Sunday, December 20, 2009

Blast from the past

Every now and then, as you readers know, I like to pull out old journals and record my thoughts and reactions to them. Tonight is no different, and I've chosen to pull out journals from student teaching, in light of my recent (and let's face it) ongoing career sqabbles that have reared their ugly heads as of late. This entry is dated October 4th, 2004. My god has it been over five years since I completed student teaching already? Dear GOD!

I write:

It's amazing too how many different positions six year olds can find to sit. Just amazing. Is it wrong of me to be annoyed when I see five pairs of feet in the air?

To which my supervisor reading writes in response:

(Smiley face) No, Perfectly Natural! (Janneke, if you are reading this, I hope you are well and I miss your humor, insight, and encouragement...)

I continue to write:

I mean, what comes next? I never considered myself picky, but but a little consistency goes a long way. I am learning that it is important to be firm about my expectations and don't withdraw them under any circumstances.

Then, in a different color, on the same day, I write more:

Behavior management is still a weakness...I know my kids are testing me like the water in a pool now that their teacher is out of the room full time and I know that means I must stay consistent...trouble is, I don't. I have no reason why, but when it comes down to releasing a consequence, I ALWAYS hesitate. And never actually give one. I always justify it with some excuse, which usually gets put back on me. I think, "I didn't give a warning," or "My directions weren't clear enough." Ultimately, I don't want to face the consequences of giving consequences, if that makes any sense at all.

To which my supervising professor replies:

It does. (She gets me.)

I continue:

Which brings me to my next point: Self-criticism and doubt. This will ultimately be my downfall in this profession. It'll be the reason I decide to back out eventually. I find myself questioning, doubting, every decision I make in the classroom and planning lessons. Not good. Part of my stress this semester has been put on by me and me alone from hours of agonizing over plans and writing and rewriting them, only to completely re-do them when I put them into practice. I often have fears of "everything I do/know is wrong" and/or "people are thinking I'm a horrible person and why should I teach their children?

They're not pleasant thoughts, but they run through my mind every now and then and its all I can do to keep them from invading and taking over. Because they do, and I can't think of anyway to stop them. Better go prepare for tomorrow, and I don't have time to be creative.

Oh my goodness was I right on in the prediction. I found myself wrestling with a lot of these management issues and consequence issues this semester while teaching first graders after school. And my self-doubt has, if I may say so, grown worse. What does one do in a situation where no personal or professional growth has taken place in five years?

I suppose if I had supportive mentors during my first year teaching I could ask them about consequences without feeling judged like my job was on the line, which ultimately, it was. Why does all of this seem so painful, even now? Why can't I confide in anyone even now about such issues?

The only thing keeping me sane now is the fact that I have less responsibility teaching than I ever did, and I must say, I will remain an assistant for quite a while. I think I'm OK with that. Even if I were to switch fields, the self-doubt will still continue to plague me in ways that I can't imagine.

How does one deal with such a situation?

How have you readers faced your own doubts about life and the future?

Do you have similar situations in your own career paths that will eventually cause you to stall in professional growth?

Please discuss as much as you feel comfortable with.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Just thoughts, and an invitation to share your own...

My quote of the week is something like “Please at least PRETEND to listen to me, folks. It will do you some good.” Help me to prove that I am worth something in this school. I am a student. I am not a teacher. I am introvert in an extrovert's world. I was trained as a teacher, but there is no way I would ever do that job again. I enjoy being an assistant most days; this bothers me greatly. I am ready to move on. I am ready to move up, but where do I go from here? I will ignore the fact that I am just like the student that told me today that he sucks at writing and gave up. I had nothing to tell him. I tell myself that I suck at everything ALL THE TIME. It's time to make a change. It’s a common story, more common that imagined for most late twenty-some things. I find myself quite frequently accepting less than I know students can do out of pure frustration, and I’m unhappy with myself for it. This is one of the many reasons I will never be a teacher. It is also one of the many reasons I am looking toward nursing school or physician’s assistant school more and more.

It’s that time of year folks. It’s the time of year for reflection. It’s the time of year that all perfectionists and idealists reflect and come to the conclusion that we can all do that much better. We set lofty goals for ourselves and others. We harp on ourselves and others. We bitch and moan. We take it out on others at holiday gatherings. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m dreading my family gatherings because of this very reason. I already tell myself that I haven’t accomplished shit this year, so I don’t want to hear it from anyone else. In anticipation of this, I turn inward and start criticizing myself. I realize of course that this defeats the whole spirit of the holiday. I hate giving gifts because I can never find the “perfect” gift. Does this sound familiar? I hate starting conversations because I don’t want to tell others what I’ve been up to this year for fear of the compare game. You know the drill. “You’ve been doing X with him?” “I’ve changed the world. What have you done this year?” You know the compare game well, if you haven’t participated already in some form or another.

I challenge myself and all of you to get out of your own head this holiday season. To do this, I have to sometimes disconnect from the world. I have to forget that I have a close friend teaching English at a Chinese University, and another friend writing India’s first draft of a child abuse law, overseas, before heading to South Africa. I have countless friends finishing their fifth year of teaching, and I quit mid-year of my first. I have to let go of this. But how? I have to lobotomize myself to the fact that I have been out of college for over five years already, and I’m not married at *gasp* almost twenty-eight years of age. IT DOESN'T MATTER. At the heart of my being I know this. At the heart of my being I know that I’m worthy of praise and love even if I haven’t completed a full year of teaching anywhere or have no savings account to speak of.

Those things, material things, will come much later. I have my health and good friends, and that is all that is important. Instead of giving my parents my Samantha American Girl doll so they will shut up about grandchildren, I will calmly point out that I do things on my own schedule, when I please and be OK with that. I am done pleasing other people. It is time to please myself. Then maybe I can go and make a real difference.

To those in helping professions and tend toward a perfectionist and idealist side to their work: What helps you cope? What gets you through the day? How do you prevent compassion fatigue? How do you keep from dwelling on the negative? Thoughts welcome.

I will do it by telling myself and others that I've made a small difference this year, and I won't elaborate, no matter how much I want to. I relocated to a new city ALL BY MYSELF three years ago and have survived almost THREE Minnesota winters BY MYSELF. I will be kind to myself. I have finished additional coursework and am on the way to a Master's Degree. I will make it overseas one day. I will stay positive. That IS good enough. No questions asked.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

When the going gets tough creatively

And I can't seem to think about a single thing worthwhile to blog about, I turn to a little site I like to call I scroll over a number, and see what pops up. If I don't like the prompt, I move to the next one. Today, I will elaborate on Prompt #339, which asks the writer to "Write about 5 things you would do if you did not see a soul for seven days."

I say this is difficult because it also doesn't give a stipulation about what you can have with you. I'm going to assume I lock myself in my apartment for those seven days, because it is winter and I am an introvert, and I live in Minnesota, not seeing a soul for seven days is an easy thing to do. Assuming I lock myself in my apartment, I have all things in my apartment. I can't go anywhere, but I have a lap top and a cell phone, which doesn't require that I actually SEE anyone. (Is that cheating?) Here's my list:

1. Update Netflix Instant queue and watch all the movies on it. I love this site, and because I don't have cable, it is my TV, along with and Youtube. What do you readers do for TV? What is your favorite watch TV online website? What do you turn to when there is crap on TV?

