Thursday, February 28, 2013

My Life....STILL!!

Yep...this is pretty much my life....Thought it was another day for a great meme.

Thank you Pinterest

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Discouragement....So Looking for Some Help

By definition:
the feeling of despair in the face of obstacles.

Something that discourages; a deterrent.   (

This would be how I feel the moment because I have NO idea what to write about--like seriously none.  My obstacle: I really almost gave up I decided to write that.  The deterrent: NOTHING to write about. So if I am ever going to keep going with this project I am going to need ideas.  What do you guys want to read?  Like a fellow blogger said today, I recognize I have very few followers...but this is the opportunity to let me know instead of reading these really lame posts!

PLEASE!!! Pretty please!!! 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Spirit of Collaboration...Needs Understanding

One of the things that has become a new role for me at work is Lead Teacher.  In a way, I am the teacher that everybody goes to..but with as small of a faculty that we have I am like the Assistant Academic Director.  It describes my job waay better and well lets just be honest it sounds cooler :).  Weekly, all areas of the program get together to touch base about students, plan for upcoming events, and figure out how to make things work better around the company.

Sometimes I walk out of these meetings feeling like we got nowhere, and other times I feel like things are going to be okay at my job and we are all working together.  But one thing that I have learned about these meetings is that everyone has to be willing to listen to the other side.  If I think there is an idea that will be perfect for the problem, and I suggest it sometimes it doesn't work for someone else.  This might be because there is a part of the picture that I didn't see because I am not in their shoes all the time.  The key is to listen when the other department expresses that and not to just bulldoze right over them.

So here's to good collaboration and no bulldozing--just try to understand!

Thank you to for the picture

Monday, February 25, 2013

Thankful For

So today is another day that I don't know what to write I googled: "blog post ideas"  I came upon a website that lists a bunch of random blog post ideas.  Yep, I'm that desperate today.  It was a very long this is a quick one.  It suggested that I write about what I'm thankful for.  Today of all days that seemed actually very wise.  So in no particular order, the 5 things that I am thankful for today. And I just did the first five things that came to me too...

  1. My husband, he is my best friend and even though he drives me crazy, I still love him.
  2. My computer, because I need it to my job, write, and watch lots of movies and TV :)
  3. My students, as much as they aggravate me sometimes, I enjoy teaching them
  4. My house....I love it SO much!!
  5. My car+radio...singing all the way home makes any day good

Sunday, February 24, 2013

A Quote Inspires a Mini-Rant

Our quote today is:

"This was another of our fears: that Life wouldn't turn out to be like Literature."--Julian Barnes, The Sense of an Ending

I mentioned yesterday that movies, TV shows, and books are all escapes from my life.  When I was little, I thought that I would get married to the perfect guy who would be romantic.  And then I got older and understood that nobody was perfect...but for some reason I didn't put that with the teaching movies that I enjoyed watching.  I thought that teachers were heroes and their students appreciated learning from them and worked hard and put in the effort.  I have learned very quickly that this is not exactly how it goes and I know in the back of my mind that I always knew that.

This weekend I have really been reminded that students will take the easy way out...every time--even the ones you don't expect.  Even though I have worked almost all weekend long, and I'm not even close---I wonder sometimes why we do it.

rosie odonnell meg ryan sleepless seattle movie 1993 photo
This whole thing reminds me of a great movie Sleepless in Seattle. At this point they say: "You don't want to be in love, you want to be in love in a movie." So I don't want to be a real teacher, I want to be a teacher in a movie. Thanks to for the picture

Saturday, February 23, 2013

A Favorite TV Show: Grey's Anatomy

So...I titled this with an "A" because I don't have just one favorite TV show.  While I was in high school, books were my best friend a lot on the weekends because I could just escape my life. Then when I was in college, I didn't have time to read never mind the brain to think of reading ANOTHER book....never mind that I should be reading something for class and not for fun.  An hourish long TV show was a great escape, with the story and the fact that it was only an hour long.

