My life in blog form


Made my regular Thursday night trip to the gym for bootcamp, but this time the weather was so beautiful that I had to make it worth my while, so I RAN to the gym.  It can’t be more than two miles, but seriously, 2 miles before a bootcamp is pretty tough!  Figure it’s the day that Al (our instructor) has us running wicked amounts of laps between super sets. Usually we do two, maybe three laps in between – but tonight we had a four lap and a five lapper. Ridic!

I guess it’s good prep for the Boilermaker.  As of today, there are 114 days until race day, and I have a PR to beat.  I was able to finish in 1:22 last year, and for someone who is truly not a runner, I have to say, I was rather proud of myself. 🙂

So after a nice shower, yummy chicken burrito dinner, and a blog post, I’m off to grade papers!  My students are working on their first ever LIT CIRCLES!!  Today was their first socratic seminars.  I was a little nervous watching my first period class flail and struggle a little to conduct discussions (not all groups, but most).  However, my fifth period and seventh period classes did an AMAZING JOB!  I am so proud of how hard they have been working in class lately.  I’ve been giving them two days in class to read their chapters and work on reciprocal teaching (summarizing, questioning, predicting, connecting) independently.  On Thursdays I want them to come together to collaborate their ideas.  I’m excited to see what the finished product looks like!

Meanwhile, my SUPA Seniors are working on ISAs and RSAs in their ideology unit.  They are collaborating to create a visual and verbal presentation explaining any form of an ideological state apparatus and how it represses any particular group of people.  I’m really looking forward to seeing these as well.  Their work analyzing characters from The Royal Tenenbaums with psychoanalysis was a definite example of their recent growth in the theory department!

Okay, not I’m babbling.  Off to paper grade!


I realize it’s late…

After a late hockey game (it’s playoffs in my B league) I’m now wide awake and trying to find ways to wind down from my day.  I was up mighty early for a St. Patty’s Day breakfast at my brother-in-law’s house  Have I mentioned that my sister is dating my brother-in-law?  Apparently this is more common than one would expect!  Anyways, it’s convenient for me, since I’m really close with my sister.  My husband and I made a visit there, then headed up the hill to work on our house ( for that!).

We spent 6 hours gluing together the piping for our central vac (Can I even tell you how excited I am about this??  The one chore I DESPISE is vacuuming.  It’s loud; vacuums always break; they’re bulky….)  But I’m sorry, six hours of ANYTHING in a house without heat  eventually gets boring and annoying at the same time.  I tried sitting near the heater and reading Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.  I’m about halfway through right now.  It’s one of those books you can pick up in your spare time.

Anyways, we left there about 3, and stopped off at Bennu, where I had an Irish coffee and Nick had a scotch.  We ordered some food to go and completely overate.  I then spent hours trying to digest my food before my playoff game, which ended up being incredibly physical – probably the most physical game we’ve had all season, but especially fun.  What’s hockey without a little pushing and shoving in front of the net??

I should be exhausted.  I should be worried about the hour of sleep I am going to lose tonight, and the fact that I need to be up early because I’m responsible for reading at mass at 8 am tomorrow, but instead I’m totally wired.

And thinking about summer professional development.

Syracuse University offers a special one week course at their summer lodge at Blue Mountain Lake for all SUPA instructors.  The 6 credits end up costing $420 (quite the steal!) but the entire week ends up costing something like $1,800.  Seriously, I can’t afford this and I want to go SO BAD!!

A week in the woods, no tv, no phones.  I could start every morning with a long run, spend my evenings on the dock reading or engaging in intellectual discourse!

Any idea where I could get funding to attend this dream event?  I’ve already contacted our assistant superintendent about it, but I have a feeling if they cover anything, it’s only going to be the cost of credits…I’m desperate here!!  The only other thing I thought of was starting a fundraiser right here on my blog, where people could donate!  Is that lame or would that actually work?

Sports banquets

I’ve just returned home from one of the LONGEST days of the school year: sports banquet night.

