Sunday, January 25, 2009

happy new year

(Pics - Toronto Chinatown, Spadina Avenue, for the good eats; frozen fountain structure on Cumberland, just north of Bloor Street, for the good shopping)

New (lunar) year, new (academic) quarter, and a new course!  I'm starting a new course called Guided Study Class with another English teacher colleague.  We each will have 4 new sections of students who are struggling in some academic area, and we are going to use their study hall class time to make sure they get their work done.  We keep in touch with their teachers to find out what assignments and study work need to be done.  We'll assist them as much as we can, and they have to use our class time to work!  The premise is that students do NOT have the option of giving up.

I will continue to teach the remedial English Language Arts course to 6th and 7th graders.  The new "Guided Study Class" is possible because 8th graders "graduated" from the remedial course after the state assessment.  Speaking of that lovely thing, well, it's done!  Scoring to be done in early February.

Happy Year of the Ox, everyone!  We spent 2 days in Toronto (2 hour drive away, if no traffic) for the sake of "celebrating" new year, which meant eating and shopping :D  It was Freezing Cold, especially since it's a walking around kind of city.  In warm weather, the walking around would be so enjoyable because there's so much to see and do and eat!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration Day

For the past week, I've been wishing that I was attending the inauguration in person.  (And yet ... every teacher I know is bound by an employment contract that prohibits taking personal days before or after a holiday or vacation... so were there any teachers in attendance?!)

Last week, our school district office warned us against online viewing of live coverage using school computers due to concern about network overload etc.  There were 2 cable TV set-ups in my building today, and I scurried in and out of the library during planning periods in the morning to watch live coverage.  At noon, I scooted into the library (now full of students and teachers) with my lunch just in time to watch the President take the oath of office, and I realized I was in perfectly good company.

(Above - a celebratory Starbucks decaf skinny vanilla latte)

Monday, January 19, 2009

living outside the box

This is the varsity hockey team from my school district (where I work) hosting the team from the town where I live.  We wanted something fun to do outside the house today, so this morning we drove 30 miles to watch the game.  The hockey itself is entertaining enough (yeah, we're hockey crazy), but watching former students play hockey was super entertaining!  (I taught 7 out of 19 players on the roster - wow!)

This "blast from the past" mixed in with today's MLK holiday and pre-inauguration thoughts was a strange combination, but there was meaning in it for me.  Teaching expands my comfort zones and opens my eyes, ears, mind, and heart to people so very different from me.  I'm honored to be part of this profession, and I'm honored to be an American like Dr. King and our new president.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

I hit the wall

In the middle of the day, in the middle of last week, I hit the wall of state exam prep and could not make myself or anyone else do any more prep work.  So we played Scrabble!  The one main deviation from normal Scrabble rules is that I encourage any and all dictionary use with NO penalty whatsoever.

The exams are next Wednesday through Friday.  In class, we'll be playing more Scrabble and Mad Libs.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

where the heck have I been living?

Why am I the LAST person on the planet to know about Matt Harding?  Well, that's how I feel.  Btw, his web site is great.  You really need to see the video in HD either on YouTube or his web site for the finer details, and there are a lot of fine details.

Monday, January 12, 2009

oh the pressure!

It's positive pressure, really!  I added the live traffic feed widget recently (see lower left, under book covers), and I'm addicted to checking it, a fact documented by the widget, haha.  Now that I know people from ALL OVER the world are checking in here, I'm compelled to post something.  So I share with you the above light-hearted perspective of winter as fun play.  Personally, I don't possess this perspective at this time.  I have the opposite feeling, but they are more fun to watch.

A few weeks ago, they were taking out the bike with attachment for one last ride before moving it from garage to basement.

I can't believe people from ALL corners of the planet are reading this blog :D  It's sooooo cool!!!!!!!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

January is

... a sweet award from Tricia Grissom :D

... unexpected fun, like spotting this dog in the car next to us, on our drive to the mall last week.

... juggling 10 different classes of students, each of whom I see every other day, from 3 grade levels and all different teams on the planet, I mean, the school, to prepare for the state assessment.

... unexpected snow day on Thursday, prompting us to ask, "So exactly how many do we have?" (built into the school calendar).  According to (self-proclaimed) knowledgeable fellow teacher, 5.  And we've used 3.

... weather forecast for next Wednesday, zero degrees.  Fahrenheit.

Monday, January 5, 2009

first day back

We were at the Rogers Centre in Toronto on Saturday for the International Bowl to cheer on our local University at Buffalo Bulls football team who ultimately lost to UConn.  The best story related to this event is the 1958 Bulls football team that turned down the Tangerine Bowl invitation due to discrimination against African American athletes.  (Bottom pic shows some members of that 1958 team, wearing white jerseys, standing at the sideline during the National Anthem on Saturday in the Rogers Centre.)

Today was the first day back at school after winter break, and it wasn't bad.  I told students we have just 2 weeks (and they only come to my class every other day) to prepare for the state assessment, so they might as well learn something new and useful today!  And they were cooperative, or at least too sleepy to protest.

Friday, January 2, 2009

seeing is believing

To follow-up my last post about the rainforest exhibit...

I love the color of the scarlet ibis (above)

The rope bridge was very swingy when we walked on it together!

See? Capybara - the real life ROUS!  Next time, I'll take pics with better references, so you can compare capybara to something you know.

This isn't a good pic of the giant anteater, but it wouldn't stop pacing all over its area, probably looking for ants.

rainforest education

Our local Buffalo Zoo opened the new rainforest exhibit last fall, and we finally paid a visit today.  Even though the outside scene was snowy, the inside was tropical!  I loved the waterfall and was obsessed with trying to take pictures of red/pink birds way up high.  One type is the scarlet ibis that was red-orange color, and the other was the roseate spoonbill that was pale pink.

Then the smaller enclosed areas showcased some cool creatures, such as the carnivore tank with piranhas and anacondas, and the sanguivore cave of vampire bats.  (If you click on any pic, it should enlarge, and in the blue/cave pic, you may be able to see the cluster of bats hanging in upper left corner.)

Also noteworthy: the bizarre-looking giant anteater (insectivore, 7 feet long) and capybara (herbivore, largest rodent in the world, like the ROUS in "Princess Bride" movie - Rodents of Unusual Size).  (I would post more pics but having trouble uploading.)

Seriously, I am not full of science knowledge.  I learned all this today at the zoo and online just now, "researching" for this blog post.  I think I learned more than I ever thought I wanted to know, but that's the magic of learning!!!