I got hooked on Grey's in roommates and I spent the first part of second year in college catching up on the first and second season before the third season started.  It was the perfect escape from a long day...even though it gets a bit risque--I was attracted to the writing, the characters...and the fact that someone's life was worse than mine.

To this day, I still watch the show--despite all of the changes.  I was mad when they killed off George, and Izzie left, and Burke left.  I watched the merger with a whole new group of interns, and I have watched as we have people shot and deal with plane crashes.  The storyline and plot and even some of the writing started to suffer...and I figured that any day I would hear that they finally decided to end it or it got cancelled.  But this season they seem to have gathered a second breath...this week's episode was the best I have seen in SO long! So kudos to Grey's for finally bringing back the mojo :) I won't tell you about it not spoil it...but I highly recommend it!

A still from this week's episode thanks to 

Friday, February 22, 2013

Five Favorite Front-Page Features #8

5. Kansas City fire...kills 1 and injures 15.  The interesting thing about this one is that because I have enough friends in the Kansas City area on Facebook--that I heard about this via statuses before I saw it on the news. 

4. Danica Patrick... I am not a NASCAR follower...but I love it when women break barriers.  Congrats on being the first women to win pole position at Daytona.  Who cares if she doesn't win? 

3. "Blade Runner" Bail Hearing...I have a feeling this will become just like the Italy case with Amanda Knox---nobody knows who did what and it drags out FOREVER!

2. Sequestering the Budget...The automatic spending cuts apparently go into effect on March 1st.  I don't talk about which way that I lean with any political issue...its the teacher in me...and the fact that I don't like debating with people very much.  But what is bugging me about all of this is that the media is making the government into a bad guy....and we probably don't have all the information.  I don't know, maybe I'm just crazy but it would be helpful if we could all work together so that it doesn't affect so much of daily life (if you listen to one side) or affect so much of the deficit (if you listen to the other). 

1. Snowstorm hits the Midwest...and then we get the first days of above 32 degrees out here.  Got to love the weirdness of the end of winter.  The "cool" thing about this video is that 141-Mason-64 are all about 5 minutes from my house.  Grateful that my family is safe... 

If that is the correct side of the freeway..I have been stuck
there before for 2 hours too...due to an accident

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Bain of My Existence this Week...Grading

Ugh! I bet some teachers feel like this...but some times all I feel like is that I grade, grade, grade.  I knew that this is a frequent problem....especially for English teachers.  I knew this to the point that it was often a discussion with my fellow pre-service teachers in college.  The biggest thing that I got out of that was the fact that don't assign too much because you have to grade it...and don't assign something you don't want to grade.  However, my job is super unique in the fact that I don't assign the amount and I don't assign the work either.  With our online system the questions are randomly given to the student and the students work at their own pace.  So sometimes I feel like this....

Or like this....
Bottom line: Exhausted and this is a fast post.  Off to grade!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Some Favorite "Memes"

Every once in a while I will tell you why I like Pinterest so much. is because of memes.  Everyone uses this word and the sad thing is that it is such a widely used term that I never know for sure if I am using it right but I think I'm ok.

So the first one I love because it is so VERY true...I especially realized this when I went to college and would say West Wing quotes that my sister would have totally gotten and nobody was laughing...

Funny Congratulations Ecard: Being sisters means that no one will understand the humor between siblings. It took a whole lifetime to perfect.

