Monday, February 28, 2005

Comfort Food

Ricotta ricotta ricotta (sing to the tune of the Mexican hat dance). Posted by Hello

Some parents hide veggies in their children's food. I hide veggies in my own food. Posted by Hello

Noodles, ricotta, (veggies), sauce, mozzarella, repeat. Posted by Hello

Perhaps Pollock had a thing for Italian food? Posted by Hello

Bake for 45 minutes at 375F. Posted by Hello

The view from here...

Bert, Sprout, Elmo Posted by Hello


I had the usual end-of-vacation anxiety for the last couple of days. I think that I work best under a certain amount of pressure, and when vacation is coming to an end, my relaxed mind and body try to reset themselves back to that productive level of pressure, but they overcompensate, and I end up staring at the building across the alley at 3 am.

It was a good day, teaching-wise. The eighth graders were a little rambunctious but we are wrapping up the student-taught lessons and getting ready for a quiz on invertebrates, so things weren't that structured. I am confident that once we start our unit on plants, which is very structured, they'll be fine. The sixth graders, whom I see twice in a row, for PE and then Health, were pretty good and I actually had a blast with them, even with the Bad Attitude Clique (as I have christened a particularly snarky group of girls in that class). We played our first real game of volleyball in PE, and it was going so well that I let them keep on playing for the first 10 minutes of Health class, until they finished the game. Then, in Health, nearly everyone had done the homework (and it was quality work, too!) so we went over it and then played a game of Health Jeopardy to review dental hygiene and other topics. I hate games but the kids were well-behaved and didn't argue over every judgment call I had to make. Maybe it's just that I've finally learned how to structure games to prevent most of the common problems.

So what are the complications? you ask.

Well, one of our teachers is moving out of state and has pretty much decided to leave at the end of next week instead of at the end of June. He and his partner found an apartment over vacation and want to move right in. He doesn't seem to care that he's screwing us over, as someone is going to have to take over his classes, and who does he think that's going to be? And what about the kids? And what about two weeks' notice? I could rant and rant and rant, but I'll spare you. We've put in a phone call to TFA and the Fellows, but if you know any good math teachers who need jobs, send 'em my way. (The silver lining in all of this is that his schedule was about 8 periods of actual teaching and the rest push-in to support other math teachers, so we don't have quite as many classes to cover as we would if he had a full teaching schedule. Keep in mind, though, that we made him a push-in teacher because we felt that would help the kids - it's not something we can just scrap mid-year).

Then I checked my email before leaving school to find an email from my potential exchange partner. Turns out she teaches HS Health and PE. I could probably handle Health, but I really, really can't see myself as a high school PE teacher! I do the 6th grade PE class because it needs to be done, not because I'm really qualified to do it... Her schedule is 80% PE, 20% Health. *sigh* I replied and asked whether there was any possibility that her school could be flexible about this - I would be okay with a full schedule of Health, for example. If they can't be flexible, then I will probably decline the exchange, and I don't think the odds are good that Fulbright would offer me another. I'm pretty disappointed but I'm trying not to get too disappointed until I know for sure.

The funny thing is that my school would LOVE to have an experienced PE and Health teacher; we already were planning to hire a teacher for a full schedule of PE and Health next year when we are finally big enough to support that.

Well. I may post more later because I have some thoughts on the student-taught lessons that I wanted to share, and a recipe I promised I'd post, and some reflections on a meeting with another teacher, and some stuff I found out about middle school advisories and, and, and... But to make myself feel better, I'm going to make lasagna and cross my fingers that the snow keeps falling and falling!

Sunday, February 27, 2005


After several days of procrastination, I finally sat down today and planned out my upcoming unit on plants. I always start by looking through the students' textbook and the Region's Science Syllabus; this gives me a sense of what is most important for the students to know. Then I list the objectives - simple sentences, written in student-friendly language, describing what they should be able to do by the end of the unit. Then I start looking for activities that will help me teach the students what they need to know to accomplish those objectives. For some topics, I spend hours looking around on the internet and in books to see what other teachers have done with the material; in the case of plants, I already knew what kinds of activities I wanted to do, so it was just a matter of prioritizing and putting them in a logical sequence. I find plants inherently interesting, so I found that I didn't try to find particularly unique projects for the kids to do. They will be growing & experimenting with Wisconsin Fast Plants, designing experiments to investigate germination, and looking closely at roots, leaves, stems, and flowers. I'm having them do at least two different flower dissections for the sake of comparison. Their homework most nights will be reading from the textbook that supports the material we are learning in class. The one thing I am trying that is new is presenting content through PowerPoint presentations, which I will have to make at school over the next week or so, in order to be ready. I want to use PowerPoint because it will make it easy for me to incorporate lots of images into my presentation of new material.

