Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Whee hee! My heart is still racing.

It started this morning. Actually, that's not true. It started many moons ago, when Boyfriend and I kept talking about travel. He's never been out of the country, doesn't even have a passport. He also loves British history and politics, so I of course told him about the awesomeness of London, even suggested that Christmas in London would be fantastic. I bugged him and he kept forgetting and putting it off and joking that he didn't want to go anywhere anyway. I always look out for airfare deals to Europe, and so I started looking at fares to London in December.

The British Airways base price was not bad, a total of $480 roundtrip. I am a a whore for British Airways; they are by far the best flight expereince I've ever had. (Partially because I got to fly roundtrip on business class TWICE) That price didn't change for months, but I still watched out. I kept checking Kayak, because it is my new best friend.

BF finally applied for his freaking passport a couple months ago.

Last week I saw a special for BA to London, the Christmas week was down to $450. Sweet! Fantastic! That was, I think, Thursday or Friday.

When I told BF about it, he was all excited to FINALLY buy the tickets. So when we went back to check, the British Airways flight had gone up to $504! There was still a cheaper flight on American for $460, but it had an OVERNIGHT layover in Boston, of all places. Not worth it.

We decided to keep watch and if things didn't change soon, spring for the BA flight. And just GO to LONDON for CHRISTMAS.

So anyway. Back to today. Wednesdays are when all the travel e-newsletters get sent out. So I made sure to look for deals, and right away saw a blurb about New York to London for around THREE HUNDRED DOLLARS. Total!

Holy crap. I emailed BF about it after I checked it out for myself. Christmastime didn't work, but the February break dates did. $314, with taxes and all! The only downside is that it's from Newark to Gatwick. Not great, but for that price, who cares?

Ooh! Exciting!

I went on with my day, doing laundry and ironing (I have never owned an iron before; I got one a few weeks ago and finally broke it out today to dewrinkle all my button-down shirts for school)(It wasn't the first time I'd ever ironed or anything; I'm not a barbarian. I'd only ironed a little back at my mom's during college, and after that never had money or really felt the need to iron stuff). I went into school for about three hours, organizing my stuff even more. Good times.

BF and I talked a couple times, and I remembered to check again when I got home. Except that my friend Kayak told me that on the airline's site, that same fare was only $303. Un-freaking-believable!

By then the $314 fare was already gone, and the $303 fare didn't work when we put in two tickets instead of one. BF and I agreed that this deal was too incredible to pass up, and we both tried to see what we could do. So I called the airline to make sure there were two seats on those $303 flights. There were, and I took a deep breath, and booked them. There was an extra ten-dollar charge to do it by phone, but geez, who cares.

So I did it, and bought the tickets. Two to London for a complete total of $626!!! Multiple exclamation points because it's so amazing!!!

After the booking, I called BF to let him know, and I called my mom to tell her. Then I glanced at the confirmation email and almost had a heart attack--it had the wrong dates!

The airline had the automated dude who asked for departure and arrival cities, and dates. I said, "February 16th" and he said, "Okay, February 8th." I cried, "No!" But he wouldn't let me go back.

I forgot to ask the woman that I spoke with, and during all the info gathering, she never asked/confirmed the dates.

I immediately called the airline back, my heart pounding in dread. The booking woman had told me that it was non-refundable and any changes would cost $200 plus the change in fare.

Once I got a person on the phone, I quickly explained that the date was wrong, the voice guy had gotten it wrong. The first lady transferred me to a second lady. Both were very friendly and polite, and it was all taken care of. She changed the departure date to the 16th, said she would send another email with that, and it was done. I thanked her profusely and with great relief.

And a couple minutes later, the email came through with the correct dates and with no extra charges. Wow, and PHEW.

We're going to London in February!! Squee!!

Classroom Before and After

I forced myself to go to school yesterday early afternoon. I really did not want to, because I am still in complete denial that it's time for school to start again. But I've been anxious about all the things that need to be done, and I knew I would feel better after getting some of the unpacking and organizing started.


Middle: Unpacking all my desk, storage, and lesson stuff, along with the many things I've bought this summer
First I got all the library books out and into crates. They're not organized at all, but I'll have students work on that next week.
I didn't even touch the other teacher locker. I think it's all test stuff. Eh, whatever.
After: I got a semblance of order going! Hurrah! I pulled over that file cabinet and made another office nook. Pens, pencils and markers are there on the radiator, and I've got a couple storagey things on the cabinet and on the radiator. I cleaned the desk and put in some basics, not nicely or anything, just threw them in drawers. You can see that shelf on the right that is still a mess of piles, those are all my lesson resource binders. I'm going to sort through those, slowly, and store them on the shelves beneath them. Storage and organization is going to be my key this year! If I keep talking about it and thinking about it, maybe it will actually work!
I'll go in today for a bit. I'll probably start putting up some artifacts, continue with the organizing, make some progress with unpacking...See, here's part of the problem. What I've got out there is starting to come together, in terms of each storage and reach. But! There are still several boxes that need to be unpacked and put somewhere to be of good use. Argh! Too much stuff and not enough space!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Book Room: Before

See? Tons of stuff...just strewn in huge, messy, dusty piles...

Monday, August 28, 2006

School Ideas and Plans

Yesterday was my last free Sunday night. I could hardly sleep, though, with thoughts of tasks running through my head.

This year I've got some things I'm going to try and/or re-try. First, I'm really going to implement a "Reflection Table". It will be a desk separated from the rest, with reflections/action plans for the student to fill out and wait until they're ready to rejoin their classmates.

The group points (each table had an index card taped to the board; when I saw them doing something right, or doing all their homework, they got a point. At twenty five points, the table earned chocolate chip cookies from me) worked really well last year, so I want to continue that.

I do want to add class points to the mix. I'll write 5-4-3-2-1 on the board, and each time I have to stop and wait, or the class as a whole is disruptive, rude, whatever, I will erase a number from left to right. The largest number left at the end of class will be added to the class's total. The rewards will be: 25 points (ie, a week of being perfect)=five minutes of free time; 50 points=ten minutes of game time; 100 points=movie and popcorn party. Thus, each time the class reaches one of the point totals, they will have to decide whether to 'cash in' for the reward, or keep 'banking' the points for one of the bigger rewards.

Let's see. I'll have to change my library organization. This year I had an ever-growing library notebook, where each page represented a book. I must have accumulated over 500 books by now. I have either bought some (cheaply, obviously) or gotten them free through Scholastic Book Orders (ooh, my favorite! I still get a thrill seeing new books sitting, all wrapped, waiting). I saw someone's book receipts online, and I'm going to try adopting that system instead. I'll make copies of a sheet of them on bright cardstock, then cut them and put them as a bookmark in each book. When a student wants to check out a book, they'll fill out the book receipt and then give it to the library monitor, who will file it in probably a recipe file box.

Speaking of monitors, I really need to use more of them. I assigned a few jobs last year that never really materialized, and I always felt bad about it. Also, I didn't get around to rotating roles, so those same few kids had the jobs the whole year. This year I am determined to have some unofficial TAs. It's my hope that a few of my lunch girls from last year (aw, I miss them! They were so sweet and helpful too!) will come during their lunch or after school for a bit, and I'll get some of my new kids to help also. They'll help with paperwork and organization--grading things, filling in assessment information, that kind of thing--and also with the bombsite of the bookroom.

Let's see. I'm going to use the Scholastic vocabulary books, starting with 5th grade. There are plenty of words in that one that will be new to my sixth graders. Each group of words has three pages of activities, and there are 24 groups of words. Once we get through those words, I'll move them up to the sixth-grade level. Right now, I'm thinking that each week or so, I'll give them at least the first two pages. The homework will be to complete those, and then we'll talk in class, we'll find more examples, we'll possibly talk about some roots here and there. We'll definitely practice spelling, probably out loud and written. Then they'll do the third page a bit later, to reinforce. We'll review in class, and there will be a quiz. SpeSo gave a great idea, to have previous words on each test, to make sure the students are keeping on top of this vocabulary.

In addition, we'll focus on one part of speech or sentence each week. I'll start them off right away memorizing the mnemonic (Pr*tty A^rdvarks N*ver V0Te Ins!de Crumbl!ng P!nk Arenas), then introduce each of the eight parts of speech. I will of course use the excellent tool of SchoolHouse Rock, and then do extra reinforcing exercises during the week. We'll probably do the whole eight, then re-do them all, and then move into sentences and punctuation.