In years past, the cheerleaders are part of the boys basketball banquet.  That typically consists of me making a long speech about how cheerleaders really ARE athletes to a group of parents, board members, and basketball players who really not only could give a hoot about the cheerleaders, but if they actually DID pay attention for a minute, might actually stand up and protest my speech.

People don’t my cheerleaders very seriously, but I must say, I can’t remember the last time I saw any of them toss another person 10 feet into the air, or hold them there for that matter.  Let’s not get into the argument.  Let’s just admit that my girls work hard – work DAMN hard at their sport – and for that, they deserve a little bit of the respect other sports teams get in our school (and I am specifically referencing the teams deemed by our culture to be the most important even when they can’t complete a pass all season).

Since the school is trying to show support to both male and female athletes, it expects cheerleaders to cheer boys and girls home games.  Let’s also not get into the fact that this saves the school a crapload of money on away busses, which I’m pretty sure is the real reason we have weeks where we are at school four nights in a row from 6-10 pm cheerleading….What’s the point of attending the boy’s banquet?  We cheer both boys and girls.  So this year, we’ve done the unthinkable:  we’ve decided to hold our own banquet, and it was a total success.  We had 40 people there!  At most basketball banquets, I’m lucky if all of the girls show up, with maybe a handful of parents.  It was nice to have a laidback evening where I didn’t feel pressured to give a long speech and justify what my girls did all season.  Their parents knew.
Here we all are after taking first place at a local competition!

A 5k and some Chobani

Last night I went to our local musichouse to see Enter the Haggis with a couple of friends.  It was a great show, but I snuck out around 12:30 because I had a 5k to run this morning.

America’s Greatest Heart Run and Walk in Utica, NY ends up raising over a million dollars every year toward heart disease research and prevention.   The event includes a 30k, and 10 miler, a 5 miler, a 5k, and a walk.  I’m going to mention again that this event takes place in CENTRAL NY.  The high today was 40 degrees (and that’s warm).

So anyways, I ran the 5k today with members of our local sheriff’s department.  Oddly enough, after our team picture, we made the LAST bus (which in retrospect, I think might have been the first walkers bus instead of a runner’s bus) to the start line.  Because of traffic, we didn’t even make it to the start line.  Our bus dropped us off 2 blocks after the start line, where we jumped off and ran into the mass of runners (all while getting yelled at by the local firemen).  It could NOT have looked good to have a group of runners with sheriff’s badges cutting the line!

Noentheless, it was fun.

When we got to the finish line, we saw our favorite bus, the CHOBANI BUS!  Last year, on APril 1st, my husband (then fiance) decided to cut his portions and eat better, and he started with Chobani.  He supplemented most of his meals with it, and it soon became an obsession for both of us.  We stopped by the booth to sample our favorites (Pineapple for me!) and then we took a few home (they have new flavors!!  I took a raspberry and a banana strawberry.)

I know there are a lot of greek yogurts out there, but my husband and I tried them all.  Choabani has excellent taste AND it’s priced so reasonably, you don’t have to feel any guilt over eating it!

To check out ALL the great flavors, visit

Besides our nice run, the husband and I went up to the house to work.  He got to work finishing the installation of central vac, and I got to work wet/dry vaccing the ENTIRE HOUSE.

I’ve gotta finish this post though because tonight is the very last night of our regular season B league hockey.  Peace out.

Kodiak cakes and 10th grade updates…

I know that this blog began as a teaching blow with plenty of stories about how dedicated I am to the profession, and how instead of prepping my lesson on Freud and Hamlet for my class tomorrow, I basically blog surf and think about my next delicious meal, but tonight will be an exception.

I wanted to mention that Kodiak cakes is giving away a half year supply!!  Check them out!  Yum-o!

In the meantime – I have about a bazillion things to do.  I spent two hours after school working on my literature circle unit, which begins next Friday.  I’ve already handed out permission slips to students, and they are all due back tomorrow.  We’ll see how that turnout goes.  I threatened that I would be the one picking their novel if they didn’t get the sheet in.  Take away choice and see what happens.

