Category Archives: Technical/Site Issues

Updates and Organization

I have re-organized links in the sidebar so you don’t have to hunt for my other sites. In a box entitled “Links,” you’ll find links to my classroom wiki, classroom blog, GISA Educators’ Wiki (set up for participants in my upcoming GISA presentation in November), lesson plan wiki, and student blog.

I encourage you to check out my students’ work at their wiki and blog.  We are doing so exciting things right now (or, I should say I am excited, at least).  I have added some material to my lesson plan wiki.  I have found that I don’t have as much time to add material to that wiki as I would like — oddly enough, I’m too busy planning and teaching to actually find time to share, too, but I’m trying to be better.  I now have my Colonial and Revolutionary American literature pages restored over there.  Every time I look at it, though, I’m aware of how much I still want to do and I suddenly feel very tired.

Internet Explorer

I don’t use Internet Explorer, so I didn’t realize my template had gone all wonky.  I opened up my blog in Maxthon, a browser my husband favors (it was open on the desktop when I sat down) and discovered that my CSS in the sidebar was a mess.  I tried to validate it, and sure enough, it didn’t work.  I narrowed the culprit down to the bit of text that diplays what I’m reading, so I took it out.  If I figure out how to fix it, I’ll put it back, but the fact is, I don’t read much professional literature, so who knows how useful it even is to have that.  Got it to work again.

If you ever notice something weird with my template, please don’t hesitate to let me know.  Firefox wasn’t rendering this problem, so I had no idea it was going on.

Restoration Continues

I have restored all the of the posts that were originally on this blog before my former host went down in February. I am in the process of restoring comments. Because I didn’t make a good back up file before the host went down, I was unable to simply export the posts from Movable Type and import them into Word Press. Still the process is much less painful than it would have been if I’d had to restore the posts using MT. MT requires a lot of rebuilding, which takes a lot of time. Also, I can’t recall whether or not you can edit the timestamp of comments made on MT blogs. I can easily do so with Word Press. Since I have all your comments to this blog, I can simply re-post them, then edit the timestamp to reflect the time at which they were actually posted. At any rate, with the constant rebuilding that would be necessary in order to see the changes made, I shudder to thinkk how long this process would take in MT. All of this makes me very glad I switched to Word Press.


Today I re-uploaded entries from June 2005 to October 2005, but I didn’t finish with October yet.  I suppose this is one reason to be glad I’m not a prolific blogger!

I received my course schedule for next year today.  It looks like I’ll be teaching:

  • 9th grade Honors Grammar, Composition, and Literature
  • 9th grade CP Grammar, Composition, and Literature
  • 10th grade CP2 American Literature and Composition
  • 10th grade Writing Seminar
  • 12th grade CP Short Story and Composition (1st semester)
  • 12th grade CP Drama and Composition (2nd semester)

Incidentally, CP means college prep.  We have two college prep levels; one is for students who need extra scaffolding and support.

I initially didn’t really want to teach 9th grade, but I must admit that I am very excited about it.  I hope I’ll get a chance to teach British Lit. in 2007-2008.  It didn’t work out for me this year for a variety of reasons.

Now that I know what I’m teaching, I guess I don’t have any excuses for not planning.  Boy, I have a lot of summer reading to do.

Understanding by Design

Understanding by Design: Professional Development WorkbookI have been looking through Jay McTighe and Grant Wiggins’ Understanding by Design: Professional Development Workbook most of the day today. I am working on a unit on the Harlem Renaissance using the ideas behind UbD, and I would appreciate feedback. You can download the unit (one page) in MS Word. I am most concerned that my performance task, while authentic, doesn’t explicitly address the Understandings and Essential Questions. Let me back up — it does address those issues, but it is more of an inference than an explicit relation.

One of the things I like about the workbook is that there are plenty of examples of how other educators have created units based on UbD. Since Jay McTighe discussed the importance of models when he visited us for a workshop on Thursday, I find it refreshing that he “practices what he preaches,” so to speak. So often educators insist we should do this or that, but they don’t explain how in a way that’s easy to understand. I also like the fact that templates are included in various formats to enable easy photocopying.

I can’t remember the last time I walked out of a professional development workshop this excited about trying what I’ve learned.

On an unrelated note, I have noticed that many of you still have me linked at There is a redirect in place there that will bring you here, but I was concerned that those of you who might be reading via a news reader would not have seen that I’ve updated in the last couple of months unless you’ve seen the updated link.

Gatsby Redux

I want to try to get started restoring older blog posts later this upcoming week. Midterm grades are due, and I’m still behind, so I don’t see having time to start until after that.

I did briefly want to share some of my experience teaching The Great Gatsby this year. About midway through the book, one of my students said she was sitting outside reading the book, and at least five older students stopped to tell her how much they loved the book. Another shared that he didn’t want the book to end because it was his favorite book this year. Discussing this book with my students has been a treat. My Honors class was asked to read a segment of Azar Nafisi’s Reading Lolita in Tehran (when Nafisi’s students put Gatsby on trial) for Monday, and I’m really looking forward to that discussion. I really wish I had taken the time to record some of my students’ insights earlier this week; now it’s Friday, and I’m too tired to do them justice!

Each year, students invariably ask about the book’s cover, Celestial Eyes by Francis Cugat. If you teach Gatsby, you might want to point your students to “Celestial Eyes: From Metamorphosis to Masterpiece.” It is a very interesting essay about the evolution of one of the most famous book covers in American literature. Also, you may be interested to learn that it was on this date, March 10, in 1948 that Zelda Fitzgerald died in a fire that swept through Highland Mental Hospital.


OK, there is a way to restore my blog posts automatically by converting the HTML into an import file. The trouble is, I can’t figure it out. My technological understanding doesn’t extend quite that far, I’m afraid.

I still have the posts. I am just going to have to go the manual route, which means it will be some time before they are all restored. Just bear with me! I think the most important parts of the site, at least as far as teachers go, have already been restored (my web activities for students). You don’t know how bad I felt when the site went kaput — I knew teachers had been using the online activities, because my site statistics would show something like 40 computers logging on to the site from a school computer lab all at the same time. I thought about how I would feel if my lesson plan was disrupted by the sudden unavailability of the website I was using. Of course, the best of us have a plan B, but still… Anyway, that part of my site was the first to be restored.

Keep watching this space!

Site Restoration

I have great news.  My former hosts finally responded to my repeated help requests and managed to help me figure out how to get my files off their server.  I tried it last night, and I was able to download all of the files.  It will take some time to restore everything, but the good news is that the blog entries, handouts, Power Points, and all the pages are intact.  I just need to work at getting them uploaded and working with this template.


OK, I have opted for something simpler for my Ideas page.  It will be a collection of links to my lesson plan wiki, where I will house all my lesson ideas.  I am still restoring handouts and Power Points, so forgive me if some of the links aren’t working correctly yet.

I read a couple of good articles in Reader’s Digest.  I know a lot of you want to give me a hard time for reading that magazine.  Go ahead; I can take it.  Anyway, one was an excerpt of Frank McCourt’s new book Teacher Man, and the other was about cheating.  I have decided I definitely want to read McCourt’s book, as it looks decidedly more uplifting than Angela’s Ashes, which I couldn’t finish.  I have some thoughts about these two articles that I want to share here.

My school is also embarking on professional development regarding assessment, and I have some good articles that I would also like to discuss here.  So, watch this space!  I’m going to be discussing education here again, soon!