Break

Today is the first day of the rest of our Christmas break.  It involved teaching, napping, cooking, driving, reading, (not all simultaneously) and now writing followed by resting followed (tomorrow) by shopping.  Sunday will be more driving and then visiting my family in Louisiana.

This year has been busy and full and hard and exhausting, but we are all healthy and under one roof and blessed beyond belief.

I left all school work at school.  My desk is as unburied as it has been all year long.  There are still papers to grade–and other papers to SAY I will grade until the end of the nine weeks when I will recycle them and suffer the ensuing guilt.  But, for now, for today, I have a two week vacation staring me in the face, and I plan to enjoy every second of it.  I can say in all truth and honesty that I have EARNED it.

 

Chopped Poetry: The results

This is an actual letter that I sent to three administrators and the P.A.S.S. teacher (a different take on adaptive behavior programs–kids who have very specific acting out tendencies) regarding one of the most surprising results from Chopped Poetry.  This came from an 8th grade student that I teach.

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I did an experimental lesson in my room last week over poetry.  It actually went pretty well, but I had to share this one with you.  The kids picked an envelope with “ingredients.”.  This student chose free verse.  In the envelope were the following items that HAD to be in their poem:

Type: Free Verse
Topic: Music
Figurative Language:  repetition, personification
As it runs through the wild
listen to him
 
The shriek of his roar,
his footsteps like thunder against the
ground.
 
When he runs
The wind whips by him with a cry.
 
This is Heavy Metal.
This is freedom.
by Zach Simpson (name changed)
 
Once I had completed the explanation and directions for the students, I went to wake  Zach up to tell him the directions.  When I shook his shoulder and said, “Zach?”  He didn’t even raise his head–he just whipped this paper out from under his face and held it aloft.  I let him finish his nap.
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Zach’s “target behaviors” that he must avoid to participate in Friday Funday are being verbally and physically aggressive toward teachers and students as well as leaving the instructional area or school building without permission.  I have seen none of those behaviors, but I do spend the better part of most days silently determining when to let him sleep and when it’s time to wake up and do work.  Some days this job is more rewarding than others.   Not only did Zach get a nap this day, he also got a 100.

Chopped Poetry

So, in 8th grade Language Arts, we are talking about figurative language and how the graphical elements and word choice in poetry creates meaning and how we can use those elements to infer and draw conclusion blah, blah, blah. . . . .BLAH.  I have a FEW teenagers who are interested in the mechanics of poetry, but most of them are flying under the radar to avoid persecution by their peers.

Not only that, but my kids just got back from a week of vacation and weren’t buyin’ it.  I HAD to CONNECT.  SO, I showed them THIS little video (which you are welcome to watch should you so choose) just to get them INTERESTED. Who,  exactly, can resist the theme song to “The Fresh Prince of Bellaire?”  Seriously.  The video uses that to explain narrative poetry/ballad.  Then it uses other popular songs or videos to go over other types of poetry.  We didn’t really spend much time on sonnet, but I DID tell them that it was a good introduction to what they will see very soon in high school.

Anyway. . .this morning, I had a BRAINSTORM (along with finding the video) while brushing my teeth and being late for school.  I decided to do “Chopped: Poetry.”  Have you ever seen “Chopped?”  It’s a Food Network show where four chefs compete for $10,000.  There are judges and time limits but the clincher is that there are “secret” ingredients in a basket that the chefs MUST use in their dish preparation.  Some of the challenges have included the following basket ingredients. . .

Dessert: prunes, animal crackers, cream cheese                                                            Appetizer: watermelon, canned sardines, pepper jack cheese, zucchini         Entrée: blackstrap molasses, red snapper, parsley root, dried cranberries

Tomorrow, my kids will get a “basket” (an envelope. . .) with their “secret ingredients” in it.  They HAVE to use these “ingredients” to create their poem.

Type:  Acrostic                                                                                                                                   Topic:  Music                                                                                                                          Figurative Language:  Onomatopoiea & Metaphor

Today while showing them the different forms (they had to take notes), I was explaining haiku.  This was my haiku on teens.

Teenagers are like,                                                                                                                       “Awesome, ratchet, hastag, Bruh!”                                                                                                They own the language.

My second period suggested I change it a little to this:

Teenagers be like,                                                                                                                         “Awesome, ratchet, or nah, Bruh!”                                                                                                They own they language.

I must admit to the second version being nails on a chalk board, but at least they PARTICIPATED.  We’ll see. . .

There are five types of poetry, six different topics, and ten different types of figurative language that I mixed up.   This will either be a moment of fist-pumping “YES!” or a crash and burn of “OH, THE HUMANITY!!!”  Maybe even both. . .in the same class period.  I can pretty much guarantee both in 2nd period for sure.

