Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Emotions

On the way down to Georgia, we stopped at a hotel for the night. We got some sad news via telephone between our trips to the pool and the happy hour. My mom was in the emergency room because she had a stroke that day. Her stroke is called a TIA stroke and it doesn't leave your body damaged, but it is a scary episode involving slurred speech, massive headache and raging blood pressure. It was surprising to walk into the house the next day to see my mom in the kitchen making a green bean casserole. I had mixed emotions because I was so relieved that there would be green bean casserole, but felt that maybe my mom should be resting comfortably somewhere. My mom just laughed at this idea and began pulling out ingredients for the pecan pie. Again, I felt conflicted. So happy about the pecan pie. But also worried that something bad might happen to my mom right there in the kitchen. Everything turned out great. Dinner was fantastic and we had a splendid visit with my mom and dad and sibs. I don't know why I didn't inherit my mom's toughness. Last week I was on the couch for hours depressed because of a sore pinky toe. It still hurts a little and I haven't been walking because of this malady. I'm going to stop spending valuable time googling "sore pinky toe" and get out for a little walk today. I'm pretty sure my mom would do the same.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Trip

We're heading south. We have a good book for reading aloud and #1 son has made a great mixed CD for listening to. I'm not packed yet, but every bit of laundry is done, so that's not going to take long. I have the cards made but now I think I picked the wrong picture. I wish I had picked this one instead. Oh well, it all turns out in the end. Happy Winter good friends!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Shopping

I'm very happy to say that (to my mind at least) the holiday shopping is complete. Stick a fork in it. I have the cards. I simply have to sign them and send them.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Problems

Despite the pervasive holiday mania I'm living in right now, I was pretty pleased with getting through the day with everyone still alive and accounted for. But this pleasure was not sustainable because, lo and behold, during end of day procedures, someone screamed out, "Allison's hurt!"
I ran over to Allison who was sobbing and holding her leg.
"What happened?" I shrieked at her.
"Alvin kicked me. HARD!" She wailed back.
"Where is Alvin?" I asked scanning the postage stamp sized room.
"He took off," several peeps said in unison.
Turns out, with only 5 minutes left to the day, disgruntled peep Alvin decided to kick and run. Administrators found him about 10 minutes later, hanging out in the playground. I wonder what his problem was/is. I told him he couldn't take the hamsters out, but really? Was this response called for?

And speaking of kids with problems, tonight I visited former peep in a hospital for kids with problems. I didn't even know this hospital existed until I moved to newschool. It's kind of a sad place. I brought gifties from me and Good Pal Menosky. Menosky's package had food items, including home made cookies. Those were removed from the bag as contraband, but former peep was delighted with the rest of the gear, and we read a few Spiderman books together before I had to leave. He asked the supervisor if he could keep the stuffed dinosaur with him in his bed, but it had to be locked away with the rest of the belongings. He dealt with it well, but asked me to visit again this weekend. I said I would try. On the way home, I ate Menosky's cookies and thought about how long tomorrow would be.
Ho hum, ho ho ho. I'll keep you posted.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Podcast

First off, we have a new podcast. It's about Sammy Lee, the Olympic diver. The book we read is called 16 Years in 16 Seconds. It's darned good. And so is the podcast. Have a cup of tea and sit back and listen. You will not regret it.

Secondly, I'm loving the book that is called It's Not Quite What I Was Planning. It's a collection of six word memoirs.

Monday, December 08, 2008

The Kick

Most of the peeps did v. well with the guest teacher. One peep had a slight lapse of judgment when he suggested that she might want to suck part of his body. He got a few recess detentions for that. But before I even got a chance to talk to him, he had an altercation with a fellow bus rider that led to some hitting. More days in recess detention. I had a limited amount of patience with this small peep when he hauled off and kicked a fellow learner for no real reason except that the mere presence of the other kid seemed to be annoying him. Which can happen, I have no doubt. But then the peep wouldn't go to the office and someone had to come for him. Awkwardly, the security officer who came to escort him happened to be the dad of the kickee. Schoolsite can be full of uncomfortable moments like this. We all soldier on bravely. And tomorrow's always a new day.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

The Highlights

From NRC, here are the highlights: Visual arts comments by our discussant Peggy, political cartoon talk with Mitz, sessions about Photovoice and Writing Process, Digital Writing Tools, Little kids writing/ playing with technology. Town Meeting. Visiting with pals. Souffles. Poolbar.

