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Showing posts from April, 2005

What does this really say?

Your Linguistic Profile:

40% Yankee
35% General American English
10% Dixie
10% Upper Midwestern
5% Midwestern

What Kind of American English Do You Speak?

It's interesting in that having been raised in an area of the country know for it's non-accent, I apparently have a linguistic one. Until I left WA, I never realized there was a "newscaster accent" or rather a lack of one so that it's non-offensive and easily understood by every listener... that's just the way everyone talks.FWIW - today is the last day of WASL hell. I'm really beginning to hate this test and honestly, so are the students. It will be interesting to see the scores on this final science portion. The state has mandated a set schedule to prevent cheating, so the students have been testing every day for two weeks. Needless to say, boredom has set in.


You’re stuck inside Fahrenheit 451, which book do you want to be? The Secret Garden... I think children's books got the short end of the stick in this story, plus it's an excellent story and many a child became a "reader" after having sat and read it.Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character? Sadly, yes... from a romance novel no less.The last book you bought is? Around the World in 80 Dates It was a really funny and interesting book and I desperately needed some light reading over Spring Break.What are you currently reading? Horace's Compromise - The Dilemma of the American High School - yes I am a geek, but the discussions written are pretty interesting. I would love to sit down and have one at my school.Five books you would take to a deserted island?

Pride and Prejudice
Any book by Marian Keyes
The Tao of Pooh
Songs of Innocence, Songs of Experience - William Blake

Improving Reading Skills

Our school is looking for ideas to improve reading skills among the students (who isn't right?), specifically programs or ideas on sparking increased reading comprehension and vocabulary integration across the entire curriculum. I'd like to have examples from other schools to present to a committee to get the ball rolling on some positive ideas. (look at this... I've already become a school politician, you know what I'm really saying)

Any suggestions or helpful links would be greatly appreciated. Most of the time I find really interesting ideas lurking on a school website, buried under several pages of "RAH! RAH!" and weather/school closure information. Specifically interested in reading strategies to improve comprehension and retention of information ... from a free source. Alas, we have little to no money for this. It's still the Bush years, go figure.

Moving on?

I've spent most of the weekend thinking about the possibility of moving back to NYC. Part of me says "do it - life would be so much more happier," and the other half says "you're not 21 anymore, stop moving around and start being a grown-up." Although I am slightly horrified at the thought of classroom management for a city/school system that doesn't really support it, the decision isn't really about teaching. It's all about life style.

Can I afford to buy an apartment in the city? No. In fact, I could barely afford to rent an apartment on my own... plus there's all those grown up things to worry about, like retirement; caring for my parents; being close to family. Then again, do I really want to live in an area with little to no diversity and all the positive aspects that come with it? What about friends? Sadly, even after 3 years, most live in NY... Washingtonians are friendly, but not all that warm.

It doesn't help that my family reacte…

pithy title here

I'm sure I should post something fascinating... but the only thing I can think of is that there are approximately 40 days of school left. I'm really hoping that I can get everything I want to do squeezed in somehow...

I handed out portfolio prep sheets on Thursday. I've been telling students all along to save their papers, wrote it on the board, offered space in my filing cabinet for them - and still had students freak out because they hadn't saved anything. I reduced the requirement for a complete portfolio to 66% of listed assignments for completeness and multiple optional assignments, plus makes ups... still had a student practically collaspe in fear of failure. What is so hard about saving work? My faith was restored when many students told me that they had at least 66% of listed assignments after a frantic search of their backpacks. Yup, that's the real reason they're so heavy... they don't throw anything away.

Sidenote: was offered a teaching contract …

Mad Kissin' Like Crazy

The Balcony scene for Romeo and Juliet... I showed both movie versions in class for a comparison/contrast in the different interpretations. The students are creating their own interpretations via cartoon sketches. Telling them they can only use short quotes from the text along with pictures to depict the scenes has more students pouring over the words of than I've ever scene. Plus they've discovered the discerning lack of stage direction - but asked to go beg the drama teacher to put on Romeo and Juliet for next year's play. I still can't figure out why they're so into Shakespeare and hated everything else... Am I doing something different? Are they looking at it as a right of passage? The last step to obtaining a Driver's License? How do I replicate it?

Anyways, back to the movie scenes - the 1968 version of passionate kissing stunned the students. Well, maybe stunned isn't the right description... stupified until they collapsed into hysterical laughter. Th…

The End of Spring Break

I've done so much thinking and pondering this week, my brain should be a little frazzled. It's not - it's still running in three different directions.

Yesterday I sat in a coffee shop planning out the rest of the year. There are only eight more weeks left, after subtracting various testing days and crossing the last week of school. Eight weeks... two months... to cram in what still needs to be taught (and figure out what exactly that is??), to move my students into positive path for the upcoming year. A lot of reflection is going on and some waking up in the middle of the night worrying that I haven't done enough...