This second one was my day yesterday...I took about 15 minutes because I had people coming over and my front room looked better than it had all week. It is sad...but the life of a busy girl who doesn't want to clean.
Funny Confession Ecard: I get more cleaning done in the ten minutes before someone comes over than I do in a week. 
The last one I think speaks for itself....when co-workers usually want a file from me and they say "Oh I'll just get on and find it on the network."  I have to give them like five folders to go to before they can find it.
A dream within a dream within a dream
A folder within a folder within a folder…
Thanks to sarafloyd for this brilliant submission!
Hope I made you least just a little...because that is the best part about memes

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Little Things

The little things in life make it worth it. I spend just a little bit of time cleaning my front room, and it looks TONS better.  I spend a little bit of time outside of my usual work day with my students, and our relationships continue to grow.  And then my husband leaves me this on my fridge...
Yep that's a heart on my freezer

The middle part said....

Yep it is corny....but still sweet

Monday, February 18, 2013

Inspired by a Write this

So there are many days in this 365 project that I struggle with what to write about each I am sure those of you that keep up can tell.  Some of posts are better than others. Inspiration (as my blog title shows) can be a hard thing to come by...but today I am inspired by a quote.

I collect quotes...from lots of people.  That is one of the things that I love about Pinterest! And I get quotes e-mailed to me by I am usually not at a loss for quotes.  Today's quote was the quote of the day on Goodreads a few weeks ago.

Hard times require furious dancing. Each of us is proof. --Alice Walker (author of The Color Purple)

This one spoke to me today because it is kind of a testament to my life right now.  As I'm sure many teachers can relate can be hard and difficult sometimes and it is nice to have days like Presidents' Day off.  Other professions can relate to this nurses--I have learned a lot about how hard that profession is from my sister.  (See her blog on the sidebar)  But we have to figure out how to deal sometimes with the daily grind.  And as Alice Walker encourages us to do---dance it out!! I don't dance as often as I should but I do bang on the steering wheel, tap my toes, and sing my heart out in the car on my way home.  Today's favorite song is:

Plus that video has some great dancing ideas...And all of this reminds me of the another dance it out idea from Grey's Anatomy!  (Couldn't do this post without it..and the French is actually kind of funny to see)

So...hard day?? DANCE IT OUT! Cuz Alice Walker told you too :)

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Movie Review: Les Miserables

Les Misérables (2012) PosterSo this week Brian and I got to see two movies in the theaters this week (see my review on Lincoln on Wednesday). We went and saw Les Miserables on Thursday---yes it comes out in a little over a month on DVD but again small town theaters don't get movies that fast.  This one I know for sure she wasn't allowed to get for a long time--and a lot of people were frustrated. Because we knew it would be good...and it was..but it wasn't

What did I love?

  • Anne Hathaway's performance was superb. She really put a lot of emotion into her singing and was one of the best singers in the movie.
  • Marius, played by Eddie Redmayne, was the best Marius I have ever seen!  He sang everything beautifully.
  • Eponine was awesome...but I knew that--Samantha Banks always does a great job

What did I not like?
  • Sacha Baron Cohen made sense for the part on paper...but he really can't sing--and yes the Innkeeper's part isn't really written to sing...but it is suppose to be more sung than talked--and there is a part in the movie in which he said "Whatever" like we were in 2012--come on!
  • Hugh Jackman did a great job overall...but during "Bring Him Home" my vocal cords were hurting--as I'm sure his were too...I wish they had done something about that
  • And again Russell Crowe overall did a great job...but he kind of ruined the soliloquy he has near the beginning  about the stars--though I am very partial to the Javert from the 25th anniversary edition
Overall, I had low expectations before the movie actually came out and then when I couldn't see it and couldn't see it and heard everybody loving it my expectations went WAY too high I think.  I would own is not the best I have ever seen but it is better than nothing--I will see it live any day.

Not a great is def taped in a theatre...but this is my favorite "Stars" rendition by Norm Lewis (though not from the 25th anniversary edition)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

My Classics Club List!

