My Own Genius Hour Project

I have two teen-aged children of my own and they’ve been grumbling because their teachers don’t do genius hour. I told them they didn’t need a class, just an hour of their own each week. My eldest decided we should have family genius hour.

My project will be baking breads from scratch. I know a little bit about it. I have a bread maker and sometimes use it to make the dough and finish the loaf or buns by hand. I’ve also made cinnamon buns using my grandmother’s scratch recipe, but I’d like to really explore bread baking.

Today I started by reading a couple of articles about how to bake bread from scratch. I decided to start with a French style loaf since that suits tonight’s supper well.

I was surprised to learn how much kneading is required – 10 to 13 minutes if you do it by hand! That’s a pretty good workout!img_1343

Kneaded and ready for rising

I incorporated a couple of tips that were new to me: I warmed my bowl before mixing the dough by pouring hot water in; and I covered the dough with plastic wrap for warming. In the past I’ve used a tea towel, but I have had the dough stick to it a couple of times.




A little uneven, but ready for the oven

I tried the steam feature on my oven as I read that improves the crust.


Oops, cooked a little more quickly than expected. I think I’ll drop the temperature next time.

I’ll do a few things differently next time. I’ll knead directly on the clean counter top like the recipe suggested. My rolling mat just kept sliding around, annoying me, while I kneaded. I’ll also do some research on kneading techniques since my dough didn’t past the kneading test even after 14 minutes of kneading.


Supper – my bread and the leftover ratatouille I made for my Grade 8 French class

The Trouble with Reading Aloud

My first read aloud this year was Patricia MacLachlan’s Edward’s EyesI was reading it for the first time as I read it aloud to my students. I knew from reading reviews that the title character dies (oops, maybe I should have prefaced that with a spoiler alert!), but I assumed he died early on. Instead the author made us love Edward, and then killed him. I had to read aloud, forcing the words around the lump in my throat and sniveling. I did only slightly better when I read it to my second class.

As I read aloud Chapter 7  of Orbiting Jupiter this week, I had a similar sensation. I have not read ahead, but I’ve heard enough to make me fear that the story ends tragically. There was such a strong feeling of foreboding in the pages of this chapter. I was at least as close to tears as the librarian/foster mom. Maybe I was even as teary as Jack. There was so much tension in the scene with the police officers; though I must say I’m glad Schmidt didn’t portray them as bad guys. I was honestly surprised that the chapter ended as positively as it did for Joseph.

Still my worry remains, there’s the loose end of Joseph’s father, there’s Nick Porter and his friends, and there was a hint that Mrs. Stroud might be thinking about moving Joseph. How will it end? You can bet I’ll be reading that last chapter aloud first thing Monday morning.