Sunday, July 29, 2007

Sunday Concert: Four Strong Winds

The Brothers Four
Four Strong Winds

A child of the sixties I was an inbetweener in my music tastes. I was just ahead of the Beatle babies and barely missed the Elvis craze. True, my first 45 as a fifth-grader was Elvis's Hound Dog. And I liked the Beatles all right, but thought their fans a little immature. I spent my teen years immersed in "folk music". I was a "sophisticate" who loved the smooth harmonies and humor and social awareness of the Brothers Four; The Kingston Trio; The Chad Mitchell Trio, The Limelighters, and Peter, Paul and Mary. I also enjoyed the rougher folk/topical songs of Pete Seeger, Tom Paxton, Bob Dylan. Here's an old video of the Brothers Four and an old folk standby, Four Strong Winds. They're a little hokey, but still sound good after all these years.

Even today my friends and I get together occasionally for a "hootenanny". Richard brings his guitar and we sit around and sing all the old Peter, Paul, and Mary songs. Sometimes there are ten of us, sometimes fifty.
Richard and Teresa and Sheila and I reserved tickets to a PP&M concert next month. We had just made our non-refundable overnight hotel reservations when we read that Mary's recovery from surgery is not going well and the show has been cancelled! Oh, well. We'll find other entertainment for that evening. Maybe we'll just sit around the hotel, and sing the songs ourselves. Richard can play them all and knows all three parts.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

My Little Angel

Yesterday was the nineteenth birthday of my littlest angel, Lillian. I posted a group of photos via youTube. My eldest has requested that I also post the "demon" pic.

We had just purchased the 1869 disaster area on Avenue A and were planning to begin morphing it into our dream palace. (As it turned out life intervened and the project took us several years.) We thought a photo of the whole clan dressed in red and brandishing building tools in front of the dilapidated old house would be appropriate for our Christmas card. So we called on our photograher friend from across the street, now the Downright-Reverend Frank, to do the honors. He got some great shots, but unfortunately Lillian's patience grew short as the session grew long. My strong-willed child willed the photo shoot to end and made her will plain for all to see. Frank captured that. You'll note her elder sister applied the appropriate appendages to Lil's noggin.

Christmas spirit?

Nineteen Years!

Today marks the nineteenth birthday of my youngest daughter, Lillian. Here, if I have done this correctly, is a short youTube (not Quicktime after loading onto youTube?) slideshow of pictures to commemorate the occasion. (Mike Bock says he's having trouble viewing this. Anybody else?)

Happy Bithday Lily Loo!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Watching Life in the Wild: A Proposal

Watching Life in the Wild
A Nongame Watchable Wildlife Proposal

This is a slightly edited version of the proposal for a nature study project at our school that was approved for funding recently by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. I thought some of my readers might be interested in seeing more specifics about the project I've written about several times.
Armuchee Elementary School is uniquely situated to provide for using the environment as an integrating context for learning. Our campus adjoins the 20,000+ acre Berry College Wildlife Management Area (Berry WMA). Our school sits on the northern foot of Lavender Mountain, the tallest mountain in the county, and the home to one of the northernmost remnant stands of long leaf pine. Our mountain is a wrinkle in the earth’s crust in the Ridge and Valley province of Georgia between the Great Valley and the Cumberland Plateau. The abundant sea fossils to be found in the sandstone strata exposed along the hillside banks of our little stream attest to the ancient history of this area at the bottom of a shallow sea. The abundant macro invertebrates in the stream and lush flora on its banks suggest a biologically diverse environment. Our hillside woods are old growth hardwoods with a strip of large pines, with native azaleas, pink lady’s slippers and many other wildflowers. The bottomland woods are a more tangled habitat of pine, ironwood, beech, tulip poplar, dogwood, redbud, and many shrubs, ferns, and wildflowers such as hepatica, dwarf crested iris, and trilliums. Just upstream from our campus (a five to ten minute walk) is an abandoned railroad bed dating to the 1800s and a small pond that was constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 1930s. Just across Scenic Road from our side entrance is another section of the Berry WMA and the larger Armuchee Creek. All of these elements of our campus and adjoining areas make it rich with opportunities to examine, discover, appreciate, and learn principles of zoology, botany, ecology, hydrology, and other sciences.
This abundance of wildlife provides an opportunity to reinforce the Georgia Performance Standards, not only in science, but also in reading, writing, language arts, and social studies. With modest funds, we can provide a place for our students, teachers, and community to watch a wide variety of Georgia flora and fauna, and in that context improve the skills of our students in all academic areas while they gain an appreciation for the biodiversity of Northwest Georgia.