The Classics Spin!I thought that I had joined The Classics Club already...I follow them on Twitter, did the read-a-thon earlier this year, and read fellow member's blog posts.  However, I realized earlier this week that I am not officially a member, because I haven't joined officially or created my book list!  So today I am rectifying that situation.  I am going to post my list of 50 books below.  I am going to try to read all of these books by the end of 5 years (so December 31, 2017) and then start with a new list of 50, especially if I finish early.  I like that I can easily read 10 in a year. Though as I make this list...a lot of them are goals for this year. In terms of how I made this list--it included ones that I want to read this year but also ones that I have always wanted to read but never have. Well, I am considering myself already I have linked my review from Sense and Sensibility below.

  1. Sense and Sensibility  by Jane Austen  review
  2. Persuasion by Jane Austen
  3. Mansfield Park  by Jane Austen
  4. Emma by Jane Austen
  5. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  6. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen review
  7. Lady Susan by Jane Austen
  8. The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens
  9. Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
  10. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
  11. Anthem by Ayn Rand
  12. We the Living by Ayn Rand
  13. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte review
  14. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  15. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury  Finished sometime in Fall of 2014 
  16. Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift
  17. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
  18. The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
  19. Animal Farm by George Orwell
  20. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  21. A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf
  22. The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe
  23. The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allen Poe
  24. The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allen Poe
  25. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  26. Little Men by Louisa May Alcott
  27. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
  28. Bleak House by Charles Dickens
  29. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
  30. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
  31. Hard Times by Charles Dickens
  32. The Brothers of Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevesky
  33. The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  34. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
  35. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  36. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
  37. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
  38. Kim by Rudyard Kipling
  39. Beloved by Toni Morrison
  40. 1984 by George Orwell review
  41. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  42. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
  43. The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
  44. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead by Tom Stoppard
  45. Dracula by Bram Stoker
  46. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
  47. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemmingway
  48. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
  49. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  50. Echoes from the Macabre by Daphne DuMaurier

Friday, February 15, 2013

Five Favorite Front-Page Features #7

Yep its Friday again...thank goodness!! It has been a crazy week...but I still have figured out the five news stories that I will share with you today. I decided to have all the links today be videos and they are from a variety of that teachers can use them in their classrooms if they so choose. As always--preview the videos you show in your classroom.

5. Pope resigns...Big surprise to everyone...including me. I haven't talked much on this blog about my religious beliefs, but I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Similar to the Catholics, our president of the Church leads everyone in the Church.  He travels everywhere, just as the pope has--and he is significantly older than the pope.  It prompts me to be thankful for the beliefs that I have.

4. State of Union...It would be sad if I didn't mention this at least once.  I have watched many a State of the Union whether I support the current president's policies or not.  President Obama delivers a speech well so his have not been as boring as some others.  A huge laundry list....but still very well written. 

3. Misinformation from the Media...There has been a manhunt going on in Los Angeles for an ex-cop this week--I started hearing during the State of the Union that they had found him and killed him.  Then I start watching the press conference with the LA police spokesperson who basically chides the media for reporting that because nobody had confirmed that the guy was in there because the fire was still hot. Just shows how sometimes this 24-7 news cycle gets people in trouble. Wish I could find the video of the conference but here is a decent summary 

2. Carnival Cruise Ship...Wow....nobody wants to go on a cruise any more!  They said on the news today that it will probably take 2 months to repair the ship..but a lot longer than that for the Carnival reputation to be restored.  Seriously! Prediction in the next 6-12 months, the story will be that people are going less on cruises. 

1. Meteorite/Asteroid visits yesterday and today---Really cool images from Russia...though not cool for those that got hurt.  I am glad that it didn't kill anyone.  Also, the asteroid that passed 17,000 miles away was cool to see pictures of too.  Love the astronomy lessons on the news!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Character Thursday: Sydney Carton

In honor of Celebrating Dickens, I thought that I would do my first Character Thursday link-up with Fanda.  I mentioned previously that I love A Tale of Two Cities.  I have taught it and read it often. My favorite character in the book is Sydney Carton. I thought he was appropriate to talk about with this being Valentine's Day and all.

