Thursday, June 26, 2008

wicked good

I'm reading Wicked - the life and times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire.  I read it first last summer, and this is my second read.  (FYI - it's #2 on my original summer reading list, which has now expanded, but I'll write about the expanded list later.  I also got sidetracked by the Twilight sequels.  But now, back to business.)

One purpose of this second read is to prepare me to see the musical "Wicked - the Untold Stories of the Witches of Oz" on July 13 at Shea's Performing Arts Center in downtown Buffalo, NY.  The musical has created quite a local buzz since it opened last Friday.  I've had many conversations with people about reading the book and seeing the musical.  My teaching partner (officially only until tomorrow *sniff*) read the book, saw the musical, and loved both.  She informed me that MUCH of the story in the book is NOT in the musical.  Understandable.

As I am reading through the second section of the book, in which the youngsters are at Shiz University in Gillikin, I think about why a few of my good literary friends (you know, the English teacher types) tried to read the book but did NOT like it enough to finish it.  The book is certainly not action or even plot-driven.  (Twilight is very plot and action-driven, in contrast.)  The lives of the main characters tell not just their own personal stories, but also the history and culture of Oz.  The book is also a philosophical discussion of the nature of good and evil, both in Oz and on Earth.  I don't know how I managed to persist in the first reading, but this time, I remind myself to be patient, read on, and enjoy the gems I find.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

last day

... of school attendance for my 7th grade students and my 7 year old daughter - FABULOUS!

This last week of work for me has been coworker bonding time - lunch with colleagues each day, after-school pool party at colleague's house, moving out of and into classrooms, greeting new hallway neighbors - oh the fun never stops!  (I say "fun" in a half-ironic sense because we've encountered many classroom and team assignment problems this week.  My own circumstances are easy, but I'm troubled for my coworkers.)

Friday, June 20, 2008

job announcement

I'm happy to announce that I am changing job duties next school year!  I've kept this news to myself for months because nothing is official till it's official.  This afternoon, we all received our new schedules for the next school year, and although the building buzzed with news and strong feelings (excitement, disappointment, etc.), I was content.  Here's the story:

All year we've anticipated the retirement of a veteran teacher in our department, and we figured out a re-shuffling proposal to the principal.  The remedial reading and writing "ELA lab" teacher wanted to return to a "classroom" position, and I offered my interest in the remedial position.  Our principal liked the proposal, and we just had to wait out the last few months before the "official" assignments.  There were other considerations and shuffling within our department, but mostly I was on pins and needles waiting for this change for me.

I have lots to say about this new position, but I'll post and discuss more another time.  I will share this: teaching remedial reading and writing was an intention of mine before I knew what to do about it.  Note to self and my blog friends - set the intention!

Thursday, June 19, 2008


Another teacher bites the dust in a local "inappropriate relationship" scandal.  Makes me ill.  I hate these stories that inherently demean my profession and my own professionalism, regardless of who did what to whom or why or how.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Tim Russert

Our loss of this man in this life on this earth is a never-ending story for me.  From the moment I heard of his death on Friday, June 13th, to Sunday's special tribute edition of "Meet the Press", to news of the memorial service today in Washington, DC and son Luke's eulogy, I've listened to Tim Russert's life story, character, values, philosophies...  The message of faith, love, and hope lives on.  May we all live this message, in this life, on this earth, and beyond.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Last Thursday and Friday, after a week and a half of mini-lessons, hand-holding, questions and answers and the same questions and answers, my students put their noses to the grindstone and revised, rewrote, and edited their final portfolio assessment.  I read Eclipse Friday.  (OK, I read chapter 1 a few days prior, on the author web site.)  Done.

Today, I'm back in business, all work, no play.  I'm grading portfolios every chance I have until I finish grading.  Students are taking final exams, and they come to "class", aka glorified babysitting, in between exams.  They're playing Scrabble and Scategories and other word games in my "class" for a few more days.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

blog memory

I remember my own words "summer vacation is too long" vividly because I wrote that post on this blog!  Here I am, 11 months later, thinking "that's STUPID".  2 months of summer vacation is perfect.

OK, the IDEA of 2 months is perfect.  Right now, I need that idea to help me finish the school year.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

middle school is worse than meatloaf

I was looking for Babymouse graphic novel in my school library, and instead I found this novel by Jennifer L. Holm.  Subtitle: "A year told through stuff" - a story of Ginny Davis' 7th grade year. Holms used "digitally rendered collage illustrations" of various forms of communication - notes, store receipts, ticket stubs, report cards, English essays, life science reports, IM's, etc.  Ginny has funny problems (like trying new hair styles to make her nose appear smaller) and family problems (like an older brother who gets in trouble, a new stepdad).  Each piece of "stuff" is surprising and tells another part of Ginny's 7th grade year.

PS - I woke up this morning and found notification email from the public library - Eclipse is available for me to pick up!!!  I'm going to pick it up this evening, after dinner...

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

twilight & new moon

It's official.  I'm addicted.  I finished reading New Moon, book 2 of the Twilight series, and only and the cost of gasoline prevent me from jumping into my car right now and driving to whatever nearest store sells book 3, Eclipse.

I just did not expect to love this story about vampires, humans, and ... more ...  This fantasy world, so compelling, thought-provoking.  Of course, true love, the complications, the conflicts - swirl and crash and confound and delight...

This takeover of my mind by a fantasy series is perfect summer fare.

Saturday, June 7, 2008


Remember those editorial business letters that my students wrote, suggesting "green" strategies to businesses?  Last week, one of my students walked in with this stack of 30 reusable shopping bags and the company's written response to her letter.  (She suggested that the store turn off lights when the store is closed.)  The response letter thanked her for writing and stated several energy-saving measures already in place, then offered these bags for her and her classmates.  The student and I were equally astonished and pleased, and she took 3 bags home and distributed the rest among her classmates.