Sunday, October 25, 2009
A car is a fertile bed for memories...we owe our lives to cars - not just for travel and safety...you don't think much about getting in a car, traveling through time and space. But how much of our lifetimes are spent encapsulated in cars? Even the largest SUV is not so big we'd want to remain forever. Yet how much time...?
How many memories, conversations, relationships (familial, friendly, platonic, romantic) are forged in a car?
I lost myself in my mother's big blue VW Vanagon throughout my childhood- a slow 45 mph trip through dozens of worlds, lives, characters as book after book flashed through my fingers like dotted lines on the highway to and from school.
In a car, I cried and sang my way like windshield wipers on a rainy day through many relationships as I drove myself through the congested freeways of love and boyfriends until I found the same road my husband was traveling.
I idled in the back of many a car while my parents drove us to Grandma's or Grandpa's house and boredom caused my siblings and me to backfire until the inevitable "If I have to stop this car...!" silenced our overheated engines momentarily.
A car is sacred as a church - where many a prayer is offered up for relief, guidance, peace, safety and "oh-dear-Lord-don't-let-me-hit-that----!" I believe our guardian angels spend a lot of time perched on fenders.
In a car you can be alone, be yourself... you are a bubble speeding along on this swiftly spinning planet - singing out loud, arguing with yourself, your seatmate, the radio.
Cars take us away, cars bring us home. And they are slow, real-time, compared to the speed with which we do everything these days (email, texting, planes, online transactions zipped to the bank faster than we can turn on the ignition). Cars are beginning to have the ponderous gait of horsedrawn wagons in comparison.
Yet they grant us that one luxury we seem to be spending too quickly -time with ourselves and with others - real-time, not virtual time. For this, I say, we owe our lives to cars.
Now, why don't you try it? What is your most vivid memory that took place in or with a car? Post your response on your own blog and link to it in the comment box below, or just write a quick response on the comment form.
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Saturday, August 29, 2009
First, I need to vent a little about the...
- morning sickness that lasts all day...
- the fact that last year I was running 10 miles at a time to prepare for the 1/2 marathon and now I can't even get up the stairs without losing my breath!
- the withdrawal at not being able to drink coffee (not b/c it's got caffeine but b/c now it tastes like dirt)
- a belly button that feels like it's going to explode!
- maternity clothes that are all made of polyester and look like they come from granny's closet (sorry, grandmothers out there!!!)
- people joke that I'm going to have the baby writing in their writer's notebook by the time they're 2 years old (ahem! correction: my baby will be writing in their writer's notebook from Day 1, even if I have to scribe it for them!)
However, being pregnant is also pretty cool because...
- having cravings for McDonald's is kind of fun
- Matthew is so nice about filling in the blanks in the housework while I'm sleeping!
- Everyone makes a big deal about you!
- I get weekly email updates that tell me the size of my baby every week and make up funny nicknames for him/her!
- I get to hear gory birthing stories all the time now!
Saturday, June 06, 2009
Monday, June 01, 2009
Through the past four years at Windsor Locks, I've been surrounded by a core group of supportive teachers on my teams and in my department and even in other grades, departments, and buildings who have encouraged me, made me smile when I've had a bad day, and reminded me why I am doing this job.
Teaching is NOT easy. To do teach effectively, you have to be relentless at times about teaching to the standards, expecting quality, and meeting the needs of diverse classes. But you don't teach alone - along the way, so many people have been there for me to provide advice, resources, and moral support.
I want to thank a few people (and I'll miss a ton, I'm sure!) who have influenced me:
MaryKay, you taught me that a good teacher always follows through on what she assesses the students need. You can't go forward until you have gone back and corrected the misunderstandings students have about concepts.
Chris, you taught me (and I'm still trying to learn this one) that you CAN have a relationship with even the most difficult students, and still retain composure and be firm.
Jen, you taught me that we can believe in how we teach, even in the face of opposition - because it works!
Kelly, you taught me to just laugh sometimes - because it's not worth stressing about it too long (again, still learning this one).
Mike, you taught me to continue in the face of "adversity"... that it's NOT crazy to stay up till 2 am to get schoolwork done - if it needs to get done, do it! (but I'll never beat you to school!)
...there are so many others who've helped me work hard, but relax a little, look at the data, but then look on the bright side (not my strong point), think about the students, but then also take a little "me" time to refresh...
Thank you... I hope I continue learning lessons from all of you! Here's to many more years of friendship and camaraderie together!
