It seems our kids spend most of their May school days taking tests. When they’re not testing, they’re presenting final projects, papers, and performances. Today, I went to Murrah High School for the Sophomore Awards Ceremony. Here’s my favorite photograph from the event. The 10th grade guidance counselor, Mr. Sayles, had just asked the students to guess which of the high achievers in the bunch had the current highest average. Who’s No. 1? This is what they did.
All fingers pointed to Matthew Sarpong. And then, Mr. Sayles refused to say.
I’ve been neglecting the blog lately — mainly because we’ve been working hard on the fractal project.
Here Richard is shooting Queen Anne’s Lace with help from our friend and collaborator, Julie Owen. She brought the Queen Anne’s Lace to us, having found it along the highway between Baton Rouge and here.
This is one of our favorites from the shoot.
Some very exciting things are happening right now with the fractal manuscript! Through hard work, perseverance, and just plain good luck, we are going to be able to include some amazing stuff! I love it when a book comes together!
My best friend from childhood is getting married today in St. Paul. Richard and I are here to celebrate with Francene and Mark as they begin their new life together. Here are some photos from the first day.
Here’s Francene with two nieces in the background.
Francene’s mother, Katie, with granddaughter, Bre.
Melba, a friend from New York who will be maid of honor.
Marvin, a friend of Mark’s. The men had a serious game of dominoes going at the back table.
Robert, who is Francene’s sister Niecy’s fiance.
NaVondyl, who is Francene’s brother. And our sometimes nemesis from days gone by.
Vonda and Richard talking about housing, credit, deals in Mississippi, etc. In other words, shop.
I’ve been hard at work on the work-in-progress. And, the work is hard. I’m wrestling text and images and graphics into place, staring down a deadline. In the last two days, I’ve made really good progress. There’s nothing like having Richard available to produce the graphics I need when I need them. I wish he were my full-time office companion.
After two long days, I need to let some things settle a bit so I have time for a quick blog post. I was in San Antonio last weekend for the National Science Teachers Association annual convention.
I was one of nine authors (Terry Jennings (Gopher to the Rescue), Darcy Pattison (Desert Baths), Elizabeth Rusch (The Mighty Mars Rover), Melissa Stewart (Under the Snow), Catherine Thimmesh (Team Moon), Peggy Thomas (Farmer George Plants a Nation), and Sallie Wolf (The Robin Makes a Laughing Sound) who participated in a workshop titled: “Integrating Science and Literacy: A Journey, Not a Destination.” Each of us was paired with a professor of education. My partner was Dr. Amy Broemmel from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. She helped me share the educational materials I’ve developed for Wolfsnail and Growing Patterns with four groups of teachers who rotated through our table. She took these photographs.
In my second session, “The Power of Scientists’ Stories in Teaching NGSS Methods and Practices,” I teamed up with Dr. Kristin Rearden, who also teachers at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, and Andy Boyles, science editor at Highlights.
Once again, it was my job to share ideas with teachers for using my books in classrooms to meet the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).
I led the group in making a Fibonacci Folding Book, and talked about the Fibonacci Puzzle, the Wolfsnail On The Move book, and the instant book.
Here is Kristin talking about bringing pinecones into the classroom to have students look for the Fibonacci sequence in the spirals on the bottom.
We had lunch after our session to talk about what we might do for future conferences. Presenting at national conferences is always a wonderful experience because it brings me into dialogue with the people who use my books in classrooms and libraries with kids. I always learn things, and I always have fun.
Check out a new blog called Perfect Pairings: Linking Science and Literacy written by Kristin and Amy. You’ll find great trade picture books to use in your classrooms.
At nearly the last minute, my senior son, Graeme, arranged to take a friend, Elizabeth, to prom. This left me with the unanticipated task of finding a corsage. I looked at one floral shop, picked up something that looked pretty old ladyish, and took it to the counter to ask: Is this all you have for corsages?
Is it for prom? the florist asked. Yes.
“All the girls want wrist corsages now. They’re over there — starting at $39.99.” Seriously?
I love Elizabeth. Been knowing her since she was a kindergartner. But, she’s a sensible girl, and couldn’t possibly want one of those ugly (to me) and expensive wrist corsages. So, on the spot, with about 5 hours until the prom, I decided I’d make one myself. Maybe even out of fabric.
Elizabeth and I have been working on a purse together. There’s a pile of fabric that she chose on my sewing table. With Pinterest, Youtube, and craft bloggers out there, I can do this!
After I browsed the internet a little, I decided that the flowers in my yard would make a nice wrist corsage. I gathered the bits of ribbon I had on hand. I took a basket into the yard and picked azaleas of various sizes, and some hawthorn. I improvised a bow and started arranging flowers. The crisis came when I considered what kind of glue to use to hold it together. In the end, I used craft glue. I also sewed a few of the blooms in place. It was ready with an hour or so to spare so I put it in the fridge.
The next day when I asked my son whether Elizabeth was embarrassed because she had a homemade wrist corsage. No, all the girls are into that kind of stuff now. Yes!
Here they are together.
Here’s Graeme, being all formal.
Here’s Zaliyah, another friend who came over for photos.
Here are all three.
Graeme with Richard and me.
Lisa Nichols with her daughter, Elizabeth, and her son, Ryan. (Not picture are the two Yuans. Senior was working and Junior was running track.)
And because I just couldn’t resist, here’s a photograph of Graeme and Elizabeth on the day they finished fifth grade. They are pictured with Liz Sharlot, a spokesperson for the MS state department of health.
Those of you who know me well know than when things get tough, I start quilting. I often head to the sewing room while I wait for revision notes or when a day seems dark for no apparent reason. This spring I’ve been working to finish a quilt for my oldest son to take to college. What you see below was going to be the back of the quilt, but he likes it so much, he wants it to be the top.
Here’s what the top looked like. I’m re-visioning it as a quilt for me to keep. I used fabric from his school uniform pants — khaki and navy. The top he’s going to get only has one piece from the trouser pants. It’s the navy piece near the middle of the upper third of the quilt. Sometimes things work out differently than you think. But it’s all good.
I’ve now slashed this top about a third of the way up and am turning it around so the central panel has a jag in it. I’ll post new pictures when I finish it again. It’s all a process, right?
First graders at The Dalton School in New York City did a recent reading, writing, and art project using our Fibonacci Folding Book App for the iPad. They took photographs, wrote Fibonacci poems, and made Fibonacci Folding Books. You can see their work here.
The Fibonacci Folding Book project is also available on my website in the section labeled For Teachers. I love hearing about it when teachers and librarians use the educational materials we’ve created for Growing Patterns and Wolfsnail.
For my new book, I need to illustrate a concept that involves a head of broccoli. I thought I had a good way to do it, but it wasn’t working as well as it needed to. So, I decided to go after a slightly different way of showing. It meant using Adobe Photoshop to “cut out” the broccoli head from its background, and then “cutting out” smaller sections of the head.
While I’ve always relied on Richard in the past to do most of the post-production, I had several reasons for diving into this job myself. First, I love learning new things. Second, he was wanting to watch a ballgame (Liverpool v. Tottenham). Third, I wasn’t sure my idea would work and didn’t want to put him through all the pain if it wasn’t going to prove out. So, I took up the pen.
After I created the image I wanted in Photoshop, I imported it into Adobe InDesign. One of the great things about Photoshop is that you can create different layers in an image that show different things.
In this case, the final file included more than 5 layers. Instead of saving each of the versions as its own file, I was able use a tool called Layer Comps. I read up on the tool using Adobe’s help page, and was able to import the file into my InDesign document six different ways. I love my Adobe Creative Suite products and the way they work together.