I'm thinking right now that the day will be divided into some kind of warm up (vocabulary, grammar, short reviews, word games, etc) for ten to fifteen minutes, and then shortened reading and writing workshops. In theory, I believe I/we may not be required to use the workshop/mini-lesson model, but for now I'll keep it as a structure. The point is that I want and need to have the extra time at the beginning, not feeling like taking the time to explain comma usage or prepositions will be eating into the "real" lesson. I want there to be time for all three. I think they'll complement each other well. At least, that's my hope.

What this means, of course, is that I really need to have my shit together each week. I'm essentially adding a third mini-lesson to do per day (in addition to reading and writing). But I have piles and piles of worksheets and workbooks for vocabulary and grammar, so it's just a matter of organization.

I haven't decided about the writing-cycle-homework yet, because I’m not sure if it is logistically possible. You know, what it does is ensure that each student can achieve the work, even if they miss a day of school. Whatever their ability level, all the students can brainstorm, organize, plan, draft, and revise and then publish. I really want to find a way to do this, because it will be clear to me, the administration, and the students as they progress in writing ability.

By January, the units I think the students will need are genre identification, nonfiction reading and writing, persuasive writing, poetry analysis, vocabulary/grammar/mechanics, note-taking, short answers, four-squares/graphic organizers that can prepare an essay, and the reading skills (inferencing, sequencing, etc).

I also REALLY need to figure out conferencing. I have yet to do real writing and reading conferences in my classroom. How do you do that, with lessons to do and students to supervise at the same time? I don’t know, I’ve never ‘gotten’ how it’s supposed to be all put together effectively and efficiently.

My first day will be pretty much like last year's, I think: fill out the contact card, find the theme, write and discuss, distribute and discuss parent newsletters. The next day, possibly two, will be for the first benchmark assessments. Then, I will start with rules and consequences, and drill procedures. Soon it'll be time for notebook set up and beginning lessons. Probably starting with genres, writing process, independent reading, etc.

Egads! The third year starts all too soon.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

My First YouTube Post

Enjoy my favorite Grammar Rock songs! You just might learn something, and you'll have a hard time getting the melodies out of your head. But that's a good thing, I swear!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Summer Fall Follies

From Lady S:

Yesterday started the Sunday of summer.

June is Friday night, so much time ahead of you. You make lists of things you need to accomplish. You start to stay up later and dress more comfortably. You are still ready to get up for work and attack the day.

July is Saturday. All day long, nothing to do, getting stuff done, but wasting some time. Staying up late, getting up late. Wearing whatever you want, eating when you are hungry, not when the clock tells you you have time. Still a whole other day to spend getting things done. All thoughts of school sort of a blur.

August is Sunday. Just before you have to go back to school. You didn’t get everything done that you needed to. Rushing around to find something to wear. Thinking about what you are going to do tomorrow. Getting to bed earlier. Gathering stuff together.

God, is this all-too-true!

I feel like the summer has whizzed by without any input from me. I don't know how or why time keeps escaping me like this! First the year, then the summer!

I am completely in denial. I have placed all my teacherly resources in several large and messy piles on my floor, in hopes that it would encourage me to actually read and use them. So far? Outlook not so good.

I've made some notes. I've thought about which things must be covered before the dreaded exam in January. I've written a welcome-back newsletter, which includes a supply list and a classroom conduct contract, as well as my email address and homework website. I've contacted agencies for the big field trip this spring. I've talked through discipline and vocabulary strategies with my ex-teacher boyfriend and educator parents. I've been shopping, as I've mentioned. Most of my spoils are still in the car, figuring that I don't actually need it sitting in my apartment, making a bigger unused mess on the floor.

But the rigorous thirty-day planning that I did last summer, the fretting, the daily dreaming and nightmaring, I haven't done this year.

That's gonna have to change, as reality of time is setting in, no matter how much I ignore it.

I'll be at school either tomorrow or Saturday. In addition to my regular classroom duties this year, I'm going to be in charge of the book room. I actually volunteered for this, because I value having resources, and the state of the book room, well, it is pitiful and disgraceful at best. So I want to help myself and my colleagues by cleaning, organizing, sorting, identifying, and then eventually sharing the wealth of the secret book room.

As of today, it is one week until everyone is officially back in school.

Which brings me to this:

From Ms M:

This year I feel like I am starting all over. Not only am I going to a new school so I don't know entirely what to expect, but I plan on doing things a lot differently than last year. ...There is still so much to think about and plan though. And, I've never done writer's workshop so I am kind of worried about that.

Next week I hope to sketch out some ideas for routines, organization and planning. The week of the 28th I plan to be in my classroom getting set up the whole week. Then the next week school starts.

I am excited for Ms M, to get a new year started, a year that should be much better and more fulfilling. I think she'll do a great job, and it'll be a good adventure, and I can't wait to hear about it.

Unfortunately, instead of seeing similar excitement or luck wishing in the comments for this post, I saw bloggers that completely ignored the post itself and shamelessly politicked, jumping back on the boo-contract wagon that, hello!, should be OVER. Yes, parts of the new contract suck, I agree. But that fight is way over and done with. The contract was ratified and put into action, and now we have to deal with it.

So just deal with it already. I'm tired of the constant whining and the vindictive compaining. Many things suck about this job, yes, and sure, venting is necessary. But there's a time and place for that, and eventually you've gotta suck it up and deal.

The issue about going into school on one's own time is NOT political. It is personal. Simple as that.

No one, especially a still-new teacher like Ms M, gives a shit about her administration in August. She, and we all, are worried about ourselves and the upcoming year.

Teachers are not required to be in the classrooms in the summer. True. And believe me, I don't want to change that.

However! Teachers do not escape the classroom just because they're not inhabiting it at the moment. Teachers get to relax and do something else (whether it's a vacation, a second job, or what have you, is up to the individual's situation), but that doesn't mean that the brain doesn't jump back to school at least occasionally.

I know that I've been having first-day-nightmares on and off for nearly a month. Every time I go shopping I end up looking at things, and thinking about things, for school. I started planning units back in June. I attended a week-long workshop on literacy in July. I have bought several piles of books and supplies for school during August.

Is this required? Of course not. Do I still do it? Absolutely.

Do I do this for the administration? For the mayor or the chancellor, to prove what a dedicated educator I am? Don't be ridiculous.

I do it for my own peace of mind, because I'm interested in education for its own sake, and for the children. Would the kids like this novel? Would I be able to help the kids learn vocabulary with this book? If the answer is yes, then I'll do it, within reason of course.

Do the kids need to see a pretty room the first day of school? Not really. Would it be nice for them to see a warm, print-rich room? Sure. So yeah, I'll do that too.

But more importantly than putting up colorful posters, I've got multiple shelves of classroom books, binders full of lessons and handouts and other resources, piles of previous good student work, odd/incomplete sets of decorations, stacks of teacher books, and bins and bags full of everyday supplies like overhead pens and paperclips.

Do the kids care about that? Decidedly not. Do I? Do I ever. I want to get that stuff unpacked and ready so that I concentrate on other, more important things.

Teachers have a billion things to do at the start of the school year. And meeting students and then teaching them is the last thing on that list. We all know that.

We have to do things like set up seating charts, prepare welcome letters, get copies made, decide on benchmark assessments, figure out our curriculum and the resources we'll use, balance the actual curriculum with the other pieces we want to get in (like spelling and vocabulary), fill out paperwork about each and every student if you're at my school, organize the classroom library, put up charts for reading, decide on a management plan and put up whatever materials that will require, organize the teacher desk and all the assorted materials in there, figure out the set up of the room, draw up conference forms, think about how in the world conferences will fit in with all the other parts of the curriculum we're supposed to have, start planning field trips and other extension activities, begin prepping gradebooks and grading programs, planning for bulletin boards, think about possible Do Now activities...

And then the students walk in the room. Suddenly we have to do or use all those other things, but now worry about memorizing names, separating problem students, effectively applying your discipline/management system, the timing of your lessons to the bell schedule, assigning and grading homework, grading classwork, contacting parents, updating homework web sites, getting to know the students as people, mediating conflict, easing student nerves, finding bandaids for recess scrapes, continuing to plan and modify lessons and curricula...

Who in the world would be crazy enough to not get that first list done with, or at least majorly started, before the second list began? Why would anyone start working before everything was all ready and neat?

Yes, teachers work hard. WE KNOW THAT. Yes, teachers don't get paid enough for their important work. WE KNOW THAT TOO. Yes, New York teachers don't "have" to be in the classroom until August 31. WE GET IT! Yes, that's earlier than ever before. Yes, that sucks. But it's time to move on!

