Thursday, November 05, 2009

Halloween wrap-up

"Where there is no imagination there is no horror."
-Arthur Conan Doyle, Sr.

Long time, no blog. I'm not making any promises for the future, but I did have to share photos from our "spooky" Halloween night.

While Callie did this:I did this:
Luckily the result was this (tacos with "eyeballs," if you were wondering):
and this (a spooky dinner with candy corn cakes):
Luckily for us, we didn't give the cakes out to the neighborhood kids and luckily for the boys, there were no candy corns used in the cakes. :)

While we ate, we took turns opening the door for trick-or-treaters, that is, until we ran out of candy. Then, we headed upstairs for a scary movie marathon. Another wonderful weekend in my world.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Climbing again

“I’ve learned that everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you’re climbing it.”

This weekend I earned the second "badge" for the Canyon Climbers Club. Rob and I headed out to Amicalola Falls State Park Saturday morning, in order to enjoy a beautiful autumn day in the woods. We hiked every trail in the park, even climbing the 604 stairs to the top of the tallest waterfall east of the Mississippi River. Rob and I agree, although the adventure at Tallulah Gorge was awesome, the views at Amicalola were even better. The trails at Amicalola connect to the southernmost point of the Appalachian Trail. And, although we didn't venture that way this time--we spent our hike, wondering what it would be like to isolate ourselves on the trail for months at a time.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Come gather at our table

"One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well."
-Virginia Woolf

So, our main anniversary gift to ourselves this year was a real dining room table, to fill our oh-so-empty front room. The modern tradition anniversary gift is china, and we decided we needed somewhere to place our china, if ever the day came to host a fancy party.

We'd been eyeing a table at Pottery Barn, but it was much too expensive, and probably too big for our space. So we found the next best thing (and probably in truth the very best thing!) at World Market last week. We saw it, we sat at it, we fell in love. And, then we waited a few days to make certain we were sure.

We were. So we bought it, and then it took three carloads and three people (my mom was in town this weekend!) to get it home. And, of course as soon as we assembled it, we had to run out to Hobby Lobby and Michael's to fix up a pretty fall centerpiece.

How festive we are! And, now we even have a place to eat!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Call us crazy, but...

"The best thing one can do when it's raining is to let it rain."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

FROM SATURDAY MORNING: We're out here in the rain for the second weekend in a row, hoping to catch some great deals at an REI scratch and dent sale. Maybe not my favorite way to start the day, but my husband loves it, so here I am!!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Wrath of nature

"Weather is a great metaphor for life - sometimes it's good, sometimes it's bad, and there's nothing much you can do about it but carry an umbrella."
-Pepper Giardino

Mudslides and flash floods cancelled school today. But, not before I got up, got dressed, and headed to work. It was nice to have a day off, and by day off, I mean, I worked at school until noon and came home to work on lesson plans all afternoon.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

And, they say it's the men who forget...

"Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom."
-Marcel Proust

So Rob reminded me this afternoon that our wedding anniversary is quickly approaching. In fact, the conversation went like this:

R: So, did we set a price limit on our anniversary gifts for each other yet?
J: What?!?!? Anniversary... crap! I haven't even thought about that.
R: Really? I've been thinking about it for awhile and have lots of ideas!
J: Well, then you set a budget, and I'll come up with something in that range.
R: Ok, how about 1290 dollars?
J: Sure, I think I can fall below that.

And, then my preoccupation with lesson plans quickly transformed into a preoccupation with clever, sweet, romantic, useful gifts for my main man.

The second anniversary tradition is cotton, and considering the fact that my husband works at a cotton mill, it seems like I should be able to come up with something decent. But, darn, if it isn't a challenge to think up a clever gift for a man.

Any ideas? I've got two weeks!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Good thing I took swimming lessons...

"I try to take one day at a time, but sometimes several days attack me at once."
-Jennifer Yane

from Robert Freeman Art

I feel like I'm treading water these days. Trying to grade papers, plan lessons, tutor, stay on top of the paperwork, attend meetings... not to mention... cook, clean, finish personal projects. My head is bobbing up and down, just trying to stay afloat.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The perils of cycling

"A bicycle does get you there and more.... And there is always the thin edge of danger to keep you alert and comfortably apprehensive. Dogs become dogs again and snap at your raincoat; potholes become personal. And getting there is all the fun."
-Bill Emerson

So, I've had my first road bike crash. Well... two, in fact. Luckily, I'm ok and the bike's ok. I just haven't figured out how to unclip out of the pedals yet.

