Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Snow Day

Well, sort of a snow day/freezing rain day. It's gone back and forth all night and all day today. But, the important thing is that I didn't have to go to school today!

I've been trying to decide if it's more exciting for the teachers or for the students to have a snow day. I remember being in school and running to the window to see if it snowed during the night. If it did, I would immediately turn on my radio and listen to the list of school closings, hoping and praying that mine would be mentioned.

It rarely was. When I was really young, my mom just wouldn't wake me up if we had a snow day. I would wake up to a sunny bedroom, sleepily wondering why it was so bright outside. Then I would tear around the house, looking for my mom (my sister was always still sleeping) to confirm my suspicions - no school today! I never thought about her not being able to go to work. We always played outside in our snowsuits and drank hot chocolate. Truly, it was the picturesque day you might imagine when thinking about children in the snow.

But this was an extremely rare occurrence.

When I hit high school, my sister and I were bussed from the city to a private school in the suburbs. We followed the schedule of Pittsburgh Public Schools, which at the time never had 2 hour delays due to how many working parents would be unable to stay home with their children. But my high school followed the schedule of the closer school district, which did have 2 hour delays. The result? My sister and I, along with the dozen or so other kids bussed in from the city, were at school at the regular time. We would hang out in the hallways and watch MTV in one of the classrooms, waiting for the rest of the students to arrive.

So truly, to have an entire day off of school was rare and wonderful. So I can truly appreciate how excited the students must be to have a snow day.

But now I'm a teacher. And I'm just as thrilled as they must be! My CT texted me this morning to let me know that schools were closed (I was still busily ignoring my alarm clock and hadn't turned on the news yet). Our texts were full of exclamation points. We really have no reason to be this excited, considering we already had two easy days this week - Monday and Tuesday were in-service days, without students. Yesterday I even got to sleep in and not go to school until noon. And we were done at 3:00 PM both days.

So while I should be writing lesson plans for the Newspaper Unit I get to construct, I'm too busy enjoying my extra day. And now there are only two school days until we have another weekend. And we had a short week last week due to MLK day.

I should be savoring this time more than I am. I don't think we get another day off until our spring break in April. Yeah, April. As in, two long months away.

But hopefully this crappy weather will actually persist long enough to give us at least one more snow day. In mid-February, maybe. Have I mentioned that's my least-favorite month?

Yeah, one more day would be good...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Okay, the most exciting thing (besides still living on the Steelers Super Bowl cloud) in my life right now is that I just got a new laptop. My old one bit the dust yesterday for the last time, and my roomie and I did some quick comparison shopping today. I need to start writing lesson plans, so I didn't want to wait for a delivery.

But this means that I will be able to blog way more often, and I'll be able to see everything everyone else posts! My old laptop was so ghetto that I couldn't even view videos anymore.

There hasn't really been any updates on the school front for several reasons. First, I missed one day of school b/c of my Pappap, and fortunately the other day wound up being a snow day (which means I only have to make up one day at the end). And aside from that, we didn't have school for MLK day, the next day was dedicated to the Inauguration, the next day we had a poet come and talk to the class....and Thursday we had a benchmark test. So it's been a bust.

This week is going to be more of the same: in-services today and tomorrow, Wednesday is the poet again, which leaves only one day of classes - Thursday. Friday is a different schedule.

On Friday, I will be starting a new Newspaper Unit. I'm pretty excited about this b/c I do not have a super strict curriculum to stick to like I will for my regular classes. So I can plan the entire unit from scratch for 9 weeks, which will be a good experience for me. Any ideas you guys have will be welcomed!

The other bonus about my laptop is that I was FINALLY able to upload some pics to show to you guys! So, enjoy:
Here's me, my dad, and my sister at one of our many Steelers tailgates this year...

These are pictures from Christmas Eve, when I was making my cousins pose like the pictures on the walls at the diner where we ate breakfast.

Ben is the grinning kid...with a few extra teeth!

And Amy, obviously, is Betty Boop!

Here are my cousin Luke's adorable twin daughters devouring their green cupcakes on Christmas day and working hard to permanently turn their teeth and tongues green:

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Good Vibrations

I stole this from Food, Sweat and are the rules:

1. Put your iTunes on shuffle.
2. For each question, press the next button to get your answer.

Get Into the Groove - Madonna
(Okay, off to a good start)

And I Ran - Hidden in Plain View
(Hmm...not sure what to make of that one!)

