Friday, August 29, 2008

Just found a link to a blog from a gifted and talented educator that is quite interesting. Unfortunately in today's society the gifted and talented are essentially brushed under a rug. Turns out our district receives $4 mill in grant funding to service all our GT kids - apparently less than 10 years ago it was $40 mill. Huh? That $4 mill equates to about $1,000 per school to use for maybe some xeroxes and helps pay for a part time "coordinator" (who to the best of knowledge does nothing). In elementary school I loved when I was told that they didn't know who the GT kids were until 3rd grade (after 2nd grade standardized testing results came back). HA HA HA! I volunteer in kindergarten and I'd be happy to point out a few of the GT kids to the teachers if they want. Those standardized tests certainly will miss certain kids as well. In our society it is not politically correct to lobby or speak of the GT kids. The kids on the other end of the education spectrum however have incredibly vocal political allies (often their parents armed with lawsuits). GT kids theoretically have just as different needs and yet are all but ignored. Sad.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Here are some of my pics of the kids scooting out front. I am practicing "panning" the camera - use a slow shutter speed and try to keep camera on your subject and the background blurs. Not too bad.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

"Is it the world's largest zucchini?" asked Aidan. Not a bad question - but no. Wish I'd taken a before pic - it was pretty darned huge! Probably 18" or so in length. We visited Sara, Thomas & Ella down south in Redwood City yesterday and headed home with this monster from their garden. For lunch today I decided I'd tried stuffed zucchini for the first time. The 4 halves of the squash fairly filled up the tray side by side. I sauteed onions, carrots, garlic, mixed in some whole wheat couscous and chopped tomatoes, basil and parsley, topped it with a little feta and broiled. Quite yummy! Quincy wasn't quite agreeing - he wanted his zucchini separate from his carrots and couscous but he ate some.

The boys had an overnight at their friend Zac's house (Zac is a classmate of Aidan's). Ryan was there too. Pete and I had a lovely dinner down at EOS in their absence. Aidan wasn't sure he wanted to stay overnight, Quincy was sure he did. They headed out with sleeping bags "just in case" and a pair of Wii remotes. I understand there were HOURS of Wii, Club Penguin on the PC and perhaps a little DS Lite thrown in. Also my kids were the ones early to bed at 11ish and were up before 7. They are currently both down for naps - Aidan protested vigorously but they weren't getting along and we are heading out for a party tonite and their cousins Ellie and Maggie will be coming home with us for a sleepover - another night of much too little sleep - and school starts on Monday. Pete has tried to wake them up to no avail...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The kid's ode to the Olympics. I am not sure who the Americans are playing in this volleyball round (we think it might be China). It also appears to be a coed division. The Americans have the ball about to serve...

Did I every say how all consuming the kids find the Wii? See Q play boxing.

Pete joined facebook and I followed him. (not sure if links will work if you aren't a member or a friend but whatever). We aren't sure exactly what we are doing there - or why. But it is an amusing way to pass some time.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Have you every had fresh "baby corn"? You know - from a husk and not a can? That is what you are seeing here. I had them one year at Trader Joes - I literally saw them once (already shucked in plastic wrap), bought them, loved them, and never saw them again. Well, yesterday Aidan and I found them down at the farmers market. This foto is a bit misleading as you will notice Aidan's hands look large as do the ears of corn - they aren't! There is a fair amount of husk and silks ratio to corn. You do indeed eat the whole thing cob and all. You can eat it raw (it is fairly soft) or any other way you want to cook it. I had one raw and briefly sauted the rest for the family dinner.

Here is some of our other take home - more of the corn, yellow carrots on the bottom (they are yummy - also this batch is fairly small in size), a large white peach (so yummy!), lemon cucumber above, more varieties of cucumbers to the right. We also bought (not shown) a lot of strawberries, some tomatoes, some white balsamic vinegar, fresh bread, a huge bag of shelling peas, and a nectarine (eaten before the pic was taken).

Can you see the baby corn in amongst all the silks? I was impressed at how much STUFF wrapped up this little guy.

Pete walked the couple of blocks from his office to meet up with Aidan and I briefly at the market. It was a warm sunny day - very nice for San Francisco! We haven't missed the fog at all these past couple of days :-)

