Time

I never have enough time to teach everything I want to teach — at least not the way I want to teach it.  I have found myself frustrated this year after writing some very good UbD units, only to find I have to cut out parts in order to finish the work in the amount of time I have available.  I have also had to contend with Jewish holidays, our peculiar school schedule, and shorter class periods.  When I taught public school, each class period was at least 50 minutes long.  My classes work out to be 45 minutes long each day (one day is a double period of 90 minutes, but we have class only four days of week, so the average is 45 minutes).  Five minutes doesn’t seem like a lot, but over the course of a week, that’s an average of nearly a half hour.  I just don’t feel as though I really do justice to some of the topics I teach as a result.

How do you cope with the time crunch?

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You Can’t Be Too Careful

Not that I’m paranoid or anything, but I am doing whatever I can not to have the ending of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows spoiled for me.  As of this moment, I’m filtering e-mails.  I will go into Harry Potter hibernation at midnight tomorrow, and I don’t expect to catch up with online activities until some time mid-week next week.  Thanks for understanding if it takes me a while to get back to your e-mails or approve comments.  See you on the other side!

[tags]harry potter, harry potter and the deathly hallows[/tags]

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Graduation Speech

You might appreciate this graduation speech delivered by a student of mine at graduation:

[tags]graduation, speech, education, humor[/tags]

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Graduation

Our school’s graduation took place this morning. The Class of 2007 is the first class of Weber graduates that I had the opportunity to teach. I taught all of them as tenth graders in American Literature and Composition, and I taught about a third of them again this year in Short Story/Drama and Composition. They’re a great group, and I will miss them dearly. If any of you happen by here, Weber Class of 2007, I want to send you the following message:

Download link

May God bless and keep you always,
May your wishes all come true,
May you always do for others
And let others do for you.
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung,
May you stay forever young,
Forever young, forever young,
May you stay forever young.

May you grow up to be righteous,
May you grow up to be true,
May you always know the truth
And see the lights surrounding you.
May you always be courageous,
Stand upright and be strong,
May you stay forever young,
Forever young, forever young,
May you stay forever young.

May your hands always be busy,
May your feet always be swift,
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift.
May your heart always be joyful,
May your song always be sung,
May you stay forever young,
Forever young, forever young,
May you stay forever young.

~ Bob Dylan, “Forever Young”

Congratulations, guys.  Come visit me next year.  I love you.

Weber Class of 2007 at Walden Pond, February 2005

Weber Class of 2007 leaves their imprint at Walden Pond, February 2005

[tags]graduation, education[/tags]

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A 5/8 Meme

AQuiram tagged me for this meme, so here goes:

  1. What do you hope to accomplish with your blog?
    I use this blog as a means of reflecting on my practices (but not as much as I should), helping others, and sharing resources. It is my hope that visitors find some of it useful and interesting. I also hope that visitors might be inspired to try blogging, too.
  2. Are you a spiritual person?
    Hmm… in a manner of speaking, but probably not like most people think. I’m Christian, but I teach at a Jewish school. I don’t think I’ve ever really felt the presence of God in a church, but I have outside in woods.
  3. If you were stranded on a deserted island, what three things would you want to have with you?
    I don’t like these questions. OK, my family, a shelter, and a magical machine that enabled me to get anything else I needed. Cheating? Yes. Yes, it is.
  4. What’s your favorite childhood memory?
    It will be hard for me to pick one, but the first one that came to mind was the Christmas when we were all snowed in because of a blizzard (Colorado, 1982). It was a time of closeness and togetherness.
  5. Are these your first (tagging) memes?
    No.

Here are the rules for this meme:

  • Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
  • People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
  • At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
  • Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

OK, so here are my eight random facts.

