UW Atmospheric Sciences Trip!

Our class had an amazing trip to the University of Washington Atmospheric Sciences center this Thursday!

“They taught us a lot of things — like how to make a cloud. They were good scientists, they were smart but they didn’t act like they know everything.” L said.

“We were able to sit in college seats rather than regular seats, I felt like I was in college,” T.E. said.

“I wanted to say thank you for letting us sit in their classrooms because they taught us what they were learning about and they took us on the roof and that was really fun and kind,” T.S. said.

“I liked it when we were on the roof and they showed us the rain collector and the instrument that measured how much light there was,” K.A. said.

“When were on the roof, it was nice of them to show us how the instruments worked, and the rain catcher, and the satellite dish,” J.C. said.

Several of us thought the roof was going to be flat or go right upto the edge like in the old silent movie “Safety Last.”

“I thought the exploding cloud was really cool and it was nice of them to show it to us and having a volunteer was nice — it was kind of nice to have X help us,” A.B. said.

On our way out, we saw Cliff Mass and two of his TA’s coming out of Weather 101. We recognized Dr. Mass from his YouTube videos and from his NPR podcasts. Many students noted that he seemed older in real life than in the videos, although it was mentioned to them that that might not be the most tactful thing to say.

“My favorite part was when we were on the roof and Chris told us about the little thing that spins and told us about which way the wind was blowing — the wind vane. My second favorite part was when we took the picture and made funny faces,” A.G. said.

The photo A is talking about can’t be posted to this website because this is a non-district website, BUT families, if you e-mail me I will send you a copy. I CAN show you this picture of us walking up the staircase to the

“I was afraid it was going to be flat and we were going to slip, but instead it had a large square around it so we couldn’t fall,” A. V-G. said.

Wildwood Park: The Autumn Edition

We made it today. And what a day it was! Huzzah!

Our scheduled October 12 field trip to Wildwood Park was initially postponed a week because we struggled with appropriate in-class behavior and we were slow to follow directions, but our practice paid off because we had, frankly, a flawless trip this afternoon!

The weather was wonderful, and students worked hard to accomplish everything we needed to in the morning to ensure we could set out for the park on time. A field trip to Wildwood Park is really more of a “field trip” with air quotes because it’s RIGHT next door to our school. But the fact that it’s off campus and requires OFFICIAL field trip paperwork gives it an air of greater importance.

The science gave it an air of greater importance too. Students trekked to the park armed with their clipboards, pencils (there was NO pencil drama — everyone was responsible and made a plan in case their pencils broke/got lost/were stolen by a squirrel), and super-neat FIELD GUIDES.

Clipboards and Field Guides

Once there, students had the option of exploring independently, or perambulating with me in a leisurely manner to ensure they didn’t miss any of the sights. They mapped out deciduous trees, evergreen trees, and ferns. As I’m typing this, I am JUST NOW reminded of The Definitive Central Park Map. I TOTALLY wish I would have thought of that this morning to show students before we left.

Recording observations (including neat orange lichen!)

No matter. We had a blast. I was thoroughly impressed at my students’ ability to let go and have a great time, yet still take care of the Official Science Business they needed to attend to. The sketched and described trees, moss, and ferns, and they were careful to stay in my line of sight (no chaperones today, sadly).

Thermometers read a balmy 56 degrees Fahrenheit!

After Official Science Business was attended to, we used the remaining time to play on the Wildwood Park Big Toy. As someone whose elementary school park boasted a strictly wood-and-bolts play structure, the crazy spider-y rope climbing portion and the see-saw swing things kind of blew my mind.

Then, it was time to head back to school. The entire trip, including the walk to and from the park (which, granted, was right next door), including the “tour” and time to fill out Field Guides, including the play time on the Big Toy, was less than one hour. Students declared the trip a success, and I’d agree.

One of our PTA parents (who doesn’t have a student in my class) asked why more teachers don’t plan trips like I did. Here’s an expanded look at the answer I gave her.

The first reason, the one I imagine is most pressing to our teachers, is because most classrooms at our school have greater than half their class reading a year or two (or more) behind grade level, so it can be difficult to get field trips approved. You’ll notice I was careful to say “it can be difficult,” not “you can’t do it,” because I believe that if your field trip doesn’t align to more than one core subject area, frankly, you’re not planning the trip to maximize its learning potential.

The second reason is that paperwork’s a pain. It’s decidedly less painful to me because I’ve filled out many field trip forms in the past few years (every math team contest counts as a field trip, which means 5-6 permission slips during the competition season), so I can fill out the paperwork pretty quickly. But in addition to filing everything properly, the teacher then needs to collect permission slips, which often aren’t returned. Even on a free field trip somewhere nearby, teachers need chaperones. If we were going anywhere other than next door, I would have needed at least two people to step up and join us. We have a trip to the UW planned for Thursday, and I’m not quite sure what we’ll do because I only have one available parent with Washington Patrol approval.

Speaking of which, want to join us at the UW Department of Atmospheric Sciences on Thursday??? You’d be home by noon. CONTACT ME, because we’d love to have you there. I’ve been listening to Cliff Mass’ KPLU podcasts lately to improve my weather knowledge.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Portlandia.