2. Perfect my recorder technique. I own three recorders (soprano, alto, and a tenor one that I bought off ebay last year.) I have some music, but I enjoy going online and looking up new music. Because I don't have a piano, these are my connection to creating music. What do you readers do for a creative outlet? What is your musical instrument of choice?

3. Read every book on my bookshelf currently.

4. Try cooking new recipes with the contents of my fridge and pantry. I'm awful about going shopping, and then using what I've bought to create fresh dishes, due to time mostly. I have several recipes on my shelf that I've been dying to try. Do you readers have a favorite you'd like to share?

5. Crochet, and finish all the projects I've started.

6. Teach myself how to draw and paint.

7. Watch my entire DVD collection.

8. Sleep.

9. Actually DO my YOGA and PILATES DVDs.

10. Plant an indoor vegetable garden, assuming I have the supplies. Oh wait, that's what the internet is for. What would I do without the Internet?

11. Update my resume and start looking for an actual teaching position. I never get to do this now that I'm employed again, but it's something that I do need to start focusing on now that the new year is coming around.

This should provide enough entertainment for seven days. What would you readers do if you didn't see a soul for seven days? Would it be easy? Would it be difficult? Would you go crazy? I see so many people at work and being an introvert, I recharge by being by myself. I need to spend more time by myself in creative pursuits, that I know. But how? How do you readers recharge? Find sanity in a crazy world? Have I asked enough questions yet? Enjoy your weekend, and peace to you all!!!

Friday, December 11, 2009

I'm posting more lyrics

Because it's Friday night and I'm watching yet another musical, KISS ME KATE. It's kind of slow, and not my favorite one by far, but it has some merits. Bob Fosse and great tap dancing, for one. It is Cole Porter does THE TAMING OF THE SHREW for another. I also like this one number, possibly the best number in the musical. I'm going to do it solo one day.

KATHARINE (with beer stein in hand--fabulousity!):

I hate men.
I can't abide 'em even now and then.
Than ever marry one of them, I'd rest a maiden rather,
For husbands are a boring lot and only give you bother.
Of course, I'm awfully glad that Mother had to marry Father,
But I hate men.

Of all the types I've ever met within our democracy,
I hate most the athlete with his manner bold and brassy,
He may have hair upon his chest but, sister, so has Lassie.
Oh, I hate men!
I hate men.

They should be kept like piggies in a pen.
Avoid the trav'ling salesman though a tempting
Tom he may be,
For on your wedding night he may be off to far Araby,
While he's away in Mandalay is thee who have the baby,
Oh I hate men.

If thou shouldst wed a businessman, be wary, oh, be wary.
He'll tell you he's detained in town on business necessary,
His bus'ness is the bus'ness with his pretty secretary,
Oh I hate men!
I hate men

Though roosters they, I will not play the hen.
If you espouse and older man through girlish optimism,
He'll always stay at home at night and make no criticism,
Though you may call it love, the doctors call it rheumatism.
Oh, I hate men.

From all I've read, alone in bed, from A to Zed, about 'em.
Since love is blind, then from the mind, all womankind should rout 'em,
But, ladies, you must answer too, what would we do without 'em?
Still, I hate men!

Here's the video for a good visual (minus beer stein, I like this one better than the older version though):


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Yes, posting lyrics is kind of a copout...

...but I will do it anyway, because that's the kind of mood I'm in...

Nick of Time
Bonnie Raitt

A friend of mine she cries at night and she calls me on the phone
Sees babies everywhere she goes and she wants one of her own
She's waited long enough she says and, she still he can't decide
Pretty soon she'll have to choose and it tears her up inside
She is scared
Scared she'll run out of time

I see my folks are getting on and I watch their bodies change
I know they see the same in me and it makes us both feel strange
No matter how you tell yourself, it's what we all go through
Those lines are pretty hard to take when they're starin' back at you
Scared to run out of time

When did the choices get so hard, there's so much more at stake
Life gets mighty precious
When there's less of it to waste
Ooh ooh ooh ooh
Scared to run out of time

Just when I thought I'd had enough and all my tears were shed
No promise left unbroken, there were no painful words unsaid
You came along and showed me how to leave it all behind
You opened up my heart again and then much to my surprise
I found love, baby, love in in the nick of time
(Love in the nick of time)
I found love, darlin', love in the nick of time
I found love baby, love in the nick of time

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Identity and Music (one where I don't really say anything important)

I haven't posted at all in sometime, and the last post I said I would post about the phenomenon of the quarter-life crisis that plagues me and many twenty-somethings today. I don't know that I have much of an update on that right now, but in flipping through my iTunes library tonight after a perfectly perfect Saturday of getting my hair colored and cleaning my closet I came across that perfect song that captured so many of these feelings of angst that have run through me for so long. Plus, I just love Nellie McKay. I know on my other blog, we are celebrating the identity crisis. Well, this is just that, only not my own. I will come up with my own. Until then, here's a taste of hers.

"Change The World"

I wake up
I am bored
To my pictures I implore
Should I go or stay
What should I be today
Make a leap
Go to sleep
Should I cry or should I weep
Where should I go from here
Am I hetero or queer
Oh, self discovery
What joy it is
I need recovery
Caffeinated fizz
Should I run
Should I hide
Happy pill or suicide
Contribute or refute
Have a kid
Then call it cute
Oh, self -esteeming, in suburbia
My shelf is teeming
A pet named Chia

Oh what should I say
What should I pray
Who would care if I went ahead
And punched the wall
Oh what do I care
What should I wear
What do I care
What does it matter
If I change the world at all

I listen to some rap
I give myself a slap
Come on use the pain
Drink up from the rain
Just arise unsupervised
Healthy wealthy you know wise
Dance around
Make a sound
Let yourself become unwound
God, I'm so German
Have to have a plan
Please Ethel Merman help me out this jam
Ding a ling
Ring a ding
Anything just do something
Feelin' dense
On the fence
Civil disobedience
Come on now's the hour
Go and deviate
Can't you feel the power
Hope you appreciate


OK Dr. Phil
Ready for my pill
Flex my psychic muscle
Guess we'd better hustle
People are dying now
Do something you ugly cow
Sorry for myself again
Me, my wallet and my men
Jesus I love you
Frank I love you, too
Hit the road together
Get out of the zoo
No exit
Just a pit
Apocalyptic and a zit
Hurry now
Pack your bags
Adieu you mall scallawags
Got my sneakers velcroed
Snap my bookbag on
Goodbye little zipcode
How can I go wrong


What does it matter
If I change the world at all

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Things to blog about

Every now and then, I get inspired to blog about things that matter but with no time to actually do so. Here is a list of things I've been thinking about writing a post about. I might come back to this later.

1. Single-sex education and why I think it's the way to go for most students in the middle grades.
2. Making it work
3. The phenomenon of the Quarterlife Crisis
4. Dating and lack there of for many 20 somethings (and why it doesn't matter)
5. Reading
6. My role as a young professional in a school
7. Holidays
8. The passing of time
9. Another year
10. Is it 2010 ALREADY?

