Up Coming

It's Saturday. It's not even 7 am (edited to add: our internet is being a lazy bastard, so who knows when this will really get posted). It's a perfect gloomy, stay-in-bed and doze kind of weather. Alas, I have a five-month-old who awoke at his regular wake up time, 5:45. He then waved his metaphorical chubby middle finger in the air and conked back out after he had a full belly and I was completely awake. He's too little to call a douchebag, right?

Nonetheless, I'm up, thinking about some upcoming things that I'd like to work on. I'm sure this morning's inability to "nap" will bite me in the ass in a few hours, but what can you do?

First of all, I'd like to start using this book for personal writing, of which I'd like to post on here, occasionally:

I use it in my classroom every once in awhile, and am always a little jealous of the kids while I'm grading papers or doing something boring like that. I think it would be a fun way sharpen the writing chops and to provide a different sort of content than I usually do.

Speaking of writing (yes, I know this is a segue I use often, but it's just so... easy), I need to go back through and read all of the New York Times' "Bookends" column, which I recently discovered. Each week they have two writers debate a topic like "does where you live make a difference in how and what you write?" or "the demands of book promotion: frivolous or necessary?" They're incredibly fascinating, and I think I could do something here, and at work, with them.

I've started the bookish project of creating Sawyer's baby book, an undertaking I've been both excitedly anticipating and slightly dreading. They yearbook adviser in me is of course going to go all out on this, naturally. I'm using Mixbook, which gives you the most amount of control, while still being user friendly. My goal right now is to do one spread a day until I catch up- I'm anticipating this book to be really long, and really expensive. I'm still trying to decide what narrative perspective to use- I posed the question on Facebook the other day and got mixed advice. First person or third?

I'd also like to make this pumpkin:


or this, for my fireplace, but with fall colors:
[source- via Pinterest via some spammy site]

I'm not a crafty person, and I think a lot of homemade decor projects (ala Pinterest) delve into the tacky category quickly (and a lot don't, if we're being fair). I do hate paying a ton of money for things I could possibly make, though, but decorating the house does fall into the "fake it til you  make it" philosophy that I'm currently channeling.

Chances of all this happening: slim to none.

A girl can dream...

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts)

Link up below.

1. It's crazy how moods are so contagious. For good and bad.

[orrrrr just the opposite | source]

2. Sawyer is finally growing some hair, I think. He was born with some downy fuzz, but in the last few weeks it appears to have grown a millimeter or two. Maybe by his first birthday it'll be style-able. 

3. I made this strange sounding one-pot dish the other night, despite the fact that I hate sausage. It was pretty darn good.

4. I pass by a house that has a pretty legit-looking teepee in the front yard every day and am very intrigued by what exactly it's used for. Are they Native American? Is it for their kids or grandkids? Do they sell drugs in it? Can I go in it?

5. One of the stupidest things you can do as a high school teacher is leave your room during passing period. So many teenagers talking loudly, making out, and spitting. And they're always walking in the opposite direction. Always. 

6. Despite my theories that the health living blogging community (HLBers) is fizzling out, I do read a few still. It seems like most of them are really starting to phone it in lately with their posts, and yet they still are sponsored, still claim blogging is their full time job, and still show up in my reader once or twice a day each. I just don't get it.

7. This quote is totally my life philosophy:


8. It's fire season in Southern California and there is a big one in Yosemite and one in Bass Lake (and even a small one near my house last weekend). It's so sad to see nature on fire, and then charred, but it's important to remember that it's quite necessary for regrowth and vegetation control. It's not cool when it's started by a humans, though, or when firefighters are injured. And the fact that we're using a ton of water, during a terrible drought, is unfortunate (and that's not the only way to fight fire). But, anyway, my point is that people need to remember that while inconvenient and sad, fire is natural and important.

[the view from down the street; we were never in danger!]

9. I really love that the lady who runs Sawyer's daycare has three boys, ranged from middle school to early college. They all live at home and interact with the kids all the time- it's so nice to see good kids being good role models.

