When Music Fills Your Soul

When Music Fills Your Soul

Last night, we went to a senior recital given by my high school senior’s closest friend. It was held in a small Catholic chapel on the even smaller University grounds with which it is associated.  Stained glass windows glowed from the light of the early evening sun shining through the colors to illuminate the holy figures and impart a sense of reverence. It was not the only awe we would experience during our visit.

The crowd included teachers, close friends from school and work, and family, of course.

The musical selections were a mix of modern religious music and popular tunes you might hear on the radio if you listened to the type of stations that carries Ed Sheeran or Harry Gardner.  There were four duets, all sung with female partners, his private music teacher accompanying on piano, and a hand-drum (bongo does not seem like the appropriate word) that contributed a well-rounded, yet soft beat when the composition called for it.

Over the course of an hour, which included a short intermission, this talented eighteen year old treated us to the music that must fill his soul. He sang, played piano, played the oboe (exquisitely, I might add), and played his guitar. It was a beautiful, uplifting performance from a young man who our family has gotten to know well over the last six years.  You could tell he was comfortable in his skin and with the musician he had become. His song choices reflected that the most.  They all seemed to have a theme of love, faith, and family.  What eighteen year old do you know that sings about falling in love, the touch of someone’s hand, or telling someone they love them? What eighteen year old openly shows how much he loves his mom? This one did last night. I believe he shared more than beautiful music, but what was in his heart.

Of course, sitting there with my own eighteen year old, I was proud that he had chosen such a caring person to become his closest friend. In truth, and aside from the musical talent, my son is very much like his friend.  It is commonly known that the teenage years will test relationships between parent and child. It always does. However, despite the fact that my son and I had just had “words” at dinner about something I said which he mis-interpreted, sitting next to him at the senior recital of his friend, I could not help but tell him that I loved him.  And, he can and does say that back to me – more and more frequently, now as the time is drawing near in which he will be leaving to start down his own road. I’ll always be here, he knows he can always come home. I have the perfect photograph for him to carry off to school to remind him of that – “until our eyes meet” again, just like the Ed Sheeran song his friend sang with his mother at the end of the recital.

My own heart was reminded of the importance of music in our lives. It can transport you to another place and time – when you were falling in love, when you had your first dance, when you so tentatively touched the hand or lips of someone who in an instant becomes more than a friend. Music can lift you up in a way spiritually so your worries are less. Through the notes and music that come to life by being sung or played, you feel connected to those you love, those you have loved, and to life itself.

As we departed the recital chapel and moved to have refreshments, I hugged this young man and told him he has a gift – I hope he guards it well. The gift of music is shared when we listen……really listen. Just like a photograph, the gift of music is something that can be carried with you, always.

Silent Sunday: Wisconsin Scenes In April

Silent Sunday: Wisconsin Scenes In April

© Carol Labuzzetta, Grand Dad’s Bluff, La Crosse, 2018
Mississippi River – Black River Confluence – Lake Onalaska © Carol Labuzzetta, 2018
Mississippi River from The Great River Road, © Carol Labuzzetta, 2018
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After a Late April Snow Storm. © Carol Labuzzetta, 2018
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Peachy April Sunrise, © Carol Labuzzetta, 2018
Mississippi River Crossing to Winona MN, © Carol Labuzzetta, 2018
New Zinnia Plants, © Carol Labuzzetta, 2018
Growth in the Garden = Spring, © Carol Labuzzetta, 2018
Word Press Weekly Photo Challenge: Lines

Word Press Weekly Photo Challenge: Lines

Enjoy the variety of “lines” in my photography as these are my submission to the Weekly WordPress Photo Challenge: Lines.

Lines on a Garden Bench in a late April snow. © Carol Labuzzetta, 2018
Lines of Walnut and Maple on a homemade skateboard. © Carol Labuzzetta, 2015.