  1. I played the flute all through school and picked up French horn for a year in middle school and guitar for a few years in high school/college.
  2. I plan to start working on my Masters.  My first step is to take the GRE this summer.  I’m planning to get a degree in Instructional Technology.
  3. I have three children.  I don’t write about them much (or have I ever?) on this blog, but I do write about them sometimes on my personal blog.  My daughters each have blogs, too: Western Dragon and Maggie’s Blog.  My son has recently been preliminarily (lets see how many adverbs I can throw out) diagnosed with an autism-spectrum disorder.  He will be evaluated for special ed services this summer.  He is beginning to teach himself to read and write.  You can read what my husband said about Dylan’s communication.
  4. I am a pretty huge Harry Potter fan, and I CAN’T WAIT until the new book and movie come out this summer, but I admit it’s bittersweet — last book!  I actually have a blog devoted to Harry Potter, too.
  5. Should I turn this into a link fest for all my other blogs?  Sure, why not.  I am also a genealogist and have traced my family history back pretty far in several branches.
  6. Unlike AQuiram, I actually try to watch the entire season of American Idol.  My husband is a singer, and I enjoy his criticism of the contestants’ voices.
  7. My favorite composer is Chopin.  I just figured this fact out today.
  8. I am interested in the Middle Ages and was even a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism for a time.  I am a King Arthur buff — go on, ask me anything — well, I shouldn’t have opened that can of worms, but I’ll give it a shot.  I never miss the Renaissance Festival here in Georgia (I go with my daughter), and this year, for my birthday, I want to go to Medieval Times.  You only turn 36 once.

I’m not sure who has been tagged or who is interested, and at this busy time of year, I’m kind of loath to tag anyone, so I’m going to be cheap and just say whoever wants to be tagged, well, you’re it.

[tags]meme[/tags]

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Professional Resumes

I started to write this post about a month ago. I didn’t finish it because halfway through, I asked myself, what do you know about this? Why are you writing about resumés? I have been, as they say down here in the South, hemming and hawing about the post ever since. I have noticed that many of my new readers are preservice English teachers, and I find this fact very exciting. I teach in a private school, and talking with preservice teachers online may be as close as I will get to working with a student teacher, which is something I have always wanted to do — ever since I was one myself! I am very interested in helping and encouraging new teachers.

When I was going through my English Education coursework, our professors helped us make resumés. We were told that while most professionals are advised to keep their resumés to one page in length, teachers should create two-page resumés. You should begin with your career objective. It can be as simple as “To teach English language arts to students in grades 7-12.” Mine reads “To integrate technology and English language arts and facilitate students’ communication skills through writing and reading in the secondary school.”

After my objective, I have my education background listed, including my certification.  I also included my GPA.  One thing you might want to do is include your major GPA.  Figure out what your GPA is for your major only — I selected all the English and education classes I took.  My major GPA is significantly higher (by about .15) than my total GPA.  I think including your major GPA, that is, if it’s higher than your total GPA, demonstrates how well you know your subject matter.

After education, detail your teaching experience, beginning with your most recent position backward.  If you have no teaching experience, include your student teaching and practicum here.  Also, include any work you’ve done with students.  Examples include camp counseling, youth ministry, babysitting, and the like.  I seem to remember including the fact that I had proctored the SAT when I wrote my first resumé.  Make sure you list any clubs you have sponsored or committees you were a part of.

If you are creating your first education resumé and/or you don’t have much teaching experience yet, you will want to include other work experience under a separate section from you teaching experience.  I don’t bother with that anymore, as I have been teaching for ten years and have several schools listed under education experience.

You can put Honors and Awards with education, but if you’ve received honors related to your job, you might want a separate section.  I list my Dean’s List awards and honor society memberships here.

I have a separate section on my resumé for publications because I have published an article for English Journal, a study guide for Beowulf, and a YA novel.

I have a section detailing my technology skills.  In this day and age, I think technology skills might be very attractive to prospective employers.

I would like to ask that professors, successful teachers, or principals post their tips for crafting education resumés in the comments so that preservice teachers might benefit from your advice.

P.S.  When you hand your resumé to a principal, don’t pronounce it like “re-ZOOM.”  I was within earshot of a teacher who did that, and it made me cringe.

[tags]resumés, education[/tags]

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Nikki Giovanni

Nikki GiovanniI haven’t written about the events at Virginia Tech. Coverage has been ubiquitous at my house — my husband writes about crime, after all. It occurred to me some time after the horrible events on Monday that Nikki Giovanni was a professor at VT. I love Nikki Giovanni’s poetry and was honored to have the chance to meet her and talk with her for a few moments back in 1998. She was incredibly nice and signed books for my daughter and for me. It occurred to me to wonder if the murderer — an English major — had the occasion to run across Giovanni in his studies. After all, I studied at UGA, and while I was never in her class, I sometimes passed Judith Ortiz Cofer in the hall (and tried to hide the fact that every time I did it, I shook with nervousness over being in such close proximity to a writer I admired). One of the teachers at school today mentioned Giovanni had indeed taught Cho Seung-hui and demanded that he be removed from her class. I’m trying to understand, with all the information coming to light about the warning signs that this young man was disturbed, why he was still studying at VT.

