Thursday, August 25, 2016

My Students Deserve This

It was time to decorate the high school music room . . . . 

When Jeff was a young budding symphony musician, he took auditions for major orchestras all over the United States.  One audition that he remembers vividly was for the Philadelphia Orchestra (which he won, by the way), held at the Curtis Institute of Music in downtown Philadelphia.   He remembers seeing beautiful artwork in gold frames, upholstered antique furniture, and pretty walls with woodwork.  The whole atmosphere seemed to be most honorable.  It made quite an impression on him, and when he decided to become a full-time teacher after nine years of being a full-time orchestra musician, he wanted his classrooms to look like Curtis.  He said that the students there must have felt very special -- and that is the way he wants his students to feel now.  

The melting clock was inspired by Picasso's Persistence of Memory, a print of which hangs behind his desk.  

                      Where we got the stuff: 
wooden furniture (except the piano) --from our collection                                                  (family antiques, garage sales, auctions)
fabric -- Goodville Fabric for $1 a yard 
poles -- $3 conduit painted black 
pictures -- garage sales, thrift stores
art print -- (Picasso)  purchased online 
plants and rugs -- Lowe's (we disciplined ourselves to stay in the sale section)  

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

My Husband Wonders if We Can Play with Porcupines in Heaven

First of all, I was not the one who corrected this sign -- or most of the others I saw in many bathrooms in Denali National Park in Alaska.  I would view that as defacing property, which I have strong convictions against.  But, it did show me that I am not the only one who notices these things.  Perhaps the National Park Service should hire a grammarian?  Or would that be a punctuarian?  

For the correction, as it is written, it is only for one animal's safety.  If it were meant for all of the animals, it should be written "Animals' Safety", though I'm not sure why they threw in all those capital letters. 

My students can say the rule:

If there is not an "s", add apostrophe "s".

If there is an "s", just add an apostrophe.


1 cat               the cat's dish               2 cats          the cats' dishes 

1 mouse         the mouse's cheese     2 mice         the mice's cheese

To read about more of these, click here.  

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Staff Orientation and the Vomit Kit

After the staff orientation meetings today I feel completely ready for school to start.  I know where everything is, and I know how to handle any situation from a concussion to a tornado and everything in between, and I know where to find the vomit kit (check out that puke scraper!)   All I need now is to finish decorating my room (since I spent days helping my hubby with his room -- pictures coming soon--), and to have a room full of students.  If you are interested in reading a story about a real student and real vomit, click here.  

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Look for Beauty

 Art is everywhere; it is all around us.  I am trying to be more observant and appreciate it; and I hope to instill this in my students as well.  This camper bus was all over Juneau; we saw it several times, including at our very own campground.  
This was hanging above a car rental place in the Juneau airport.  I am going to try to duplicate this one in my classroom.  (That is another great reason to look for beauty.)  And below we saw random-sized circles with different geometric patterns hanging on a painted parking lot wall.  That beats gray cement and cinder blocks any ol' day.  Yay for art!  

Monday, August 15, 2016

Alaskan Art

What do Alaskans do when their Sitka Spruce trees get these large burls (caused by fungi, bacteria, or a genetic mutation) on them?  They make them into porch posts.  We saw several of these.  
I'm not sure if this was for real or not, but I doubt it. 

And these would officially be dubbed as "airport art".  Above is a tile mosaic with plates included as part of the clouds, and below is a flag made entirely from aluminum cans.  Both of these I discovered in ladies' restrooms.   It made me wonder what kind of art they had put in the men's restrooms.  

Friday, August 12, 2016

Redundancy Redundancy

This was one of my favorite Alaskan signs.  Although there is nothing wrong with the spelling, there is something wrong with the writing.  Redundancy.  If the persons are unauthorized, then they are indeed not allowed inside because they are unauthorized to be there.   It would make more sense if it read, "Only authorized persons allowed."  


the use of words or data that could be omitted without loss of meaning or function; repetition or superfluity of information.
synonyms: superfluity, unnecessariness, excess

And here is one of my favorite quotes from William Strunk, Jr. from the book, Elements of Style

"Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all his sentences short, or that he avoid all detail and treat his subjects only in outline, but that every word tell."

I also discovered that it could be called "pleonasm". has the following definition.
"Pleonasm is derived from a Greek word that means “excess”. It is a rhetorical device which can be defined as the use of a second or more words (phrase) to express an idea. These words are redundant such as in the following examples of pleonasm, “burning fire” and “black darkness.” Sometimes, pleonasm is also called tautology, which is the repetition of words."

Thursday, August 11, 2016

We Do "Mens" Haircuts, Yes, We Do, We Do "Mens" Haircuts, How 'Bout You?

This is rare, but here we have an example of a missing apostrophe. It really should be there, because the haircuts do indeed belong to the men.  