Then I updated my webpage with a list of all the awesome work my students have been doing in English 10.  And they really have.  Here is what my teacher homepage reads:

Do you even know how awesome our students are?

Need evidence?

1.  English 10 students just finished writing their five page research papers, and massed wicked amounts of time revising and editing every single error I marked in their papers!

2.  Our English 10 bookshelf on just keeps growing!  In fact…

3.  Just five weeks into the third marking period, English 10 students have finished their next independent read and are getting pumped up about incorporating technology into their next booktalk!

4.  English 10ers ROCKED the Of Mice and Men unit, completing the novel in a record two weeks, making amazing predictions about future events in the novel, and participating in some insightful Socratic seminars where they led the class discussions.

5.  Finally, they took a big dive into college level analysis when they learned about intertextuality and wrote a response paper analyzing Saturday Night Live’s rewritten ending to Of Mice and Men.

Phew!  I’m exhausted just thinking about how much hard work they’ve committed to in only five weeks.  Just think, 15 weeks from now, the June sun will feel that much better when we know we certainly EARNED our summer break!


I know parents check my webpage, and I think a lot of the time they always hear how naughty the kids are lately.  Maybe this will be a welcome change.  I mean, it’s only taken 25 weeks, but I think my tenth graders are finally starting to “get it.”

A little help here?

Now that I’m getting back into blogging and making a real effort to post more often, I’ve been doing a lot of blog browsing myself.  I love how people post their favorite blogs on the right hand side of the page.  How do you do that??  Any help out there in blog world??

Coaching a spring sport

I always get that flyer in my mailbox every winter.  The one that asks if I want to coach a spring sport, and the opportunitites are endless in a small school like mine.  They are always looking for modified coaches, assistant track coaches, and just about every year a position opens up for some crazy who wants the varsity position.  And while I love sports, and I love working with kids, and I love spring, I don’t think I would love another season of late nights and lost personal time.

Taking a year off from field hockey was one of the best decisions I have ever made.  Frankly, I don’t know how parents find he time to teach/work, coach, and see their little ones.  I just don’t think it is for me.  Take today for example:

I left work at 3:30 (we’re dismissed at 2:55, but I can’t remember the last time I was out the doors at 3.  Maybe a couple of months ago when I had a late doctor’s appointment?)

Stopped at the bank, cashed my paycheck from Thursday (two snow days in a row will do that to ya!) and paid some bills.

Came home and changed into my workout gear and made a delicious egg beater for a snack (I’m taking a weight training class at 7).

Sat down to type this blog.  After a good trip to the gym tonight, I’ll sit down, grade papers, send out some e-mails, and get to bed for a good night’s rest, ready to start a new day!


Now normally, I would be at school coaching.  Coaching would end at five.  I would head back to my classroom, where my desk would be filled with papers and so on that need filing, organizing, etc.  I might stay till six trying to get caught up on grading, but hunger would eventually take over.  (Someday I’ll take a picture of my food drawer – a spoonful of peanut butter usually helps me make it through the ride home.)

I’ll head home, get a snack, MAYBE get to the gym, but then the moment of truth comes: it’s 7:30 -8:00 and I’ve yet to get any papers graded, e-mails out to parents or other teachers, lesson plans developed.  I’m exhausted.  I’ve already worked almost 12 hours!  So I settle for getting to bed early, figuring I’ll get 7 hours of sleep, get up early, head to school and grade papers BEFORE classes begin.

And that’s not game days.  Game days, there’s no sense in coming home. I just stay at school and work/eat dinner until it’s time to warm up an get ready for the game.  Away games require a bus ride that starts at three and returns to the school around 10-11 o’clock at night, followed by a 30 minutes car ride home (and that’s when all the parents are there on TIME to pick their children up, otherwise, I have to wait at the school.)  If you haven’t figured it out, I forgo gym on game nights…)

How about you?  Do you coach?  Are you thinking about coaching?  Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of rewarding experiences that come along with coaching.  I’ve formed incredible relationships with my athletes, and I’ve learned so much about myself along the way.

Am I worse than the students???

