Thursday, October 04, 2012

Some Mild Monday Panicking

I woke up Monday morning feeling very stressed and overwhelmed as I thought about the upcoming week.  I had spent a lot of time Sunday night trying to work out how I was going to teach AP labs that we don't have the equipment for, and was just feeling very inadequate at dealing with the whole biology thing in general.  And when I go to bed thinking about something, then it's hard to turn my brain off, so all those worries roiled around in there the whole night, plus I added on to them my worries about planning this space field trip to the Udvar-Hazy Museum for our elementary co-op in March that for some reason I agreed to be in charge of, as well as minor things like Micah's left tennis shoe was missing, and I need to register the boys for basketball.  Whew!  Restless night of sleep, to say the least!

But God was good--I usually am reading through Ruth Myers' 31 Days of Praise in the morning, and on October 1st, it was really timely.  Here's a short excerpt--

My heart rejoices in You, Lord, for You are my strong shelter in times of trouble and danger and stress, my hiding place to whom I may continually resort . . . I praise you for Your love and Your wisdom . . . You act on my behalf, accomplishing what concerns me and fulfilling your purpose for me as I call on You . . .

It was all really encouraging to me.  For our character time in school, we've been reading Created For Work by Bob Shultz (HIGHLY recommend this and his other book, Boyhood and Beyond).  Well, the chapter we read on Monday dealt with "difficulty".  Here's the quote at the beginning:  "First a thing is impossible, then it's difficult, then it's done."  That is so true!  He talks about accepting the challenge of difficult jobs because those are the jobs that develop our muscles, minds, and spirits.  "Without a challenge, there is little or no growth."  Definitely timely for someone who is struggling with the seemingly impossible task of teaching AP biology, dredging up rusty knowledge from almost 20 years ago, all while expecting her 9th baby and dealing with gestational diabetes, plus continuing to homeschool everyone else!

And the Lord provided help in other areas this week as well.  I worked out a bit at least how lab this week was going to go--I spent the time teaching the boys how to do a chi-squared test for data, and then we did several example problems using experimental data.  This seems to be an important area of concentration, since a lot of the AP labs want this kind of data analysis done, so I think it was time well-spent.  I've spent time searching for online virtual labs for gel electrophoresis (using actual DNA--we'll do one just using dye on a homemade gel slab, but it won't be quite the same) and other lab techniques for the next 2 weeks, which will be helpful.  I still think the lab portion is our weakest link, due to lack of resources, but oh well.  Oh, and I found a tremendous AP biology resource online--Cheryl Massengale's Biology Junction.  If you scroll down the page a bit and click on the "AP Biology" link, then she has a wealth of helpful information and links!  That has already been very helpful, especially some of the past essay questions.  The boys will be doing a lot of those for practice when we take our long winter (baby!) break between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

I was also able to get in contact with educational people at Udvar-Hazy to ask my questions.  One big problem is that for their learning labs, they don't have much at all for the 1st/2nd graders, and none of what they do have involves space.  But we'll be finishing up a 5 week unit on space with this field trip, so we definitely need a space-related learning experience for all the levels.  The teacher in charge over there emailed me back this morning to say they could bring back one of their old labs for the 1st/2nd graders about satellites, both natural and man-made.  Woo-hoo!  So I filled out the online form, and hopefully I'll hear back from someone in the next few days to work out the times.  We're not out of the woods yet, as far as planning, because with 3 groups of kids doing learning labs, we're going to have to take 2 hours--and what will the K kids and the second half of the older kids do for the second hour?  We'll see . . .  I really wish I hadn't taken this thing on, LOL.  I really don't need anything extra to worry about right now, much less working out a field trip for 100 kids!  Difficulties . . . challenges . .  they're good . . . that's what I keep telling myself, LOL.

So now we're practically at the end of the week, and I've almost gotten through it.  But there are still plenty of challenges in the weeks and months ahead! 

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