St. Peter's Church in St. George 2017
The stair form contrasting lines at St. Peter’s Church in St. Georges Bermuda. © Carol Labuzzetta, 2017
Lines of Cypress Trees and Benches at Iowa State University, © Carol Labuzzetta, 2017.
Lines on the Deck, lines on the fence, and lines on the chairs – manmade lines. © Carol Labuzzetta, 2017.
License Plates – Collected and in Lines. © Carol Labuzzetta, 2017.
Lines are not always straight. One of my favorite photos from a D.C. trip in 2010. © Carol Labuzzetta, 2010.
The straight lines of a footbridge in Iowa. © Carol Labuzzetta, 2017
The Dockyard Bermuda 2017
A line of sight is essential when protection the Royal Fleet in Bermuda. Royal Navy Dockyard. Bermuda, © Carol Labuzzetta, 2017.
A Bench of Lines at our cabin in the Northwoods contrasts with the wildness of coneflowers.           © Carol Labuzzetta, 2016.
You say Potato, I say Potato. I say Interdisciplinary, You say Transdisciplinary. Do we understand each other?

You say Potato, I say Potato. I say Interdisciplinary, You say Transdisciplinary. Do we understand each other?

Staff Meetings

While presenting at a staff meeting the other day, I explained that in the after school club I led I used an interdisciplinary approach to my teaching. Going on to explain, I told how one unit in garden club will have all subjects interwoven into it – Science, ELA, Social Studies, and yes, even Math. Now, I think that maybe I should have given some specific examples. For instance, when corn is our topic, the history and origin of the plant is covered, along with lore and legend (there are many from Native American histories), the horticultural and botanical aspects of the plant including number of types (4),  new, rich vocabulary and/or stories to support language arts, and even math calculations that involve calculating kernels per ear or ears per acre were all part of the lesson.

This revelation occurred to me as I stared out at a crowd of teachers I barely knew and recognized their blank stares coming back at me!  As my friend MJ, who is a special education teacher for the vision impaired says, “I know that look.” It either says I don’t know what you’re talking about or I don’t care what you are talking about. Okay – it was 7:30 in the morning, on a Tuesday.  But, still! Surely, they knew what I was getting at. Right?

It dawned on me, as I sat through the remainder of the staff meeting out of politeness, and listened to two third grade teachers talk about developing standards for their new inquiry based curriculum (they are becoming an international baccalaureate school), that they were using the word transdisciplinary and I had used the word interdisciplinary.

Everyone in the room was exposed to, and surely had, similar pedagogy. Surely, they had understood what I meant when I used interdisciplinary. Right?! I am not so sure. So, I set out to see if the words can be used interchangeably or not.

Dictionary.com refers to transdisciplinary as an adjective meaning; pertaining to or involving more than one discipline; interdisciplinary.  HA! There it is interdisciplinary is a synonym for transdisciplinary!  Still, I was doubting.  So, what does Merriam Webster.com say? This source is even more brief, just listing “interdisciplinary” on the page for the definition of transdisciplinary.  I went on to dig up some research on the terms, because I do think some confusion exists with these terms.

What’s the Difference?

Carleton College offers an explanation of how interdisciplinary teaching “differs from cross-disciplinary or multi-disciplinary teaching in that it involves integration and synthesis of different perspectives rather than just including those different views.”  It involves the use and integration of methods, theory and analysis from more than one academic area to examine a theme, issue, question, or topic (Carleton.edu). It is, in fact, the elimination of silos in learning. Although, the article from Carleton defines cross disciplinary and multi-disciplinary, it does not address anything about transdisciplinary learning.

So, on to another source. For several years I was a member of the ASCD or The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. This group offers many timely and relevant publications for the educational community. They also publish the journal Educational Leadership in which I found many useful articles. You can find them by clicking the link above, if you choose. (This is not a paid promotion, just a recommendation for a source of educational publications – I am not currently a member, but considering signing up again.)  In any case, in an online chapter from the book Interdisciplinary Curriculum by Heidi Hayes Jacobs, the word transdisciplinary is finally defined as “beyond the scope of the disciplines.”  Huh? As a lover of words, that makes sense, but I am almost positive that is not how it is being applied to this school’s new approach.

