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College Gameday

I have always loved to watch football.

When I was a youngster and had a TV in my room, I would hole up on Sundays and cheer on the Broncos and the Redskins…my favorite teams.  How I selected them, I have no idea (except for the Broncos because I lived in Colorado until I was nine years old).

Growing up in Alabama, you have to choose sides quickly, or if you’re born in Alabama, the choice is made for you according to your parental units’ leanings.  Because I moved to Alabama when I was nine, I got to choose for myself.

I chose wisely.

WAR EAGLE.

It wasn’t long before I got sucked into the Iron Bowl rivalry that was talked about for weeks at school.

This is how I started watching college football.

The Mr. is a hardcore college football fan, and when we got married, there was the unspoken (and sometimes spoken) expectation that I would spend Saturdays glued to the TV, cheering on SEC teams…except for the OTHER school in Alabama, as well.

So I do…quite willingly…for I do love competition and respect athleticism.

With this being the first Saturday of college football this season, I thought I would celebrate accordingly…

Chocolate Peanut Butter Tartlets

I tried a new recipe yesterday, but because it needed to be chilled, the guys and I couldn’t dig in until today.

The wait was more than worth it, for the Chocolate Peanut Butter Tartlets (recipe found in the book Vegan Pie in the Sky) were the perfect blend of chocolate ganache yumminess, peanut butter creaminess (not too strong), and crispy chocolate cookie crumble crust crunchiness (the English teacher in me begs you to admire the alliteration I just incorporated into that sentence).

Rooster’s eyes nearly rolled back in head when he took his first bite, and we almost had to fight him for the plate, which we were all sharing.

Take a look and just try to tell yourself that you’re not a teensy bit interested in vegan baking…

Contented With the Hodgepodge

Hola!!  I don’t know about you, but I am very thankful that Monday is a holiday!  It’s always a nice little break after having been in school a couple of weeks.  I need the day to catch my breath and just be, even if I will be working from home…albeit in my jammies.  Join up with Joyce so you can have the same kind of fun we are!!

1.  Labor Day weekend (in the US of A) is approaching…what’s something you’ve labored over this year?

Early in the year, I labored over finishing my Reading Endorsement.  It was something I really needed to finish but had time to do.  I didn’t think I’d have time to take the final two classes, but I was very fortunate in that my scheduling worked out perfectly.  I had very supportive instructors who provided helpful and positive feedback.  Although the Reading Endorsement program is a notoriously difficult one, I am thankful I went through the experience and find myself with a better understanding of why struggling readers have such a hard time and how to address their needs better.

2.  What is one word to describe your ‘job’ or career?

Consuming

3.  What was your worst or least favorite job ever? Why?

My least favorite job was a temporary gig delivering phone books.  It was very difficult manual labor that I completed in the dead heat of the summer.  It was one of the most miserable experiences of my life.  I’d rather birth ten babies without epidurals than deliver phone books again.

4.  How do you measure contentment?

This is a tough question and, obviously, very subjective.  Personally, I measure contentment by the level of peace in my heart.  How do I find peace?  By trusting God through the good and the bad and not wanting for more than He gives me.  Although I thought of throwing the word “joy” in my answer, I decided not to because I may not always feel joy in my life, but I can always be at peace knowing that my heavenly Father loves me and sent His Son to die for me.  Everything else pales in comparison.

5.  Pickles-like or dislike? What is something you eat that requires a pickle? Dill, bread and butter, sweet gherkins…what’s your favorite kind of pickle?

My favorite kind of pickle is the one that is on my plate in front of me.  I like them all.

6.  In your current house-town-state, what is it you like living close to?

I live less than fifteen minutes from the beach.  Although I do not cross the bridge often, just knowing that I can makes me a very happy girl.

7.  What is one thing on your ‘want-to-do’ list before summer draws to an official close?

In my mind, once school started, summer officially ended.  Honestly, I am content because I feel as though I accomplished everything on my want-to-do list.  Now, that’s not to say that if I won the lottery, I wouldn’t be able to find stuff to do while I was enjoying my early retirement.  However, I rested up all summer, kept the house in somewhat-decent shape, and simply enjoyed being me.

8.  My Random Thought

I continue to be in awe of the classes I’ve been assigned this year.  Although the work is quite daunting…teaching English/Intensive Reading/Writing, I am thrilled every time my students walk through the door.

They are respectful.

They are eager to do well.

They are allowing me to conform them to the classroom expectations they developed.

They are, quite simply, precious, and I have grown to love these kiddos so much already.  I cannot imagine how much more I’m going to love them by June.

Signs It’s Not Summer Vacation Anymore

Signs it’s not summer vacation anymore…

Visiting Starbucks…before 7am…on a Monday…to hear “See you tomorrow” from the guy who rings up my order without my saying a word

 

Dreaming of finding time to start another project with this yarn combination…

 

Suffering through the blisters of closed-toe dress shoes…

 

Enjoying a glass of my favorite wine after a good but overwhelming week and a half back in the classroom…

My Weekend in Pictures

It’s 9:13pm on Sunday night.