When the book opens, Sydney seems a lot like what we would affectionately call a nerd.  He is very smart, but not socially confident in himself.  He doesn't put himself in the spotlight and just prefers to stay in the background. We first meet him when he is defending Charles Darney, and they look very similar to each other--which actually helps them win the case.  

Carton seems to change as he falls in love with Lucie Manette.  He was a very selfish, self-pity kind of guy.  But in telling Lucie of his feelings for her--he really opens up and tells her that he would do anything for her or those that she loves.  That chance comes as Darney is accused again and faces death.  Sydney convinces Darney to change places with him so that it is not Charles that is killed.  As Charles escapes to be with Lucie, Carton is beheaded at the guillotine.

I love Sydney Carton as a character, because he is so willing to sacrifice.  Love really changes him and it shows us that even some people can surprise us in life. A great lesson on a Valentine's Day like this. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Movie Review: Lincoln

Lincoln (2012) PosterI am doing a review of this movie because I just saw it tonight...yes tonight about three months since it came out because it only came to our little town two weeks ago.  That is the sad thing about living in a small town--we don't get the movies with everyone else sometimes because the theater owner can't get them.  From what I understand they (being the people with the power to sell the movie) will occasionally not allow the owner buy the movie because they want the bigger audience.  However that is the nice thing about living in a small town and going to the movies--you have your pick of seats.

So what did I love about Lincoln?

  • The writing--Of course you knew I would talk about the writing.  This screenplay was superbly written and I enjoyed the way the lines were phrased...which brings me to 
  • The acting--Good lines fall flat on bad acting.  This was a beautifully acted movie--I especially loved Tommy Lee Jones.  He made Stevens come alive!
  • The scenery and costumers--Very well done!
What did I not like?
  • Well I have been avoiding the articles about all of the historical inaccuracies--and to a certain extent I figured there were some.  But the more shocking revelation toward the end (which I will not spoil for those who haven't seen this) shouldn't have been believed by anyone with historical knowledge and I wouldn't be surprised if that has been the recent hubbub. So even though it makes for a good story..I think it ruins the feel-good part of the whole movie instead of helping it (which I'm sure was the intention).
Anyway this is short and quick because its late and I'm tired..but what did you think of it? Would you show it in your classroom?  I might do it on a freebie day but not as apart of class.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Productivity...Part 2....Online

I read this interesting article here, that is actually a book review of a book about how to be smart with your time online.  As I mentioned previously (here), I don't know if productivity is helpful to all people.  This review says that the biggest advice that the Net Smart: How to Thrive Online by Howard Rheingold gives is to really plan out what you are going to do online when you get on.  This is hard to think about practically for me because I am influenced by what I see--I will go to someone's blog post because they posted and I happened to see it.  Or I will read an article that I happened to see on Twitter etc.  But I like the idea in theory. would you go about planning your online adventures each day?

Thank you

Monday, February 11, 2013

Be Positive!

Today is going to be a rambling post...I'm sorry if these aren't the favorites...but I had an interesting experience today.  And to a certain extent it is something that I wonder if happens to a lot of teachers.  I ran into an old friend from work.  She and I knew each other about six months or so before she was let go by the company.  She did not and still does not agree with a lot of the decisions the company made. She was surprised to hear that I was still working for them, because of her negative feelings about it.  I was finally able to pull away from the conversation and get my grocery shopping done, but her words still bothered me.  And I have been thinking about it ever since...

People talk about how this and that needs to change in education. But I really think that of the biggest things that needs to change in education is the attitude of people about it.  We can't go beating up and putting  everyone down all the time--whether we agree on the decisions or not.  First of it is not healthy and second of all it is very toxic.  I felt just very yucky and disturbed by the whole conversation--and it is just not productive.

