judifilksign: (Default)
Friday, I used Talis Kimberly's song, "Still Catch the Tide" and Emily Holbert-Kellam's song sung by
Heather Dale, "The Maiden and the Selkie" as writing prompts for a few of my classes.

The result? )
judifilksign: (Pirate)
So, needing an excuse to wear my Victorian corset, I dressed in a Sherlock Holmesian style for school today.  Shift, corset, linen dress with ruffles at the bottom, and a button overdress, coupled with my trench coat.

And my students accused me of *not* having dressed up for Halloween!

"But I'm Irene Adler," I protested.

None of my classes thought I dressed up at first.  The other teachers, knowing I'd strapped in for the day, thought this was hilarious.

On the other hand, the other parents around the block at Trick or Treat all figured I was Victorian at least, and recognized the name when I said who I was.
judifilksign: (Pirate)
Made of fun! )
Today being Talk Like a Pirate Day, I put on me piratey cap, bodice, striped socks, fold-over boots, skirts, and blow-up Pirates of the Carrabean  Sword, and geared up to teach my young pirate crews how to write ten-step directions to get from "here" to "there" for pirate maps.



I had a couple of serious conferences I had to do during the day as well, and it was highly entertaining to watch the faces of the folks to whom I spoke trying valiantly to keep their professional game on when I so clearly amused them so much.  All in all, an exceedingly successful day!

Snipe Hunt

Apr. 14th, 2011 05:58 pm
judifilksign: (Pirate)
A story we read in school today featured a girl lying to the main character.  When I asked whether anyone had seen the twist to the story in my first period class, one boy said he knew she was lying about the hunters going off to die in the bog, because they'd been hunting snipe, and snipe hunts weren't real.  No one else had ever heard of a snipe hunt.

So I had a marvelous time in that class period, and for the rest of the day, filling up a plastic grocery bag with air, turning off the lights, and narrating how we were going to go out into the woods to catch a snipe.  I'd rustle the bag.

"Didja hear that?" I cried suddenly.  "There it goes!" and tiptoed between the desks.  The students leaned forward in their chairs, totally unsure where I was going with this.  You could hear my shoes squeaking as I walked!  I totally used that, too.

"Be Vewwy Vewwy Quiet.  We're hunting those wascally SNIPES!" I said in my best (bad) Elmer Fudd imitation.

Then, stopping behind one of the most confident kids in each class, I'd suddenly smack my hands together, making the blown up bag go POP!  Predictably, a number of students in each class would scream in surprise, which would make other kids jump because people were screaming.  It was great fun.

And I did this in every class period, despite knowing quite well that in Britain, there really are such marsh birds as snipe, and they really are hunted in October, especially during the Victorian period in which the story was set.  (The story is "The Open Window" by Saki.)  I figured it was great fun, and one of the things that gets students to learn and remember is novelty.  And, for modern readers, the comments about snipe really could be a foreshadowing clue that Vera (the girl named for truth) is lying.

Adventure at short notice is my specialty.
judifilksign: (Default)
 So, today's story from work is behind a cut, for mild inappropriate language.

Not Shinola... )

And I had a difficult time not laughing out loud.
judifilksign: (Default)
 One of my English classes studying Pride and Prejudice is an all-guy class.  At the start of the class period, two boys squared off, ready to fight.  Coats were flung to the floor, hats were off, fists were raised, and the cuss words flying.  My staff were headed over to split up the boys, but they wouldn't be in time for the first swing.

"Gawd, guys, don't you want to see what Mr. Darcy does next?" asked one of my students to the squared-off combatants.  There was a long pause, and no one moved.

Then, as one, the two would-be fighters picked up their hats, coats and books, moved to opposite sides of the room, and faced the view screen seating themselves.

I quickly started the movie, and everyone watched, enthralled.  They guys all moaned in disappointment when we ended the story for the day, right before Lady Catherine pays Elizabeth a call...

You could have knocked me over with a feather to see all these guys so really into this movie.  Colin Frith as Darcy is someone with whom they really identify.  And the guys' class "gets" the nuances much better than the girls' class has, who've been much more into the "who's cuter" factor in coupling up.
judifilksign: (Default)
 Today, it being a chilly day, I wore a long, black, empire waisted dress, paired with a long sweater, almost a shawl.

My two classes who are reading Pride and Prejudice both thought I was dressing up like the characters in the book and film in order to keep interest up.  (Not that I am beyond this, but it was actually just a coincidence.  One that I will repeat in the future as a non-coincidence, to engender interest, because it did so very well!)

I asked them if they thought I was more Lady Catherine, or Elizabeth.  Both classes said I was neither; I was Jane.  Sweet Jane, who is so nice and never says a bad word about anybody.  (I'd much rather be a Lizzy, but at least they think I'm nice, and not Lady Catherine!)

I will be viewing the Kiera Knightly film version soon, to compare it to the BBC's Colin Firth's Darcy performance.  We'll see which version I'll use in the future for school.

Siren Song

Jan. 14th, 2011 05:16 pm
judifilksign: (Default)
 I have been teaching four of my classes The Odyssey, classic Homer.  We're doing the edited in-the-text version, which is fine, because we get to skip the recursive bits, and the text summarizes the long boring bits.