Because what kind of teacher would we be if we didn't prepare ourselves, at home and at school? What kind of teacher doesn't prepare at all? What kind of teacher puts their irritation about the system above their actual job? What teacher ends up caring more about an abstract statement than their peace of mind and, oh, I don't know, actual students?

Come on, now.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

NY Fun!

We went to the Daily Show with Jon Stewart!

It was awesome. I arrived at the studio (well, the pavement in front of the studio) at ten to three. The doors were supposed to open at 4.45.

As reinforcements-slash-time-killers, I brought a blanket to sit on, snacks (food and beverage), and several books. People were jealous of me and my blanket, I tell you. It's good to think ahead!

The time went quickly. I listened to my iPod (did I tell you about that? The Special Someone got a shiny new video iPod a few months ago, and once he got it set up, he gave me his mini. Awesome! I love it muchly!) and read a few chapters of a great YA novel, Born Confused.

Boyfriend got there around 4.15. We played some travel Boggle and read a bit, because we didn't get inside til after 5.

Inside the studio, it was SO COLD! I put on my cardigan (I bring it every time I go somewhere, because some places go a little crazy with the AC. It wasn't enough, though. I was happy I'd brought the blanket; I wrapped it around my legs and felt more comfortable.

The warm-up dude, Paul Mercurio, was pretty funny, though he made us cheer over and over again, and it got annoying.

Soon enough, it was time for Jon Stewart! He chatted with the audience for a couple minutes, cracked some jokes, and then the show started.

The set was smaller than it looks on tv, as it always goes. The correspondent bits are done before the show, not on a side spot like I'd thought. Samantha Bee popped out to wave hello after her hilarious bit on nanobots aired.

Ooh, and Lewis Black was there to do his thing! That was a great surprise. He was talking about advertising. It actually tied in to the guest, a guy with a book called The Decency Wars. You know, I couldn't tell which side the guy was on. Should he have a side? He seemed to be talking about "their" thoughts on the excessive-censor-y right. But it wasn't clear if he actually agreed with them. Whatever. Jon's funny. He's totally one of my tv boyfriends. (Along with Wentworth Miller, although for vastly different reasons.)

So the show was great. It was a thrill to see famous funny people in person, and get a little extra face time than on tv. It was neat to be on the set, where things were happening and you could imagine yourself working there. How cool would it be just to be the guy that brings out the extra mug for the guest, and then takes it away again? Or the girl who sets out Jon's notes on the desk? Awesome.

Everything was done and over by 6.45. We went down to the Village, to return to a place we happened upon a couple weeks ago.

Gosh, I didn't mention this either. Argh! The weekend after I got back, there was a teacher blogger event on Friday, and TWO of my teammates made it there, to the Astoria Beer Garden! One moved here a few months ago for grad school, and another had just flown out to visit him.
Then, on Saturday night, our other teammate came down from New England with his girlfriend.

And so, for the first time ever, there were FOUR Fire 4 members together at once! That is a new record. It was so great! They are all wonderful people, they are my family, and I don't get to see them much. I miss them some more again. We are going to set up a real reunion for sometime next year. We hope. Wish us luck. Anyway.

We started with pizza, at Joe's favorite spot, near Washington Square. Then we ambled up the too-quiet West 4th until we hit Eighth Avenue. Right around the corner was a place called the Art Bar. It had old-fashioned round booths, and a jukebox that wasn't too loud. They served drinks and food (though none of us were hungry). There's a back room with couches and a modern version of the Last Supper.

Spe.So. and I really liked the bar. It was homey and not loud, with just the right amount of dive. We agreed to return soon. And we did so tonight, for dinner and drinks. We sat on a small sofa in the back room, snuggling and chatting. We had some tasty drinks and tastier nachos (just cheese, of course).

Next door was a place Nancy had mentioned at the Beer Garden, the Chocolate Bar. Ooh, chocolate! Can. Not. Resist! After dinner at the bar, we went there to look for dessert. They had some interesting, expensive chocolate bars, and a few shelves of assorted flavored 'truffles.' I didn't want much, and nothing expensive. I finally saw that they had gelato on their menu board, so I got a scoop of chocolate, and we got a peach truffle and a mojito truffle.

The truffles were pretty good. What wasn't good was one of the postcards advertising a new branch or something. It had an extraneous apostrophe. Something about "being grown up's". Uh-oh. Their esteem went a bit down right then.

Unfortunately, it didn't get any better. The 'chocolate gelato' was plain old chocolate ice cream!

For shame, Chocolate Bar on Eighth Avenue. For shame. Bad punctuation AND a deliberately misleading menu!

Altogether though, it was a wonderfully New York evening, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Hurrah for living in the Big Apple!

Now we're trying to decide if and when we should go see Usher perform in the show Chicago. Cool!

Monday, August 21, 2006

A Few Seattle Pictures

I've been trying occasionally to post pictures from my trip, but Blogger keeps not making the pictures actually show up. Tonight it was working, but then it stopped. So, in roughly backward order, here are a few of the shots from when me and my mom went hiking near Mt. Rainier. GORGEOUS.

The view from Kerry Park at night:
A punny Seattle landmark:
The Space Needle and the International Fountain:

There're a lot more I want to post. I'll keep trying.

And don't worry, I'm not pining over Seattle; I'm enjoying New York. In fact, last night we went to a free improv show at Upright Citizens Brigade. I was excited because Horatio Sanz and Rachel Dratch were part of the cast, and there were a couple other people from big shows. It was a funny show and I definitely enjoyed it.

Finally, A Wiki!

After making a word document with all my lesson plans and thoughts, I finally decided to make a wiki. First I had to see what exactly they looked like, though. I loved the format of Tim's wiki, and I shamelessly stole it. :)

So now I have a wiki! Whee! Check it out.

I don't have too much on there yet, but I really want to keep it up and get all my stuff up there. Fun!

I haven't explored my colleague's wikis yet, but I've got them all linked (see sidebar) and I will be looking around soon to get ideas and encouragement.

Very excited about this new tool. Other teachers, hurry up and get on this train!

Help! Who's in the UK??

While reading all of my previous blog posts, in an effort to catalog my lessons and thoughts and ideas on teaching, I saw again my Prague banana chocolate.

I decided to do a search for it online. Several months ago, there seemed to be a UK online shop that sold the chocolate, but the site didn't work.

However! Just now, I found the site again, and it worked! AND THEY HAVE MY BANANA CHOCOLATE!! I am so ecstatic, you don't even want to know. Maybe you can tell by the number of exclamation points I'm using. BANANA CHOCOLATE!!

I put TEN bars in my cart and went to check out, holding my breath.

When I scrolled down in the information section, I saw that they ONLY SHIP TO THE UK!!

Gasp! Oh no! Crisis! I must have my banana chocolate! How can I get it? Do I know anyone in the UK? Is anyone going there soon? Hell, do I know anyone who's going to Prague soon? I'll give you plenty of money to buy it and bring it back! Please!

Please help! I don't want to live without banana chocolate!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

From the Kids

This is a REALLY long post, but it's entertaining, at the least! I highlighted some of my favorite answers to the end-of-year evaluation I gave to my students.

All summer I have been quietly freaking out and worrying about this upcoming year: Will I be good enough? Will I have effective classroom management? Which things should I teach first? Will I actually teach them anything? How will I use all the books and websites that I've accumulated over the years?

So reading these evaluations (I took out a few questions for your reading convenience) did help me relax a bit: the kids had compliments and honest complaints both. It will help me prepare for this year and it will help me remember that what I've been doing has been at least somewhat effective. Phew!

I did my best to keep all their spelling quirks, so yes, they are on purpose.


