Tuesday Open Thread

SIIF is having a Giant Monsters All-Out Attack week - Godzilla, Mothra, King Kong, and others.

What's on your mind?


TechyMom said…
I'm looking for a book suggestion for an independent reading project for an advanced 4th grader. She's interested in reading an autobiography, can read at a high school level, but has the interests and social understanding typical of a 10 year old. I'm thinking something targeted at middle schoolers, and ideally about an inspirational woman. She's interested in cooking and France at the moment. Any ideas?
Anonymous said…
Well, the first thing that comes to mind based on that is Julia Child's autobiography, My Life in France. I haven't read it myself, so I can't testify as to its appropriateness, but I can't imagine it being inappropriate.

Anonymous said…
That was my first thought too. It is something of a love story, so there might be some mention of canoodling, so to speak, but I don't think there was anything graphic. "Julie and Julia" would be less appropriate from what I recall--Julie has quite a mouth on her (Amy Adams was not an obvious choice to play her in my opinion!) and her marriage wasn't quite as storybook.

Anonymous said…
@TechyMom, Hoagies' Gifted Education web page includes lists of books reflecting many genres (incl bios) for advanced readers. (www.hoagiesgifted.org)

Anonymous said…
You might also look through A Mighty Girl's history/biography book section for ideas:


North Sea Mama
Anonymous said…
Nellie Bly -- American investigative journalist. She's known for the 80 days around the world trip/stunt journalism. But, she also wrote stories on mental hospitals (after getting herself admitted) and other investigative pieces. There are a number of children's books about her, but also a couple of recent biographies (so she doesn't have to read the Ten Days in a Madhouse, which is harrowing).

There's a nice biography of Juliette Gordon Low.

I have this book: Liberty: Lives & Times of six Revolutionary Women -- it might have too many advanced themes (lots of relationships, including illicit ones and illegitimate births) and found it a nice insight into the times of the French Revolution.

I enjoyed Jil Ker Conway's autobiography (Australian, Smith college president). Beverley Cleary's Girl from Yamhill & and My Own Two feet are good books (and don't have any problematic themes), and have local color, since she's from the Pacific Northwest and goes to UW.

Lucy Stone is interesting -- like Susan B Anthony, but a married woman and personal feminist (Lucy Stone kept her name on her marriage to Henry Blackwell, and protested the legal law of coverture).

Anonymous said…
Gloria Steinem's autobiographical writings are good, too, and I think, not too inappropriate. Jil Ker Conway has a collection of autobiographical writings: Written by herself, though this might need to be pre-read.

TechyMom said…
Thanks everyone. These are all great suggestions. We also plan to head to the downtown library on Saturday.

We looked at Julia Child. I enjoyed My Life in France, and thought she would too. While the love story is pretty tame, unpacking all the extra-textual cultural references would take more than the time allotted for the project. What's a WASP? What does it mean to be from a WASPy Southern California family? I read right by that with a laugh, but the kid didn't. And that was in the first couple pages of a 300+ page book. I think we'll read it over the summer.

Thanks again!
Charlie Mas said…
How to Eat a Wolf by MFK Fisher. It is a collection of essays by an absolutely brilliant food writer. It's only sorta autobiographical, but the writing is gorgeous and it is really about cooking and food and mostly in France.

Aside from that, more people have to discover this author.
Anonymous said…
Amelia Earhart -

"Amelia Lost: Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart". My son recognized some of her quotations used in the Visa Winter Olympics commercials featuring the female ski jumpers. Cool!

My 10 yr old boy read it - it's written in sections, part focusing on her life and the other part on the hunt for her after the plane disappeared, interspersed. I thought it was great, and my son read it very quickly too.

If she likes that, YOU should read West With the Night by Beryl Markham first - another female aviation pioneer - and see if it's appropriate. Markham's real life was not appropriate for 10 year olds, but I think the gussied up/cleaned up story of her life is. However, she grew up in East Africa in the 20s, so there are some race things an adult needs to explain and put in modern context.

Also ought to be something about Marie Curie out there - wasn't there a Newberry for a book about her at one point?

