Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Power of Harry Potter

I did not immediately jump on the Harry Potter bandwagon when the books first came out but it did not take me long to fall in love with the series.  After all, who doesn't love a coming of age story about good versus evil?

In recent years, my colleagues have advocated including it in the curriculum and since it is technically Brit Lit, it is taught at the senior year.  One of my colleagues created a fun and interactive unit complete with "owls", "sorting hat" and "potions".  I have borrowed a page from her book and sorted my students for our Harry Potter unit.  Since it falls at the end of the year when the senioritis is in full swing, group work seems the best way to hold them all accountable.  Their grades are tied together and they do not want to suffer the wrath of their peers.

All of my seniors took an online Sorting Hat quiz to select their houses for our unit.  They read on their own, discuss with in their groups and complete challenge activities.  Everything is for House Points--just like at Hogwarts. 

It is working marvelously.  I have students who have not been engaged all year excited about coming to English class.  One young man in particular comes to mind.  He's struggled academically all year--not due to a lack of ability but due to a lack of "want-to"; he hasn't wanted to do his work thus far.  And when I first introduced the assignment, he flipped out at the prospect of having to read a novel on his own. 

Then the light came on...which is my favorite of teaching moments.

He was the first one finished with the reading. 

He told me yesterday that he was so excited to come to English class that he tried to come to class...on a day when we don't have class.  He forgot which day it was.

Yesterday during a challenge activity, he jumped a desk to turn his House's challenge activity first. 

He is not alone in his excitement.  The majority of the class is engaged--now there is always a  few holdouts but the element of competition is pushing those to try at least some.

After all the winning house gets an A and bragging rights.  Never underestimate the power of Harry Potter.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Confessions of a TV Junkie: Roadhouse Edition

I know that Roadhouse is a movie but I've only ever watched it on TV or on VHS.  My college roommate, Andi and I were major Patrick Swayze fans.  As dancers, we were naturally obsessed with Dirty Dancing but Andi's favorite--hands down--was and still is Roadhouse.  She frequently quoted Dalton's "pain don't hurt" line.  Which as a nursing student and now a nurse...I'm not sure her patients would appreciate the sentiment.  As her very accident prone roommate and dance co-captain, I tended to argue that point.

Now anytime that I come across Roadhouse on Spike or AMC or any other network, I have to stop and at least watch part of it. And let's face it...they re-air it...a lot. It always makes me think of Andi, our tiny cluttered dorm room and pizza.  We would dip into the pizza money that my daddy always gave us, bang on the wall to get our friends & neighbors K & D to come over and pile on the beds to watch it.

I think I'm going to log off and watch it again and remember good times with good friends.
Until next time, here's a little Dalton wisdom--"Nobody ever wins a fight.".

RIP Patrick Swayze.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Time Wastin' Part 2

Spring break is winding down and overall I have been very productive.  The garage has been cleaned out but now we need to have a yard sale.  The recycling has been hauled away.  All the laundry has been washed.  The patio area has been cleaned up and new yard lights installed.

Yet, there is one task that I have avoided--grading papers.

I have a stack of papers to be graded (and there's actually bag of papers to be graded floating around here as well).  I just do not want to think about next week--Monday morning marks the end of spring break and I'm just not ready for it to end.  Grading those papers forces me to think about that...and I don't wanna.

As of Monday, there will only be 32 school days until summer break.  Of those 32 days, six days are testing.  That leaves 26 days of instruction and way too much content to try to squeeze into their brains.  It gives me a headache just to think about it.

I also need to finalize lesson plans for my seniors.  I have the freshmen plans outlined--they are ambitious to say the least but the seniors lesson plans are still up in the air.

But instead of doing these things, I am blogging and watching Chelsea Lately...with the papers stacked up beside me.

I could start grading them but...I think I'll just go put way the laundry.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Confessions of a TV Junkie: General Hospital Edition

When I was a little girl, my mom watched the ABC soaps--Ryan's Hope, All My Children, One Life to Live and General Hospital.  I was usually playing but I remember bits and pieces.  I can clearly remember lying in bed listening for the GH theme song to play in the closing credits because when it was over, I could get up from my nap and watch Sesame Street.  Yet, I must have watched it with her some because I wanted to name my baby sister, Heather after a particularly crazy character on General Hospital.  My parents vetoed that idea.

Once I started school, I lost track of my soaps since I only saw them on snow days and sick days.  College, however, changed that.  One of my roommates loved GH as much as I did and we would tape it on days that we had class at 2 p.m. CST.   We would even talk about characters as though they were real people that we knew.

I know the plots are predictable and far-fetched but sometimes they do examine real issues.  Back in the early 90's, they tackled the topic HIV and AIDS with the Robin and Stone storyline. Currently they're highlighting the problem of domestic violence in teenage relationships--granted I do a lot of yelling at the screen with this one because I think they could have done a better job of if they had been a bit more realistic.  However, it is a soap and suspension of belief is needed. 

