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April 2010

March 2010 entries

Selective Hearing

Aidan learned recently that snakes don't have external hearing.  They have only internal hearing, allowing them to process vibrations, but not voices.  He asked me, "What would it be like if we couldn't hear?"

I explained to him that some people are either born deaf or go deaf because of various reasons.  He said, "Oh!  My friend Katie must be deaf then."

Knowing Katie is not deaf, I asked what Aidan meant: "Well, sometimes Miss Jess will tell her to do something and she just sits there and doesn't do anything."

ha!  Being that Aidan suffers from the common toddler ailment of selective hearing, I found it quite ironic that he diagnosed his friend with the disorder.  I am not sure he's ready to understand the "pot and kettle" analogy just yet . . .


My Silly Freshmen

For some reason (I'm up for tenure this year), I agreed to be the freshmen class advisor.  On Friday, we are organizing (cough cough) an activity night which some well-intentioned students called "Freshman Friday".  The result is that the upperclassmen think that the activity night is only for freshman...you can imagine the effect on ticket sales. 

Anyway, the students organizing the fundraiser asked me to provide a black t-shirt that they silk-screened with my name and "Freshman Friday".  Then they lost my shirt.  So, they offered to buy me a new shirt, and they requested my size.  I said to accommodate my baby bump, I'd need a medium. 

They gave me the shirt today...the photo is blurry, but here's the size tag:

Sillyfreshmen

They got me a SMALL and then used a black Sharpie marker to change it to a Medium.  It's like magic.  Need bigger pants?  Get a Sharpie.  Need a smaller dress?  Just get a Sharpie.  The possibilities, evidently, are endless.
 


Adventures at Reptiland

Our kids love Reptiland -- what's not to love?

Alligators 
We got a season pass last year, and it was money well spent.  I took Aidan and Gabrielle this past Saturday, in the gorgeous sunshine, and we were lucky enough to encounter the free-roaming peacock.  He let the kids get pretty close to him.  They touched his tail feathers and even fed him some leaves.

Peacock1

Then the kids had the idea to buy some of the emu food (pellets in a quarter dispenser) for the peacock.  I happily put 25 cents in the machine and tossed a few pellets down in front of the peacock.  He did not appreciate that in the least:

Peacock2

He promptly presented his full plumage and began to strut toward us while shaking his feathers.  So much for that idea . . .
 


Spring School Pictures

This morning, I got the kids ready for their spring school pictures -- no small feat, despite their pint-sized nature.  When I put Gabrielle's dress on her, I realized that Burlington Coat Factory left the anti-theft device on it!! Luckily, her dress is off-white and the "thingy" is off to the side, so when she and Aidan get their picture taken together, it should be hidden. 

But this does mean that I will have to head back to the mall (without my children this time!  The last time I took them to the mall, I swear I got 5 gray hairs) and have the store remove the "thingy".

Aidan loved dressing up "like a daddy" and I have half a mind to dress them up every day because he was so nice to his sister, it was unbelievable.  He told Gabrielle she is a "princess" and he was holding her arm, escorting her everywhere they went.  He even took her into the living room to dance "in the ballroom".

PictureDay


Dear Uncle Sam, Stop Wasting Our Money!

I'm irritated.  And yet, I know I probably shouldn't be -- I probably shouldn't even be surprised, but I'm still annoyed. 

Three weeks ago, I received a letter from the US Census Bureau.  In my naivete, I thought, "Oh!  This is either my census or maybe a link to a website where I can electronically complete the census."

Silly me.

It was a letter informing me that next week, I would be receiving the census in the mail.  Please fill it out.  It's really' important. 

The next week, as foretold, the census arrived.  Like a good citizen, I filled it out and mailed it the next day.

Yesterday, I received a postcard in the mail.  "A few days ago, you should have received a request to participate in the 2010 Census..." This postcard even warns me: "Your response to the US Census Bureau is required by law."

Seriously.  Thank you for wasting paper, ink, postage, and my time with repeated warnings regarding the census. 

WAIT!!!  This just in.  I just talked to the chair of our English department, and while I won't reveal that he's 62 years old, I will say that he's on his 40th year of teaching, and GET THIS!  He's not received ONE letter, ONE postcard, nay, not even the ACTUAL CENSUS YET!

This is age discrimination.  This must be because I'm in the 25-30 age bracket!  This is ridiculous.  I feel so violated. 

Thanks a lot, Uncle Sam.  Hopefully one of your overpaid government workers has processed the Census information I sent in last week so I can get off the naughty list by Christmas.


Growing Up So Fast

Yesterday morning, Gabrielle asked me when she could have a baby in her belly, too.  I said, "When you are big and when you are married."

She said, "You mean with a daddy and a ring?"

I said yes, and Aidan interjected, "But getting married isn't fun."

I asked why not, and his reply:  "Because you have to walk so slooooow when you are in a wedding."  He proceeded to take Gabrielle by the arm and demonstrate the bridal march down the hall.  They got to the end, and he turned to her and said, "See? No fun."

Gabrielle heartily agreed and decided to have a baby in her belly some other time.


Erin Go Bragh

You know you are raising an Irish Catholic when your kid takes a magnet of St. Patrick to school and tells his teacher, "St. Patrick drove all the snakes out of Ireland.  And he used the shamrock to teach 'Father, Son and Holy Spirit.'"

Happy St. Patrick's Day!


"Thank you for teaching me."

What a way to start the week -- a student thanked me for teaching her, based on her recent experience with the SATs.  She said that because of the AP class's routine of daily writing and in-class essay prompts, the 25-minute essay was a breeze -- she even found time to incorporate some of the rhetorical devices that we've been studying.  Also, the passage analysis multiple choice selections from AP are infinitely more difficult than the SAT ones, so she felt confident in that area as well.  And a kudos to our math teachers -- most of my juniors have reported feeling very prepared for the math selections.

I had one student ask me to "do vocab" in my routine.  Ahh...this is an interestingly complex subject for English teachers.  In our own hallway, we have a diverse approach to vocabulary instruction.  In 10th grade, the kids work through a separate vocab curriculum based on Greek and Latin roots.  One eleventh grade teacher is infamous for teaching 1,000 (maybe more?) words in one year.  Research indicates that learning vocabulary in the context of reading is the only authentic way to increase one's lexicon.  Some kids are very good at the rote memorization required for vocabulary-in-isolation exams, but they sometimes fail to develop the context clues needed to decipher new words.

Because my course comes along with a set of terminology specific to rhetoric (terms like asyndeton, polysyndeton, antithesis, anaphora -- words that most people don't know), I let my students know early on that I would not be dedicating time to so-called "SAT vocab".  I put a PDF called "1000 Most Common SAT Words" on my website and took a few moments of class time to introduce them to websites like www.freerice.com and www.quizlet.com

But, above all this, I stress the importance of looking up unknown words in their daily reading assignments.

As a result, my students have added many words to their working lexicons this year -- despite the absence of tests or quizzes on those words.  I had many more students tell me that they thought that the vocab was manageable on the SATs -- and these students are my readers, those who are making meaningful connections with vocabulary on a regular basis. 

They get their scores in about 3 weeks...of course, I am more concerned about the test I'm prepping them for, the Advanced Placement Language and Composition exam on May 12.  But, it is always nice to hear from students who recognize what their teachers are doing for them -- and more importantly, what they are doing for themselves by doing what their teachers ask of them.