Monday, August 11, 2008

I came upon this scene this morning and decided it needed documenting. The kids picked this one as their favorite shot. I have no idea exactly what was going on but there is a clear story in there.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Aidan's first standardized test scores came in the mail yesterday. Here in California the kids have to take the STAR test every year starting in second grade. I was rather bemused to learn that the MATH part of it had the questions read aloud to the kids - the questions weren't even written in the book for them to refer to. The teacher could only read the questions twice. (Aidan's teacher's English is far from excellent - she is a native Japanese speaker - but the kids don't seem to have any trouble understanding her). Wouldn't understanding English thus become part of what they were testing for instead of just math? Doesn't this discriminate somewhat against our state's huge English Learner population? I really didn't get that at all. I've also seen some past exam questions and was not impressed at all. How hard is it to write a test for second graders that is not ambiguous? Pete and I, both college grads, debated the answers of several questions trying to decide which was "correct" from the choices. Crazy! So we got the results and I also didn't really understand some of their choices in reporting structure. (OK so this is all about me). On the front page was a score (out of 600) in both "English Language Arts" and "Mathematics" and a bar graph showing where it fell relative to their divisions "Advanced, Proficient, Basic, Below Basic, Far Below Basic". They hope to get all state students eventually in Advanced or Proficient (so they state - duh). But there is nothing that show how his score relates to all test takers - AKA a percentage score perhaps. Now we turn the sheet over. English is broken into the following test question categories "Word Analysis and Vocabulary Development, Reading Comprehension, Literary Response and Analysis, Written Conventions, Writing Strategies" Math into "Place Value Addition and Subtraction, Multiplication Division and Fractions, Algebra and Functions, Measurement and Geometry, Statistics Data Analysis and Probability". Each category has your child's # (I think perhaps this is how many correct they got in the category - but it doesn't say how many total there were in the category) and your child's % - which I assume means % of how many he got correct out of the total. He ranges from 100% to 86%. Again there isn't really anything that lets you evaluate this information compared to anyone else. Well guess that isn't quite true as they put another little graph up - showing your kid as a diamond versus a bar of where "Proficient" kids fall. All in all a bit weird. Aidan's only question was "did I make GATE [gifted and talented]?". Basically the answer is yes as essentially kids scoring at "Advanced" level in both subjects in one year get considered for GATE program (which means nothing in elementary school in our district - you supposedly get "differentiated teaching" hah hah hah...) At least at his school about 2/3rds of the kids end up GATE identified (altho according to some of the teachers some of those kids are getting the designation at the pushing of their parents and not because they really deserve it) thus the whole class is theoretically taught a bit more aimed at GATE kids. I remember loving my gifted and talented pull outs in 4th grade. I also remember that only 3 of us from my grade went (roughly 1 per class). A bit more exclusive than 2/3rd of the class? I'm not sure I learned much?? (I remember doing one that was a sewing class thing) but I did really enjoy it - we were bused to a local high school for an afternoon a week and hung out with other 4th graders and did all sorts of different things. Aidan's buddy Thomas lives south of here in Redwood City. They have a whole SCHOOL set aside for GATE kids. You test in at 2nd grade and the school starts in 3rd grade. (His parents started him in kindergarten a year before we started Aidan - our cut off here for kindergarten is December! We held Aidan). The only bummer is that there are more kids than open slots so they have a lottery - which ends up resulting in a very few GATE kids left behind at other schools with no peers. Can you imagine? I have to say that Aidan's teacher seemed much more concerned / worried about the kids performance on the test than any of the parents or kids themselves did. She did seem to do a good job in getting the kids to not be worried (not that I can ever remember worrying about a standardized test but I remember others worrying).
The boys have gotten playmobil out today. They had me take this pic - and a video of Quincy actually pushing this contraption along - it seems remarkably well balanced! He pushes on the police van and the stack moves including the police car to the side which is somehow roped to the whole. I thought this could have worked for "risk" in my photo class...

Thursday, August 07, 2008

So what is this you wonder? 27 pages of Quincy's poems from his speech class. Why? Because he is DONE!!!! This concludes 3 1/2 years of weekly (or in the beginning 1 1/2 years - twice a week) sessions. We were unbelievably fortunate to get him in to the Scottish Rite Center.
They provide FREE help to the kids they take on. We were also really lucky that Quincy's issues were purely articulation and had no learning component involved. It took him almost 3 years to be able to make the K or hard G sounds but got there in the end. We owe these guys a lot. Not only did they get his speech up to snuff but he had fun doing it. What more can you ask for?

Monday, August 04, 2008


Does this say "loss" to you?

How about "noise"? (do you recognize this as a drum? and my old artwork in the background? titled "Beatles" by a friend at one point)

Photo assignment this week (beyond "jump") are 2 "conceptual" photos that represents some word from a list - includes the words noted above as well as "despair, grief, love, security" and others. For loss I was also considering trying to photograph Pete's head... Oh yeah -forgot - we're not supposed to include humans in this exercise (other than jump - altho one woman who must live in an incredible place since she photographs Yellowstone and Tetons on regular basis and has a den of foxes out her window photographed a fox cub pouncing for her jump photo). I think for the "loss" one I should try again with a pic of a lost ball - maybe bright red (if we had such a thing). Balls rolling down the street from the kids' school is a pretty typical sight. Only chance of retrieving them is if they come to rest against a tire not too far down the hill from school.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Assignment : JUMP!

So which do you prefer? Blurry movement shots or freeze the action shots?
Both kids seem pretty airborne!


Friday, August 01, 2008

OK so I love this image I took on Wednesday. How 'bout you? In my photo class we are supposed to come up with an image (with no people) that fits one of the following words: security, abandonment, access, connections, risk, safety, despair, instability, caution, indifference, loss, stubborness, elation, lethargy, ambition, grief, love. Can my canoes fit any of those? Hmm.