We’re Number 1

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Normally folks are proud to be number 1. Last night the Las Vegas strip became the site of the number 1 deadliest mass shooting in modern US history, only fourteen months after the previous worst shooting occurred in Florida. Not good.

So much confusing news and fake news has been coming out about this event that I plan to wait a few days for the narrative to gel. In the meantime, I’m asking my students to watch and identify the difference between factual observations and interpretations or conclusions. We have been using a photograph each day to practice critical thinking. We’re predicting that both sides of the gun control debate will use the same facts to justify different conclusions.

In more cheerful news, above is the pair of images we analyzed today. Some students jumped to the conclusion it took place inside until we identified details such as the lighting, the night sky, and the proximity of motorized vehicles.

Finally, Day 1 of Inktober 2017 is my reference drawing.

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Hello (again), world!

 

*sigh* It’s been almost a year since my last blog post. To be honest, I am STILL processing the national nightmare that became our reality last November. But that’s a whole ‘nother blog post.

It’s OCTOBER 1! It’s the beginning of a new month, a new start, and a new Inktober challenge. The rules are above, but the bottom line is to make an ink drawing each day in October. The creator, Jake Parker, provides a list of daily prompts, but in the past I’ve used it for only about half my drawings. I briefly considered making digital drawings using Procreate and my beloved Apple Pencil, but I think I’ll hold off on that variation.   “KISS”  🙂

I plan to extrapolate from Inktober 2017 and conduct my personal Blog-tober. It’s probably already a thing (too apathetic to Google it…) but to me it’s a promise to blog EVERY DAY. Yes, you heard it here, folks. I’m holding myself accountable for a DAILY practice, something which I’ve put on the back burner for way too long.

To cut myself a little slack, I will commit to posting my drawing on the day after, in case I don’t get to it until bedtime.

See you tomorrow!

The Day After

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Today in my high school Contemporary Lit elective we began as usual discussing the news of the day. My students described the facts, then asked questions and made observations (respectfully to each other) about the election in which a few of them had voted. I’m happy that most felt safe to discuss their fears, their satisfaction, and even conflicts in their own homes.

They also expressed themselves in writing, either a letter to President-elect Trump or a journal entry on their thoughts and feelings today. Some of these PRIVATE comments were heart-wrenching. Many Muslim, Latino, and even Chinese students expressed worry about family deportations or inability of relatives ever to travel to the US. Some shared taunting online comments they’d seen. One girl feared (as a minority woman) the potential effect on her college experience, the “most important years” of her life. A few felt the drama was overblown.

I concluded the segment with some historical perspective and a reminder and reassurances to keep reaching out. We can continue to be patient and kind to each other and those close to us. It felt right for my classes and me. Moving forward….

Mirrors, Westworld and Hypocrisy

man_looking_in_mirrorPhoto: http://img.jillkonrath.com/hs-fs/hub/110248/file-22797243-jpg/images/man_looking_in_mirror.jpg

We seem rarely to see ourselves as we really are when we look in the mirror. This can be a good thing (as when we aspire to be better) or a very, very bad thing (as when we fail to see a fixable flaw that is obvious to everyone else). This election season I’ve found myself shouting at my TV screen at certain advocates — “Really?! OMG, look in the mirror!” These people spew hateful, bigoted comments while declaring themselves proponents of family values, defenders of the poor, and good Christians.

Why the disconnect?

I think that, when such folks look themselves in the mirror, they see what they want to see, as in the Mirror of Erised at Hogwarts in the Harry Potter novels. Why is it so easy to overlook what is objectively before our eyes? Part of the answer for me comes from the new Netflix series Westworld in which guests visit a fantasy western world populated by extremely lifelike robots. I’ll focus on just one aspect of the series: the creators debrief the “hosts” periodically, but calling them into a minimalist lab and asking them questions. The hosts (and hence the actors) sit naked on a chair and, if they go into cold storage, stand naked in lines. I can only imagine how vulnerable a person (or actor) must feel being so exposed. As a TV viewer, I find myself feeling uncomfortable on their behalf. Therefore, it seems to me that people easily tune out what they don’t want to see, either physically or metaphorically, when looking in the mirror.

We all need to be better, to acknowledge the reality of our judgmental natures. Only then can we begin to address them.

 

 

UHS Homecoming 2016

16uhshcspiritMy high school site is unique in its tradition of decorating entire hallways for Spirit Week. Each day all students dress up according to a theme, culminating in Spirit Night on Thursday where class councils bring in the decorations they’ve been working on all quarter. On Friday morning students tour around and a committee of staff have the difficult task of awarding points. This year the Seniors won, followed by Juniors, Sophomores and Freshmen. My few pictures here fail to do their amazing work justice. EVERY locker mural was outstanding, and many of the smaller elements such as Cinderella’s coach and  the working WALL-E robot were impressive. But below, from 12-9th grade are a few tastes of Homecoming 2016.

Seniors: Disney Princesses — Rapunzel’s tower, Beauty and the Beast mural

Juniors: Imagination– Peter Pan mural, Jolly Roger pirate ship

Sophomores: Lion King / Finding Nemo / Ratatouille / A Bug’s Life —  Pride Rock, Finding Nemo painting

Freshmen: Video Games — Sugar Rush mural, Wreck It Ralph model

 

Simple Sunset Celebration


A few days ago my DH and I celebrated my birthday on a weeknight. We dropped in at Skyloft in Laguna Beach and enjoyed the rooftop view and generous happy hour appetizer portions. Then we got gelato to nibble on as we strolled the boardwalk. A lovely tourist from Spain offered to take our picture and she caught us in a wonderful light. I’m lucky to have enjoyed many wonderful birthday celebrations, but this simple and low-key early evening with my best friend was one of the most special. Sometimes less truly is more.

As the sun set, we drove home and I spent the rest of the night entering progress grades that were due the next morning. *sigh* Life is… ironic. But mostly in a really good way. 🙂

“The Last Lecture” — Help People


As part of our unit on The Value of Life, my elective class called Contemporary Studies watched Randy Pausch’s lecture called “Achieving Your Childhood Dreams.” Knowing he was dying of liver cancer, Pausch delivered a funny, moving, and inspirational talk on how to live a good life in which he described some highlights of his journey as a family man, a student and a professor. The best-selling book he published called The Last Lecture expands on the stories and lessons of his 75-minute speech. 

Pausch’s lecture contains so many meaningful lessons, but the one message that most resonated with me on this viewing was HELP PEOPLE. That’s a given in an educator’s job description, but it also describes an attitude for anyone in any profession or any role, including student. We can learn so much from connecting with others without expectation of personal gain. The beautiful irony is that, with that mindset, we often get back more than we give. Pausch calls that a “head fake” or indirect learning, where in the doing of a fun task we learn something difficult. My own beloved father Angelo Ozoa preached that lesson and lived it, as a doctor and community leader whose legacy includes an annual medical mission to needy areas in the Philippines. So go do what Randy and Angelo said — help people!