We just finished the Siren/ Scylla and Charybdis scene, and did the selection note-taking today.

I played vixy and Tony's Siren Song, the version from the live Duckcon album with Sooj doing the awesome harmony and commentary alongside.  ("But honey!  You're so good at it!")  My students were unsurprised I knew people who wrote songs like this.  There was much laughter.

The writing assignment:  Write a story selection or poem from the perspective of a character in the Odyssey other than Odysseus.  Does not have to be contemporaneous with the epic.

This was the first time I've assigned such a writing prompt that did not get complaints.  The song gave them such a clear idea of what they were to do, they all got started right away!

Thank you, vixy and Tony!

Coming up for my students studying The Illiad:  this past year's Pegasus award winning song by Katy and Ju about Helen, "A Thousand Ships" same writing assignment.

And I have a snippet running through my head:  "He spiked my eyeball, my evil, evil eyeball.  And I want, and I want, back my precious seein'.  And I want, and I want, back my precious seein'."
judifilksign: (Default)
 So said one of my students today, as we studied Patrick Henry's famous "Give Me Liberty, or Give Me DEATH!" speech for historical content and rhetorical speech techniques.

"Yeah, I'd rather skip school too than die from boredom from this stuff..." said another.  Many of my classes rolled their eyes or looked so bored as I read aloud Henry's speech, even with the dramatic way I do it.  I powered through the lecture notes, and I obtained compliance, but not understanding.

I tried so very hard to reach the kiddos today, and feel that I failed to connect.  I worked SO HARD!  and no one cared.
judifilksign: (Default)
Today was the union "wear your union shirt" day, because negotiations aren't going well.  Same story for the past 6 years.  Our teachers are paid the 15th lowest out of 16 school districts in the county.  Not that I think the Board is going to give us anything; they feel they have the voters on their side, who didn't want to fund the school levys until ALL extracurriculars were taken away, including music, sports, drama...So the levy was passed, but the Board is pretty confident that taxpayers could care less what we make.  Everyone has it tough.  Sigh.  "Be grateful you have a job" gets really old after a while, especially when they want to take away insurance benefits, increase  class size, and eliminate negotiated work day times.  I mean, if I can't have a raise for years because the budget is tight, fine.  But try and cut me some slack in working conditions, hey?  (But HEY, why did the administrators of our district GET a pay raise, and move to the third BEST paid out of 16 if you cannot afford it?)  Listening to the media coverage nationwide, "UNION" is a dirty word, implying greedy, unskilled people getting paid astronomical benefits that are pulling companies under.  I feel like the union is the only thing standing between me and being royally screwed over, instead of just disrespected, unappreciated and belittled.  So I wore my union tee shirt.

But, I also wore a purple long sleeved shirt under the union tee shirt, and a bright purple silk scarf.

The students who'd skipped school on National Coming Out Day did attend school today, and wore purple.  Each of them, throughout the day looked at me closely, and I would nod, and they would nod.  One boy in purple had to excuse himself briefly "to get a drink of water" and left the room with tears shining in his eyes.  At the end of class, he lingered behind and gave me a sideways hug in quiet thanks.  So worth it.

Today at school was also the day I read "The Tell-Tale Heart" by Edgar Allen Poe, with full emoting.  For classes that finished the in-class discussion in a timely way, I also sang Tom Smith's "Telly-Taley Heart."  My students agreed that much to their surprise, there were weirder people out there than me.  The youth leaders did not break down the door trying to "save" me this year, having been warned.

One of the clinicians stopped by school right as classes let out to check up on how a couple of her case kids were doing.  Having been a clinician here for years, she was well-familiar with my October Creep Month antics, and laughed with the kids about my raving readings.  When the students left, she touched my scarf, and said:  "THIS shows the true tell-tale heart.  Thank you for supporting ALL of our kids."  It put me in purple puddles.
judifilksign: (Default)
 At work this week, one of the youth leaders, a product of a Catholic school, commented that bullies were not tolerated when he was growing up.  If a nun teacher heard one of her students be mean to another, then not only would the bully get a religious tongue-lashing about kindness to your neighbors, but a ruler across the palm as well.

If there were physical incidents, the bullies got paddled in the office.  Any parent who disagreed with this policy could always pull their kid out, but no parent ever did.  In fact, in his circle, a kid punished for being a bully in school got it twice as hard at home.

I found myself wondering whether slapping with a ruler or paddling actually stopped bullying, or only made it better hidden, in the bathrooms, on the way home, and so on.  Did the bullies become more inured to violence because they, themselves, were hit?  I wondered also if my youth leader, a handsome, tough, Irish manly man, would ever have had trouble with bullies.  He'd've been the type to have wiped the floor with the bodies of anyone who tried.  Maybe he didn't see anyone bullied because, like in his role as youth leader at my workplace now, no one would ever dare to bully  in HIS presence, even as a kid.