Like a Boy - Ciara

I Write Sins Not Tragedies - PANIC! At the Disco
(That's very philosophical of me)

Uptown Girl - Billy Joel

Here I Go Again on My Own - Whitesnake
(So, am I always alone, or do I leave my friend on their own?)

Thunder Rolls - Garth Brooks

Step by Step - New Kids On the Block

El Tango De Roxane - Moulon Rouge Soundtrack

Promiscuous Girl - Nelly Furtado f. Timbaland
(Bet you didn't know I used to turn tricks down on Liberty Ave...)

Maneater - Nelly Furtado
(see above)

Regulators - Nate Dogg f. Warren G

Superman - Eminem
(Well, that seems mildly inappropriate...)

Footloose - Kenny Loggins

Burn One Down - Ben Harper
(It's referring to cigarettes, people, cigarettes...)

Be My Little Baby - Dirty Dancing Soundtrack

The Most Beautiful Girl - Harry Connick Jr.

The Greatest Love of All - Whitney Houston
(Okay, that's a sign if I've ever seen one!!)

Say My Name - Destiny's Child

Touch Me - The Doors

Good Vibrations - Marky Mark & The Funky Bunch

Very random, I know...

Happy & Sad

Okay, it's a random post, but....

Happy List
1. The Super Bowl!!!!!!!!!! I had a blast on Sunday at the AFC Championship game. It was so cool to see the ceremony after we won. I love the feeling of camaraderie and good will that happens in Pittsburgh when the entire city is excited. I cried the last time we won the Super Bowl...we'll see what happens this year!

2. Step/Aerobics Mix - I started taking this class at my University today b/c, let's face it, I desperately need to lose some lbs. A few of my friends are writing blogs about their weight loss journeys, and it's totally motivating me, which is great. Check them out: Mimi's World, Daily Chronicles of a Richmond Couch Potato, and Food, Sweat and Mirrors.

3. American Idol - I know, I know. I'm a sucker for reality TV, what can I say? I am one of the few people who actually hates the first few episodes, b/c I don't like watching them make fun of the poor singers. I mean, some of the people who try out that are bad genuinely think that they have talent, which leads me to believe that there is something wrong with them that they're trying out to begin with. But I get a thrill just seeing the previews. And I almost always agree with Simon.

4. Family & Friends - We had an outpouring of support at the viewing and funeral last weekend, and it was wonderful to see so many people were there for us. Knowing that we had people to turn to and to cry on really helped us get through everything.

5. White Merlot - I have been loving this wine lately. We had it on New Year's Eve, and I bought a bottle while I was at my parents' this weekend. I love it! It's made by Sutter Home and is the perfect combo - not too sweet nor too dry. I typically favor semi-dry reds, but this is a great compromise that I can share with my friends who like sweeter wines...everyone wins!

Sad List
1. Cold - Brrr. This darn weather is really grating on my nerves. School was cancelled on Friday b/c the wind chill was below zero, and it was even colder on Saturday. The only good thing is that compared to these temps, the 32 degree weather during the game on Sunday actually felt balmy. But now it's back to being in the single digits, and I cannot wait until I move south and don't have to deal with this!

2. Step/Aerobics Mix - C'mon, do you think I got to this size b/c I like exercise? I hate it! When I lived in VA Beach, my friends and I would go to Step Aerobics and I actually didn't mind most of the classes that we had. Plus we all did it together. So I'm familiar with the steps and I know I won't make too big of a fool of myself. But our first class, today, was evidently the "For Dummies" edition. She walked us through the basic steps at 1/2 time and I barely worked up a sweat. And she cut the class early. Hopefully next week we'll get up to speed and I'll feel like I was effective!

3. My Laptop - it continues to be problematic. I finally was able to copy all of my pictures from Greece onto CDs so I think I'm going to ask my roommate to wipe everything off and reload the essentials. I just want to be able to write a lesson plan without worrying that it will shut down on me in the middle of typing and stay down for an hour. Grrr.

