Thinking back on my first years of teaching at Sams Valley, I recall hoisting on to my shoulder a ten pound video camera practically the size of a Volkswagon. I also recall using an old SLR camera with black and white film to take stills while student-teaching at Briscoe Elementary in Ashland. Well, after twenty years of shooting video and taking photos of all those wonderful kids and interesting activities, I’m attempting to post select shorts here on the Daily Platypus.
Although the videos are posted on Youtube, the address is private, so this is the only place to access them. Still, if you catch a glimpse of yourself in a video or picture and, beyond the usual bit of embarrassment over seeing your old self having a hard time spelling “touchdown” (that’d be you, Miss Mapes), if you have some reason why you don’t want it shared, please let me know. Turn up the volume, sit back, and enjoy!
New: Click here to see Class Pics from the Past. Just scroll over each picture to see details.
Snippets from 4th Grade Math in 2005
1993 Tuck Box Project
This one goes way back to my first year at Sams Valley Elementary. We had a problem with our desks. The pull-out drawers didn’t always fit correctly, so when students opened them, the entire contents of their desks would often spill out all over the floor. You can imagine the disruption, and being a first year teacher, I was already having a hard enough time with behavior management to have to put up with this. The answer came while reading aloud Roald Dahl’s book, Boy: Tales of Childhood. When we got to the section about tuck boxes, a student raised his hand and suggested we make tuck boxes to replace our desk drawers. Again, being a naive first year teacher, I jumped at the chance. (And not only did this class build tuckboxes, we repeated the project in two of the next three years.) The video is the two minute newscast by then-Channel 10 reporter Matt Conens. Being a copy of a twenty-year old video tape, the quality is poor, but the images are priceless. It includes a brief interview with Amee, my “first student” and the girl I wrote about in “A Single Smile.”
Here’s another picture from the tuck box project in which my first principal Larry Shearer is offering some encouragement to Colin Schoonover. Larry was a wonderful man. Colin later played shortstop for the first freshman baseball team I coached at Crater.
Velociraptor & Bigfoot
In 1996-97, thanks largely to Jurrasic Park and Dinotopia, dinosaur-mania was sweeping the world. So when my exceptionally-exceptional class of third graders went looking for a science faire project, we quite naturally settled on the velociraptor. The students came up with a bank of questions they had about raptors and used the then-new Internet to research the answers (thanks to a grant from Qwest, SVE had one of the first Internet-ready labs in the valley). Meanwhile, I built a wood and chickenwire structure of a life-sized raptor and the kids used their “what to do when finished time” to apply paper mache (it took weeks). The end result was a knock-your-socks-off science fair exhibit and a memorable elementary school event for a great bunch of kids. The raptor, incidentally, was later put on display at the District Office, at a movie theater for the premier of The Lost World, and in my skate shop in downtown Central Point. It’s last known location was in a hay field on South Stage Road where it made a habit of surprising passers-by.
Classes were smaller back then–I think I had just twenty-six kids roll into my 4th grade class the following year–and there was less emphasis on test-scores and testing, so we had the time and freedom to integrate interesting projects into our instruction. The next year the same group of kids created a life-sized Bigfoot. Their research was foremost aimed at examining the evidence and arriving at a conclusion as to whether or not the Big Fella could be real. When they came across a website asking people to report sightings, our writing component was suddenly obvious. Each student wrote their own “encounter,” which we bound into a book. A couple students even went so far as to post their encounter on the sightings website (which tells you what their research led them to believe about Bigfoot). You can read a page from “Bigfoot Encounters” by clicking here. And you can view a gallery of Bigfoot photos by clicking here. Like the Raptor before him, Bigfoot spent is waning years scaring motorists. Longtime SVE instructional-assistant Dorothy Smith took him home and positioned him in the woods near her house. She often told me of the good times she had sitting on her front porch watching motorists slam on their brakes to get a second look, though I think she felt a little remorse when a hay truck nearly lost its load.
2012 OMSI Bus Trip
Road trips with kids are simultaneously exhausting and entertaining. In this video, a group of my 2012 5th graders got their groove on while returning from Portland during our OMSI trip. http://youtu.be/ot7GvEVQLVU
Here’s another recent item, the special entertainment from our 2013 Valentine’s Day party: