Thursday, December 22, 2005

Two Days to Go!
Only two days will the holiday break - YEAH! We are going long this week. This trimester is going to be tough on the students as we transition from learning skills to application which also brings more assessment of skills, rather than just credit for practice.

Notebooks also become very important and many students struggle with this transition. We have also been blessed with some new additions to our class - I am lucky that I have students willing to share what they have learned with the new students.

We are also finishing our videos from the This I Believe Project. It has been a trimester (and then some) project. Hope to have the results DONE before we leave on Thursday so we can watch a few of them --- once we figure out how to effectively burn them to DVD. Assemblies today and tomorrow... new schedule and that should be interesting -- hasn't been tried before.

Been working on assessing and giving students' feedback on work since about 3:30 am (couldn't sleep). My goal for this trimester is more formative assessments (i.e. checking to see where students are with the material and what they understand) and more feedback (aka responding to posts and responses to writing and assignments). Time for yoga and facing the day.. will be ready for the Dec. 24th shopping rush.. hope I can help my pal get shopping done EARLY and enjoy the Christmas Eve spirit. Then down to Mission Viejo for a few days and then rest and relaxation (and some chores) at home.

Look forward to seeing everyone in class again in 2006.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

December sure crept up on little cat's paws this year! I love December because the holiday music is playing, it is usually chilly enough that I can wear all my sweaters (the coldest version of winter that we have) and I get time to enjoy my family. I am a Christmas's what we've done in my family and there are so many other people of different belief systems, faiths and backgrounds who also share in the joy of this season

My family used to love traveling on the holidays usually skiing. When we were in town, I started a tradition of dropping off cards and small presents (cheap ornaments, trinkets) at their doors on Christmas morning. When my brother was older, he joined thefun, with me driving and him running up to the door. The idea was not to impose, just to leave something behind to let people know you were thinking about them. Kinda a random acts - sometimes I would sign things, other times I wouldn't.

I love sending out cards. I had a friend who once saw my boyfriend and asked, "Where's the Card?!! I want my Christmas letter!" That was a year that I was a bit down in the dumps and didn't get things out until January. I have written an end of the year letter, not so much family oriented, although they are always a big part of it because they are a big part of my life), but mainly about how to do some reflecting, things I've found, books, life lists, etc. ALways fun. Takes a while to get the cards ready, and I love it!

The first holiday event is happening today... a volleyball friend gathering -- people I have known for over 20 years. We all started playing Adult School Volleyball in Redondo Beach and although it's been years since most of us have touched a volleball in competitive settings, we have our own family group and celebrate birthdays and other life events together regularly. It's gotten use through some rough times, like losing a close friend on 9-11 (pentagon plane) and marriages (although not many amongst us0. It's great. This week I get to make my annual birthday milk and cookie event for the teachers at school.

When I was in college my birthday always fell the week that I as a photo major, was spending 6-7 hours in the darkroom working on my final project during study week the week before finals. So, to at least get to celebrate a little, I baked cookies, brownies, banana bread and wheeled them into the common area in the lab and set up the milk and such in the fridge and offered it to anyone who came in to work. My way of celebrating my birthday... Sometimes I told who brought in the stuff, other times, just let people enjoy it and smiled.

Time to head down south for the party... Have a great holiday season...

Thursday, November 17, 2005

ANNIVERSARY... Coming up (tomorrow) on the anniversary of the day that I almost lost my mom... I got the call about 2pm on the Friday before the November break (from one of my adopted mommies) that my mom was in Intensive Care and waiting for a pacemaker. I was in the middle of a big meeting at the time and after composing myself, calling for my driver to meet me at home, scooped up things to work on, rapidly packed a few bags for the week and started speed dialing the cell phone on the way to the hospital.

