Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Take Wing

A few weeks ago I wrote about the invasion of the Book Fairies at my high school. A group of English and reading teachers made wings together. Friend and colleague, Beth Scanlon, had her artist-husband figure out a wing prototype and we took off from there. Some teachers felt left out, so I offered to host another wing making party before Halloween.

Unfortunately no one came to the wing making session after school. Fortunately I still had fun. I made a second set of wings for a teacher friend and took pictures so that I could write out the how-to. Unfortunately, I have not mailed the wings to said teacher friend yet. Fortunately I am still within the express mail for Halloween delivery window.

Do you love that book Fortunately by Remy Charlip? It was a favorite at my house when my son was younger. Sometimes we fall back on the pattern to ease recess or school stress and lighten the mood. We can usually get to laughter in less than five minutes. But enough sideways story telling, let me share how I made these wings. I must preface my directions with a nod to Daryl Fefee, the artist-husband of Beth from Seeking Six who pro-typed a design that jump started my own thinking.

Wing Making Materials
a book cover (rip the guts out of the book, you can use the pages for "feathers"or other art projects)
double-sided tape
book pages (I used large sized pages to make longer "feathers.")
hot glue gun
cardboard or foam core
duct tape
ribbon (to use as straps)
decorative letters or stickers (for the cover if you so desire)


Gut a book. Doesn't that sound awful. Don't feel badly about it. Think of it as upcycling and making art. Rip all of the pages out of the book, so that all you have left is the cover.

Gather your materials and plug in the glue gun.

Cut wing forms out of the cardboard. For this set I cut out two triangles.
Roll book pages to make wings. I marked the top left corner with double sided tape and then rolled from the bottom right corner to form a cone. I used one piece of double sided tape to hold each. It was faster for me to roll a bundle of feathers and then attach them to the cardboard but you can also roll, then glue one at a time if you like.

 Lay the feather rolls out onto the cardboard form to see  how many you will need to cover both sides. These wings will have one feather layer on each side.
Begin gluing the wings to the cardboard. You can also use a long-reach stapler to staple them on (or the two-sided tape). Hot glue holds well, so I used that.
Glue feathers down and together.Leave an open space at the bottom of the wing. You will attach this part of the wing to the book cover. 
Glue feathers together. I added a small amount between feathers to add stability and strength.

Repeat. Attach feathers to the other side of the cardboard form.

 When finished set aside.

 Cover the book cover with duct tape. I used blue duct tape and then a clear and black packing tape for decoration.

Attach wings to the book cover. I put down some hot glue and then taped the wings to the inside of the book cover. 

 Poke four holes in the spine of the cover. Two at the top and two at the bottom (about an inch or two in).
Thread a ribbon through the holes to make straps.

 Try on! Adjust the straps and tighten by tying the ribbon. Your ribbon can be any length--and nearly any type. Wired ribbon makes a nice tail. Gross grain is sturdy (and featured here).

Decorate the book cover if desired. I left this one blank so that my friend could add her own decorations. On my wings I used sparkly stick-on letters to write book fairy on the spine and positive reader messages on the cover flaps.
Fold wings for storage or shipping. You can make wings of any size. My original pair were much larger.Every book fairy's wings are unique.


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Slice and Dice

I missed my slice of life post last week. I don't know what got in the way: soccer practice, poetry club, paper grading, exercise, grocery shopping, dog training, house cleaning, laundry. It could have been any one of those. I want to write more than once a week, but I need to build it into my daily routines.

Still. I love thinking about what I'd like to write about on Tuesdays. Today I couldn't quite decide, so I thought I'd imitate my favorite YouTubers (Vlogbrothers, of course) . I don't have 27 parts like Hank Green had  last November, but I thought I'd share a few. Call it slice and dice, if you will.

#1 What did I love about today? Students trying my kale chips. Since I've been eating differently I snack between classes. Students are often curious about what I'm eating on the porch as they come into class. Yes, my classroom, a double wide trailer, or portable, if you will, has a porch--really it's just three concrete steps up to a small platform, but I call it a porch. Today I was snacking on kale chips and my ninth graders (many of them) said "Is that marajuana?!" As if. Really? Of course I set them straight and then offered them a taste. If only I could have captured all of their faces on camera. Ninth graders tasting kale chips  brought me back to my son eating green peas as an infant. Their scrunched up expressions at the bitter and the salty, awesome to behold. I'd say the kale had about a 50% appeal rate in the final poll. Some students even asked detailed questions about the recipe. Impressed me.

#2 What's one thing that went well in the last week? Substitute plans. Last week I was out for two days to facilitate a new lesson study group at my school. My school runs several lesson study groups (math, science, English, AP, reading, etc). We're in our fourth year of lesson student. We use materials from the Developmental Studies Center.  I love the process. I believe in it. Like National Boards, it focuses teachers on students as learners. Preparing for a substitute, however, I do not love. It's tricky. It's time consuming. This year I made sure to prep the students and talk about having a substitute prior to my absence. Once I returned we wrote about substitute. I asked students to list their top ten reasons for loving or hating having substitutes. Once students wrote, they shared in their table groups; then shared out two with the class. I compiled the comments from the class and it was a good discussion started. Here are the comments from my third period:

We like young substitutes. We hate when subs give us work we are not supposed to do (like crossword puzzles). We love when subs tell us stories about places they’ve been. We hate it when they take their jobs so seriously. We dislike subs that give us work that doesn’t even count. We like subs because they are push overs. We hate when we give substitutes our work and then the next day the teacher asks for it and the sub lost it. We like it when subs are creative and they draw. We love it when subs are cool and understand us. We hate it when substitutes think they are the boss of everything—when they teach the class as if it is theirs. One thing we love is how substitutes are calm and don’t test us. Something we hate is when substitutes do not know how to control a classroom. We like it when substitutes are funny (humorous). We like it when they know how to have fun with the class.

Still had the eyebrows for this trip.
Crossing the divide with a group of women who'd been girl scouts together. 
#3 What have a I mastered, lately?  Many people know I once wrangled llamas at a ranch in Colorado. The ranch is for sale now. I wish  I could buy it and turn it into a teaching and learning retreat camp. While at the ranch, I was charged with cooking a traditional Thanksgiving dinner for guests on a walking tour from Great Britain--they'd walked the Continental Divide and wanted a traditional meal when they returned from the trail. At that age, twenty-six, I'd never cooked a turkey in a gas oven. I'd never cooked a turkey without girl friend support or Mom on the phone for that matter.

Picture this: turn on the gas, hear the hiss, click the lighter. Click. Click. Click. Nothing happened. I sent the ranch owner's niece to get a long match from the lodge's fire place. I scraped the match on the wall, held the flame under the burner in the oven and. Well, you can imagine the fireball. Whoosh. Hot flames flew out of that gas oven into my face. I must have jumped back. I can only remember brushing the pencil shavings off of my shirt. Pencil shavings? I thought. The ranch owner's niece laughed and laughed once she saw I was fine. She pointed and laughed. I'd burned off all of my facial hair: eyebrows, eye lashes, cheek fuzz, everything. When I tell this story to my students they are mortified for me. Couldn't you draw them [eyebrows] on  they ask? There was no make-up at the ranch. There were no eyebrow pencils or permanent markers or any of that sort of stuff. I had to be hairless--it took a good month to grow back.
I have since mastered the gas grill--I only occasionally crisp the chicken too much, but I've never had the fireball in the face that I had at the ranch. That may be a good thing, but at this age, burning off a little facial hair ? I'm thinking that's no problem.

There you have it a few slices from my day today.

NCTE is a mere 37 days away! Hope I get to see you there!

Enjoy October!