A quick fun trip. I'm happy to report I have no work to do today. We will get the tree. Tonight we'll see the one act plays directed by senior year students at our local high school. One of these plays is directed by Teendaughter. I'm pretty sure it will be my favorite.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The Aura

Yesterday I had one of my rare pre-migraine aura at school, in the morning. It's a horrid feeling to have a big splotch of shiny zigzaggy waves right in the center of your vision. It's nauseating and even a bit frightening. After 45 minutes it was gone, but I felt so tired and headachy that I didn't do my optimal teaching for the rest of the day. When I got home after working on stupidsubplans, I had no desire to work on my talk so I just watched Viggo in Return of the King and headed to sleep. So today I was under a lot of pressure to perform. On all cylinders. When another aura appeared around 9:15, I thought I was going insane. I have a migraine every year or 2. How could I be having a 2nd migraine in 2 days, right before the big conference, the one where I'll be speaking on a talk I'm not ready to give yet??? What was going on here? So another horrid day ensued and then I went to fakeclinic and the doctor told me I was having migraines. I get that, but I don't want to have one tomorrow, I told her. There's nothing she can really do about it before hand. After the fact, I can take pills that will make it very difficult to give a talk that anyone would be remotely interested in hearing. She suggested that I may want to avoid WINE tonight. "Give up my ritual?" I asked, but she didn't back down. Obnoxious. (Please send good thoughts my way, Thursday around 1:30). (I'm not kidding).

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Turkeys

Though our numbers were drastically reduced this year (virtually cut in half), we stoically carried on the hand turkey tradition. We were down to 2 by Friday night, but again, Husbandman and I ventured out for a quick tour of the canopy of lights.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Mound Builders

I'm trying to put together a little power point presentation about the Mound Builder people. They lived just south of here around 1200 or so but then left town around 1450. No one is sure why they left. They walked away from their mound towns, leaving behind artifacts of their busy lives. Wherever they've gone, we wish them well.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Return

I loved NCTE this year. I went to great sessions, reconnected with pals, and truly recommitted myself to teaching our nation's youth.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Trip

I've spent a gazillion hours on the short ncte talk i'll give this coming Friday in San Antonio.  Each time I think I've got it done, something else bothers me about it.  I feel very close to being done, but not quite there.  At this point, not being done is a real problem because of laundry and sub plan issues.  Sometimes I wish I were a machine instead of a human being.  Everything would be done by now.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Fluency

Yesterday I went to a "reading academy." The presenter was very pleasant, but some of her ideas I didn't buy. The whole fluency issue is one of these ideas. "Good readers" read 120 words per minute, she said. Well, I don't think that's true at all. And even if it is true, I don't really care. So what? Presenter tests her kids each week on fluency. They practice a passage and they have one minute to read it. Then they have 30 seconds to retell the passage. It's very important to constantly monitor and assess fluency, she told us. Then she has the kids graph their fluency rates. Kids who aren't improving or who are well below the goal line do feel disappointed, she told us, but "we handle it positively so it's okay." What the hell? I suggested that everyone start podcasting projects because a byproduct of this cool social action work is that kids do focus on reading with expression and accuracy, but presenter just nodded and I could tell she wasn't even going to try it. I'm not going to try the timed readings and the graphing, so I guess we're even steven. I did win a pack of pencils in a drawing, so I do thank her for the pencils and for her efforts.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Army

Because yesterday was Veteran's Day, we had a speaker at our school who talked about getting out of the U.S. army in the 50's and then joining GOD'S ARMY and becoming an evangelical missionary. He asked the kids if they went to church, invited them all to his church and then advised them to always be part of GOD'S ARMY and NEVER belittle our great country. Then the kids all sang, "I'm glad to be an American, where at least I know I'm free." I wondered how they could be sure, given that the separation of church and state tenet had just been violated right in front of our very eyes. At any rate, Happy Vet's Day to all the veterans I know. You know who you are.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

The Podcast

This one's quite good too. It's about Ballot Box Battle. Thanks, Sarah, for putting this together!