Monday, May 25, 2009
I begin by exploring the idea of WHY does writing matter anyways? I'm reading Because Writing Matters by Carl Hagin of the NWP (National Writing Project); just through the introduction, I'm already screaming inside asking WHY aren't more teachers, administrators and policymakers concerned by how little we require of students in the area of writing? Much of the writing requirements are personal in nature, which is fine, as that inspires writing and the enjoyment of writing. However, our students seem to be sadly lacking in the area of critical writing skills - heading off to college, they find they are woefully ignorant of how to critique and analyze ideas and share their thoughts in writing.
I often find this to be true in my own students - especially when we turn to persuasive writing, which requires students to support beliefs/opinions with reasonable arguments. The first responses are usually: "...because.... I don't know why - just because." Or, "....because they're stupid!" Little thought is put into why the students hold certain beliefs or ideas. Much coaching is required to move them beyond mere opinion to actual defense of their opinions through reason and logic. It's startling to think that perhaps before 7th grade they never had to explain or defend their ideas? Was everything hereto for simply accepted as so just "because"?
The idea of teaching writers to think critically about their ideas and defend their stance may have to become a focus point for me next year in my teaching... but I'm only in the introductory part of the book! :) I will have to see why else "writing matters" as I continue to read...
Friday, May 15, 2009
Sunday, April 26, 2009
I never knew this article (written in 2004) existed when I created my blog - I thought it was a great article on using sketching to draw (no pun intended) out details before writing... especially because it inspired some reluctant boys to write ... very interesting - I may have to try this idea in my classroom.
Just wanted to post that I received word this week that I've been awarded an Aetna Fellowship to study with the Connecticut Writing Project this summer at their Summer Invitational Institute.
The CWP is part of the National Writing Project (NWP). In the summer institute, I'll get to work with a group of fellow writers and educators, devote 4 weeks to researching a topic of interest in teaching writing effectively, create and present a 90 minute workshop to the group, as well as develop 4 of my own pieces of writing in a writing group to present/share.
I'm thrilled about this opportunity, although it is 4 weeks of my summer, because I've been wanting to do something more to jump start my writing process/product. Blogging more often has helped, but this will focus me a lot more on developing larger finished pieces.
Some topics I'm thinking about researching are: Teaching Grammar in Writing Workshop; Inspiring Boys to Write; Using Mentor Texts to Teach Writing... I'm strongly considering the last one b/c I've been starting to use mentor texts a lot more in my classroom and am finding them to be so effective - so I could hopefully combine some of my experience with my research and develop this aspect of my teaching to a deeper level.
Will keep you posted...
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
like a windowshade
pulled up too quickly
But outside my two windows
nothing could be seen
in the heavy
"Did you hear that?"
from my husband
slides towards me
As I gave
an invisible nod
the sound repeated
ghosting through the night
A moose call
up and down
Monday, March 23, 2009
Well said. What a great writing prompt THAT statement is! Make a list of all the experiences you've had that you wish you could have avoided... then make another list of what you've learned from these experiences. If you haven't learned anything yet, then maybe it's time to take stock.
Let me know if you try this prompt & how it works for you by leaving a comment!
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
It all started when~~~~~ the kids in my 7th grade classes made a nickname for one of the science teachers - to protect the innocent, let's just call her, Mrs. Smith. So the kids decided she'd be SUPER-SMITH! They made her a poster and a t-shirt cape with a Superman like logo on it... I thought this was tremendously funny. I was talking with the students about how my husband and I are fans of comic book superheros and story lines, shows, etc. (not like Trekkie fans or anything, just we enjoy the ideas and characters). So one girl was like, "I'm going to make you a superhero name, too!
We bantered back and forth for a few days about what my superhero teacher name might be... but in the end, WriterWoman won. During a free time today, the student made and subsequently (one of our transition vocab words!) presented me with an oversized construction paper poster of me as a superhero action figure. There I was, the English teacher, weapon of destruction (a red pen) in hand with my fluttering cape trailing behind me: Writer Woman!
The irony: I'm chasing after a student with my pen and a speech bubble coming out of my mouth saying:
Now... while it's true there's a certain amount of "bringing kids to justice" with regards to assigning detentions fo no homework, I certainly hope that in my quest for justice, my superhero alter ego would have a handle on being grammatically correct!
So, kids, next time you see a caped crusader charging down the halls of your school with a pen dripping red, I hope the catch phase you remember is:
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Roots gripping the earth close,
Tracing a fine, black artwork
Bamboo shoots skyward.
This past week's prompt, "Bamboo," led me to think of the oldest, and perhaps most "organic" (choosing the definition of "fundamental" here) forms of poetry - the haiku.
Haiku is a Japanese form of poetry based not on rhyme, but on syllable count. In Japan, the three line poem has a syllable count of 5-7-5. However, English translations from the Japanese don't have the exact same number of syllables, so it has been argued that haiku written in English can have a few extra syllables to make up for the fact that Japanese language is concise. I personally agree with this, however, I find it challenging to TRY to make my English haiku fit the original Japanese rules.
