- every laugh and smile from my 8 year old daughter and my students
- every learning moment for me, my daughter, and my students
- my little unfinished 6000 word novel for NaNoWriMo
- every moment of our family vacations - Toronto weekend for Chinese New Year, Taiwan extravaganza in July (including our 10 year wedding anniversary)
Thursday, December 31, 2009
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
This doesn't happen often, being so productive during a short vacation, but I'm on a mission to save money to buy something ridiculously expensive, so reading, cooking, and compulsively calculating how much I've not spent and how much I've actually saved (two distinct ideas but very blurry in reality) help me reach this goal.
I read Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson who has written and published many young adult novels. This book has been on my "probably interesting to my students due to mature content" radar for some time, and I really enjoyed her historical fiction Fever 1793 (much to my own surprise because I'm a history dunce), so I finally borrowed a copy from my public library on Monday. Yes, I actually went to the library instead of straight to the mall on my first "real" vacation day of this winter break. See very long sentence in paragraph above for explanation.
The story in Speak is very engaging though sad to follow. I think I would introduce this book to 8th grade students as an independent reading choice, and just let them decide if they want to read it. Have you seen the movie based on the novel? I don't want to see it, but Kristen Stewart of Twilight movie fame played the main character Melinda, so I'm curious if the movie was good.
Anderson's writing was truly engaging, and perhaps that partly explains why I enjoyed reading her historical fiction. I want to read another book of hers, maybe Catalyst. She is really talented in capturing the voices of teenagers!
In the cooking department, I tried a new recipe today - potato leek soup. Leeks are foreign to me. I never heard of them until my mid-20s when a friend Liz raved about the spinach and leek wrap sandwiches at a local eatery called Natalie's in Amherst, NY. I liked them, too, but Liz maintained her devotion to these sandwiches for the next 15 years and requested that I bring one to her when I visited her and her newborn son in the hospital 16 months ago. Of course I complied and the nice folks who work there were happy to hear about my mission.
ANYWAY. Leeks are fascinating because they are so foreign to me and yet seem so ordinary to other people. When I saw Giada make potato leek soup on the Food Network a few weeks ago, I felt ready to try my own modified version of her recipe (that is actually creamy artichoke soup, creamy referring to some cheese that starts with the letters "m" and spoken in Giada's Italian accent, like how she says mozzarella, except that's not the m-cheese in her recipe). The endeavor involved my trying one new ingredient PLUS one new cooking technique - using a hand-held blender. In the cooking department, I like adding new elements one (or 2) at a time, once in a while, for fun. I borrowed the blender from my sister-in-law a few weeks ago, bought the ingredients yesterday, and today used Emeril's recipe on the Food Network web site for potato leek soup that I could mostly duplicate using the ingredients I had. The photos above indicate my efforts, and the soup was really yummy!
Saturday, December 26, 2009
Thursday, December 24, 2009
I finished Brisingr a few weeks ago (that's why I start 19 Schuyler) - sooooo good - waiting for the fourth and final book in series. I should try to re-read the first 3 again. Seriously!
I can't WAIT for the Percy Jackson movie - here's an awesome trailer! Gotta re-read THAT series before the movie hits theaters on President's Day!
Another recent favorite book The Sartorialist by Scott Schuman, full of pictures from his blog of the same name. Both book and blog contain some of the best fashion and style eye candy!
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Yes, I started winter break at about 3:15 pm today. Monday and Tuesday this week weren't really difficult for me - my classes were running smoothly, students were OK in class. Today was just zany. But that's how it goes!
Hm... what should I say to sum up the last... 3 weeks? NaNoWriMo wrapped up nicely, thanks much! I will definitely repeat that writing unit next year and bump up my word count total expectations for students. (Maybe 5000?) I read The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place by E. L. Konigsburg and it was OK, not stellar. My main struggle with that book is ... who's the audience? I can't think of any student (that I know) who would be interested in the story or themes or setting or characters... It's a grown-up book with young characters that incorporates a decent history of urban decline and gentrification from post-World War II era to the present time (approximately). My second struggle with this book is the pace - my students (and I) like action, and this one is slow. It's a perfectly good book, but I don't think 7th or 8th graders will GET it.
I started teaching nonfiction/informational texts and writing. My 7th graders have been reading and writing about online news articles. After winter break, they start a nutrition research project that incorporates action research (whereby they make an action plan to implement over a period of one month) and surveys.
Right now, REST!!!!!! Until tomorrow, when my daughter and I have to procure carrots for the reindeer and cookies for Santa.
Sunday, December 6, 2009
So I'm a bit late in the wishing and blogging, but isn't that a sweet picture from the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade?! We were in NYC during that holiday weekend, and that was our 2nd time watching the parade in person. (Last year was the first.) I highly recommend it for anyone! That picture was taken from across Columbus Circle, facing the southwest end of Central Park, just as the parade turned east from Central Park West.
We had the most fabulous NYC visit, mainly due to staying at our friend A's mid-town apartment. We walked a LOT and rode the subway everywhere! Highlights: Macy's parade, ice skating at The Pond at Bryant Park (not me, but my husband and daughter), Friday morning Today Show (watched Lester and Natalie et al in person, but did not get on TV), Metropolitan Museum of Art, South Street Seaport tree lighting, plus awesome EATS!!! (East Japanese Restaurant for Thanksgiving dinner, 2nd Ave Deli, Alice's Tea Cup, Max Brenner chocolate restaurant, Chinatown Ice Cream Factory)
NaNoWriMo wrapped up - yay! We've moved on to the next (but related) writing project, what I call the Select Scene. Students choose a favorite scene (about 3 pages long) from their novel to perfect (character and imagery descriptions, grammar, spelling, usage) for a test grade. We finish that this coming week, and Friday will be our official Wrap-up Party!