That should suffice for now?

What's on your mind lately?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

"I can't believe I'm at a class of '72 reunion with 250 people I've never seen before accompanied by a man I met on a singles cruise. Somewhere along the line my life took a turn..." ~Julia Sugarbaker

If Julia Sugarbaker can say that, here's my version. "I can't believe I'm at SuperTarget, pushing Chinet Cut Crystal cups and pretending to be happy about it on a cold and rainy November morning. I'm surrounded by shoppers that I have to be pleasant to, all for an extra bit of spending cash on a Saturday morning, answering to someone (or five people) half my age. Yes, somewhere along the line MY life took a turn." Sad thing is, somehow this is slightly better than controlling the masses in a first grade classroom. Where, oh where, did my life go? It's strangely comforting. I can do anything.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Self-reflection from a six-year-old

"I didn't HIT anyone at all today."

The following words were spoken by one of the six-year-olds in my after school activity today, at the end of the day, as we were cleaning up and getting ready to head to the busses for dismissal. Keep in mind, this comment came with no prompting what-so-ever from me. Only all day of reminding him the day before to keep his hands to himself and to control his body. I thought it was pretty amazing, for such a young kid to come up with something so, well, profound--for lack of a better word. Or maybe my standards have just been lowered beyond belief. Who knows?

What was the most amazing thing a kid has said to you today? This week?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

I'm Intrigued by Simply Jane

I was surfing the web tonight, and came across this charming little studio in South Minneapolis. It takes the paint your own pottery theme to a whole new level. I love paint your own pottery places, but this sounds even better. Pick out your own piece of unfinished artwork, from candlesticks to picture frames and more, and receive instruction and motivation as to how to go about painting it and finishing the piece. The initial creativity is left up to the designer though, which is ultimately you and me. It makes me want to jog down there in my next free moment and check it out. I wonder how much it costs for an evening! Do any of my artistically-inclined Minneapolitan friends want to check it out with me? I can so do this alone, but it would be better with friends. Much better. What do you think? What is your favorite creative activity?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

One of those where I don't really have any thing to say but I post anyway

Yeah, that's right. I'm here, letting those few that follow this thing know that I am alive. It's Saturday morning, and I am working. It's my choice. I'm kind of dreading that choice now, but what else am I going to do on a beautiful Saturday morning? I'm roughly 5,000 words into National Novel Writing Month without a clue as to what I'm actually writing about. I haven't written anything in three days. I have to be at work in an hour. Today, I'm supposed to be sampling Cranberry Orange Turkey with Havarti Cheese, all Archer Farms brand of course. "It's perfect for the holiday season and you can have it custom sliced." Grr. Who cares?

On the license front, I'm still not license officially. Double Grr. Now Minnesota DOE is telling me that on top of the tests they had me take, I still have to take some classes to make the Birth-Preschool part of my Birth-Grade 3 license valid. But I don't even want to teach infants and toddlers, and I think my last post made that abundantly clear! I suppose it doesn't matter, as this is the only way to get the original license validated so that my reading license can go into effect as soon as possible. I'm talking to two universities (the only two that offer EARLY CHILDHOOD programs in the state of Minnesota--Bethel and Walden online) to see if they can really help me. I don't want to think about it any more.

What else is new? Not much. First graders continue to amaze me. Loving after school. Actually liking my job at times, minus lunch duty and uncooperative students. There are ways around that, I just haven't found it yet. I'm just going to keep swimming. On the upshot, I'm not a Minneapolis Kids employee anymore, so I guess that's worth celebrating.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Now that I'm far away from baby land, I can safely post this little numbe that a Em and I came up with one late night over G-chat

Top Ten Things To Say in an Interview for an Infant Room Teaching Position That Might Betray the Fact that You Know Crap About Babies

10. "...Will there be feces?"

9. "What would I do at floor time with the rug rats? Crap if I know... HAHAHAHAHA. ...Shoot myself? Wait....was that a trick question?"

8. "Well, if faced with a floor full of babies, I a jig and hope for the best? Talk about Sesame Street and how awesome it is to be able to talk?"

7. "Well, what do you want me to do with a floor full of babies? Quote Shakespeare?" Discuss Homer and the Odyssey? You can never teach them too early!"

6. "Your Baby Can Read. That's what we would be doing. Your Baby Can Read, Theory of Hegemonic Decline, classic lit--you know, the usual."

5. "What can possibly be so hard about a room full of babies? You pop in a tape and let the music do the rest...right? Um, thank God for Raffi--know what I mean?""

4. "You mean there's a wrong way to slap a diaper on that little fella? Who knew?"

3. "She's so TINY! Are you sure I won't break her? So, how hard could I squeeze her? I mean, theoretically..."

2. "You mean that little have do what? You are asking me to do what now? I DON'T THINK SO BIOTCH."

1. "What if I run out of formula? Is there a snack machine in this place?"

Strange and funny quotations

“Don’t take too long. This is the first day of the rest of my life.”

An older woman whom I had never met before said this to me, explaining that she was a writer, teacher, and can work anywhere.

She later explained that someone just bought her a house in Savannah, and that this was her dream location.

What would you do if you heard this randomly, during the day?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Good Joyce Carol Oates clip

"The first six weeks of writing a novel is like hell." Good to know, going into NaNoWriMo 2009.

Monday, October 12, 2009

I got it.

I start the new job at the old school tomorrow!!! How unbelievably excited am I? Words can not even express my level of excitement right now.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

I might have just landed myself a job, people!

People have been saying for years that it helps to have connections in the job search process. Well, today, I believe it with all of my heart. After TWO MONTHS of sending out resumes and cover letters into the abyss, meeting with hiring managers and principals, agency heads and teachers, I received a call yesterday from a former supervisor of mine from my corps member days.

"What are you doing these days?" asks he.

"I am actually looking for full-time work at the moment." says I.

"When are you available to start?" asks he.

"Immediately, the teachers would love to have you back." he replies.

So yeah, I basically got a job because I knew the teachers that were looking for an assistant. The job was never posted, and I had my name and number in the hands of the principal and AP. That's sheer job-search luck folk, and a timing issue. But am I complaining? Heck no. I'm happy for the opportunity, and more than THRILLED to be going back to my AmeriCorps school site. It's like going home all over again. Seriously, these are the people that welcomed me in to the state of Minnesota when I was such a newcomer. I feel like they are my second family. It will be great to work with all of them again. It will be great to see and work with these kids (all grown up now as fifth graders!) again in a different light. I am pumped.

I know for sure on Monday what the details are. Until then, be at peace!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Warning: cheesy pun ahead!!!

So a friend and I were messing around on Craigslist to relieve ourselves from the job search, and we found this link in the free stuff section.

To which my reply was: "We should get it, because even when time get shitty, we would still have a pot to piss in."

Cha Ching.

OK, that was bad.

Monday, September 28, 2009

This one looks like a good one too...cover letter abounds!!!


Classroom Literacy Mentor

ORGANIZATION: Scott Carver Dakota CAP Agency, Inc.
CATEGORY: Education

The CAP Agency is a private, non-profit organization serving families and individuals of all ages living in Scott, Carver and Dakota counties. Services in Scott and Carver counties include early childhood and nutrition education, food and clothing assistance, transitional housing, childcare, crisis nursery, transportation, energy assistance, congregate dining and home-delivered meals.