What was your favorite unit that we’ve done all year? Why?
--My favorite unit was poetry. I liked poetry because it helps me express my feelings when I am happy or sad.
--Poetry, I learned to write various poetry that I never knew existed, I also got the chance to read a lot of great poetry that taught me to look beyond what I see.
--Drama because I liked acting. I also liked this unit because you could easily express yourself.
--Plays, I enjoyed acting.
--My favorite would probably be when we read in a group, since we could just read in quiet and enjoy the book w/o any interruptions.
--I think my favorite unit was the drama unit. It was fun acting out those roles. And I enjoyed the acting.
--Drama—Because it was fun getting up in front of the class and acting and also I loved advertisement because we got to act like we were really making an ad.
--My favorite unit was drama and plays because I never did it before and it was interesting and fun.
--Advertisements because I got to draw and explore the evil minds of marketers.
--Drama. I have become a better actor and now all I want to do is write plays and act out another character who is not me.
--Poetry was my favorite unit because I love poetry.
--My favorite unit was writting and performing plays (drama).
--Drama, because we did a play.
--Drama, because it was fun to do the activities and watch other people perform.
--My favorite unit was poetry, because then, we got to express ourselves in writing, and I was really good at that.
--Poetry, because I enjoyed expressing my feelings that way.
--Drama, because it was fun working in a group and getting time to rehearse for the play based on our books.
--The advertisements. I liked creating a product and making the ads because you really have to be creative and use your imagination.
--The poetry unit was my favorite because I love writing poetry.
--The advirtisment unit because we got to make our own product.
--Drama, because I love acting.
--I would say the drama unit because of how to use facial expressions to explain a situation and writing and acting out play scripts.
--I liked poetry because the only way I express myself is through poems and I like to make my poems deep. Some poems are fun and catchy while others teach a life lesson or express the way someone feels.
--Poetry was my favorite unit was I love to write and express thoughts on paper.
--My favorite unit was the drama unit because it was really fun.
--The favorite unit that I thought was the best was the plays. This was my favorite because we a lot of fun rehearsing.
--I like the poem unit. I liked it because found fun and interesting to do.
--My favorite unit was advertisement because I liked learning how there are different types of advertisements.
--My favorite unit is that drama unit because I enjoy writing and it allowed me to learn how to write a play and improve my acting.
--different kinds of poems because before I did not no other poems but when I learned I liked it.
--The media unit, because I liked making the ads.
--Poetry. This unit was the best way to show your true emotions.
--My favorite unit that we’ve done is the plays. It’s my favorite because we are allowed to express our talents.
--My favorite unit in EL @ was making advertisements I like this unit because it was artistic. I enjoy making artistic projects.
--The drama unit because we got to do a lot of plays and we built up courage if we had stage fright and it was a lot of fun.
--Poetry, because I could write about sad things without anyone questioning why!
--The dram unit because it was fun to act out people in a play.
--Poetry because it was easy.
--The favorite thing we done this year is lit circles because it help us understand things.
--Ads because that was a group project and I like to work in groups.
--My favorite? Hmm…I can’t choose! But I can choose my top 3. Poetry, plays and play writing. I enjoy making and performing plays. And poetry is a strong point.
--Drama because I like drama a lot and I think it is fun.
--Advertisement, because we got to make our own products and use 1 type of ad for it. We also got to perform our ads in class.
--My favorite unit was drama and making a play for commercials.
--My favorite unit was drama. I liked acting and being like someone else. It was fun making stories, and then acting it out.
--My favorite unit was advertisement and drama because making ads was fun and so is performing a play.
--My favorite unit was the poetry because it was fun getting to express myself.
--Poetry because I enjoyed learning to write poems better.
--I enjoyed the media unit.
--Drama, because it was fun.
--The poetry unit because I liked learning different types of poetry.
--Poems I learned a lot doing poems and I liked it.
--Advertisement because it was fun thinking up the Ads it was fun learning everything about ads.
--Advertisement was my favorite because we got to learn how people get a product when saying something like buy it now.
--Reviwing the plot chart. Its kind of fun and easy.
--Poetry, because it was fun and you can express your feeling.
--Acting because I’m good at it.
--None, they weren’t all that good.
--Drama, because I have a lot of fun with groups.
--Advertisement, because when you taught us that you opened my eyes to a whole new world.
--My favorite unit was poetry. It was poetry because w e got to express our feelings and I liked that.
--The advertisement were the best because we got to make up any object we wanted.
--My favorite unit was probably advertising because I learned a lot on it.
--My favorite unit that we’ve done all year was acting out skits, and plays. They were fun and helped me express myself.
--Advertisement: because we got to learn all types of advertisement and did little shows.
--Poems because in was a challenge.
--My favorite unit that we’ve done all year is “Drama.” Because drama was fun, easy, and the work were sometimes fun to do.
--My favorite unit was the advertisements. I liked this one the most because we now have useful info that will help us later in life. We won’t be tricked by the ads, making us want to buy!
--Different types of poems because it was really easy to do and it helps me learn more.
--The figurative language because it was easy.
--My favorite unit was the poem unit because we went outside and we had to write any 2 type of poem about what you see, hear, touch and smell.
--Poems, because I felt good about writing poems and thinking about them.
--The plays (Drama) acting is fun.

What was your least favorite unit that we’ve done all year? Why?
--My least favorite unit was drama because some of the people at my table didn’t study their lines.
--Test Prep, it wasn’t exciting. Even though it is needed it wasn’t really that great. That’s probbally because it’s repentitive.
--Short stories because I hate writing stories since you have to make details—write it and carfully organize it.
--I don’t really hae one I enjoyed them all but if I had to choose it would be poetry.
--It would probably be the plot charts. I kept continuously forgetting, forgetting at least one part. Fortunately, I vividly remember it now.
--I would have to say the media unit. It was fun at first but then it got boring.
--Poetry. I didn’t like that unit because I am not a strong poet so I did not enjoy it.
--There wasn’t a least favorite to my opinion I liked everything we did, no complaints.
--My least favorite unit this year was eassy writing, not because I don’t like but, because I like everything else better.
--Literature circles. I don’t like to read to understand. But I need like learning new words but there was always a test on vocabulary.
--The unit I liked the least was the parts of speech unit if that was even a unit but it was so hard to remember.
--Reading literature I didn’t really like the books.
--Poetry, because I didn’t like it as much.
--Writing, because it didn’t interest me that much.
--Drama and play writing because I love to act and write my own plays.
--I didn’t really have a least favorite unit this year, to me, everything was enjoyable.
--Four squares because it took me a while to understand it.
--My least favorite unit was when we were learning about grammar and sentence structure because it was confusing and boring.
--Drama is very fun, but I think I’m too shy to act in front of the class. I tried to, but it didn’t really work out.
--I don’t have a least favorite, but I wish we could have done drama longer. I think I’m an okay actress, and I wanted to show my talent.
--My least favorite unit was the drama unit because everyone started fighting over little things.
--Literature circle Books, because I didn’t like none of the books.
--I didn’t like much of the descriptive language, even though I learned a few things, because the descriptive language was very easy for me to understand and I already learned most of it.
--Parts of speech because they are so hard to remember but I learned a mnemonic device. I can’t seem to find words to describe the parts of speech. But I think that I improved.
--My least favorite unit was when we had to test taking strategies because of all the strenuous work.
--My least favorite was the reading unit because I did not like the book we were assigned to read.
--My least favorite unit was the story writing/essays/foursquares. These were my least favorite because I really don’t like writing 4sq’s and essays.
--I didn’t like the advertisement unit because I felt that some of the advertisement skills were hard.
--Drama because I hate acting it is not something I am good at.
--My least favorite unit was the advertisement unit because now when I watch tv and the commercials come on, I blabber about how they are trying to get you to buy their product.
--4-square I have learned how to do it and how it can help me in a essay.
--Poetry, because I just don’t like poetry.
--I don’t have one they were all fun.
--My least favorite unit is the 4sq and essay. I did not like it because the essay is to long. And I think the 4sq is a waste of time.
--My least favorite unit was poetry. I think that was my least favorite because even through I like poetry, I think we spent a long time on it. I got bored of it.
--The test prep units because I think it was kind of boring having to prepare for tests that we already knew how to take.
--Writing essays because it was very boring and I felt that 4 squares are not good organizers to write essays.
--Part of speech because it is boring also it was hard to merize all of them.
--Sure, I learned some new stuff.
--The least favorite thing that we did was poems because they didn’t seem fun or educated.
--I actually don’t know it might be plays because I am a little bit of shy.
--Oh, that’s easy! The one where we had to read those [lit circle] books. I like choosing the books I read myself.
--Test prep. Because all of it was boring and it went on and on.
--Author study, we had to write a biography on an author and a resume.
--My least favorite unit was learning about the parts of speech. That was a little boring.
--The review for the test. It was no fun and I think it useless for future life except school.
--My least favorite unit was practicing for the state tests. I hated writing essays, doing multiple choice and short responses.
--My least favorite was the advertisements because they were kinda hard.
--I’m not really sure. It may be figurative language and parts of speech, because we did them so many times.
--I didn’t like the unit when we were preparing for the test.
--Nemonic devices because it was to confusing.
--Test prep because I already know how to take NYC/NYS tests and I don’t like learning it again.
--The book vocab set I didn’t like it because I had to write a lot.
--The play unit because I wouldn’t like to act.
--Play writing was my least because that wasn’t my thing.
--The momonic device because its hard to memorise.
--When we did reading, because it was kind of boring, but at the same time I learned something.
--Short stoies because I wasn’t that good.
--All I just dident like them.
--Reading, I don’t know why, I’m just not a reader, unless I pick the book I like.
--I didn’t have a least favorite thing because you kept the activities fun.
--I think my least favorite was well I don’t really think I had a least favorite.
--My least favorite was reading because we had to make inferences.
--My least favorite unit was with the 4-square and essay. I learned about it but I didn’t enjoy it.
--Reading was my least favorite. We were quiet and I felt like a prisoner, but it was okay.
--Drama=because I’m not a good actress. I think because I start to get butterflies in my stomach.
--The parts of speech.
--The least favorite unit was poem unit because I had poems to write everyday for homework, it was for weeks and it was annoying and I had enough of it.
--Literature circles.
--I actually liked all the units because we all now that from each one of these units would benefit us for next year. This means I enjoyed all the units because I had to know them later, so it helps me then.
--My least favorite was author biography and resumes because it was to much to do and hard to do.
--The multiple choice questions because they were hard.
--My least favorite unit that we’ve done this year was the plays because I don’t like to perform in front of so many people in one room.
--Figurative language, because I could never remember what half of them mean.
--Reading groups. Boring…