I’m a bit tired from a busy weekend, so I thought I’d try something different and let my pictures speak the words my fingers are too tired to type.

Here is my weekend, in pictures…details to follow…tomorrow, if my fingers get “un-tired.” (not a word, but it’s my blog, and I get to make up the rules).

The Best First Week Ever

Yesterday ended the fourth first week of school in my teaching career thus far, and I can honestly say that this has been the BEST start I’ve ever had.

I walked into class the first day very nervous.  I’ve been told that veteran teachers get butterflies each year as well, so I knew I was normal in this respect.

Armed with a vision for the week and the structures and routines I wanted to train my students with, I began.

The first couple of days of school are traditionally the honeymoon phase where everyone, including the teacher, is on his/her best behavior, so it didn’t surprise me to see my students smiling, nodding their heads, and going with the flow.

What did surprise me was the way their enthusiasm continued throughout the week.

I kid you not.  It did not waver.  Not one little bit.

When the last bell rang on Friday, I was nearly in tears…not from being overwhelmed but from a sense of joy and hope.

Later that night, I wrote my students’ parents an email to update them about our week, and here is part of what I said:

The first week of school is over, and what a productive one it was!  We spent a lot of time working on classroom procedures and discussing expectations.  The students brainstormed ideas of what constitutes acceptable behaviors and habits of citizens of our community of learners.  They were insightful, and it was a privilege to watch them discuss, among their peers, why certain behaviors were more important than others.

My overarching question for the school year is:  What are we, as citizens of this community of learners, doing to prepare to be college/career ready.  It is my goal to keep the students focused on the bigger picture…the prize at the end of their high school journey.  I explained to them that by helping create the classroom behaviors (I am not using the word “rules” this year), they would “buy in,” take ownership, and do everything they could to help the classroom as a whole succeed.

There were a LOT of discussions among peers.  Research has proven that students who collaborate frequently show the greatest learning gains, learning to think at the highest levels cognitively.  This is another of my goals…to help them learn to think outside of the box.  Only when they do this, will they be able to analyze and understand the various types of text placed before them.

Students had the opportunity to earn three formative grades this week.  They wrote a letter to themselves the first day and described feelings (good and bad) about last year, concerns/feelings going into this year, goals for the year, and a plan to obtain their goals.  Their letters were candid and revealed so much of their hearts.  I was greatly touched by their writing.  I will return these letters at the end of the year.

Today, I took them to the computer lab to help them set up their Edmodo accounts, school-issued Gmail accounts, and Remind101 message subscriptions.  These are all technology tools that I will be using during the year.

I cannot tell you how happy I am with what I saw this week.  Your children were respectful…to me and to their classmates.  They were accepting, especially when we engaged in a Flocabulary discussion today (ask them how they feel about minors being restricted from using indoor tanning beds).

I saw eagerness in their eyes this week.  They want to succeed, and I strongly believe that they will.  They have already forged bonds, and I know that the sense of family we began developing this week will grow more and more throughout the year.

My mentor, Cinda, and I talked about what made the difference this year.  She asked if was my experience, knowledge of Kagan structures, and confidence.

While I feel that these factors did play a role, I told her that I thought it was God who had orchestrated the details…the combination of students…the grade I am teaching (nearly all tenth graders who are a lot more mature than incoming ninth graders).

I also think the success in my class can be attributed to my heart change that occurred this past summer…the new perspective gleaned from introspection.

I am rested.  I am seeing my students through new eyes.

But, again, that is all because of God, who graciously restored me.

It is my strongest desire that the rest of the year is equally exciting as I watch my students’ hearts and minds stretch.

Reading Is…

On the first day of school, I had my students complete a profile page as a way to get to know them.  I used a template I found on the Internet and changed it to read “Englishbook” instead of “Facebook.”

I tweaked some of the questions and let my kids have a go at them.

When I sat down late that evening to read them, I was often surprised by what I found.

Take a look at one student’s response to the prompt, “To me, Reading is…”

I completely agreed with this tenth grader’s answer, and I identified with it wholeheartedly.

I spent my childhood with my nose in a book.  Even during high school, I was rarely without one.

I read my way through John Jakes’ Kent Family Chronicles series, a fantastic collection of historical fiction, along with most of his other books that had been written at the time.

I read espionage novels penned by Tom Clancy.  Sure, I didn’t always understand the submarine terminology and such, but the whole idea of the government being behind the bad things that happened in the country sent my mind reeling and gave me a lot of knowledge to build from years later when I returned to college as an adult and studied history as my minor.

I read froo-froo books as well.  The Sweet Valley High series had me stalking the bookstore, eagerly awaiting the next installment of Jessica and Elizabeth’s drama-filled lives, and I shared books with the other girls in class.

The books I read took me away from the dysfunctional home I lived in.

They helped me believe that everything would work out in the end, because most of the books ended with all loose ends wrapped up with a pretty little bow.

I honestly believe that although my students always start out complaining about having to read silently during my class, they grow to love it because it does, in fact, become the escape they so desperately need to cope with the real lives that surround them.

Such wisdom was revealed through one simple prompt on a form.

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