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!


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!