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Haunted Hodgepodge

Can you believe it, but the Hodgepodge turns 100 this week!  WOW!!  Joyce, thanks for coming up with 100 weeks’ worth of questions.  That, if I’m doing my math correctly (I’m a reading teacher, so be gentle), is about 700 questions (the 8th question is a random comment fashioned by us, the writers).  Pretty amazing!!!  I look forward to celebrating another hundred Hodgepodges in, well, a hundred (give or take a few) weeks!!

1.  What creeps you out?

No doubt about it, but spiders creep me out the most!!  I’ve been heard, over the school’s radio, begging like a little girl for someone to come and remove a nasty, hairy spider.  This happened a few years ago when I was a computer tech at a school.  My office was small and dark, with lots of binders lining the walls.  I moved one and found an icky spider crawling out.  The custodian came to assist me, entered my room with gloves, and came out shaking, saying, “You weren’t kidding.  That thing was huge!”  Guess I wasn’t such a baby after all!

2.  What’s your least favorite candy?

My least favorite candy is candy corn.  Honestly…who in the world came up with the stuff?  Gross.

3.  Are you a fan of scary movies?  What’s the scariest movie you’ve ever seen?

Ha, ha, ha!  My family would be laughing right now if they were reading this.  I hold my eyes over scary previews in the theater!!!  In fact, during my honeymoon, which was spent at Disney World, I covered my eyes during the Haunted House ride.  A little girl exiting the ride with her parents gushed over how great it was and, “Could they go again?”  I was almost in tears from it being so scary.

That said, I never told the Mr., before he was “The Mr.” that I hated scary movies, and much to my dismay that’s where he took me out on dates.  I used to have NIGHTMARES afterward (not from the dates but the movies, mind you).

The worst movie ever…Nightmare on Elm Street.  Why?  Because I couldn’t escape the dream, of course.  I didn’t sleep well for weeks, if at all at night.

To this day, I cannot watch scary things because my creative imagination inserts me into the movie at night when my brain doesn’t know I’m dreaming.

Not.

Fun.

4.  What part of life confuses you the most?

At this stage of my life, what really confuses me is what part of Rule #3 my students do not get.

The rule clearly states that “Students will not talk across groups unless given permission by Mrs. AuburnChick.”

This drives the noise level up and causes major distractions, just forcing me to stop teaching to quiet them down.

How teenagers can blatantly disregard classroom rules and, thus, have so little regard for their education as well as that of others, confuses me.

That and the fact that they consider my daring to interrupt their conversations as “bothersome” is beyond me.

Sheesh.

(It’s a good thing I love those students, otherwise I’d be running in the other direction!!!)

😉

5.  Pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, poppy…what’s your favorite seed?

I like sunflower seeds.

6.  Imagine your life ten years from today…what’s changed?

Ten years from today, I suspect that Chicky will be married with children.  Maybe Rooster will be married.  I will be into my thirteenth year of teaching and, hopefully, having some sort of life at home because lesson planning will have become easier.  I don’t know if I’ll have all of my fur babies around (gosh, that makes me sad just thinking about it).

7.  What do you a) love the most and b) like the least about the Hodgepodge?

I love seeing how other people answer the questions.  It’s fun to see how others interpret the questions.  Sometimes I find that I totally miss the mark because I’ve read the questions too quickly and misread them.  Mostly, though, I find that we who answer and share are very similar, and it makes the world a much smaller place.

I cannot say that there’s anything I don’t like about the Hodgepodge.  Joyce, you do a wonderful job.  The questions are relevant and fun.  There are questions that we can shoot from the hit from, and there are others that really make us dig down deep.  For that, I thank you.

8.  My Random Thought

I know that I’ve been posting a lot lately about my little knitting group that is evolving at school.

I’ve gotta tell you that this is really just touching my heart.

Before school began, I felt a nudging to create a knitting club at school.  I even talked to an assistant principal about it, and she told me which faculty member to speak to in order to make it “official.”

I never got around to it for several reasons…weekly staff meetings, professional development, and my newest Reading Endorsement class, which I knew was coming.

I did not want to commit to something else.

And then things started by one sweet little girl’s desire to learn a hobby she’d seen her grandmother do.

It’s grown.

I used to lock up my classroom door during lunch, visit with other teachers, and be unproductive (cough).  It was my chill time.