Connections not Deletions

By sitting in the meeting, I learned how this staff is trying to combine social studies and science topics and address standards and content from both areas within the topics. The important point is that interdisciplinary instruction reinforces connections between disciplines or subject areas, not disparities. Commonalities are stressed, not disparaged.

Still, it is hard to tell the difference between interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary if there is one. Finally, I found a source that more thoroughly discussed transdisciplinary approaches to instruction,  explaining it as learning relevant to real world. Okay, I’m on board with that. Again, sounds like interdisciplinary learning – after all, the world is not fragmented, our experiences are woven together with strands of fabric from many disciplines or “fields” of knowledge.  Perhaps, as I read further, it is what the learner is left with after the learning takes place is what differentiates it from interdisciplinary learning. Supposedly, the explorations and inquiry that take place with a transdisciplinary approach lead to a greater, and deeper understanding of humanity, not merely content.  Okay, again that sounds good. But, I am still left not really understanding the difference between the too methods. And, maybe, if I pressed I would discover that part of the quizzical faces I saw when I used the work interdisciplinary was part of a lack of thorough understanding on the staff’s part as well.

Do Semantics Matter?

All I know is that I am not so sure that the semantics matter. The fact that we are trying, as educators, to provide our students with the most comprehensive and useful ways to know, survive in, contribute to, and maybe improve our world is what is important. Right? Lately, I find that both courses and departments are being renamed both at the district and state level. Why is that? Are we reinventing the wheel? How much time is being spent changing course, re-labeling, and re-packaging as opposed to real teaching and becoming the best educators we can be?

As I looked around the room, I was inspired by the degree of energy some of the staff exhibited. Thoughtful, clarifying questions were being asked by those individuals. And, I also had concern because along with the high energy, optimistic, forward thinkers in the room, there were those who looked at me and looked upon those who were part of their own staff trying to provide structure for the new teaching model, as if we had four heads. I know which teacher and which class I would want my own child to be a part of.

Don’t you?!

So, while I am not sure the staff understood my use of the word interdisciplinary, I know what they are trying to accomplish with a move towards inquiry based, transdisciplinary teaching and learning. I hope they understood that we are trying to accomplish the same things, semantics aside.  Time will tell.




The Un-stifling of Me

The Un-stifling of Me

Recently, I have started to put myself out there again. I am attending meetings, giving my opinion, and circulating my thoughts to more than just the inside of my own head.  To be honest, it’s somewhat scary. But, it is also invigorating.

For a while now….maybe a couple of years, I have tried to keep my opinions to myself, to stay out of the stresses of having others disagree, to protect myself from the frustrations that can result from fighting city hall or a losing battle.

Did my stress level decrease? Yes. Was I happier? No.

Instead, I think the person who was frustrating me was me! I was having difficulty making decisions or voicing opinions or being involved, all out of the fear I would stress myself or someone else. So, I stayed quiet. But, quietness does not stifle one’s thoughts, does it? No. Thoughts exist whether they are voiced or not and if there is no one to express them to – well, they go no where but fester in one’s own brain.

I really don’t know what the tipping point was for me, but I realized that I had given up focusing on some issues and topics that were important to me – education, educational reform, and student advocacy, among others.  In short, by agreeing to “get off these topics, because I was getting nowhere,”  I was denying myself part of who I really am.

My 18-year-old has a saying, “You do you.” I have heard this from other young adults, too. They may have a point. In not sharing my experiences, my acquired knowledge, or my opinions, I was not being me. I was not being anyone. No wonder I felt that what I said didn’t matter or was not listened to – I was not even offering it up for any reason – criticism or approval – just keeping all those thoughts I had to myself.

While this plan of action may have led to a decreased level of stress, it also led to the frustrations (and yes, stress) of not being heard. I wasn’t heard because I wasn’t trying to be heard. I was hiding – if not physically, I was hiding, verbally, and most certainly, cognitively.

