My Fall Preview

Robert at Casting Out Nines just posted a Fall Preview.  It’s nice to know what our fellow bloggers are doing so we can pick their brains or follow along when they write about instruction.  This is what I have going on this semester:

  • A daughter starting high school (yikes!), a daughter starting second grade, and a son starting kindergarten.  The two younger children are on the autism spectrum (my daughter has Asperger’s and my son is currently diagnosed as developmentally delayed).
  • A new course entitled The Hero with a Thousand Faces, a senior elective in which students will analyze literature and a couple of films based on Joseph Campbell’s theory of the monomyth.
  • 11th grade college prep British Literature and Composition (a chronological study of British literature)
  • 11th grade college prep 2 British Literature and Composition (also chronological, but at a different pace and depth and with some different reading selections, mainly the novels, but others will differ as well)
  • 9th grade college prep 2 Grammar, Composition, and Literature, which is our 9th grade English course, including The Odyssey and Romeo and Juliet.  Our focus is on grammar and writing.
  • Department Chair of our English department.
  • National Honor Society Adviser.
  • Returning to school to begin my masters in Curriculum and Instruction with an Instructional Technology focus.

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Tagged! I’m It

Clix tagged me for a meme. First, I am supposed to post the rules:

  1. The rules of the game get posted at the beginning.
  2. Each player answers the questions about themselves.
  3. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5-6 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read the player’s blog.
  4. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer.

OK, so now the questions.

What were you doing ten years ago?

I was finishing up my first year teaching at a rural school. It was probably the most awful job I’ve ever had, and certainly the most awful teaching experience. We had gang problems and a do-nothing administration.

What are five things on my to-do list for today (not in any particular order)*

  1. Grade vocabulary and quizzes and start on projects.
  2. Follow up on and answer some e-mails.
  3. Sketch out next week’s lesson plans.
  4. Re-read chapter eight of The Great Gatsby and take some notes.
  5. E-mail students absent on Monday who have not checked in with me and do not have their final exam assignment.

What are some snacks I enjoy?

  • popcorn
  • Hint of Lime Tostitos
  • nuts
  • chocolate

What would I do if I were a billionaire?

  • Like Clix, pay off debt.
  • Buy a house.
  • Get a new car.
  • Travel like mad.
  • Share with my family, friends, and favorite charities.
  • Outfit my school with more technology—SMART Boards in each room, laptops for teachers, etc.
  • Honestly, this is one of those questions that has an unlimited number of answers, as I can’t even imagine all I could do with that money. Sigh.

What are three of my bad habits?

  1. Clutter. It’s how I live.
  2. Procrastination.
  3. Worrying.

What are five places where you have lived?**

  1. California
  2. Germany
  3. Virginia
  4. Colorado
  5. North Carolina

What are five jobs I have had?

  1. Teacher
  2. Waitress at Sonny’s Real Pit Barbecue
  3. Student Worker in the Science Library at UGA
  4. Student Worker in the Financial Aid Office at Macon College
  5. Temp. Bleh.

What five or six people do I want to tag?

Well, this is hard for me because I can never tell if people like these things and want to be tagged and included, or not. So I tag the following folks, who only have to play if they feel like it (no pressure):

* Because it’s so late, and the only thing on my to-do list at this hour is to blowdry my hair and go to bed, perhaps read, this is tomorrow’s list.

** I didn’t include my current residence because I think most people know that about me. However, it might be a surprise to learn I have lived in some of the other places.

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Week in Reflection, April 7-11

I feel good about this week.  My senior class started A Streetcar Named Desire, and they are enjoying it.  Well, it’s just a really good play, isn’t it?  They’re excited to watch the movie when we finish.

One of my ninth grade classes finished phrases with a quiz and performed very well on it.  I am sure they studied, and I was proud of their work, but I would like to think I also taught it in a way that was understandable.  We should finish clauses on Tuesday.

My other ninth grade class is finishing up The Catcher in the Rye and seems to like the project they are working on.

I only met with my writing class once this week.  They were in Boston on Monday and Tuesday (grade level trip); on Wednesday we don’t normally have class (unless there is a schedule change); and on Thursday, school was canceled because of a water main break.  So we just had Friday.  After learning about what not to do with Power Point, a lesson for which one student gamely donated a Power Point show in which he effectively demonstrated everything one shouldn’t do with Power Point, students are creating informative Power Points on some topic that interest them.  Some students are doing soccer, while others are doing stem cells and global warming, while still others are researching teen pregnancy.

The water main break is a perfect example of why it’s important to be flexible.  I wanted to finish clauses and do misplaced modifiers and perhaps even start on verb usage with my freshmen, but we missed our entire weekly double-block, so it didn’t happen.  Our juniors were going to have a grade level meeting to discuss registration and learn about senior electives, but that couldn’t happen either.  Registration is still scheduled for Monday, so I will most likely be answering more questions than usual about English electives, especially because my department chair will not be present.  All this is fine, and I am prepared to do it.  I have often thought one of the best things one can be, especially at my school, is flexible, and I’d like to think that I am.

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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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