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best:
Give yourself a grade for this year. Explain.

--9. A the beginning of the school year I didn’t do my homework everyday but in the middle of the year I started to get more serious.
--9. I behaved. However I didn’t put everything into my work. I could’ave done better.
--8. I missed a homework or two.
--5. ½ and ½ because I think I didn’t do good but at the same I thought I did well.
--8. I usually do extremely well on tests, getting at least a 90. Almost every homework I did was given a 4, or a 3 here and there.
--7. I think I could of done better with HW. But I think I did fine in the others.
--7-8 Because compared to all the other EL @ years I think that I have improved a lot more. But not exactly a 10 yet because I’m not perfect in EL @.
--6.5. I had a strong start then my grades went down but I managed to pass so I’ll say a 6.5.
--8. I’m excellent at almost everything except for a few flaws here and there.
--8. I got good grades and some I could have worked harder on.
--8. I could and should have put more effort in my work.
--7. I did most of the work and passed a lot of tests.
--5, because sometimes I do good and sometimes I do bad.
--8. I did very well but I still could’ve improved.
--7. I would have to say a 7 because I am good at critically analyzing stories and writing but on tests I don’t always study.
--8. I know that I did good, and I know that sometimes my grades were a little low, but I still believe that it’s going to be better there.
--3, because I had some downs.
--7. I would rate myself a 7 because I tried my best in this class but I wish that my grade would be above the 95 I got because I know some of the assignments I handed in could be better.
--8. Because I think I worked hard in most units but probably not hard enough. I think I could have worked harder, but I did pretty good.
--7. I did not do All of my homework, but I improved on this.
--8. I gave myself a 8 because I wasn’t the best in EL @ but I tried very hard, and I think trying is as close you can get to being best.
--8. There were some days I missed that could’ve effected my knowledge.
--8. I couldn’t give myself a 10 because if I did that I would be a perfect student, but I’m actually 2nd or 3rd best, since I work hard most of the time and I study few times in EL @. Another reason I wouldn’t give myself a 10 is because I never got a student of the month in EL @.
--8. because I participate, I think just enough I do all of my homework, if I don’t I make it up the next day, and do all of my classwork.
--8. I think I did good this year because I have improved my English.
--8. I would give myself this because I did all my homework, classwork and participated but my grades on tests weren’t very good.
--I’d give myself an 8 because at the almost end of the school year I tried harder and didn’t play around as much.
--6 because I did ok but I need to put in more effort in my work.
--6. I have improved this year but then there are things that have weakend and I am not proud of that.
--8. I give myself an 8 because I could have done better.
--7. I am giving this grade because I think I have did better through out the year.
--9. I didn’t hand in all my homework and I talked to much.
--8. At first I was a slacker then I realized my grade reflected it so I then became the best pupil I could be.
--7. I give my self a 7 because I participate and I pass all my tests but I didn’t do all the homework during this year.
--8. There are still some skills that I need to improve on like with grammar.
--5. Because I could’ve done better and I could’ve gotten better grades.
--8. I feel that because I was bored a lot I didn’t do the best I could do, because I didn’t pay close attention to the work given.
--I would give myself an 8 because I did good but not great I have good grades I do not talk back at the teacher so I give myself an 8.
--10. Because I tried my best in everything.
--7. Because I tried my best and did everything I could do to pass.
--7. I didn’t accomplish what I wanted to do.

--9.8. I’ve got everything going great, but no one’s perfect. I’m not always on time and I don’t get everything right.
--8-9. Because I didn’t do great but I didn’t do horrible. So between 8 and 9 is a good grade.
--8. I have done well but not great I did not try my hardest or study my best. I have some incomplete HW as well.
--8. I say 8 because I think I did alright and good but not perfect.
--8. I did not do a lot of work but I tried my best.
--8. I did most of my homework and I got good grades on tests.
--I would give myself a 9 cause I did my class work, it was just some of the homework that I didn’t do.
--6. I could have done much better.
--8. I got good grades, did all my homework but I got caught talking once in a while.
--6. Cause I talk a lot and need more help.
--6. I did my work but sometimes I missed assignments.
--7. This year I did good but I could have been better.
--4. I didn’t do all book reports.
--7 because I could of done my homework more and need to pay more attention.
--6. I’m failing EL @.
--9. I could do better, and I still need to learn more things.
--5 because sometimes it was fun or not.
--3. Did not do some homework.
--8. I haven’t put my all.
--5. Because I didn’t do well for most of the quarters.
--7. I say 7 because I didn’t really do the homework that much and that really decreased my grade.
--9. The reason I gave my self a nine is because I could have did better.
--7. In the beginning of the year I was kind of struggling, but I gotten better.
--8. I gave myself that because I still haven’t excelled enough in EL @. I want to do better.
--9. I worked very hard this year but I wasn’t perfect.
--8.5. I say this because I did all of my homework and classwork.
--I give myself an 8. Because I still need to improve better and work more and better.
--8. Even though my grades fell I still worked hard to bring them back up. So, I have improved and was earlier and less absent.
--9. I think this because I always try my best and my test grades are good as well as my grade I have received on my report card. I think I am always trying hard and staying on task.
--8. I could work hard and do all my work but I could just push myself more often.
--8+. I worked very hard but could have did better.
--7. I gave myself a 7 because I did all my work and I did not get into troble. That is why I gave myself a seven.
--4.5. for being good at first but then slowing down.
--7. I didn’t work that hard in the beginning and if I know an answer I’ll raise my hand once in a whiel.

Give the teacher a grade for this year Explain.
--8. We only had one party and we still did work 4 days before our summer vacation. We also got a summer packet.
--10. She did everything a teacher needs to do. She explain everything deeply and she went through and review all the topics. Basically 2 thumbs up.
--7. Sometimes she got really angry.
--10. She was the best I think that she took time to help she even gave us her email and IM address for help.
--9. She made sure each and every student in the class understood the lesson before going on. If they didn’t, she would just try to say it in a different way. She never yelled.
--8. Because she was a great supporter. The only reason she is not a 10 is because she is very strict, which is good but I don’t like strict that much.
--8. Because Ms is a good teacher. So I think she diserves an 8 but she isn’t exactly perfect either.
--10. She taught me completely new things. She taught me to read and write more. She also taught me to summarize what I read. She also taught me media, parts of speech, four square, figurative language, plot chart, notetaking skills, test taking skills, resumes, character traits, new vocabulary, and that we should be excellent!
--9. She is a great teacher and all but, sometimes she is unable to correctly answer my questions.
--She helped with the work and really helpful and always got the job done so I rate her a 4.
--9. In the beginning of the year she was intimidating to me but once I saw that she wasn’t an evil robot to steal my happiness she became pretty cool.
--7. It wasn’t to hard to do the work and I did the best that I could do.
--10, because when I needed help she helped me.
--7. Most of what she did was interesting but there were too many tests.
--I would say a 10 because Ms was a really good teacher she was tough but fair and at times we could play boggle and apples to apples but she was always a great teacher.
--10. Ms was a really good EL @ teacher, she always knew what she was talking about, and she did a great job explaining everything to me.
--4, because she helped us a lot.
--5. I give the teacher a 5. Although she taught us a lot this year, she always seemed irritated and would yell at us which is why I gave her a 5.
--9.5. Ms is a fantastic teacher and she taught me things that I never knew. She knew how to make boring units fun to learn, for ex .she showed us something on a tv to teach us the parts of speech.
--10. I wish I could give 20, but I can’t. Ms has a way of making things simple and knows how to keep us interested.
--9.5. I gave Ms a 9.5 because she was very detailed and supportive. Like she would help us give a idea and all. (--But sometimes too serious (sorry!!))
--10. The teacher made everything perfectly clear, and understandable.
--Ms has a way of silenting the class. Most times she’s nice when my class and I play games with her. She gives compliments to students who have great answers. She’s also not too strict or too nice, she’s in between.
--10. My teacher was the best, she helped me when I needed it and she explained things thoroughly. The weird thing is that I liked the part where she was strict, that shows discipline.