Now, I have kids coming into my room, eating lunch, and knitting a few rows.

I supervise them, jumping in when they need help, offering praise when they get discouraged.

Word is spreading.

Kids were knitting last weekend…before a big band competition.

They’re learning how to cast on by watching YouTube videos.

I’m not kidding.

Yesterday afternoon, I taught one of my original “groupies” how to knit in the round…on double pointed needles.

She is determined to make a hat…her first project!!!!!

After school, when the kids come in to knit, I do my own thing and only rush over when I hear words like, “Oops,” or “Uh oh.”

The sound of a metal needle hitting the floor also makes me jump out of my seat and run.

😀

I don’t pay too much attention to the conversation if it’s something between the girls.  They need their chill time.  Often, though, they invite me to sit with them, and I get to hear more about their lives at home.

My friend, Jane, has always had students in and out of her room at all hours of the day.

She’s always been a popular teacher.

Me…not so much.

I am tough, and after that first year of teaching I was especially nervous to let kids get too close.

I’d gotten burned that first year by trusting my students.

Teaching these beautiful youngsters at my new school has made me see how much these kids need someone who’s just there, whether they want to talk or not.

Sometimes it’s just being a present force that’s just what they want.

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks, let me tell you, and it’s why my supply closet in my room looks like this now…

I can’t believe I ever thought that I’d never be able to fill those shelves.

God knew, though, which is why He probably laughed when I thought I wasn’t going to follow the Spirit’s prompting to start that knitting club.

God had other plans.

I am just along for the ride, trusting that the minute details of my crazy schedule will get worked out.

Meanwhile, I count my blessings, for that is what these students and their happy smiles when they knit or purl their way across a row of stitches are to me…blessings.

Happy Birthday, Dad

Dear Dad,

Today is your birthday.

Although you passed away in 2001, not a birthday goes by without me thinking of you.

I even mentioned your birthday during one of the classes I taught today, and my students expressed sadness for my loss.

You were an amazing man.

Although we only had a few years together thanks to a little thing called “divorce,” the time we did spend reconnecting were wonderful and even more special because of the years spent apart.

I’d like to think I get my quirkiness from you.

My students would thank you for that because it keeps life interesting in my classroom.

I didn’t get your height.

Gee.  Thanks for passing that gene along.

Not.

I really could have used it with this thing called a Smart Board that I teach with.

Your fondness for history and books manifest themselves in me, and it’s spurred many a student to read because of my enthusiasm.

I wonder what you’d be reading today if you were still alive.

Oh, I don’t mean to get sad.

Birthdays are supposed to be celebrations.

So tonight, while the house is quiet and my thoughts are settling, I will celebrate.

I’ll have a glass of wine in your honor.

Sorry, but it’s of the cheaper kind…you’d get heartburn, I know.

Thank you for the kindness you always had for animals.  You definitely passed that on to me, and I have four furry babies to prove it (they thank you as well).

Thank you for your determination to be number one.  That example of hard work instilled in me the desire to live up to every bit of potential that lives inside of me.

Thanks for always carrying toilet paper in your car.

No, I don’t carry toilet paper with me, but I carry just about everything else.  It’s almost a joke, but I’m the last one laughing when someone needs something, and I happen to have it.

😀

I wish we would have had more time to get to know one another, but I’m grateful for what we did have.

Happy Birthday.

I miss you.

Love,

AuburnChick

I Think We’ve Got a Club

I think it might have been last week (perhaps the week before that) when I described how my initial foray into teaching one of my students to knit led to five students wanting to learn.

Well, I thought I would give you an update.

The girls have been coming into my classroom during lunch to knit…to get assistance with extra stitches showing up and whatnot…

Today, I had two or three girls in my room.  It was a relaxed time.  I played music and worked on “teacher” stuff while they discussed their knitting travails.

Then I heard something that warmed my heart when two more gals entered the room and began talking about a bunch of them knitting on Saturday before a band competition!  Apparently, one girl challenged the others, betting that they couldn’t knit.

Guess what?

They picked up the needles and began knitting!

One of the girls bought one of my original girls a new set of needles!

Although I haven’t been able to start an “official” club, what I think I’ve got on my hands is something unofficial…a movement that is spreading.