This Friday, Toby and I removed the two crates of picture books on tape from the back of my car to accomodate our duffle bags. He picked me up at Wildwood right after class ended, marking the FIRST TIME in several years that he’s stepped inside a school with children still around. (He had a chance to meet the illustrious Anthea Brown, who is no longer a mini-Shannon because she is so much more centered this year as a wise third-grader.)

After hitting minimal Tacoma and Olympia traffic, we crossed the bridge into Portland and settled in at our favorite PDX hotel, Hotel DeLuxe. This is where we’ve stayed every time I’ve run the Portland Marathon, and we’ve had nothing but excellent experiences there. This time, there would be no running. Just WordPress business. I’ll talk about the practical WordCamp side of things later this week, but for now I just wanted to share neat Portland stuff, most of which does fall into the Portlandia laid out in Fred Armistice’s series.

—Can I just break my narrative for a moment to address how painful it is for me to write this knowing there are so many stylistic changes I want to make to this site? I wish I could write and “code” (I put the word in quotes because for me, coding still means clicking frantically, then asking Toby to fix everything) and clean AND write lesson plans AND take care of National Board business, but alas, my manic phases are significantly calmer these days. So please know that I’m trying to figure out what to do, but Toby is busy and I don’t have the $50 an hour it would take to buy his expertise.—

Anyway. We were hungry, so we headed off to Clyde Common, which mistakenly I thought I had read about in the New York Times, and which Toby ate at last year. Ordinarily we stop by the stunning Driftwood Room (pictured above) for a bite, but it was crazy-crowded so we left.

Clyde Common was lovely, local, and tasty, but it also rubbed me the wrong way just a squeak. The waitress warmly touches my shoulder after she takes our order for popcorn and hamburgers. The biking gal in the blue polka-dot dress stops to talk to the dandy gents on the patio in shirtsleeves and vests. Bird tattoos are everywhere. I feel crazy-guilty for ordering meat. Evvvvvverything is meticulously marked as vegan, gluten-free, and so on. It’s Seattle’s Local 360 on steroids — organic ones. It feels… I don’t know, like everyone’s trying so hard that if someone started yelling and stopped being all PNW mild-mannered yet passive-aggressive, the whole building would collapse.

But back to food. Toby’s been on this kick where he gets an egg on top of pretty much every sandwich he eats. I discovered he’s not the only one.

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/#!/nacin/status/115615261247287296″]

Nacin is one of Toby’s WordPress man-pals I finally had a chance to meet in person. The guys (the gender split at WCPDX was roughly 50-50, but I mostly talked to gents) were pretty fantastic on the whole. I met Jon Hoadley‘s doppelganger.

There were lots of Andrews, Matthews, Aarons, Kevins, and the like. Most people seemed about my age.

As I said, I’ll talk more about the conference itself later. After the first day of sessions, we crashed briefly, then joined up with Matt Mirande and his rad significant other, an art teacher, for food.

Unlike Clyde Common, The Leaky Roof was neither pretentious nor crowded. The food was solid, the drinks tasty, and the company enjoyable. Much more my jam.

We parted ways after a conversation that left me wanting to own a synthesizer more than ever, and crashed for the evening.

This morning, we made our pilgrimage to Powell’s. We encountered a larger-than-life hipster on the way.

Many books were purchased (although I kept the tab below $100! Shocking!), and then we decided to head home because I realized I have a GATE PLC tomorrow, which will make my Monday much longer than I originally anticipated.

The only disappointing part of my Portland experience was that ALL THE VINTAGE SHOPS WERE CLOSED ON SUNDAY. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! Although I suppose now I won’t have to suffer the long-term disappointment of increased debt.

Now I’m back to reality. I analyzed my spelling inventories tonight so I can begin word work this week. Boy, do my kids need word work. I’ve also added about 20 new books to our class library, and I’m about to answer a few Letters to Ms. Houghton. As much as I talk about how I miss Michigan and how much I want to travel more, it feels good to be back in Seattle.

Field Trip Photos!

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you SO MUCH for making Friday’s trip to the Point Defiance Zoo such an amazing experience. It seemed like you had fun and learned a lot, based on the facts you rattled off when we returned to Wildwood. :) Here are some photos I took of the creatures we encountered. As you know, no student faces are to be included in these pictures.

The weather held for us all day! We were so fortunate!
Sea cucumber! Larger and a different color than I thought it'd be. Just like the one featured in Dragonbreath!
It was Bali's 13th birthday, so we sang "Happy Birthday" to him!
Porcupines! Ereth would be so proud. We were all astonished at how HUGE they were. I pictured them as guinea pig-sized...
Puffins! Their wings look like bat wings when they dive into the water.
Along with cats and owls, otters are my favorite animals!
These prawns made me think of the crawdads Tom and Reg ate in Leepike Ridge.
The peacock bids us farewell.


What a fantastic experience. I can’t wait to debrief with you more next week. Enjoy the sun this weekend, and remember that there IS SCHOOL on TUESDAY (we originally had it off, but we need to use it as a snow makeup day). Be well, do good things, and keep in touch!