Monday, April 30, 2007

Time in a CD Case

Mamacita, in addition to her fantastic wit and writing, does these playlist mixes occasionally. Today she posted a SEVEN-DISC mix of songs in the theme of "time." So naturally, like the slightly-OCD goof I am, I had to hunt through iTunes to see what songs I had that she didn't. Here's what I came up with:

"Someday Never Comes" Brandi Carlile
"Seasons Change" Susie Suh
"Wreck of the Day" Anna Nalick
"This is the Mmoment" Jekyll & Hyde the Musical soundtrack
"One Day" Alana Davis
"Rest of Yesterday" Alana Davis
"That Particular Time" Alanis Morissette
"Lovers in a Dangerous Time" Barenaked Ladies
"Thinking About Tomorrow" Beth Orton
"Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday" Boyz II Men
"Someday you will be loved" Death Cab for Cute
"This Year's Love" David Gray
"February" Dar Williams
"Another Sunday" Deborah Falconer
"Early in the Morning" Five Guys Named Moe soundtrack
"Song for a Winter's Night" Jewel and Sarah McLachlan
"83" John Mayer
"Many a New Day" Oklahoma soundtrack
"Years" Conjure One
"Pretty good year" Tori Amos

There are many more, but they were already on Mamacita's list. Maybe I'll go find them tomorrow. Right now, bedtime.


Okay, let's say you're at an all-day training that mentions a unique place name, like, say, Brisbane, Australia. It looks like Brizz-bayne, but all the presenters and many question-askers pronounce it correctly, Brizz-bin. Like, one hundred times. So WHY ON EARTH would you not notice this, and continue to mention great things about Brizz-bayne? I just don't get it.

Human babies learn by imitation. Shouldn't human adults do the same?

Also, "congratulations" surely does not have a D in it. I was shocked to see it spelled this way twice in one DAY while perusing flickr. People often shorten this word to "congrats" and it's clear that it is a T S sound at the end. So why the D?

Furthermore, it is a laundry CHUTE, not a laundry shoot. "Shoot" is a verb. You shoot photos, you shoot looks at naughty students, you might even shoot a deer if you were so inclined.You can shoot some dirty clothes down the laundry chute, if you like, as long as you call it the right homophone. A chute is where something slides down. Hence, the popular and fun board game, Chutes & Ladders. One goes up, one goes down.

Thank you, that is all for now.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Hurrah for going out!

But BOO for my shitty low-light-taking camera.
Above: Cary Brothers and his cellist. Below: Brandi Carlile and "the twins." Not seen, her cellist. That's right, two fantastic singers with two fantastic cellists in one night!

Brandi Carlile has kind of a low, sometimes rough-sounding voice, but it's full of emotion, and it's huge and powerful. When she really belts it out, you get chills. And she got to rock out on her acoustic guitar, too, and you could see how much fun she and the rest of the band were all having. The music had the crowds moving to the beat and singing along. I picked up the album after the show and have listened to it a couple times, and I like it, although I liked some of the live, rawer versions better. Though, the live songs and the recorded songs sound very similar overall, and they're all amazing.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

a little bit of everything

I had a better day today, which is always a relief. Since I've been behind on grading, I assigned both a relevant and easy assignment this week: they were to choose/write a poem and memorize it. They had three nights for this, so it was also a bit of a test of their motivation. Today was the day, and overall I was pleased. The high level class had one-hundred percent completion (to varying degrees, naturally), and the other two classes only had a couple who didn't have a poem. Yay! I congratulated and praised everyone for getting up to speak in front of the class, and we gave snaps instead of claps.

Oh, and yesterday I was finishing watching Stranger Than Fiction. I got a little restless and came back to the computer, where I checked my stats. I noticed that someone had searched for Bea Gaddy, which is a charitable organization in Baltimore that our AmeriCorps team worked with a lot. So I was like, hey, that's interesting--let's see who else has that kind of stuff. So I clicked on that google search link and clicked on the second blog that popped up. And I idly skimmed down the page looking for the Bea Gaddy entry, but then my eye was caught. The blogger had posted about really liking the movie Stranger Than Fiction.