The girls are very excited, and they are talking about knitting things…like blankets and hats!

I finally feel justified for having oodles and oodles of extra yarn in the closet.

I pulled out a basket and will be taking it to school tomorrow after promising, about five times, that I wouldn’t forget.

One of my girls wants to learn to knit a hat.

She believes she’s ready for double pointed needles.

I’m nervous, but I’m not going to discourage her.

She’ll persist and be successful.

Her confidence is what I’ll draw upon when I encourage her that she has what it takes to make learning gains on the FCAT.

Knitting…talking…creating…building…

It’s becoming more than a club.

It’s becoming a family, where relationships and trust are being generated, watered, and fed.

Catching Up

One could easily say that I’ve been a bad blogger, although not posting since Wednesday isn’t that horrible considering the fact that I’ve known of bloggers who’ve taken a year or more off.

Still, I feel guilty.

Writing is my outlet and a vital form of reflection, both of which I desperately need.

However, my week got extremely busy, and by the time the weekend rolled around, I found myself exhausted…to the point where I did not get out of my pajamas for two days.

On Thursday, I attended Day 4 of Kagan training.

If you don’t know what Kagan is, visit the company’s site.

For teachers, Dr. Kagan’s research forms part of the foundation for our teaching pedagogy.  His teaching structures are based upon  studies of how the brain learns.

I, along with 150 of my fellow teaching compatriots, attended three days of training this past summer.  I’d attended two days last fall, but it was better the second time around.

My school district has paid for the complete, five-day training package.  Teachers who attended days 1-3 were observed and coached by our Kagan training specialist, who came into our rooms last week and watched us use a structure with our students.  It was a lot of fun, let me tell you!

Thursday’s training provided us with exposure to more learning structures.  We had a lot of fun interacting with each other, and I made new friends.  This is one big reason why I love teaching in the public school system.  I have a lot of other teachers to learn from.

I went to lunch with my friends, and we returned to training.

Training lasted from 8:00-3:15.

From there, I headed to ANOTHER training…Fred Jones’s classroom management.  It’s a twelve-week training program that all new teachers in my district must take.

There’s a bit of incentive…a $195 check that we’ve been told we’ll receive at the conclusion.

I’m planning on buying bling…totally impractical, but I don’t care.

😀

So I sat, from 3:30-5:00, in a second training.

Can you say FRIED BRAIN?

Yeppers.

Especially when I found out that I had to complete a homework assignment for the class.

I went home and cried because I’m so overwhelmed right now…grades were due, I had prepped for a sub, and I’m getting ready to start another Reading Endorsement class.

This too shall pass, though.

After training, I ran home for one hour, visited my fur babies, fed them, and let them potty before heading back to my school for a Thursday night football game.

We played a school that is located less than a mile down the road…cross-town rivalry.

We lost after a very good fight.

I was so proud of my football boys and the band, which played marvelously during halftime.

I went home exhausted, but I still had Friday.

Whew!

My notes from the sub were pretty good…except for my third class.  That’s my chatty class, and it was evident from my sub’s notes, that they had chatted more than usual and had not followed the rules and procedures that have been a part of our routine since the first day of school.

So, we had a “discussion.”

I emailed a parent or two.

And then we had a fabulous class period.

We have been studying Author’s Purpose, and my students are working in pairs to create a new soda/energy drink/tea.  One partner will create an advertisement, and the other student will create a bottle label.  Both assignments have certain requirements, as laid out on a checklist and discussed in detail.

The kids are getting into the assignment and seem to love its autonomy.

I’m a gal who must have control, so watching kids flit about the room from the computer, where they are doing research and creating logos, to tables to spread out their work and delve into deep collaborative discussions is a new thing for me.

Yet, I see the fun they are having and hear the good discussions and brainstorming that’s happening, and all I can say is that these are good things.

Even teachers can learn, eh?

The thing about these kinds of projects is that you leave school tired after facilitating them.  It’s noisy in the class, and there are tons of questions to answer.

Still, it’s like exercising.  Being tired means that you were working hard.

The other thing I did with my classes this week and focused a lot on toward the end of the week, was getting my students familiar with an educational site called Edmodo.

Edmodo is a lot like Facebook but is much safer and has a lot more controls.

