Weeds, Paper Mache, and Teaching

by Claire on May 21, 2011

One day, towards the end of April, I became fed up with the dirt in our backyard. Dottie's bright white coat is generally a dull brown by the time we get home from school in the afternoon due to the state of our backyard. Sometimes we hose her off (but she hates it and usually urinates all over), and other times we let her into the house (but then we need to dust and sweep daily).  We decided the solution would be grass.

We have been dragging our feet about this; we didn't want to use up any more precious water than necessary. Luckily, we found a great place here in Albuquerque called Plants of the Southwest. We bought some seed that is native to New Mexico and apparently requires very little water (a couple of times a month!) once it is established. Furthermore, we were told that we didn't need fertilizer or compost as it would naturally like our soil. 

The planting was pretty easy. We borrowed a roto-tiller from our neighbors, installed a stake and chicken-wire fence to keep Dottie out, sprinkled and raked the seed, and covered it in a light layer of hay.

Shortly after we planted the grass, Albuquerque had a couple of extremely windy weeks. The hay we used to cover the grass all blew away. Oh, and then it snowed. In May. Somehow grass still came up, but unfortunately weeds did too, outnumbering the grass.

Nick making a fence that will keep Dottie off the future grass until it's strong. 
Dottie giving Nick a hug.
The weeds. (And some grass.)

On a different note, our graduate classes ended for the semester, not to resume until June 7th. The final project was actually pretty fun. Nick and I both got a bit carried away with it! We were told to create a 3D model (along with a paper, of course) with a movable part that was a metaphor for teaching and learning. Nick chose a toolbox (with a secret door representing a student's prior knowledge), and I chose to make a marionette out of paper mache and fabric scraps (the puppeteer is the super exciting subject matter, the figure is the student, and I (as the teacher) am the strings--connecting the student to the powerful and life-giving content). This is a metaphor and my goal; it is what I aspire to be in the classroom. Pictured below is the making of the marionette.

Headless paper mache doll. 

Adding hair.

The finished head. 

The finished marionette.

She is a sinister sight in our guest room,  continuously staring at me from the ceiling when I pass.  Would it be helpful to make another one (or five), or would that be even more creepy? 

In other news, Nick and I found out what we will be teaching in the fall. We are both pretty pleased with our assignments. Nick has the exact same schedule as this year and the previous year: five sections of sixth grade Earth Science. I am moving back into my old classroom from the 2009-2010 school year to  teach eighth grade American History. I am going to need to do a lot of refreshing and preparing over the summer! I have started by reading Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States. Fascinating.

Later this summer:
A visit to Los Alamos to see Maggie and Leni
A visit from Nick's parents
A possible camping trip in the White Mountains
A long and much awaited road trip to Tennessee to see Eleanor and Nick
9 credits of graduate school in the month of June (Sounds a little terrifying.)
Lots and lots of sun tea

If you made it through this rather mundane post, I congratulate you.