Weird, right? Maybe? Okay, perhaps not. Sheesh.

Tomorrow night Boyfriend and I going to see Brandi Carlile at the Bowery Ballroom! I'm so excited. Hopefully some of you might know who she is now, too; she was the one who did the song/video after the Grey's Anatomy clip show special a couple weeks ago. Her first album is so fantastic! I listened to it nonstop for weeks. Which reminds me, I better bring some cash so I can buy her new album at the show.

This is the first live music I've been to in awhile, I think. In fact, I know, because I don't remember the last time. It makes me feel a bit like a New York poser or tourist, because I so rarely "get out" and do things. I'm kind of lame when it comes to going out on the town. It's just, I'm usually so tired! And the train rides back to Queens late at night...the waiting and the sleepiness. Not to mention the ridiculous drink prices, since I'm such a froufrou girly girl when it comes to cocktails. Mmm, midori sours. Or frozen flavored margaritas. Ooh, mojitos! I could use some mojitos.

You know what I finally noticed and pinpointed this afternoon? This generation uses "yo" like mine uses "dude." It was a quiet revelation for me, because they *always* look at me like a crazy person when I'm like, Dude, that is not okay! Today one kid was trying to help quiet the class, and he called across the room, "Yo...!" just like I would have called out "Dude!" Funny.

Or pathetic that I still say "dude." I'll blame the West Coast thing again? No? Just me being lame? Damn, thought so.

It's not even ten and I'm really tired already. Talk about lame. Oh well, not like I was fooling anyone anyway!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Trying to Forget the Anger by Posting Cute

The beginning of my day was enjoyable: four of my students made it to the school spelling bee, and one of our girls came in third place! Eighth-graders placed first and second, so it's especially impressive. And when she did well, the class cheered and hollered so loudly in support, and it was mostly the boys! It was so sweet that I nearly teared up.

Last week or so, my afternoon class girls entered my room all cackly/giggly: "Miss, we know something about you!!!"
Me: "Okay..."
Girl 1: "You have a boyfriend!"
Girls 1, 2, 3, 4: [squeal and giggle]
Me: [trying not to smile] "And where did you hear this?"
Girl 1: "Ms downstairsteacher told us!"
Girl 2, with a sudden inspiration: "Hey, is it that skinny guy on the fourth floor?"
Girl 4 to Girl 2: "No way, Miss can do way better than that!"
Me: [laughing quietly]

Sometime last month, we were discussing our class book. There was an extended metaphor about a canker sore and a character's dislike of another character. Just to make sure we were all on the same page about understanding this passage, I asked the class, "Who can tell us what a canker sore is?"

And this boy immediately piped up confidently, "A kind of dinosaur!"

I had to cover my face and just laugh. Oh boy, these kids.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Kick up your heels for spring!

It was a pretty mellow day, but I did wear a light and flowery, flowy dress, which always makes one feel springlike.

As I quipped to Boyfriend, I successfully bluffed my way through the day today. Even though it's poetry time and the students should be reading poetry and all that, I'm going to stick with the basics: read for 25-30 minutes and write a quick summary and response. I believe they need to just sit still and read their own book at their own pace. Especially now that the weather will start getting warmer and they'll start getting squirmier, I hope that books and a reading routine will settle them.

On that track, reading-time music is now a must; since I realized that iTunes is on our class computers, I uploaded a bunch of CDs, mostly classical but also some Disney classics, as well as some of my favorite mellow stuff, like Jack Johnson or a compilation called "French Cafe," which goes over extremely well with the students. And no, I'm not being sarcastic! They love it, and I love it, and I love that they love it. I don't really have time to do this fantastic project idea by TMAO, but I still think it's a good idea to begin expanding their music-view beyond the current crop of utter crap.

Anyway. Today I bridged the gap between these two units. Actually, not really. We began by drawing some of what I named "pledge trees" in honor of Earth Day. They drew their own tree, and in the roots wrote three things they already do to help the planet. In the actual tree, they wrote three to five things they will pledge to do in the future to help the planet.

