Slice of Life Challenge #5

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Closing the folder, once thick with papers to be graded, I sigh and push it toward the corner of my desk.  After falling days and then weeks behind in my grading, I am finally caught up.  All the spelling tests, letter-essays, grammar tests, and vocabulary homework have been returned.  I am finally free.  As I start daydreaming I think of all the things I can do with my copious free time, time I had just dedicated to grading.

As a small smile spread across my face, I glanced at the homework board to the right of my desk.  Language Arts- Persuasive essays due Friday.  The smile stopped and retreated.  My freedom was short-lived.  In a few short hours my desk would be piled high with essays and rubrics, essay reflections, and the progress reports and conference forms that were due in a few days.

These are the things they forget to tell you in education courses!

Slice of Life Challenge #4

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“Can I do Miley Cyrus for my Women’s History Month project?!”

“Well, as much as I know we all admire Miley, let’s see if we can find someone else to focus on for this particular project. I want you to research someone you don’t already know everything about”. There, that should be a kind enough way of saying what I am really thinking……heck no! Miley Cyrus is not a hero! Nor is she someone who we should be honoring this month! There are literally thousands of women who spent their lives fighting for various causes and Miley is NOT one of them.

Disappointed sighs. Hands slowly down to their desk. Then I see their eyes light up, hands shooting into the air like dogs off a leash.

A sigh, this time from me.

“Before you even ask, no. You can not do Hannah Montana either.”

Hands down. Disappointed sighs.

It’s a good thing we are doing this project. Some of my students could stand to learn a little about women’s history.

“Ladies and gentlemen, please turn the page and let’s look at the research requirements before we choose our famous woman…..”

Slice of Life Challenge #3

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The weekend always ends too soon.  As the alarm blared this morning, I stumbled out of bed, following the familiar path around the bed and out the door.  Eyes half-closed I maneuvered around the cat and the piles of folded laundry, like a skier making her way down the slalom.  I followed the path into the hall before making it into the bathroom, where I felt around for the light switch.  While my eyes adjusted to the harsh glare of the bathroom lights I turned on the hot water.

As the bathroom filled with steam, I laid out my mornig tools.  Contact lenses, contact drops, hairbrush, hair dryer, hair tie, necklace, skin moisturizer, and lotion.  I quickly showered, wondering how it could possibly be Monday already.

I threw on the outfit I picked out the night before I ran through the day’s schedule in my head.  Spanish for my morning class and a normal afternoon for my second class.  Contract work after school.  Oh, and I had to remember to pack a lunch.  And I had to figure out how to introduce the Slice of Life Challenge to my class.  Busy, busy. busy.  But at least it was going to be warm- 56 degrees for the high!

Slipping into the silky skirt and short-sleeve top I had laid out, I sighed with the satisfaction that if nothing else, at least I could finally wear my spring clothes!

Slice of Life Challenge #2

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Friends.

A cool, dark interior.  Leather booths, circular tables.  The pulsing music drifting out of the ballroom across the way. Scattered groups lounging in the Glass Woods Tavern at the Hyatt Regency.  Intimate corner booths crowded with 6 people laughing and carrying on, or just right with two people, sitting close to one another, whispering and looking into one another’s eyes.  Waitresses gliding from table to table, drinks in hand.  Vodka-infused cosmopolitans in classy martini glasses.  Dark bottles filled with dark beer.  A sporadic soda or water for the designated driver.

Friends.

Across the lobby, men and women in black-tie attire perusing the silent auction gift tables.  Gorgeous evening gowns: yellow sunbursts tied with black ribbon.  Chiffon trains trailing behind the group on the stairs.   Blue skies with cream trim.  Floor-length, cocktail length.  Small groups of young women dancing on the dance floor with the singer in the band strains for that elusive high note.

Friends.

In the corner of the lobby, three young women.  Bundled up against the cold, sitting close to each other on the leather couch.  Sudden bursts of laughter echo across the lobby as they shake with giggles and smile like children at play.  Stories are traded, lives are caught up.  Best friends.  My best friends.  People-watching, lamenting how old we are getting, and enjoying each other’s company.  Best friends.

