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Winter is Here!!!

The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event.  You go to bed in one kind of a world and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment then where is it to be found?  ~J.B. Priestley

 Today was the first day of snow this year! We had about 3 inches of snow on the ground when we woke up this morning. The snow started last nite and was perfect! I usually hate the snow, growing up in Pa, but I have found since moving down to the south that I look forward to the times it snows. I guess because up north, it became mundane, expected. Down here, it’s so rare that when it does happen, it truly is a magical experience! It was also great to have a day off from work to play outside with my dog Jaggers, he loves the snow!!!

Happy New Year!

We will open the book.  Its pages are blank.  We are going to put words on them ourselves.  The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.  ~Edith Lovejoy Pierce

I came across this page on my igoogle page (isn’t web 2.0 great)! I’m not a big new years resolution kind of person but I find I do make the same resolutions seemingly every year. And for the first two months I do pretty well at keeping them, like everyone else I suppose. I never quite thought of the new year as a book, like starting over but I think it’s a good analogy. I’m not sure a better one would perhaps be starting a new chapter in the book of life.

The Magic of Christmas

Christmas – that magic blanket that wraps itself about us, that something so intangible that it is like a fragrance.  It may weave a spell of nostalgia.  Christmas may be a day of feasting, or of prayer, but always it will be a day of remembrance – a day in which we think of everything we have ever loved.  ~Augusta E. Rundel

As I mentioned in my last post, This time of year brings back so many happy memories for me. Fall and Christmas seem to have so many smells that bring memories rushing back.  Growing up in Pennsylvania almost always promised a white Christmas!! I hate snow now, but deeply miss having snow on Christmas eve and Christmas.

My mom is a die hard baker at Christmas time. I remember the days of helping her make her specialty cookies which never seemed to stay around very long. The smells of Christmas cookies sends those memories to the front of my brain. I enjoy baking today because of my mom. The smells bring back those Christmas days when the snow was falling and we were inside a warm house making cookies and listening to Christmas music. If it’s one thing I miss now at Christmas, it’s those days baking together.

I’ll always remember Christmas eve in our town. Most of the time the snow was falling as it usually does in Pennsylvania this time of year. My family would visit the grandparents and usually ended up at my grandma and grandpa McCoy’s house who until this year lived in town. After eating cookies and opening gifts, we many times would take a walk through town. The snow falling and the many colored lights painting the freshly fallen snow was always my favorite time of the season. Once we were cold and wet, we would head back home to make hot chocolate and sit by the fire.

I find myself dreading Christmas almost every year. Perhaps it’s because of the traditions I’ve left behind in Pennsylvania or perhaps it’s because Christmas is very different for an adult. I hate the commercialism Christmas has become and hectic schedules we all seem to have to keep up with this time of year. But as I sat in church tonight and listened to our Christmas cantata, I realized as I usually do this time of year, that I’m missing the true reason we celebrate. It’s not because of the lights or the trees or the gifts, but rather birth of our Savior.

It’s funny when you think back on Christmas’ past  how rarely you ever remember what you got for Christmas. Rather you remember the times with family and the special memories that are unforgettable and unrepeatable.

I still make it home for Pennsylvania for Christmas, not this year, but many years I do. I get to share a small glimpse of my past with my wife and create new memories with my family.

Nature

Nothing is more memorable than a smell. One scent can be unexpected, momentary and fleeting, yet conjure up a childhood summer beside a lake in the mountains.
Diane Ackerman

 

Fall has always been one of my favorite times of the year! Growing up in Pennsylvania always afforded us a brilliant color display around October/November. My family has a summer home in the mountains of Maryland, about an hour drive from our home in Pennsylvania. We always spent a lot of time up there, but fall was my favorite. It was always during the highlight of the season that we would stop at the many scenic overlooks on the way up to a weekend at the summer house. Looking out over Pennsylvania’s overlooks is an awe inspiring feeling. As many times as we did, the first one always takes your breath away. The brilliant colors and smell of leaves always brings back happy memories of fall weekends with my family. I’m always surprised when a familiar smell brings memories rushing back of my childhood days. Fall for some reason seems to bring back more smells triggering those memories.

 

Our weekend stays at our summer home were always most memorable in the fall. Our summer home is situated in the high mountains in a hollow which bursts with color during the fall. It’s much like living in a kaleidescope. We have two streams on our property, one about 10 feet across. My father many years ago built a wooden  bridge so we could cross to the other side of our property. I remember many fall days sitting on the bridge, feet dangling over, watching the colored leaves float down the stream as the wind stripped the last colors from the trees. You could just begin to smell the snow in the air and you always knew that the first snow fall was just around the corner. It was always a surreal time for me.

 

Sadly, I haven’t been back to Pennsylvania in the fall for many years. The sky, fall colors and smells today took me back to my childhood and I found myself remembering the many falls I spent at our summer home as I drove into work. I can honestly say I’ve never regretted my decision to move to the south, but several times during the fall season, I always find myself terribly homesick. I’m always amazed at how vivid those memories come rushing back as if they were yesterday. The best thing about all those memories is that they always center around my family and the time we spent together growing up!

Sights and Sounds of Fall

Engaging

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.
William Butler Yeats

Many people will probably recognize this quote as it is one of the more famous ones out there about education. This is also the quote that Promethean Uses on their products. I was teaching the first time I actually came across it. We as teachers sometimes focus so much on throwing as much knowledge at our students as possible and covering the standards that we forgot to teach the passion of learning. Education shouldn’t end when one leaves formal school, it should be a life long process. So many of our kids have bad experiences in school and that “flame” is never ignited. Sadly, they never catch the passion of learning something new. The truly gifted teacher is able to light that flame and keep the passion for learning going!

Understanding

Do not limit a child to your own understanding, for he was born in another time

For the longest time, this quote was on my signature. I remember the first time I came across in a magazine I was reading. At the time, the context was not in technology, but as soon as I read it, I realized how applicable it was to Instructional Technology. So many times, we as educators are afraid to allow our student’s to explore what we do not understand and many times we don’t even try to make the connections that need to be made because we don’t understand.

Our students grew up with technology and it’s such a vital part of their lives. They don’t understand why their teachers don’t have the same fixation with it that they have, and teachers do not understand the fixation that they do have. Unfortunately, this sometimes leads to educators condoning what they don’t understand.

 We won’t understand everything our children our interested in or do…but no generation understands the previous one. We as educators must have an open mind and realize that just because we do not understand something doesn’t mean we have the right to limit our student’s in where they can and should go.

Education

Too often we give our children answers to remember rather than problems to solve.

I was observing a classroom today and this quote came to mind. I used to use it when I was teaching to remind me that it isn’t all about the standardized tests. Sometimes, as teachers, we tend to focus on all the knowledge we have to give to our studetns that we forget to make learning fun or allow them to learn for themselves. If we just teach children to think for themselves, we’ve accomplished a great task. Unfortunately I’ve noticed over the last few years in my education career that less and less emphasis is being put on problem solving skills. I think teachers do it inadvertantly due to the overwhelming amount of work that is thrown their way. But ultimately, our goal should be to produce a child who can think for himself and make the criticaly decisions that are required to be successful in life. That, coupled with the knowledge gained should produce an adult who can function and contribute to society.