Signed: loves books
Anonymous said…
Elizabeth David's collection of articles, maybe _An Omelette and a Glass of Wine_. An English writer, Ms. David lived in Europe for some of WW2 including France. An independent reading project focusing on food rationing in Great Britain while wartorn places supplied residents with olives, pate, currants, local cheeses could be interesting. Plus Ms. David's book is a vocabulary-expander, at least to this university-educated adult.

--Voracious Reader
Unknown said…
Jesse Hagopian is running for President of the Seattle Education Association. Join us for brunch this Sunday. If you can't make it, please consider making a donation.

Elect Respect Community Brunch and Fundraiser: Join Jesse Hagopian and the Seattle Education Association Respect Slate members this Sunday
seattle citizen said…
Ruth Gordon, actor(an Oscar for Rosemary's Baby, an Emmy, two Golden Globes...fondly remembered as Maude in Harold and Maude), writer of films and plays, wrote a couple of wonderful autobiographies about her life.
She also wrote some novels and children's stories.
She started in silent films in the teens, in Peter Pan as Nibs in the 20s, and went on to an illustrious film career.
While perhaps sometimes mildly adult (it's been awhile since I read them...) her voice in the autobiographies is FULL of vitality and energy, demonstrating the free-spirited bon-vivant so apparent in Harold and Maude. Only read one of the novels, Shady Lady....meh.
Anonymous said…
Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Abigail Adams, George Sand, Mary Wollstonecraft.
I am a great admirer of Anais Nin's diaries. Really beautiful prose, very observant and brilliant and there are diaries she wrote as a young teen when she first came to NYC which is fascinating & amazing. But she was very unconventional so you might not like her or think her appropriate.

"My family and other animals" is fab - very fun, Gerald Durrell (brother of Lawrence)
Joe Wolf said…
Hi all: Here. a link to my Flickr album of the site map and floor plans for Fairmount Park. I've captioned the images to reference major spaces; let me know if you have any questions.


If you missed them before: Photos of the campus.


One of the casualties of the tornadoes in AR was the new $14M middle school in Vilonia. It was the replacement for a school flattened by a twister in 2011. Horrific. Photo and info.:

Anonymous said…
Oops forgot to sign

Anonymous said…
Um, just want to make clear that I'm talking about Anais Nin's earliest diaries written in 1914 when she first arrived in NY as an 11year old. They are fascinating, the description of NYC at that time with a writer who was very gifted & observant.

The diaries she wrote later would be too old for your daughter. They're probably too old for some adults too.

Anonymous said…
From the SPS Website:

Wilson-Pacific FAQs:

In short, "everything is awesome!"

- North-end Mom
robyn said…
North-end mom,

Let's all start signing that at the next Board meeting.

The best is after reading the FAQs and seeing the numbers they are projecting, I tried e-mailing tlredman a few times and all my e-mails are being rejected.

I don't understand the projected enrollment on day 1 at WilPac of 779 kids. Right now, the 2, 3 & 4th grades (kids who will be at WilPac day 1) at ONLY the feeder schools totals 812 kids! That doesn't include the APP kids or the K-8 kids and it doesn't account for any growth.
Anonymous said…



This thing is a runaway train, and, if we the public don't try and stop the crazy, then, we will forever more be saddled with a white elephant, that we are paying for!

The WP secondary school has messed up internal circulation, so, the passing periods are going to be both chaotic AND are going to have to be really long, eating away at precious instructional time, and, they don't have space for an all-school assembly (just because you can fit 1,000 chairs barely in the cafetorium doesn't mean they will have the 1,000 chairs to set it up), the site lines are nonexistent, posing a security problem, and, the courtyards will invite nefarious activity, and, the performing arts are shortchanged, as there is no auditorium, no 'black box' theater, and, the footprint forever constrains even the possibility of an expansion, meaning that Whitman will forever be stuck with plenty of portables.

The architects were arrogant and didn't listen to the stakeholders, that much is obvious from the SDAT minutes. Capital should have reined them in, but, they were in transition. The community should have been holding them accountable, but, since the boundaries didn't exist, the community didn't even KNOW they were stakeholders, and, the ones who did, the ones who tried, have been ignored.