We got a memo at work this week, forwarded from my boss, forwarded from her supervisors, saying that the first week in October was "count week," in which the average attendance at the schools was tallied, for the purposes of government funding formula.  We were to attempt not to suspend anyone this week for behavior infractions.  This message made me wonder whether teacher silences are the unintended consequence of conflicting supervisor expectations.  With No Child Left Behind, schools are "graded" for the newspapers, with not only scores, but attendance as one of the ways to earn an "excellent" rating.  Suspend too many of your problem children, and your school gets a bad score, published in the newspaper, and loses governmental  funding to boot.  That's a powerful incentive to ignore a problem like bullying and hope it isn't too bad, huh?

The missive did not change the way I taught or disciplined this week.  My classes ran along as usual, and while I did have redirects (I do work at a treatment center, after all,) I had no major incidents that would have gone before the principal to test that memo's message.
judifilksign: (Default)
 Today at school was a Celebration of Success day, the Apple Festival!  Students following their school and treatment programs got to participate in the Apple Festival activities, including apple broom races, apple slingshot distance contests, apple bobbing off of strings, and a tractor pulled hayride.  After some training yesterday, to confirm that knowing how to drive a lawnmower and a standard shift car would translate well, I got to drive the tractor for the hayride today!

the grand tour, at less than 20mph )

All in all, I think I had more fun than the students did.  I hope they let me drive again next year!

judifilksign: (Default)
 Was back in *one* of my two classrooms, getting it ready.  They painted over the summer, unexpectedly causing me to have to put together my room a bit more than I thought I would.

We'll see what my other room is like tomorrow.  Since that's the room I've had for the past umpteen years, I should be able to whip it into shape in no time flat, and get whatever I need to copy for the week accomplished.  Students start Wednesday.

My plan book has neat dates all the way through the school year written in.  I don't have complete class lists yet.  That will be tomorrow.  (Since the treatment center I'm assigned to is currently sending clients home in time for school to start, and accepting new ones, it's a bit more fluid than the rest of the district.)  There is something so nice and OC about having it all *perfect* for the start of a school year!

Took my meds when I arrived at school, and they wore off well before the end of the day.  Still, every day is an improvement.  
judifilksign: (Default)
 Attended another bullying class today.  

summary of class cut for length )

All in all, a very productive day.

judifilksign: (Default)
 Attended a teacher training today about bridging gaps between how elementary school math is taught, and how middle and high school math is taught.  Very enlightening.

my day... )

I think that if I had been taught in this way when I was in elementary school, I'd've done much better, even though I have dyscalculia (like dyslexia, but reversing numbers instead of letters.)

May Blahs

May. 11th, 2010 04:20 pm
judifilksign: (Default)
I think May for any teacher is exhausting. The students know they only have a few more weeks, and they have Spring Fever.

And I've finished all of the stories in the textbook, so now, I'm scrabbling for things to do to keep up interest. My American Literature class is doing The Great Gatsby, and tomorrow, the story starts going sour.  The kids are *so* hopeful that things will end well for Gatsby, despite all clues it won't.

I keep going back to my ancient English Literature texts, the ones from the nineties, for happy stories to balance all the negative and serious stories from the current adoption. 

I skinged on grammar and vocabulary this year, and the results are unfortunatetly showing in the end-of-the-year test post scores. *sigh*

Sixteen more school days with students  Two half-weeks, and two whole weeks.
judifilksign: (Default)
One of my students claimed to his house coordinator that he'd felt threatened by me today.  (In fact, the student did not even have me in class today.)

His house coordinator showed up in my classroom to check in with me about this concern (not really being worried that I had actually threatened anybody, but wanting to know how the student was doing in my room, so we could make a plan for improvement.)

When he walked in during my planning period, I was in the midst of singing (and signing, no less, elbows planted in my ribs) "My Laugh Is an Evil Laugh," complete with stomping feet and "Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! DIE!"

The coordinator just about died laughing.  I just about died of embarrassment, but covered well, since I *do* have the "crazy" reputation.  "Was this your threat?" was the question. 

"What threat?  This is but T-Rexian nature,"  I said as composedly as anyone caught stomping about her own classroom like a dinosaur can.  We sorted out the kid's problem.

For the rest of the day, I had people murmuring to me "Ha, ha ha ha.  Ha, ha, ha, ha.  Ha, ha, ha, ha, DIE!"  (I consider this a win, actually.)

In my defense, I claim to be but a minion of Seanan McGuire.
judifilksign: (Default)
Today, we had a story about a woman visiting Japan, and how she was always making mistakes, and having to apologize.  From my Maison Ikkuko viewing, I was able to pronounce Sumimasen (an apology) and moshiwakegozaimasen correctly!

My anime viewing students were impressed with me today.
judifilksign: (Default)
The last week or so of the semester, I've been teaching advanced poetry forms - beyond the acrostic, limerick and rap.

Today's form was the triolet.  As an example, I wrote one to teach how to write one, and so I share.  It was fairly off the cuff, and the kids weren't as impressed with it as I was.

When you write a triolet
It's more than red roses or violets blue.
The rules of the form must be met
When you write a triolet.
Within the form your words are set
The thoughts and emotions from within you.
When you write a triolet
It's more than red roses or violets blue.

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