Saturday, March 31, 2012

Chloe Says Good-bye (31/31)

We end the month as we began--with Chloe at the computer--


Dear Slicers,

No offense, but I'm really glad the month is over.  Finally, I will get a little attention in the mornings. Do you know that I haven't gotten to rock and cuddle in the chair all month???  And after school, well, there is no playing in the yard. We don't go for a walk. We don't play Frisbee. We don't do ANYTHING  until she has sat down at that dumb ole computer AGAIN to see if anybody wrote to her.

I hate that computer.

At least now, we can sit outside longer.  And she will play fetch with me and go for longer walks.

You noticed, didn't you, that she didn't let me write very much.  One time. That was all. Well, two times, I guess, since I got to write the first one.  And now, I guess, three times, since I get to say good-bye. But really, that wasn't very much at all. I had a lot of good ideas too. I got to visit my BFF again. I figured out a way to keep the birds out of the yard. But not that squirrel. That squirrel makes me sooooo mad.  It always comes back as soon as I have to come in the house.  It stops half way up that tree and makes fun of me every day.

I hate that squirrel.

Anyway, I could have written about teaching her to play Frisbee and how to get her to fetch the ball. Really, it's taken MUCH longer than I thought it would, but I think she's getting the hang of it

I could have written about our walks. She walks too fast and doesn't let me stop and visit with anyone, but I still have lots of things I could write about.  If she'd just slow down and pay attention....

AND

Did you know we get to go the lake soon?????  No one has told me yet, but I was listening the other night when they thought I was sleeping on the couch. And then, I saw some things getting packed up like my extra toys that stay at the lake (I hate that, by the way---those are fun toys. Why can't I play with them here?).  That means I get to see kids all the time, especially MY kids. And Bella. She's really my BFF, so don't tell Girl.   We have sooooo much fun when we get together. And maybe I'll get to go swimming. Oh, I wish the sun would come out this weekend. My tan is fading. I really need to get working on that again.

OK. Well, I gotta go.  It's time for me to go chase the birds out of the bushes. And I just know that annoying squirrel is hanging around outside somewhere.  Mom will be back on Tuesday. This writing stuff is hard work!





Friday, March 30, 2012

Light at the End of the Tunnel (30/31)



It hit me today...next week at this time, I will be at the lake. Opening day.

There are 34 more school days left.

Speech Banquet

3 more speeches

Romeo  and Juliet

3 more writing pieces

Semester projects.

Done.

I'm not sure where this school year has gone, but wherever it went, it raced right by. It didn't see hello, good-bye, see you soon. Nothing.  Just came and went without so much as howdy do.

Well, it seems that way.

But in reality, there were many great moments.

Back in September, I wasn't sure I would ever bond with my freshmen. Today, I will be sorry to see most of them go and am looking forward to having them in speech next year.  They hated to read at the beginning of the year. In May, we will have our second novel unit--at their request.

We had a great Contest Speech season--two All-State teams and many, many one ratings.

My speech classes got better each and every speech. And this year, no one failed because they didn't do the required speeches.

Beautiful pieces were written in all my Creative Writing classes...even by kids who would rather take Drawing and Design.

And I survived my first observation in years and my teaching portfolio is DONE!  And that's the real celebration of this piece.


Thursday, March 29, 2012

Where the Love of Reading Goes to Die



High School.

Ask a high school kid if they like to read. They will look at you like you are nuts. Like to read? No one wants to admit to that.  I've written about this before but after Ruth's post last week, I want to add a few more thoughts.

I blithely posted on Ruth site that high school is where the love of reading goes to die, but that's not the entire truth.  It's a slow lingering death. It starts earlier than high school.

I talk to my high school kids (I know, what a concept). They are extraordinarily honest about teachers and classes and how they think things should be taught. We talk about reading.

They hate being told what to read and they hate analyzing everything to death.
They hate answering comprehension questions about every short story and novel they read.
They hate discussing in lit circles.
They understand the need to do some of these things with some things they read. They just don't want to do it for everything.

Sometimes, they tell me, they just want to read.


  • They want time to read the Hunger Games before the movie comes out.
  • They want time to read The Fault in Our Stars because everyone on Twitter is talking about how great it is.
  • They want time to read a book slowly and savor it. Not hurry up and finish so they can take the test.
  • They want time to read a book overnight because it is so good they can't put it down.


And why don't high school teachers give them time?


  • Some because they are trying to desperately get through an amazing amount of material because their class is a prerequisite for the next class. It seems frivolous to give a day "just to read".
  • Some because they are told what to teach and when to teach it. They don't want to be seen as a "troublemaker" and break the rules.
  • Some because state testing is cause for concern and they have to address those areas that students are low in.
  • Some because they have 160 students to see in a day and finding the right book for each and every one of them seems an impossible task.
  • Ditto on the reading conferences, book talks, etc.


I know this is pretty simplistic. I also know there are teachers at every level who

  • don't read 
  • who use the same materials over and over again because they don't want to have to bother to create something new
  • who haven't read a YA novel since The Outsiders
  • who think that YA literature is a vast wasteland with no redeeming value

I know how hard it is to give them time. But given the chance, we read.




Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Do You Share? (28/31)



Reading through my Twitter feed, I came upon this Tweet from Dr. Justin Tarte. If you don't follow him, you should. He's a  Pretty Smart Guy.