 

Breaking Through

For the beauty of the earth. . .Thanksgiving, November,2014 065

. . .for the glory of the skies. . .

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. . .for the love which from our birth, over and around us lies. . .

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Lord of all to Thee we raise, this our sacrifice of praise.

(Trees attached to and outrageously blue sky over our wonderful neighbor’s piece of Texas.  All of it courtesy of God.  All photos AS IS out of the camera.)

 

 

Louisiana

I recently traveled to Louisiana to spend time with my friends MaryLinda and Stephanie.  We get together once a year (although this year we decided twice would be better), so for our lagniappe trip we chose New Orleans.

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This photo is more of what MY Louisiana is like.  The northern and southern parts of the state are quite different, but we both have bayous, Spanish moss, cypress trees, and good food.NOLA Trip, November,2014 140ps

Speaking of food, we pretty much ate our way through part of the French Quarter.  I cannot say I am sorry.  That would be a lie. This billboard speaks truth.1NOLA Trip, November,2014 100ps crop

NOLA Trip, November,2014 101 crop

Unfortunately, we only made ONE trip to Cafe Du Monde for hot beignets.

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And I “did” it wrong by having a Diet Coke rather than cafe au lait. . .but I was happy. . .and ML and Steph didn’t have coffee either.1NOLA Trip, November,2014 027New Orleans is OLD.  Really, REALLY old. . .1700’s old.  The first time I visited New Orleans was in 1985 WITH, interestingly enough,  MaryLinda and Stephanie (and a bunch of other friends).  We were in high school, and our undefeated football team played the state championship in the Dome.  I remember thinking at that time how OLD it looked.  I think it has to do with the color of the stone. . .the erosion of edges and corners.  It was also DIRTY. . .two and a half centuries of grime in the Louisiana heat takes its toll.  Katrina did a lot to wipe some of the grime away, but at a high cost.  I would LOVE to know exactly how old this building and those chimneys are.

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Most of the major streets in the French Quarter had signs similar to these.1NOLA Trip, November,2014 005

We were out in the morning, and they still wash their sidewalks and stoops to clean them off.  As pretty and historic as the French Quarter is, there are many who sleep on or against stoops like this each night, hence the washing.1NOLA Trip, November,2014 003

NOLA Trip, November,2014 048I have never been to Mardi Gras, and can honestly say I ever want to go. . .but here is a quintessential shot on Bourbon Street that tells the tale.

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Come with me on a weekend stroll through the Quarter. .

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“New Orleans ladies. . .all the way from Bourbon Street to Esplanade, they sashay by. . .” I didn’t see any of the “ladies” that the group Leroux immortalized in song, but I liked this sign.

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I cannot begin to describe the way this gal plays the clarinet.  Brought me to tears. Seriously have never heard anything like it.

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A place we actually did NOT eat.  If it’s on MaryLinda’s list, we WILL eat there someday.

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And this lovely, lass just appeared out of nowhere with her Robin’s egg blue bike, dark red lip and hair, and wrap skirt.  It was like she stepped right out of the early 1960’s. I barely had time to snap this shot. She was on a mission.1NOLA Trip, November,2014 079 ps

Caricature dude with a tale on Jackson Square

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The Louisiana Supreme Court building 5th Circuit Court of Appeals

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The three steeples of the St. Louis Cathedral

1NOLA Trip, November,2014 022psToo dark to take a photo, but I tried anyway.  They are getting ready for Christmas.Blog NOLA Trip, November,2014 031

Transformer Dude was pretty amazing to actually see.

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NOLA Trip, November,2014 072 crop   1NOLA Trip, November,2014 074 crop

1NOLA Trip, November,2014 060If I’d had room in my car (and a boat load of money), I would have taken this set of lions home with me.

Blog NOLA Trip, November,2014 063ps  This one is staring across the threshold at his twin–maybe they are discussing how to eat that lamb that is just feet away. Also, it wasn’t until I got home that I noticed the “do not photograph in our show room” placard.  I’m such a rebel, but I was on the sidewalk anyway. . .1NOLA Trip, November,2014 061 bw

Traditional French Quarter Horse Head Hitching Post.Blog NOLA Trip, November,2014 093

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This is one of the views from our room at The Ritz Carlton New Orleans.  We had two windows–this one looking down Canal. . .

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. . . and this one with a view towards The River.  Old Man River.  The Mighty Mississip.

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Our 12th floor room gave me the PERFECT vantage point to photograph the iconic Ritz Lions.

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I think this might be my favorite photograph of the entire trip.

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And being the photography happy yokel I am, I couldn’t resist this shot.