Then we abruptly (so much for that bridging...I just realized that they could have written a poem on their tree as well...see, this is what reflective blogging is all about, even though mine is mostly reviewing...) moved into poetry. I wanted a nice, easy transition into the unit, so first they completed a K/W chart (L to come later, obviously) about poetry. That way they got to get used to thinking about poetry, they had to remember things they've previously learned, and I can assess what things they already know and what to work on. For example, just about all my students have previously done haiku and acrostics (You may or may not know this, but in Japanese you don't pluralize, so you shouldn't say "haikus", just "I wrote five haiku today!"), but that's it as far as different forms go. Which means we're all systems go for limericks, ballads, odes, cinquain, maybe diamante (which a couple kids mentioned but didn't really know anything about).

Their questions were interesting: a few mentioned coming up with topics, several more mentioned rhyming, and a good number asked about the first poem--who wrote it, where, why. Isn't that a fascinating question? I have never thought about that. I'm not sure if it's an answerable question, but it could certainly lead to finding out some interesting historical information.

The next step was a quick write, in response to any or all of these questions: What is poetry? What does poetry mean to you? Why write in poetry instead of prose?

We ran out of time then, so tomorrow we'll share thoughts on that, and I'll give them some "notes" on general info about poetry, and then we'll read and discuss a couple poems from the collection How to Eat a Poem, which I got for free last year from that one poetry website that I can never find.

And now for something different:
One of my students said hi on chat and asked how I was doing. I said fine how are you? and here's what he wrote:

"gud cusz u suk as" [?! Do you see what I see?]
"Sry I said im suckin on ice"
I was like, liar! And he replied, no, that's really what I was saying.


Sunday, April 22, 2007

a nice and tired weekend for the planet

The weather is gorgeous, but I've been so exhausted the last couple days.

I slept and vegged a really long time yesterday, so I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that this morning, I couldn't sleep past 8. Ah well, more time to lay in bed and catch up on recorded television. Yes, I am very lamely inside today, another beautiful spring day. Eh.

Friday's 20/20 Planet Earth special was fascinating and educational, but they failed to elaborate on some of the interesting tidbits. One segment featured a rich dude who's built a $92,000 sports car that runs entirely on lithium batteries, and another interviewed a couple who has a few windmills that generate more than the power they consume, electronics and appliances and all. I would have loved to see each of these shown as a story in their own rights. Another thing I loved was the lights they turned off--the Arc de Triomphe, the Empire State Building, and the ABC studios in Times Square.

Did you know that a Virgin Atlantic guy is holding a contest, well, offering a huge prize, for creating a device that eliminates carbon dioxide from the air? They showed a couple filters that are already being built, and it's exciting to think about the ramifications this could have. Also, I'm really curious about wind and solar energy, and the possibilities of installing those systems in big buildings. Are there any incentives for apartment and office buildings to wire for that? New York isn't an ideal climate for either sun or wind, but it seems like we get a decent amount of both, and surely that could at least supplement 'traditional' energy sources. I know the mayor and governor have just proposed initiatives for a greener future, but I don't know the specifics. Does anyone know if this, or any other, city is working on retrofitting the existing skyscrapers to be cleaner?

Back on 20/20, between segments and commercial breaks they ran tips/ideas for people who want to do their part. Those included using less water (duh), and changing to compact fluorescent lamps, as well as not using so many plastic bags. Hurrah--finally others are seeing the light! They merely suggested using a cloth bag, they did not mention having to refuse plastic everywhere you go. You, readers, may remember my difficult experience and also had some great tips for recycling those bags.

I started thinking about holding a big plastic-bag drive in my classes or at the whole school--creating some awareness and perhaps influencing future decisions of our future leaders. Then I would bring them all to the Wal-Mart (I know, don't tell me) where they have bins for recycling plastic bags. Or, as one of you suggested on that other post, finding a local shelter to donate to.

