Oh, yeh… I have a blog!

Hey, there!  Anybody ever come to this site anymore…?  🙂

I turned in the last of my grades this morning and am just finishing up preparations for my new on-line summer class that starts on Tuesday.  Ah, but then… then I’ll have time at last to write!  And to catch up with all of my blogger friends whom I have not visited for ages.  I hope you are all well.

Stay tuned…

Rollin, rollin, rollin, keep them doggies rollin

Just keep working.  Keep reading.  Keep grading.  Keep getting up and putting on work clothes and driving to school.  Keep standing in front of those students.  Keep going to meetings.  Keep on keepin on.

Sometimes in a person’s life it’s 95% about JUST KEEP MOVING…

“writing assignments for bad kids…”

Hmmm.  Well, that’s what showed up on my wordpress dashboard yesterday as the search terms that led someone to my site: “writing assignments for bad kids.”  Nothing like promoting the idea that English is torture. 🙂  Give ’em some grammar exercises, too, why don’t ya?!

I have a student this semester who is so far beyond being a bad student that he is a caricature, a cartoon.  Yet, I’m not sure for all that I’d call him a bad kid.  Compulsive liar?  Sure.  Morally repugnant?  That’s a given.  Passive aggressive?  Duh, of course.

But I hadn’t stopped to think maybe he’s just bad to the bone.  I was more thinking that his lack of any sense of personal responsibility for his own learning has led him to get absolutely nothing out of college.  And his lack of work, any writing really of note, is what led to the F on his midterm that I just passed back.

I tend to find that the worst students are the ones who are NOT writing, not doing their work.  So my answer to the person who queried about “writing assignments for bad kids” is to say the problem is not in the assignment but in the student’s work ethic or attitude or study skills, etc.  “Bad kids” or “good” — they all need to write.  Motivating a kid to write, well, if you figure out the answer to that, I’d like to know!  I already discovered long ago that grades rarely motivate struggling students.

Just checking in…

I have nothing interesting to say.  Sorry!  Just checking in to let you know I’m still out here.  When I took a first aid class once, they said you should ask three questions about a person in distress:  Is she breathing?  Is she bleeding?  Is she comfy?  Well, I’m okay on the first two….  Not sure about the last.  But I can say that not blogging has freed up just enough of a smidgin of time for me to be able to stay caught up in my grading…. SO FAR!  LOL 🙂

I tell you what…here is another link to a funny video.  Who says I don’t think of my friends…?!

Again, I can’t get this to show up directly into my post (anyone know how to do that if it isn’t YouTube?)  But I laughed out loud at this kid. She is too precious in her wily storytelling ways!

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Amelie rocks!

Kreativ Blogger? Wow, thanks!

I want to say a big thanks to Montessori Mama, who has given me the Kreativ Blogger award!!

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You know, it feels kinda good.  I needed the boost — thanks again, MM.  Coming from one of the most creative of all bloggers I know, this award means a lot!

Now, on to the rules:
– List six things that inspire my creativity
– Pass the award on to 6 more kreativ bloggers
– Link back to the person who gave you the award
– Link to the people you are passing it on to and leave them a comment to let them know.

so…

SIX things that inspire my creativity:

  1. family night — We decided to rotate the responsibility to each family member each week  to choose an activity for Friday night that the whole family would enjoy.  Last time that it was my turn, I chose painting, and we had a marvelous time just hanging out and painting together. Never done such a  thing together ALL three of us at the same time.  Cool!
  2. Christmas — Something about that holiday brings out my creative side.  I relish the chance to make things beautiful, to use my hands to create something new out of something old (ornaments, table decorations, handmade cards….)
  3. teaching a text that students seem to find boring — Ah, I love that challenge! That’s when I revert to drawing crazy pictures on the board, jumping on top of furniture to act out a concept, bringing in wigs and hats for students to stage an impromptu dramatization of that boring 18th century poem, etc.
  4. dinner parties — I know you aren’t really “supposed” to make up new recipes when you have company coming, but I love to get creative in the kitchen for my friends.  Almost always there’s enough delicious food (if I do say so myself) in the meal to make up for anything borderline.  Even the flops are food for funny stories later on. 🙂
  5. scrapbooking — Okay, I admit it.  I actually like doing this activity.  I haven’t been able to work on anything for years, but I love how it is both a creative (making something new) and retro- and intro-spective activity.  I need to find a way to do this craft again, as it gives me much pleasure both in the doing and in the viewing later.
  6. Grandma’a life — I find my beloved grandma to be incredibly inspiring.  Writing her book is one of the most meaningful things I have undertaken in my life and one of the hardest.