The History

Husbandman had the temerity to question my decision to present at conferences. "Why do you do this to yourself?" I wish he would trust that freaking out is part of the creative process. On another note, we saw the Jonathan Demme movie last night about Rachel Getting Married. It gave me a stomachache.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

The Talk

I'm working on my NCTE talk today. I'm not sure I know what I'm doing with it at this point. I'm still in the "noodling" stage. Gotta get past this stage asap.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Tooth

Imagine me at work today, fully satisfied that I've helped secure our democracy, but worried about getting back into regular real world blogging. Imagine me helping a kid with math. A kid who doesn't know the number that comes after 809. After I tell her the answer (810), she writes down 8010. Imagine a kid running up with a significant portion of his front tooth missing. "What the heck happened?" I ask him, concerned.
"I ran into the wall over there and knocked my tooth off."

Imagine me, reassured that new blogging topics are going to come my way and there's no need for worrying. It's all good.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The House

I'm really proud of Husbandman. Right now he's down in Bedford getting out the vote. I'm doing my part of course with this awesome photo of Bruce and Barack and Sasha. I'm feeling upbeat and excited. Bruce said this at his concert and I agree wholeheartedly with him:

"Our sacred house of dreams has been abused, looted and left in a terrible state of disrepair. It needs care, it needs saving, it needs defending against those who would sell it down the river for power or a quick buck. It needs strong arms, hearts and minds.

"It needs someone with Senator Obama's understanding, temperateness, deliberativeness, maturity, compassion, toughness and faith to help us rebuild our house once again."

Sunday, November 02, 2008

The Teen

Today Teendaughter and her pal voted for the first time. What an exciting election for your first. If things go our way, I do feel the country is expressing a strong desire to move away from the hateful policies of the last 8 years. I am feeling hopeful. Teendaughter will be 18 tomorrow. Actually, she'll be 18 at 1:06 am this very night. The memories of a long day come flooding back.

Friday, October 31, 2008

The Holiday

Barack and Michelle are with their girls tonight, celebrating Halloween. Our kids are hither thither and yon. #1 son is working, so we suggested he trick or treat as a waiter after his shift. But he said he already had a costume idea. His plan is to print out his pal's face and glue it to a paper bag. Teendaughter finished all her college applications so she left here happy as a clam. She's at a pal's house, handing out the candy to others. Husbandman and I will watch a creepy movie while he eats the dreaded candy corn. Happy Halloween, peeps!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Ad

The 30 minute ad was phenomenal of course. I was so nervous, but I loved every minute of it. As Rachel Maddow said, "He had me at the wheat field." She said something like that anyway. The stories were amazing. Live feed at the end worked. Good job, Barack. Good job.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Illness

I took a sick day today and watched CNN all day long.  I watched a little bit of Bravo as well.
Barack gave a great speech in the rain today in Pennsylvania.  Then he jetted off to Virginia.  It was funny to watch him doing so many activities while I did nothing but watch telly, so I figured I'd better do some Barack blogging, just to follow Barack's good example, keeping strong til the very end.  My great desire right now is for Indiana to go for Barack.  It could happen!  It can happen!  Yes, it can!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Rally

I've been having some election anxiety and most of the people I know are having it too. Actually everyone I talk to seems to have it, even the people that I don't know but just speak to in passing. Everyone's freaking out about the future of our country and our world if we don't elect Barack. So today I went to hear Jane Pauley speak at a rally. She says that one paper recently had a typo that said she was "stomping" for Obama and she kind of liked that concept. She says she's been stomping all over Indiana for the past month and believes the Hoosier state will be going for Obama on November 4. I was feeling pretty good about things until Jane mentioned that Dems are better at registering voters, but Repubs are better at getting to the polls. What's up with that, Dems? Just go vote. It's not difficult in the least. If you need a ride, I'll take you. If you need me to watch your kid, I'll do it (except from 1 to 2 because I'm having a stress relieving massage that day). But the point is...get the job done. Please.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Plan

Peeps in my class confuse the heck out of me. Yesterday we put on a skit in front of the whole school about "responsibility" and "attendance." This was at the request of my bosslady principal. One peep had a small part, two lines, introducing our skit. He was excited about this. Every day we practiced and practiced. His reading skills aren't great, but we practiced it so much, he had it basically memorized. When his big moment came, he just stood in front of the mike and would not talk. After a few moments, I walked up and whispered his lines to him behind his back. He delivered them and headed off stage.
Later, when the crazy convo was over, I asked him, "Were you okay with me coming up to help with the lines?"
Peep: (in a surly voice) NO!
Me: (clearly taken aback) Oh I'm sorry. Were you about to say the lines?
Peep: No. I was embarrassed and I wanted to stand there by myself.
Me: (confused) You weren't going to say them because you were embarrassed? That was the plan?
Peep: (confidently) Yes, that's what I wanted.
Interrupting Peep: (making a valid point) Then you would have looked even more stupid!
Me: Okay, let's move on.