JOB TITLE: Classroom Literacy Mentor
LOCATION: Twin Cities Metro

SALARY: $25,572/yr TYPE: Full Time / 40 hours DEADLINE: 9/16/2009

The Literacy Mentor provides mentoring to classroom staff through guidance, coaching, modeling, training, support and information. Coordinates Words Work student assessments in order to meet the goals and implement the strategies of Words Work. This position works closely with the teaching staff, the Words Work Project Coordinator and the Education Coordinator to coordinate Words Work classroom-related activities. This position also works closely with all areas of Head Start as part of the team that provides comprehensive services to children and families.

Education: Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education/Child Development or equivalent four-year degree or equivalent related experience.
Experience: Three years experience as a teacher in an early childhood program. Experience working with culturally diverse and low-income families. Experience with adult learning and teacher skill development. Coursework or training in literacy-related areas and literacy-related work experience preferred.
Abilities and skills. Must have leadership skills including capacity to mentor other staff. Must have knowledge of child development; developmentally appropriate practice and emergent literacy concepts. Strong organizational skills required. Excellent reading, writing and interpersonal communication skills required. Must be available for occasional evening work. May have to work at multiple Words Work sites.
Physical Abilities: Ability to lift and carry approximately 40 pounds. Capable of reacting to demands of group of 3-5 year olds.
Travel: Access to reliable transportation.

Location is Shakopee, MN
This position is full time - Seasonal (mid August through Mid June).
Eligible for pro-rated benefits.

Fax: 952-402-9815
Mail: Scott-Carver-Dakota CAP Agency
Attn: Jean - HR
712 Canterbury Road S
Shakopee, MN 55379

This job was posted on 8/17/2009. Please carefully follow the instructions under “How to Apply” when submitting applications for this position. Minnesota Council of Nonprofits operates this Job Board as a service to nonprofits and jobseekers

Welcome fall

53 for the high today, 40 for the low in Roseville, MN and the surrounding area. Welcome fall. I love fall, but not what it represents. This means winter is just around the corner, and winter is a bitch here in the upper Mid-west. Yupppers. I gots my sweatshirt ON.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

People of Walmart

Just once, I would like the publishers of this site to showcase the stupid People of Wal-Mart in a northern or western state. I promise, not all of us southerners (and I consider myself a southerner because I was born and bred there) are as dumb as this, and yes, I guarantee there are people in Wal-Marts all over the mid west (Minnesota, namely) that are equally as dumb. But you wouldn't know it from this site. I am sick of the southern-stupid stereotype!

Saturday, September 26, 2009



Youth Program Specialist, North Regional Library

ORGANIZATION: Hennepin County Library
CATEGORY: Education

Forty-one libraries. More than 5 million books, CDs and DVDs in 40 world languages. Sixteen hundred public computers. Eleven library board members. One great system serving 1.1 million residents of Hennepin County. In 2008 the Hennepin County Library system merged with the Minneapolis Library system, creating a premier 41-library system to serve both city and suburban Hennepin County. The library is committed to serving as Hennepin County’s partner in lifelong learning with programs for babies to seniors, new immigrants, small business owners and students of all ages. Hennepin County Library launched in 1922; its headquarters are at Ridgedale Library in Minnetonka, Minn.

JOB TITLE: Youth Program Specialist, North Regional Library
LOCATION: Twin Cities Metro

SALARY: $14.50 - $17.50/hour TYPE: Part Time / 20 hours DEADLINE: 9/25/2009


Hennepin County Library is seeking a Youth Program Specialist at the North Regional Library in Minneapolis, MN. This grant-funded position will assist customers ages 11-17 with their participation in youth development programs, library activities and leadership opportunities. Working in conjunction with a dedicated team of library staff, this person will serve as the primary contact for youth during after school and evening hours.

This is a part-time (approximately 15-20 hours per week on a Tuesday – Sunday schedule) contracted position with Hennepin County Library and not an employee of Hennepin County.
Salary: $14.50 - $17.50 per hour based on qualifications

Primary duties include:
• In conjunction with library staff and youth themselves, assess needs and interests of young people and align related programming opportunities at the Library.
• Plan and facilitate a youth advisory council and/or interest teams focused on issues, interests and skills of the young people at North Regional.
• Conduct outreach to other youth serving agencies and neighborhood groups to develop partnerships and recruit participants for activities and programs.
• Connect, recruit and coordinate with parents and other community members to increase involvement with the Library.
• In conjunction with library staff, develop and conduct program evaluation and make program recommendations.
• Perform administrative duties including maintenance of participation records, program outcomes, scheduling and goal measurement.
• Communicate impact and outcomes to stakeholders.

• High School diploma or equivalent
And one of the following:
• Minimum of two years of experience in the youth development field or similar experience working with urban youth
• Associate Degree: youth coursework desired.
• A combination of experience and education
Reference and criminal background checks will be conducted for finalists.

Desired Qualifications:
• Ability to work with urban youth from a wide array of backgrounds and socio-economic status
• Considerable knowledge of the North Minneapolis and Hennepin County organizations that provide youth-related services.
• Creativity and innovation to apply youth development practices to a library setting.
• Ability to organize, plan, implement and manage several projects at the same time.
• Skill in application of technology for communication, information finding, program delivery and reporting.
• Ability to strongly advocate for youth within a larger institution.

This is a part-time (approximately 15-20 hours per week on a Tuesday – Sunday schedule) contracted position with Hennepin County Library and not an employee of Hennepin County.
Salary: $14.50 - $17.50 per hour based on qualifications

Interested applicants should send or e-mail their resume and cover letter to Aaron Lundholm, North Regional Library, 1315 Lowry Avenue North, Minneapolis 55411 or by Friday, September 25, 2009.

This job was posted on 9/8/2009. Please carefully follow the instructions under “How to Apply” when submitting applications for this position. Minnesota Council of Nonprofits operates this Job Board as a service to nonprofits and jobseekers.

Monday, September 21, 2009

I love generic rejections

AKA Job search update on a week that doesn't start off that great anyway...

1. Fraser School gave me not a courtesy phone call, but an awkward e-mail rejection in the form of

Thank you for the opportunity to consider you for the Assistant Teacher - Infants position. At this time, the position has been accepted by another candidate. Please browse our current openings for other positions that may interest you. Remember, you can apply for up to three positions at a time. This message only applies to the Assistant Teacher - Infants position and does not apply to other positions you may have applied for. We will relist this position if becomes available again. Have a great day.
I love that this wasn't actually signed by a real person too. Just "Fraser Human Resources." And, not only did I receive one of these, but I also received another identical one for another position I applied for at the same school.

2. I have a list of SEVEN organizations/positions in my inbox currently that I should apply for, but I haven't yet. I'm not sure when I will get up the motivation to write an entirely new cover letter, but I have to soon. I have to.

3. Followed up with the Minnesota Reading Corps today too, but I didn't get a hold of anyone I called. Hopefully they take me seriously.