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Me Likey Pretty Pictures

This is the wall outside Jeff's music and art room.  It is covered with cork stuff like a bulletin board and it is used to display the students' art.  Neat idea!  But what do you do when they haven't created any art to put on the bulletin boards yet?  Last year Jeff decided to use it to display a few of his favorite works of art.  He buys three or four art prints every summer and has quite a collection.  This display includes Salvador Dali, Jackson Pollock, Rembrandt, Ansel Adams,  Hokusai, Van Gogh, and others.
     The space was no longer blank and boring, and the students had something inspiring at which to gaze, and to motivate them onto beauteous works of Menno art.  Jeff says, "Me likey Menno art."

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Two Things Teachers Should Do in the Summer

Thing 1:  Find the Oscar Mayer wiener car.  (See this post.)  

Thing 2:  Attend Teachers Week.  

We just returned from a fabulous five days at Teachers Week, held at Faith Builders in Guys Mills, Pennsylvania.  
Several English teachers worked on pre-writing an essay and presented the three following reasons that teachers can benefit from Teachers Week.

1.   Learn 

2.  Get motivated

3.  Enjoy fellowship with other teachers

These lovely journals, filled with all sorts of magnificent analyses (that is the plural of "analysis") of literary works, diagramming, and creative journaling works of art, were created by some of the teachers in my "Add a Little Spice to Your English Class" work session.  What a great group they were!  

This year Teachers Week filled up early, so if you are considering going next year, plan ahead and sign up promptly.   

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Menno Art Is Great

Jeff's art class at Teachers Week is going well.  Several teachers were diligently working on their projects after dinner this evening in the art room.  

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Monday, August 1, 2016

Man Looks at the Outside, But God Looks on the Heart

There are actually two butterflies in the photograph, or "leaferflies" as I prefer to call them.  This picture was taken by Kristen Miller, my flautist friend in Boliva, who appreciates God's creation as much as I do.   
Her sister, Victoria informed me that the one on the right is bright blue on the inside, and the one on the left is bright orange and purple when it opens.    Besides pointing out what an amazing creator our great God is, she also shared a leaf-butterfly analogy: what is on the outside isn't always indicative of what is on the inside.  So true.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Beautiful School Walls - Classroom Decoration Week Day #5

Maps, maps, maps.  You gotta have maps.  The two below are actually wall paper; we purchased them from and asked a carpenter from our church to put a wood frame around them. 
Click here to see the National Geographic maps.  

The first picture is of a map we actually painted onto the wall.  We used the "overhead projector trick" to accomplish this.  We simply photocopied a map, put it on overhead film, projected it onto the wall, outlined the countries with Sharpie markers, and painted them in with paint.  The border I purchased on clearance at a wallpaper store.   We estimate the whole thing cost us around $8.  

The map of the world was put up the year we studied world history, the map of Europe (below) was added two years later when we were studying Anabaptist history.  

And this isn't a map, but, just for fun, I have always wanted to put something like this Monet mural in my classroom.  This particular one was in my living room instead.  Maybe someday . . . . 

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Fine Art for Fine Mennos

While I did purchase one motivational poster, and I do have one bulletin board in my classroom, we prefer to frame and hang fine art in our classrooms to give them more of a "homey" feel.  I want to give my students something beautiful to observe, and something to think about as well.  Above, Rembrandt's The Mennonite Preacher Anslo and his Wife,  below; left, torn paper art by a former student, and right, The Broad and the Narrow Way.   

 Above a photograph print by Ansel Adams hangs, below a photo of a medieval castle from a year in which we studied world history.  
Above is a print of another one of Rembrandt's paintings, The Prodigal Son, below is a close-up of The Broad and the Narrow Way.  

And, we love Dirk.  This print is not only a good reminder for us to love our enemies, but it is also nice to have around for Anabaptist history and discussions on non-resistance.
The prints are usually 18 x 24 or 24 x 36, and we purchase them online, on sale at reasonable prices.  The frames we get at resale stores and paint black, or buy them at 50% off sales.  
Since we get a few questions about some of these, here are a few more details, just in case you were wondering.
Dirk -  $6.95 for an 18 x 24 print
Anslo the Mennonite Preacher - or art. com
Broad and Narrow Way -

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Frog Fire Alarm - Classroom Decoration Week

My husband's 7th and 8th grade art elective class painted the above frog on the fire alarm emergency lights in his classroom and in the all-purpose room as well.  My hubby added the smaller frog which he cut out of a poster.  
We got this idea from Lake Center Christian School in Hartville, Ohio, whose version of the frog light is below.  They happen to have an amazing art program.  
Below is their version of Vincent Van Gogh's Starry, Starry Night. To see more of this extraordinary school, click on the link below.