Skip to main content


Showing posts from February, 2005


Lots of things running around my head - and of course, the evil blogger ate the post about it.

Long story short - spent little time this week actually in the classroom,
No school on Monday (our winter break, everyone who got a week - I hate you)Fire drill Tuesday afternoon - such a nice, might as well.Opera with the seniors on Wednesday. Light on plot, river spirit dancers stole the show; casting was interestingBomb threat Thursday afternoon - was there a bomb? I heard there were pictures, but I never saw any and it didn't make the news.2 hour anti-sex assembly. Very funny speaker - I think a lot of the students got some good information out of it.... at least they learned that women really prefer one rose to a dozen b/c it's the thought behind it.Registration for next year has already started, which is surprising to say the least. Whoopee!


So much has been going on - I feel like I'm barely teaching any more. Of course, that may have something to do with whole students teaching about The Hobbit Project. Also helped by the fact that it was 4 day week and we had one fire drill, one bomb threat plus a 2 hour anti-sex assembly (actually, it was quite funny and the kids loved it). And I went with the seniors to the opera - Florencia in the Amazons - great ending and boy was I glad to see it. Not much on plot and the beautiful young journalist falls in love with what looks like to be a short guy with a pot belly? Long story short... I was hardly there.

I've been showing Fahrenheit 451 to my sophomore class. Hysterical. Hands down, the funniest futuristic movie since Logan's Run. The story line is somewhat close to the book, but not enough to substitute for those slackers who don't read. The firemen are dressed in black nazi style uniforms (prompting several allusions to Space Balls) and their fire truck looks to…

Is it really Spring?

I remember posting this last fall... while I was on the downward spiral. Now that it's nearly March, I can feel and upswing in my mood and how things are going in the classroom. I don't know if it's the gorgeous weather or that suddenly many freshmen have finally become high school students. Whatever it is, I'll take it!

"Having a bit of a lie in, dear?"

Yesterday I spent approximately 10 hours in Olympia and did not worry a bit about the long drive home... because there's no school today!! (Although for many NY teachers, it's the beginning of a week long break). I walked, I lightly shopped, the only thing I didn't do was eat, which in hindsight probably wasn't the best idea. The final result is that I'm relaxed and ready to get to work on planning the next few weeks today.

Before I start, I need to dump some of the randomness from my head. First, my former company was bought this week by the NYTimes. Yes, if I hadn't been laid off, I would now be working for one of the most famous newspapers in the world. Also, a former co-worker just published a new book - Improbable : A Novel. This is just a taste of the incredible talent that used to surround me. Of course, I'm still surrounded by talent - it's just locked in the 'everything-sucks' adolescent stage.

Found on The Endless Faculty Meeting - Herdi…
Although I'm sure to jinx it, I have to say that I think Spring has sprung early around here. It's still a bit chilly in the morning, but by afternoon it's sunny and in the 50's. Spring fever hit hard this week, especially with the added bonus of the upcoming 3-day weekend and the state wrestling championships. Either way, everyone had deserted the campus by2.35pm on Friday.

The group lessons for a couple of my freshmen classes are moving along. Stealing an idea from another blog (sorry, can't remember which one) about creating the groups. Pair the strongest student with the weakest and toss in a couple of middles, repeat until all students are in group. In my case, several of the groups went more along the lines of "mature student can deal with stinky student" or "mature student can work despite immature slacker." It will be interesting to see how these lessons turn out in reality. I tried to make the instructions as clear as possible, but how …

New Find

While prowling around the 'net, I found a new online magazine for educators called Edutopia. It's part of the George Lucas Educational Foundation and contains a lot of interesting information - not just the magazine... there are also documentaries on various issues and teaching ideas for the classroom, professional development, and on and on! I've spent two hours poking around so far, and with every page there is some thing else that catches my eye. Check it out for yourself.

Found via The Endless Faculty Meeting - Thanks!

Off With Their Heads!

My sophomore class finally presented their Schools of the Future on Friday. We're reading Fahrenheit 451 and there is a blurb where Clarisse describes her own school. The students are a bit dazed by the idea that no one reads or asks questions, not even in school. Consensus seems to be that everyone should read (just not Lord of the Flies) and be allowed to ask questions. The ground rules for the project were that students had to look at actual tends in education, not dream up their ideal school - no cage-fighting training in PE; it's not going to happen.

There was a lot of technology involvement:
desks with computer embedded in them. No writing; everything typed on the computer keyboard. (save me a lot of time monitoring writing/pictures on the desks!)robotic/virtual teachers (feel the love...)attending school via the internet from homemuch more education in the form of movies and videocomputer engineering, programming and repair taught to all students, thus eliminating the …


I had a bit of a holiday today. I volunteered to join a committee to review reading intervention materials for the ginormous textbook adoption this year. Not surprisingly, there hasn't been any intervention materials for the high school. More on that later...

Since I was to be in a meeting all day, the district hired a substitute for my classes. I dutifully prepared an activity that tied into our current reading, but required little in the way of actual teaching. I had been preparing for a sub who was rumored to "hate every student in the high school," "dislike any type of noise" and "once suspended an entire class." I was a tad worried when I heard this. Well, he called in sick, so sub #2 was called in. Sub #2 brought some sort of huge binder into the room and proceded to read it for the entire day. This person did hand out the packets and put up the overheads (but didn't bother to pull the screen up after each class, so they could see the entry t…

Homegrown Democrat

Yesterday I picked up Garrison Keillor's Homegrown Democrat and haven't stopped listening (audio book). The book is delivered in same practical manner as The Prairie Home Companion and seems to cut through all the jargon and rage that fills the airwaves these days on both sides. Obviously, it doesn't make the President out to be anything wholly positive - Keillor's politics are well known.

