Monday, May 21, 2012

TIOBE & ... Aladdin & Mean Girls?

I'm going to show these pieces today and let the kids think about any parallels they may have with The Importance of Being Earnest that we just finished last week.

Saturday, May 19, 2012


I thought it might be fun to share some more writing. This isn't my best effort, but, hey, at least I'm trying. This was a piece I wrote with my students about an awkward moment:

Denée Tyler

I am going to Arizona for Thanksgiving. I’m not going to the warm, sunny part of Arizona. I’m going to the windy, cold, desolate part of Arizona called Snowflake. Why? Well, my parents and a brother live there, but one of the major reasons for my decision was to see my grandmother. She is 84 years old and still in pretty good health, but I realize that she could be gone at any moment, so I want to visit her again while I can. The original plan was to meet up with her at an extended family turkey fest, but that plan has been torpedoed by the ultimate of awkward situations.

My husband and I have a few guilty pleasures, and one of them is watching a new television show on the CW network called Ringer. In the show, one twin sister, Bridgette, is a key witness to a murder, and Bridgette is too scared to stay and testify, so she runs to her estranged twin, Siobhan, for advice and protection. As soon as the sisters are together, they go out on a boat and Siobhan supposedly goes overboard, leaving the Bridgette the perfect opportunity: take Siobhan’s place and identity, including her husband. Convoluted? Yes. But that is only the edge of the iceberg. As Bridgette continues impersonating her twin, she discovers that Siobhan has been having an affair with Siobhan’s best friend’s husband, who also is supposedly a great friend of Siobhan’s husband. And not only that, but Siobhan (and now Bridgette) still meets and talks to this best friend, Gemma, everyday. What do they talk about? Who the mystery woman is that Gemma’s husband is cheating with.


What does this have to do with the turkey fest? I have many cousins in my Grandmother’s family, but I have two in particular we’ll call Tom and Bob. Well, I’ve just found out that Tom has admitted that he has been having an affair with Bob’s wife. And he’s tired of keeping it a secret, so he just wants to come out in the open and marry Bob’s wife as soon as she and Bob can get divorced. ARGGHHH. This is going to ruin every family get together for the rest of time—or at least until Tom and Bob’s wife get tired of each other and move on to someone else.


As I watched Ringer, I would think about how incredibly insensitive and crass the whole situation was.  I used to find it unbelievable that someone could betray a friend AND a spouse so callously. Now that I’ve seen the situation in my own family, I guess I’ll change my thinking on that. I guess people really can be that self centered and cruel.


Friday, May 18, 2012

Reflections on My Sixth Year

In exactly one week, I will finish my sixth year of teaching. In some ways this has been a great year; in some, the worst ever. I've had to deal with seizures (my own!) seventy-two hour EEGs, and shoulder surgery. I've been more scatterbrained than I ever remember being in my life. I've dealt with reluctant learners, one of whom was my own child. I've occasionally felt like I was doing a great job teaching and often felt like I was the worst teacher in the world.

I think it's probably time for a major overhaul of my curriculum to get me out of my doldrums. We recently read Write Like This by Kelly Gallagher for the CUWP book group, and it really got me thinking about what I'm having my students write and why. I loved what Kelly said in the book about a fantasy meeting with a former student years from now:
"Excitedly, she blurts out: 'Oh, it is so good to see you! I was hoping to run into you some day so that I can tell you that I am still writing essays that analyze the author's use of tone. I  keep a Tone Journal at home, and I apply that skill you taught me twenty years ago in the tenth grade to everything I read today! Let's have lunch some day so I can share all the essays I have written recognizing the author's tone found in all the books I have read since high school graduation."
Instead, he says he'd rather hear about the blog they're writing, or the letter they've sent to every member of congress about some issue.

Anyway, I am going to redo my curriculum so that we're doing a lot more real world writing. For example, this year I had my students write sonnets. Dumb idea. It was painful for them to do and painful for me to read.

One of my goals for this summer (and hopefully to continue through the school year next year) is to read and USE one professional book a month. Actually, maybe I'll try for two a month over the summer. I have quite a few that look like they'd be very helpful if I actually read them. Ha.

Anyway, I have one more week with this particular crop of kids, and I hope they've taken away at least one useful thing from my class this year. They did do spectacularly well on their end of level tests, and that seems to be all that our school really worries about as far as whether I'm a good teacher or not. For myself, I'd like to think the bar is a bit higher.