That FAQ is full of lies and self-serving lunacy.

The only thing that can stop this is if the public in LARGE QUANTITIES shows up on May 13 and says NO WAY!!!!

Come, bring a large sign, bring 10 friends, this school is in the middle of the north, everyone may end up being pulled into it, please, come. If you could have prevented the sale of Queen Anne High School, wouldn't you have? This is your chance to prevent an equally epic fail, that generations will get stuck. Banda, by the time it is built, will likely be on to his next district, but, we will all still be here.

Please, we need to work together to make this better for everyone.

-Urban Planning
Anonymous said…
Elementary Math Adoption:

Guess what? SPS is NOT going to recommend the 'most popular choice'.


Why bother going with what works, what is the most straight-forward and helps a wide spectrum of students learn math and grow their numeracy?

Heck, it is the Seattle SPS way! If they can't stick with the EDM garbage, well, then let's go with something else that still won't be as good as Singapore Math, (which was adopted as a parallel support to EDM back in the day).

Who would have predicated this outcome? (oh yeah, everybody!).

Anonymous said…
Not surprised, what was the outcome?

Leah said…
This is on my mind right now, my son was issued by SPS spec ed a laptop with a program called CoWriter installed on it. He has dyslexia and severe dysgraphia and CoWriter has been a God-send, but SPS spec ed refuses to allow him to use it over the summer.
He is way behind in writing, grammar, etc and not having access to CoWriter will set him back over the summer (he needs to keep going with his routine). We are asking for support and donations to help offset the cost (over $300 for the program).

Please read his story and support us in whatever way you can. Thank you.

Leah said…
And yes, this is Seattle Public Schools.
Anonymous said…
The math adoption committee has only made a recommendation. It is up to the board to discuss and vote the final outcome.

-no decision yet
Anonymous said…
Leah, Have you asked the PTSA at your son's school if they might be able to fund this? Good luck!

mirmac1 said…

If it is SPS Board or superintendent policy to not lend electronics over the summer for students without extended year services, then Central SpEd really has no say. I've sat in enough board committee meetings where staff is grilled over lost or stolen laptops and tablets.

I see there is a CO:Writer mobile app that costs $17.99. Used IPads 1.0s run from $70-$120. Shoot, I just got rid of ours. I'll bet if you post on the Seattle SpEd PTSA listserve (email seattle_sped_pta-subscribe@yahoogroups.com to request to join), you might find one for cheap or free.

It is ridiculous that critical assistive technology is unavailable to those that need it. I just sat through a Work Session on SpEd where no one was whining about the costs for these and other required services, so there is light on the horizon.

Best of luck to you and your son.
Anonymous said…
Among an anonymous readership that likely has a few software company employees, I would never *cough* *ahem* endorse searching for a Co:Writer 6 torrent, but I could see where a resourceful person of very limited means and possibly even more limited ethics and need for assistive technology that really works would get it online for personal use.

I do see that on the Don Johnson proprietary website, academic/institutional multiple license rights include take-home rights. You could ask the Seattle Schools #1 tech-team what the license restrictions are for transferring a copy onto a laptop or netbook via a USB drive.

You might look for used Chromebooks on Craigslist or Kijiji, if your son doesn't have a laptop or netbook of his own. A new Chromebook can be found for as low as $200. Or you could ask on FreeCycle and cross your fingers for a used laptop.

Catherine said…
If you want to see about education/school items in the Seattle City Budget... Attend the community guided Seattle Budget Conference: This Sunday - May 4th, gathering at 11am, program starting at 11:30, at Fisher Pavilion (south of the fountain), on the Seattle Center grounds.

This is an opportunity to learn how the Seattle Budget Process works, all leading up to the November passage of the budget. It's an opportunity to talk with some of the department heads, and other community members to learn how to influence the city budget, and where in the budget your project might fit. We'll also be talking about funding sources, including taxes, fees, levies, parks district, and developer impact fees.

This event is being organized by the City Neighborhood Council - which is a volunteer run group that advises the city on various financial and policy issues, particularly in how they relate to neighborhoods. If you've attended in the past, the format has been significantly revised. They have an education committee too that welcomes new members.