One of my students was visiting the campus at Virginia Tech this weekend, and he was all but settled on going there until this happened. It isn’t that he felt the campus wouldn’t be safe — it stands to reason that since this horrible event happened once at VT, the school will take measures to prevent another occurrence. What prompted my student to change his mind was that the school’s climate won’t be the same… and such a state of fear will reign over the campus that it will impede his freedom. He’s probably right. I’m glad he came home from his visit OK. He’s a pretty great kid. But I’m sure all the students who were senselessly murdered (and their admirable professors) were pretty great, too.

It just… doesn’t make any sense, and I don’t know what else I can say aside from that.

[tags]Virginia Tech, Nikki Giovanni[/tags]

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Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut
1922-2007

America lost one of its great twentieth century writers last night. Kurt Vonnegut’s short story “Harrison Bergeron” has long been a staple of my American literature classes, and my students really enjoyed his tips on How to Write with Style (pdf), too.

Sometimes, when I have a male student — a certain kind of disaffected youth who has trouble finding books he likes — I recommend that he read Kurt Vonnegut.

Vonnegut Links:

So it goes.

[tags]Kurt Vonnegut, Postmodernism, literature[/tags]

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Favicons

I changed my favicon. I just didn’t like the little apple anymore. For those of you who don’t know, favicons are those little icons that appear in the address bar or location bar in Firefox or Internet Explorer 7. Prior versions of IE won’t display them except in your Bookmars or Favorites. They will also appear in the tabs on Firefox or IE. Favicons are cute and fun, and they’re one of the things I initially liked about Firefox when I first started using it. It’s one way to make your site distinctive.

Favicons are not that difficult to create. They need to be pictures 16×16 pixels and saved in the .ico format. Most image software (Photoshop, MS Paint, etc.) won’t save files in that format, but an excellent free program called IrfanView will. The first step to creating a favicon is to find a picture you like and that you are allowed to use. Reduce its size to 16X16 pixels to see if it looks good. Many times it won’t. It’s hard to find pictures that will retain detail and resemble something when they’ve been reduced that small. Lots of favicons are simply letters.

After you have a favicon you like saved in the .ico format, you need to upload it to the root directory of your website. If you have a website run by Blogger, WordPress.com, Edublogs, Typepad, or some other hosted site format, you can’t change your favicon. You will notice that you have one — the site’s default favicon. If you own your own domain, however, changing your favicon should be fairly simple. Just upload it to your root directory, and all the pages should display it.

I made my favicon out of the image that appears in my bulleted lists. I thought it matched the template better, anyway. Some templates or themes come with favicons. Some web hosts also have a default favicon. For instance, I can always tell if a site is hosted by Bluehost because of the distinctive favicon with the blue squares. Of course, site owners can easily change this, but many of them do not.

Note: If you changed your favicon and can’t see it, you probably just need to empty your browser cache.  I won’t attempt to post instructions for doing this for everyone.  Here is a good tutorial that covers most of the bases.

[tags]favicons[/tags]

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Vote: The Books America Can’t Live Without

This isn’t as scientific as I’d like, but given the amount of comments I received and the pool of books selected in those comments, coupled with informal polls offline, I have cobbled together a list of twenty books America can’t live without, in no particular order. Here’s where you come in. Let’s put them order. Vote for your top five in the comments. I will tally the votes and rank the books from 1-20.

  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  • Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  • The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • The Collected Works of William Shakespeare by William Shakespeare
  • The Bible
  • The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  • The Once and Future King by T.H. White
  • Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  • Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein
  • Dracula by Bram Stoker
  • The Short Stories of Flannery O’Connor by Flannery O’Connor
  • The Short Stories of Edgar Allan Poe by Edgar Allan Poe
  • For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
  • The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
  • Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Remember to select only five books, and it would be helpful if you ranked them from 1-5 as well. More votes for a certain book for number one as opposed to number five might help me break ties.

[tags]literature, reading, education, favorite books[/tags]

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