After all in a soap, no one is ever dead for keeps...even if you see them die on screen--they can still come back.  Paternity tests are rigged willy-nilly and DNA results are returned instantly.  Helena kept her son frozen in a sub-basement under a hospital.  Children are shot and comatose at age 12 and wake up a year later six years older.  The voice of wisdom and honesty is the resident hit man.  Such is the wonderful world of soaps.

Nowadays, I watch General Hospital  online; it pops up in my Hulu queue every evening allowing me to get my soapy fix of Jason, Sam, Carly, Sonny and Luke.  And maybe they'll get crazy Heather back on there again--you just never know what will happen on a soap.  Anything can happen and I'll be there to see it.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Spring Cleaning

Spring break around here means spring cleaning.   On Saturday, I did yard work--with the little black dog supervising the operation.  I still have a lot to do out there;  the flower beds need mulch and flowers but that may have to wait until next pay day...especially since I tend to get carried way with the flowers. The little black dog loved it!  We were outside for a long time and that is one of his favorite places to be.

On Monday, I hauled off part of the recycling, did the laundry, did the dishes and started scrubbing the bathroom.  We have an entire winter's worth of recycling but I'll have to deal with the rest tomorrow.  Our recycling center is in a rough part of town and I will only go down there in the daily light.  Besides on tomorrow, we're going to deal with the garage.

Today, I had to go get my allergy shots and as I'm highly allergic to dust mites, the cleaning had to stop for the day.  Otherwise the injection sites react and it's not pretty.  I did get some grocery shopping done.

As I mentioned a bit ago, tomorrow we're cleaning the garage---we, my little bro, the little black dog and me.  Granted the little black dog will simply be looking for any of his exiled toys while the boy and I clean.  My brother is on spring break as well and my mother is determined that he is going to leave the blasted video games alone and do something.   He's fifteen now; he can make himself useful.

The roommate had surgery last week, so she may be able to supervise the operation but I doubt it.  She's still hurting and that garage looks like something you would see on TLC or Discovery.  You know those shows about Hoarders?  That's what it looks like.

I tried do some cleaning in there earlier in the year but  it was not something that I could do by myself.  Just not strong enough--and the whole dust mite problem.  I'd made a little bit of a dent and then the roommate's sister left her husband and we ended up with a bunch of her furniture in there.  She's supposed to be coming to get it soon but she's had to work a lot of mandatory overtime and can't make it down here.

It supposed to be pretty tomorrow and so either the boy or I can fight through to the door to open it and start hauling things out to the driveway.  Unfortunately, I suspect that there is a lot of stuff out there that's destined for the trash can and our trash can is full.  I didn't expect trash pick up on Good Friday.  

I also need to mop the floors, vaccum, haul things to Goodwill, store things for a yard sale, store the winter things and get out the spring/summer...

Wonder if I can con the boy into dusting for me?  Probably not--he is a teenager. know, as much as all this stuff needs to get done, I wish I could just go to Tybee Island instead.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Birthday Advice

A colleague of mine has a cool idea for her sixteen year old daughter's birthday present.  She emailed all the women in her daughter's life and asked them to give advice for her girl.  She creating a book with the advice in it.  I've been wracking my brain trying to decide what advice to give this delightful child; I'm hoping that blogging about it will help me flesh out some ideas.

When I met her, G was seven years old; I can't believe that she's going to be sixteen.  Her mother always tells me to treat her children (G, her sister B and brother T) like they are mine and I've watched them run tame in the high school where we teach for nine years.  G's matured from a sweet little girl to beautiful, talented, socially aware young woman.

I wish all sixteen year old girls were as blessed as G and the advice that I want to share with her is the same advice that I wish I could share with all teenage girls.

Shakespeare had it right--To thine own self be true.  Too many times teens, especially teen girls, allow the wants and needs of others to dictate their choices.  The desire to fit in and be popular leads many teens to make choices that just are not who they are.  I hope that G and all teens remain true to themselves.

Over the year's I've also watched countless girls compromise who they are to keep a boy--many times a boy not worthy of them.    I wish they all knew that they do  not have to have a boyfriend to be complete.  And that boy who makes them feel like they are too skinny, too fat, too plain, too stupid, etc, needs to be kicked to the curb.  They're like buses--another one will be a long.  You just have to be patient enough to wait.

Do what gives you joy.  Life is too short to be miserable in your life.

But unfortunately, sometimes you have to do things that you do not like. 
Go to funerals. 
Keep your doctor's appointments. 
Wear sunscreen. 
Do your homework.

Always behave in a manner that makes your mother never know where her friends are;)

Hmmm, this helped.  I had hoped that blogging about it would give me ideas---and it did.