Haiku are usually written on a subject that has to do with the natural world. Hence, I chose the haiku to write about bamboo.
Wednesday, March 04, 2009
Here's the random poem I created using online magnetic poetry - I could spent HOURS doing this!
..............young wild yesterday
you vast web of sacred secrets
words would perhaps prisoner time
but we are born breathless
Saturday, February 28, 2009
a cold, flat coin
spinning on a black table
its face flashes by
until it becomes half circles
one side, then the next
finally, a sliver, rolling on its edge -
just a glimpse as it rotates in the sky
PS: Sorry I didn't post last Thursday's prompt- my attempt at a "Holy Sonnet" in the style of John Donne did not pass muster! Perhaps if I get it right, it'll make its way up here!
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
"Every touch matters..."
wiping a crumb from the corner of my mouth...
blowing a lash off my cheek to make a wish...
tickling my nose with a feather while I nap...
pinky-swearing secrets to the grave...
that delicate not-even-there feeling just before two hands meet...
tipping a tear off my face before it has the chance to roll...
nothing is too small to feel...
not even the brush of a baby's eyelash
in a whispery kiss as soft as lace...
Every touch matters.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
What could be more romantic than...Buying dinner at the grocery store? Well, if you have a Whole Foods around... it's definitely up there for ME!! Here's our menu:
- Avocado/Cucumber Sushi
- Crab Cakes
- Hazelnut Crackers
- Dry-Aged New York Strip Steak with Grilled Onions OR Gorgonzola Cheese
- Baked Potato
- Steamed Buttered Asparagus
- Petite Raspberry Cheesecake
- Key Lime Tart
- Chocolate Tuxedo Cup with Raspberry Mousse
- Green Apple & Tangerine Italian Soda
And... let's not forget the romantic trip to Home Depot before the grocery shopping - every man's Valentine Dream come true... we're doing the basement walls & floors...
Lastly... the "piece de resistance" (not sure how it's really spelled in French) to the Dia del Amor was the "interactive" Valentine card I made for Matthew - I incorporated our very first picture and added a significant photo from the past 6 years together (dating/marraige included). Enjoy the "movie!"
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Ours is the age that is proud of machines that think and suspicious of men who try to.
-- H. Mumford Jones
Beware the machine... it is our modern-day Jabberwocky!
If you can't calculate yourself, you'll never get the most out of your calculator!
I don't have much more to say on this topic, as I already wrote about intelligent thought & behavior yesterday!
Monday, February 09, 2009
All this embarrassment or veiled criticism of academic success and intelligence - where does it come from? Are people intimidated by those who are (or behave) intelligent(ly), or are they just making thin excuses for not attempting to expand their own minds? Why do we downplay academic achievement? Why is it not "okay" to be "smart?"
Most of what people think is "sheer genius," is simply a function of 1) hard work and preparation and/or 2)being in the right place at the right time. I learned this from reading Outliers (Malcolm Gladwell) and thinking about my experience when I ran the Hartford 1/2 Marathon this year; people seemed impressed... but it didn't take talent really, everybody can put one foot in front of the other. All I did was keep putting one foot in front of the other for a very long time - if you think about it, as much as it might sound painful and boring to many of you, I only ran for 2 hours and 13 minutes. Most movies today are longer.
Academic success is often the same. Many people have the ability to achieve it, but people are discouraged from engaging their minds. The students that achieve highly in my class aren't the ones with the most original ideas or brilliantly poetic lines. (In fact, often those students do a bit lower than I'd expect because they are not really trying lest they be thought of as "different" (read: "Smart!"). No, the students that get the high A's in my class are often the students that turn in one homework after another, one neatly written page that follows directions after another - for a very long time - 180 days to be exact. And yet, they are criticized, mocked, and teased for their efforts, or their success is made to seem not really that big of a deal. Folks, learning is a BIG DEAL! We should celebrate and encourage mental exercise among children and adults.
However, being "smart" is a negative in our society. One hundred years ago, it was in high fashion to be able to discourse on the latest novel with your friends. One hundred years ago, students may have fought to have "1st place" in their one-room schoolhouse class. Now, to admit that you have read a novel over the past week or scored an A on an essay makes you odd, different, nerdy. If our young people are being made to feel embarrassed to be smart, or that behaving intelligently is a behavior that will isolate them, what will the result be? We will have students that fail to reach their potential, students who feel "guilty" for simply being capable and acting on that capability. What if young people, who've been made to think that being smart is a negative, isolating trait, try to fit in by going into more "popular" vocations like entertainment instead of medicine or law? In short, we will short-change our whole society.