I've also been evaluating options for next year. Should I take the day off to interview for a teaching job in NYC? I miss the city and my friends horribly... (thank goodness for cheap cell phone packages! My phone bills would be enormous without them). For that matter, do I even have an interview? I keep getting these notices from the NYCDOE asking me to …

Spring Break Update

So far, I've:

Cleaned my apartment and dirtied it up againActually cooked several meals without using the microwaveRe-arranged the furnitureRead a book, working on a 2ndwent to the gym twice!paid all my bills and discovered that I'm totally broke, again.Started writing a book. The idea just came to me yesterday - I'm waiting for reaction from selected friends.Should I do laundry or head out shopping? I really need some rain gear (because it hasn't stopped raining since last Wednesday, March 30th!) and I was thinking of going out to Cape Flattery. I've heard it is incredible.


Regarding the Dog and Pony show entry and Jenny D.'s comment:

I guess I didn't make it very clear - the extra crap is in variations of how technologically savy the user needs to be. For example "drag and drop" vs. "click three buttons, while simultaneous praying that the computer doesn't crash." types of features.

I am little confused about this worry Jenny D. has about "bad teachers" and how a textbook will protect a child from the bad teaching. Obviously, there are bad teachers - just like every profession. But the concern of a good textbook being a saftey net makes it seem like every school has dozens lining up outside the staff lounge to a smoke break every chance they get. I don't really think there are so many "bad teachers" out there. Besides the fact that are several more interesting ways to be educated in the humanities that a textbook. If Maria Montessori is right, the student will gravitate to those areas long before rea…

Lost Link and Help

Somewhere in the blogsphere I stumbled across a link to "mr. Frodo" or something like that - an online site for teen poetry, essays, etc... but I lost it! If anyone out there has the link can you email it to me? I'd really, really appreciate it!

Also, I'm planning a new weekly assignment for my classes - simply having them write something to be turned in on Tuesdays. Genre is nos-specific, the point of which is to get them to enjoy writing, get some points and having something for their portfolios (many students have saved nothing all year long, despite my entries to do so, as well as providing a repository in the my room for these assignments). I want it to be open genre-wise so that the students can choose something they're good at or are at least captures their interest in the hopes of actually getting something turned in prior to June. The problem I'm having is coming up with a rubric. If there aren't some sort of ground rules the only readable things …

nos es attero nostrum ipsemet

(I make no guarantee on the latin translation)

Reading Romeo and Juliet with students gives rise to many interesting conversations. It also leads to daily shocks about how little knowledge is being passed on in the educational system... We came came to the line "Like a rich jewel in an Ethiop's ear." The students got the meaning, but the not the context. In asking for a definition of Ethiop - I got Blackhawk Down definition. If you haven't seen the movie, just let me say it wasn't all that flattering. What they couldn't understand was how this Ethiopean got a rich jewel. In their minds, Ethiopia is a desperately poor country where everyone starves to death... if not murdered first. The fact that it might have once been a wealthy country, let alone an entire empire was about as unreal as space aliens attacking us.

Why do I write about this - besides the obvious disappointment in humanities education? Because Joanne Jacobs pointed out this article and I thought …

More textbook talk

In response to Jenny D's post last night (early this morning?):

I'm sure there could be a better textbook - but I'm not sure that it could be supported by schools, especially monetary way. Publishers offer lots of bells and whistles, but are they worth the money? Could the money be better spent on more teachers, more aides, curriculum specialists? Heck, I could even argue that it would be better spent on a self-cleaning bathroom. The greatest textbook in the history of mankind won't amount to a hill of beans to the student fixated on the fact that he/she does not have consistant access to a toilet.

That having been said, I don't think textbook publishers are "stuck in 2nd gear." They respond to what the market wants. Do we really want the publishers to be the educational dvelopers? I would hope not. I think there is a little too much emphasis on running a school like a business as it is. Schools (and hospitals) aren't businesses. We're already seein…

Dog and Pony Show

This week I sat through several textbook presentations. The tchochkis were ok - but really nothing in NYC standards... and that's about the best thing that I can say about them. The only big difference between them was a few minor elements (extra crap for utter educator morons vs. extra crap for typical educator morons) and the presentors. Some did not rank high on the presentation skills rating chart, if you want to be polite about it.

To be honest, does it really matter which textbook is chosen? Probably not. Textbooks don't teach. Any of the choices presented would be perfectly acceptable. If they weren't, all the teachers would do their jobs and make it acceptable. I wouldn't take any textbook, plop it on a student's desk and tell them to 'read and answer the questions,' never bothering to speak them again. Even the most perfect textbook won't be perfect for everyone.

In the meantime, the state of WA is taking a break in the form of Spring Break. Thi…