Monthly Archives: August 2012


The world as seen through my (and Blaise’s) iphones.

DBacks vs. Padres with my Dad. Nothing beats a beer with the Pops at the ballpark, yeah?

My pretty city

Playing with my Mom’s vintage hot rollers.

School lunch. (Our school is housed at a local church, and they make food for us everyday. It’s delicious.)

Post-work drinks with the boy at home.

Excellent label at the Super Mercado down the street.

Another excellent label, this one at Loi Nam.

Blaise found some dragonfruit at the Mercado, so obviously he had to mix it into a drink instantly.

They were pretty delicious.

Cookies baking

Air Force One with Harrison Ford (swoon!)


A girl trying to live The Good Life the best she knows how.

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Gothic Gombel

I gave my first test of the year this past Friday. For the last two weeks, one of my classes has studied the art and culture of the Middle Ages.

The first week I introduced major social roles and gave them worksheets that described – in simple language – Kings, Noble(wo)men, Knights, Bishops, Priests, Friars, Monks/ Nuns, Serfs, Servants, Minstrels, and Merchants. I had them complete “fill in the blank” worksheets to help them learn these roles. We did creative writing exercises.

The second week we talked about Gothic Architecture. Again, I gave them many, many handouts and had them do “matching” exercises to learn that Gothic Architecture is marked by (1) tall, sweeping designs, (2) flying buttresses, (3) vaulted ceilings, (4) pointed arches, (5) light, open, and airy interiors, (6) gargoyles, and (7) an emphasis on decor. We viewed a ton of slides and sketched our own features.

The night before the test, I purchased folders for each of the students, put stickers with their names on them, and put their worksheets inside. I provided these folders for the exams.

I took each and every question on the test AS A DIRECT QUOTE from their worksheets which they had in front of them.

This is what I got back.

I’d say about a quarter of the tests I got back were left blank on the backside despite numerous reminders that they needed to complete both sides of the exam.

A shocking lack of understanding of basic geography.

An inability to cross-reference with answers in front of you.

Interesting, oftentimes comical grammar. Please also note that one student thought “The Middle Ages” was the country in which Notre Dame de Paris was located.

Creative spelling.

This. Is. Depressing.

The average test score was 59%.

I am not mad at my students. Yeah, they did some pretty silly stuff on their tests, but when you look more closely, this is obviously my fault. I’m their teacher. I should have taught them better. But I only see them 40 minutes a day and… and… and… who do I point the finger at now? I mean, for pete’s sake, finger-pointing seems to be all the rage in the education debate these days, so clearly I need to point at someone else and scream “not it! not it! not it!” at the top of my lungs. This isn’t fair. These kids are passing through the public school system and despite their teachers’ best efforts… they aren’t learning anything.

Do we blame then? The education system? The federal, state, and local mandates? The district? The curriculum advisers? The school administration? The faculty? The parents? The students themselves? Or do we look elsewhere? TV and the internet? Hollywood? Video games? Popular culture? Ugh.

Frankly, I’m feeling pretty depressed about this whole thing. Clearly this problem is far, far over my head and out of my hands. I’m discouraged by the lack of care people have for education and especially for my Fine Arts classes. I feel so terrible for my students who are struggling and misinformed and not getting a stellar education. I wish I could make it different. I am trying. We are all trying. But it doesn’t seem like it’s making a difference.

 And I sort of want to scream “NOT IT” and quit.

Past Lives

A lesson planning party at Lux with my brother and my beautiful friend Sarah – both teachers.

I am definitely going back on my words from a few weeks ago when I was wishing for the structure and routine of a normal workday. I miss my summer life. I miss being something other than “just” a teacher. As much as I love my job and my students, I miss being a “real” person and having hobbies and time and energy to do them. I feel pretty one-sided these days.

But hey guess what?!? Blaise is back! It’s been a long past week and I’m very happy to have the boy home. Check out his blog and you can hear about some of his adventures.

And finally… um… anyone want to buy some eggs?

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After only two weeks of school, my room has begun to unravel in tiny ways.

The first graders at the yellow table love pulling up tape…. I smell a lunch detention coming up!

Things are going well… mostly. I have a few unruly classes that I am attempting to motivate, but goodness knows I still love them dearly and look forward to seeing them each day. There are lots of little projects we are working on and I am getting more and more excited about my curriculum as time goes on. I’ll try to explain more about what I do in depth at a later date, but for now, this is what next week looks like:

KindergartenIntroduction to Warm Colors
First Grade: Art of Ancient Egypt
Second Grade: Different types of Line
Third Grade: Introduction to 3D shapes
Fourth Grade: Introduction to Gothic Architecture
Fifth Grade: Crash course in Greek, Roman, and Medieval Art (insofar as it informs the European Renaissance…. which we shall begin to study the next week)

A few great things about this week:

My class points system seems to be working! This is a little complicated, andI will explain the whole thing later. The class with the most points at the end of the quarter will earn a fun, fun pizza party from yours truly! (I get a lot of concerned questions about which KIND of pizza there will be and similarly, a lot of lamenting that the end of the quarter isn’t until October. Oh the agonies of being a kid!)