--8. Ms is a good teacher and will help you in most cases if you need it.
--9. I would give Ms a nine because she is a really good teacher. But, she is not perfect. No one is perfect. I think she is too strict when she doesn’t need to be.
--The teacher deserves a 9 because she thought us a lot. I she did her best so this is why she deserves a 9.
--9. I learned a lot this year than I learned in any other year.
--8. My teacher taught well and we could understand what she taught.
--10. I say 10 because Ms taught me so much.
--8. I give this because I did not learn a lot before but now I understand a lot more.
--8. She was a little strict on everything being perfect.
--9. She used her ability to be fierce to her advantage. Her voice was just enough to get you on task.
--8. I give Ms this grade because she is a great teacher she teaches a lot. But Ms can be rude at some points through out the school year.
--9. I sometimes feel intimidated. When I don’t understand something, I am always afraid to ask a question.
--10. Because she was the best EL @ teacher I’ve had and she actually helped me to learn and she put a lot of effort and time into her lessons.
--8. I feel that things could have been done a lot less or if you are repeating something so many times change how you are doing it.
--I give her a 10 she is great she could yell a lot but she taught use ever thing we neede to know so I give her a 10.
--4. She’s really boring.
--10. She did everything to help us move to the next grade.
--9. She was a very good teacher and she would give us extra credit to catch up on our work.
--9.9. Like I said, no one is perfect. No offense Ms, but you crack some lame jokes. >.<

--9. Because you made some mistakes. But you were a pretty good teacher.
--7. She taught us many things we didn’t know and made us behave.
--6-7. She was funny at times.
--6. The teacher was okay but she could have been much nicer to us.
--9. I learned a lot and I had a lot of fun. We did exciting units which some classes didn’t get to do.
--I would give her a 9 cause she is a good teacher but she yells too much.
--10. Ms did a great job. She has been lots of help, to me and the class.
--8. She did her job, controlled the students well and she was mean at times, well mostly.
--9. Because she did her best in putting up with us.
--9.5. Ms was nice but when we upset her, she’d yell.
--10. She was a great teaching and I learned a lot from her.
--9. I didn’t like doing all the projects because it felt like we only had a little time to do it.
--9. Miss was a great teacher that why I gave her a 9.
--10. She helped me understand.
--8. I think she did a good job, and she try her best to teach us.
--1 because she takes points of for no reason at all. (says the student who talks and does no work!!)
--2. Because she did what she had to do.
--10. She’s done what she’s supposed to, even with rude students.
--10. You were a great strict but great.
--9. I say 9 because she did teach us mostly everything but it was kinda boring.
--10. You were a good teacher and even if you were mean you still was a good teacher.
--9. She always did the lessons good and she taught me a lot.
--9. She’s taught me a lot. A little rough but that’s just to encourage people.
--10. I gave my teacher a 10 because she worked very hard with us and when she knew we couldn’t do it she didn’t put a fuss up.
--9. I say this because she helped us stay focus when we were doing classwork or a test.
--I give my teacher a 10. Because she had been great and had help me a lot in EL @, Because my work was not that good before.
--7. Her teaching was good but anytime I would come in late I would to hate to have to come to her class because I knew she’d be mad. So, I would get mad, even though she has a right to be mad, this is just how I feel.
--10. Ms. has been great! She teaches in a way where you want to listen and learn. I think from all Ms’s help, I’m ready for 7th grade EL @.
--8. Knows how to teach and knows how to explain the lesson.
-- -1. She is very mean and takes points off for no reason like if she gave directions and you ask about them. Or if you laugh.
--10. I gave the teacher a 10 because she had a goal to reach and reached.
--9.5. for being exciting and proffesoinal and also showing EXCELLENCE.
--9. She was fun and all but some lessons were kinda boring.

If you had a brother/sister/cousin coming into this class, what advice would you give them?
--I would tell them to do all there work and don’t slack off.
--Stay in line and if you do well you will get rewards.
--Always do your homework.
--Don’t get Ms. mad and do all of your HOMEWORK!
--Just follow directions, be quiet if told to, and you’ll be fine.
--Don’t get on Ms’s bad side. Her bite is worse than her bite.
--To do all their homework because let say that you don’t understand something completely doing your homework helps you figure it out so much better.
--I would tell them to not slack. I also would tell them Ms expects excellence and the grade you get is the grade you earned. I would tell them to study a lot, put your full potential into your work, and pay attention in class.
--I would say be as perfect as possible.
--Always focus on the work and focus in class leave the play time for outside. Be prepared and ready to learn. --I would tell them to pay attention do both homework and extra credit, be polite, and don’t judge your teachers too fast, leave space for changes.
--Do your work.
--Be prepared.
--Don’t make fun of Ms and pay attention.
--I would tell them to study do their homework on time and always behave.
--I would just tell them that Ms will always “EXPECT EXCELLENCE” and, not to fool around.
--Pay close attention.
--My advice to future 6th graders in this class is not to do things that will get you in trouble, don’t chew gum, make sure your phones are off, and most of all, don’t ask stupid questions unless you want to get yelled at. In addition, do your homework and other assignments completely and on time.
--I would tell them to listen and do their best and put 100% effort in their work because if they don’t, they’ll regret it later on.
--Expect Excellence! And do nothing but the best.
--The advice I would give them you have to try your best and you can’t pass with class like a brezze.
--Try hard to be in a SP class.
--At all times be on Ms’s good side not her bad and listen carefully. Also be the best you can, give her excellence.
--I would say pay attention at all time and do your work (homework) and participate and don’t be a class clown or get on the teacher’s bad side.
--I would say to them that they are in for a surprise!
--I would tell them to be quiet when Ms or anyone is talking. I would also tell them to show respect too her or if you don’t you will pay the consequences.
--Just listen and follow directions and do your homework.
--I would say to practice everything you learned and to put more effort.
--Do your homework, study your notes, and that is about it.
--Advice I would give is do all your homework, pay attention in class, and behave. And don’t chew gum in class.
--My advice will be that listen to the teacher and do you work.
--Write neat, and don’t make Ms mad don’t talk in class.
--I would say every assignment must be done with effort. I would also say if the teachers not there she’s always there so don’t try to away with mis-behaving.
--Don’t get on her nerves. Pay attention and DO ALL HW.
--I would tell them to always pay attention in class.
--I would say to always listen to your teacher and don’t try to plagerize something. Also that you should believe in yourself and get good grades.
--Just do all of your homework and pay attention even if you become bored.
--I would say to them be good and to expect excellence and do lots of studing.
--Don’t forget to copy the homework.
--Do your best in show the best u can do. Do all your work. Listen to the teacher and show excellence.
--Read, read, and read.
--Stick to me like glue, give me some personal space though and do don’t anything stupid.
--Don’t fool around and do your best. Because Ms expects EXCELLENCE!
--I would start teaching them parts of speech. I would tell them to listen, study and participate.
--I would tell them to do their work, and they’ll be fine.
--Try to do your work and finish it before the due date.
--Do all your work and homework. Study hard for tests.
--Don’t get on Ms’s evil side.
--Follow all the rules or your in trouble. Listen to Ms and do as you’re told and you will find her to be a great teacher.
--Be careful of what you do because the teacher will get on your case for the least things.
--Do homework.
--Just do all your work and help out and then it’ll be fun because you get to do activities if you do assignments.
--The advise I give is respect, do you homework, and keep on working harder till you reach the top.
--I would tell them they should pay attention. I would tell them they should do their book reports and work.
--Don’t talk if the teacher doesn’t tell you. To pay attention.
--Do your homework and pay attention.
--To do the right thing, and to do their work, and make sure they don’t get in trouble.
--be good.
--Always be poliate and do your work.
--Do the HW, and read a lot. And play football outside a lot of football.
--To always stay on Ms’s good side. Always do the work and don’t slack off.
--Don’t be bad and do you work. Last but not least don’t get Ms mad.
--I would tell them that the teacher gives you great information, you just have to try to understand it and enjoy it.
--I would say, behave in class, do what she says and have fun. But not too much fun…you’ll get in trouble.
--I would tell them to stay focus and pay attention. You don’t know when a test is nearby.
--Just do all of your work and stay focus in class.
--My advice to a brother/sister/cousin who are coming into this class is work really hard to achieve on a high level student in this class because this is a little hard.
--Stay on task, do all your homework, don’t talk during class, unless it’s group work, try your best!
--Do all work in class and homework at home and behave at school.
--I would tell them to work very hard.
--If I had a brother/sister/cousin coming into this class, the advice I would give them was open your eyes and ears and shut your mouth.
--Never be afraid to ask questions about work or lessons.
--Pay Attention! And Don’t goof off.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

How They Grow So Fast!