I had stopped meeting with people I enjoy talking educational philosophy with and stopped working to correct deficiencies noted in local systems. I had stopped being an advocate for anyone – sadly, this included even advocating for myself.


But, in the last month, I have felt a “coming alive” type of sensation. I realized that I had given up things important to me. I realized that I needed to say – you do you, and I’ll do me! So, I have started making forays back into situations and meetings that will challenge me. I have been energized my the amount of thinking I am doing, energized about prospective conversations, and energized knowing that I am returning to topics that hold importance for me.

I plan to be polite, be a good listener, and above all share what thoughts I have! It will be good to get them out of my head and on the table once again. I declare that I  have been un-stifled!


Patterns in Nature: The Fibonacci Sequence

Patterns in Nature: The Fibonacci Sequence

Mathematics in Garden Club ????  

Originally written and posted on 11/5/2013.  

Today, I am reposting a blog I wrote and published in 2013 on my Garden Club Website. I am short on time and thought that this might be a piece some might enjoy. I have updated it with a few more photographs.

Fibonacci Sequence Revisited………

Once again, this year in garden club, I will be introducing the students to what is known as the Fibonacci sequence. My interest in doing this started last year, as we explored our theme of plant adaptations. Many plants exhibit a spiraling pattern in their leaves, seeds, cones, branches, and more!

The Fibonacci sequence is named after a mathematician from long ago. He noticed these patterns and was able to decode how the numbers were generated. Basically, the sequence is generated by adding the two previous numbers together.

0+1 =1, 1+1=2, 1+2=3, 2+3=5, 3+5=8,

0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89…….etc.

What is cool about this sequence is that many things found in nature exhibit this pattern. Some of the plants or plant products that exhibit the Fibonacci sequence were introduced last year. These included;

PINEAPPLES (epiphyte unit) – exhibit Fibonacci in the hexagonal placement on the exterior of the fruit and with leaf position (harder to see)


PINE CONES (conifer unit) – exhibit the spiraling patterns when viewed from the base


CACTUS (cactus unit) – spines often are placed around the exterior of the cactus in this pattern.  Succulents can exhibit this pattern too, as shown in this photo.


And this year, during October, when we explored seeds we examined the heads of sunflowers to find a great example of the Fibonacci sequence. 

SUNFLOWERS – (seed unit) – sunflower heads exhibit the sequence patterning with the seed placementpixabaysunfloweragriculture-2676644_1920

So, why am I bothering to show the students this? For one reason, it is just cool to be able to recognize how this pattern repeats itself over and over on living things! The second reason is that it makes the students think about math and patterns in found in everyday life. Thirdly, is that it makes the subject of math more beautiful! And lastly, for our group, it provides some enrichment for those students who are looking to stretch their knowledge base.
It was interesting to note that none of the students in garden club this year had heard of the Fibonacci Sequence before! The high school volunteers had heard of it but only one knew how the sequence was generated or what it applied to. This student remembered the sequencing from an advanced biology class, not math class! Do you see the overlap here? Mathematics is an integral part of science and science an integral part of math! You just need to be curious enough to look for the connections. They are right in front of you!  A sixth grader I know says, “Everything is math and math is everything!” Right now, I can’t find an argument for this!

So, I’d like to leave the students with the challenge of looking for the Fibonacci sequence in nature. It appears in many more places than those mentioned above. There are also some great websites and videos that apply this concept in a visual sense. Very beautiful. Wondrous, in fact! I have long been attracted to the beauty I find in my garden, but knowing there might be some rhyme and reason behind that beauty makes it all the more attractive to me. Of course, that is because I always want to know the reason “why”. Wondering “why” is exactly our garden club theme this year. And that is “why” I am spending the time to introduce this number concept to the garden club students!

As I showed the students the huge sunflower heads from our garden, I asked them to think about the relationship between the height of these plants (I asked for guesses here) and the size of the heads (most were about  12 -17 inches in diameter). Finally, I outlined the head of the sunflower with my finger and asked them to name this measurement! The answer that was most often offered was it is the perimeter. Well, yes, it is….but the perimeter of a circle has a special name! Circumference!