Thanks to another teacher-blogger, who I’m inspired by with every post she writes (go visit Melanie, please, and be impressed too), I’m determined to use this site a lot more.  Parents can also log in, after given a code that ties their parent accounts to their children’s, and see what we’re doing in class.

One of my students came to class on Friday and said, “Mrs. AuburnChick, you were up late posting on Edmodo.”

Why yes, yes I was.  That’s the story of my life, I’m afraid.  I’m constantly thinking about my students…trying to figure out how to do things better, not succeeding a whole lot, but still trying.  One of these years, I’ll put it all together.

By Friday afternoon, I was done like a pig on a spit.

My good friend, Barb, was done too, and she called me, while I was still at school Friday afternoon (long after the students had left) and asked if I wanted to meet her for a pedicure.

Can you say YES???

Then, I went home and zombied out and hardly moved…

I stayed on the couch until early Sunday, when I threw on some clothes and makeup and ran to a local restaurant to pick up two spaghetti plates…a fundraiser for my school’s band, which is raising money to travel to the Orange Bowl.

I arrived back home, ate, and then napped…for the second time this weekend.

So now it’s 6:30pm, I’m getting my second wind, and I’m working to fine-tune my lesson plans.

The latter part of the week will depend much on the progress we make with our projects.

Thus, lesson plans are things that constantly evolve based on students’ needs as well as formative assessment, which dictates whether to proceed with the next unit or spend a bit more time on the current one to assist with greater mastery.

I don’t know about you, but I love my weekends and the chance I have to catch up…on rest…on blogging…on whatever I choose.

99 Bottles of Hodgepodge Cheer!

Oh, Joyce has a sense of humor this week, does she not?  I had to chuckle when I read her opening paragraph when she posted the questions.  You guys know the drill.  Copy the questions on your own blog.  Wait.  No blog?  Well then start one so you can have some fun too!  heehee

1.  So, do you like beer?

No and no.  I cannot even stand the smell of it.

2.  What’s your least favorite repetitive task?

Hitting the snooze button.

For real.

3.  When was the last time you rode a bus?  Where was it headed?

I rode a bus this past Spring when The Hunger Games came out in theaters.  The reading classes took our students to see the movie because most of us had read the first book aloud to our students.  It was the first time in many years that I’d been on a school field trip.

4.  What song from your childhood or from your own children’s childhood could make a parent’s nerves stand on end?

Chicky had a few videos she enjoyed watching…over…and over…and over.

Why do kids videos have so many annoying songs on them?

Oh right.  It has to do with learning.

heehee

One video that stands out for its annoying songs is Big Rock Candy Mountain.  I could recite this video word for word.

5.  The US Presidential election cycle is drawing to a close (can I get an AMEN??), and the third and final debate was held last night…what was the last thing you ‘debated about’?

Do you mean “argued” or “discussed?”

I’d say that my students and I “debated” loaded words and whether they have positive, negative, or neutral connotations.  I’m trying to finish up our Author’s Purpose unit, and this week’s focus is persuasive writing.  It was interesting to hear their justifications as to why certain words are positive.  Rough, for instance, was explained as being positive when a person had to be rough to stand up for himself.  Natural was considered negative when discussing natural disasters.  Good thoughts, these students of mine!

6.  Can a person make too much money?  How much is too much?

Really?  You’re asking a teacher this question?  One who has oodles of student debt to pay off?  I don’t know if a person can ever make too much money.  Sure, maybe a person could make enough to keep the bills paid, but then a person could donate a large portion of the rest.

What I’m thinking is that some people make too much money doing certain jobs.

Take athletes.

Sports are FUN, yet we pay athletes more money than entire school districts have to spend in one fiscal year.  Seriously?

Take CEOs of companies.

Who’s really doing the work, eh?

Grief.

:::stepping off of my soapbox now:::

7.  Pop-soda-coke-something else…what’s it called where you live?

Here in the South, we call it soda.

8.  My Random Thought

I saw the following sign on the door of a gas station up the road from the school I teach at.

I’m so disappointed.

That Cat Woman mask I’ve been wearing around town?

Yeah.

I’m going to have to find another use for it.

What is this world coming to?

Sometimes I Don’t Understand Myself

You know…sometimes I don’t get myself…

Or rather, I get myself, only after the fact.