I say, let's not downplay intelligence. The next time a person tells you they read a book, show interest, congratulate them, and ask what it was about. If a young person says they did well on the test, be excited, ask how they studied, and commend them. Let's make it a positive, desirable trait to be "smartical" again!
Thursday, February 05, 2009
"Folds In My Life"
Fold a paper - events of a nation
Fold a page - bookmark imagination
Fold a chair - end an evening
Fold up time - wishful thinking
Fold a napkin - set the stage
Fold a letter – the lost age
Fold a dollar - pay a fare
Fold a flag – waved ‘til threadbare
Fold a thought – restless musings
Fold the laundry – count your blessings
Fold a flock - Shepherd's Care
Fold your hands – and say a prayer.
Monday, January 19, 2009
Breakfast... both noun and verb... At breakfast I breakfasted. It's a beautiful thing. Both the two parts of speech AND the meal. I love breakfast. It's my favorite meal of the day. This past week, for example, my husband and I were thinking of going out to grab a bite. But we couldn't figure out where to go... I said I wanted "comfort food" and he asked me what I meant by that. A moment's thought... then I said: Breakfast. So - he made me salty bacon, light, fluffy eggs, and nook-and-cranny-full-of-butter English Muffins! A delightful treat for a Friday night.
I remember Saturday breakfasts at home... the smell of bacon (why does breakfast always seem to involve bacon for me!) would drift down the hallway of our ranch to my room, rousing me from sleep... though not from sleepiness! I would wander down the hallway to take my spot at the brown Formica table and relish the eggy smell on the air as bread crisped up in the toaster. Ranger Rick would be playing on the radio (or another kid's story show), and we'd all be crowded in the 70's yellow and avocado striped kitchen for a happy family meal. Saturdays in the 70's and 80's - another beautiful thing!
I can't think of a most-memorable breakfast off hand (I'm free writing here), but if one comes to mind, I'll add it in.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
I just put this book down.
It took just 3 days to finish - and that with just an hour or two of reading per night.
Gladwell develops a thesis that phenomenally successful people like Bill Gates are NOT, in fact, outliers as we'd like to think. In a neat and fascinating writing style, he lays forth anecdotal and statistical proof that success lies not necessarily in having high IQ or copious amounts of talent (although this helps), but that primarily, successful people made it "to the top" as a result of heritage/culture/community background PLUS opportunities presented AND seized in life.
The "magic number" = 10,000. An especially powerful proof pointing towards how opportunity MORE than innate talent creates geniuses and superstars, was that top performers in ANY arena (musicians, lawyers, computer programmers, writers, etc.) shared a common thread. ALL had logged MORE than 10,000 hours of "practice" in their given field before rising to stardom/significance. In fact, the next "rung" of experts in their field generally fell below the 8,000 hour mark as far as time spent honing their craft. Many of these superstars had toiled the 10,000+ hours in their field long BEFORE an amazing opportunity presented itself - therefore, when in the right place, at the right time (as the saying goes), they were also rightly PREPARED to take advantage of unique opportunities presented. An so, stars and geniuses and millionaires are born, er, NOT born, rather they are "steered" towards success by many, many small but significant happenstances along the way.
That being the case - not only was this a thought-provoking read (I already have 5 people lined up that I want to read this book, including one of my students who is currently reading Gladwell's previous book Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking ), but also I am curious to know how many hours I have spent honing my craft of writing...
And... wondering if I could log in 10,000 more hours in the next 10 years, how much further along I will be....
More details from this book will follow... until then, if you're interested, you can purchase the book through my Amazon.com link - it's my first attempt to create a more interactive and productive blog... help me along! :)
Friday, January 02, 2009
Determined. Ended; concluded; decided; fixed; settled; directed.
(Above are as defined in Webster's 1828 dictionary.)
By definition, 2009 has no sooner begun, than my resolutions have both ended and decided the entire year.
So many people talk about New Year's Resolutions being broken by the week's end. Perhaps what people fail to embrace is the fact that a resolution is not a daydream or a hope or a lofty ideal. To resolve is an action verb, requiring one to take action on the resolution.
This year, I took a more organized approach to my resolutions. Thinking about how in teaching, we post objectives for the day, and how each objective needs to be specific, observable, and measurable, I created resolutions that followed this formula. If I create resolutions I can see and measure, then I will know if I am working towards that particular resolve.
The theme of the year is "Redeeming the Time" - like the 5 cents on a soda bottle return - our year has latent value. God gives us 24 hours a day - all with potential energy; potential value. It's up to me to cash in on the time I'm given, to make it purposeful and productive. Most of the resolutions, such as my study/reading time, focus on this idea of using time more wisely, setting boundaries for how much time I can afford to "waste" in activities that don't progress me forward.
2009 has been decided. Directed. Purposed.