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.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

I'm liking this delving into my past. Here's a little more.


We are two workdays into our Harrison County Office project and our team is, so far, pretty disgruntled about it all already. I can't say I didn't expect the sitting around and waiting for people to walk into our walk-in center to take a survey about what still needs to be done on their home, but it just makes me feel bad because I know there are people to help and so many more things to do, and us sitting on our asses waiting to "assess needs" while learning how to play new card games (Yukre and Hand and Foot over two days, not bad!) is slightly more than unsettling.

Yesterday was our first real day on the job, and upon arrival at the head-quarters office, Maggie splits us off in pairs. We were to be stationed at a center with an older couple that is a part of a Christian organization that also does disaster relief. I got paired with Joey randomly and already I started freaking out, though I don't really know why.

I think this is HILAROUS.