I'm talking about money, not children, unfortunately.

As of this afternoon I have officially spent $212 on teaching supplies!
--$97 at Staples for pens, pencils, staples, a new turbo stapler, stickers, etc (Once again I will give each child a pen and a number two pencil, so they *should* always be prepared regardless of their shopping budgets)
--$57 at Half-Price Books for, well, books (plus those two software programs I mentioned)
--$35 on for more books (and the fourth was Scaredy Squirrel!)
--$13 at Barnes & Noble for yet more books (a vocabulary workbook and two $3 novels--Chasing Vermeer and The Library Card by Jerry Spinelli)
--$10 at Costco for an electric pencil sharpener

Holy Crap!

Please note the date: August 19--More than two weeks before I will actually see any children.

Another Note: There are at least two more books I want to buy online: The children's book version of Eats, Shoots & Leaves, and another excellent book called Punctuation Takes a Vacation. That's another fifteen to twenty bucks, depending on new/used.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Books I've Bought Very Recently, Or Why Teachers Are Poor But Have Interesting Libraries

I bought them at used bookstores in the Seattle area and had to ship them back here to New York. I finally picked up the parcel today. I'm really excited!

One of them is a Read-Aloud book: over ninety ten-minute excerpts from children's classic novels. Sweet!

Another is called "Manners." On the cover and the inside lining, there are little comic strips. The first is a situation, like someone dropping something. Then four panels show possible ways to react to that situation, one of which is by using manners. I will definitely use this with my sixth-grade students. And after we discuss manners, what they are, when to use them, when you've experienced good or bad manners, they can write their own comic panels about manners! Fun, right?
I also picked up a civil-rights book, a Martin Luther King, Jr book, a book about Japanese-American children in WWII, and an American Indian myth book (by the INCREDIBLE Jane Yolen). I got these because I want to get as many non-white-people-filled books in my room as possible. And they're rather difficult to find. If anyone has suggestions or titles that include "multilogicality" that work well in the classroom, I'd love to hear about it!

I found three books at Value Village, popular novels which are already in my classroom library. At less than a dollar each, I decided to get these for extra copies.

You might be able to see the two software boxes in the top row. One is a SpongeBob SquarePants typing program, and one is a SchoolHouse Rock Grammar Rock game. SWEET!

Oh, and yet another book I'm really excited about, there on the right. It's called Stop, Look, Write. It's all photographs! The point is to use these pictures as a way to inspire writing other than boring prompts like "What is your favorite animal?". I've done this before, with a black and white calendar of New York City, but some are more potent with stories than others. So here is a whole book with ripe photos!

Additionally, I picked up a two-dollar copy of the movie Willow. At first it was just for me, but then I realized that I bet the kids would love it, and they probably won't have seen it before. Live-action adventure movies, that aren't rated R? Yes, they do exist!

All these items costs a total of about $55. Not too shabby!

And, um, I bought four more books on last night. Another Jane Yolen book (Ballad of the Pirate Queens), a Ralph Fletcher novel (Fig Pudding), a Chris Van Allsburg book (Two Bad Ants), and something else that I can't remember. That was $35 including shipping. Excellent!

Phew! All better.

Yesterday evening we changed my tire. It was fun! Like I said, I hadn't done it in four years, but it came back pretty easily. Except for doing a couple things backward. When I finally deigned to look at the instructions on the trunk panel, I saw that jacking up the car first was a mistake. I forgot that you're supposed to loosen the lugnuts first. Oops. But other than that, it was successful and fairly quick. Like, half an hour. We got some dirty hands for our effort, which is awesome.

Look how goofy my spare tire looks! Tee hee!

Once I was up and about this morning, I drove slowly and with flashers to the car place where I'd spend two hours last Thursday. The front desk guy is my buddy now. They were able to patch and inflate my tire, and I was away again in no time. Hurrah!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Time and Money are Overrated


August has been my most expensive month for three years running. The first time, I was moving AND preparing for teaching. The second time, I visited Seattle and drove across the country, and was preparing for teaching. This time, I visited Seattle, am preparing for teaching, AND my car is suddenly acting its age.

The Eagle-Eyed Commenter was correct last month: the starter needed replacing on my car. I went to Midas last Thursday to get it looked at. Along with an oil change, that ran me $350. Yikes.

Just after noon today, I set out for the depths of Brooklyn to see a dermatologist for a one o'clock appointment. It took nearly an hour, as I had suspected, because the directions had me driving through the streets. I'm still a bit bitter, but almost used to this kind of thing. What I'm NOT happy about and am SURELY bitter about is waiting for OVER an hour and a half to see the doctor!

I had time to read the entirety of EW's Fall Movie Preview Issue, AND get through almost a chapter of a book about Writing About Reading.

The docter herself was fairly nice, but she didn't actually do anything other than ask three questions and write four prescriptions. Eek.

As I'd recognized the area as near the place I picked up a bed back in April, I checked my atlas and sure enough, saw the Belt Parkway just down the street. Sweet!

I easily got on the freeway, and even enjoyed the view of the sandy dune beaches. Then I got to the Van Wyck, made it through the slowing, and arrived in my neighborhood.

As I slowed and parked, I heard a noise. It sounded like some kind of lawn thing, a hissing or whoosing. Hm, I thought. I got out of the car and the hissing continued. Just for kicks, I walked to the other side of the car, where the sound got quieter.

I walked back to the driver side door, the sound got louder again. I bent down, it got louder still, and then I discovered the hissing HOLE in my TIRE.

Oh, shit.

I actually ran up and around the corner to the hardware shop. The guy sold me that sealant-in-a-can, and I ran back down to the car, "vigorously shaking" the can. By then the tire was completely down to the ground. I put the thing in the thing and pushed the button. Beige liquid ran through the tube, for awhile, but nothing else seemed to be happening. I sat there holding down the button for a few minutes. It didn't seem like anything was happening, so I stopped.

Then I felt that the can still wasn't empty, so I re-shook it and tried again. I thought the tire was re-inflating a bit, but the hissing had most certainly not abated. Soon the can was empty and I gave up.


I'm glad that Special Someone is coming over to visit tonight anyway. Changing a tire solo is not fun or easy. More people make it smoother if not exactly easier. I haven't done it for four years, and I haven't ever really explored my car's trunk to see how it's arranged. I'm assuming there's a spare in there. I know the jack is.

Regardless, I'm going to have to get at least one or two new tires. Those are not cheap. Several hundred dollars again.

Add that to not only the previous $350, but the $50 at Half-Price Books back in Southcenter (how I wish they were out here!), and the $97 at Staples the other day, and I am going to be a poor third-year teacher. Here I was all excited about the pay increase, but apparently that's going to go for car maintenance instead!

Now, I must say, in all fairness, that my car has always been great for me. It's never given me big problems, I've never had to even jump the battery. I haven't needed any big repairs on something that wasn't my fault (a couple years ago, the car skidded over some ice and up onto a sidewalk, messing up an axle or two, and some other undercarriage things). And the gas mileage is great: nearly thirty mpg in city and nearly forty on the highway. So it's about time that an eight-year-old car costs me some money.

I just wish I had some more money to spare! Thank god for credit cards.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Fun New Toy!

Today I got TiVo! Well, the generic DVR by TimeWarner. But still! Whee!

My mom has TiVo but no cable, since she's always out and about in the evenings. She records things like Grey's Anatomy and Sex and the City, and her soap opera. I watched a couple shows with her and on my own, and I was entranced at the idea of recording so easily, and being able to fast forward.