Sometimes it is hard to take the emotions out of the decisions that educators need to make, but I think that we need to say our piece and then deal with the problem rationally.  Because negativity, I think, will ruin some great teachers' careers.  I know for me the last few months with everything changing around me in the field, I have thought hard about leaving the field.  But I love teaching in my classroom, independent of everyone else, and honestly I don't know what I would do instead.

So I guess I send this cosmic thought out into the void....but I would challenge all of us to be a little bit more positive today, tomorrow, and the next day after that--because we sure need it around here.
I love daisies!! They are the happiest flower
Thank you for the pic

P.S. I made two "You've Got Mail" references...brownie points to who figures them out.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Gilmore Girls and Bunheads...oh the wondrous writing

So this will be another addition of my favorites.  I LOVE great writing on TV...and movies too...but I pay attention to TV writers more.  One of my FAVORITE writers/creators is Amy Sherman-Palladino.  Most people know her from Gilmore Girls, which really should not have ended...but that's a different blog post. The biggest thing that she is famous for is the fast speaking that the actors are required to perform.  The fast back and forth.  See a good example from main character Lorelai below...

Then Gilmore Girls ended.  Fast forward to 2012....Amy Sherman-Palladino and her writing partner ( and husband) Daniel Palladino started a show called Bunheads.  The best part about this show---it has the same writing style.  The second best is like a Gilmore Girls reunion--one of the main characters is Kelly Bishop and the townspeople come in and guest star all the time.  See a great example of the great writing in this show here: 

Both of these shows are great for a smile...and I highly recommend :)

Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Power of Productivity...Does It Work for Everyone?

I have seen two articles online this week about being more productive.  One from a blogger about how to be more productive instead of sitting around online all the time. The other is an op-ed in the New York Times from an author that apparently works as a business consultant to help them be more productive with their time.

I have been wanting to be better about my productivity too, which is probably why I actually read these articles instead of just skimming.  The common thing that I learned from these two articles is that we should work for short lengths of time, take a break, and then go back to what we were doing.  The other common thing was that they both recommend exercise.  

I agree that both things will work very well, but they are hard to put in place in the life I live and the job that I have.  The NY Times article talks about companies that have break rooms and long vacations, but that only works for your typical office environment.  When you work at a year round school, the students don't allow you to not have grading when you get back from vacation--in fact it is worse and makes it hard to leave. And you can't work for 90 minutes and then take an hour long break--what are the students suppose to do in the meantime?

The exercise thing makes sense, but it is hard to find the time when I have sometimes only a few hours to call my own--and maybe that's my fault because I am too busy and if I emptied my schedule I would have more time.  But even if I only work the 8 hours I am suppose to and come home with nothing that I "have" to do that night--I am too exhausted.  I would rather just sit down and do something else than hop on the treadmill.

So, I guess what I'm trying to say is that the articles are great places to look for ideas, but they are not universal and I am still back at square one. If anyone comes up with a universal idea...I would love to hear it.

Thank you for the picture

Friday, February 8, 2013

Five Favorite Front-Page Features #6

5. Everyone was so fascinated by the power going out during the Super has been apart of the news all week long. I thought it was interesting the continuing coverage.  They finally figured out that it was a mechanical malfunction. 

4. They got rid of the iron and replaced it with a cat in the Monopoly game.  I am just glad it wasn't the dog.

3. This news story makes me grateful that I don't live in a big city...rural towns all the way :) But I hope that everyone in L.A. stays safe and that this man is brought to justice/given some help 

2.  I am so glad that Ethan is home safe and sound now.

1.  The blizzard...I am glad that I don't have to deal with it which makes the news coverage slightly amusing to me.  The best part, when I found out today that they had a requirement in Boston that you had to off the roads by 4:00 or you will go to jail for a year or pay a $500 fine! Don't believe me? Watch what I did earlier tonight: 

Thank you to
I picked this one because it is very New England looking and since that is where the storm is hitting.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Dickens, Me, and My Students

 photo 3340b910-d606-4704-ba3b-14dc8499dee1_zpsf0a15231.jpg

Through the great inspiration of a blogger name Fanda, I am aware that today is the great Charles Dickens' birthday.  On your birthday, you should always know why people respect and honor you. I thought that I would write (kind of to Dickens) about my favorite experience with A Tale of Two Cities.