Anyway, last night he asked if you would share all  your lesson plans from your entire career with a brand new teacher for free.

I answered absolutely,

Here's why:

I didn't teach right out of college. I had a different career for a few years. Stayed home with our boys for a few years.  I subbed for awhile and was a paraprofessional for several years.  When I finally took the 7th grade English position in our district, I was thrilled.  I met with the head of the department and asked what I should be teaching. I expected a syllabus, at the very least.

"Whatever you want," was the response.  I was shocked. Scared. Nervous. Confused.  What was I supposed to do?

I made it up as I went along.

But after that, all along the way, I worked with fabulous teachers who shared. "Why reinvent the wheel?" they'd say.

In junior high, there was the Tech God, who did such fun, inventive assignments with his TAG kids.  He never hesitated to share what he was doing with me.  He'd share the technology, he'd share his plans, he'd share the "worksheets" that went along with it. He created units the whole grade would work on.  And he never expected anything in return.

Fast forward a few years. I moved up to the high school. I was assigned Speech, Drama, and English 9. Speech and Drama I had to create from scratch. No one had been teaching them. It was stressful coming up with plans each week.  But luckily, Roomie was willing to share everything she did in English 9. And I do mean everything.  "Take what you want to copy," she said.

And copy I did.

I changed things up as I went along. Changed things up a bit to reflect me a bit more. But it sure was nice to have a place to start!

And so, I pay it forward. I am always willing to share what I have. Not because I think I'm such a fantastic teacher. Not because I believe everyone should do things my way. I share because everyone needs a place to start from. It's hard enough to be a new teacher, in a new job, in a new building without having to reinvent the wheel!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

You're Gonna Have to Share That Bagel....(27/31)



"May I have your attention please.  We are now going into a Shelter in Place lock down.  Please stay in your classrooms until further notice.  This is not an emergency situation. Continue on with class as normal. Please do not text or use your cell phones."

I make sure my door is locked and sit down at my desk. This is my third hour speech class. If I have to be locked in a room for an indeterminate about of time, this is the class I want to be locked down with.  There's not an annoying kid in the bunch. And, they are pretty funny in their own way.

Immediately, the chatter begins.

"What's that mean?"  I explain that something is happening and to be safe, they want everyone to stay in the classroom."

"Is this a drill?"
"Probably not," I explain "As Mr. F said, it isn't a dangerous situation, but we need to stay in the room.

"How long will we be here?"
"I don't know. You could be here all day.  And if we stay in lock down, I'm sure glad I'm locked in with this class rather than several others."
They giggle and smile.

"Can we leave and go to the bathroom?"
I laughed, "No. No one can leave."
"But I have to go.  What if it's an emergency."
"I guess we'll hold up a blanket and you can use the garbage can."  (I'm being sarcastic. The students takes me seriously.)
"Do you have kleenex?"  they say, looking around the room.
"Yep. And I actually have a roll of toilet paper over there on the computer cart."

"What about lunch?"
"No. We have to stay in the room."

"We are still in a Shelter in Place lock down. Remain in your classrooms and continue on with your normal procedures."
This is easier said than done.

"Are we going to miss 4th period?"
"Maybe."
"Yea!  I don't want to go to Math."

"Can you hear our stomachs growling, Mrs. Day?  They keep taking turns."

"Really. Are we going to miss lunch?"
A conversation about food begins.  They love the bagels on Tuesday at lunch. Several girls say they always eat salad bar on Tuesday just so they can have a bagel.

Another announcement. We need to stay in the room even though fourth period will be starting.

"Yea! I'd much rather stay here."
"But what about lunch/ I'm really hungry."
"Maybe they will bring sack lunches to us."

I quietly take inventory of the supplies in my room. I keep breakfast items in my cupboard because I seldom remember to eat breakfast before I leave for school.

"Well, I have a few breakfast bars, a bagel (yes--a lunch bagel), and three containers of chocolate pudding. I'll share if I have to. But I won't share my water. You die faster from dehydration than starvation, you know." I know--a bit sarcastic. But it lightens the mood.

They aren't concerned about the water, just the food.

"Really?  You have food!"
"Yep. And I'll share."

Collectively, they calm down.

They continue chatting and researching.

A stomach growls.

"Mrs. Day, you're gonna have to share that bagel...."

Monday, March 26, 2012

She Speaks (26/31)





There's a character in my head. I don't know where she belongs. I don't know if she lives in the YA novel that I began (and abandoned) in NaNoWriMo (she could be the mother)  or if she has her own story.  She spoke to me. She spoke in prose, she spoke in verse. I'm going to share this, but I really don't know where it's going.....




Standing there
In the Vestibule
In her long white dress
She knew.

This was a mistake.

Even though
Everyone
(and by Everyone, she meant her mother)
Thought he was perfect
and
A Wonderful Guy,
He wasn't
Perfect
and Wonderful
For her.

This was a mistake.

And because 
It wasn't in her
To disappoint a crowd,
To withstand the scrutiny,
To face the stares,
She made another mistake.

She said, "I do".



Sunday, March 25, 2012

How Am I Supposed to Get Anything Done?

Sub notes to write
Creative Writing to grade and drafts to comment on.
English assignments to grade.
House to clean.
Post to write.

But something else keeps getting in the way!


Tell me. Could you resist this face?