10. I have a couple of review copies that are a bit overdue for reviews right now. I feel guilty. I know I'm not the only one that gets behind, but I still feel douchey.

Top Ten Tuesday- Gimme More!

This week The Broke and the Bookish ask us what authors we've only read one book from but need to read more of. I may stretch this to two- I know, such a rule breaker.

1. Colum McCann- I've only read two of his books, but he has several more. Let the Great World Spin is one of my favorites, too, so it's a bit pathetic. 

2. Fydor Dostoyevsky- Crime and Punishment is also one of my favorites, but I've neglected the rest of his catalogue. 

3. Richard Russo- I've read two, Empire Falls and Mohawk (Rory, don't kill me). It's embarrassing. 

4. Meg Wolitzer- I read The Interestings last year and loved it. I need more of her. Soon.

5. F. Scott Fitzgerald- I've only read The Great Gatsby, and while it's not my favorite, I do consider him important to the American cannon. As an English teacher, I feel obligated. 

6. Dave Eggars- I read The Circle last year, and a few other essays, but that's it. And I pride myself in reading quality contemporary authors.

7. TC Boyle- I'm really ashamed about this one. I've only read two of his books, and consider Tortilla Curtain one of the most timely, important books of the last twenty years. 

8. Don Dellilo- I read Underworld a few years ago, after working on it for nearly a decade. I need to tackle one of his smaller works. 

9. Haruki Murakami- I only read his running memoir, which barely counts. 

10. Salman Rushdie- I read Midnight's Children and absolutely adored it. I have one or two other books of his and have seen him speak, but still, just one.

What about you?

Catcher in the Rye Lessons

And I mean lessons as in things you can do with your students, not like the life ones. 

I am in no way turning this into a teacher blog (ew), but I do plan on occasionally posting some of the more interesting lessons I do with my students this year. I always do some of the basics with each book we read- themes, symbols, motifs, background on author, some literary criticism, character analysis, author's style, etc... I also try to do a few more "fun" lessons that connects the students to the text in different ways and allows them an alternative way of showing knowledge, as opposed to an essay or test.

I'm not one of those awesome teachers that are constantly creating new, exciting lessons that drive their students crazy with exciting. I don't dress up in costumes or rap. Sorry. I am consistent, though, and try to make the content I deliver interesting and get my students to actively participate every day. They do well and we usually end up liking, or at least tolerating, each other, so I think this works for me. These lessons aren't anything groundbreaking, but maybe something a little different for some (and boring as hell to others). 

With Common Core upon us, I try to integrate those standards into what I'm doing as well (integrating Common Core into the IB curriculum is an interesting discussion, which I'll save for another day). Basically, how can we connect a work of fiction to supplemental nonfiction material? And integrate writing and speaking? 

I do my best.

Here are three lessons/projects/tasks that my students seem to have enjoyed that, to some degree (some more than others) integrate the new standards.

Diagnosing Holden
In order to get students on-board, they first read a quick handout on teenage depression and determine eight symptoms/causes that apply to Holden Caulfield, filling out a graphic organizer that calls for analysis and textual evidece. Then, students are required to write a 800-1,000 word psychiatrist's report (they're taking on the role of a mental health practitioner) evaluating Holden's mental state. They must write it in a report-like format, use textual support from the novel, and must research mental health illnesses to determine which one they think he suffers from (if any at all). Students must include background, symptoms, treatment, and prognosis sections. They are encouraged to include supplemental information like brain scans, interviews, and anything else they can come up with to strengthen their case. Depending on time, students will either present their findings to the class, small group, or partner.