4. What do I need to do to get a job around here? Who knows? Advice welcome.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The best job search story of the day goes to this one, by far

While I'm talking to the ladies in the Human Resources office of the school district I used to work for (and still do in another capacity, really) I express concern that my layoff letter came three months late and I'm worried that schools are not seeing that I'm actually not working in a school right now and would like to be, as my countless applications for teaching assistant positions have implied.

Said receptionist lady behind the desk points out that the best thing for me to do would be to call the schools themselves and let them know that I am looking and I have applied for positions at that school. She then hands me a five-page list of all of the schools in said district. Granted, I know this information and have been doing this from day one. The list is online and I've been following up.

So out of pure paranoia this afternoon while waiting for my second interview of the day, I decide to start calling some of the high schools in the district to see if they got my application materials. Of course, I get a voice mail. I leave a message explaining who I am and what I'm looking for and my contact information.

Low and behold, after completing said second interview I have voice mail waiting on my phone from principal at said high school I left a voice mail with. (This is another of my favorite activities of the job hunt. I don't think I've talked to so many recording devices in my life, and might actually have to start investing in the recording machine industry in the near future, but that is another post all together.)

The voice mail says the following, and a kid you not. "Hello, my name is so and so and I'm the principal at said high school. If you are inquiring about a position you really need to call human resources. They handle the whole process from beginning to end and make all hiring decisions."

Talk about running in a hamster wheel! I swear didn't I just get the opposite response from Human Resources? Does one not know what the other is doing? Is it laziness on the part of either the district office or the school hiring staff? Why oh why does hiring have to be so complicated? It seems to me, you find the right person for the job, one that matches the workplace personalities, and you hire them. Pay them to do a job that suits their skills. I don't get it. Can someone please explain it to me? Why must I get this run around.

That is all. I just had to get that out. End of story.

Since when do I have time to update three times a day?

Honestly, I have no clue. But this thing seems to be a healthy outlet, so let me have my space to vent. I finished the interview at THE CITY and it went well. I interviewed with two of the lead teachers there for a Title I reading and writing tutor position. It's four hours a day, and I found out that I would be meeting with only four students per day, with a caseload much larger than that, as all Title I positions are concerned. They seemed really concerned that my high school student experience was limited to the AVID program at Patrick Henry High School, but I tried to assure them that that experience was intensive, and I learned a lot while I was there. The interviewers also kept reminding me that this is a "chaotic" and "interesting" position in which students don't show up, aren't at school, aren't ready for tutoring, and in that case, flexibility is key. I countered that with all of my Minneapolis Public School tutoring experience where flexibility was key as well. I have plenty of "keep it flexible" experience when it comes to working as an assistant teacher and tutor. That I do. They said they would let me know by Friday. I have no idea what kind of impression I made. Interviews are awkward for everyone involved. I understand that. But is there a way to make them less awkward? I just want this whole phase of my life to be over. I am very committed to the organizations and people that are committed to me. Just give me a chance and let me show you what I can do for you. You won't be disappointed. I promise. :)

In other news...

I took someone's advice and I marched my butt down to the school district's main office. (I was actually in the area after my first interview today, but that's another story all together.) I thought I would take a positive step in my job search process. I explained that yes, I just received my layoff letter on September 11. (I had been laid off since June, and I was a little confused over this too.) I thought that this might be a factor affecting my application and not getting called from schools, so I thought by going to Human Resources it would straighten things out. I was very polite, even though I felt like a dragon. My dragon head did not get reared, at least not today. I explained what location I worked, when I was excess-ed, and what I'm looking for. They said that it wouldn't affect my applications, but schools now have upwards of 200 qualified applicants that they are looking at for hiring. No wonder it's taking so long. So how do I make myself look different than 200 other people? I walked out of there with a list of schools and promptly began calling the schools I had applied for. One school told me that "they didn't know when they would begin their hiring process." What? It's September. Another school told me that "they had already filled the position, and had had it filled since June." Then why did you post it? I know this kind of things happen all the time in the job search process, but it frustrates me to no end. It's the sheer number of factors that add up to what seems to be a losing situation for the job seeker. I guess I just needed to rant, but I have to stay positive. I am a qualified individual with 5 years in the educational arena. I have a clear view of how schools operate and what my role in them should be. I should be able to communicate this to future employers, but not with this nonsense. Hiring processes are slow, I just didn't anticipate them being THIS slow. That's all.

Job Search Update

Organizations other than the school districts seem to be biting this week, as I have had two interviews at organizations and 2 more in the following days.

1. The first was at the FRASER SCHOOL for an infant room assistant teacher position. I'm excited about this one because it's full time and I would be a full employee of the school. I love the mission of this school. It's a full inclusion school and was founded by ONE woman with a special needs child wondering about the best environment to educate her child 60 years ago, before all of the research was done about children with special needs. The founder of this school was truly an innovator in the field, and it would be really neat to have a connection with this school from a career development perspective. I think I passed the section about infants too, as I didn't say any of the phrases in my previous posts. Awkward moments still abounded in this interview, because at the end of the question and answer period, the interviewers (two middle-aged women) asked me to read BROWN BEAR BROWN BEAR WHAT DO YOU SEE to them, aloud. They began acting like preschoolers, and I assume this was to gauge my reactions to the possible behaviors. Except, I wasn't just alone with the interviewers. I was in an office, with other people working in cubicles all around me. So here I am, making verbal commands to "keep your hands in your lap" and "keep your eyes on me" and walking around using PROXIMITY to control the behaviors of these middle-aged preschoolers with other folks watching. It was probably one of my most awkward interview moments I've ever had. But it was a second interview, so by then I should HOPE they already saw something they liked in my application materials and other questions. If not...I'll write it off as an experience (and material for future writings) and call it done.

2. Today, I had an interview at WAY TO GROW, for a family educator position. They wanted someone with literacy teaching experience in early childhood to serve as a school-readiness teacher in homes. They wanted someone with home visit experience. I talked about my experience as a tutor with Project for Pride in Living, I talked about my AmeriCorps experience, as well as my PCA experience with the Student Experience. I gave them what I had. I talked about my career goals, and they asked how long I planned on staying in a position if offered one. I said "as long as it took to build a solid relationship and finish what I've started." She laughed, and I finished with 5 to 10 years. What else was I supposed to say? It is a part-time job. I have no idea what I want to do with my life and skills. I talked a lot about professional development and how I am working to build the skills necessary to fit my employer's expectations. I talked about how dedicated to the mission I was. She finished with a question and answer session, and I asked some good questions, and she finished with a lecture about the next steps in the process, and I hope I am contacted for a second interview in the next two weeks. Or I will be calling back. All of these exciting opportunities lie at my finger tips.

3. In about an hour I have an interview for another part-time reading and writing tutor position with THE CITY, INC. I have no idea how their program works, but I know I do have tutoring experience. That much, I can tell them. I will update with further news as time goes on.

4. On Thursday (tomorrow) of this week, I will have an interview with THE WILDER FOUNDATION for a survey interviewer position in the St. Paul Public Schools. It runs September-December and I would be conducting assessments with students. It's definitely applicable for future reading teacher positions in schools, and would be valuable experience to have for future work.

