Slice of Life #20- March Madness

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I’ve been watching basketball all day. Sure, I taught an SAT prep course this morning, ran errands, walked the dogs with Chris, cleaned up for my cleaning lady tomorrow (ironic, I know), cooked dinner, and did a few other things.  But all day long I had had basketball on in the background.

I love March Madness.  The first few days of the tournament are my absolute favorite days of the year because the games are exciting, the upsets are awesome, and basketball is on all day long.  It will start to slow down as we enter the Sweet Sixteen so I savored today.

Today’s games were full of buzzer shots, overtime, bad calls, great fouls, and great sportsmanship.  I should be heading to bed right now but how can I when there’s still four minutes left in the Oregon vs. St. Joe’s game??

My bracket is busted at this point so all I can do is root for the Cinderella’s.  Let’s go, underdogs!!

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Slice of Life #19- Divas

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As we handed our tickets to the usher I heard the usher in the next aisle suggest that people check their cell phones with their coats.  Ummm, I think not, I thought to myself. Patti may be a diva but she can’t demand everyone do that. I am not checking my $600 phone. 

Patti would be Patti Lupone, Broadway legend.  She’s pretty infamous for flipping out on people who use cell phones during a performance so my friends and I knew that we would be leaving our phones in our bags.  If, by some chance, we didn’t know about her hatred of phones the humungous signs throughout the theater reminded us that photos and recordings were strictly prohibited.  No lie, the placards had to be 5 feet tall.

As we made our way to our seats an usher walked over to us and said, “Welcome!  Let me just go over the rules with you.”

We laughed. “Oh, we know.  No cell phones or Patti will flip out!”

The usher looked at us very seriously.  “Yes, that’s correct.  Also, you may leave to use the bathroom during the 1st, 2nd, or 4th song.  If you need to enter or leave any other time you will not be permitted to return to the theater until intermission.  After intermission you can only leave and return during the 4th song.”

We stared at her.  Then one of my friends burst out laughing.  The usher sighed and told us she was not kidding.

Seriously.

These were the rules Patti Lupone set for her show.  The usher made it clear they were not rules the theater agreed with but they had no choice.  I assume that the rules were a surprise as there was no mention of the house closing once the show started anywhere on the tickets or website.

Needless to say, it was a stressful show.  Every time someone sneezed, coughed, or rustled around in their bag my friends and I would stiffen up.  Would this be the moment Patti Lupone stormed off stage? Let me tell you, that’s no way to experience a concert.  I’m completely supportive of the no cell phones rule and I understand not letting people come and go during quiet moments or specific big numbers.  But controlling exactly when people go to the bathroom?!  This does not make for an enjoyable concert.  Plus, what if you were an attendee with a medical issue?  Or a small bladder?

I felt awful for the older couple behind us.  They used the restroom during intermission but then during the 4th song in the second act they left to use the bathroom again.  They were one seat from the aisle and the woman in that aisle seat yelled at them when they excused themselves.  Then when the ushers let them return she cursed at them and told them they should not have attended the concert and that “….you should have used the bathroom during intermission.  That’s what intermission is for!”

Can you believe that?  Just another reason the concert was stressful.  I felt awful for that poor couple. (Luckily, when the concert ended my friends leaned back and told the couple not to worry about, that woman was completely out of line.  We didn’t realize she was still there until she snapped at us, “Well you talked too much!”.  My friend was this close to saying to her, “Who do you think you are, Patti Lupone?!”)

The good news is that it was worse the price of admission just to hear Patti Lupone perform “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina!”.  I listened to the Evita cast recording for years in middle and high school and I may have cried when she sang it last night.  It was an incredible moment.  The only song that came close to matching it was when she sang “Being Alive” from Company. 

Patti Lupone is an amazing singer and a huge diva.  The concert is full of songs from musicals she was cast in that never made it to Broadway or which flopped, which isn’t exactly enjoyable for the audience.  But when she did sing well-known songs it was absolutely incredible!

Slice of Life #18- Unicorn Birds

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I am a very amateur birder. I put up a bird feeder last year and it’s become a bit of an obsession.  This year I joined Project Feederwatch so that I can contribute citizen science data to the project.  I love watching the birds and I’ve logged some pretty cool species at home this year.

I also bring my camera on every hike I take with the dogs, and the hikes usually take place daily.  I log most of my hike sightings on eBird, another citizen science project that collects birding data.  The eBird data is also shared with the public so I can keep track of migrations and rare sightings.  I’ve seen some pretty cool birds on our hikes but I have one unicorn bird.

The pileated woodpecker.

I discovered a family of pileated woodpeckers at a nearby park last year.  They are huge and look like dinosaurs.  On top of this, they are loud. But when I checked eBird I noticed that pileated woodpeckers don’t usually live around here.  They used to, but humans pushed them out with habitat loss.  At that point I assumed I was wrong, that I either misidentified the birds (that were very high in the trees) or the birds were just passing through.

But then I saw and heard them again.  And again.  And again. It was soon normal for me to hear them or see them 3-4 times each week.  At that point I became determined to get photographic evidence.

Not an easy task when the birds are usually 90+ feet in the canopy of the trees.

I got one photo like this.

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A lot of photos even worse than this:

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Both of these are heavily edited.

And then this week I finally, finally saw the pileated woodpecker up close!  I still didn’t get a fantastic picture, but I got a pretty good one.  A birding achievement, for sure!

Version 2

Slice of Life #17

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Is there a saint in charge of naps? Because that’s who I would like to celebrate today. 

One more week until spring break. I know it is an early Easter so I should just be grateful that spring break us early…..but oh my goodness it can not get here soon enough. I’m exhausted! I can’t wait to sleep in a bit, hike in the morning (not just at the end of the day), and binge watch some guilty pleasure TV. 

It’s almost here! This time next week I will be on break!

Slice of Life #16

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My life by the numbers:

  • 74 essays
  • Shortest essay- 2 pages
  • Longest essay- 7 pages
  • Average essay length- between 4 and 5 pages
  • Average amount of time spent giving feedback on each essay- 20 minutes
  • Days I spent grading- 4.5 
  • Average number of essays per day- 16
  • Number of hours spent assessing and providing feedback each day-5 hours and 20 minutes 
  • Average number of hours of sleep this week- 5 (to be fair, that’s not drastically different from my normal time spent sleeping)
  • Average number of steps per day- 10000 (below my normal average)
  • Magnitude of how glad I am to be done providing feedback on draft #1? Infinite. 

I’m done!!!

Slice of Life #15- Rough Drafts

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Every year around this time I drown in rough drafts.  My research paper assignment is process-based so it’s pass/fail.  However, much to the chagrin of my 9th graders, that doesn’t mean it’s an easy assignment.  Because my students tend to think that the writing process consists of draft, spellcheck, and turn in the final draft, I force them to slow down and write more.

I ask my students to write an argument essay focused on who or what is to blame for the deaths in Romeo and Juliet.  Instead of a literary focus the students approach it through a science lens.  The students research adolescent brain development and the biochemistry of love and decide if either of those is an excuse for the decision Romeo and Juliet make in the play.  I love the assignment and in the end my students usually do, too.

What I don’t love is reading 74 rough drafts in 3-5 days.  Oh my goodness.  After working through drafting a thesis statement and prewriting (extensively) the students compose their first rough draft.  I then read all of the essays and provide extensive feedback.  I also assess the papers based on a rubric that doesn’t have any scores on it. Once the papers are returned (thank goodness for Google Classroom!) the students revise based on my feedback.  Then they will submit a second draft which will be peer-edited.  They will revise a second time based on that feedback.  Then they will submit a final draft.  It’s a long process but so worth it in the end.  I firmly believe my students learn more from the process than they would just writing and submitting a paper.  As 9th graders they have a lot to learn and this is the best way I’ve found to do that.  Coupled with their daily NYTimes writing and their blogs they write constantly in my room.

But oh my goodness has it been a long few days.  Every moment I’m not doing homework or walking the dogs or teaching I am reading rough drafts.  I have about 25 left and I want to finish by Thursday morning.  So I’m off to read 1-2 more before bed….

 

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