It is kind of interesting/tricky to start teaching students about Dickens because they are intimidated by the length of his books, the denseness of his writing, and it is harder for them to get into it. With this particular class had read three whole Shakespeare plays the previous month, so to me if they get through that--then Dickens shouldn't be hard.  The best thing to me about this opportunity to teach students--they started to get into and catch on.

This is the great part about Dickens--his stories transcend time.  My students were able to relate to the relationship between Lucie and her father.  They start to follow the French Revolution---they are fascinated by the guillotine and the secret plotting.  They relate to the prison and trapped feeling that Dr. Manette experiences.

Some of them might start to appreciate Dickens' writing, but it really starts to come with the teacher appreciates it as well.  Give them the opportunity to really dive into the writing, and they will start to see what is so great about the amazing Charles Dickens.
A Tale of Two Cities (Dover Thrift Editions)
This is actually the edition we used, because it is very cheap and
the students can  have their own copy to mark up

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Book Review: Sense and Sensibility

Title: Sense and Sensibility
Author: Jane Austen
Genre: Fiction/Classics
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Why Did I Read This Book? It was the first novel that Jane Austen published, and I am trying to read all of her novels this year.

Summary: The story follows the family of the Dashwoods.  The father of the family dies, which leaves the mother and three sisters in an interesting bind.  They end up staying in a cottage on the land of with a distant relative.  At this cottage they met a variety of people that come to mean a lot to the family.  We follow their lives and learn of their pasts which ends up affecting their present. I don't want to give too much away, but there are a lot of love triangles to go with it all :) 

What Did I Love: The twists and turns of the love story were very entertaining.  It kept me on my toes the whole time.  I also liked how it fit with the title.  Some of the lovers have sense, but the good ones have sensibility.   

What Did I Hate: Soo many characters!!  You can tell that this is her first novel, because her writing style is not polished.  The biggest thing for me was the fact that I couldn't keep all of the characters apart easily until about halfway through because she refers to most of them by their last names.  And they give big speeches and you lose track of who is speaking.  By halfway through, I had really gotten to know the characters so I could tell the difference it is not a complete deal breaker.

Sense and Sensibility: The Bath Bicentenary Edition (The Bath Bicentenary Editions of Jane Austen)
Courtesy of

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Teaching History Requires that Students Relate

I recently read an article from Education Week from the perspective of a history teacher that works with some sort of diploma recovery/adult-education program. As a result, these students have definitely never caught the spark of history that we all have.  The article talks about how the teacher relates what she and her student is talking about to relevant issues of the day.  I also love how she answers his questions without saying that there is not time to do so.

That is one of the things that I love about where I teach.  Because the regular curriculum that the students have covers everything, I know that they will eventually get there.  So, we can spend time on what the kids are interested in learning about, and what I am learning about.

Even though this is an English story from today---I think it still applies. We are currently starting a poetry unit, and we were going through some common poetry terms. I set it up with the kids that some of them might know them and they might not know others.  It opened up everyone up for questions, and I love it when I am scrambling to think of the answers to the questions that they ask.  They love it when I pull up Google on the projector and we go looking for the answer.  That is the type of inquiry that I love!

Thankfully we don't use chalk anymore!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Sports...Oh Sports

Most people look at me and go really...a sports fan?  Now, I am not a huge sports fan.  I will admit to walking away from the Super Bowl a couple of times yesterday and not even turning it on until almost halftime.  And currently I am watching the exhibition show from the U.S. Figure Skating National Championships (#omaha2013).  So my range of sports is wide.   My two favorites?  Baseball and basketball.