The Plan: Stage One

Our proposal is to use Watchable Wildlife funds with other grants and donations to help our students, teachers, and community learn about the biodiversity of our campus and adjacent lands as they study, plan, and construct the first stages of a network of nature stations and trails. We expect that this process can be a continuing one of study, adjustment and growth by succeeding classes over a number of years. These are the steps that we envision for the first year of this project:
  • Step 1: Establish with the help of consultants from the Department of Natural Resources, Berry College, the school system, and the community, 20 to 50 stations for wildlife observation throughout the campus, and others, if allowed, on adjacent property.
  • Step 2: Make improvements necessary to access the sites. This will include building a pedestrian bridge over the stream and clearing fallen trees, detritus, and unwanted vegetation from proposed paths.
  • Step 3: Conduct a year-long observation of the flora and fauna at each station, noting also the geology, hydrology, and man’s disturbance of each area. Each student will be assigned to help survey, photograph, and conduct a census of one station.
  • Step 4: Develop a first draft of three guide booklets to the stations, one each to emphasize the Georgia Performance Standards for third, fourth, and fifth grades.
  • Step 5: Present the completed first stage to the community during a public Watching Our Wildlife Day when students will explain the results of the year-long observations at each station.

The Plan: Subsequent Stages

We anticipate that this will be a continuing project. After the initial year of study the project will likely require further development. Funds for these improvements and extensions would be the subject of future proposals. For example:
• Refine and print updated guide booklets.
• Build boardwalks over sensitive areas to allow observation of sensitive flora and fauna or to access wetland areas.
• Build platforms to provide access to observe pond, creek, steep bluff, or wetland areas.
• Build steps to allow access up and down steep areas.
• Build additional outdoor classroom areas.
• Build a sheltered study area (or possibly move a donated historic cabin or barn to the campus as a study shelter.)
• Plan, study, and construct additional trails to the CCC pond and along the old railroad cut to Armuchee Creek.
• Construct boardwalks and platforms as required for aquatic studies at the pond and creek.
• Purchase additional lab or field equipment and supplies for studying specimens (more microscopes, water testing equipment, nets, guides, etc.)

Expected Results and Benefits

At the end of the first year of this project we expect our students, parents, and community to:
• have a beautiful trail providing access for observation of a biologically diverse ecosystem,
• have increased appreciation of the array of nongame wildlife in our area,
• have a greater awareness of the need for nongame wildlife conservation to protect the flora and fauna of our area, especially unusual species such as the long-leaf pine, pink lady’s slippers, and the amphibians and crustaceans in our watershed.
And, by participating in this project, we expect our students to have opportunities to improve their academic skills using the environment as a context for learning.

Other Support

Preliminary consultation on Stage One of the project has involved many individuals including persons from Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Arrowhead Environmental Education Center, Berry College, The Armuchee/Glenwood Foundation, Coosa River Nature Center, Coosa Valley Technical College, the Georgia Botanical Society, our own staff, and our Parent-Teacher Organization. The Parent-Teacher Organization has already set aside some funds for this project. The Glenwood/Armuchee Foundation and the local Ruritan Club have helped to fund previous environmental projects at our school. Since this project incorporates watching wildlife with educational goals we are also submitting the proposal for possible partial funding under the Nongame Wildlife Educational grants, as well.