The main point of all this is that the convo that gave me much stress is finally over. Report cards are in the hands of the learners. I've reviewed an article for a journal that's been in my bag for 2 weeks. And I have 2 more big tasks ahead today. Plus laundry. It can be done. Oh yes, it can all be done.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Voting

I think I'll head over to the voting place and vote for Barack tomorrow.  I'll let you know.

The Frustrations

The job I have can be very tense. When kids throw pencils and refuse to pick them up. Or when kids refuse to come to the rug for the lesson. Or when kids hit each other on the back and yell out that one kid should suck another kid's appendage. These things get on my last nerve. I try to stay calm, but some days, I'm burnt by 3;15. So today will be good because I'm heading for a facial after school. Afternoon spa services should be part of this gig. I wonder if Barack could get behind that. He probably could.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Park

Voices in the Park is an awesome book by Anthony Browne.
I'm sure Barack's kids would love it.
He's probably already read it to them because he's just that awesome.
Barack should listen to our podcast here so that he knows how kids feel about bossy people
controlling their playtime. He may already know about that theme, because of his awesomeness, but the podcast would still be enjoyable.

Brother, can you spare six minutes? That's how long it is.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Birthdays

I'm sure everyone will join Senator Obama in wishing me a happy birthday. Husbandman, too, should get good wishes because his birthday is tomorrow. But for now, let's just focus on me.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Peeps

This morning I have a substitute teacher in my classroom for the first time. I have to be in pal KV's room, watching a textbook company rep teach a reading lesson. Then I have to talk with others about the lesson for 45 minutes. I don't really try to have a good attitude when it comes to pain in the neck nonsense like this. My main goal is to remain calm by focusing on my breathing. Wish me luck.
On a good note, one of my peeps gave me a Barack button yesterday. She said, "It costed me one dollar, but I wanted to get it for you because I know you like Barack Obama." I wore it around for awhile because she's right. I do like Barack Obama, and because it was a kind gift. Way to go, little peep. Thanks!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Debate

I'm not going to attack the opponent, even though he did and said many things last night that I found confoundingly annoying. Instead, I'm going to congratulate Barack for his victory in the debate last night. He got the job done.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Election

A pal at school has gathered a ton of resources to teach her little peeps about the election.  Yesterday she said she felt like she wasn't doing a good job with her unit.  "I mean, what can you really say about this election? Barack has good ideas, McCain doesn't."  I agreed that she was in a tight spot pedagogically.  But I encouraged her to soldier on.  

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Plan

I was glad to see McCain taking the microphone out of the hand of one of his supporters yesterday to disagree with her false statements.  He seemed pretty annoyed.  But he brought this on himself, by attacking and being rude.  So now he has to deal with the repercussions.  

Today I'm behind schedule on my goal of getting everything done.  

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Blood

A peep in my class signs up each day to tell stories that are difficult to believe.  A few weeks ago she told about her 3 legged dog getting hit by a semi truck.  Now it has to hobble around on only 2 legs.  Today she brought a small bottle made of red glass.  It was filled with liquid. She held it up and told us,  "Yesterday I went to the hospital because my Aunt Myrtle is dying.  And I gave her some of my own blood.  And the doctors took extra blood from me and they let me keep it."  Almost weirder than her story is how many peeps yelled out comments like, "Can I hold your bottle of blood?' and "Did it hurt giving the blood?'  I mean, come on people.  Let's get focused here. 

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The Teaching

When Barack taught at the law school at U of Chicago, he got very high evaluations. This is another good sign.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The Fields

Happy Debate Night! We are pretty sure Barack Obama would like our new podcast, which is about a book called Voices From the Fields. It's about 6 and a half minutes long, so you might or might not be able to listen to it some time soon.  The edublog's been a little glitchy lately, but leave a message for the peeps if you have an extra minute or two.  The peeps get a thrill when they find out people have listened to them.  