4. Weather - I'm so miserable about this cold, it deserves two spots on this list. I keep a case of water in my car so I can just grab a bottle out of the back to add to my lunch bag when I go to school instead of hauling the case up and down the stairs. But the water is frozen. And it remained frozen through lunch. I think I got two sips...the rest was ice. So now I have to haul the water out of my car. I know, I need the exercise...

5. Drama - Two of my dad's friends got into a nasty, nasty fight at the bar after the game and are now talking divorce. And there were four of us present during the fight, who witnessed the punch and the slap...and his embarrassment....and her it too much to ask that you leave your drama at home? This situation is seriously tinging my AFC win afterglow...

Thursday, January 15, 2009

My Pappap

My grandfather, my Pappap W, died early yesterday morning. He was 91 and had a great life. His wife of 64 years is still alive. My Aunt lives with them, and so they've been able to stay in the house they had built back when my mom was about 8 years old. The community now is thriving with young families and big box stores have popped up everywhere. But they moved there when it was primarily a farming community.

I've never lost a grandparent before. I know I'm lucky, that at 28, my first grandparent only just passed. But I can't help thinking of all of the things I put off that he won't get to witness. He won't be there when I walk down the aisle. Heck, if I get married, my future husband won't even get to meet him. If I have kids, they'll never know their great-grandfather.

My Pappap always had a military haircut, and I always loved to pet his hair. He'd always yelp and say, "Hey! You're messing up my hair! I worked hours to get it it like that!" He told silly jokes and took naps in the chair in their living room. He was always cold and wearing cardigans, even in the summer.

When I was little, my sister and I would spend a week with my grandparents. We would go to McDonald's, create a restaurant in their kitchen, and make "Ladies" and "Mens" signs for their bathrooms. My Pappap never minded forking over ten cents for the sandwich he made himself. When we went to the North Park pool, he never went in the water, just sat next to the pool in a lawn chair, growing ever darker, and telling us he'd get in when the water wasn't wet. We always giggled and tried to explain that was impossible, but he never budged.

Pappap loved coffee and hot tea. He loved to eat raw onions with his sandwiches. He was on oxygen for the past four years or so, owing to his emphysema. But to this day, every time I smell a pipe, I think of the ones he gave up when I was young.

I can't picture their house without him there. I can't imagine holidays without his presence. I will be thinking of him on that distant day if I ever walk down the aisle. I love you Pappap. Rest in peace.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Numero Uno

So, today I conducted my first lesson. All by myself. For 7th graders (as opposed to my classmates). And I survived! Yay!

I was nervous all morning, knowing that I would have to do it. But my CT taught the lesson to our other class yesterday, so I knew I was just doing the exact same thing she had already done. Plus, my CT was super supportive, telling me to just concentrate on the academics and she would handle any behavior issues.

So I took a deep breath and...just did it. And it went well! We moved one rather boisterous student to the front row, and he turned out to be the most eager participant. My CT hasn't actually done a whole lot of discussion in the classes, so I was afraid I would have to pry responses out of the students.

We have this super cool tool in our classroom called an ELMO. It's an advanced overhead projector, that rather than just projecting the transparencies will project anything, including a text book or novel. So I prepared the questions ahead of time, and was able to fill in the answers on lined paper as we came up with answers as a class. And I could put the novel there to show students what page or paragraph we were referring to if they couldn't find it.

All in all, it was a great way to start. Our other class had terrible behavior on Friday and Monday, so I'm glad I had the "easier" group of students to help ease me in. And I probably won't be totally alone until next week at the earliest, which is great.

One of my classmates is telling me about how her CT is heaping all of her work on my classmate, and I feel so bad for her, since my experience so far has been great.

I have so much more to share but no time to do it at the moment. My computer isn't dead yet, so hopefully I'll be able to update all of you more often and get back to reading your blogs - you have no idea how much I miss them! I confess that I tried to access a blog from school and it was blocked. Oops! But hopefully I'll have more time later this week. Thanks to all of you for hanging in there and being so supportive!!!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Quick Update

Okay, I just want to tell all of my followers and all of those that I follow - I am reading all of your posts, I promise! I have not had time to finish my catching up yet (good Lord, has it only been a week??) but I will do so. Life is just crazy right now. Love me anyway :)

First Impressions

So I started my student teaching assignment on Monday. Not sitting at a computer daily is definitely going to affect my blogging time, so be forewarned!