Equipment/Materials/Resources Needed: Stage One

The project will require a number of pieces of equipment, supplies, resources, and
materials to complete successfully.
Step 1:
  • meter sticks / rulers / other measuring devices
  • 200 surveying flags for temporarily marking trails and study plots. 19.94
  • 48 4” x 4” x 4’ treated bollards (cut at 45ยบ on one end by school volunteer) for permanently marking stations
Step 2:
  • Equipment for cleaning and clearing the trail (supplied by parents and volunteers)
  • Materials for building a pedestrian bridge (5’ x 15’ - built by parent volunteers or the local vocational high school)
Step 3:
  • 36 sets (12 for each grade level) of elementary identification guides:
  1. wildflowers
  2. ferns
  3. insects & spiders
  4. trees & shrubs
  • Six teacher sets (two for each grade level) of similar but more complete guides, including other areas as well:
  1. wildflowers
  2. ferns
  3. stream macro invertebrates
  4. insects & spiders
  5. trees & shrubs
  6. geology
  7. fossils
  • Six (two for each grade level) aquatic nets.
  • Six (two for each grade level) insect nets.
  • One LaMotte water quality testing kit.
  • Three 3.2 MP (or better) digital cameras with 1 GB memory cards
  • Three class sets of 10x hand lenses
  • Three digital dissecting microscopes for examining specimens from the stream and forest
  • Topographical map of the area. Geographic Information Services™ (GIS) aerial photos
  • and private aerial photos (available through Berry College at no cost to school)
Step 4:
  • The rough drafts can be printed by our school system printer.
Step 5:
  • Printed programs, signage, and refreshments to be supplied by the school and volunteers

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Vote2008Video/Iraq: Joe Biden

This clip includes, I suppose, all of Sen. Biden's answers in the debate last night. The first couple of minutes cover Iraq.

"It's time to speak truth to power." Here is Biden's response to Rudy Guiliani's comments on the recent intelligence report:

The Biden-Gelb plan for Iraq

Vote2008Video/Iraq: Hillary Clinton

This is the first in a continuing series of posts to point the way to what the candidates are actually saying on the issues. In the debate last night, despite being also very pleased with Edwards, Biden, Obama, Dodd, and Richardson, I was most impressed with Senator Clinton, as I reported below. In reading that post over, I thought: I'm no better than the goofusses at CNN who are busy making the horserace-meter of one little focus group the BIG STORY of the debate. I watched the debate. It was a good one. Why not show us more of what the candidates actually said and less of what your little roomful thought of it! Although I was very pleased with the manner in which Senator Clinton acquitted herself last evening, I was also pleased with the substance of her remarks. So here is my little effort to inform the debate by helping my readers hear what the candidates are actually saying on the issues.

I did not find, in a quick search, the video of Hillary Clinton's responses about the war from the debate last night, but I did find a video, produced by her campaign, which actually expands on what she was able to say in the debate.

Madame President?

If there is still, under some rock in Wyoming perhaps, a Neanderthal who would object to a candidate for President simply on the grounds of her sex, surely Hillary Clinton has answered their objections. Though I have leaned toward John Edwards, I must admit that Hillary Clinton captured the debate tonight. She was direct, confident, comfortable, reasonable, clear, grounded -- everything that the current Resident is not.

Joe Biden seemed very "Presidential", as well. I'll bet he gets a little bump.

I would enthusiastically campaign for any of these candidates, except the bookends Kucinich and Gravel. What a wealth of quality candidates we have -- Dodd, Richardson, Biden, Edwards, Clinton, Obama. When you compare these to lightweight Republican frontrunners Rudy and Fred I feel good obout our chances.

Monday, July 23, 2007

PTSW: Casey & Favorite Poems

from the postal service
Do you have favorite poems?

Sheila and I used to keep a couple of paperback poetry anthologies in the car. When she or I got sleepy driving on a long trip, or just bored, the other would pull a poetry book from under the seat, open it to a random page and read aloud. The driver would try to name the poet or poem. Competitive poetry? Silly game I guess, but poetry out loud is best and that reinforced the opinion.

At bedtime when the kids were little I would often pull out Aunt Wilma's poetry anthology, the big book that Wilma had given Sheila back in the fifties, and we'd leaf through it. I'd read poems and sing poems -- making up spontaneous tunes-- from Mother Goose to Father William.

And you know by now how I love reciting poetry to my students.

The first poem I remember LOVING was Casey at the Bat. I don't even rmember which teacher introduced us to that (and to The Cremation of Sam McGee) but it must have been fourth or fifth grade.