 *written after spending last night with two of my best girlfriends, hanging out at the newly renovated, very chic Hyatt in our college hometown, and pretending we were on MTV’s The Hills. 

Notebooks

There is a great post right now over at Big A Little a about how posters around the blogosphere use notebooks. The comments provide some great reading, and I am happy to learn I am not the only person out there who snaps up notebooks every chance I get. At any given time, I have notebooks everywhere. You can find them on my nightstand, in my purse, in my schoolbag, in the car, on my desk, and all over the rest of my house.

My personal favorites are Moleskine notebooks. I have a couple in my purse, the small handheld size. I have a few full-sized Moleskines in my school bag as we speak. I love them for their history (Hemingway!?) and their portability. I also love the variety of notebooks available. I need to use lined paper, as I have horrid handwriting. The lines force me to write semi-legibly. :) I do wish I could find some Moleskine notebooks with colored covers. I adore pretty covers, and the only qualm I have with Moleskine is that the plain black covers don’t excite me!

I also love those spiral notebooks you can find at the bookstore. They have lined paper and the edges are multi-colored. I tend to use them for school and jotting down ideas for planning and for upcoming units. When it comes to school, I am also the Post-it queen. I am constantly writing on the lined notepads, super-sticky, for sure, in all different colors. Anytime I find post-its on sale, I grab as many as I can carry and run to the checkout. There might be something wrong with me….

WN Wednesday Entry

Today’s theme for Writer’s Notebook Entry (as taken from Two Writing Teachers) is: Who has changed your life? What person or people have made such a huge impact on your life that they’ve changed the course of it for you?

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Many people have changed my life over the course of the last 24 years. I sat down and tried to choose one to write about and realized I couldn’t do that without feeling like I was leaving someone out. Instead, I decided to take the topic in a new direction.

My life, both personal and professional, was changed 3 years ago when I entered my cooperating teacher’s classroom for my first practicum. Her classroom was full of monarch butterflies. They decorated the walls, windows, ceiling, bulletin boards, bookshelves, and desks. Monarchs at all stages of the life cycle were present in her room that day- eggs, caterpillars, chrysalises, and adults. To be frank, I thought it was a little crazy.

Over the course of the next few months, I slowly learned about monarch butterflies. I watched as the third-graders in my charge watched, wide-eyed, as an adult emerged from its chrysalis for the first time. I saw the wonder and amazement in their eyes as they saw their caterpillars metamorphosize in their classroom. I joined them as they waved goodbye to the adult monarchs at their butterfly release. I was amazed by their knowledge and expertise when they gave tours of the classroom or explained their classroom pets to visitors. They truly were “monarch experts”.

For the next year I was back and forth in that classroom, eventually doing my own student teaching there. Throughout this time, Sue encouraged me to take the workshop which inspired her- Teaching and Learning with Monarch Butterflies. I always managed to put it off due to work or school commitments, telling myself that I had already learned everything I needed to know in that classroom. Finally, I managed to squeeze the 3-day workshop into my schedule.

Those 3 days were the most powerful in my short teaching career. The friends and colleagues I met inspired me creatively, professionally, and personally. Since then, I have raised monarchs every spring and summer. Monarchs are my classroom in the fall, and this year they are the theme of my classroom. The power and strength of this tiny insect, less than 3 inches wide, is awe-inspiring. As I tell my students, if this tiny butterfly with fragile wings can migrate 2000 miles to forest that its great-great-great grandparents left in the previous spring, then we can do anything.

This winter, I will finally be traveling to Mexico to visit the over-wintering grounds of the monarch butterfly, in the Transvolcanic Mountains of Mexico. I fully expect to be a different person when I return. So while the monarchs themselves aren’t a “person”, they have made me the teacher, global citizen, and human being that I am today.

Madeline L’Engle

I love this quote:

“A book, too, can be a star, ‘explosive material, capable of stirring up fresh life endlessly’, a living fire to lighten the darkness, leading out into the expanding universe.”
~Madeleine L’Engle

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