Saturday, October 25, 2008

Saturdays = Laze

I can't seem to tear myself away from the intarweb this morning and despite waking up at 7-freaking-AM for no apparent reason, I've yet to do much more than brush my teeth, wash my face, and eat breakfast.

Thus a to-do list! Crossing stuff off a list always motivates me to work, so here goes:

1. Fold laundry.
2. Write LP's for Monday and Tuesday. Send to my CT. - afternoon was MUCH more productive. The nachos didn't hurt either.
3. Prep tomorrow's Sunday school.
4. Write reflection on performance eval. Print.
5. Re-write/revise classroom philosophy paper. Print.
6. Clean bath. Get rid of ants! Seriously, where do they come from anyway?
7. Exercise: yoga and/or bike.
8. Read and write notes for math.
9. 4 hour nap - yeah, today's kinda a failure...let's see what the afternoon brings.

I'll probably add more, besides crossing off, as the day goes.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Teaching Prop. 8

First, this entry is NOT about same sex marriage in the sense of "should people of the same sex be allowed legally recognized marriages." This entry is about the misleading campaign against Prop. 8, specifically concerning "if Prop. 8 passes then public schools will be required to teach about gay marriage."

Let's make this clear: Prop. 8 in no way mandates anything about teaching gay marriage or public education. Look it up here or in your own snail-mail copy of the voter guide. It is what it is so let's not drag public education policy into it please. Believe me, the US educational policy has WAY more crap going on than having some political group loading it up with more false info.

Still, people believe those commercials are true! I've gotten some emails and seen some blog entries by educators who actually think they will have to teach gay marriage in their classroom.

Seriously? Use your common sense! Or, if you are lacking in the common sense department, continue reading the following.

Why US schools will never teach about gay marriage

1. Because the phrase "same sex marriage" is pretty self-explanatory. What on earth is there to teach about?

2. Have you even seen the boat loads of academic content standards CA students have to know by the end of each grade level?? Assuming there is something to teach about gay marriage, what teacher in their right mind would even spend the time in teaching it when across the nation a good 60-70% of American students are failing standardized tests?

3. Because the cons are mostly based on religious ideology and, well, we've already been there and done that when it comes to the debate about teaching religion in public primary/secondary schools.

4. Did I mention Good Lord There Are Already WAY Too Many Things To Cram Into A School Year And You Want Me To Teach A Topic 90% Of My Students Know More About Than I Do Are You Kidding Me I Am Quitting The Education Field For The Private Sector Damn It!

Side note: Ok, so I may be wrong about #1. Despite our nation's over-active, over-suppressed sexual imaginations, most people only have a very vague, or contorted, idea of what same sex sex is, physiologically speaking. Don't believe me? Ask someone what they think happens when people of the same sex do the monkey dance. More likely than not, the scene that pops out of their mouths from their heads resembles more like low-budget porn. What if they say they don't know? Just keep asking, they'll come up with something.

5. Frankly, I would have enough trouble teaching regular sex ed to 4th graders - The giggles! The snickering! Disbanding the many myths that a lot of students already hold! - that I would not even go there. I think my students' heads would explode. If not from hormonal build-up, then from the hilariousness of being forced to learn about sex from a person whom will probably experience the real thing much later than they do.

Side note 2: Teaching about social rights falls under a completely different category. If I am talking to a 5th grade class about America's slave trade and the wrongs of that period then extrapolating it to modern day injustices, and a kid mentions prejudices against the GLT community, then I can guarantee that I will not gloss over those facts. There are wrongs in this world. There are sad things that really should not be so starkly real, but yet, here we are. Will I put pressure and stress on students for having different opinions, or for having parents who check the "my student will go to study hall during this controversial lesson" box in the academic waiver forms? No, of course not. But neither will I teach something that is not a fact.

The moral of this entry is: do your homework before you vote! And, sometimes, people will lie and twist words in order to promote their own agendas.