Tonight the Cedar Ridge Academy boys basketball team had a hard loss. They are more than halfway through their season, and I haven't been able to come to a lot of their games this year.  The first game (which I think was their second) that I went to they struggled and were not quite a team yet.  And that first game, it was a pretty big loss. Tonight, I saw a team that worked together so much better, and kept things closer together in the points.  I am way proud the improvement tonight!

Note to other teachers...the kids love seeing you support them.  You don't have to go all the time, but every once in a while shows that you care.

Though my FAVORITE part of the night...the opposing coach tell one of his players: "Don't terminate your dribble!" It really put a smile on my face after a long day.

Thanks Wikipedia!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Reflection and the Top 3 Posts of the Month

It has been a month...a moment for reflection.  It is now February...which means we are a month into 2013 and I am a month into my 365 project.  I knew that it was going to be difficult some days to come up with what to write...but I figured that would be around Juneish....not the first month. I thought that I would do a refresh of the three most viewed posts of the month and comment a bit on the inspiration to each.

3.  Happy New Year's! posted on January 1st. Ironic to me...but my first post makes this list.  This was one of the easiest to write...and ironically is the only one that isn't completely about teaching.

2. Grades are Earned, Not Punishment posted on January 15th.  I almost didn't write this one.  If you look at the time stamp, it is at almost 10:00.  I usually post between 7 and 9 because I go to bed around 10...I think that highlights now much I was trying to calm down from THE horrible phone call.  But it wasn't working, so that was what you got. The biggest reason I didn't want to write...I have seen teachers get in trouble for that.  So I hope I kept it anonymous enough, because it really does happen with all parents.  I actually had a pretty nasty e-mail this week.

1. Inspired by a Quote with a Teaching Strategy  posted on January 10th.  I was surprised that this was the one that got the most views.  That night I really didn't know what to write about, but that quote came up from a Goodreads Quote of the Day e-mail, and suddenly I had something to write about.  Sometimes you never know what people will like.

The second hardest thing after coming up with what to what picture to put with it?
So since it is a reflection piece today, here is a recent shot with the hubby 

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Book Review: Feels Like the First Time

Feels Like the First Time: A True Love Story

Title: Feels Like the First Time
Author: Shawn Inmon
Genre: Kindle E-book/Romance
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars (explanation of ratings)

Why Did I Read? I saw it on the free list on Amazon Kindle.  It was based on a true story and it looked like it might actually be good.  When I had my long stressful days of driving this week, I felt like reading something that takes no thinking or focus--which is what romances are good for.  So I read this in two days.

Summary: Shawn meets the girl next door: Dawn, she is three years his junior.  They start out as just friends, but that eventually turns into more than that.  They begin to date, with the blessing of her parents--to a certain extent her mom pushed them together.  But after one stupid night, Dawn gets pregnant.  They are forbidden to see each other ever again by the parents.  Fast forward years later, both have been married and they happen to run into each other. What will happen now after so many years?

What Did I Love: It is clearly written from the heart.  The author is simply just writing for the enjoyment of writing, and you can tell.

What Did I Hate: I didn't really hate anything, but it got the lower star rating because it is really just a story.  It didn't blow me away...but it wasn't bad.  It satisfied my easy reading desires.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Five Favorite Front-Page Features #5

5. So...Beyonce actually admits it and then sings awesome!! 

4. The Dow finally closed higher than before the recession today....very exciting.  I think people might actually start feeling like we are recovering.  I know I will feel better when my employer can give me my raise. 

3. This Alabama hostage situation with the 5 year old boy is shocking...but the bus driver was heroic and the officers that have been and are currently working the scene have kept it from getting worse so far and that is a great thing.

2. Finally we are dealing with immigration in a real way...though I want to wait and see what happens with it.

1. Gabby Giffords spoke to Congress again for the first time since the shooting. I am very impressed with how much she has recovered. 

On that day in front of Congress, looking very strong: