Slice of Life #29


When you spend 75% of your day working on a homework assignment only to realize it’s not actually due until April 17th.

What you should have been doing is working on the assignment that is due tomorrow.  TOMORROW.


Poor planning?

Too many spring breaks.  That’s the problem.  This week is my spring break.  Last week was my grad school’s spring break.  This week is spring break for one of my online classes.  This week and next week is spring break for my other online class.  It’s like it’s break without actually being break!

Good news, though.  I finished the draft that’s due tomorrow.  Twenty pages including the appendices!

Slice of Life #28



Happy spring break!  Today I did some car shopping online (cars are ridiculously expensive), talked to some dealers on the phone, cleaned my car, rented the carpet cleaner, cleaned my carpets, walked the dogs, and dropped Chris’ car off at the mechanics.

It was a productive day.  But tomorrow I am stranded at home (Chris will have my car at work) and I plan to do some homework, read, and catch up on some TV.  And man am I looking forward to it!

Slice of Life #27


Today we celebrated Easter.  Chris woke up early to go running at the reservoir (he’s training for a half Ironman) and I slept in.  He came home and then ran back out to the movies to see Batman vs. Superman (I wasn’t interested).

While he did his stuff I took the dogs for a walk.  First we went to Prospertown Lake to see if the eagles were fishing.  I think we missed them but I’ll be sure to try again later this week.  It’s pretty amazing at bald eagles are becoming almost commonplace here in NJ.  As a kid I never saw an eagle; now there are 3 mating pairs within a 10-20 minute drive in each direction.

There weren’t any trails at the lake so we only managed to get a quick half mile in by walking along the shore.  Then I headed back home and stopped at the park across the street to get another mile in.

Once Chris and I finished our plans for the day we headed to my family’s house for Easter dinner.  It is also my brother’s birthday so after dinner we had cake and cupcakes to celebrate.  It was a great day and I don’t have to go to work tomorrow!  I love having Easter Monday off (it rarely happens).

Weekly Diigo Posts (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Slice of Life #26

Today we went to the beach in search of the seals that have been hauling out in Skeleton Hill Island. 

There were no seals today but the dogs had a lot of fun! They swam, ran, and rolled in the sand. On the way home we visited my sister at the ice cream shop where she works and she gave the dogs some free ice cream treats. A great day for them!
And finally, on the way home I got the great news that a dog I’ve been working on getting pulled by a rescue was pulled yesterday! 

Slice of Life #25- Another Hamilton Post

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If you haven’t checked out The New York Times Learning Network’s Hamilton lesson plan you should stop reading and go do it right now.  Come back in 30 minutes when you are done.  It’s long and intense and AWESOME.  I’m thrilled that I was able to be a part of it!

While helping with the lesson plan I came up with a lot of ideas for using Hamilton in the classroom.  Not all of them made it into the final post so I have decided to share them here.  Are you teaching with Hamilton?  Let me know how you are using it!

A Few More Ways to teach with Hamilton

  • Annotation:  Recently I have been experimenting with digital annotation. I love how tools like allow students to discuss texts and contribute to a larger conversation. it allows students to interact with a text.  Hamilton has taken on a life of its own at Genius, the annotation website.  Even the composer and star, Lin-Manuel Miranda, has contributed to the annotations!  Have students create their own annotations and then compare them to the annotations on Genius.  (See more ideas for using annotation in this post).


  • Write Your own Literary Figure Poem/Rap: Lin-Manuel Miranda was inspired to write Hamilton while reading Ron Chernow’s lengthy biography of the same name.  He has said that he immediately saw parallels between Hamilton’s life and the lives of some of his favorite hip-hop and rap stars.  Miranda first planned to create a hip-hop concept album about Alexander Hamilton and he performed the opening number at a White House event in 2009.  You can see his performance, where he plays Aaron Burr, on Youtube. After watching the performance, challenge students to use Miranda’s song as a mentor text as they compose their own poem/rap about a character in the novel they are reading.    


  • Concise writing: Composer Lin-Manuel Miranda is a prolific user of Twitter and one of his most famous social media moves is to frequently change his Twitter biography.  As a result, his bios are often quirky and his followers try to draw out the meaning behind them.  Use this Skills Practice | Concise Writing lesson to help students create their own Twitter biographies.  After creating their own, challenge them to create a biography for a historical or literary figure.  Lin-Manuel Miranda has said Alexander Hamilton probably would have been a Twitter user, so what would his biography have looked like?  What would Julius Caesar’s look like?  What about Oliver Twist or Katniss Everdeen?


  • For the love of a book: In a 2015 Artsbeat blog entry, Lin-Manuel Miranda is quoted as saying, “I’m going to keep it really simple today. The whole thing started because I picked up a book and fell in love,”  before reading aloud the first five paragraphs from the prologue of Ron Chernow’s Hamilton. This 832-page tome is not what many people might view as inspirational.  But that’s the magic of books; what inspires one person to take action and change the world around them might have little effect on another reader.  Ask students to think about the book or books that have changed their outlook, viewpoint, or even lives.  Have them share their reading history with each other through infographics, essays, or posters.  

I hope these ideas inspire you!  If you have not yet listened to the cast recording or checked out the recorded performances available online I think you should drop everything you are doing and start listening now.  It’s fantastic and many of my students are as obsessed as I am!  I’m slowly working my way through the Chernow biography (I’ve switched to the audiobook, which is working better for me).  What’s even cooler is that I have a few 9th grade students who are also reading Chernow’s book after being introduced to Miranda’s music!  It’s pretty incredible and I’m grateful that I have the opportunity to share this experience with my students.


Slice of Life #24- What I Learned Driving from NJ to the Bronx

I love and adore my grad school program.  I’m working towards my master’s in biology through Miami Ohio University/Project Dragonfly’s Advanced Inquiry Program. It’s a hybrid program and classes are split between an online component and in-person class meetings at my master institution.  My master institution is the Wildlife Conservation Society in New York City so most of my classes are at the Bronx Zoo.

I had class tonight and while sitting in traffic I started thinking of all of the non-academic things I’ve learned while driving back and forth from NJ to the Bronx.  Enjoy my slightly facetious and sarcastic list!

  • The Hamilton cast recording is the perfect length to get me through the whole trip.
  • Related, I can play all of the parts in when performing it in my car.  Still working on Daveed Digg’s ridiculous rap in”Guns and Ships”, though.
  • I hate traffic.  There’s a reason my work commute is 25 minutes through rural-suburban towns.
  • The commute to the zoo can take anywhere from 1 hour and 20 minutes to 3 hours.  Tonight it took almost 2 and a half hours.
  • The George Washington Bridge is ridiculously long.
  • I can drive in the Bronx.
  • I can drive in Fort Lee.
  • I can hold my own with crazy New York drivers.
  • There is a distinct lack of public transportation options between NJ and anywhere that is not Manhattan.
  • None of the March Madness games are broadcast on the radio.
  • Hamilton by Ron Chernow is a great audiobook to listen to while commuting.
  • I’d rather take the long way up the Henry Hudson Parkway than suffer through the hell that is the Cross Bronx Expressway.
  • I can identify most of the gorillas in Congo (exhibit) by sight.
  • It’s pretty cool walking through the dark, empty zoo.  Lots of animals make noise at night when there are no visitors!

These are just a few of the things I came up with while driving home tonight.  Thankfully, the ride home only took an hour and thirty minutes!

I love this program and I learn so much every time we have class.  But man do I dread the commute!