Now, on to listing SIX more kreativ bloggers:

The Sruggling Writer is a wonderfully creative guy — I like how he just keeps on writing despite being busy with work and his young family. I’ve seen a noticable change in the quality of his writing, too, clearly proving that practice makes perfect. Paul, you’re awesome!

I read Kitty’s delightful blog  The Show Must Go On almost every day.  She is witty and hilarious and kind.  Check her out!  But bonus…she is also a gifted photographer and has another blog The Cuckoo’s Nest filled with interesting pixs.  This gal can do anything.  She even turned me on to cooking cabbage (yup, Kitty, I finally bit the bullet and cooked that thing in the bottom of my fridge — delicious!  Who knew?)

Ginny over at Praying to Darwin is a crack up.  Always makes me LOL when I read of her and her family’s escapades in the great white north of Canada.  I’ve actually snorted with laughter when reading her before.  Thanks, Ginny, for cheering my day!

I love handmade paper products (books, cards, etc.), and I really admire Diane Aldred’s work, often showcased on her blog Much of a Muchness.  She has a real knack for choosing just the right design.  She’s also a good writer, and despite my jealousy over her exciting travels, I’m nominating her as well.

I don’t recall exactly how I first found Katie Hoffman’s blog Paint Fumes, but I have enjoyed visiting it and viewing her paintings for a long time now.  I always find something worthwhile to contemplate there, and I’ve enjoyed learning more about the art wold from her interesting written posts, as well.

When I first began blogging a year and a half ago, I was searching the blogosphere using the keyword “grief”  and came across Linda’s mysteroriley, a “blog I never wanted to write.”  What strikes me so much about this blog is Linda’s courage and the strength of her creative energy in the face of the painful loss of her 20-year-old son.  Linda, I admire you both as a writer and as a human being.  You inspire me!

So, there you have it folks!  And I want to encourage everyone to visit Montessori Mama‘s site, too.  She is a gifted artist, teacher, and a great gal. Thanks!

It’s beginning to look a lot like … Finals

Funny how the mind works.  I’ve had that darned Christmas song, “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” running through my head for the last few days.  It’s a constant refrain ever since it snowed.  Ugh.

Christmas is, I admit it, probably my favorite holiday in the whole year.  Too bad every year I also have a ton of work to do right before the holiday.  As an English teacher, I end up with mounds of final portfolios (each one including  final versions of all of the students’ papers from the whole semester plus their original drafts to show improvement and an extensive cover letter assessing their work).  Whew!  Makes me tired just summarizing it.  Here is a picture of my current semester’s stack, guarded by our faithful pooch, Maggie, until I can get around to that important work…

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So, yeh, why am I not grading those papers right now, then…? Just taking a breather, folks, having  finished grading on-line assignments for a different class, I haven’t yet gone on to the next task.  Busy, busy, busy!  Ah, but lucky, too.  I like seeing the improvement of the students’ work at the end (usually there IS growth).  Makes me feel like it was worth it or some such nonsense!  🙂

Holady Shopping… Typos Matter, Even at Christmas

I am NOT the grammar police, okay?  But, honestly, sometimes I can’t help but draw attention to signage errors.  I mean, I’d want to know!   I live by that Do Unto Others credo, so shoot me.

I was at the mall this weekend buying a few last Christmas gifts, when I was surprised to see a See’s Candy shop.  Where the heck did that come from, I wondered.  I am quite certain it wasn’t there last time I visited the mall.

I hustled over to the store, though, to pick up a couple of boxs of nuts and chews and assorted chocolates.  Sees is not only delicious candy, but it brings back lovely memories of my grandma.  The company began right there in Sacramento, California, near my grandma’s house, in fact.  I am delighted that the company has done so well that it now has a store in the Pheasant Lane Mall in Nashua, New Hampshire.  Go figure!