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Music of My Life


I drove to a nearby town this morning blaring Adele as loud as I could.  I love Adele--not to sing along to--I can't sing with her. When I want to sing along, I have another set of CDs to play. But, it got me thinking about songs I associate with different parts of my life.

When we were young and lived at home, my sisters and brother and I remember our parents and their friends getting together to play cards many weekends.  Country music blared throughout the house. Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, Hank Williams.  Our lullabies.  One song stands out from this. The Battle of New Orleans by Johnny Horton.  One year at Christmas my siblings and I sang the song from beginning to end because Mom didn't believe we all knew it.




In high school I listened to whatever was on the radio.  My best friend and I cruised up and down Main Street with the radio blasting.  We would scope out the cute guys as we drove for hours up and down the same path, honking and giggling as we would pass them.  But one song always takes me back to high school. I heard it in the parking lot of Walmart this morning as I parked my car. It reminds me of all my friends in contest speech and riding the bus to contest. Black Water by the Doobie Brothers.




In college I really broadened my music horizons--I hung out with many music majors.  I listened to and liked many different styles of music (except opera. Just never could listen to it) But mostly I listened to folk singers with acoustic guitars, Barbra Streisand and Melissa Manchester.  The song that stands out takes me right back to a certain place and time. As part of my work study,  I worked in a little greasy spoon on campus. It was called Dantes.  On weekends they would have live music. This was the song




I met my husband several years after college. One of the ways I knew he was the one--we had many of the same albums.  Although, old hippy that he is, he had a lot more than I did.  But no one I knew listened to Jerry Jeff Walker, Michael Murphy, or Michael Johnson--a favorite from college.




When we had kids, the song was Puff the Magic Dragon.  When we would get together with friends, the women would sometimes take over the song choice--Mom's Night At the Stereo we called it. All songs you could sing along to!  I still love Down at the Twist and Shout by Mary Chapin Carpenter. The guys didn't always want to admit it, but they enjoyed what we played. Except for Billy Ray Cyrus. They weren't too fond of him.

And now, I still listen to many different genres. Country, Rock, Jazz, Musicals. But I have to have lots of songs because I never know what I'm going to be in the mood for. Sometimes I shuffle through, other times I listen to a whole CD.   My students are often amazed at the songs I know and what's on my ipod. Though they are more amazed that I have an ipod.

Friday, March 23, 2012

When Did That Happen?

Pop
Pop Pop Pop
Pop Pop Pop Pop 
Pop Pop Pop Pop Pop
Pop Pop Pop Pop Pop Pop 
Pop Pop Pop Pop Pop Pop Pop
The
Leaves
On 
My 
Tree
Popped
Out
Today!

I'm a spring checker.  Constantly on the look out for the signs that winter is over and spring has truly arrived.  I peek under leaf cover for signs of my honeysuckle coming up.  My little patch of violets are blooming. The peonies are peeking through and the Black-eyed Susans are four inches high!

So how did I miss the leaves on the maple tree?  Really. I know they weren't there yesterday!


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Noah's Ark

Teaching Speech for the last five years, I have had some odd groupings of kids for class.  There was the class of all high achieving girls and one bad boy. There was the redneck and jock class. But my 8th hour class this semester beats them all.  It's kind of like Noah's Ark for high school classes.


The first group are the Mona Lisa girls who sit towards the back or the side, straight backed They maintain that half  smile at the antics going on. They stay on the fringes of the action, never really participating. A couple of them think they are cool, above the rest, but they aren't nearly as cool and popular as they think.






The next group I find hard to name. At first I called them Slackers. But they aren't. They come to school every day (except the first day of each deer season. Did you know in Iowa there is more than one) and they do care. They just don't show it. They sit in the back of the room, slouched down in their seat, chewing their gum. They have a smirky smile on their face and a twinkle in their eye, like they just got away with something sneaky.  I have had them in class before and know their tricks. They don't get by with much.





There are my special ed kids. The girls sit in a corner and laugh and giggle at whatever the boys in this group say. One of the boys loves to flirt and talk to them and get them giggling.  The other boy just likes to fish.




And last, but certainly not least, my Crazy Geniuses.  One is so smart it's scary. They are much smarter than anyone in the room. They are sarcastic, snarky and irreverent. Nothing is sacred. Never ask them a question you really need an answer to because they might not tell you the correct one. And they are very creative. Their speeches and activities push boundaries while fulfilling the requirements. Every day they play word games of their own making with the writing on my white board--erasing letters, changing letters, creating their own little messages to me.  It started small to see if I would notice. Now, they take over the whole board.

What did I tell you?  Noah's Ark.


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

What Would You Say





I got a great birthday gift today from Fountain (yes, I gave her crap because it was late. And she thinks I'm getting old!). She's my former school roommate, for those of you who aren't familiar with her or our relationship. She gave me a plaque for my desk that says, "Flying Monkeys. I have them. Not afraid to use them." I am huge Wizard of Oz/Wicked fan and have a similar sign hanging in the front of my room. Anyway, she also gave me "Questions and Answers; A Five Year Journal". She knows me so well. A question I found glancing through it prompted this post.


"What do you want to say when someone asks, "What do you do" ?

I find books for teenagers who proudly proclaim they hate to read and have never finished a book. I make them admit that maybe, just maybe, they haven't ever found the right book. And that maybe, just maybe, they didn't give reading a fair chance. And I give them choice.