I told myself that the environmental stuff in my classroom would just be last week, but I keep finding more that I'd love to share with the kids. And I do wish we'd put together something for Earth Day, but I've never been good at following through on big plans like that. I'll keep thinking and hoping to work on it and get better.

I also told myself that this week I would finally begin a poetry unit, seeing as how it's the official Poetry Month. But I'm feeling really meh about planning and seeing it through. Poetry writing doesn't take long enough, so it's tough to figure out how to configure classwork and behavior.

I'm thinking about beginning with acrostics, except that I despise acrostics, because the kids really take zero effort with them, just scribbling out single words, not even phrases. When I assign homework to write a poem, I have to specify "NO ACROSTICS!" because of the crap they'll turn in. And even then, one or two will still turn in a very lame acrostic. Grr. So maybe I will continue my crusade to ignore that form.

See, now I've wasted another two hours, by playing with flickr (I'm obsessed, but I hope it's in a good way?) (my photography has improved a little, I think) (go take a look and leave comments!) and pretending to watch television, and patently NOT doing anything about the coming week's lessons! Ack!

Earlier, however, I *did* do my work for the big overnight field trip, calling for hotels and the students who are behind on their deposits. And I also did the dishes, which I've been slacking on for a couple days. So there, I haven't been totally unproductive.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Yesterday I read a bunch of global warming articles and denials, and it exhausted me. I don't want to fight with anyone; though I am passionate about many things, I am a poor debater.

So in the spirit of still challenging the students and getting some thoughtful writing, I decided to create a writing assignment that doesn't include the politics of global warming.

Instead, they began writing a report synthesizing the film, their own research (last two night's homework assignments), and their knowledge of the planet. The prompt asked them to discuss human activity that impacted the planet, the effects of those activities, and what we can do to better balance civilization and the Earth.

(Heh. Am I a hippie or what?) (Also, do you like how I threw in some Bloom's Taxonomy there? Yes, I'm just that good.)

The students had roughly one period to get their organizer completed and hopefully begin a first draft. This is only a two-day thing, so it's important for them to use their time effectively. Some students did a great job staying on task. I think I should just say that, "some students."

I circulated and helped the students differentiate between causes and effects, and they got better and did more work. I felt good and I think the students will be proud of their work. I know that I'm seeing some definite improvement overall.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Informing the Future Leaders

We are in day two of watching An Inconvenient Truth and doing some quick writing about it. There's at least one more section to watch, and then I hope to get into more discussion, question-raising, research, and purposeful writing.

So far I think it's going well, for the most part the students seem to paying attention. Although when I try to bring them together for a class discussion of what they saw, they seem clueless. For example, they didn't understand the significance of the graph showing the coinciding of birds and caterpillars hatching, and therefore the problem when the two events are no longer simultaneous. I had to pull them through that. I'm finding myself having to quickly teach them bits of information as they come up: who Al Gore is, what a documentary is, tectonic plates, canaries in coal mines, food chains, and the like.

They already knew the basics and keywords of global warming, though they couldn't do much explaining of what it all means. It's certainly my hope that they will understand the general issues and stories shared in the film and that we'll read in news articles. But I imagine I'll have to settle for them understanding general gists of things.

Today in my afternoon class I introduced 'coding the text', which is a standard lesson that all reading teachers should do at the beginning of the year. I modeled a little by reading them an editorial about China's willingness to talk about emission limits. When I got to a dense sentence, I showed them how I broke it down (I actually used the word "parse" because I am a nerd like that) into pieces that I (they) could understand. I *think* they got it. I then handed out a couple different articles, in sheet protectors and with dry-erase markers. They worked in partners to read and code their articles. We didn't get to have them finish, but I think it was a good start.

One thing that was a very unpleasant surprise was that their SCIENCE TEACHER apparently doesn't believe in global warming.

Read that again, and be enraged on their behalf.

He 'got to' one of my classes before I did, and now they are skeptics too. I am so angry.

See, I am a West-Coaster, and I am white. I'm also liberal. Those things intensify my different-ness at my school, and most of the time I can deal with that. I understand that I bring a bias to my classroom, and that the other teachers have very different biases.