My first group of Monday Masterpiece classes went great! Second grade studied “Red, Yellow, Blue” by Kandinsky in an attempt to refresh our memory on primary colors. We are also about to start a unit on different types of Line, so I thought Kandinsky would be good for that, too.

To kick off our unit on COLOR, Kindergarten studied Monet. They had a lot of fun coloring their lily pads.

Kindergarten also talked about the way different colors made us feel. Most of them concluded that red = angry, yellow = happy, and blue = sad. Some were a little confused by the whole concept so we’re going to have to take a few steps back and talk about it again. I also threw in “what color is surprised? SURPRISE ME!” sheet and boy-oh-boy did they surprise me…

Third grade is talking about value shading and shadows. As I mentioned above, next week we’ll get into 2D to 3D objects and I thought starting with shadows would be a good place to begin. They’ve been a super fun class and we had some good times with flashlights this last week!

First grade has studied Cave Paintings this week (their Monday Masterpiece was an image from the Cave of Lascaux), but we haven’t gotten to do a ton of fun stuff yet. I did teach them, however, how to trace their hands. Unfortunately, we’ve had to spend most of our time practicing procedures and learning how to stay quiet in the hall and during class. Yesterday I marched them up and down the stairs for about twenty minutes. I felt like a drill sergeant.

Fourth and Fifth grade are purely art history courses this year. Fourth was introduced to the Middle Ages this week and we had some time to do a bit of creative writing on Thursday. They are a very, very large class, however, and my room is rather tiny, so I’m having trouble keeping them completely quiet and on task.

Fifth grade worked on research skills this week (I think I posted a picture of a reference book scavenger hunt I had them do earlier this week), and we’ve also talked about plagiarism and bibliographies. I haven’t gotten through as much of this as I wanted, but I suppose I’ll sprinkle it throughout the quarter. They will be working through the European Renaissance the entire time.

 But for now, it’s almost the weekend. And pssst! Guess what?!

It’s like…. cold outside!
Thanks for the break from blistering heat, Phoenix!

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Curioser and curioser…

Look what I found in the chicken coop this morning…

I haven’t yet seen a speckled egg in the nest boxes… and this one seems to have been pecked open. Hmmm…

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Keep on Keepin’ On

We are marching onward. 5 days down, 174 to go.

The world as I see it so far:

(how on earth is my desk this messy already? This is only a small part of it, too!)

Research scavenger hunt for the 5th graders. Those kids better be able to use a dictionary. I’m serious. And an index!

A lovely painting outside of Lux. So pretty!

Not much more to report today. Blaise is off to the east coast for a week and I will miss him dearly. It will be just me and the chickens! I met an old, dear friend for coffee today – as soon as she bustled into town, she’s off again and I’m not sure when she will be back. Goodbyes are never easy.

But for now, I am pooped. My legs are tired after standing all day in less-than-desirable shoes. I have plenty to do tomorrow, so I’m about to tuck in and get some much needed zzzzzzzzs.

xo – Cal

A Little Respite

It’s the weekend! More specifically – it’s SUNDAY. Sunday is my absolute favorite day because it is the only day of the week that Blaise and I have off together, so we make our best effort to make the very most of it. It’s been such a lovely day already!

A trip by Cartel in Old Town Scottsdale for an Americano and an espresso…

A stop by an art supply store in Tempe. I couldn’t help but oogle the rows and rows of acrylic paint…

 [[[and speaking of, here’s a little video by one of my favorite up-and-coming bands, aptly named Acrylics!
Although their album came out just last year, the sound (and their video) is just so very ’80s, and oh-so-very wonderful.


A trip to Home Depot where Blaise got a few things and where I stole 30+ paint samples for a color wheel activity in my classes

And now I have stopped by my darling parents’ house to do some work and relax. We are headed to my grandmother’s to eat dinner and catch up on some Olympics viewing. It’ll be nice to spend time with the fam.

So long for now! I’ll be back soon!



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Heating Up

I had a sinking feeling that once school started up that I’d stop blogging as regularly as I had been… and guess what! I was right.

Life has been pretty hectic. I’m not going to lie – I’ve had a bit of a tough time adjusting back to the school year, getting everything ready in time, and staying energetic and positive about the whole thing. Not that I need to waste time complaining about it at this point, I guess. It is what it is, you know?

In any case, there’s a lot to get used to these days. And I suppose blogging less than I’d like is just one of the side effects of returning to full-time work. I’m too tired after school to do anything interesting or take any pictures, so I find that I just don’t have anything to blog about. Hopefully I’ll get into a rhythm soon and get my life in some sort of order and return to making this blog a happy place.

For now, it’s all lesson planning and brainstorming…

a teacher’s work is never done!

Color Theory

Halfway through getting ready this morning, I realized we were coordinated in primary colors. Pure coincidence, but this art teacher is proud!