Day 1
On Monday, I was a little nervous about starting student teaching. I had a bad cold all weekend, and my sleep schedule was completely off, so I didn't get a ton of sleep the night before. Fortunately, my cooperating teacher had called me on Sunday to remind me where to park and what to do when I arrived.

I found the school with no problem and arrived early. My cooperating teacher (CT) was already in the room, and she gave me a place to put my stuff and we went to a meeting. Our schedule is as follows (7 periods total): Periods 1 & 2 - prep, Period 3 - cover 8th grade lunch, Periods 4 & 5 - 7th grade class, Periods 6 & & - 7th grade class. So we have two classes for two blocked classes.

My CT introduced me to tons of faculty and staff, and everyone was very friendly, although I know I'll have trouble remembering names. There are 4 7th grade classes and the curriculum is very strict - we're all teaching the same thing and there's not a lot of wiggle room in the lesson plans. This is my biggest concern so far...when I start to write the lesson plans, I am worried I'm not going to have a lot of input, and that not having that input will lessen my experience. The good thing is that there are 3 other teachers we can work with to discuss the curriculum and determine what has been successful and what doesn't work.

My CT did not introduce me to the kids on Day 1. She wanted me to just observe and for them to ignore my presence in the classroom (which they did). I was nervous about major behavior issues, especially b/c she had warned me that her second class was a little rowdy. But they just took a little longer to settle down, and the only issues were really with kids talking during class. I can so handle that!!

So Day 1 went well. I definitely took a lot in!

Day 2
Yesterday I did more or less the same as the previous day - just watched. We had to cover a class during 2nd period b/c the regular teacher was absent, but my CT was very lax with the kids - just handed out a worksheet and let them work together.

During our lunch coverage, a fist fight broke out between two students, which was mildly traumatizing for me. Violence scares the crap out of me - I don't know that I could ever jump in and break up something like that. Plus, it was between a boy and a girl, and the boy punched the girl in the face. And I mean punched - I could hear it from where I was standing. But my CT and the security guard who is always there during lunch were great. They reacted quickly, separated the fighters, and took them to the office.

On Day 2, my CT introduced me to the class and said that we would be team teaching for the rest of the semester. She didn't identify me as a "student teacher" just in case the title had a negative connotation for the kids. She also put the students into alphabetical order so I could start to learn their names. I have about 50 kids total, which really isn't too bad. And some names I already knew (the ones that were corrected frequently the day prior).

I handed out index cards to the students and had them write down two things: something they wanted me to know about them, and what their favorite thing has been that they've done in class so far this year. Of course some kids said that they hadn't liked anything yet, but most of them picked good things. One kid wrote that he wanted me to know that he was good looking. Lord!!! I wanted to thank him for writing it down, since I wouldn't have been able to tell otherwise.

This was a great intro for me b/c it allows the class to slowly get used to my presence and gives me the opportunity to help my CT with behavior corrections, if they're doing something and she doesn't see it. Some of the kids want to call me Ms. C, instead of my last name - that's funny to me. It's so weird to be addressed by my last name!

Day 3
Today was another good day. I spend the first two periods observing other classes, which is a requirement for student teaching but is something I would probably want to do anyway. I saw my last period class in their first period, which is science. And then I saw a combined group in Spanish during second period. The Spanish teacher I observed is very young, and he told me that it would be a great class to see for behavior. I totally stereotyped and was afraid the kids would be OOC for him, but he was great. He spoke very authoritatively and was completely able to control the students.

Our first class was very well-behaved today. My CT gave them an activity where they were working independently, and they just got right too it. That was encouraging for me to see. The second class of course was not so focused, but they were okay. The more I watch, the more ideas I get about what I can do with them. I just worry that the curriculum will restrict me too much. So we'll see!

Overall, I'm pleased with my placement so far. Everyone I've met has been wonderful and has offered to help in any way they can. They're so excited to have student teachers (there are two Art student teachers from my university as well). This just reinforces to me how crappy our student teacher "placer" is at my school - she could have easily been placing student teachers here every semester and they would be thrilled to have them. The science teacher I observed this morning told me she has actually asked for them in the past, but has never had one.