But I don't care who you are, I believe that discounting global warming is a huge fallacy. And a teacher of SCIENCE being a naysayer to children who have already unknowningly seen the effects of a warmer planet? That is unforgivable.

Regardless of your opinion of the film itself (AIT), it brings to the masses vital information about the current and future situations on this planet. I was just reading in Newsweek that Canada now produces more cranberries and lobster than Maine, and more maple syrup than Vermont. Parts of Alaska can now grow wheat! Things are happening, things are changing right around us, it is real. Now that it's fashionable and the markets are betting on it, corporations are finally getting on the bandwagon. It's already trickling down to us regular folk.

It's rare that we get to do true inquiry in an English class, and while this isn't really hands-on inquiry right now, my point with this mini-unit-project is to get the kids thinking and questioning and reacting and forming their own opinions, beginning to form their future independent selves.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Attack of Rampant Consumerism

This past week, my tax return arrived, and I dutifully put one-third into my Roth IRA, one third into my high-yield savings account, and another couple hundred in my regular, doesn't-earn-anything savings.

So that makes me feel like it's okay to buy something that costs a lot of money, but is not an international trip. And by "a lot of money," I mean, less than three hundred. I make good money, but I am a frugal nerd at heart. Except when it comes to travel, of course.

First, I need a new digital camera. My camera is nearly three years old, and is all beat up. When I push the on button, it makes a grinding noise as the lens opens, and when it's closed, the shutter doesn't stay closed. Plus, it's only 3.2 megapixels and the screen is itsy-bitsy. And sometimes the zoom doesn't work and it freezes the whole camera. Boyfriend has a shiny new camera that whirrs silently and has all kinds of pretty and fancy features, with 6 MP and a huge screen. My little camera does take lovely pictures, but I'm afraid might die on me suddenly, and I imagine that a newer, less battered camera would do better.

Next, I want to take a photography class in Manhattan. They are EXPENSIVE but I think it would be so much fun and so educational, since I know about a thimbleful about photography.

Also, someday I would like to get a new, full-size iPod. The mini I have right now is only 4 GB, which is less than half of the music that I have. And if I had a 30 GB iPod, I could keep a backup of all my digital photos, which currently require over 6 GB of my hard drive.

I hate money decisions! But really, how can I complain if it's just about getting myself a new toy?

iPod will come last, for sure. And I think I'll have to make a decision about which camera to get (eek! more decisions!) and look for sales around Memorial Day or July 4th. Boyfriend just got me some neat photography books, so maybe that will have to do as my picture education for now.

Nice end to the week

On Thursday after posting, I realized that I hadn't walked the students through the process of taking those revision notes and creating that new draft.

So that's what we did on Friday. I quickly reviewed word choice and sentence fluency, then I put up my poor first draft with notes, and I told the students to rewrite it better. I was really impressed--they combined sentences, moved things around, added interesting words, answered the "why?" and "where?" type notes, and were also able to add their own voice into my paragraph. The high-level class was most impressive, but the other classes did well too, and I was so blown away and happy! Naturally, I told them so.

Overall, I was very pleased with the work and the students in all three classes. In my last class, two students who have a history of causing problems instead of doing any work WROTE FULL DRAFTS! It was fantastic and I felt very proud, because they were working on purpose, and it was all so great.

I'm giving the middle class one more day, because they only get single periods on Mondays and Fridays, so tomorrow they'll be doing some rubric evaluation.

The other classes will begin work with An Inconvenient Truth. We should be able to do some warm-ups about what they know and vocabulary about global warming, and then watch the first 25 minutes of the film. I think after that I will let them talk about what they saw, and then do some writing. In the workshop where we teachers did this, our writing prompt was, "What evidence is there that global warming is real?" or something like that. And I certainly like that, but I think I'd like the students to do a bit more than that.