That's all I have for now. Stay tuned for more at a later date...just getting it out there.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

My newest response.... any infant room position interview, from here on out, thanks to Em.

"Well, if faced with a floor full of babies, I a jig and hope for the best? Talk about Sesame Street and how awesome it is to be able to talk?"


"Well, what do you want me to do with a floor full of babies? Quote Shakespeare?" Discuss Homer and the Odyssey? You can never teach them too early!"

OR, one last shot in the dark here:

"Your Baby Can Read. That's what we would be doing. Your Baby Can Read, Theory Hegemonic decline, classic lit--you know, the usual."

Because everyone knows I'M THAT AWESOME.

This is, and always will be, my single girl's ode to being single

So strong, classy, and independent. Eponine and LES MIS rock my single girl world.

I also really like this one too

Another gem from postsecret today....

I somehow related a little bit with this one today...

Don't know where this came from? Only the Sunday Secrets of PostSecret. Yes, I have also known kids to be more respectful than a lot of adults out in the world. Not a sweeping generalization by any means, but overall, that's probably why I choose to work with kids over many adults I know. That's all.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Best Venn Diagram EVER. Period. End of Story.

Found here.

Couldn't have said it better myself, honestly. Do you agree?

Monday, September 7, 2009

Here is my beautiful creation, Banana Zucchini Bread, described below

More evidence to the fact that when I'm unemployed on Labor Day, I make things

Mostly yummy things. Case in point, this recipe for Banana-Zucchini bread out of a desperate need to use zucchini in the fridge before it rots. (It was already starting to go soft.) It's super easy too!


* 3 eggs
* 3/4 cup vegetable oil
* 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
* 1 cup white sugar
* 1 cup grated zucchini
* 2 bananas, mashed
* 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
* 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
* 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 cup dried cranberries
* 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

* add to recipe box Add to Recipe Box
My folders:
* add to shopping list Add to Shopping List
* Customize Recipe
* add a personal note Add a Personal Note


1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease and flour two 8x4 inch bread loaf pans.

2. In a large bowl, beat eggs until light yellow and frothy. Add oil, brown sugar, white sugar, grated zucchini, bananas, and vanilla; blend together until well combined. Stir in the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix in the cranberries and nuts. Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared loaf pans.

3. Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Allow to cool in the loaf pans on a wire rack before removing and serving.

Job Search Update

1. Completed narrative responses (essays) for Minnesota Reading Corps application and submitted it, along with the reference form link to the appropriate people. I applied for the family liaison position, because it was something that I felt I had a strong passion for but need more experience communicating with families if I am to become a successful reading specialist when the time is right.

2. Phone interview with Fraser School people for PCA positions went well, though it was only a screening interview lasting 20 minutes. Pretty sure they just wanted to make sure I had valid experience and wasn't crazy. I hope I hear from their next point person in HR next week, or I will be calling very soon.

3. Never heard back from the infant room at the St. Paul Jewish Community Center, and I'm not sure I will. I didn't have a great interview, and the director was looking for someone with more infant experience. Pretty sure I bombed the question where she asked me what I would do with a group of infants at floor time. I have to do something with them? Not just lay them on their tummies and roll a ball back and forth? Oops. Moving on.

4. Upcoming: Thursday interview at Bright Horizons, back up day care center in Woodbury. Not sure what they are looking for. I suppose I will find out. I can do anything, because I have mad skills! I can teach infants, toddlers, pre-schoolers, kinders, and beyond. Yes I can.

5. Also, I'm getting really antsy that I have not heard from any of the school district positions I have applied for yet. I know they have a lot of applications to weed through, and I know it's a slow process, but it still makes me nervous. I applied three weeks ago, and I am qualified here, people! I can do this! Just give me a change to prove my stuff. Enough said.

6. I feel like there are more positions off the Minnesota Council of Non-Profits website that I've applied for, I just don't feel like listing at the moment. I shall update them at a later date. Job searching is a full-time job, and I'm exhausted. Good thing tomorrow is Labor Day. It's one more day I can't call to follow up on any of my leads! Oh joy!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

I should be sleeping, but I'm applying for jobs

I just completed the bulk of the Minnesota Reading Corps application. Yes, you read that correctly. I just applied for a THIRD year of service with AmeriCorps. Minnesota Reading Corps has a sweet Family Educator opportunity with St. Paul Public Schools. Go LITERACY, go SERVICE!!! Woo Hoo! Before you go all judgmental (MOM and DAD) it's a perfect opportunity for me to get my feet wet in the field of Literacy Professional Development in schools. The type of position I want with a school district is really tough to obtain without much experience, and I think that this opportunity will allow me to gain exactly the experience I'm looking for. I would be setting up family literacy nights, coordinating events with schools and school staff, and working with a literacy coach (the exact position I am aiming for) to do this. It seems like the perfect fit for me right now. It would just mean taking a service stipend for the third year in a row, and picking up another job (which I have with Minneapolis Kids) and working crazy 60+ hour weeks. Which, in all honesty, I would do any way. Leave me alone and let me make my own decisions career-wise. This is what I want to do. Here's to hoping the position isn't filled by the time I finish the essays.

1. Explain your reasons for applying to serve in Minnesota Reading Corps. Why do you want to commit the next year of your life to this program?

I just did, now I have to make it sound good.

2. Describe your experience working with children, particularly any experience you have that is related to literacy.

How much do you want? I can figure out how to word 10 years in a paragraph, right?

3. Describe how you have reached out to help others and / or how you have been involved in your community. What motivated you to become involved in your community?

Only the story of my life here...what should I say? I love this stuff. Do you think that's good enough? :)

Monday, August 31, 2009

I love this song!!! Please let me get what I want...

Another awesome quote I found in one of my journals

"You'd be better off as a cop. At least you'd have a gun and a stick to defend yourself."

~Frank McCourt (RIP) in Teacher Man
(I think this is a must-read for all teachers.)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Really Neat Quote I Found (And Need to Post on My Door So I See It Daily)

"Some days, doing 'the best we can' may still fall short of what we would like to be able to do, but life isn't perfect- on any front- and doing what we can with what we have is the most we should expect of ourselves or anyone else." Mister Rogers

See, when I'm unemployed, I make things!!!

Including these delectable treats (otherwise known as Eggplant Chickpea burgers):

Doesn't look like much, but I like things made from mush:

Turns into this:

Details to come. Stay tuned.

Hopeonatenspeed on YouTube is awesome

Add her as a friend. Otherwise known as Paige in the real world, or Frenzy in the camp world, she's in South Korea, teaching English, and living life as an alien. Have a mentioned incredibly talented?

Check her out. Friend her, share it.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sweethearts: My Turn to Shine!

I will never, ever, in my life do that again. For God's sake, I don't even smoke! What am I doing playing a bi-polar woman off her meds and on a blind date with someone she met in a sleazy tabloid's personal ad? What am I doing? I'm groveling! No, I am trying to prove to myself that I can do this!

The reason why I love this part so much is because it's all over the place! I get to be free and crazy at the same time, and get away with it.

How much fun did I have with it? You don't want to know. If only you knew! I really liked listening to the others' monologues as well.