In the coming weeks, I’ll be interested to know what the students think the reason is (or why) this pattern of numbers exists on plants and in nature. Is is just a coincidence? Or is there a purpose behind the patterning? Visit some of the links and watch some of the videos.  See what you think! Be ready for a great discussion!

Everything you wanted to know about Fibonacci

Teacher Resources for Enrichment

How do I count the spirals? Museum of Mathematics Website article

Science and Math in Sunflowers


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ahXIMUkSXX0 (this one moves fast, but really relates it to the plants I’ve been using as examples….worth sticking it out to the end). Please don’t doodle in class!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lOIP_Z_-0Hs&feature=youtu.be (Part II, more plants and sequencing and WHY plants have this sequence).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kkGeOWYOFoA (gorgeous video)

Pleasure Reading:
Balliett, B. (2007). The Wright 3.
Neuschwander, C. (1997). Circumference and the First Round Table: A Math Adventure.

Have you Ever ….. Seen Your Dentist at a Track Meet?

Have you Ever ….. Seen Your Dentist at a Track Meet?

Yesterday was one of those crazy busy days. My husband was up and out before 6 am. He was going to attend a meeting of drivers for a company where he is involved in providing health care services. He was essentially, “a walking – talking advertisement.”

I was out shortly after seven to get to a teacher staff meeting at the school where I am the garden club advisor. Again, an advertisement for the club, encouraging teachers to encourage their students to join next year. I stayed after our meeting to perform spring clean up in the gardens at the school – part of my job responsibilities. But, my husband had volunteered to help, so I took him up on it.  We got a lot done in the two hours we worked!  Of course, with any garden work there is always more to be done. I will go back on Thursday.

The afternoon brought some cloud cover but no raindrops so in late afternoon, we were off to a tennis match down at the local university courts. Our son plays first doubles, having had the same partner for several years. Last year the team won their very first conference title, so they are the one’s to beat this year. Unfortunately, it has been a weird spring here. We got more snowfall in April than I think we had all winter! (I don’t know that for sure but it definitely seems like it is true!) Anyway, you certainly cannot play tennis in the snow, so many practices and even matches have been cancelled. There was a definite lull after the season started! So, tennis was a loss for all matches except for one yesterday. Hopefully, this will improve as matches are made up and played more consistently over the next few weeks. It certainly will make for a busy May!


After watching tennis, we headed to another high school to watch a track meet. Our youngest is a sprinter!  He thrives on competition and has already shaved significant time off of his personal records from last year.  For anyone who has ever been to a track meet, you know there is significant down time. Yes, there are events constantly going on but it is usually few and far between in which there is a race where you see your own child. Patience is required!  Starting to lose some of the day’s warmth, we huddled together on the cold metal bleachers. All of a sudden, my husband is grabbed from behind by a tall, hooded gentleman we know to be our sons’ former dentist. He retired two years ago and we have not seen him since!


Being a gregarious, multi-faceted individual we spent the next twenty minutes talking fruit tree grafting, high school track (his daughter was in the meet as well), and Scott Pruitt of all people. Going to this man’s dental office was always an experience! Conversations held when our sons’ mouths were gaping open about the state of education, the state of our environment, college choices, and sources of wood for projects. He is an intelligent, albeit tangential, but enjoyable person – one we have missed seeing on a regular basis in his office. It was great to see him, although weird, too – at the track meet! And, it was nice he didn’t comment on the sour patch gum my son popped into his mouth in front of him! Oy vey!


The races went on and on and on. Our son did well with his sprints. The relay he was in did not fair as well due to a poor hand-off that he was involved in, but all in all, it was a productive, and fun day! We ended swinging into a off road viewing spot to take in the sunset on the way home – a great ending!

Mississippi River At Dusk, © Carol Labuzzetta, 2018

Have you ever run into someone you know in an odd place? Let me know in the comments!