I give students a place to write freely. A place to write about whatever they want without fear of censorship. I encourage them to write about the hard things in their lives. I celebrate when they write something fabulous.  I share with them my own writing struggles so they know it happens to everyone. And I give them choice.

I take a class terrified to speak in front of the rest and create an environment of safety and comfort. I let them tell stories about their lives, share their passions, and discover new ones.  I give them a place to have fun and enjoy themselves, all the while making them better speakers and learners.  And I give them choice.

I make students whine, "This is hard" and smile when they say it. Then I cheer when they do it well.
I believe in their dreams of the future.
I encourage their creativity and their thinking. I may argue with them, but I don't tell them they are wrong.
I stand up for those who have no one in their corner.
I hover over those who need it.
I yell at a few too.
I love them.

I inspire  teenagers to Read, Write, Speak, Think and Dream.

What do you do?


And just in case you haven't seen or heard this...and even if you have, "What Teachers Make"

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Indecisive (20/31)



                                                              Split     
                                                                                               Splat
                                              Pitter
                                                                            Patter

Nothing

Splitter
      Splatter
           Pitterer
                   Patterer
Sprinkle. Sprinkle. Sprinkle

Nothing.

Indecisive rain
Can't make up
It's mind

Hang the clothes up
Take the clothes down
Let Chloe out
Bring Chloe in
Open windows
Close windows

                                                            Split
                                                                                                  Splat
                                        Pitter
                                                                           Patter

Nothing

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Scorpio Races (19/31)

A little different post for me today. I don't normally write books reviews, but I loved this book and must share a bit.

According to Maggie Stiefvater, she has been fascinated with the myth of the water horses for quite some time. She has tried to write about them before, but could never get the story right.  It wasn't until after Stiefvater wrote the Shiver trilogy that she went back to attempt it again. 

This time, success.

I loved the story of Sean, the boy who has won the Scorpio races four times. The boy who races for the joy and his love on a water horse.

And I loved the story of Puck (Kate, to those who don't her well) who must race to save what she loves.  

And, though, Stiefvater may not think she has written their story, I love the story of the water horses.  The majesty of their rise from the ocean and their drive to return. The violence of the races. The training days, the storm that brought horses inland, the race day.

And how can you not read a story who's first line is, "It is the first day of November and so, today, someone will die."

Maggie Stiefvater says that she envisions The Scorpio Races as a stand alone novel.  I hope not. I am not ready to let go of the story of Sean and Puck and the horses....


Sunday, March 18, 2012

Memories (18/31)



As I bask in the sun
Watching
the grandkids
Chase
Each other with squirt guns
on a warm March afternoon
I think of another birthday chase.

Sitting in the backseat
Watching 
Grandpa
Racing 
down Main Street
Chasing
Mu favorite red tights
That blew out of the car
On a blustery March afternoon.

As I check out the flowers 
Peeking
Out of the ground
Celebrating life
I think of other flowers
Standing at attention
Honoring the dead

As I bask in the sun
Memories 
Chase 
Through my mind
Intertwine
With the present
Taking me back
Reminding me of 
Life's Circle

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Things I Just Don't Understand.... (17/31)


Last year on my birthday, I posted things I had learned in 54 years.  This year I thought I'd make a list of things I still don't understand after 55 years.

1. I don't understand how people can hold grudges for so long.  How can they go for years not talking to people they once loved?

2.  Mean people. Have a piece of chocolate and smile.

3. People who don't like chocolate. How can you not like chocolate.  If it doesn't contain chocolate, it's not candy.

4. Old People. And I don't mean people over a certain age. I mean those who act old,  people who don't have any fun in their life.  Grow little for heavens sake!  Sing in the car.  Watch Sponge-Bob.  Play with kindergarteners.

5. Teachers who don't read.

6. Teachers who don't write.

7. Teachers who don't read, but "teach" reading.

8. Ditto the writing teachers.

9. Teachers who don't care about the whole child.

10. The new timeline on Facebook.

11. Voting only by party.

12. People who still don't think the President is American...or Christian.

13.  Thong underwear

14. Lounge lizards--you know who they are. Always sitting and complaining in the lounge, but never a concrete idea to improve school.

15. Lot lizards--the kids who sit in their cars in the parking lot in front of school and do the same thing with the same result.

16. How a 15-seed can beat a 2-seed (my bracket's busted!)

17.  Why it isn't this nice every year on my birthday!

18. How you can drop some people in the middle of nowhere and they can find their way home and other people get lost going around the block.

19. Standardized tests.

20. Why schools and governments want to punish EVERYONE when only a few people break a rule or the law....

21. Not having time to read.

22. How some teacher/bloggers get so much read (but I'm glad they do!  Makes life and buying books much easier for me!)

23. People who don't do anything outside of their 8 hours, but say they don't have time for a committee.

24. People who are ALWAYS late.

25.  How I got to be 55!!!!!!!!




Friday, March 16, 2012

Spring is Sprung





One of Grandpa's little ditties: 

Spring is sprung, the grass is ris. 
I wonders where the birdies is. 
They say the birds is on the wing. 
Ain't that absurd? 
I always thought the wing was on the bird. 


I had to look this up because I couldn't remember the whole thing.  The poem, known as" Spring in the Bronx" is actually anonymous wiki answers tells me, although it is often attributed to Ogden Nash.

