Guy Clark sings “Trust Your Cape.” Barnacle Geese babies heed him. & I think about risk. (A 420 character 9 liner w/ music & sketches & youTubes!)

(These Barnacle Goose goslings trusted their cape and made the leap.)

My 420:

Rappelling isn’t the right word for it,

but I do take risks

& reap the unseen opportunities that open up as a result.

Some of my key teaching strategies are ones that evolved

as I experimented with inklings (pun intended)

based on my own literacy practices

but not already codified in traditional lesson plans.

Are they in the same league as the risk taken by the goslings?

No, but often they felt like I was rappelling.

PATTY

The the adults can only wait at the scree where food awaits the bouncing tumblers.

Grandkids? Resisters? Earth-shakers? World leaders? Consider the lesson of the subnivean tunnel with all its off-ramps. A notebook entry with sketch.

Grandkids? World leaders? Parents? Earthlings of any ilk? Are you finding yourself on the lookout for out a metaphorical off-ramp, a work-around? How about a subnivian tunnel?

WHAT WE SEE DEPENDS ON WHAT WE LOOK FOR

On a morning like every other, Jim Baichtal and his geologist buds meet for coffee. On a rock outcropping, natch. They’re on the shore of Tongass National Forest in Alaska, on the hunt for fossilized remnants of prehistoric marine reptiles.

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It’s May, extremely low tide ~ prime conditions for monitoring the area.

A sip of coffee, an offhand remark.  

Hey, Jim, what’s that?  Say, how ‘bout a donut over here?  So, ya’ think it’s anything?

They take a closer look. It isn’t a fishbone or a branch. They give it a kick, it doesn’t move.

It. Is. Indeed. Something.

It’s a complete intact section on an exposed layer of rock in a place where the tide only occasionally leaves it uncovered.

 

The tail of a thalattosaur fossil found near Kake in Southeast Alaska in May 2011 is shown in this publicity photo released to Reuters July 28, 2011. Alaska scientists have discovered the fossil of the thalattosaur, a prehistoric, long-tailed sea creature that went extinct at the end of the Triassic period.

 

Jim and his buddies discover the entombed bones and vertebra of a Thalattosaur, an enigmatic marine reptile that swam in the tropical waters surrounding the supercontinent Pangea about 200 million years ago.

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Jim and his team know there is a very good chance that more of the skeleton is still intact inside the gray calcareous shale near the tail section. They cut the top slab layers above the fossil, removing each section as they work their way down. A slab containing the original discovery is recovered and a second fossil-bearing slab comes free just as the tide comes in.

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What the geologists do next is try to unravel what’s happened ~ to read and interpret the fossil message.

The Thalattosaur fossil?  It’s at the University of Alaska Museum in Fairbanks where the staff will process the slabs with x-rays, hydrofluoric acid, and micro-sandblasters.  It’s too much of a treasure to lose, says Baichtal.

Speaking of treasure….

 

In the next decade, half of America’s teachers will retire. What we do to recruit, train, and retain our new teachers will shape public education in this country for a generation. All of us are where we are today because we had great teachers in our lives.

We can make our schools better. And we can learn how from geologists. They go to a place that has a history of fossil finds. They know what to look for, observe with intent, talk, talk, dig deeper, then read and interpret the message.

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Teachers need time to collaborate and sit in the corners of each other’s classrooms.  In a teacher-as-stranger role. They can target strategies that work, and then talk about how and why they do. Teacher-as-geologist.

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We need to take a cue from those geologists.  Give teachers time (not guns) to observe, reflect, and interpret The Message.  So, Betsy*, listen up. The Message is about the future of our kids.  It’s too much of a treasure to lose.

Toni 3/6/18

 

*Betsy DeVos, US Secretary of Education, does not hold any degree in Education or ever worked in schools (either as a teacher or administrator), never attended a public school or sent any of her children to one.

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