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What Does it All Mean?? Words, Sights & Experiences

Have you ever been reading along and felt like you totally understood and got the gist of what the words on the page were saying? Yep, I have too! But then you start talking with someone about what you read and they give you the look and probably a few comments expressing that you are out in left field and that what you thought you understood isn’t at all what they took away from the same piece. Yep, been there done that too!

So, how does one handle that situation and how does it come about? I am totally convinced that it is the  fault of three things either independent or comorbid with each other 1) lack of focus/ multi-tasking, 2) prior knowledge set, and perhaps what I blame the most 3) the miraculous brain that makes connections and assumptions without us even consciously knowing.

http-::mrslorber.weebly.com:
Source: Mrslorber.weebly,com
What exactly do I mean? Well, ….

  • Focus and multi-tasking: We, yes all of us, are always doing at least two things at once. We are focusing on one thing while trying to do another or trying to do two things while attempting to understand and/or listen, or we are really tuned in to one thing but the phone is ringing/ nose dripping/ radio buzzing/ or someone talking. There is always more than one thing happening! This also means that we often glance at words and assume what it says or means something.
  • Warning: This just kinda, sort of, well does connect to #3. We all have experiences. Not one of us processes each experience and set of information the same, nor have we been exposed to exactly the same experiences and information. We use these experiences to make meaning and create understanding of new situations, opportunities and information.
  • The Brain. What I can I say? It is awesome, miraculous and amazing. Sometimes it just does what it does. It can see words that “we think” are there but are really in all actuality different words. It assumes ( perhaps because of #1 or #2)  that something “says”, does or means one thing when it really is another. We skim over words and take in experiences superficially and thus the meaning we construct may not always be accurate.

So why do I write about all this? I write because as a mom, a consumer, teacher, and a farmer I need to be aware of these kind of scenarios. I need to make sure that I actually comprehend what is going on and know what I am doing, seeing, reading, experiencing etc. I figure if I need to, then a few others  probably do too.

Now, I bet you are thinking, “This is all fine and dandy, but what does she really mean?” Ok, ok. Here are some common examples….

Correlation vs. Causation. 

Correlation:  a tendency to vary together Causation:  a direct relation of cause and effect

Recommended vs. Restriction

Recommend: to advise or suggest Restriction: to stay within designated limits

Fact vs. Factoid

Fact: something that actually exists, reality, truth                                                          Factoid: Fun, false fact

Prohibit vs Outlaw

Prohibit: to forbid (by authority)       Outlaw: Exclude from the law

Guidelines vs. Directions

Guidelines: suggestion, framework, practice, indicator                              Directions: reference point, instruction, command

man-profile-visible-brain-confusion-human-full-wall-bricks-word-concept-illustration-psychology-43242926
Source: dreamstime.com
See, words can be confusing. We do, read, interpret within our constraints and biases. We all can do better at interpreting what is read, said, done, heard, and experienced.  It is easy to correlate something with another if given a direct and limited set of data. For example: Kids who play on the playground jungle gym get hurt.  It may be true, but how many? How often? What were the condition? Is it all kids? Are adults hurt to? Is it all jungle gyms? Can you really say that the jungle gym causes the children to get hurt or is there a simple correlation?  In another example, some would even venture to say that a certain food makes them sick. I ask, when do they get sick? How much do they eat? What are they eating with that food? Is it hot out? Has the stomach flu been going around? Are they on medications that interact with the food? Have they not eaten that food for a long time before they eat it and get sick? One may correlate the food item to a certain feeling or reaction, but without concrete evidence and eliminating all other possible influences causation cannot be made.

Same goes for the terms recommendation and restriction. Being a farmer there are a lot of different items used in planting and caring for a crop. Each seed and care product has different guidelines and directions. Often we have training to help us understand them, to help ensure that we use the products with efficacy. Many times, the human side of a trainer comes out. They don’t want to lower the hammer too harshly and they choose words that are easier on the ears and the hearts of those in attendance. Two terms that are often interchanged are recommended and restriction. It is important to make sure that the correct word is used and it directly impacts the actions taken. Recommended says that one should or it is suggested that a certain product is used a particular way. Restricted means that a product is only allowed to be used a specific way. Many times the term recommended is used because it is easier to digest, but it can have detrimental consequences.  If the label on a product says that it is restricted to a certain use at a specified quantity, then that is what is meant. Ot is not a suggestion. It is a requirement. Our words and actions impact others and can impact the livelihoods of ourselves and neighbors.

