28.6.18

Throwback Thursday: My Maternal Great-Grandmother Albertine Frank


Albertine Margaret Frank Killman (1889 - 1980)
Throwback Thursday
Albertine Margaret Frank Killman is my maternal great-grandmother who died in August of 1980 when I was only 8 months old. Did we meet? I'm not sure. She knew how to fry frog legs. She had a son, Freddie, who drowned in Lake Pontchartrain when he was 13 years old. I knew her children, Ida, and Hanky, well, because they were my great aunt and uncle. I didn't know Dot, her other daughter (and my grandmother), because she died of congenital heart failure decades before I was born.

Albertine's parents, Friedrich and Margaret Burkhardt were born in Frankfurt, Germany in the 1850s. They emigrated from Germany and Albertine was born in New Orleans in 1889. When she married my grandfather Francis Killman, they lived in Gentilly, which is a neighborhood of New Orleans. When my mom was born, she and her siblings often spent time at Albertine's house.

Anyway. I wonder what Grandma is up to in this photograph? Is she going to a wedding or to a Mardi Gras Ball? My guess is that she is going to the ball for the Krewe of Anubis (which I don't think runs anymore).

25.6.18

Planespotting at the Planeview Park in Queens

From a bench in Planeview Park spectators watch commercial jets take place and land at La Guardia Airport in Queens.
***
Sightseeing at Planeview Park in QueensToday, I took the Q47 bus in Queens to the Marine Air Terminal at La Guardia International Airport. The bus line meanders through East Elmhurst, a neighborhood of detached homes north of Northern Boulevard that conforms to the crescent shape of the Grand Central Parkway. Considering that a busy airport abuts the neighborhood, it's a relatively quiet place for New York City. Along the route, I notice small neighborhood parks, a centrally located shopping mall (which is home to Cannelle Patisserie, one of the best bakeries in the city). The bus crosses Astoria Boulevard and terminates at the airport terminal. If you have never been to the Marine Air Terminal, it's worth a visit even if you are not scheduled for a flight.  The building marks the first structure on the site of the airport when commercial flights were chartered seaplanes (yes, these planes landed in Bowery Bay). Inside the terminal, look up, and take pleasure in a 360° mural detailing humanity's contributions to technology. It's a lightly traveled terminal; however, it is good to note that there are rather clean bathrooms at the entrance and a small café (at which I did not have lunch). I felt like exploring more of the airport's grounds and remembered a place where one can watch planes take off and land on one of the airport's two landing strips. So I walked along a security fence that borders the strip and watched a few commercial jets take off. Apparently, my presence invoked the curiosity of the Port Authority security task force because within minutes I noticed a police van pull up and a security officer said, "Hey. This is a restricted area. We would like it if you didn't stand here." I said meekly that I liked watching the planes take off and land. The guy was unmoved by my sudden confession of loving planes. For a brief moment, I had this terrible thought that he may think I am doing something suspicious. Before I had a chance to speak, he gave a half-apology and said, "Yeah. But you make the guys nervous. You know." I acquiesced to his gentle command to remove myself and asked him where I could safely watch the planes. That's how I found out about the Planeview Park. "Just walk that way," the guy said, pointing in the direction of the expressway. "I think there is a park on the other side of the Grand Central Parkway."

21.6.18

Everyone Should Be Welcome in This Country

I found this message written by hand on my recent visit to the Jackson Heights Library in Queens.

15.6.18

Teaching My Non-English Speaking Students English

Teaching English to language learners is a challenging job; but, I do it every school day after I drink my first cup of coffee and stand slave to the copy machine.
Word Walls are great for 
English Language Learners
I start each workday with a cup of coffee. I check work e-mail. Then I go to my Google Drive and open up my lesson plan files for the day and mark what I need to photocopy at work. I don't own a printer. So I usually just cross my fingers that the printers at school will spill out glorious spreads of worksheets for me. It's a daily prayer to the teacher gods. Athena, hear me. I don't have a homeroom so I use that time before first period class to staple, collate, or just talk the talk with colleagues. I teach six class periods a day. But I don't have a traditional teaching schedule. I teach my classes to a cohort of eight to twelve kids from mainland China. They all speak either Mandarin or Cantonese. That's not entirely true though because I have a kid from Thailand and I've taught kids from Vietnam, and South Korea. My students are fun to teach but it's exhausting work because we are with each other for most of the day. The kids push out for lunch and their math class - and for the rest of the scholastic schedule, they're parlaying in English with me. Or it is usually English. Sometimes I learn a few Mandarin or Cantonese words.
Bilingual phrasebook in Mandarin and English
A bilingual phrasebook in Mandarin and English
       That's how I learned the word for "dumbass" in Mandarin Chinese is 傻逼. But Google Translate tells me that it simply means "silly." I think something is lost in translation because one kid says this word all the time. It's annoying. It's like having that kid in your class who always mutters not-so-slightly under his breath "[expletive] this shit." At least that is how it feels. Sometimes the Mandarin teacher will push-in and hang out. She told me the word has multiple meanings. So there. I like my job because I've always loved playing with language and meaning. It's fun getting the kids to play the game. To get them to see how language works. To engage them. I want my kids to feel confident and to be OK making mistakes. So sometimes I'll take out the bilingual dictionary and practice pronouncing Mandarin. It's what's humorous. I am mostly frantic during the school day because I am always thinking twelve steps ahead. I have lots of ideas and not a lot of resources to bring 'em to life. I don't use textbooks but that's to my advantage. The hardest class to teach is social studies. The easiest class is the speaking class. I hate teaching grammar. And even though I love to write I'm not the best writing teacher. So that leaves me with my greatest strength: I'm really good at classroom discussion. When my kids take turns talking in English about fun and interesting topics I'm so proud of them because it ain't easy to parlay in a language that ain't your own. Now that it's May I'm in reflection mode about the year. I think we done did good. And I'm super excited about Summer. Of course. But I wonder how next year will flow. It's important for me to feel successful. On Friday I had a meeting about goals for next year. And when I think of next year one thing I want more than anything is for my students to go to a cool museum, write some cool sentences, and feel good about learning in English. Go us.

2.6.18

Street Photography from the Streets of Jackson Heights, Queens

Woman and Boy Wait for the Parade at Queens Pride 2018
Waiting for the Queen's Pride Parade: A Woman and Boy Stand in the Street in Jackson Heights, New York 

Photo: Jackson Heights Queens Pride Parade (2018)


I love parades because it’s so easy to capture faces in the crowd. Here, a man waves a pride flag in front of the post office on 37th Avenue in Jackson Heights, Queens.