 

1NOLA Trip, November,2014 103There is never enough time,  so when we discovered we had taken NO photos (but one failure of a selfie) together, we had  the valet who brought the car take some shots of us. . .all blurry. . .all hurried. . .but here we are–happy to be together.Blog NOLA Trip, November,2014 115

So, we were all “home” in some sense of the word–MaryLinda still lives where we all grew up, Stephanie was born in Texas but spent most of her growing up years in Louisiana, and I was born there and moved away.  It matters not–when we are together, we are home.  We carry it with us.

 

 

 

 

Does it ALWAYS take this long?

This school year seems to have taken a bit longer to calm down. . .and I am hopeful that I’m not speaking too soon about the calming.  We have a new principal who is GREAT–but VERY young and VERY high energy.  Therefore my teaching (which wasn’t lethargic before) has also grown in intensity.

I am also teaching a new subject this year.  It is an elective called “Exploring Languages” in which we–wait for it–explore languages.  We have covered Shakespearean English, Greek and Latin Roots, and Spanish.  Now on to French.  It is an experiment.  I know no French.  I have no French students.  Everyone is about to be on even footing as far as languages go.

Thad is at the Jr. High with us this year–and we love it.  Only TWO stops each morning instead of three.  He has grown an insane amount in the past school year–even over the summer–even SINCE the summer.  His voice is also in the process of changing–there isn’t a lot of cracking, but there is a difference. He has been somewhat determined as of late to NOT be photographed.  It is an obsession.

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I only managed to get this one after we had a “chat.”  He has grown about a half an inch (or more) since this was taken at the end of July.

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And this one when MawMaw came to visit in August.

Processed with MoldivMawMaw and Victoria small(Victoria and my mom. I love this picture.)

Victoria has a boyfriend.  His name is Hunter.  He is a Junior just like her, and they have known each other since 7th grade. They both CLAIM  to not have “liked” each other that long.  Either way, there was enough discussion of Hunter in our car and at our house that I took a photo of them together the night they were inducted into Jr. National Honor Society at the end of 7th grade.

2011, National Jr. Honor Society 050They were both inducted into National Honor Society in the spring, and I WANTED to get a picture of them together again, but I feared that the indignant “Moooooooooooooom!!!!!” would be hanging in a conversation bubble above the high school parking lot even now.  In the photo below, Hunter was about 12 feet away to the right.

Harding, NHS, 4.14 151And here is Homecoming which happened this past weekend.

Homecoming, October rsz ps 2014 072 Homecoming, October 2014 rsz ps 006AND the Homecoming hair extravaganza.

photo(45)The truck was crushed beyond repair this summer.  A tree decided that 21 years was long enough for the truck to be in service.  It was a sad, sad day.

photo(42) rszThe bumper was already like that–and the hood was already missing paint–but the tree did some significant engine/frame/body/radiator damage.  Tony still held out hope that it could be repaired. . .to the extent that when the Body Shop lady called and he asked her, “So can it be fixed?” she laughed for nearly a minute solid.  Then she apologized for laughing.  Then she laughed some more.

June, 2014 624SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. . .Tony got this bad boy for his birthday.  My brother gave us the nicest congratulatory message.  It was, “Tell Tony that I hope this truck lasts him twice as long as the last truck did.”  We can’t wish for more than that.  A new truck every 21 (or 42 as the case may be) years ‘taint bad.

photo(43) rsz

And these blossoms were picked at the end of my walk this evening.  Victoria was with me for a bit–the weather has cooled off (for us), and we opened the windows in the house.  Ahhhh. . .fall.  photo(41)rsz   Our weekends have been packed, and our days and evenings have been packed, but we ALL came home at a reasonable time tonight, and everyone is under THE STRICTEST of instructions to not accept any invitations for this weekend.  We plan to stay in our pajamas and play Clue!

A Nice, Deep Breath

I was supposed to be at the chiropractor this afternoon, but since we have had something just about every single “free” moment of the past month or so, I decided I would forego the relief of 45 year old back pain and come home after school today.

Ahhhh. . . .

We are having a very good, but very BUSY beginning of the  school year.  Today is the first day I feel like I have been able to breathe in my classroom.  I have never been happier for a “test day” in my LIFE.

Tomorrow morning is Lego club. Tonight is cutting out shapes to replace the ones I’ve had forever that have mysteriously vanished since last spring.  I spent all of my “relaxing” test day looking for them–but at least now my desk is clean.  :)  Tomorrow night is taxiing girls to a football game.  Saturday Thad’s buddy will be with us from early morn to late night. But right now, it’s Friday Eve, and I’m home before 7:00 with  nowhere to go until 6:10 in the morning.  :)