Anyway, ultimately, I wanted to remind myself and the few others out there that often float on the surface and skim though experiences and materials they read, to think about what it is that is happening, what it is that they are reading, and to take time to question the information and opportunities that we are engrossed in.

Words are tricky and our experiences and brain create miraculous meaning… it’s time we become active and help our brain understand what is really being said, done, experienced!

It’s time to engage!

Dots on a Map: Educational Standards

Have you ever had a list of places that you wanted to visit while on vacation?  Initially those places are dot on a map or items on a list.

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Source: http://www.123rf.com

There is no direction as to how to get to each place, what to do, when to go, or what to use when going or there. Your list is simply that, a list.

Educational standards are no different. They are a list of items that students need to learn to the best of their ability. They are NOT supposed to be prescriptive- dictating what to use, exactly how to teach, or who is supposed to be responsible for providing instruction. They are simply a list. Often they are organized into a progression of skill sets, but that structure does not prescribe how to teach, what resources to use or who should teach it. It simply identifies the level at which students are developmentally ready and in need of learning a skill so that they can build on it as they continue to learn.

With my background in education and strong belief in local control, I try to keep an eye on what is changing and who pushing what political agenda on our kids. ( Ok, I’ll be honest. I care about the education of my own kids and want what is best for them and their friends!) Anyway, that is why when the Common Core Standards were adopted by our state a few years ago, I tuned in and tried to make sense of the commotion and complaining surrounding them. My conclusion: most had not even looked at them and were up in arms because there was some prescription as to what materials were to specifically to be used and suggestions as to how they needed to be taught identified at times. There was a government dictation and imposition into what should be the local control of curricula. In other wards, the lines between curriculum and standard was significantly blurred. It also became a great marketing tool for educational material companies.

fullsizerender-13So, when the state of North Dakota announced that they were going to be revising/drafting and ultimately going to have their own set of state standards, I quickly filled out the application to be a member of the business and community member committee. This committee would be tasks with reviewing, assessing and addressing the revisions that math and english teachers made in order to reflect North Dakota education, our students, and what we, North Dakota professionals and parents, feel is needed for students to be flexible thinkers, problem solvers, and have a well balanced group of skills in order to be successful once they leave the walls of the school.

This week was my first experience working with this group of individuals. I was deeply impressed by the work that had been done by the teachers. They had really taken time to listen and think about students, the reality of differences in our schools, and the desire for the state standards to truly be one from the people of North Dakota for those in North Dakota.

Prescription was taken out of a lot of places. Definitions re-written to provide clarity, and incremental stages of learning and demonstrating knowledge outlined. Visuals for the English Language Arts standards had also been developed which increased understanding that it is a shared responsibility of all to continually be working on english and language skills. In the math area it was made clear that specifically at the high school level that the standards were laid out according to topic areas, not classes. This directly implies and puts control of the who, when, where and what is used to teach the skills into the control of local school districts and out of the hands of the state. This excited me! Does it mean a bit of work will need to be done? Yes! Will schools need to know the skills students need to learn and not guess or assume that if they teach algebra all skills are covered? Yes! It means conversations, it means collaboration, it means innovation and some rethinking….. it means possibility and opportunity for great things!

I am excited to continue through the next phases of this standards revision/ draft process!

More info on ND State Content Standards is available at:

https://www.nd.gov/dpi/SchoolStaff/Standards/

If you are so inclined, you can also comment and share your thoughts at the link above by clicking on the survey option.

Here’s to great things in North Dakota education!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Homecoming Hullaballoo

Growing up in Minneapolis, Homecoming was fun. It was a school thing. In actuality I don’t remember if we dressed up. I don’t remember if there was tailgating. I don’t remember if we had a parade. I do remember a pep rally in the gym and often deciding to skip the football game. It wasn’t a big event or one that bad an impression on me. Well, let me tell you, in small town rural America Homecoming is not like that which I remember from my upbringing. It is almost a national holiday!  Schools have dress up days for an entire week. Parade float planning is in progress for a few weeks. Discussion of whether or not “so and so” or “she and she” would or should be King and Queen is the center of discussion for more than a week. And the football game- no brainer- it’s a must!

So what happens when the excitement of Homecoming in one community gets combined with that of another through a sports coop? Let alone another community in which you compete against each other in other sports and activities? Hmmm. It can or could go two ways…1) the support and opportunity can grow or 2) people can crab and chatter as if the world is coming to an end. The real question is what do the students think. Isn’t homecoming about the students? How much focus should be placed on what was instead of what can be? Supporting our students through opportunity, collaboration, and experiences is what high school, and quite frankly what I think all of education, is all about. Homecoming is part of that and should be no different.

This year we had the privilege of combining the homecoming festivities for the two coop school communities. Students were excited! There was a bonfire midweek for everyone in all communities and schools, and then one parade, one pep rally, one tailgate on Homecoming Friday! Each school still elected their own king and queen and held noon activities Monday – Thursday. Students and teachers were able to video chat with the other schools’ students  and teachers in order to plan and design their float. They also worked to plan the pep rally and administration from the schools worked hard to create environments, collaboration, instruction on new skills, social interactions, and fun for all.

When visiting with students, most enjoyed getting to build new relationships with their peers. They liked finding out more about the other school and planning over a longer period of time in short segments. They felt it was fun to do something new and have more people together. One student even shared that it made it feel like a team instead of people standing independently on the sidelines.

Team, comradery, support, spirit, bonding and a sense of community for our students; that’s what homecoming is about. We make the choice to be excited for opportunity or complain and expect things to be as they were twenty plus years ago. We need to work today and plan for the future. Change is inevitable. Adapting, working together, compromise and vision is what the future is about!

So let’s celebrate and support what we have while respecting what was for what it is worth- past experience and something that was a certain way previously. Remember it, don’t live in it, and provide for today!

 

 

Breaking the Cycle of Back to School Shopping

It is “that” time of year again! School is a few weeks away and the stores have been serenading us for weeks with their flashy back to school ads and displays! 

picture from weekly Target ad
The  truth is …. They are catchy and there are some pretty neat items in snazzy patterns! BUT, do we really need all that they say we do! 

I have learned over the past 11 years that we often have plenty left from the previous year that can be used to start the next! Often scissors, pencil boxes, rulers, crayons, and markers have lots of life left. Backpacks, if a decent one is invested in, can last A LONG TIME! 

The hardest part is convincing kids that they don’t NEED new things until the old have run out. 

That being said, at the beginning of August I do invest in a generous supply of glue, notebooks, pencils, markers and crayons. Why? Why do so if our things are still good? Simply because it only makes sense for my pocketbook. 10 cent notebooks and glue for 25 cents and markers for 50 cents means a lot of savings later on. Plus, we tend to use them at home too. It also means that when my kids or their classmates have a need for supplies, I don’t have to find a time to drive 55 miles to purchase them.

So onto my second and last groan and moan…. Gym shoes! Whose idea was it to make soles of tennis shoes of FOAM and why? I get that foam makes them soft and light weight, but offer no support and my kids wear through them in about 2 weeks! We are taking kids- moving- active beings! The cost hasn’t gone down – $20-$30 for a layer of foam with laces😆 and I get ill thinking about paying $60 or more for a elementary kids’ shoes!  It has to be all marketing- sell more because they don’t last or force them to buy expensive ones that often get replaced because feet grow. 

Back to school is a fun time! It provides some interesting opportunities to see how kids see things, help them with consumerism- comparing products and prices, time to help guide them through needs and wants, insight into their “organizing”style, and time together. If only the stores would market in need vs want, sell quality for a fair price, and highlight the family focused non- material things that can be gained during his time of preparation and transition, they would top their sales by selling insight and experience and not carts of chaos! 

My Farm Journey: Can’t Move the Land

After my Farmer and I met in October of 1998, we dated from opposite ends of the state of North Dakota. I was going to college at Concordia in Moorhead, MN ( Fargo’s twin city) working on a degree in elementary education and he at Dickinson State in Dickinson, ND on an Ag Sales and Service and Farm and Ranch Management.  The trip was about four and a half hours straight down Interstate 94. So needless to say we supported the fuel and telephone industry heavily for a year and a half.

In the first six months of dating, I had visited the farm a few times, but being that it was the end of harvest when we met and spring’s work hadn’t ventured into full swing when this part of my journey took place, I hadn’t experienced a lot and didn’t know exactly what farming was all about. Despite my lack of insight, I did pick up on a few things…

  1. Farming was not just a job, but a lifestyle and business.
  2. That yes, there are “slower” times, but there is always something to do.
  3. That times can get tough- family, money, balancing multiple tasks, etc. – but that hard work, faith and looking ahead can make all the difference.
  4. This was something that my Farmer had in his blood and when you looked into his eyes, it was something he was honored to have the opportunity to be a part of.

IMG_3652And so it was this information that I kept tucked deep down inside as we spent months emailing, on the phone, in the car, and of course on our college studies. Little did I know that these four thoughts were really even there or that they would come in handy!

You see, one day, I believe in April of 1999, I headed out to Dickinson from Moorhead. I decided to switch a work shift and leave a few hours early. I am a planner, so something spontaneous like this was not of my nature and out of my comfort zone. Nevertheless, I jumped into my car and off I went.

As I pulled into Dickinson it was about 11:30am. I knew my Farmer would be working at the front desk of his dorm. I figured I would be sweet, stop at Hardee’s, and pick up some lunch. I got lunch and drove up to his dorm. I walked in the front door and noticed his back was to me. I approached the window and realized he was on the phone. He spun around, his eyes bugging out and his finger held to his lips- shh! What? I drove all this way and I get the “What are you doing here?” look and a shhhhh?

So I went and sat in the sitting area. A minute later he was finished. He called my name and I walked back to the window. He told me to come into the office and that we had to talk. Again, I was thinking, “Great. Now we have to talk. He didn’t even say ‘hi’!”

As I entered, I handed him his lunch and sat down on a chair. I instantly got that “you are going to dump me” feeling, but I sat patiently. He started talking about his telephone call. Explaining to me whom he had been talking to, why, and that he wasn’t sure how I would respond. My Farmer had just been offered the chance that he had been hoping for since before he could remember, the chance to farm a piece of land that was all his.  He was nervous as he told me. I was a city girl. One who didn’t know much about wide open spaces, dirt, or machines. He wondered if this news would chase me away.

As he explained his phone call I felt a sense of relief. He wasn’t dumping me and there was no one else. He was excited. He was ready. He was going to be a farmer. Inside I was nervous, but also jealous. His dreams were being set into action and I felt like my plans were still liquid jello being mixed up without a mold to be poured in.

It was at that minute that those four little pieces of information came floating to the surface. Although I cannot recall the words I said, I know I shared my excitement for him. I knew that this was an opportunity not to be passed up. I knew that if things were meant to be, that our relationship would endure, grow and work out. IMG_0147For as I have told many people, land cannot be picked up and moved, but teachers are needed everywhere. And in the back of my mind, I knew that if nothing else, I could wait tables at the cafe’…. a full-time farmer, farmer’s wife…. I had no idea that was even an option, nor did I have a clue what I was getting into. Sometimes what you don’t know is so totally worth it!

And so, my farm journey continued.

Stay tuned for the next “My Farm Journey” post when I share about some of my transition challenges.

 

 

 

First Peas… Accurate Ag Book of the Year

Yahoo, Hip- Hip Hooray!

The newest Accurate Ag Book of the year is out…First PEAS to the Table by Susan Grigsby!

pea book

Why am I so excited? Simply because now I have a new book to share with students and local libraries! Ok, so I know the book was there before it became the America Farm Bureau Foundation’s book of the year, but now I know it is an accurate reliable story!

Why do I love this book so much? Hmmm, that is easy. It incorporates a bit of history, talks about gardening, competition and helping others! In addition to a great story this book has fabulous lesson plans and activities and a full newspaper type Ag Mag!

Peas are one of my favorite garden goodies. I have taught kids to plant them in pots if they don’t have land to make into a full garden. There are many kinds of peas… yellow, green, short and fat pods, long and lean pods… each look a little different, but grow easily and are tasty!

I can’t wait to share this book and invite groups and classrooms out to our farm to partake in a Pea Adventure, perhaps we will even call it Pea Fest! field peasThe timing of honoring this book as this year’s Accurate Ag Book couldn’t be better, the entire field around my home and farm are planned to be planted into peas! What a better way to share than to let kids grow some of their own, pick a few, do a project, have a snack and listen to a story out at a real farm…

Pea Fest is it…. now time to plan and have some fun!

Check out the Peas First to the Table Resources at:  https://www.dmsfulfillment.com/FarmBureau/

 

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