I am also going to try to fill the classroom with growing things: avocados, potatoes, carrots, oranges, beans, bamboo, you name it. I am going to visit the florist and see if they have any mosses, liverworts, hornworts, or ferns that I can adopt and bring in. I think I will encourage the kids to plant things on their own. Please cross your fingers that my thumb turns green before this unit begins!

Saturday, February 26, 2005

The ball is rolling...

enough suspense: the Fulbright program has offered me an exchange in Finland, which I have ten days to accept or decline. My exchange partner and both of our schools also have to accept the exchange in order for it to happen, so things are definitely not for certain yet.

But I see now how quickly things are going to happen now: I was checking my email a few minutes ago, and I received an email from my possible exchange partner! The Fulbright program didn't include much information about her in the first mailing that I received - apparently details will be sent under separate cover. But she must know a little more about me because she emailed to introduce herself and to ask me to tell her more about my school and about life in NYC. This is SO exciting!

I must admit it is a bit puzzling trying to figure out how they got Finland from my choices of Turkey, Estonia, and the UK. Finland is quite close to Estonia, though, so maybe that was part of it. My main concern right at the moment is the seriously limited daylight they get during the winter. Since this depends on latitude, I am hoping that my partner turns out to be from southern Finland!

More later... I am a bit tired because I stayed out late listening to the Howard Fishman Quartet (who deserve MUCH more attention than they currently get).

Friday, February 25, 2005

Since nothing is for certain yet,

I am going to let you speculate on the contents of the envelope that arrived today while you peruse these links on Finland.

Virtual Finland
CIA World Factbook - Finland
Travel in Finland
Embassy of Finland, Washington, DC
Discover Finland
Lonely Planet - Finland (be sure to read about Sleepyhead Day, under Events - and note that the main travel risk is hypothermia)

East Third

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I've never actually found the entrance on 2nd St. Posted by Hello

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Another collector. Posted by Hello

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A wider perspective. Posted by Hello

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One of my favorites. Posted by Hello

It snowed last night. Posted by Hello

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It's a little blurry, but this was actually the image that started it all. Posted by Hello

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Lest you have any doubt... Posted by Hello

To do, did, done.

  • Buddy Miller concert
  • brunch with aforementioned teacher-friend - cancelled!
  • yoga every weekday - twice so far
  • host Saturday night get-together at Uncle Ming's with my friend W.
  • Williamsburg Spelling Bee
  • plan unit on plants - started
  • sketch out the rest of the year's curriculum
  • revise 6th and 7th grade health curricula
  • plan drama class production of Charlie & the Chocolate Factory - went through play and divided it up into smaller pieces based on entrances & exits
  • file taxes
  • grade student's invertebrates lessons - and started to make up test on inverts
  • plan afterschool high school prep class
  • research middle school advisories (if you work at a middle school or high schools that does advisories, drop me a line - I have questions for you!)
  • clean my room - filed & organized some stuff
  • spend some gift card money at Macy's on a weekday when it will be less crazy
  • go to the MOMA - also went to Dahesh Museum
  • brunch in Jackson Hts. at the Indian diner there - went elsewhere for brunch, Jackson Hts. this weekend?
  • watch/read at the Bowery Poetry Club Urbana slam
  • discuss Macbeth with my newly-formed book group
  • finish reading Snow, an amazing book by a Turkish author (thanks, Tim) - read about 100 more pages
  • um, blog
  • go back and see the Gates again - well, sort of
  • watch science films like Microcosmos, Plant Reproduction, and The Miracle of Life
  • sleep - apparently I'm no longer tired enough to sleep

Thursday, February 24, 2005

This is the best website I've seen in a long time.


And while we're on the topic of collections, Corie would like your cat's lost whiskers.

"The Lost Whiskers" would make an interesting band name.

Trying to think of a secret... I don't keep secrets very well, not even my own.

If you disappeared from my list of blogs a month or so ago, please don't take it personally. I switched to blogrolling but have been lazy about adding sites to my blogroll. Part of the problem is that I sometimes use Opera and sometimes use Explorer, and only Explorer is set up to automatically add sites to my blogroll.

The Things We Collect

You never know when you might need a cardboard tube... or a clementines crate... or a couple dozen empty cd cases... or several sheets of bubble wrap... or a plastic egg carton. No, you really never know. Posted by Hello

Maybe it's time to take this box to school. Posted by Hello

The Scottish Play

We drank wine, ate fudge (thanks, mom!), and read the first two acts. Then we watched "Scotland, PA" which is smart, dark, and hilarious. I forgot how much I like Shakespeare. I forgot how much it improves a play to read it aloud. Posted by Hello