Thursday, December 14, 2006

Don't Cry For Me Argentina

Hey, folks - Mr. Scoop and I closed on the new condo! It has a little balcony off the the back of the kitchen. Mr. Scoop even managed to check it for pee-worthiness before we got the condo agreement that explicitly forbids "noxious" behavior. I'm excited for the balcony because I know that some night I'm going to feel the need to try out the acoustics of the alley it overlooks with my best Evita impression.

And, I will get drunk enough for this to happen. My mom has promised me a wine fridge as a housewarming present. Mr. Scoop has already determined that he is soon going to be the proud owner of a keggerator. Be afraid, O Yuppie Neighbors We Have Yet To Meet! Be very afraid!

So the actual move is this Saturday. We've been up to our eyeballs in cardboard boxes for the last two weeks trying to pack while we waited for the official "Clear to Close" on the mortgage. I've determined that I own entirely too much stuff and yet I can't seem to part with any of it. On top of that, at school we are also in the process of packing up so we can move our wing to a new school building. Between the two moves, I've decided that if I never see another cardboard box again it will be too soon.

So, I apologize that you haven't heard from me in a while. In theory, once we complete the move, both Mr. Scoop and I will each have access to our own computers so there's no excuse for not being able to get onto one of them to update our blogs on a more consistent basis. You know...other than regularly scheduled keg stands with related blackout psychosis because of daily, unimpeded access to the keggerator.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Icy Hot Lizard Action

This week one of my soon to graduate seniors has been obsessed with bringing a tub of Icy Hot to his classes. He doles it out like some kind of study-manna before each of his classes to any kid who wants it. Relaxing, he says. Stinky, I say. Several of these menthol annointed rejects students turned up in my classroom yesterday. It was like the entire Noxema empire had thrown itself in a bag and died on my doorstep.

Icy Hot is when you have the forced hot air heater in your classroom set to 11 and your window wide open on a 28 degree day.

What does this have to do with the picture of ice sculpture dinosaurs, you may be asking?

Excellent question. My mom forwarded me a bunch of pictures from various ice sculpting festivals the other day. Why? Because someone had forwarded them to her. That's how the interwub works, folks. It's all one big game of bandwidth hot potato until one of us decides to delete the stupid e-mail. Or post it (or part of it).

I'd like to say this was my Stand and Deliver, but it was really more of a "me too hung over to keep the class on track and so we'll cover by trying to call this a teachable moment".

Sometimes, when I'm trying to catch up on grading, I'll devote the class period to what is generally referred to as a "free write". I'd devote it to "sustained silent reading", except my kids, for the most part, can't read. So telling them to read and leave me alone for the period turns into 5 minutes of them staring at the pages and 45 of me saying "Sshhh. Read." Can't get a lot of correcting done under those circumstances. A "free write" asks the kids to basically spend the period writing and leaving me the hell alone. Unfortunately, since many of them have word retrieval difficulties, asking them to spend the period filling lines on a page with no guidance is about as fruitful as asking them to read silently. On a good day, I will respond to requests to help students spell words. On a typical day, I spend a good chunk of the period asking kids not to stab each other with their writing implements. Or use the White Out recreationally. Or I end up trying to provide verbal writing prompts so they'll actually do work.

So, I've taken to projecting pictures on the screen to try and give them something that might be a jumping off point for a story. I give them a selection of up to 5 pictures and a word minimum (currently set at 400). If they can't think of something to write on their own, write a story about the picture(s).

One of the pictures was the one in the upper left corner of this post. It seemed to work pretty well for about half of class today. Then one kid, who'd apparently been quietly jammed with writer's block for the period, exclaimed, apros pos of nothing, "I can't have the dinosaurs come to life and eat everyone. They're all herbivores!" This snapped the rest of the class out of its collective quiet. Immediately the entire group collected at the screen to look at the menagerie of ice dinosaurs. A debate rang out over the dinosaur in the bottom right corner. It clearly wasn't an herbivore. But was it a T-Rex, or a Velociraptor? My exhortations to include their positions about the dinosaur in the actual writing assignment were falling on deaf ears. Seemed like a gimmee to me; I can drop 400 words on any argument without actively being asked to. They, however, simply prefered to argue.

The majority of the class felt it was a Raptor of some sort. One kid stridently defended the position that it was a T-Rex. I honestly don't care. I just want him to finish the damn writing assignment.

I don't know what the hell it is. It's Japanese ice scultpure.

It could be Godzilla for all I know.

What have I done?

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Monday, December 04, 2006

This Meme Says I Should Be In Gitmo

Your 'Do You Want the Terrorists to Win' Score: 91%

You are a terrorist-loving, Bush-bashing, "blame America first"-crowd traitor. You are in league with evil-doers who hate our freedoms. By all counts you are a liberal, and as such cleary desire the terrorists to succeed and impose their harsh theocratic restrictions on us all. You are fit to be hung for treason! Luckily George Bush is tapping your internet connection and is now aware of your thought-crime. Have a nice day.... in Guantanamo!

Do You Want the Terrorists to Win?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

And here I thought I was just an isolationist. If only I had lived and died before World War II.

But then I would never have experienced Halo 2, so screw that.

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