If you ever get the chance, you should take an acting and/or improvisation class. Get out of your skin, and just do it!

All across the Ordway This Morning

There are teachers everywhere secretly praying that parents dropped low-dose sedatives in their child's cornflakes at breakfast.

Just enough to keep the squirmies away, but enough to the trick.

Not fall asleep

It's all out of our control now

And whose idea was it to show up 30-minutes early anyway?

This is me, trying to write creatively about a year and a half ago at a writing group


Your first kiss?

Your last kiss?

It’s quantifiable.

How long should it last? There’s a number that both should be.

Cheryl stood upon the four-poster bed and definitively spoke up holding a bright red lipstick in one hand and a Gumby doll on the other, clearly taking on the instructor role.

“How long should it last?” asked Marilyn, a devoted follower.
“We’re paying good money to this so we better get quality advice.” Said another cynic.

“How do I get someone who hasn’t noticed me all year to suddenly show interest?”

Yeah, it’s tenth grade. There are chess club dorks who had 2 first kisses already. Marilyn stared at the sign that read “Kissing Workshop: how to make it happen for you this year” with the $10 price printed in lipstick and scoffed.

Why did she ever think this was a good idea? She had let Sarah drag her here, but in no way did she have any interest in the course description on the on the profile for Cheryl Green. Yeah, she guessed the info might come in handy if there happened to be an eligible or even tolerable dude to walk in to the doors of the school, but first kiss/last kiss? She should be more focused on algebra and solving for x.


If you had told me this was going to happen a week ago, I never would have believed you. So it was Friday morning, before 7am, and I’m driving my usual route to work and not two blocks away from my doorstep do I hear and see a SPLAT of white right in the center of my wind shield. Seriously? This can’t be happening. Not now. Not when the wiper fluid in my car is either frozen or empty. Not when I have to make it through six hours with a half-fake smile plastered on my face for the good of the workplace.

And OHMYGOODNESS! How much bigger could this SPLAT be? Did the poor bird have intestinal issues? Why did it have to choose my windshield as a dumping ground? Was this supposed to be a metaphor for my day/week/month/life? Indicative of other metaphorical shit no doubt, what else would be dumped on me that Friday? Don’t the heavens know that my Thursday was already bad enough? This should have happened on a Thursday afternoon. Not on a FRIDAY morning! Don’t these powers realize that they shant do ANYTHING without consulting me FIRST? So yes, if I’d had known a week ago that I’d end the week with a huge bird waste splatter in the center of my windshield, I wouldn’t have believed you, but at least I would have been prepared enough to have a rag in my car to wipe it off there.

Now it sits on the center of my windshield, almost mocking me and my life decisions. Almost mocking me and where I chose to concentrate my efforts. It sits, and I sit, in need of a rag and a way to control the universe. In need of a way to seek revenge on the bird that left a palm-sized splatter on the center of my windshield. In need of control, more control, and more, and a healthy way of letting it all go at the end of a day/week/month. If you told me I’d end up in Minnesota a year ago, I wouldn’t have believed you, but I would have stared at you seriously and have asked A LOT more questions. If you told me I would have ended up coming here alone, I wouldn’t have believed you, but I probably would have asked you to come with me. If nothing more than to make the car ride more interesting.

Youtube is a copout, but I'm going to do it anyway

Because this is one of my favorite songs of all time...

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Literacy in action

One of my Minneapolis Kids boys is an eight-year-old reading at an eighth grade reading level. Talk about literacy in action! I did my whole project this summer on this topic, and one of my classmates, a teacher in Prior Lake, MN, did as well. She works with gifted students in reading and was talking about just this example. Trying to find appropriate topics in books for gifted students that read way above their grade level but still want to be challenged and entertained. I'm going to give this boy the LAWN BOY book tomorrow, and see what he has to say about it. He loves reading, and has already whizzed through the Percy Jackson series and Harry Potter books. Fantasy is his thing, but he recently asked me for ideas because he is finished with all of his other books. I was at a loss today, but then remembered that I have a growing list of "boy books" at home. We'll see how the conversation goes tomorrow! Yay for putting research into practice. (This is the older brother of Lucy--of "no one is going to love you if you have sand in your shoes" fame.") Oh how I love this family!

I just love this photo

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Grieving the loss of a job is still grieving...

...And I realized tonight that I am in quite a unique stage of the process.

Take the following conversation I had over g-chat with a former roommate:

Jess: woowoo! me neither! ugh. unemployment

ugh is right. it sucks. I skills people. mad skills.
realize that. and embrace it. and payment would be nice.

Jess: haha. you are funny tonight did you take drugs?

me: hahaha I resent that. the implication that I need drugs to be funny. LOL but it's funny. I am a funny person

Jess: i just meant you seem different than usual yes, i do agree. you have some humor skills. Add that to your resume.

I can do this! I am awesome. Hire me. Give me purpose.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Sometimes A Girl Just Needs A Good Cry

And sometimes a good song about crying too.

Bonus that this is a HOUSE montage.

Awesome video that Em posted on my facebook wall

No clue who they are, but I really like this song!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Teacher Resources! Come and get them!

Resource List

Without a doubt, my biggest resources were the authors themselves. Nothing stood out more to me when developing my own entry points to the literature than the reasons the authors had for writing the books. Many of my activities come from listening to interviews with the authors, and I intend to incorporate much of that multi-medium into my everyday teaching when using books such as these. The authors’ websites are as follows:

Gordon Korman’s Website

Gary Paulsen’s Website

Gary D. Schmidt’s Author Page

Walter Dean Myers’s Website

James Heneghan’s Website

Although I didn’t include this in my portfolio, another resource I came across during my research was this book:

Jon Scieszka
This led me to look at his website:
This covers an extensive list of books that appeal to boys of all ages, in a boy-friendly format. The book contains a series of snippets from a selection of these books, and is absolutely hilarious. I would use it as a read aloud for motivation.

A Pretty Decent Interview with Gary Schmidt on a Writer’s Blog

A Book Talk and Reading Guide for another Gary Schmidt Book

When looking for activities and lessons for alternative book reports and strategy lessons, I was amazed at what I found at the National Council for the Teachers of English’s (NCTE’s) Read Write Think website. has an intensive list of books and summaries as well.
Although it’s a publishing website, I really like it. I don’t feel like they try to sell me anything. I especially like their “Book Alike” feature that allows me to type in any book and find books just like it, or at the same reading level.

I call this site My Space for book junkies. It’s a social networking site that requires membership, but it allows users to connect by listing the books they’ve read or want to read and talk about them. I use it as a teacher to gain recommendations. I use it as a reader personally as well. I haven’t used it with students, but I suppose they could use it to gain recommendations for readings as well. Think, “I liked this book, so I will read this book…”

Like Goodreads, but I don’t have a membership to attest to this site. It’s the same idea of book sharing online, just in a different format. See yourself and decide which one you like better. Word of mouth is always best, but this will do in a pinch!

An easy way to set up a website, or share book or lesson plans with other teachers. A lot of my ideas come from teachers who blog in other parts of the country and world. It’s also an easy way for a teacher to communicate with parents and parents to see what students are doing in class.

