OMG, it is summer … ideas.

Hello all. The end of the school year came around faster than I expected and I find myself right smack in the middle of my summer vacation! I hope all my teacher friends and my student allies out there are enjoying their free time and making the most of this nice weather.

Our friends at the Haverhill Public Library (HPL) have released their July lineup of free events. Besides encouraging you to continue reading even through the summer months with their reading programs, the HPL also hosts a number of these events to get families out of the sun for a few hours. Below I have highlighted their July calendar for you. Some of these events require registration and I encourage you to contact the library for more details about each of the dates. The HPL can be reached at (978) 373-1586.

Date Time Place Audience

Event

July

1,2

4:30 pm Auditorium

General

Movie: Fences


6

2–3:30 pm Milhendler Room

Grades

6-12

Activity: Teen Crafternoon

8 10:30 am–noon

Adults

18 +

Activity: Tie Dye Tea Towels

13 7–8:30 pm Auditorium

General

Talk: Holistic Health/ Andy Morris

17 7–8 pm

General

Activity: HPL Photography Group

18 6–8 pm Auditorium

General

Talk: Healthier Snacking at Work/ Chef Liz Barbour

7–8:45 pm Milhendler Room

General

Activity: Knit and Crochet Group

22 2–4:30 pm Auditorium

General

Movie: The Zookeeper’s Wife

26 1–3 pm Auditorium

Ages 14+

Activity: Teen Murder Mystery Party

29 2–4 pm Milhendler Room

Adults

Activity: Coloring Club

For more information and an updated schedule, visit HaverhillPL.org. All events are free and registrations can be confirmed online or by calling the library.

Among the many projects that I have to keep myself busy, I have been brainstorming ideas for the coming school year. Inspired by my oldest son’s creativity (he made a short five minute video that you can find here … if you have a Facebook account.) I started thinking about hosting a contest for “New Covers for Classics”, or something like that … I am open to suggestions.

Right now I am leaning towards making it a digital art project, that is, the final product must be presented as a digital file of some sort. My thinking on this is that while I love the traditional pen, paper, paintbrush, canvas artwork (as can be attested to in every issue of INKBLOTT, the HHS student arts & literary magazine) I believe that today’s creative types also need to be familiar with the digital tools available to them (and their competitors). If and when I do decide to host such a competition/ contest, I will be sure to announce it on this blog.

In the meantime, below you can find four quick examples that my son and I put together using nothing more than stock photographs from the Internet and free photo manipulating software, GIMP, which I have written about before (see 04/11/09). This kind of project reflects the inclusion of the arts in the STEM movement to transform it into the STEAM movement. While the tools we used to create the final project were digital, our brainstorming and idea gathering were artistic processes that asked us to consider the themes, symbols, characters, motifs and other central ideas of the novels for which we were creating covers. We sketched and took notes using pen, pencil and paper before we moved to our digital tools. (Interestingly, none of our pen & paper sketches looked anything like our final products, but that’s fodder for another post …. Maybe.)

Hope you found something interesting and that you are enjoying your summer. … And Happy July Fourth in advance. Que viva la INDEPENDENCIA!

Copyright © henry toromoreno, 2017. All rights reserved.

What I learned this summer

               There aren’t many regular readers to this blog, so you might not have noticed that I took the summer off from posting here. Not by choice, mind you. I love writing about things I discover online or sharing ideas or recommendations that I think will be of interest to my few dedicated readers (I know you’re out there, so I’m sorry that I didn’t write anything for two months!). But this summer, I did something that was so intense and took up so much of my time and energy, that I did not have any time to research AND post; I taught leather craft at summer camp. (My running joke all summer was that between my librarian skills and my leather craft knowledge, I was a 16th century renaissance man.)

               I spent eight weeks cutting and preparing leather for student projects, and learned a fascinating new trade in the meantime. Prior to this, I had never worked with leather, so I had to learn everything I could … and fast. My employers tried to get the prior teacher to train me, but she was unavailable. They also had a company called Chaps & Chains (I’m not making this up) that offered to train me, but I didn’t get their contact information in time, and I decided to take matters into my own hands.

               While unpacking the supplies for the leather craft class, I discovered a number of books like Leathercraft for Beginners and catalogs for the Tandy Leather Company. Naturally I read through these printed texts, and learned quite a bit about leather. When I was done reading, I turned to the internet to see what the books were talking about and discovered dozens of great videos that demonstrated how to prepare and work with leather. Here are two videos, so you can visualize how I spent my summer:

               So, what is the point of this post, anyway? Well, I did want to explain my absence (though I wish it were something more exciting than teaching leathercraft at summer camp). I also needed to get back to writing here, and summer camp is officially over now, so I can’t use that as an excuse. More than anything, though, I wanted to share something I learned (or re-learned) with you, and here it is.

               I found it odd, and even beautiful, that I could learn how to do something like working with leather, that has been around for thousands of years, by using the internet; our latest and greatest achievement. I learned everything I needed to know about working with leather (how to use mallets, stamping tools, rotary punches, slickers, bevelers, swivel knives, heavy stems; how to set snap, buckles, rivets, pyramid points and conchos, and much more) from the internet. What made me a good leather craft guy (as some of the campers still called me after 8 weeks) was that I cared about what I was doing, and I used the incredible power of our connected world to teach myself something new.

               This revelation made me wonder, why do we still need schools, if you can learn anything via the internet? Why all the fuss around September? I think it has to do with why I was really a good leather craft guy, and the reason is because I was a teacher at summer camp. I was a teacher first, and a leather guy second. I was excited about what I knew (it was all so new to me) and I wanted the kids to know I was excited for them (even though it was the 4th or 5th or 6th year of leather for some kids). I also cared about every project that every child was working on … believe me, you cut four hundred strips of leather and you will care about what becomes of every inch of that leather.

               I don’t mean to be obscure. What I re-learned this summer is that it’s really hard to be a good (or great, which is what I aim for) teacher. It takes a lot of work to know stuff, and to teach anything to anyone. It also takes patience, caring, compassion and love. As teachers, we need to love what we’re teaching, and the students we’re teaching.

               Thank you for stopping by, and I’ll see you in September.

Copyright © henry toromoreno, 2010. All rights reserved.