He talks a lot about public education, equality and practical matters of daily life. In describing his own schooling, Keillor describes the benefits of having an education that is neither private nor exclusionary. The bank president's kids going to school with the son of the local pig farmer (although maybe not so close in proximity) and realizing that those people are standing next to you in class, just as they will be standing next to you at your job. A college degree that could be obtained by working a low wage job, not tens of thousands of dollars in the form of "loans.&…

Does this mean I'm infamous?

Every once in a while I check my stats - usually for a good laugh at how people find my site via google. This week Anita Rowland decided to highlight my site on hers... maybe it was a really slow newsweek around her place. One of the blurbs she posted apparently hit a nerve among several communities, resulting in a huge rush to my site and then a run back to their own forums to discuss.

It is always more than a little interesting to see what people will say about each other behind the confines of the computer screen. I was a little upset by the comment that my rule of at least 5 sentences per paragraph (actually, just body paragraphs) contributes to "bloated academic writing." I had just taken a drink of my coffee and nearly spit out all over the keyboard laughing! I don't think anything written by the violaters of this rule would be considered academic, unless one defines this term as anything written within the confines of a classroom. There ought to be laugh warnings o…


Loobylu has been one of my favorite blogs/journals for several years (pre-baby!). I love her illustrations, ideas and all around positive energy.

In November, Claire started the Month of Softies. Every month she posts a theme and starts to create a stuffed animal or toy based on that theme - others from around the world do the same... This month I'm feeling the need to add a little craftiness to my otherwise school centered exisistance. This month's theme is "Alice in Wonderland," which for me is translating into making bunnies. So far I've got the head on one bunny done - and I've already started to refine the process. My plan is to have the ears, arms, legs and body made out of spring flower patterned material, but the head is made out of muslin. I thought of a flowered face, but really those kind of faces need more shaping that embroidery and I'm just not that good without a pattern.

It's not a full Moon?

I checked the calendar twice - it does say that the full isn't until the 8th. Maybe it's the extended warm weather we've been having... but today was just plain weird!

First, I had a student completely freak out because he came in late (like 40 minutes late) and I told him he had to get a slip from the office. He's been in my class all year and should know that I tell all students that they need a tardy slip - every stinkin' day. So his response was to tell me to "f-off" and then run screaming through halls yelling "f-you!" Slight over reaction for an activity that gives you the freedom to wander for at least 10 minutes... then he showed up 15 minutes later (and late for the next class; he's got me twice in row, poor soul) without any admit slip but very apologetic.

Then later in the day I had another student call me a "stupid f-- bitch" because I wouldn't let him read a magazine while taking a test. I mean, why bother to write t…
I'm beginning to think that teaching is like being bipolar. Amazingly, one class got their act together and actually read at home to catch up to the other classes. Yesterday we went back over parts of it and read through chapter 2 as a class. I've decided not to do groups with them though... there just aren't enough strong readers to match with weaker readers. Plus the numbers tend to fluctuate too much.

For the record - I don't really think that asking that a paragraph be at least 5 sentences is too much to ask. First, it's requirement in most middle schools and second, these freshmen won't graduate without doing it on the WASL. They take it next year - and if they don't pass within 3 times, they don't graduate, period. Do not collect $200 dollars, do not bother to finish high school. Whether or not the courts decided this state legislation is too harsh or unconstitution, discriminatory, whatever, can not be my concern. I can't gamble with their fu…
According to student gossip, my class is hard. I actually expect that reading will be done as homework and assignments are completed - there are a lot of assignments. I teach literary vocabulary and expect that students use it and use it correctly. I demand paragraphs that include at least 5 sentences and refuse to give full credit for those that are not even if the answer is correct. I demand that students speak properly, are nice to each other and make them wash (and sandpaper) all desks if they swear in class. I don't suffer fools or lazy ejits gladly. The list goes on and adds up to me being a total hardass bitch.

This has also resulted in what appears to be somewhat of a flight from my classes. My afternoon classes are frightfully small. I know I should be grateful and just shut up about it - but there are also teachers who have 30+ students for the same class, same period. So then my mind starts working over time. Should I dumb these afternoon classes down? Or all the classe…

The Hero's Journey

My freshmen started reading The Hobbit on Monday. We got into the "hero's journey" today and for the first time I think the short lecture went well. At least they copied the notes down from the overhead and asked questions that were related to the topic while I was talking. (of course, I had one student ask rather rudely why I hadn't just copied the notes for them - so he could read another book while I was talking. I wonder why I hadn't thought of that?!?! Possibly because the point was to listen?)

Afterwards, they all made a "travel journal" to summarize as they read. I made the mistake of saying they could "teabag" the books to make them look more authentic - who can remember all the vulgar slang language? After the laughing subsided and one student told me what it meant, I changed to "antique." Of course, that meant a full explanation... not "antique" with flour, "antique" with a teabag. Damn slang!

The Sophomor…