It's been almost a year and I was wondering why this week I have been rather pre-occupied and unfocused... Took until yesterday, during a meeting and my masters' class to realize what it was about. My Mom was fine and I spent the whole week pampering her-- putting in a shower head so she could shower without raising her arm, cleaning, cooking and collecting food.

My mom usually hosts Thanksgiving (a tradition) so she had let the pantry run down to make space for things... needless to say, we needed sustenance and did not have the energy nor was it recommended by the doctors' for her to be out amongst crowds while recovering. I joked with her that there were eaiser ways of getting me to spend time with her (she is a bit sarcastic, like me). We had a great time and my boyfriend came up every day and went back almost every night to tend to the house and the cat.

This year, I just have to plan where and when to have dinner. What a difference a year makes.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Have the Grad Gram workshop today and as always, I am nervous. No matter how many ways I try and get the information out to parents, I always have people very upset in March and April and even June, when they discover that the deadline was back in November (so we can plan for the rest of the book), and that they "NEVER HEARD ANYTHING ABOUT IT".

My students rock this year! We are having a good time working on authentic items for NPR, posting on the website for reference, and soon we will be working on entries for a national contest. I try and find ways to support the CA standards, using authentic items that reach beyond our classroom and school walls. Along the way we learn, and practice, the skills so that they eventually become second nature.

I wish that we could get a few new machines to round out the older ones we have been forced to use, but that is coming. Also, our ventilation system went out yesterday and well, with no windows and a door that was hung backwards (against the wind) it's a bit like a sauna in my room. Today is writing day and most of the time students are on task and writing the whole time. Today they are a little off task and not doing what they should be doing... With the Digital Generation, they are used to multi-tasking and it is increasingly difficult to have them focus on one task for more than 15 minutes, unless it is getting into trouble or something that they choose to work on.

All in all, things going well. Need some printer cartridges, and some new software -- all coming soon. Just have to find the time to get the order together and get things turned in... All about time.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

WHAT IS WAVE? WAVE is Writing And Vocabulary Enrichment. Every Monday, each grade level gets a new word to work with. We have students predict the definition, mark how well they know the word then rotate through three different activities designed to make meaning from the word. Each student has a notebook and we keep track of all the words we have learned. 8th Grade has the most uncommon words, 6th grade the most common and 7th has those inbetween SAT words.

Every Wedensday, we respond to a quote or a situation involving character counts in part two of the vocabulary book.

THURSDAY AND FRIDAY are saved for Commonplace Books. Commonplace books are based around student-selected artifacts which are pasted into the commonplace book and then responded to in writing on the following pages. The entries are then shared on Fridays using a variety of techniques. The commonplace books are not diaries, rather a writing that will be shared with others to help build community.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005


I am not used to working and school full time. The transition has not been easy. I am shorter with my patience and myself. When things don't work, it is extrememly irritating. I am also not as tolerant of interruptions in my clas and typical middle school issues with student behaviors. I just don't have that much patience any more. It's better on Thursdays and Fridays. but Monday - Wednesday is tough... Best to just stay on task and take it easy on the teacher. Have to learn to deal with stress.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

My Brother

My brother is a wonder. I still remember the day that he came into my life. It was the night that I pulled my first all-nighter and couldn't sleep - I was so excited to meet him! I thought every day about how I would get to hold him in the rocking chair in his room-- how I would read to him and show him around the street in my wagon, hold his hand when we went walking on hikes, and spending time helping him learn about all the things I knew. I had to go and spend the evening with some other family as he was born, but then... I got to go to the hospital to see him. It was back when they didn't allow anyone other than the husband into the room, but my mom had an outside room, so I got to see him through the window.

I still remember holding him (briefly) for the first time in my blue, cartoon animal print dress that tied at the shoulders and posing for yet another of our infamous family photos. It was one of the best days of my life, although I slept in a lot the next day as my brain was a little bit fuzzy from the lack of sleep and the sudden feeling of responsibility and no longer being alone - I was now a big sister and I had someone else to share my families journey with.