Someone is going to ask. Teachers in the lounge. Principals in the office. Parents. Kids. Someone is going to ask me what I did over the summer of 2020. Well, let me tell you, it may not have been the most exciting or eventful of summers, and I certainly wish it had gone without a hitch, but it did come and go. Here is what I did to pass the time:
There was a period of time when meeting to worship in a church building was ill-advised. During that time, my family still worshipped at home around the dining room table, but when the restrictions were lifted, I started getting calls to return to my fill-in preaching for congregations within driving range. I prepared sermons and preached at five congregations: Columbus and Fort Scott, Kansas, Joplin and Washburn, Missouri, and Grove, Oklahoma. I've done this kind of work, filling the pulpits of churches when the regular preachers take a vacation or when the churches do not presently employ a full-time preacher. It is a very satisfying, almost weekly, work that I take very seriously, and it provides me with an added income to supplement my teaching salary. I always try to prepare extra Bible class lessons and sermons to keep the work going through the school year, as well, so I've spent many hours in study and writing.
Originally, I was supposed to spend some days at the Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute for a few days. As a lover of United States colonial and revolutionary history, I was disappointed to receive word that it was being postponed until next summer. With CVD-19's attempt to take over everyone's life in 2020, along with limited cash on hand, we still fought our way out of the house for a couple of trips abroad. A quick trip to Kansas City doubled as a doctor's appointment with my daughter's neurologist. On that trip, my son and I spent some time walking around the outside of the Liberty Memorial World War I Memorial. On the way, we stopped at the Apple Cider Mill in Louisburg, Kansas, and on the way back, they dragged me to IKEA. In another trip, we packed the car and drove to Hutchinson, Kansas, where we toured Strataca, the salt mine, and the Cosmosphere space museum. It was just a short trip, but at least it gave us a chance to get away and learn something.
Our house lies on a property in the middle of the woods. In fact, behind the house there is nothing else in view, but trees and all the accoutrements of a forest. While our immediate yards have been cleared of the densest features of forestry, there are still trees. The trouble is that the light doesn't always reach the grass, and the grass doesn't always grow very thick. This summer, with extra time on my hands, I decided to take my reciprocating saw in hand, climb a ladder, and trim those trees as far off the ground as I could. I lost count of how many pickuploads of limbs I hauled away. It was hot, sweaty, hard work, but it was also very satisfying, and I feel like I accomplished something worthwhile.
If I have a bad habit, it must be sitting on my backside and binge watching classic TV shows. I don't want to admit how many episodes I've watched over the past few months, from Green Acres to I Dream of Jeannie, from the original Mission: Impossible (which I've never watched) to The Partridge Family, Perfect Strangers, The Addams Family, Bewitched and Happy Days. But it doesn't stop there: I also caught up on all the episodes of Alias and spent time watching the British archaeology program, Time Team. Disney+ provided classic movies for me, and I viewed some old movies on Amazon Prime. The number of hours wasted watching television is disgraceful, though to be fair, I also worked on the computer at the same time the programs were playing (That makes it OK, right?).
As always, I curated lesson materials, constructed lesson sets, wrote commentary articles, and kept this website updated. For years, I have maintained the site with a new entry every day, even during the summer. I am always amazed that I can keep ahead of the game with the website as I try to make it relevant as well as useful for my teaching, my classroom, my students, and for other teachers who might be interested in using the material. This summer, in the hope that students would continue to make up for the loss of instructional time, I also continued to update our HOGGATTEERS@HOME site with useful presentations that students could access from home.
Finally, my mind continuously rolls into teaching mode when I have time off. When I go places or see things, I always apply the same question: how can I fit this into my classroom? The 2020-extended-spring-break-slash-summer-vacation that we've been experiencing has given me extra time to do so, but not many extra things to see and places to go, which may or may not have done something permanent to my brain (but we're not here to discuss that). Still, I am happy to announce that I finally completed the entire year of lesson sets for our American history coverage. It has been more than a two-year, daunting quest that I took on as a passion, and there were some sets that challenged me, but while I hope to add or alter lessons as needed, for now it is done. During this time, I have curated material from the interweb while at the same time attempting to meld it with my own ideas, crossing curricular boundaries and making it accessible to nine- and ten-year-olds. While every lesson set has not been posted on the page yet, I have included links, videos, and files that should help any American history educator get started with teaching a year-long unit on colonial, revolutionary, and post-revolutionary eras.
Many teachers give the assignment, at the beginning of the school year, to write down or verbally present a report entitled What I Did during Summer Vacation. Some students have more summer opportunities than others, but we still like to hear about your adventures. While I do not make such an assignment, I still welcome your informal reports if you are willing to share. our American history coverage
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