I want them to have questions about global warming and the film, and to write reflections about how the film made them feel, and I want them to brainstorm and research what things they can do. When I saw this the first time, I was struck that this planet is going to be in big trouble in my students' lifetimes. This is real and this is serious, and I want the students to react appropriately. I hope they will be able to research their political representatives and write real letters that we can actually send to Washington.

Earth Day is in April, along with Poetry Month. I'd like to combine the two, and do some poetry about the planet and global warming and all that not-so-warm-fuzzy stuff. If the students are able and ready to create some kind of project, that would be really fantastic, but we'll see.

In closing, last week was very productive for the students and for me--they did some great writing, they were able to do some real revising, which is the hardest but most fun part of the writing process (in my opinion, anyway), I hope they felt proud of their work, and mostly, they did good work on a half-week right after a long break. Good job, kids!

Thursday, April 12, 2007


Bad News:

I asked another group of kids if they'd heard of Indiana Jones. One girl earnestly asked, "She's a

I ask you, how in the world am I SO OLD and out of touch at merely 27??

Good News:

I think I actually taught well today!

We began working on re-writing today, by using the level 4s of a rubric of the six traits of good writing, although we only got through the first three today.

Between classes, I quickly wrote a semi-lame essay from the vacation four-square I modeled yesterday. Once I quickly introduced each trait, I went back to my essay and led them through finding and asking for more information.

So when it was time for 'interesting details,' I read them the first two paragraphs. (I had purposefully written them choppy and repetitive, leaving out the good stuff) I asked them, is this an interesting paragraph? They wrinkled their noses, No way. I was like, Right! So what do you think I should add here to make it more interesting, what did I leave out?

And they did so well! They caught all the glaring detail gaps, like why do I want to buy a shop in London? And where in London? And what kind of books will I have in my shop? The second paragraph was about the car I'll buy. It says 'I will buy a hybrid car.' but doesn't elaborate. So the kids were like, 'What does that mean? And why do you want that kind?' The last sentence of the paragraph said, 'I would not buy an SUV or truck.' The kids accutely noticed that, and were like, 'You need to say why you don't want to get one of those.' Very good! They didn't really notice that it doesn't necessarily belong there or really at all, but hey, they got the big stuff.

One girl even noticed that all my sentences began with "I" and it was repetitive! I was very impressed.

The other thing I showed them was the introduction. I told them that intros were the hardest part for me, but what I do is start with a thesis--even if it sucks--and then go back later to improve it, once I have a better idea of what my essay is doing. (This is all actually true of what I do as a writer, so I feel good about helping them feel better about not always knowing what to do, or do things well) I reminded them about the triangle image of the essay (a down-pointing triangle on the top, three rectangles below that, and a right-side-up triangle below those), and how the triangle helps us remember the structure for an introduction. Then I showed them a few sentences that I came up with: I introduced the general topic of vacations for a couple sentences, then brought up money and dreaming about more exotic activities, and they were right there with me to see how that was a great way to bring the reader to the specific thesis about an ideal vacation. They were like, wow, yeah!

Naturally, after these pieces, them helping me make notes and seeing me mark up my draft, it was time for them to do the same. I did see some excellent work, but there was also a lot of off-task talking. Argh.

Oh, and a couple kids were like, "Oh, miss, not to tell you what to do, but you should have us switch papers and make notes!" I smiled and was like, "We're doing that tomorrow!" How cool that they know what should come next?

Overall, I feel good about the day, because I felt like I was actually an effective teacher of writing. Tomorrow we'll do the next three traits, they'll keep marking up the new draft, and do peer review, and hopefully we'll get through all of that so they can produce a very good final essay. Phew, wish us all luck and perseverance!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

First day back

Whew! I'm glad to get it out of the way. It actually went quite well!

I did decide to start with the writing, about an Ideal Vacation. The kids came up with some really creative stuff! There was lots of travel, and lots of purchases: video games, fancy cars, islands, malls, sneaker stores, and even the purchase of all of Europe!

One boy was writing about having a fort, with mercenaries and dangerous traps, and I said, Oh, you want to be Indiana Jones. He looked blank, so I asked the whole class who had ever seen an Indiana Jones movie. Only about five kids raised their hands! I shook my head. Poor kids, missing out on quality adventure films!