Like the student who never does his homework, I’ve been pretty lax about adding to this blog.  Don’t get me wrong, I have a million things to post about; I just don’t have a free minute in my day.

Unless you have a sick day, of course.

Yep.  I called in sick with the worst sinus infection ever.  So what does a teacher do on her sick day?  Check her school e-mail, update her gradebook, e-mail a few parents, grade a few papers, and I’m serious.  I’m certainly not going to leave the house feeling like this.  I might as well be productive!

People have been wondering how the independent reading is going.  It is definitely baby steps, and the students are VERY nervous about conducting their own booktalks.  I did a sample with Frank McCourt’s Teacher Man.  First, while I was checking homework, I had students look over the booktalk rubric with the idea they would be grading my booktalk.  After the talk, we went step by step through the rubric (some graders were super harsh; others were pretty reasonable).  I didn’t give the best booktalk on purpose because I wanted them to give suggestions for ways I could improve it.

That was a few weeks ago.  Since then, a few students have done their booktalks, and many more have been approaching me with ideas.  One student, reading The Lovely Bones wants to set the mood by coming into the class a few minutes before lunch ends and setting up music.  Another, reading Hannibal, wants to booktalk in costume.

Of course, we have a few who are really dragging their feet on this, and it’s my hope that they start to see their peers getting creative and will want to join in.  I think the competitive students in class will definitely want to see who can “set the mood” the best.

I’ve also caved on the public speaking aspect.  Originally, all students were required to stand and talk for 2-3 minutes.  However, I’m now allowing students to do their booktalk using blabberize. allows you to take a picture and “make it talk.”  The best way to understand it is to view my work  from our Julius Caesar unit by clicking here.

Students are already throwing ideas around with that one.

One last thing:  My students are slowly beginning to upload their book reviews to shelfari.  You can check those out by clicking here.

Delicious books

In an act of utter rebellion, I assigned my English 10 students to choose a book from the media center library to read independently!! It’s something I’ve been wanting to do, and I pushed it in my department meetings for years.  At the recent conference I attended (more on that later) I attended a session on making teens life-long readers.  It was the kick in the pants I needed.

I did a book talk, choosing the juiciest passages from some of my favorite YA authors.  The entire room was dead silent.  After I set my parameters I let the students loose.  Of course there was one or two reluctant students, but before the end of the period all of my students had checked out a book and many of them had already started reading.  I think I will post about a few of them when I actually have more time (If you haven’t noticed, I’ve not posted in quite awhile).

Anyways, my bright idea came after school when I was grading papers.  I have a shelfari (virtual bookshelf) where I am keeping track of my recent reads.  I like to use it as a reference section for finding the newest popular lit out there.  Anyways, it always feels great to put another book up on the shelf, so I created my own classroom virtual bookshelf tonight on shelfari.  Each student will be required to upload his/her book to the shelf along with a review.  When students start uploading their book reviews I’ll post a link!

How do you plan for a sub?

In years past, I’ve actually made every attempt to create a lesson that is somehow related to what we are doing in class and requires only a tiny amount of substitute teaching ability. 

But then I ran into this problem:

Tomorrow is the second Friday of the school year, and I already need a sub.  I am being observed by Syracuse University in the college writing course that I teach for them at the high school.  The biggest issue is that I am in the middle of modeling the writing process for my students.  We design a graphic organizer, fill in all the blanks for it, and then use the organizer to write out paragraphs.  Tomorrow is the day I am supposed to be modeling that!  I can’t just tell the sub to let the students write their body paragraphs.  It would defeat the entire purpose of modeling.  Meanwhile, I refuse to give them some mundane reading assignment. 

So what’s a girl to do?

I’m using Jing.

It’s a download that allows you to record what you are doing right on the computer.  I’m going to put the graphic organizer up and then put a blank document up and narrate (model) the writing of a body paragraph.  After that, students can write their own body paragraphs for the second half of the essay.  I’m off to record.  I’ll update on Monday to let everyone know how it goes!

P.S. you can use Jing to take pictures as well.