Turning to a New Page

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The school year is coming to a close, and about three weeks ago my principal asked me to teach a new class this year.  And it’s not Language Arts OR Reading OR any combination thereof.  I was shocked and amazed–and honored and appreciative.

This has been a year in which I have grown and stretched and learned as a teacher.  And now, that will continue next year as well.  I keep on telling my kids that you will have to learn ALL  of your life.

In the mean time, I am ready for summer.  I am ready to go through photographs (like the one above) and tell their stories.  This one was from October, 2012 when Tony surprised me with a trip to Round Top–which is a big antiques fair nearby.  It was all his own idea and it was a wonderful trip.

Hopefully this new page I’m turning at work will give me a little more room to breathe–but even if it doesn’t, summer vacation is on the way and the year ahead is going to be full of endings and beginnings.  I need a nice, long break before we begin.

Happy Easter

blog Easter, 2015 063Because of all the wonderful things that God has done for us–we get to enjoy days with family remembering the sacrifice of His Son that not only gives us beautiful days with family on this earth, but also gives us the confidence of beautiful days with family forever.  We are truly blessed.

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Perfect

I have not written in a long time.  There has been no time, I say.  Of course, there has been time. . .I have just used it differently–in other ways–walking, cooking, creating test questions, calling parents, running errands.  I just read a book where the main character is an artist who hasn’t done art for almost two decades.  She writes to an old friend–a lengthy, rambling letter–and the friend says to her, “Stop this.  You must create or you will become a menace to society.”  I think I might need to hang that up over every door I walk through on a daily basis.  I must create or I will become a menace to society.

Photo with different filters.  (I don’t know this little girl, nor did I ask her mother’s permission to photograph her or put her on the internets–however, I will say that she looks like any 15-18 month old little girl on the beach from a distance.)  This falls under the category of creating–not being a menace to society.

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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.)