faculty, graduates, students, and friends of the college. It has 51 bells connected to a keyboard, and an extremely accurate, award-winning clock mechanism.

My first day on the way to class, I hear this voice, "Ms. Nelson?" It was Brianne D., a former 4th grader of mine! Brianne will be a senior at Thomas Jefferson High School in Council Bluffs and is on the UNI campus this summer.....for of all things, to take classes! Gosh, it was fun to see Brianne!

The graduate class I took last week was Children's Literature Update. I earned my Masters in Elementary Reading and Language Arts in May 2000, so thought this class was a great fit for me! I got such terrific ideas for read alouds for this coming year...I'm anxious for the school year and school visits to start!

Our two professors were Dr. Jeanne Harms, Professor Emeritus (on left) and Dr. Lucille Lettow (on right). I had taken all my course work for my Masters degree from the two professors, so it was great to reconnect with them! They shared hundreds and hundreds of quality children's literature published over the last three years. We did have class time to work on projects, but of course I have some finishing touches to polish my pieces before turning them within the next few weeks to receive my credits!

One new title we learned and a quick favorite of mine was that of author/illustrator, Chris Van Allsburg's, Probuditi!

Here is an abbreviated summary of the book from the School Library Journal:

Van Allsburg's latest story opens with a spider and a scream coming from Trudy, caused by an older brother's prank. Although Calvin's mother is none too pleased with her son, she honors his birthday with tickets for a magician/hypnotist. When the boy and his friend witness the strutting and clucking of a pearl-clad matron who believes she's a chicken, they can't wait to build their own rotating spiral disk. Under hypnosis, Trudy becomes a dog. The suspense builds as the boys struggle to remember the word that will break the spell. Probuditi! displays a clear sympathy for the thankless role of a younger sibling; however, while Calvin is howling at the memory of his sister barking and drooling, it is she who has the very satisfying last laugh. By Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library

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