Light refreshments provided. Feel free to bring a lunch with you.

To help fine tune event, as well as inform the City Neighborhood Council about your interests, please take the survey:
Anonymous said…
What's going on with the new JAMS? They still have multiple job listings, such as school registrar (!), that are still open.

Anonymous said…

Many JAMS Staff have been hired, and there are interviews ongoing. For the latest on whose been hired, etc... see the JAMS Fusion Page:


Also, the deadline for becoming a Charter Member of the JAMS PTSA is tomorrow, May 2nd. Membership forms and more info, including our nominated slate of officers - which will be elected at the May 12th general PTSA meeting - may be found at: www.jamsptsa.org.

- North-end Mom
Anonymous said…
The JAMS website has not been updated for some time, hence the question. Many students are selecting courses for next year, with the exception of future JAMS students. Students don't know what specific courses will be offered beyond the basic core, or how the AL offerings will be structured for Spectrum/APP.

dw said…

We do know a few things about AL/APP, or at least what is in the works.

There will be a shortage of staff with APP/gifted experience. At least there will be a few.

Looping has already been killed, now it appears that blocked LA/SS will be killed at JAMS as well. This is a terrible decision, and one that I think parents should all be complaining about loudly. The basis for the decision seems to be the desire to make scheduling easier, regardless of the downside for the kids. What better way to teach kids than to weave writing skills in with social studies topics and vice-versa?!

Another change is course alignment. It seems the APP progression and curriculum is being killed, in favor of aligning topics of study between GenEd, Spectrum and APP. WTH?! This change, from what I have heard, will among other things, facilitate the swapping of teachers willy-nilly between GenEd and APP classes. Apparently those in charge are under the impression that it doesn't take any special knowledge to teach APP classes and kids. I wonder if the next step will be to align SpEd classes with GenEd and mix/match the teachers between those programs as well.

Look for the problems with APP at HIMS to be amplified at JAMS.
Anonymous said…

I'm curious about the source of your information concerning JAMS programming. Are you on the Parent Core/Design Team?

(Also, grammar police, please excuse my misuse of "whose" in my previous post...should not post while getting my kiddo ready for school!)


- North-end Mom
Anonymous said…
In our experience, a teacher's competency in the subject matter plus their attitude toward advanced learners can trump gifted ed experience. HIMS is a good example of that (good and bad).

Advanced learners can still be challenged in a social studies class based on the grade level scope and sequence, as long as reading and coverage of topics are more advanced and in depth. That of course takes a teacher that knows the subject matter well and understands what level of challenge is appropriate.

I also think that LA and SS can be unblocked and still offer a solid academic experience, but once again it comes down to course content and materials. LA can still connect with SS, if the curriculum is intentionally coordinated and planned. HIMS has allowed LA and SS to become disconnected in several APP classes (bad), despite them being blocked. Isn't it the content of the courses that matter, not the time in which they are offered each day?

Apparently those in charge are under the impression that it doesn't take any special knowledge to teach APP classes and kids. Well, that seems to be what's been happening at HIMS, but will it extend to JAMS?

It's all speculation at this point. There is not an adopted APP curriculum. Teachers are still being hired. Course schedules have not been made. So, parents are left...

Anonymous said…
The bummer of removing LA/SS or Math/Sci academic blocks is that it is those very blocks that allow for depth of learning for rapid learners and additional focus on remediation for those who need that. More manageable homework loads and more opportunity for project based learning, too, when there are "blocks" instead of move-every-hour individual subject scheduling.

Individual subject scheduling can still work. It does in lots of places. But our school moved to the block scheduling (against the wishes of some staff) a year ago and the student learning benefits and family satisfaction has been documentable and sizeable.

It may be that new staffing challenges aren't allowing this approach at JAMS. It seems reasonable to directly inquire of the principal.

Central Parent
Leah said…
I forgot to thank you all for your recommendations, we are still trying to raise money but it is good to know that there are some cheaper options (if I can get my hands on an Ipad for cheap or go the torrent route).
Please pass on the link if you are ok doing so. Thank you all again.
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