I've always been handy with a VCR; I keep the timers set for most days of the week, with a rotation of a few videocassettes. However, with this cable box, I haven't been able to make the VCR timer recording work. It would record for a minute or two and then stop and start blinking. I tried again twice last night with the Ron Clark Story on TNT, but both times it failed. Argh!

So I called this morning to add the service. It's only eight more dollars a month! Totally worth it. The guy told me I could have someone install it for thirty bucks, or I could go in myself to exchange cable boxes for free, at the local mall. Since I was already going out again to meet a friend at Staples, I figured I would go over to the mall afterwards.

And I did. There was a bit of a wait, but I went over to H&M and tried on some adorable skirts and shirts. I went back and waited a few minutes, then my number was called. The exchange took like five minutes, I got a new remote with batteries, a power cable, and I was all set!

After going back to buy one sweater and one skirt at H&M, I eventually got home and plugged the box and all the cords back where they belonged. I hit power and checked out the remote set-up, and voila!

I already set a few shows to be recorded. The new fall season is usually a fun time of year, and now, hoo boy, it's gonna be better than ever. I can't wait to get all the shows set up and never worry again about VCR malfunctioning or juggling VHS tapes.

I Heart Technology!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

No Really, Read the Fine Print

One morning, while walking to the UFT workshop series in July, someone was handing out granola bars with postcards. Figuring that hell, I never say no to free, I accepted both. I stuffed the bar into my bag for future snacking potential, and then read the postcard. I actually laughed out loud on the streets of Manhattan at these descriptions:

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Nearly One Year

This is part of an email sent out by AmeriCorps NCCC promoting another month of service in Louisiana. I would love to go, but they want people there August 15-September 15. That's one of the busiest times of the year for a teacher, and I can't afford it either. I do really want to go back and keep working on the rebuilding effort. I'm thinking that either the December break or the February break would be excellent (and mild-weathered) times to go.

I really encourage ALL people to think about what they can do to contribute, not just to the Katrina rebuilding, but the community in general. Yes, you can donate money to a cause, but it's so impersonal. Real service gives you such a high! You learn about new places, you meet new people, sometimes you learn new skills, and you have fun.

Habitat for Humanity is all over the country; go look up your local affiliate.

In big cities, there are big events like fundraising walks, spread throughout the year.

Late October is National Youth Service Day, and local chapters of Hands On (connecting organizations that need volunteers with people who want to volunteer--for free!) like New York Cares hold big volunteering days and afterparties around then. (New York Cares Day is October 21 this year; mark your calendars!)

But you can find a place and time to volunteer with them, any time of year, any time of day, in lots of areas.

There are lots of churches, shelters, and nonprofits that need help, or people who need a kind word. Please do all that you can to make the world a better place.

Anyway, enough preaching from me, here's some information about St. Bernard Parish, the focus of the upcoming service month.

"On August 29, 2005, Saint Bernard Parish was devastated by Hurricane Katrina. The storm damage, which affected virtually every structure in the parish, was believed to come both from direct effects of the storm and from a massive storm surge funneled in by the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet ("MRGO").

"The eye of Katrina passed over the eastern, less populated portion of the parish, but in doing so pushed a 25-foot storm surge into Lake Borgne and into the MRGO. This surge destroyed the parish levees which were 14-17 feet high. Almost the entire parish was flooded, most areas getting between 5 and 12 feet of standing water. There may have been as many as two homes untouched by flood waters. Independent engineering analysis of the storm surge suggests that the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet transmitted the storm surge from the Lake Borgne area directly into the center of the heaviest populated areas of the parish. Unlike most of the flooding in New Orleans, the water rose suddenly and violently, during a period that witnesses have reported as no more than fifteen minutes. In many areas, houses were smashed or knocked off their foundations by storm surge higher than their roofs.

"For more than two months after the storm, much of the parish remained without proper services, including electricity, water, and sewage. Federal and state relief was notably lacking in the parish. Parish President Henry "Junior" Rodriguez, declared all of the parish's homes unlivable. Many areas of the parish may have to be completely demolished, although there is much uncertainty about whether or not this will happen. Several residents have begun to repair houses which they believe are more cheaply repaired than bulldozed and rebuilt. There is much fear about the lack of funding because of the complete loss of the parish's tax base. St. Bernard's levee system, however, is being restored and is expected to be at pre-Katrina levels by June 2006. It should be noted that this is the first time in FEMA history that an entire parish or county experienced the severity of damage that St. Bernard received from Katrina.

"Many St. Bernard residents feel their plight is little known and generally ignored by the nation as a whole, having been overshadowed by the proportionately less severe but more visible damage in New Orleans."

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

I'm back!

I finally walked through my own door around 12.30 am, after a very long traveling day.


I must say, my apartment is a very cute place to come back to!

Monday, August 07, 2006

Almost there

Today is Monday; on Wednesday morning I will begin another long travel day back to New York. (Aside: I now think that paying a bit more is well worth it, to be in a nice and modern plane like JetBlue that flies nonstop!)

I feel like I've been away from New York for a long time; for too long, actually. This is a first for me, that I'm anxious to get back there, back to my life there.

I've had a fairly good visit here. There has been the schedule juggling and the family juggling, which sucks but appears to be inevitable (that's why I stay back east for the holidays), but I have gotten to play tourist a little. I visited Mt Rainier National Park for a few hours last week, and it was breathtaking. We could see the mountain most of the drive down, but when we got into the park itself, there were trees and smaller mountainous things in the way. We came around a bend and I actually gasped: there was the mountain, in clear splendor, framed by evergreens. Man, it's gorgeous. I took a ton of pictures and I will be posting them soon.

I went back to Pike Place Market a second time last week too, and took more super-close-up pictures (you know, that little flower symbol on the camera) of flowers and fruit. Pretty!

There were several opportunities to see friends that I hadn't seen in a year or more, which was great. I didn't get to see my teammate that lives here...but I'm hoping that she's coming to NYC soon. I wish more friends would! Or even my younger siblings. I've got a great apartment with plenty of space and a comfy airbed.

Perhaps one reason that this two weeks has stretched so long is that it feels like two trips: the first, whirlwind weekend with the Special Someone; and then a week and a half on my own.

Now I have to pack up again, and it feels like moving again, only without a car to stuff crap into. I just shipped off two photo albums and a photo box--twenty-nine bucks via UPS. Then this afternoon I went school-book-shopping at Half Price Books, and will have to media-mail those back to New York. But it will be worth it, both of them. My suitcases will be stuffed with a few extra clothes and souvenirs and little fun things. That will be worth it as well.

I've had a number of dreams involving first days of school, fairly regularly. One of them had me trying to teach math concepts and disciplining and it was terribly stressful.

I'm itching to start making lists of school supplies to buy, and to finally start reading my piles of professional books to crack, and start organizing the first month of lessons and projects and plans. I'm dreading the next few weeks of anxious dreaming and frenzied planning, but I know it will also spur me to work harder to prevent those stresses from coming to life.

The scenery here is absolutely incredible. Unbelievable and gorgeous and amazing. I knew it was beautiful, and I knew I missed it, but seeing it in person is different. It's like I can feel it inside, the beauty, the missing, the living in a brown place during winter. Living in a place with no real greenery--sorry, but the Ramble is NOT a forest, and the Catskills are NOT mountains--does take a toll on me, though I don't think about it much. The day after I arrived, I came to visit my dad. When I turned around and saw the mountain, crystal clear against a pure blue sky above a bed of evergreen valley, tears came to my eyes.

But my life is in New York. And it's not just because I have a boyfriend there now. I really do seem to be settling in and being there. I'm not a transplant anymore; it's not temporary; I live in New York. I want to embrace New York life. From now on I want to focus on really being in the present and enjoying living in such a vibrant city. I want to take advantage of everything that's there, and have some fun and keep learning new things, about the city and about myself.

I want to keep developing myself as a teacher. People always say the third year is the best, because you get to settle in and not be so new and inexperienced. Since I won't be taking any more grad school classes--hallelujah!--I can concentrate more on getting good work out of the kids, and getting quality teaching out of myself. I hope to actually have fun--shock!--teaching, and to be able to say that yes, I do love teaching.

I miss my sweet kids from last year. I'm nervous that the new batch of kids will be more difficult, or not as lovably nerdy. I'm nervous that I won't be able to reach them, that I won't make a difference for them, that I won't be able to motivate them to enjoy school and learning. I'm nervous about my own self, keeping up with the work and the kids and the lessons and the tests...

It's time to get back. It's time to come home.