Friday afternoon after a long day of coughing (sickness #2 of the school year), failed quizzes, parent conferences, and a flu shot, Rob invited me to ride with him around the neighborhood. I was doing well, pumping my legs, and climbing those hills. However, as I was rounding the last curve and slowing to come to a stop, I unclipped my left foot, but forgot to keep pedaling my right foot. And, I landed smack down in the street with the bike on top of me. Rob heard me crash and turned around to rescue me. But by the time he made it back to me, I had tears streaming down my face. I wasn't hurt too bad, but I was spooked, embarassed, and most of all, tired. All I could do was sob.

Today I wanted to get back out there though. I pulled my bike out to the curb to climb on. I was waiting for Rob, with one foot clipped in. When all of the sudden, I lost my balance, and of course, fell towards my clipped-in side. It felt like slow-motion because I had plenty of time to yell, "*!%@," as I fell into the street.

But despite my crashes, today I ventured out of the neighborhood and conquered the hills. I wasn't sure I was going to make it up the steep incline, but I kept my legs moving, and eventually I did reach the crest. And, it was all worth it when I flew back down!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

From me to me

"What we are is God's gift to us. What we become is our gift to God."
-Eleanor Powell

Just bought my plane tickets for my cousin's wedding in Dallas in October. A present from me to me. It will be a nice break from school stuff. Hopefully there will be plenty of time to gab and hang out with my mommy dearest.

I also bought another present from us to me on Sunday. Much longed for, and hopefully often used.
An EXTRA SMALL Scattante road bike!! We finally found one to fit my short little legs. I'm pumped, and have my fingers crossed that I'll really enjoy riding. (Maybe not as competitively as Rob, but hopefully I, too, will find my bicycle niche!)

FYI: Now I have a SMALL Cannondale comfort bike for sale! Any takers?

Monday, September 07, 2009

Shutter School--Self-Timer

"Sometimes I do get to places just when God's ready to have somebody click the shutter."
-Ansel Adams

I'm still figuring out how to squeeze the blog in to my new school routine. Or is it not really that important these days... thinking, thinking.

But in the meantime, a new lesson is posted at Shutter School. This week it's about using the Self-Timer. Even I can find time for that!!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Week 2 in Review

“To teach is to learn twice.”
-Joseph Joubert

This week was full of quizzes and worksheets, tissues and cough drops. It was a rough week. Mostly because I wasn't feeling at my best. I was giving everything I had, plus some, but with a weak immune system and the first cold of the season--that probably wasn't exactly 100%.

The Middle School is piloting a new program to encourage students to turn their work in on time--they basically receive a lunch detention, or with a positive spin: a "working lunch-- until they turn the assignment in. The first day our team had thirty kids stay for "Lunch and Learn." While good in theory, it just adds one more thing I have to keep track of and one more thing I have to organize at the end of the day. And, I haven't quite figured out how to do it efficiently yet.

I gave my first quiz on Monday, and I was quite disappointed with the results. Although the percentages weren't terrible--most of the students could have (and should have) done better. For goodness' sakes this is a review chapter--things they should have learned and used for two years--and stuff that's really not scheduled in the curriculum. I would need triple the time to actually teach the concepts from scratch. The unit test will be on Monday, so everybody keep your fingers crossed.

I have one class, in particular, that is much slower than the others. Their math foundational skills just simply aren't there, and they're too immature to listen as I explain new (or old) concepts. I admit, I'm lost with them. How much do I stop to review? Is it ok to skip the "fun" activities because I simply need the time to explain and practice with them? We're always running out of time. I want them to do the hands-on activities, but they won't listen to the instructions enough to understand what I want them to do. We've had three activities totally bomb so far--activities that the other classes could do without any trouble. I'm pulling my hair out by the end of each class. Thank goodness the rest of my classes go relatively smoothly.

We've had several students get their schedules changed and be pulled out of our team this week. Some because they need the resources from a Collab team (we don't have any inclusion teachers assigned to our team), but (I heard it through the grapevine) some because of one of the other teachers on our team. That's really a shame. And, I hate it for my kids--that they have to sit through a class where the teacher has no relationship with the students and hardly a commitment to her job.

We started pulling permanent records for students this week to see what skeletons they have hidden (or not so hidden) in their proverbial closets. It's awfully eye-opening to hear about students who no longer live with their parents, whose parents ignore recommendations for assistance, or who spent half of last year out of school because his family was homeless. Makes me thankful for my relatively stable family. And makes me hope that perhaps I can be that source of stability and dare I say it... love... that so many of my students long for.

I lost my classroom key on Thursday morning. Sometime between 8:00 and 8:30 am. Somewhere between the Red Hall, the Yellow Hall, and the Activity Room. For someone who usually has it "together" pretty well, I often do stupid things like this. However, the next day someone found it in the Activity Room, where I had my first school picture as a teacher taken. Hooray!

