Sunday, August 29, 2010

Blackbird Singing

'Thump!' I looked towards where I heard the thump come from. A large black bird lay looking dazed on the cold concrete outside the big glass door. It shuddered a few times and lay still. Death is not my favourite thing and I was concerned that the bird would be dead and I would have to do something with its body... or worse that the bird was dying... or vulnerable to a cat attack. I didn't fancy having to lift up its corpse of a body and put it in the bin. I'm not at all certain that I would be brave enough to do that. I'd have needed to work up some courage first.

Anyway, I just hoped it was dazed and nothing was broken. I gingerly snuck closer to have a better look. It was lying on its side with its orange beak open and breathing super fast. First hurdle - it was alive. 10 minutes later it sat up. I had a drama unfolding in front of me, which I didn't know the outcome of.

Not being able to watch constantly due to having to get ready for school, I couldn't resist going back for frequent peaks. On one of my glimpses, there was another blackbird, who I could only think of as the husband or wife of the dazed bird. It was about 1/2 a metre away, hopping about and looking around in all directions as if protecting its mate. When I went closer, it flew up into the air and then settled on top of a nearby fence. It certainly wasn't leaving.

I'm interested to know how it could possibly have known it was there. Had it been calling out? Had it just been flying around looking for it? Who knows?

It was time to leave for school and the two birds were still in position. I wondered what I'd find when I got home. I took off, but turned back when I realised I hadn't locked the front door!

The first thing I saw was an empty space where the birds had been.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Before the Maths tests

I think the kids will do well - especially the Year 5s. I predict that the divisions will still be a problem for some of them. I'm thinking that kids really don't know how to practice their basic facts by themselves. Maybe Mathletics would help. They could access that from home. Many schools swear by it. I don't know if it's much different from the other web based programmes such as Tut Pup. I can't really devote any more Maths time to learning basic facts, but it certainly holds the kids up if they don't know them. Every topic - including fractions when they are using multiplication to find a fraction of a set.

Some kids are grumpy today. More so than I've seen this lot, who are normally kind, considerate and very positive. It's not as if it's been rainy for days and I certainly haven't felt grumpy - it can transfer, you know.

Monday, August 23, 2010

I'm telling Harry to get started again. Maybe I need to get kids a bit more psyched up first. They could tell a thinking partner what they might like to write about first, just to get them going at the beginning. It certainly seems that when you have an idea to start with, the writing flows a lot better for the duration and then the time just zooms past and before you know it, the five minutes are up!!! Next time I'm going to spend the time looking around the room, not at the screen or keyboard and just record anything I see that pops into my head. I can type without looking, so that will help. Britt can too, I think. The hardest part for me will be not trying to correct my errors or looking to see if I've made any. That will be really tricky. I'm seeing Kale talking - well he can't possibly write and talk at the same time and neither can the person he is talking to - write while he's being talked to, that is. I'm trying to think where Free Writing could fit into a useful and robust writing programme. Perhaps it could ultimately be a once or twice a week activity.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Today I thought I might write about one of my favourite topics - again. Travel. But this time I'm going to go back to some of my favourite travel experiences. I'm going to choose Vietnam... or perhaps France.

OK here are some highlights and impressions of France. I'm starting in Reims. This is a the main city in the Champagne region - a cool climate; especially in late November when I was there. It has a lot of chimneys, I remember. Also a magnifique cathedral which is at its heart. this is the place that French Kings have been crowned.

Being at the centre of the Champagne region, it also contains many famous Champagne houses; Taittinger, Veuve Clicquot just to name a few. The Veuve Clicquot House welcomes visitors and it welcomed us. That famous orange is in evidence all over the House and the Widow Clicquot seems to haunt the establishment - in a comforting way.

When you go to Reims in the time leading up to Christmas, you might be lucky enough to encounter the Christmas Markets. These are held in an open area with little wooden houses to take the wares. My memory is of the lunch house, where you could choose your baguette and what would go into it. The Frenchman who came for his lunch ordered a very long, crunchy baguette with fromage and saucisson. It looked totally delicious and so I did the same. I certainly wasn't disappointed.

Just walking round the corner from our hotel, down the road and then turning right into the Avenue which lead to that magnificent church is something that is hinged in my mind. Either side of the road has golden three to four storey buildings each with 20 or so chimneys. Walking through Reims and looking into churches and other historic buildings filled our days, but always we needed to find fine food and champagne. We quickly learned how to bypass the touristy restaurants where the food was not so good and found the little ambient filled places with great flavours, including the widest, shallowest creme brulee ever.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Free Writing - Travel

Countries I have visited are NZ, Australia, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, and then in the Pacific Ocean I’ve been to the Cook Islands (three times) and also to Fiji when I was a lot younger.

European countries include England, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Moving over to the Continent I’ve been to Austria, Italy, France, the Czech Republic, Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg, Vatican City, Spain, Portugal and I think that’s probably about the lot.

The only African country I’ve visited is Morocco and what an astonishing country that is.

I couldn’t possibly name a country that I like BEST. But some of my favourites would be Italy, France, Morocco and Vietnam.

I’m hoping my traveling experience is not over because if I can’t travel, I can plan travel, I can think about travel, I can listen to travel podcasts, I can imagine travel, I can watch the Travel Channel, I can talk to people about travel, I can listen to peoples’ travel stories, I can read travel blogs and other travel websites, I can collect travel apps for my iphone.