Saturday, November 21, 2009
- wolf pack
- Kristin Stewart as Bella
- Taylor Lautner as Jacob
- Bella and Jacob
- lame acting/directing of any and all vampires in this movie, except for Victoria (who is played by different actress in Eclipse movie). I don't know what or whom to blame. Utterly aghast.
- plot changes, such as Voltorri fight scene, Bella riding on strange guy's motorcycle (all unnecessary and ridiculous)
- Alice's supposed "vision" of Bella and Edward (EW!!!!!!!!!)
- Any and all of Bella and Edward's love/kissing scenes - contrived, overacted, made me gag
Monday, November 16, 2009
I haven't mentioned lately my "academic push-in" to an 8th grade inclusion ELA class. My role is essentially in "instructional support" capacity, and the class already has two other teachers - the ELA teacher and the inclusion teacher. We've become quite the co-teaching team! I've been able to provide some direct instruction and materials for a classroom novel unit (The Giver) and the corresponding writing prompt (personal narrative). I firmly believe the key to our collaboration is absolute trust among the 3 of us - of course trust that we have the students' best interests in mind, but ALSO trust that we have each other's best interests in mind.
I'm still reading Brisingr, no lie. More than halfway through, but not by much.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
The only downer has been one student (yeah, there's gotta be one) who's testing the outer limits of what's appropriate for school. The bright side of that problem is another student giving me the solution - give a movie rating! So I'm going to tell my classes tomorrow - keep it PG.
Sunday, November 1, 2009
The non-writing news is that I borrowed from the public library seasons 1 and some of 2 DVDs of "Gossip Girl" (TV show, based on novels) and have thoroughly overloaded my brain by watching them. I think I'm done obsessing, and now will just follow the current season 3 in a normal, weekly manner.
Last but not least, I borrowed Brisingr (book 3 of Eragon series) again. I really hope to push through and finish it this time.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Another fun feature that has piqued student interest and, dare I say, excitement, about writing is the "Dare Machine" on the Young Writers Program web site homepage. Each click on the "DARE ME" button generates a new writing challenge. Examples: "We dare you to have some of your characters stage a jewel heist." "We dare you to include a reference to the Periodical Table of Elements in each of your chapters." "We dare you to include a bucket of raw fish, an ice cream maker, and a creepy basement in the next page of your novel."
Happy writing to you all!
PS - I just read good middle school novel by Western New York writer Mick Cochrane, The Girl Who Threw Butterflies. I met Professor Cochrane at local bookstore book signing last June - super nice guy, just as he was described by my friend H who was his student at Canisius College.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Regardless of the craziness at work, the switching of teaching assignments, the really random bizarre bits of life and personality, I'm excited to write with my students for the Young Writers Program of NaNoWriMo! I'm going to wrap up poetry unit in the next 2 weeks and give some brainstorming/prewriting (for NaNoWriMo) homework (from the very extensive and excellent workbook from the web site). Before November starts, we'll be familiar with basic character and plot development, conflict, and setting, all story elements that are part of the 7th grade ELA curriculum.
One happy surprise is that even though I didn't plan to include my 8th grade remedial students (small group, only 9 students total, 2 sections) in the writing project, some of them really wanted to do it when they learned about it (and a few were horrified at the idea). So I am including everyone! As a challenge to all of us, I plan to set my word count at twice the highest student word count. (Their minimum is 3000.)
So if this is truly my rollercoaster year of crazy, then I might as well have fun!
Saturday, October 3, 2009
So yeah, a whole month without a post. It was busy! And mostly great and some really excellent, until yesterday when I had the rug pulled out from under me. I spent the first 4 weeks of school learning to juggle different teaching assignments and really enjoying them all. Some of my assignments are being changed, and that's really all I have to say about it.
Highlights of the past month:
- teaching one class of ELA 7, writing poetry now, and Young Writers Program of NaNoWriMo in November!
- Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale, absolutely wonderful story and teenage female protagonist, expanded retelling of a Grimm's fairy tale, set in ancient Mongolia - you MUST read it!
Sunday, September 6, 2009
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Friday, July 24, 2009
Um, that's not terrible, is it???
Monday, July 20, 2009
Friday, June 19, 2009
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
So, I tried my own medicine and read a few chapters of Eldest. I was so engrossed that I missed most of So You Think You Can Dance even when I was in a room with family watching the show!
Bored no more, but now I'm anxious about the situation that developed in the book! (spoiler alert) What will Roran do about Katrina being taken????? I even tried to cheat by flipping pages ahead.
This medicine is bittersweet.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Sunday, June 7, 2009
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Monday, May 25, 2009
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Monday, May 11, 2009
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Friday, May 1, 2009
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Monday, April 20, 2009
I started a self-imposed 10pm internet curfew... so very quickly, here are my top 2 NYC thrills during our trip over Easter break.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Friday, April 3, 2009
Monday, March 30, 2009
Monday, March 23, 2009
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Saturday, February 28, 2009
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Monday, February 9, 2009
Saturday, February 7, 2009
Sunday, January 25, 2009
(Pics - Toronto Chinatown, Spadina Avenue, for the good eats; frozen fountain structure on Cumberland, just north of Bloor Street, for the good shopping)