Do you ever say something, don’t think about what you’re saying, but then think about it later and smack yourself on the forehead with a “Boy, you’re stupid” comment?

Yeah.

I did that yesterday.

Something I’ve noticed, on and off, about myself is that sometimes, when someone says something, I follow up with some sort of personal comment that’s almost like I’m trying to equal or one-up the person’s comment.

I’ve done some reflection each time I’ve noticed myself doing it, and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s my way of trying to draw attention to myself.

Ouch.

That’s embarrassing to admit to myself and even more so to type.

I really, really loathe this about myself because really, in all honesty, I prefer to stay in the background.

Really, I’m not very confident.

Oh sure, I might come across as loud (or obnoxious, as Chicky has mentioned a time or two).

Perhaps it’s the result of growing up not very popular and feeling like I was second best to those closest to me.  It’s almost like I need to stand out, and my talking is the way to do so.

Every reason I come up with points back to me and my own selfishness.

Which is why I know that sometimes I try to dominate a conversation, without meaning to.

I like the times that I’m aware of this flaw and purposely set out to ask others more questions about themselves and then actually sit back quietly and listen to their answers.

In fact, one of my coworkers recently mentioned how, when I’d met her husband a few weeks ago, she’d never heard him talk so much to someone he didn’t even know.

I’d asked him questions, that’s why.

I hate how the moments I finally “get” myself are late at night, long after the selfish words have been spoken, and I can’t apologize immediately to the person I’ve spoken the words to.

I guess that’s just the Lord working on my heart, convicting me, and challenging me to slow down and think before I speak.

It’s a lesson I am frustratingly slow to learn.

Learning how to sit back quietly and allow others to do the talking…it’s not something I do well but see others master beautifully.

Perhaps…

One day.

Best Buds

Yesterday, the Mr. left me without a vehicle when he took a day trip up to Alabama to go dove hunting with Rooster.

I posted the following status update on Facebook:

Stuck in the house without a car = two hours of grading and laundry completed! Time to eat lunch before settling in for some serious lesson planning.

My friend, Jane, immediately responded by offering to pick me up and go to lunch at Olive Garden.  She even said she had coupons!

Unfortunately, I’d already eaten, chowing down on the veggie sandwich the Mr. had brought home from the grocery store the day before (which I had not eaten because we decided to watch the Auburn game at Beef O’Brady’s instead).

I sadly posted this news but told her I’d treat her to Starbucks if she still wanted to come get me.

In case you’re new to my blog, please allow me to explain that Jane and I met a couple of years ago…when we were both new teachers and had gotten hired on to teach at a private Muslim school.

Our shared faith in the Lord brought us together.  We never noticed our twenty-year age difference.

We had so much fun that year and could be found in each others’ classrooms constantly.

We spent prayer time (when the students left for afternoon prayers and we got an extra planning period) chatting or, in my case, dancing in the hallway.

We laughed when I got busted once by an Islamic Studies teacher.  She was cool, though, and she even joined in, sashaying her way down the hallway…showing me how she used to dance in her youth…a much cleaner version than the “Oh Mickey, You’re So Fine” version that I had just been dancing to.

<insert sheepish grin>

Jane helped me get through the grueling EPI program and was constantly available to give me feedback about assignments…work she’d completed the previous year.

We shared in the stresses that naturally went with being first year teachers.

She was there for me when I faced an especially difficult time during the school year.

When I found my job in the public school system, we were both sad that we wouldn’t be teaching together any more, but we promised to constantly stay in touch.

And we do…

Every week.

We have hour-long phone conversations and try to get together whenever we can for lunch…

Power lunches…

As in three-hour lunches…

That run into dinner time.

😀

She lives on the beach…a solid twenty minute or more drive from my house, so her offer to come and get me yesterday was very generous.

We ordered hot chocolate and sat on the patio.  The weather was divine!

Oh, how we laughed.

We shared our teaching angsts…teachers are never without them, you see.

We shared ideas.  She’s an incredibly inspiring teacher!!!

We shared updates about our children and, in her case, her grandchildren.

I know her so well that I feel we are, in some ways, a part of the same family.

I hugged her neck after she pulled into my driveway.

She was on her way to pick up her fifteen-year-old grandson, who had cajoled her into picking up dinner for him.

I love this sweet lady and am so blessed to count her as a friend!

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