A Comprehensive Teacher Blog

No More Bullying Lesson

Nancy Keane’s Children’s Literature Webpage
Excellent resource for anything children’s literature related. I like a lot of her book talks and podcasts.

Blogging Photo Lesson I used for No More Dead Dogs (but is applicable to other units and certainly adaptable!)

Discussion Questions for No More Dead Dogs

A Gordon Korman Book List

Lawn Boy Video

Other Lawn Boy Links,-Lawn-Boy

Graphic Organizers

Of course, if you have any questions or would like me to e-mail you any part of this presentation, I would be happy to do so. I am always looking for better ways to teach books, and would welcome your feedback!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Lawn Boy by Gary Paulsen

Found this while researching activities and thought it would be a good motivational book talk before reading with students.

Lawn Boy Book Trailer

(It wouldn't let me do the embeddable link, so I'm just posting the link.)

Copy and Paste into browser.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

More Reading Madness!!!

Day 1
Book Talk for the Wednesday Wars
This book tells the fictional story of Holling Hoodhood’s seventh grade year. The book takes place in 1967, if it weren’t already catastrophe of a year with the Vietnam War in full swing; Holling has problems of his own. First, his teacher Mrs. Baker hates him and is determined to make him read (and like) all works of Shakespeare. Holling is convinced she is out to get him, with her pet rats in tow. Holling feels that he has to be on his best behavior because his success in seventh grade is closely linked with his the success of his father’s business. Join Holling on his journey to learn about himself, maintaining friendships, dodging proverbial bullets, and staying out of trouble (or trying to.) The Wednesday Wars is a Newbery Honor Book, and contains moments that will make you laugh and cry at the same time.

Pre-reading activity
Introduction: “I’m going to read a series of statements that you have to agree or disagree with. No one is going to judge you based on your response. The idea behind this is to get you thinking about the ideas in this book before we begin reading. If you like, there are times that you will be asked to share a moment where you faced a similar situation. You may share if you wish, but you are certainly not obligated to do so.”

Students will stand in a line in the center of the room, and listen to a series of statements. The statements will take the form of an anticipation guide, and when students agree with the statements they will move to one side of the room. If the disagree, they will move to the other side of the room. Statements include the following:
1. If you have ever faced a situation where you were conflicted about which side to take, move to your right. If not, move to your left. (Everyone comes back to the center after a few seconds of reflection.)
2. If you have ever been bullied, move to your right. If you have not, move to your left.
3. If you have ever been the bully, move to your right. If you have not, move to your left.
4. If you have ever felt a deep respect for another student, for any reason (you don’t have to share the reason) move to your right. If not, move to your left. (Pause for a moment of reflection, and ask anyone if they would like to share.
5. If you have ever had a respect for any adult (teacher, parent, other relative, friend, mentor, tutor, neighbor, etc.) move to your right. If not, move to your left. (Pause for a moment to share.)
6. If you agree with the statement “love and hate are not far apart” move to your right. If not, move to your left. (Pause to take a few defenses from either side.)

Instruct students to go back to their seat and listen as I read aloud the first chapter of THE WEDNESDAY WARS. The idea behind the anticipation guide was to build motivation and get students familiar with what was to come. Ideally, this would be done while introducing a series of books for literature study and students would have the opportunity to choose from several of the books presented.

Read Chapter 1 (September) aloud
Pause and point out the following quotes:
“If you had been listening to my instructions, you should have been able to do this,” said Mrs. Baker, which is sort of like saying that if you’ve ever flicked on a light switch, you should be able to build an atomic reactor.”
Model thinking aloud at this with: “I love this quote because it says so much about how the speaker thinks. It’s so true as well. I love when characters in books tell you what they are thinking this way, because it makes the book seem more realistic to me. Do you agree with the quote? You don’t have to, but tell why or why not.”
“We spent the afternoon with English for You and Me, learning how to diagram sentences—as if there was some reason why anyone in the Western Hemisphere needed to know how to do this.”
Model thinking aloud at this with: “Again, I am getting a sense for how the main character thinks. This makes or breaks a book for me, but it doesn’t have to for you. It all depends on how you read a book. If you are looking for characters, you probably want to pay attention to what the characters say, if you read a book looking for plot, you probably want to look at what they do and how they act.”
“That’s how it is with people who are plotting something awful.”
Model thinking aloud with: “The author chooses to end this month with this statement, leading you to believe the worst and giving the reader a sense of dread for what’s to come next. What about it makes you want to read on? I want to find out what is about to happen to Mrs. Baker’s soldier husband in Vietnam, as well as what Doug Swieteck has up his sleeve. I want to find out why Holling is so nervous. Why do you want to read on? (Take suggestions from students, and write them on a chart. This chart will be referred to later when we answer some of these questions.)
Note: If students seem that they do not want to read on, note that they can probably have more success if they select another book from the selection. Literature studies are rarely successful when students don’t enjoy the book.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Coping mechanism

To cope with my job search and general life insecurities, I've started watching the Mary Tyler Moore Show. This is such an inspirational show to anyone in a transitional period of any kind. I'm going to post the show's theme song lyrics for added inspiration. Off to bed for tonight. Tomorrow is another day at school-aged daycare!

Who can turn the world on with her smile?
Who can take a nothing day, and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile?
Well it's you girl, and you should know it
With each glance and every little movement you show it

Love is all around, no need to waste it
You can have a town, why don't you take it
You're gonna make it after all
You're gonna make it after all

How will you make it on your own?
This world is awfully big, girl this time you're all alone
But it's time you started living
It's time you let someone else do some giving

Love is all around, no need to waste it
You can have a town, why don't you take it
You're gonna make it after all
You're gonna make it after all

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

"Ironically, my fresh start came while working in a school that had been fresh-started."

NSJ revisited

"Thank you for being a part of the solution instead of the problem. If you ever want me to write you a recommendation for something, I'd be more than happy and eager to. I write really good ones too!"

I didn't know quite how to respond. I was hopeful, and glad to help, naturally. Of course, I welcomed the approval. Still, I felt uncomfortable, and I didn't know why really. Sure I would help her out.

NCCC revisited


The older people (today ours was Vick and Jean, as they had been for the last week) taught me how to play Hand and Foot (a card game with 1,000 rules that requires 5 decks of cards) and we did that until 4pm before driving back to headquarters and then home. Boy I spend a lot of time in a van lately. And I sure do hope our project turns around to the interesting side pretty soon. I suppose you can say we did do something yesterday upon arrival at our location. We (OK Joey, but I listened intently) interviewed a woman employed by the church who had a home but it was unlivable. She told us her story of being in her home and watching the water rise and getting in the Tahoe when the water was running through the house. She said that now her son lives w/her sister in Connecticut and all her FEMA money goes to help support him. The story is compounded by the fact that she went into shock and didn't "snap out of it" until March. I couldn't imagine what a person that suffers from MS and is sensitive to heat is going through in a trailer provided by FEMA for a year now. Listening to her story made angry for the people Mississippi but also angry at our project for not allowing us to do more. Can't we be out building the home? Or other houses? I feel like our time is being mismanaged.

Added after the entry: I also remember feeling more during this project that our time of service was spent helping and socializing with the elderly than helping those affected by Hurricane Katrina.