A boy in another class wanted to buy a mansion full of girls. Heh.

I think, overall, it's kind of a fun twist on a common writing assignment. There was plenty of excited chatter among the students about what they were going to do.

None of the classes were able to finish a complete draft. So that was their assignment, and I'm hoping they will actually do it. Tomorrow I will show them some info about the six traits, using a great rubric we got at the last UFT workshop. They will evaluate their completed draft and then create a new, better draft. If there is time, I'll let them do some peer evaluation, to get more feedback and suggestions. We'll see how that goes tomorrow, and I'll decide if we should continue with this on Friday or move to poetry.

What would you do on an ideal vacation, if time and money were no matter?
I would buy a Notting Hill bookstore, then buy a new hybrid car and drive it around the country, and then relax in the Greek islands.

How about you?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Last day

I slept for twelve hours last night! Rock.

I also worked out for an hour and went food shopping.

What have I not done? Think about school.

Well, except for just now, of course, thinking about NOT thinking about school.

And actually, I have thought about it, because one would assume that I should have plans for the three days of teaching this week. Puh-lease.

In reality, I have two sets of ideas. Or three. Well, more than that, I guess.

Since I want to get the kids writing a lot more, I think we'll start off easy, writing about our ideal, genie-wish vacation, using our imaginations and descriptive skills. Also, we'll get started with poetry, finding out what forms they already know and exploring topics using those forms. We'll need to wrap up our l!t stuff; the morning class needs to finish their book and the others will work on skits. The other classes did finish the book on the last day before break, so I shall have them chunk the book by chapter, and then plan a chapter skit.

The first big thing I'd also like them to do is watch and reply to An Inconvenient Truth, or at least the first half-hour or so. My problem will be to figure out exactly how to manage the schedule for vocab warm ups, watching, response writing, and rewriting.

I had wanted to do that stuff for these three days, but then I decided that the other stuff should and can be done first. So I think we'll meander through that first bunch this week, and get into Earth Day and Truth stuff next week.

I definitely want the students to write letters. I often assign letters as homework, but don't actually send them. Or, like earlier this year, I meant to send them but didn't. However, I have promised myself that environmental stuff really needs to get out there, and I want the kids to research which people they should write to.

Bleh. I don't really want to go back. Does anyone?

Bookstore OCD

While home, I visited my favorite bookstore chain: Half-Price Books. While browsing, I noticed this shelf, and I just had to do something about it: Please tell me I'm not the only one who does this:

Monday, April 09, 2007

Still Conscious!

I left home last night and arrived at home this morning, exhausted and jetlagged. I'm referring to two different 'homes' here, obviously. This is a post for another day, however.

The last couple days were a more typical, weather-wise, but I didn't mind. I had time to leisurely hang out with a few friends, and I enjoyed it very much, both the friend time and the pace. I also played Guitar Hero, the first video game I've played probably since Sonic the Hedgehog (I'm not really into video games, though all my college friends are). It was fun, though I had a hard time matching the notes in the song rhythm and when to hit the buttons.

I remembered the satisfaction of playing correct notes at the correct time to weave into a larger musical number. I played the cello for five years and rarely played better than mediocre. The feeling and sound of a large group of people creating melodies and's inimitable. Especially when it's good. When it's bad, then you somehow manage to cringe while playing your instrument. The best cello memories are both from high school: one, playing in the pit for the spring musical, unable to rely on another cello player, and succeeding; two, our orchestra playing In the Hall of the Mountain Kings, which physically pulled me into the music. It was fantastic.

(Blech. Here I am trying to make an effort to be a little more writerly and descriptive, and it sounds like a cheesy high school essay. Dammit.)

Anyway, where was I going?

My flights to home and back home (there I go again) were on JetBlue. After Continental, Northwest, American air discomfort, JetBlue's leather, extended legroom, and guaranteed tv screen were a welcome relief to count on. The return flight was a true red-eye, leaving at midnight and arriving at 8am. I slept just about the whole five-hour flight, though it wasn't great sleep. I was just so tired! Plus, I brought back an old memory-foam pillow, so I had something substantial to lean on. That helped.