We have a four day weekend for spring break here in northeast Iowa.  Nice of the school district to do that for my birthday, don't you think?  Chloe and I are enjoying the day--what were left of the winter decorations are packed up and put away for next year and it is spring in and outside of my house.  I have a long to-do list, but I am done for the day.

The deck is clean and that is where I'm going to spend the rest of the day, reading and enjoying the beautiful weather.

Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Follow-Ups: Novels, Author-To-Be, and Inservice (15/31)



Today's post is in three parts.

Part 1: Young Adult Novel Unit.
My freshmen finished reading their novels yesterday.  Really. They finished.  And all but maybe two liked the books they chose. Really. Liked a book. Liked reading.

And the kicker is. THEY WANT TO DO IT AGAIN.  As they turned in their activities yesterday, I handed them a small square of paper.  I told them I wanted them to write me a note about this unit.  They were to be totally honest. I just wanted to know if they really liked the unit. If they thought I should do it again next year. What they thought about the timing and the activities. They could tell me anything they wanted to.

Only one student didn't like the unit. One out of forty. And I think her biggest problem was she didn't like the book she chose.

I may do it again before school is out. Maybe after Romeo and Juliet....

Part 2: My Author-To-Be
If you've ever wondered about the expression "Over the moon", I have the perfect example today--my author-to-be. She's dancing and giggling around school today because the book her poem was published in arrived in the mail! I'm sure she has shown every teacher at the school and most of the students.  I put congratulations in the morning announcements, just in case she forgot anybody.


Part 3:  What Teacher's Do at Inservice

Yesterday was inservice.  Our students let out at 12:15, but we don't have anything scheduled until 1:00.  Usually, most of us spend that time working in our rooms. But the last couple, our new principal and the Building Leadership Team have planned little activities for us.  Yesterday, being Pi Day, one of our math teachers brought pie (after another one got pie in the face! Fundraising at it's best!). So of course, we ate!





And, if you felt the need to work the pie off--or the stress of the week--there was badmiton set up in the gym. Not nearly as many people opted for the badmiton!




I'm hoping for "rolly" chair races next time!


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

My Husband, the Shopper



My husband is a shopper.  Not my kind of shopping...the leisurely stroll through stores just to see what's new and what you might need that you didn't know you needed.  No, my husband is a comparison shopper.  Not that it's a bad thing. We He seldom makes a bad purchase.  We get the best buy for our money. It's just a very long drawn out process. I have been known to go sit in the car and read while he shops. Once I brought our portable TV and watched basketball while he shopped at Menards. The only thing that could get our sons to come along on a shopping trip was the promise of eating at Old Country Buffet!  Even grocery shopping takes forever.  The grandkids are the only ones who will voluntarily go to the store with him.

Anyway.

It starts with Consumer Reports magazine. Years and years of Consumer Reports magazine. Really. I try to recycle them and he digs them out. And, yes, we both know that they put out a little booklet of the highlights every year, but, according to my husband, the reports are not as complete as the magazine articles. Anyway, lots of research goes into the buying of anything (Did you know that Consumer Reports rates wine. Yup, they do. Happily, my favorite Merlot is a Consumer Reports best buy).

The next step involves checking out the necessary item in the stores---every store that sells said item. We check the price, the warranty, the delivery, how it looks, if the salesmen know more about the item than my husband (few do). For a few years I went along with him as he checked things out. I soon learned I am not made for that serious kind of shopping. Cars are the worst--oh, and TVs---oops forgot about washers and dryers, and stoves, and the counter tops (still have my old crappy one because he has a certain design in his head and can't find it). Let's face it. It's all bad to shop for.

Eventually, I learned to send him on his own to do the initial comparisons.

I learned this after shopping for cars at every car lot in a 10 country radius--and another state. I won't bore you with the details, but let's just say I really only care about the color and the stereo.  

Now I tell him, "When you have it narrowed down to three, let me know. I'll come along."

We are both much happier with this arrangement.


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

What Teachers Do During Inservice (Slice 13/31)



A couple of weeks ago, my creative writing journal was "List 10 things you think teachers do when there are no students in school."  Most of them got pretty creative.

The first category seemed to be "Playing on the Computer."  Quite a few thought we unblocked Facebook so we could chat with each other and stalk students. And texting--we have to text each other don't we? I mean, our rooms are soooo far apart.  And, of course, we must be playing with photo booth like they do and take crazy pictures of ourselves. And how about YouTube videos? Surely we must watch a lot of those.

The next category fell under "Fun and Games". As we blast "I'm Sexy and I Know It" over the speaker system, we roller blade through the halls or have races in our "rolly" chairs.  And there always Dance Party while we have a wine tasting.  We also take off our shoes and run through the halls and play Wii Bowling on the SmartBoards.

There are a few of us who actually do "School Work" when students are out of the building.  We study the latest torture techniques, how to make our classes as boring as possible and when all is said and done, we kill a few trees in preparation for the next day.

Hmmm. Well, with inservice tomorrow, I'll have to WD40 the wheels on my chair, oil my whip for torture training and practice my bowling. I think I'll save the wine tasting for after school!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Chloe Talk

I just love it when I see Mom and Dad packing up my toys and food. I just know that something special is going to happen. And when my blanket is taken out of my kennel, I know it's going to be a great time. We're sleeping somewhere else, there's new people to play with, and, if I'm really lucky, another dog!

So last weekend I saw all this going on. I was so excited, jumping up and down and barking to show them how happy I was.  Finally, Dad told me to come with him and out we went to the van. I love going places in the van.  I can stand up and walk around. I can look out the windows and sit in the front seat (if Mom isn't around).

We didn't drive very far. Only a couple of blocks and we stopped.  When we got out I was so happy. We were at the lady who gives me a bath and cuts my toenails.  It's always fun when I get to go there. But I couldn't figure out why Dad brought my toys and my blanket.  And then I realized THEY WERE LEAVING ME HERE!

I don't want them to know, but I kind of like getting to stay there. There is Girl, a Black Lab that is my BFF. She gets kind of lazy sometimes, but she can be a lot of fun to play with. And the people there take me outside a lot and play fetch and stuff with me, so it's really an OK place to have to go.

But I still pouted when they came to pick me up TWO DAYS LATER! Really. Can you believe it. They left me for two days.  Isn't that some sort of animal abuse or something? I wanted them to know that I wasn't very happy, so I just laid around and whined. I didn't eat. I didn't play.  Because of course, they had to go to work the next day and I had to be home all by myself. They should have just left me at the other place.

My pouting must have worked though, because this weekend I got to go shopping with Dad.  He put my blanket in the van, BUT NO OVERNIGHT BAG! I knew we were just going to have fun.  We drove for awhile and I came up and got in the front seat for awhile (don't know where Mom was at).  We went all kinds of places, so I got to watch a lot of people coming and going. Dad doesn't think I bark when we go on our trips, but I do sometimes when I want people to come and talk to me. When I go with Dad he buys me stuff too. I got a brand new collar (Bright Red--I'm not sure it really goes with my strawberry blond fur, but it is pretty) and a leash to go with it.  He also bought me a huge new bone to chew on.  Can't wait to get going on that thing!

Sunday was a pretty good day too. Mom played with me outside a lot and even when no one was outside, it was really nice. I took a couple of naps laying in the sun.  Need to work on my tan before lake time, you know!

Well, that's about it for now. Don't know when I will get to talk again, but thanks for telling Mom to let me write once in awhile.

Puppy Kisses to you all,
Chloe


Sunday, March 11, 2012

Power



A day at State Speech is a day of hurry up and wait.  A day of so many highs and lows. Emotions run wild (500 or so walking hormones!) Nerves can attack even the most confident as they wait for those all important ratings.

All day long I heard, "I can't wait to read my ballots."  Those ballots, you see, should justify the ratings.  Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't.

Today, one was outstanding.

I have a young man, a sophomore,  who competed in Spontaneous Speaking for the first time. Spontaneous Speaking is TOUGH.  At the end of January coaches receive a list of ten possible topics for Spontaneous. Not the questions, the topics. The idea is the students will read up on those topics, watch the news, and form opinions.

At contest, the contestant draws three questions related to those topics, chooses one, and has THREE minutes to come up with a speech (no longer than five minutes). Really. Three minutes. I told you it was tough. Then they go in front of the judges and an audience and speak.

My student did pretty well when he spoke on "Are Independent Voters the Most Important Force in American Politics?"  But for me, impossible to tell what he received. When scores came out he received two Division 1's and a Division 2 (overall then, he received a one).  He couldn't wait to see what the judge who gave him a two had to say.

On the way home on the bus, I pass out ballots so kids can see what the judges had to say. There was some grumbling, some disagreements and some Aha moments.

And I hear my young man, "Mrs. Day, you have to read what the judge who gave me two had to say. It's awesome.  He thinks I have great potential in Spontaneous.  That I have great presence when I speak. He thinks my delivery is amazing."

And the judge did say all that, as well as telling the young man why he didn't get a one from him for this speech . This judge made a Division 2 feel like an Academy Award.

I listened contentedly as my student talked about his plans for this event next year...

Ahhh, the power of comments.



Saturday, March 10, 2012

It Is What It Is

Today was State Speech. On our way at 6:30am and home at 8:00pm. The kids did well and it was a great day, but my brain is mush. This is all I can manage tonight for the 10th slice! 


No time for reading
No time for writing
Gotta herd those kids on the bus!

No time for playing
No time for snuggles
Gotta herd those kids on the bus!

The wheels on the bus go 
round and round
I herded those kids on the bus!

The kids on the bus go
yackety yak
I herded those kids on the bus!

STOP!

Forgot the projector
Turn this bus around!
Run, Mrs. Day, Run
Mrs. Day don't run...

The wheels on the bus......


Friday, March 9, 2012

Grandma's Garage



It was a two car garage that never saw a car parked in it, but if you ever needed anything, it was in Grandma's Garage.

This garage was stacked floor to ceiling with everything you could imagine. Boxes of all sizes packed with everything from Christmas decorations (72 boxes of them!) to out of season, out of size clothes. Brand new garbage cans packed tightly with sheets of all sizes and towels. Cans of Folger's coffee (at one point 72 pounds of it). Christmas presents bought throughout the year and hidden away on the top shelf, away from Grandkids' prying eyes. Cases of toilet paper. Mementos from long ago.

I wish I had a picture of it, because no one ever believes my stories.