The Teacher

I heard Bill Ayres speak several years ago and I own some of his books. He is a fantastic educator who stands up for social justice teaching. The fact that Barack knows him in any way only makes me happier about voting for him.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Friday, October 03, 2008

The Debate

Here's what I don't get. After the debate last night so many pundits were making comments like this one I'm just making up out of my memory:

"Well, it's hard to say who won the debate. If you think a debate is won by answering questions accurately, probably Joe Biden won. But if you think this particular debate is about Sarah Plain and Small NOT melting down or bursting into flames in front of our eyes, then clearly Sarah Plain and Small won the debate."

I debated in high school. I wasn't very good at it. But I did try to stick to the topics presented to me because that's how I scored more points in the debate. Actually, not doing this basically meant I would lose the debate.

So I'm going old school and declaring Joe Biden the clear winner.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The Snacks

Today we had a faculty meeting at 8:00 am. We usually have snacks at these early meetings, so I didn't buy a bagel with my latte, even though I wanted one very badly. When I got to the meeting, no snacks. All through the meeting, I kept looking around and wondering why there were no snacks. Why was this meeting so different from the others, the ones with the tasty snacks? Later, when I checked the calendar of school events that I'm supposed to check each day but haven't lately, I discovered that it was I who was signed up to bring snacks. And it was I who had not brought them. Does everyone hate me now, I wondered, feeling some degree of worry and remorse. I'm going to make it up to everybody somehow. Probably by bringing in snacks some other time. I'm not sure yet.
On the Barack side of life, he looks very cheerful here. CNN is already starting with the big maps. I wish they would hold off on that. It makes me nervous.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Mail

The peeps and I sent an email to the author of this great book. She wrote back to us today. She listened to our podcast and gave the peeps some kudos. What a buzz to get an email from an author. I have read it over and over this morning, to the detriment of the cleanliness of my house.
On a Barack note, sister woman says that our dad is voting Obama. "Our Democrat dad is back!" she emailed this weekend. Sister Woman requested a moment of silence in honor of this momentous moment.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Registering

I'm going to blog Barack until he wins.  Today's blog is about registering to vote.  My sister in law Eve registered 9 people to vote just yesterday.  So if you know anyone who needs to register to vote, you might want to give them a friendly, but urgent, reminder.  
I'm going to buy a car magnet for 15$.  You can too.  Click on the link in the title of this blog entry.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Election

I would like to help with the election, but I only want to do jobs where I don't have to talk to other people.  Licking envelopes, or maybe making bag lunches for the people doing the hard job of talking to others.  I think I will buy a yard sign this weekend.  

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Podcast

Please. Humor me and listen to our third podcast. It's about William Miller's book, Frederick Douglass: The Last Day of Slavery. Our podcast is only 7 minutes long, so you can probably squeeze in a listen. We heartily enjoyed it, here at the homestead.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Election

I think Obama's going to win, but many of my pals are not so confident.  I have friends who are really ready to move if things don't go our way.  One pal's moving to Canada, but I suggested Mexico, because I've always wanted to live somewhere in the Yucatan.  Barack can not lose and he's not going to lose.  I feel it in my heart of hearts.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Fun

We had a heavy week of testing this week.  ISTEP testing.  I do not care for ISTEP testing.  One kid cried through much of it, asserting over and over again, "I can't read this!"  He was right of course, but I cajoled him into filling in circles.  He did not want to do that and who can blame him?  I felt a bit like a rat. I probably should have told him to sit and draw.  We have one more test next week.  Then we take ISTEP again in spring.  And we're adding a 4 times a year 3 hour test called "Acuity."  And we still will take NWEA 3 times a year, another 3 hour computerized test.  So we've got testing covered.  Please don't have any doubts about that.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Power

I've become a bit of a brat for the modern age.  We had no power in our home for 4 days and I didn't weather the storm well at all.  Sure it was kind of fun laying on my bed projecting light onto the ceiling with my flashlight for a night or two, but after awhile it got a little annoying. The real kicker though was coming home yesterday all geared up to check facebook and blog and edit fotos to find that while we had lights and laundry, we had no internets, no tv, no phone.   At that point, I lost all will to live and started to take out my frustration on family members.  I really disappointed myself and yes I do have some regrets. 

The Astronauts

 From a Lynda Barry book, I've used the idea to have the Thirdlanders draw self portraits on occasion.  Draw yourself as Batman, a monst...