Skills: research, using the text as evidence, writing a report, analysis of fiction and non-fiction text, creativity, oral presentation 

Boarding Schools
Students are asked to research the effects boarding schools have on children and teenagers, finding at least two semi-recent articles. Students must annotate both articles fully and finish a "SOAPSTone" (an AVID strategy) and rhetorical precis. Students must then determine their own stance, and use evidence from the novel and articles to support their claims. Students will write a one-page response in their notebooks, expressing their own opinions. After this has been finished, students will participate in a Socratic Seminar (fancy word for "class discussion") in which they discuss whether or not boarding schools are positive or negative institutions and how they impacted Holden.

Skills: research, in-depth analysis of both nonfiction and fiction texts, debate and discussion skills

Episodic Narrative (the "Picaresque Novel")- Charades*
After giving the class information about what a episodic/picaresque novel is, students then brainstorm a list of episodes that occurred in the novel. Students are then placed in groups and are given a card with their episode on it. They must discuss the significance of it in the text and then act out the scene silently (beware for hysterics, and inappropriateness, with the Sunny/Maurice scene). After the class guesses what scene they performed, the group discusses the importance while the rest of the class takes notes in a graphic organizer

Skills: analysis, creativity, public speaking
* This is obviously a lighter activity- it makes for something nice to do after a heavy couple of days, during a weird schedule, or as a sort of review before the test 

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

Link up below, yo!

1. I love the word "Adirondack." It's just fun to say. Just do it. Now do it again. Kinda rolls off the tongue, right? It makes me want to go the mountains. Or buy some chairs. Or sit on some of those chairs in some of those mountains (how effing meta). 


2. My husband cashed in a whole bunch of Best Buy coupons over the weekend and bought the movie The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and we both really enjoyed it. Now I desperately want to go to Iceland... or Greenland. They're both just so beautiful, and clean. 

3. There is no difference between a calzone and a pizza, sorry to burst anyone's bubble. I made BBQ chicken calzones the other days and as I sat there in my classroom eating leftovers for lunch I started thinking what the point of making them really is....

4. I need to invent a Chocolate Golden Graham's Shake. I'm sure it's already been made, since basically everything you could every dream up has already been thought up by someone a tiny bit more original that you are, but whatever.

5. I'm obsessed with almond extract. Yesterday I made my third peach tart in like two months and wanted to douse my entire body in the stuff. I subbed out vanilla and cinnamon for it in my French toast on Sunday and it was delicious. 

6. I've been taking the herb Fenugreek in ridiculously crazy amounts (if you really want to know why, think breastfeeding reasons) and I smell like maple syrup now. No joke. I guess it could be worse, and my husband doesn't notice it, but I do. I guess Fenugreek is used in a lot of syrups, so it makes sense. I think it's important to warn people, just in case someone starts craving pancakes after they've been hanging out with me for awhile.

[I am now done with the food portion of this post....]

7. My friends are getting married in less than two months and I've made it my goal to lose the last few Sawyer-pounds so that I can buy a new dress. Given the whole budget issue, this is a huge incentive. Which reminds me, perhaps the Golden Graham Shake, French Toast, Peach Tart, and calzones aren't the best idea. 

8. For some reason I thought I could wear Sawyer forward-facing in the Baby Ergo. Turns out you cannot, despite that some people do. Luckily I only tried it on a short walk, which he loved, but the kid was five minutes away from losing all circulation in his legs. I felt bad, for like ten minutes, but then I remembered how little sleep I get and how breastfeeding him has totally jacked my schedule, and I felt a little like he might have had it coming (kidding, kidding).

9. Over the weekend, while getting my hair FINALLY done, I wrote a really long post on my phone about how I'm learning to stop thinking I owe explanations for things, like how my husband and I spend (or don't spend) our money, decisions we make about our kid, how I spend my time, etc... I didn't end up posting it, since it turned into a rambling mess fueled my the rage I was feeling as my stylist made me wait. Nonetheless, it was pretty cathartic.

10. Reasons why the weather needs to get cooler: so I can wear hoodies, soup, lower electric bill, less resentment about not being able to lay by the pool whenever I want, evening walks, treadmill time in a cool room, better air quality, lower water bill, hot beverages, holidays, and boots.