Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Our lucky winner!

Hm, well that was hard! haha Soooo our winner is...

Elizabeth! Congrats! To answer your question, I chose this book for a variety of reasons. One is that I felt like it had a lot of layers to it. I think I could easily re-read it in a few years and see new things in it and be able to repeat that process for years. I liked the voice of the narrator -- it was simple and real, yet riddled with imagery. It's thoughtful and loving and honest. The father reminded me of Atticus Finch (aka Gregory Peck), and who doesn't love Atticus?! I wanted to speed through the ending, the tension was so thick, but I made myself read slowly and not skip ahead. I wanted to do it justice! Ultimately, it just made the strongest impact on me. I closed that book and breathed, "Wow." It was just great.

I hope I haven't built it up too much, now! ha! I hope you can enjoy it. Although I might hold is hostage, making it necessary for you to come visit in order to retrieve your winnings.

But that was fun, y'all (yeah, I said it). I would definitely want to repeat this next summer, if you can stick around that long. I promise to read the books faster next time. Thanks for the suggestions! Maybe we can do this again sometime.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Another free book?! Ye, gods!

Whew, where have I been? you've been waiting on pins & needles for this moment: without further ado, I will finally wrap up that summer reading contest! You all suggested books for me to read, and read 'em I did! I enjoyed picking up some books I would never have heard of otherwise. Feel free to friend me on Goodreads.com if you haven't done so already.

Here are my oh so brilliant observations on each book:

1. Uglies - Scott Westerfeld (since 2 people suggested this to me, I added it on to the top 5)
2. Marked - P.C. Cast
3. The View from Saturday - E.L. Konigsburg
4. Peace Like A River - Leif Enger
5. Thirteen Reasons Why - Jay Asher
6. Inkheart - Cornelia Funke

I really enjoyed all of the books and had a hard time picking a favorite for the giveaway. But as I narrowed down the list, this one just REALLY stood out to me. Mostly, I think, because it's one that I probably wouldn't have picked up at all, but was just completely blown away by as I read. And it was *drumroll*...

Peace like a River by Leif Enger! A big thanks to cupcake for the suggestion. And I have a lovely hardback copy for a lucky winner. How will you get it? Read on, oh Impatient One.

We're just wrapping up Antigone in class, and when checking my online database (portaportal.com), I realized there was a fun online quiz I had forgotten! Maybe I can get a homework assignment out of it this week. Have I shown you this before? I stole this idea from a co-worker: online personality quizzes! The kids are taking them all the time on Facebook/Myspace, anyway...why not tap into something academic? You can make any kind of quiz yourself and it can take awhile, but it lasts.
So here's the deal.

You take the quiz and comment. From your comments, I will select a random winner. Contest open until 11:59pm pacific time Monday.

Oedipus Personality Quiz

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Bragging Rights

I am SO proud of this door - and I didn't do any of it!

Every year for homecoming there's a door decorating contest. Usually I lose track of time and don't have a door done on time. I usually had some talented or half-motivated kids working on it, so it was okay, but they didn't get very excited about it. This year, however, my first period REALLY got excited/motivated, and I had two great artists and two great scrapbookers.

My artists got a picture of the dog and drew it by hand (yeah - no transparency - just using a picture to free-hand/sketch it!!) and then my two scrapbooker girls cut all the background paper & letters & added the bowl. Picture doesn't do the dog justice (copied from a Tom & Jerry still).

I have seen a lot of kids stare at it as they walk down the hallway, point it out, and comment. Love! So proud of my kiddos. :)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Can I please teach?

One word: Homecoming

Over the past two weeks, 4 out of 5 weekly planning periods are spent on homecoming or class officer events. I've barely had enough time to give my lesson plans proper attention. Gah!

And they marvel at the teacher burnout rate? Riiiiight.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Crisis of Conscience

I feel awful. Mentally awful. I am so tired and stressed from all these random stupid scenarios that keep popping up regarding homecoming or class officer elections. I just want to find something quiet and low-key for the next two weeks. My deepest, darkest desire is to just throw in a movie for the next two weeks. I want to just give them grammar worksheets and demand quiet for the next two weeks. Please?

I feel awful, and I feel awful I'm giving a grammar worksheet tomorrow.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Irony, Take two - Post #45

Excuse my neglect; I spent most of my days at school last week. Let's not talk about the day I didn't get home until 7pm. Let's talk about irony, instead.

The first day we discuss irony, I like to explain to the kids that first and foremost, they have probably heard the term irony frequently applied incorrectly. Evidence #1: "Ironic" by Alanis Morisette. But I won't bother breaking that down; Matt Sturges has already done that. Still, we mention it. I also mention a real-life example of a friend remarking how "ironic" it was that Usain Bolt's last name was...well, Bolt. "Do we expect Mr. Fisher here [pointing out a student in class] to actually be a fisherman?" They laughed at this and agreed that no, that wouldn't be ironic, either. Basically, our society has started to use irony as a synonym for "coincidence" or even "hypocrisy." So, I remind them, there has to be some kind of established expectation for irony, and that we have to consider, "What is this author saying by going against our expectation?"

Materials: Good Morning, Vietnam (cued), Monty Python & the Search for the Holy Grail (cued), PPT irony review

This lesson's foundational activity is taken from Reading in the Dark: Using Film As a Tool in the English Classroom by John Golden. If you don't have it, I highly recommend getting a copy. Many states now have a media/non-text analysis standard in their curriculum, and this gives you excellent ways to teach film and use portions of it effectively (NOT just throw in a DVD of a book you just read).

1. I procure a 5(ish) minute clip from Good Morning, Vietnam. Using the questions from the powerpoint, I instigate a class discussion/analysis of the clip with sound and without.

2. This class question-and-discovery takes most of the class period. After the Vietnam clip, I give several examples of irony to
A. refresh their memories on the different types of irony; and
B. give them examples to help them answer the questions "How does X irony help the story? Why would an author use it?"

This allows us to talk about the different kinds of irony at more than just the "identify" level. I want them to consider Why verbal irony versus situational versus dramatic?

Good Morning, Vietnam
is rated R but the clip shown is very brief and has no elements above PG (maybe PG-13), so you can probably get that one little clip approved. Have fun!

source: Reading in the Dark by John Golden