MSP: Requirements 4a, 6, 11, 12b, & 13-14 = Tenderfoot Done!

I ended up doing exactly what I planned NOT to do: I waited until the last week of my scheduled time to finish the requirements for this rank.  I could have done it earlier, and I had wanted to add the extra time to my next rank, but life got the better of me. 

6. Demonstrate how to display, raise, lower, and fold the American flag.  Last week I emailed the principal of my kids’ school and asked if we could use the flagpole for this demonstration tonight, adding that I have my own flag to use.  He wrote back that it was fine, and this was the first activity in my family’s weekly home evening tonight.

As we drove over, I recounted all the material from the handbook about displaying the flag.  When we got there, I showed the kids how to fold and unfold it, then one kid helped me attach it to the line, while the little kids helped me hoist it up and then down again.  While it flew at the top for a minute, we decided to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.  Afterwards, the oldest child folded the flag, as I had shown them all, while I held the other end. 

11.  Identify local poisonous plants; tell how to treat for exposure to them.  I went over the handbook’s section on this, adding my own warning about oleander, which are very popular in Las Vegas.  Of course, one kid pointed out that it was unlikely that any of us would ever eat one. 

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The First Four Weeks

The first four weeks of school are over.  Some thoughts:

  • As students transition into using new vocabulary words in their own writing, they seem to have an instinct for using unfamiliar words as adjectives.  I find myself reviewing parts of speech much more than I’d like to at the high school level.  Most teens need to be reminded that parts of speech are not interchangeable.  The first word of our first unit is “adulterate,” the verb meaning “to corrupt or make impure.”  Without closer guidance, they’ll just use it like this: “He was a really adulterate guy.”  Of course, if they’re talking about Bill Clinton, I guess I could give them half credit.
  • I usually don’t like open house, the annual night where parents come in to meet their kids’ teachers.  I never know what to do up there, not that it ever makes any difference, anyway.  Life goes on as if it never happened, and I forget everyone I met as soon as I go home.  This year, though, one parent thanked me for assigning  a list of options from which students have to choose for their independent reading this quarter.  “If you hadn’t assigned these,” she said, “the kids would never read them.”  It’s nice enough to get a compliment, but it’s even better when a parent understands the reasoning behind what I do!
  • Yesterday, a college student called me to say that he’d missed the last two weeks of class because his grandmother died.  He offered to bring me a note from his parents.  I told him that was unnecessary. 
  • Every year I notice this: before our morning announcements, kids in an honors class will all stand and recite the Pledge of Allegiance together.  Kids in non-honors classes rarely will.  It’s a very stark, and very absolute, difference.  This begs a chicken-or-the-egg question: is a student’s citizenship influenced by their academic performance, or is their academic performance influenced by their citizenship?  Or are both, perhaps, shaped by the same factors in the home environment…
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