But as I was reading the description of one of their items to see which candies the box included, my eyes bugged out at this typo.  Can you SEE it?

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How appetizing!  Just what I want to buy for my kid’s stocking: a box with six soiled choco balls.  Mmm! Delicious!  Sample anyone? 🙂

I hesitated but then thought, goodness, this has to be fixed.  Or at least laughed at.  So I showed it to the two sales ladies, making it perfectly clear that this was, no doubt, NOT their fault.

Clerk One: “Yes.  Uh huh….  So you’re a teacher?”

Me: “Well, yeh. Er, I am. Ha ha.” 🙂

Clerk One: “And you teach…?”

Me: “English.  Sorry.  Typos just have this way of jumping right off the page at me, especially this time of year when I am grading so many student papers.  I can’t help it.”

Clerk Two: “Where do you teach your classes?”

Me: “At the University.”

Clerk Two: “I want to take an English class.  I need to learn English.”

Me: “Well, there’s community colleges.  They offer such classes.”

Clerk Two: “What I really want is a tutor, just someone to sit down with me and help me understand better.”

Me: “Our local library has such a thing — literacy tutoring run by volunteers.  You should see if your town has that.”

After the Clerk One lady rang up my purchase, she slipped three butterscoth lollipops into my bag and smiled. I guess she didn’t mind my pointing out the typo after all.  Still, someone should fix that sign.  Made me think I should carry around white out and a black marker.

Has anyone heard of that guy who goes around, on purpose to fix people’s typos? Now THAT’S annoying!

Ice Storm

We awoke this morning to the news that today my kid’s school was canceled due to an historic ice storm in New England…and then I called my university and found it was also closed for the day, thus leaving the semester forever unfinished.  No leave taking means no closure.  The last day of class is a very bad day to have a weather cancellation.

Ah, well, the students, no doubt, are rejoicing that they have extra time to complete their final portfolio essays, and I suppose it will not kill me to be unable to grade papers this weekend!

So my kid and I were home today.  Hubster had to go to work, governor declared state of emergency or not, his office was open!  Anyway, kid and mom have been housecleaning and ventured out to go to the grocery store, as we are a bit low on food.  So we went to our favorite local store where they sell a lot of organic foods.

When we arrived, we found that their power was out, and they were cleaning the fish and meat sections and tossing out a bunch of perishable food.  There were only a few lights on in the large store — eerie and more than a little weird to be let inside.  But they were selling food to those who made it to their store.  We got what we needed, including the last carton of buttermilk in all of Massachusetts, no doubt.  Thank goodness — since my quick bread recipe that I wanted to try out this afternoon calls for 3/4 cups of buttermilk.  Eeghads, what would I do without that ingredient?!

As we walked to the checkout counter through the frozen food aisle, I stopped to take this photo with my phone camera.  They had saran wrapped the doors all shut so nobody can buy the food from the freezers.  Think of the enormity of the waste and financial loss.  Yikes.

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In the parking lot, I started chatting with an elderly gentleman who works at the store as a bagger.  He was on his way home.  He first asked me if my power was out at home (so nice!)  Then he went on to explain that by law the store has to throw out perishable food if the refrigeration or freezer is shut off for three hours or more.  The store will lose tens of thousands of dollars, and it will take quite a while to restock. In fact, the Governor says none of the power in the whole state  is likely to be back on until at the earliest MONDAY.

What a terrible waste, I thought.  I mean, of course, there is the safety issue and all.  But if only someone from the store had decided at 2 hours and 45 minutes into the power outage that they should donate all the perishables to the local food pantry (which still DOES have power and does not have enough food)….  Alas, instead everything is being dumped into the county incinerator.

It was quite an eye-opener for my son.  He usually relishes storms, especially when they mean no school, but I think he is beginning to understand how interconnected everything is.  His school friend’s power is out and their sump pump is not working, so their basement is flooding.  Lows in the teens tonight will mean a chilly evening for that family.  I’ve called to offer them a place to stay with us, but I can’t reach them. Friends from church just sent out a plea on the church listserv asking to borrow anyone’s generator to run their sump pump because their basement, too, is under water.