But then, we've known that since kindergarten.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Activity of the week: poetry scaffolds

From Dr. N.L.C., professor of Language and Literacy at CSUS:

Use poetry scaffolds as a "starter" to familiarize students with writing different forms of poetry. Scaffolds are meant to be used through the following main steps (add more as necessary for age/academic level):

1. Show/read examples and discuss the characteristics of each scaffold.
2. Brainstorm words/phrases to fill-in-the-blanks.
3. As a whole class, complete one poem.
4. In pairs, students complete another poem.
5. Individually, students complete yet another poem. Edit, polish, illustrate, and publish in a class book.

The following is an example of a poetry scaffold:

I Meant To Today

I meant to ____________ today,
But _________.
And __________.
And __________.
I meant to __________ today, but __________ got in my way.

Here is an example of a completed poem using the above scaffold:

I Meant To Have a Good Day Today

I meant to have a good day today,
But I didn't have a good night's sleep.

And my parents continue to wait until a specific calendar day to turn on the heat so I was freezing.
Then my students were being squirrely today.
And I didn't teach my best today.
And I slammed my car door on my hand.
And the person I sold my iPod Touch to nearly two weeks ago still have yet to receive the package; which lead to an anxiety attack about money.
And my mother was in a mood, a loud, obnoxious mood.
And my caffeine wore off.

I meant to have a good day today, but fate got in my way.
- Ms. Ng

As evidenced, students have freedom of thinking outside the box when using poetry scaffolds. Words at the end of the lines do not have to rhyme, the meter can be irregular, and they can add/leave off certain parts to the scaffold. A poem is a "design of words," and that design can be (almost) limitless.

There are lots of poetry scaffolds; teachers always create and share, so a simple Google search will bring up many options.

Most importantly, have fun!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Jermies

I am officially sick.

To be honest, I’m surprised I’ve lasted this long - first illness of the school year after 6 weeks - especially considering how my immune system has been famously downgraded since my stint in China.

Not that I blame China.

Nope, it’s the germs. The creepy, crawly, microscopic organisms I hadn’t yet built up a firewall against and hence over the course of that year, I got sick a whopping 6 times, each bout lasting 3-4 weeks. Breaking it down, I was sick for a nearly month every other month I was there. The effects of which I have yet to fully recover. And probably never will until the day my health insurance deems it suitable for me to finally remove my tonsils.

I was hoping it wouldn’t happen on my home turf, but apparently I am no match for kiddie-germs. They have killed me and me is ded. I’m sure those kids would be proud of their achievements.

Note: I’m not a fan of airborne, and recent studies have shown echinacea and zinc tablets don’t really work at all, but ZINC IS DA BOMBASTICFULNESS OF ILLNESS HELPING!!!! Vitamin C apparently still works, but your body can only absorb so much of it at a time, which means it’s a waste if I take a dozen Halls drops at 200% DV of vitamin C. I’ll probably still do it though. Just because they are addictingly good tasting. Cocaine pushers putting drugs in candy cough drops actually have an effective idea there.

Fortunately, class is suspended for tomorrow. Thanks to the Large Group of Professionals Who Enjoy Gathering Those of the Same Professionals Together, my professors will be in Tahoe conferencing it up.

And I will be in bed, staving off the return of the King of Phlegm.

Photo from Washington City Paper

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Playing dead

I woke up this morning with idea after event after though running through my mind like it was the racing of the bulls, except with faster bulls and only one street.

Hence my breakfast of two Advil and a chocolate bar.

All the stuff that's been going is probably just hitting me now, creating shock and panic and freeze-mode. Right now, I feel for the fainting sheep when confronted with an umbrella that suddenly decides to open and chase after them.

Too many boxes to unpack all at once, too many people + their baggage to take in, too many changes to a schedule, which was really intense, but at least I was ready to follow through (can't say the same for the rest of my cohort-mates). All makes me just want to hid in bed this weekend.

Which is too bad because the weather is glorious - just after a night of rain, clean, fresh, cool, mellow sunshiny with a scattering of fluffy clouds just for fun. Maybe I'll manage a bike ride later.