That leads me to the highlight of my week... on Friday when I took my homeroom class to get their photos made, one of the PTA mothers introduced herself as Jasmyne's mom. After confirming which Jasmyne she was talking about (I teach 2 Jasmynes, 2 Ashleys, 2 Brians, 2 Jennys, 3 Briannas, and 6 Joshuas), she told me that Jasmyne loves my class! Apparently she has had a string of bad math teachers, and this year she comes home each day talking about the cool things we did in math. Although my body and soul are tired this weekend, that's just the prescription I needed to get pumped up for the week to come.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Take a peek...

"A sketch is generally more spirited than a picture... it is the artist's work when he is full of inspiration and ardour, when reflection has toned down nothing; it is the artist's soul expressing itself freely."
-Denis Diderot

Wanna see what i been inspired by lately....

from Curly Girl Design

from gemma correll's photostream

from art as life

from Missed Connections

from r's adventure

I guess you could say that I'm envious of these fanciful, doodle-y, and anything-but-uptight illustrations. I wish I could sketch like that!

And, it was good

“The teacher who is indeed wise does not bid you to enter the house of his wisdom but rather leads you to the threshold of your mind.”
-Khalil Gibran

Yesterday was my best day of teaching ever. Granted, I haven't been teaching very long... but if I had to pick a best day, it would have to be yesterday. I finally had my class rosters (and a seating chart!!) and I was still trying to learn names. (Sidenote: I was amazed to find that I knew the names of most of my homeroom kids after only meeting them for a few minutes at orientation last week! The others are taking a bit longer.)

I had created my own bellringer activity (which I learned yesterday, at The Middle School, bellringers are supposed to be called "Target Time"); the activity was called "Math About Me." The students were supposed to use numbers that represent things in their personal lives as the input into various equations. I think they enjoyed it, and it was a great way to gauge what skill level they are entering 8th grade with. I'm actually surprised (and thrilled!) how sharp many of the students are.

In two of my classes I taught my first real math lesson--"Variables and Expressions" if you just really wanted to know. I had a handy dandy graphic organizer (aka chart) for the kids to fill out as we talked about how to translate from algebra to words, and then we did a lot of practice problems. I let the kids make mistakes, and then we discussed why those answers were incorrect, all the while guiding them towards the right answer. Textbook teaching, it was. And, I've never even read a teaching textbook!

And, in the other two classes, the students worked on a problem solving assignment with a system of equations. In my opinion, it is the best assignment in the world for a new teacher to give, for the extremely selfish reason that it totally bewilders the student when they read through it the first time. But eventually, after a couple of read-throughs (and probably more in-depth instructions from the teacher), they finally have the "Aha" moment. And, there's nothing more rewarding for a teacher than watching the lightbulb come on in her student's head. I watched students' faces brighten exponentially (have to use those mathematical words, now that I'm a teacher!), and I heard them exclaim, "Oh, I get it!" It was priceless!

Today, however, was not so noteworthy. Most of the afternoon was absorbed by a discipline talk with the assistant principal, and now I'm left scrambling to squeeze the lessons in before the quiz on Monday.

Monday, August 10, 2009

I teach 8th graders

"I like a teacher who gives you something to take home to think about besides homework."
-Lily Tomlin as "Edith Ann"

As of today, when someone asks me what I do for a living, I can finally answer them in one sentence (no explanations needed!). I just say, "I'm an 8th grade Math teacher." Most will ask me if I'm crazy, and I'll just laugh.
This is the image I used to illustrate my career history in my "Welcome to Algebra!" powerpoint today. Then, I looked down and realized that I couldn't have matched this illustration any better than I did today. Puffy sleeves, pencil skirt, and all! Although hopefully, fingers crossed, I'm a little bit more stylish than Ms. Teacher here.
The first day of school flew by. And, that's despite the fact that as of 5pm this afternoon (after class!!), I still had not received the class rosters. Hopefully by tomorrow morning!!

My students sat relatively attentatively as we ran through the class expectations, and actually seemed to enjoy the "Would You Rather..." game that we played. I'm sure the little devils' horns will show soon, but today went delightfully smoothly. Tomorrow we hit the ground running with actual math!

Riding the whitewater waves

"If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water."
-Loren Eiseley

To celebrate Jordan's birthday, and just to relax before school started, we headed up to the Ocoee River to go whitewater rafting this weekend. We spent about two hours on the river, and thankfully had no spills into the rapids. It was a great day in the sun and a great distraction from lesson plans and seating charts.
As I paddled through the water, I couldn't help but be amazed by the dynamic forces of the waves. How organic it looked--despite the fact, that the water is not alive. I could have watched the white caps all day long.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Is it meant to be?

"Strangers are just friends waiting to happen."
-Rod McKuen

There are four new classroom teachers at The Middle School this year. We are all female, in our mid-twenties, and in our first or second year of teaching.

I met up with the girls this morning at the district-level orientation, and I realized, as I was sitting there listening to our area superintendent stumble over his powerpoint presentation, that these three girls have some of the top qualities I look for in a friend these days.

1. No one's toes or fingernails were painted, much less sporting a perfect manicure. No need for that kind of frou frou around here.

2. When given a soft drink choice, these girls chose Coca-Cola over Diet Coke. No need to be so conscious of our weight that we deny ourselves the Classic.

!!!Disclaimer: That's not to say that if you do one of the above items you're no longer my friend. In fact, most who will read this have known me (and been my friend) long before we were concerned by how we looked and how much we weighed.

But sometimes, I think you can tell a lot about a person by their drink choice and fingernails. Hopefully this foretells of good friends to come!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Last bit of summer math

"Boats are the nearest things to dreams that hands have ever made."
-Robert N. Rose

+ a whole lot of Florida fun!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Wise reminder

"Every child begins the world again."
-Henry David Thoreau

My husband surprised me with his wisdom when said, "sometimes God gives you exactly what you need." Seeing this nine-month old baby this weekend reminded me that is so true.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Must never stop designing...

"A designer is a planner with an aesthetic sense."
-Bruno Munari
I knew that I could find a use for my design skills in the classroom!!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The best part of being employed...

"A bargain is something you can't use at a price you can't resist."
-Franklin P. Jones

I can shop the clearance aisles at Target again!!!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Officially employed!

"A teacher is a compass that activates the magnets of curiosity, knowledge, and wisdom in the pupils."
-Ever Garrison

Yesterday I walked around the house in shock, not believing the good news. But, last night it began to sink in...keeping me awake all night with ideas swirling around in my head.
On Monday I called to schedule my interview at The Middle School. On Tuesday I interviewed and left The Middle School disappointed that it hadn't gone as well as I had hoped. On Wednesday the principal of The Middle School called to offer me the job. "Would I accept it?" she asked. "Are you kidding me? OF COURSE!"
I am now officially an 8th grade Math (basically Algebra I) teacher at a school a mere 15 minutes from my house!
There are just over three weeks before students start school---so now it's full speed ahead until the 10th! There are lesson plans to write, a room to organize, orientations to attend, and plenty of other tasks to complete before then!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A little bit of luck couldn't hurt

"Luck is what you have left over after you give 100 percent."
-Langston Coleman

This past week I got a new haircut, a new dresser, and a job interview scheduled for 1:45 this afternoon!! Fingers crossed!!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

New Shutter School lesson posted!

"Maybe because it's entirely an artist's eye, patience and skill that makes an image and not his tools."
-Ken Rockwell

Head on over to the Shutter School website to participate in our 3rd photography lesson. This week it's all about framing your composition--should make for some interesting photos!! See you over there!!

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Firecracker Favors

"And I'm proud to be an American, where at least I know I'm free. And I won't forget the men who died, who gave that right to me."
-Lee Greenwood

Callie and Jana. What a team we make! This afternoon project is just the beginning for the dynamic duo. There is nothing we can't accomplish! I'm so glad we can be partners in crime again--that is, partners within 30 miles of each other!
We needed an idea of a treat to bring to the Fourth of July bash at my aunt's house tonight. We didn't want to ruin her menu (which almost always includes dessert), so we decided to go the party favor route, aka the "fireworks-watching-snack" route. A trip to Kroger for ingredients, a raid of the craft room for supplies, a little bit of girl talk while we worked, Lee Greenwood's music in the background, and.... kaboom! (pardon the fireworks pun!) the chocolate-peanut butter-powdered sugar-marshmallow-m&m-chex mix treats came together quite splendidly.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

July means...

"Ah, summer, what power you have to make us suffer and like it."
-Russel Baker

Today is the first day of July. That means...

... 2009 is halfway over.
... Rob's work is crazy busy with shut-down week.
... my sister is now a resident of Georgia--she moved into her new apartment today.
... I've got to find a Fourth of July celebration up here in the 'burbs.
... my mom and uncle stay the week with us next week.
... I need to plan a lovely dinner for my extended family.
... we must schedule a weekend to go hiking again.
... I'll soon reach my 250th Dancing Commas post.
... the time left to find a full-time teaching job is dwindling.
... still have to make it to a baseball game before the season's over.
... it's hot as blazes outside.
... hopefully my tutoring schedule will ramp up before school starts.
... we need to decide if we're going to go to Florida at the end of the month for a final summer fling.
... I must get busy with my summer goals/craft projects.
... I need to get outside to make this tan last a little bit longer.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Sunday: Race to the finish!

"Enough with this Sunday stroll...let's hurt a little bit."
-American Flyers

I think Rob's ready to start racing now. I hope he can find a team near our house. In the meantime, we'll just have to cheer for our good friend Blain.By the way, he came in 7th! Woohoo!

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