As the sun begins to hang lower and lower in the sky, I can feel the temperature dropping.  We enjoyed about an hour of sunshine this afternoon, during which time the tres and bushes tried to shed as much of their ice encasements as possible.  The outdoors were blindingly bright, shimmering with falling ice, glittering in the sun. Now everything has turned gloomy again. High winds and low temps are expected tonight.  I can only hope enough ice melted earlier to keep us from joining the one million households in the northeast currently without power.

On Gratitude … and Lemons

While waiting in the foyer of my son’s school to pick him up this afternoon, some of the children’s art on the wall caught my eye.  I didn’t have a camera with me, so please excuse the less than ideal quality of the pictures I took with my phone camera.  But these were just too precious not to share with y’all in this season of giving thanks.

First off, there’s Ava, whose wonderful love of citrus first caught my attention.

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Who ISN’T thankful for lemons, honestly?!

And then there’s Jordan…

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… who loves ALL pie. I think I’m pretty open-minded, but, man, that takes the cake. 😉

Next we hear from Amanda:

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I’ll bet Caroline and Victoria are glad they rate above cornbread, though who can blame Amanda?  Cornbread IS tasty.

Finally, since this applies to YOU all, I include this message from Erin…

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Thanks, Erin.  You’re a sweetheart.  Don’t hate us too much when you find out how much we’ve screwed up your beloved world.  We’re trying to fix our mistakes now.

What are YOU all thankful for?

1,500 messages and counting…

LadyBeams, who kindly checked in to see if I was still in the land of the living, expressed some dismay at my absence lately from my blog.  I am, as it turns out, still alive and kicking.  Drowning in work, but still with one nostril clear to breathe through.

You see, I very fooloshly descided to use technology, blogging and Blackboard, for all of my classes this semester.  HUH?  Yeh, what an idiot.  At this point in the semester, I’ve read over 1,700 messages/posts, and I’ve posted somewhere close to 500 of my own.  It’s an insane pace I’ve set for myself, and I’m far behind in grading this work.  Students are really learning, of course, but I am swamped.  Weird deja vu here.  I mean, haven’t I been here before?  Didn’t I swear I’d never come back here again…?

I guess so many messages on the class discussion boards or my students’ blogs wouldn’t be too hard to manage if I didn’t also have to grade regular papers.  Remember that I am an English professor.  That means multiple paper drafts.  Let’s see, 25 freshmen who have written three papers so far = 75. Then 15 sophomore English majors who have written three papers so far = 45.  And 28 sophomore non-majors who have written one paper so far = 28.  And finally 24 on-line students who have written one paper so far = 24.  Mid-term total = 172.  But they aren’t through yet with early drafts, about 107 more to go.  Then there’ll be the final revisions of those papers to grade, almost doubling the number: (279 x 2) – 48 = 510 papers to read and mark this semester.  Don’t get me started on reading quizzes, small assignments such as bibliographies or paper outlines or the requiresd final essay exam in freshman writing…!

I’m not saying this to complain.  Seriously.  I am NOT grumbling.  I’m happy to have a job, actually. 🙂  But the next time you hear someone say that teachers have it too good because they get summer’s off, can you just smack them for me?!

In any case, I’ve never been more on-line in my life.  I just haven’t been here…or at my friends’ blogs lately! Ah, but the semester is only fifteen weeks long.  Eventually it will end, and I can catch up then with my blogging and writing and reading, etc.  Maybe even before then….

Back to grading now for me.  Just one last thing.  As you get ready to vote in Tuesday’s election, I want you to think carefully about things like funding for public education and whome you elect for postions on school boards and all that.  Listen guys, I don’t know any teachers who don’t work like dogs all the time, even in summer.  It’s an incredibly tough job to do well.  Please support our efforts.

And if any of you reside in Massachusetts, please vote NO on Question 1, a propsal to abolish the income tax in our Commonwealth.  We can’t take a 40% hit to our state budget.  Such a move would gut public education, especially public higher ed.  Things are tough enough for educators.  Please support your educators!