Thursday, August 24, 2006

The Theater!

Megan and her friend/colleague Dan work for First Stage Theater Academy in Milwaukee. Megan asked me in the beginning of July if I'd like to work as a TA with them for the last 2 weeks of July.

I jumped at the chance! As you might know, I'm into theater a bit and love to be goofy, have fun and be around kids. What a great chance to do all of these things!

I was house sitting in Hartland at the time, so the drive to Hartford was 20 minutes less each way than it would have been from Waukesha. I drove to Hartford's Shauer Center each day, listening to NPR and hearing people complain and discuss everything from President Bush to Kevin Barrett.

The camp was set up nicely...9-3:30 each day, usually about 1 hour per activity. Movement first thing in the morning, followed by voice (a nice way to warm the entire body up!), followed by scene work.

Lunch from 12-12:30 and recess (yes, recess!) from 12:30 - 1.

At 1pm we did something called "Creative Drama". I wasn't around for the first 2 days of this, but the kids, Dan and Megan were playing explorers who were setting out to explore a tropical jungle in the middle of Antarctica (a geographical anamoly). Each child thought of their own part to play in the exploring group, how their character would work with the group and what their character could bring to the group.

It was, admittedly, a lot of fun.

Next was more scene work followed by improv at the end of the day. The kids really enjoyed improv - they really enjoyed everything, actually.

The improv was set up using a lot of games from "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" Lots of fun, always a lot of laughs.

This was such a fun experience - it brought my interest back into the theater and maybe, just maybe, you'll see me up on a stage again soon.


The Runs

Call me crazy, but I've started this habit of running 4(ish) times a week. Usually 2-3 miles followed by 2-3 miles of walking. It feels great.

Running is something I did almost exclusively when I was a kid. When I was outside as a kid, I was always running. Then I joined the track team and sprinted to my heart's content. I was on the middle school track team from 4th-8th grade. Sprinter. I was always worried about competing and losing a longer race.

When I moved up to high school I decided to focus my after school energy on plays, musicals, band, and choir.

So the running stopped. In 1994, the running stopped.

And now, 12 years later, the running has started again. Believe me, it wasn't an easy transition. To go from - oh - not ever exercising to running 4 times a week.

But I'm feeling good about it. It's a great feeling to run (jog) for a few miles and know that I accomplished that. I did that. Me!

Getting sappy in here, Dorn.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Summer School (part 2)

Amy and I taught together this summer - a class called "Pre-First Grade Concepts". The class was meant for students who needed a little extra assistance in preparation for first grade.

All together we had 22 students in the class. Most of the time a very nice class.

Some students had some concerns that needed addressing - including a youngster named Sylvia (names have been changed to protect the pants wetters).

Sylvia came to school approximately every other day. She was one of the students I taught at Swanson this year and she was receiving special ed services.

I asked her why her sandals were off at recess one day, she said, "They're wet."

It hadn't rained in at least a week.

She then said that she had gone potty in them. We found them at the bottom of a slide. I asked her to pick them up and then asked Amy to take her inside to help her out.

"I went potty all the way down the slide," she told Amy on their way in the building.

Note to self...don't ever use slides at playgrounds again. Ever.

At recess two days later she came up to me and pouted, "I did it again!"

You poor thing, I thought. Amy walked her inside again and took care of everything. Good thing Sylvia brought a change of clothes every day. I had wondered what they were for.

Then there was little Benvenuto. Benvenuto had a pretty severe speech impediment. A hard worker most of the time, but very immature...easily the most immature child I'd worked with yet.

He loved to push boundaries. And children.

Benvenuto spent a lot of time missing recess.

Then there was little Sparkles. Sparkles was an interesting girl. When reading with her in reading groups, she wouldn't really look at the words. When she did, she could read them pretty well, but most of the time she'd stare into space.

It didn't matter what the print on the page was. It could have said, "I like toys," but if the picture was of a doll with long beautiful hair she would say something like, "This doll has long beautiful hair."

Her 1-to-1 match was poor (touching each word as you read it) so she would frequently add or subtract words from sentences.

She was a tough girl to get through to.

Plus she was the hottie in class that every 6 year old was in love with.

Honestly, she's going to be trouble. If she can learn to put her shoes on the right feet.

Little Phillip also was a handful. He had a tough time reading well and would constantly call himself stupid and say that he couldn't do any work. By the end of the 4 weeks, he was reading well and trying harder.

It's tough to get through to kids sometimes, but with the right guidance (you're sure I'm the right guy for this?) most of them will be ok.

Where to begin again

So I may have neglected to write anything for the past 3 months...

Oh well.

I did become quite busy while being ignored by Angela, going out with Michelle 3 times in a month, teaching summer school, teaching theater camp, house/pool/dog sitting, interviewing for a 1st/2nd grade multi age classroom in Muskego, running...

Wait, what's that you say? You don't know anything about those things??

Well, I'll have to start from the beginning...