Still, I felt very bleary and achy when the flight came in. On the bus to my apartment, I didn't even nap; I continued reading my Carl Hiaasen book. The rest of the morning was spent half-watching DVR'd shows and put away my suitcase stuff. Afternoon: uploading photos to Flickr. Naturally.

It's now 9pm, I've made it the whole day without a nap, though I've had an increasing headache. Perhaps assisted by the less-than-standard eating I've done today. All week, actually, I haven't eaten enough, or drank enough water. I tried to get back on track a little today. Wish me luck, laden as I am with Easter treats.

Tomorrow I still have another day to not teach! I'm still processing thoughts and a post about the teaching stuff, which one hopes will come soon. Whatever, right now I'm still on vacation, so I'm happy, though a tad lonely now.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Hurrah for Real Springtime!

I heard it snowed in NYC yesterday. Sucks to be you! :) It was GORGEOUS and WARM and SUNNY here, in the 70s. Love it! The mountain is out, and green is everywhere you look, whether it's the new spring green or the constant evergreen. Again, I LOVE IT.

I went on a couple walks, and they were all blasts from the past. First, I went on one of the trails I used to walk, back in...2003? when I worked in that office. It was just the same, but sadly the blackberries aren't ripe yet; that was one of my favorite parts. The little stream still had the reeds and weeds and marshyness around it, and the smell was the same. I don't know if it's only around here that water smells like this, or if all lakes and rivers have this scent. But it's very earthy and damp, like mud, but also sweet, and all-round it's quite pleasant and refreshing.

I took tons of pictures of flowers and reflections, and I will put some on Flickr later.

My next jaunt was around two schools I used to attend. Creepy! Both were remodeled after I left, so it wasn't the same. But then, the mix of familiar and new were rather unnerving. Both schools have the same shape and structure, just pretty new things built in and around. The high school was still all shiny and modern, with funny posters and fancy media labs. I saw only one name I knew; my 9th grade English teacher is still there. The other names were unfamiliar, because most of my teachers throughout school were on the older side, the same or older than my parents, so just about all of them have retired by now.

The middle school was next. Even with the remodel, things look very much the same. I walked past an old locker, the 'student center' where kids still play ping pong and foosball (and I'm sure they still have a game system there too, like we did, over 15 years ago), by the portables, which are still necessary, but nicer now. I spent A LOT of time at that school, long before I attended, because my mom and stepdad were teachers there. So in the summers we were there, when I was sick I had to go to school with them. I grew up in the faculty lounge and locker rooms of that school. That's why I always figured that one thing I would never be was a teacher. Maybe I just couldn't escape after all.

Anyway, occasionally locations from those schools still pop up in anxiety dreams, usually where I'm in school but have forgotten something vitally important, like my backpack, shoes, or pants, and I have to run around like a crazy person trying to find it, getting later and later by the second. Hallways and doorways and corners from my memories are in the dreams, and they're still there in real life, only slightly modified. Like I said, creepy.

Today is another beautiful day, and I'm headed downtown to explore. Have a lovely spring day, wherever you are!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Short Update

I have the best boyfriend in the world.

That is all.

Sadly Misinformed

Last weekend, while Boyfriend and I were exploring Old Ironsides, this lady was corralling her tour group. She pointed to somewhere across the way, and called out, "Over there, everyone. We're conjugating in the parking lot. Let's go, come on. Conjugating over there." etc etc.

Boyfriend and I froze, and looked at each other, then burst out laughing.

What made it worse was that her students were mimicking her and making fun of the language. So she goes, "Come on, I'm trying to get you to college with a good vocabulary!"

Boyfriend and I then looked at each other in horror.

Oh, dear.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Back from Boston

Boyfriend and I went to Boston for the weekend, to celebrate the occasion of our one year anniversary! It has gone quickly, but it's been absolutely incredible. I still feel so lucky!