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May 2016 entries

Planet Report

You know you are a natural theatre/writing kid when your science teacher tells you that you can "be creative" with your planet report . . . and you write a first-person monologue/speech by Mercury.  #love #mykidsrock 


House Rules

This weekend, I accepted an invitation to go to my friend Jill's house to swim.  The kids were with their dad, so I was flying solo.  I did the typical girl thing and tried on bathing suits in front of a mirror and decided it was just not time for me to subject the public to my bikini and went with a tankini instead.  (This seems like TMI, I know, but stay with me, it will make sense later...I hope.)

I headed out to their place, and upon arriving, I was told the house rules:  "This is your house now.  What is ours is yours, and you are one of us.  If you are hungry, you get something to eat.  If you are tired, take a nap.  The only thing we ask is: no glass by the pool."   Their home and property are gorgeous -- woods, a pond, a smartly designed pool with benches along the edges to encourage socializing.  

As we made our way to the pool, I complimented Jill on her colorful bikini, and I jokingly told her that my diet needed to kick in before I wore mine out to her place, and she stopped me.  Very seriously, she said, "No, you wear it.  That's not what we do.  You are perfect just the way you are, and you are here to have fun.  No one judges anyone like that here."  

Not surprisingly, we had a great time on Sunday.  It's just the sort of thing that I haven't been able to do for years.


And when I brought the kids back on Monday afternoon, they also had a wonderful time: exploring, swimming, and making a new friend in Jill's son.   






And you know what?  I wore the bikini.  Because I am following the House Rules.  It's silly to worry about a couple of extra pounds that will likely disappear pretty quickly as the summer allows for more free time and activity.  More importantly, I had a wonderful time with my children and my friends.  That is really all that matters, after all.  


Mother and Son

As I've mentioned, Liam's preschool teacher is the mother of one of my theatre seniors, Jake.  We decided we needed to recreate a recent graduation photo of Ms. Deak and Liam, but with me and Jake.  

It is shear perfection!




And the side-by-side:


Celebrating High School Theatre


The Williamsport Community Theatre League's Ray of Light Awards ceremony was held yesterday at the Community Arts Center.  Complete with a red-carpet entrance and performances by local schools, the "ROLYs" are an impressive event which acknowledges the hard work and talent of students in a 50-mile radius of Williamsport.  

The musical I directed, "Once on This Island," won awards for Best Vocal Performance and Best Small-Scale Musical, and the two students who also served as our representatives for the program won individual awards.  Jake Deak won Best Leading Actor in a Play for his portrayal of Dr. Galen P. Gray in this fall's "Anatomy of Gray," and Kelsey Rogers won TWO awards: both for feature performances for the musical and the play.  

In addition to presenting an award during the ceremony, the student representatives sang a medley from Rent which was very well received by the crowd! 



And, of course, I've not only taught Jake about acting, but I've also taught him about the proper transportation of a Ray of Light trophy! 




Preschool Graduation

I have had three, count 'em three, children go through preschool.  I don't usually condone "preschool graduations" --- I mean, it's along the lines of giving a trophy every week of AYSO soccer.  Graduation is a formal event and a rite of passage for 12th graders who have completed 13 years of school, not for 5-year-olds who have circle time and naps.  

But, then I had Liam.  

Liam, who has attended 4, count 'em 4, preschools.  He was asked to leave 2 of those for various behavior problems, and at the last one, his usual teacher was going to leave for a different job, so we set him up at Little Lambs, where we knew his teacher would be the mother of one my theatre students.  (The other teacher ended up not changing jobs, but Liam was doing so well at Little Lambs that we just kept him there.)

So, when it came time for Liam to "graduate" from preschool, it truly is an accomplishment.  And while I can't really wrap my brain around the idea that my baby is going to kindergarten next year, there was much to celebrate that night! 


IMG_7413 IMG_7411

Student Reflections, or "Wait Just a Doggone Minute. I Learned Something in This Class!"

It should be no surprise that I, a woman who maintains a blog about her life and experience, am a strong proponent of self-reflection.  I love using self-reflection as a tool in my own life . . . and in my English classes.  As the year winds down, I encourage my students to review their cumulative writings and assess their progress.  One step of this assignment is for my students to read through their blog posts for the year (all 31 of them . . . yes, someone counted) and write a 2-3 page reflection on their growth as a blogger. 

Here are some of MY goals for the blog assignment.  I want students to:

  • become aware of the rhetorical situation and the triangle of audience, speaker, and subject
  • clearly state claims and support those claims with adequate evidence from their reading and experience
  • enter a conversation with sources or other writers about any given topic
  • consider the opposition with logic and respect
  • experiment with the various rhetorical strategies we add to their compositional toolbox
  • establish a confident and unique voice in their writing 
  • meet deadlines and respond to a diverse range of prompts
  • read and comment on each other's work, so as to become part of a community of thinkers

Here are some of the comments I am encountering in my students' reflections:

  • "Through writing, I have learned a lot more about my own opinions on a variety of topics."
  • "I wish I had better discipline from the start of the year because I would have made even more progress as a writer." 
  • "In my earlier posts, I hardly ever gave my audience an adequate introduction to the matter at hand.  I just dove right in and expected them to know what I was talking about."
  • "It is a relief that I didn't make myself out to be something I am not in order to get a grade.  I didn't change myself for the class, but the class changed me."
  • "I've decided to minor in writing in college."
  • "As we learned more rhetorical strategies, I loved to include them.  Now, I use asyndeton or anaphora just for fun.  Wow, I am a nerd."
  • "I have noticed that my ideas are better connected, and my thoughts aren't scattered."
  • "I loved reading my classmates' posts.  It helped me to see how others approached the same prompt."


OK, you get the idea.  I'll stop patting myself on the back now.  I just HAD to share this.  It's a teacher's dream to have what we INTEND to teach be what is ACTUALLY LEARNED.  And, despite my jocular confidence in most situations, I tend to doubt my effectiveness (as a teacher, as a mother, as a friend, as a director, as an actor) on a regular basis.  I've been having one of those "Why do I try to do anything?" pity parties the past two days, so these blog reflections have reminded me that: 

  • Hey, at least ONE of my strategies appears to be working. 
  • Maybe I am not a terrible teacher (and by extension, human being)
  • and all the hours I spend grading might actually . . . BE WORTH IT!!!!  

Thank you for indulging my sad quest for validation.  Back to your regularly scheduled programming!  

What a Cast!

"Belles" closed yesterday, and I honestly haven't been part of a more close-knit cast in my life.  Every single one of the Walker sisters genuinely like and encourage each other.  And boy are they creative with gifts that include references to the script.  On opening night, one cast mate gave me a bedazzled feather duster (my character's name is Dust...this week, at least).  Yesterday, one sister brought the Tennessee state flower; another made gourmet cupcakes; yet another made us each photo albums and a layered jar of candies which were symbolic of each of the sisters (my candy is a space shuttle...since I am from the Planet Zimzac and all).  









Who's the New Girl?

Gabrielle has been going through a growing-out phase in her hair.  But, recently, she decided she wanted to cut her hair off and have side bangs.  [This is big when you are in 3rd grade, you know.]  I could have cut it myself, but I decided to take her to a salon, after we worked the yard sale and had lunch at Friendly's.