PBS Newshour with Jim Lehrer has produced a series called the Favorite Poem Project. Go listen to a few. A famous poet, a paraplegic, a law professor, a President, a construction worker, a fifth grade student, etc. talk about and recite favorite poems. An Atlanta kid recites this one:

Casey At The Bat

The outlook wasn't brilliant for the Mudville nine that day;
The score stood four to two with but one inning left to play;
And then, when Cooney died at first, and Barrows did the same,
A sickly silence fell upon the patrons of the game.

A straggling few got up to go, in deep despair. The rest
Clung to that hope which "springs eternal in the human breast;"
They thought, If only Casey could but get a whack at that,
We'd put up even money now, with Casey at the bat.

But Flynn procede Casey, as did also Jimmy Blake,
And the former was a no-good and the latter was a fake;
So, upon that stricken multitude grim meloncholy sat,
For there seemed but little chance of Casey's getting to the bat.

But Flynn let drive a single, to the wonderment of all,
And Blake, the much despised, tore the cover off the ball,
And when the dust had lifted and men saw what had occurred,
There was Jimmy safe at second, and Flynn a-huggin' third.

Then from five thousand throats and more threr rose a lusty yell,
It rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell,
It knocked upon the mountain and recoiled upon the flat,
For Casey, mighty Casey, was advancing to the bat.

There was ease in Casey's manner as he stepped into his place;
There was pride in Casey's bearing and a smile on Casey's face,
And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat,
No stranger in the croud could doubt `twas Casey at the bat.

Ten thousand eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt;
Five thousand tounges applauded as he wiped them on his shirt.
Then, while the writhing pitcher ground the ball into his hip,
Defiance gleamed in Casey's eye, a sneer curled Casey's lip.

And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air,
And Casey stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there,
Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped --
"That ain't my style," said Casey. "Strike one," the umpire said.

From the benches, black with people, there went up a muffled roar,
Like the beating of the storm waves on a stern and distant shore.
"Kill him; kill the umpire!" shouted someone from the stand;--
And it's likely they'd have killed him had not Casey raised his hand.

With a smile of Christian charity great Casey's visage shone;
He stilled the rising tumult; he bade the game go on;
He signaled to the pitcher, and once more the spheroid flew;
But Casey still ignored it, and the umpire said, "Strike two."

"Fraud," cried the maddened thousands, and the echo answered "Fraud,"
But one scornful look from Casey, and the multitude was awed.
The saw his face grow stern and cold; they saw his muscles strain,
And they knew that Casey wouldn't let that ball go by again.

The sneer is gone from Casey's lip; his teeth are clenched in hate;
He pounds with cruel violence his bat upon the plate.
And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,
And now the air is shattered by the force of Casey's blow.

Oh! somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light.
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;
But there is no joy in Mudville -- mighty Casey has Struck Out.

- by Ernest Lawrence Thayer
One of my goals for my students is that they become culturally literate. Can you be that without an acquaintance with Casey?

I'd like to hear from some of the visitors to the Limb - what are your favorite poems?

The series of posts, A Poem to Start the Week, is my little anthology of poetry, many of which I have used with my students in elementary schools during 27 years of teaching.

Previous Poems to Start the Week: Always a RoseHome at Last
Bag of ToolsCarpe DiemPoems About PoetryMan's Best Friend
Spelling is Tough Stough!
Blue MarbleTacks, Splinters, Apples and Stars
Oh, Captain, My Captain!MetaphorIntroducion to Poetry
Loveliest of TreesFlax-Golden TalesThe Dinosaurs Are Not All Dead
Owl PelletsMummy Slept LateJust My Size
The Kindest Things I KnowMiles to GoLove that Brother
Oh, Frabjous Day!

Other Posts about Children's Literature:

The Lion's Paw top kid's OOP book!
Aslan is Dead!
Multiplying People, Rice, and Readers
A Teacher's Life

You can read some of my own efforts at poetry here.
And then there's Alien Invasion.

A weblog dedicated to Poetry for Children.
Watch Sonja Cole's reviews of children's books at
The PBS series
Favorite Poem Project.