One year, my dad was invited to a friend's wedding.  He told my grandma he was going to buy them a Crock Pot (something new that came out that year). Grandma asked him what color he wanted. Yep--out in the garage there were several...

Grandma worked at a local department store. One time, the store sent someone out to her house and to buy back several cases of the toilet paper she had in the garage. It was a great sale and they had run out.

Grandpa always said it cost him $3.00 a day for her to work there.
He was probably right.

The garage was a magical place. There was just enough room in the center that we grandkids would play out there when the weather didn't allow us outside.  But, never ever, during the height of Christmas season. Then, there just wasn't enough hiding spaces for all the presents she thought she needed to buy. Of course, there were seven grandkids, so it took a lot of hiding spaces.

Going off to college was a breeze. I just shopped Grandma's Garage for the dorm life essentials: sheets, towels, coffee pot, coffee. She tried to send toasters and crock pots with me, but the college didn't want us having cooking supplies.

Grandma died in December of my junior year. That night, when we all gathered in her kitchen, the tears fell and laughter rang through the house as we talked about her.  At one point my dad and aunt got up and began going through the pockets of Grandma's aprons.  You see, she also hoarded money. And she kept it in the pockets of her ever present apron.

The following summer, it was time for a garage sale. And we began going through the garage. All of took what we needed--sheets and towels, coffee pots and crock pots. And the rest went up for sale.  We found some things that made us laugh. There was an oak doll bunk bed set that I remembered getting for Christmas one year. Grandpa told us she couldn't find one when it came time to wrap presents, so she went out and bought another.

Even now, 35 years later, I have things from Grandma's garage. Embroidered dish towels that I won't use, remnants of towels I use for rags, tablecloths put out on special occasions, a set of dishes. But it's the Christmas decorations that have really stood the test of time. And every year, when I put them out, I think of her and her seventy two boxes of decorations.





Thursday, March 8, 2012

Grandpa's Legacy



Every morning, as I walk from the parking lot to the high school, I pick up the trash that appears upon my path. I don't make a big deal about it. I just pick up what I can and throw it in the trash when I get into the building.

There are several students who see me do this most every day. One finally asked why I do it. It isn't my job.

He's right. It isn't my job. But if I didn't leave places a little cleaner than when I got there, I'm pretty sure my grandfather would come down from heaven and kick my butt.

That, you see, was one of his "commandments".  We learned it many Sundays in the spring and summer as he took us on hikes through the park woods across from his house.  While my grandmother and the rest of the family gathered around the TV or played cards, Grandpa took us on hikes in the woods.

The spring was my favorite time to go. I swear Grandpa knew the name of every wildflower we passed: 

Blood roots 

Dutchmen's Britches, 

Jack in the Pulpits, 

Sweet Williams 

I loved searching for them as we passed down the trails. We never picked them. We left them for others to enjoy. Although I remember the first time he showed us a Blood Root. He did pick it to show us how it got it's name.

Often times we took marshmallows and Grandpa would start a small campfire so we could roast them.  Always on long sticks that he carefully shaved the bark off with his ever present pocket knife. Those were the best marshmallows I have ever had.

And always we took a sack with us to carry our trash back with us... and any other trash we may find.

It was a lesson I learned well.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Deck Day! (7/31)


Yesterday as  I walked back to my room after a quick visit to the office, I noticed it.

Fresh air. Spring. The promise of robins and grilling and spring rains and clean.  Every once in awhile I would smell it throughout the day. Was someone opening the windows? Was it wishful thinking?

I snuck home to pick up some forgotten papers during my prep period.  A half day of in-school suspension didn't seem like a bad trade off for playing hooky.  Maybe I should try it! I could
     sit out on the deck,
          play fetch with Chloe,
               plan for spring flowers and
                    daydream.

Sounded like heaven. But, I went back to school. There were
     classes to teach,
          rehearsals and
               meetings after school.
No hooky playing for me!

The fresh smell kept dancing into my room throughout the afternoon, teasing me.

Finally, at 5 I was done for the day. I gathered up my things and headed to the car.  At least it was still light out and I made plans to take Chloe for a walk.

And, lo and behold, when I drove up our driveway there was a grill in my parking spot!  It was going to be a deck day! It didn't matter if the the deck hadn't been cleaned, if the table and chairs were dirty. Deck day meant spring had finally arrived.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Counting the Days....


My speech season is almost over. Saturday is our state contest. Once contest is over, I will have much more free time. The poem below contains references to pieces my students are performing this year...

5 Days and Counting
Arriving before most
Leaving long after the others.

5 Days and Counting
"Caps, Caps for Sale"
and
"I'm too young to have the ears of a rabbit."

5 Days and Counting
Do Not Go Gently Hazel and Gus
and
Tiny's voice of love

5 Days and Counting
"MacBeth shall sleep no more "
and
"Cause we're Tuesday people"

5 Days and Counting
Kids popping in during classes
and
The room that is never empty

5 Days and Counting
Laughter
Political conversations
Laughter
My kids

240 days and counting....



Monday, March 5, 2012

Will Write for Comments


I remember my first post in last year's Slice of Life Writing challenge well.  Terrified, I clicked "post" and waited.  Would anyone comment?  Would anyone even read it?

I waited.

And comments came. They meant so much to me. Validation, if you will, of what I was doing. Each day, each comment gave me courage to write and share the next day.

And I learned the power of positive words.

