Sunday, May 27, 2012

Literacy Olympics

Literacy Olympics has been a fun, post-assessment adventure! My colleague (who teaches the same remedial course as I do) and I are co-planning/teaching this unit that combines some literacy basics (parts of speech, homophones, commonly misspelled words, and root words) with games. We combine our smaller classes who then compete against each other; within the larger classes, we divide the class into two teams that compete against each other. I brought in some stuffed animals (such as Webkinz, remember those?) from home that my daughter no longer wanted, and let teams choose "mascots". (We still can't believe how much middle school students LOVE to cuddle stuffed animals in class. No, I won't be taking them back home with me.)

Students review each topic (parts of speech, etc.) on "training day", then answer questions in game show format on "competition day". Some games involve writing answers on the Smart Board or dry erase boards. We add in some physical challenges, such as a simple ball toss or ping pong for extra points.

"Sparkle" is the most popular game so far! It's a combination of spelling bee and mum-ball. I don't think I've ever seen students try so hard to spell correctly!

Saturday, May 12, 2012


Here is the conclusion to this book delivery story. I mentioned in the previous post that Barnes and Noble offered two options for the "unacceptable delay" in delivering my pre-order copy of Insurgent, replacement or cancellation. After the annoyance (of being offered options that couldn't rectify the problem) burned off, I realized a "replacement" meant I could have two copies of the book in my classroom library for the price of one book (plus a week of psychological pain and suffering). So here are the twins, my friends, posing with our fabulous birch tree!

Below is a book-pass photo. I started reading The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie while waiting for Insurgent's delivery. I still had a few chapters to read of Absolutely True Diary when Insurgent arrived, and yet I exercised (relatively) tremendous restraint and finished one before starting the other. (Alexie's book is fantastic - rich story and characters, brutally honest and funny. I don't know if I would recommend it to any of my 6th or 7th graders due to "inappropriate" language.) They posed with the other fabulous tree in our front yard, a small tree with the loveliest spring pink blossoms.

Insurgent verdict: I LOVED IT.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

INSURGENT has arrived

The saga of this arrival: I pre-ordered the book from Barnes and Noble on April 20 and eagerly awaited the May 1 release. BN emailed me on May 1 stating my book was just shipped. It arrived today. I started email correspondence with BN customer service four days ago, stating my extreme disappointment at such a long wait for a pre-order of the sequel to a bestselling novel. BN replied that this was "an unacceptable delay" and offered two options - replacement or cancellation/refund. What do you think I chose?

The book posed for a few glamour shots on my front steps after its arrival. I haven't started reading it yet, initially because we were busy with piano lessons, dinner, errands, etc. and now just so I can enjoy the anticipation a bit longer and NOT stay up late to read. Tomorrow, however, I promise to parade through school and among students with this in my hands, smug and reading.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Interesting times in education

When I try to mentally step back and survey the landscape of public education today for an objective point of view, this is my best effort: What an interesting time to work in education! That's a very bland statement, but it's a start, and maybe in a few years I can say something insightful and coherent.

I baked a pineapple cake to share with colleagues when we scored the 8th grade ELA assessment written responses. Yes, the animals ate the pineapple (cake).

I don't have much to say here (yet) about the upcoming teacher performance evaluation system using standardized test scores except show you an alternative career potential if/when I'm evaluated as an ineffective teacher.

This above is a cowl scarf that I crocheted, the fourth one so far, for a colleague who saw the first one I made and asked me to make one for her. (I started a fifth one last night.) I don't have much patience for repetitive work, but the beauty of this line of variegated yarn called Liberty Wool (by Classic Elite Yarns) keeps me going. This one below is the second one I made, just for me:

Last but not least, a sign of spring, hope, and life. I worried that the recent wacky weather would hinder these pink blossoms from appearing on the small tree in our front yard, but they're here!