Sometimes, I forget that when I'm reading student pieces.  I try to get them back quickly. I get so busy trying to "assign" a responsible, accurate grade for what the student has written, that I forget each of us have included a piece of our soul in our writing. And that needs validation.

So I am trying to slow down. Trying to give thoughtful, connecting responses to each and every piece as I read it. I am trying to remember to highlight those little thoughts and phrases that I really like.

And a smiley face just won't do the job.



Sunday, March 4, 2012

Celebrating



My freshmen hate to read. Really. Hate. To. Read.

Books suck. Books are boring. Books are a waste of time.
They feel the same way about writing, but that's another post


So, I did what any book loving nerd would do. I ordered great new books. Pulled great old books off the shelf and started a young adult novel unit. I, of course, was met with groans.

"What? I have to read this is 15 days!  I'll never finish it by then." This student had proudly proclaimed they had never read an entire book.

"I hate to read." Yea, 'cause I didn't get that from all the whining you have done every time I tell you to pull out a book.


"Do you have anything short?"

"Do we have to read again today?" Yep. Every day for fifteen days.

But

Slowly. Ever so slowly. The voices are changing their tune.

"Do we get to read today?" What?

"Hey. That book looks good. What's it about?" You're talking about books?????

"Can I read that book when she's done with it?"

"Are we going to do this again?"  Really? You want to read another book?


Could it be I'll make readers out of them yet?



Saturday, March 3, 2012

Recalculating


Two years ago, I bought my husband a Garmin for Christmas. I don't understand why he wanted a GPS. I think he just wanted a new toy because everyone else had them. But, I bought it for him anyway.

First of all, he can't program it. Why? Because he always drives, so I always program it. I put in the addresses. I listen to the voice give directions.

Recalculating.

Secondly, he thinks "she's" wrong most of the time. No matter where we are, no matter what "she" says, his response is either, "That can't be right!" or "I'm taking this road instead."

Recalculating.

Friday night we packed up after school and headed about two and a half hours north for a visit with old friends. We've been there several times and actually know where we are going (for the most part). But Greg asks me to turn on the Garmin and plug in their address when we are about an hour down the road. He knows the highway he's looking for--he just can't remember the number.

"Nope, that's not right."

Recalculating.

I reset the settings from fastest route to shortest distance. Garmin sends us on a new path.

Nope.

Recalculating.

"Call Tom. I want to ask him how he goes."

Recalculating.

I reset Garmin back to fastest route. She's still not right. But we keep driving.

Soon I hear her say, "In point four miles turn left onto _____ Road." Of course, we don't want that.

Recalculating.

"In point two miles turn left onto _____Street."  Nope, not that one either.

Recalculating.

"In point five miles turn left onto ....."

Recalculating.

I turned her off before she exploded.


Friday, March 2, 2012

Is My Zipper Down?



Giggles. I try to ignore them. I'm sure that they are just talking about prom or what they are going to do this weekend.

They turn around, look at me and giggle.  I'm trying to give a lecture (and God, how I hate to lecture).
They giggle again.
"Really? Giggling? Is my zipper unzipped?"
They turn to each other and laugh.

Last period of the day.
The boys in the back of the room, who always snicker and laugh, are looking at me, then snickering and laughing.  And it's contagious. The quiet, shy girls in the corner begin to giggle. They look at me. Turn red. And giggle.

I do the subtle check. I turn around and continue lecturing.

I look at my SmartBoard.

Hmmm. A red laser point is dancing around. I look sharply at the boys in the back. They giggle, but I don't think it's them.



The shades are up. The library and several classrooms are across the square from me.

Hmmm.

Detective Day will figure this out.....

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Doin' A Happy Dance!



I'm doin' my happy dance because today is March 1st and you know what that means!  It's the Slice of Life Challenge over at Two Writing Teachers!


Welcome to Coffee With Chloe!


Hi, I'm Chloe. Normally, I'm a pretty happy dog, but it's March. I remember what happened last year.  Deb ignored me for most of the month while she wrote in this silly challenge (Deb here. I wrote my thoughts about the Slice of Life Challenge a week or so ago. You can check it out here). Really, who wants to write--we should be going for walks, throwing the frisbee, getting rid of those pesky squirrels and birds that keep invading my yard!

But no. If she isn't writing on the computer, she'll be writing in her notebook or she'll be checking out writing sites looking for ideas (Deb again--I'm going to start a new page of sites I have found with writing ideas. Feel free to check it out!).  Geez. I'm lying right here. That should be plenty of inspiration!

But, no, she'll sit at the silly computer every morning now.  What's the big deal anyway?

Anyway, I'll fill you in a little bit about this silly blog.

Most of the year, Deb doesn't write every day, and she doesn't always write about me--even though its named after me. I just don't get that. I'm cute. I'm funny. And doggone it, people like me!  Most of the time it seems she writes about school--that reading and writing stuff. Sometimes she writes about the grandkids--they're almost as cute and funny as I am! Sometimes she writes about her kids at school. I don't know what makes them so great. And sometimes--well sometimes, she writes poetry. Yuck.

Well, that's about it for me.  I hope you come back again.  At least come back when she writes about me.  Hey--maybe I should write my own blog.  I could call it Digging with Deb or Doggin' Deb or... well, I'll get back to you on that.  See you soon!

Oh yeah. Leave a comment. She kind of likes that.