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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award

Back around the beginning of this month, I heard about this contest that was holding. They were accepting the first 5,000 pitches from (wannabe) novelists, with the top prize being a publishing contract with Penguin Books and a $15,000 advance.

So I entered, and I started to watch the calendar for the key dates. The first was today, where the 5,000 were whittled down to 1,000 based on the pitch alone. I held my breath as I looked down the list, feeling like the high school kid hoping he made the varsity basketball team. There it was -- Pearson -- Learn Me Good!

I made the first cut!! I'm in the upper 20% Now, they review the first 5,000 words of the manuscript and whittle the 1,000 down to 250 on March 23rd.

Wish me luck!!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Return of the King

I LOVE taking a day off from school, don't you? You can sleep in, it feels like you're playing hooky, and you can get so much accompished that you usually can't do -- I mean, heck, I paid bills, balanced my checkbook, got hotel reservations confirmed, spoke with a travel agent about a honeymoon, bought some painting supplies, bought a new coat, did laundry, cleaned out my closet, caught up on some TV...

On the other hand, I HATE coming back to school the next day because, invariably, I discover that many or most of my kids were complete jackasses to the substitute and to each other. I find things missing from my desk (a dollar's worth of quarters this time). I find papers turned in with no names and no work on them. I find (usually lengthy) lists of names of people that misbehaved.

And today, I found one kid in In School Suspension.

Why can't I just come back and find one or all of the following:

  • A glowing note about ALL of my students.
  • Completed work with all steps and strategies shown.
  • A winning Mega Jackpot lottery ticket.

Monday, February 22, 2010

A mental health birthday

Today was my birthday!

As a present to myself, I am taking Monday off (thus the reason I'm still up at 1AM). Taking a break from painting the house, grading papers, making tests, etc. Still have plenty to do, but I need a mental health day!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

So You Want to Teach?

Sorry, Joel, totally, ripped off your blog's name here.

But, I received an email from Wendy Graham the other day, linking to a post that she put together recently. The post is called 100 Reasons to be a Teacher, and it's worth checking out.

I might not agree completely with the entire list, but there are some good ones on there.

Number 8 -- Holidays and Weekends – Having this time off is a gift that teachers take for granted too often

Number 46 -- Students – Molding Minds – The age old idea of teaching someone something they need to know

Number 80 -- Problem solving – Large and small problems occur and are addressed daily

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Intsitute of Hihger Laerning

About a week ago, this picture of Freshman phenom basketball player John Wall appeared online. Note the spelling of his university.

Just goes to show that spelling IS important!

But hey, at least it's not quite as bad as 3 years ago, when the West Virginia Mountaineers won the NIT. Check out their championship T-shirts here. (Hint, they mistakenly left off the final "i.")

Friday, February 12, 2010

All that snow...

Yesterday, as I mentioned, was a snow day here in Dallas. Not a day off from school, mind you, but a day where we had classes with 3-4 inches of snow on the ground outside. This is about as rare in Dallas, Texas as Britney Spears making sense in an interview.

I usually keep my shades closed in the classroom, but I opened one up so we could see the snow falling out in the courtyard. At around 9:15, I had to open several more, because our power went out and we needed the extra light. The power was out until almost 10:30.

In the meantime, after we got our initial work done (in the low light), I thought I'd give the kids a bit of a reward and take them outside to play in the snow. We got all bundled up and ready to go when one of the administrators walked by and said that no one was allowed to go outside.

D'OH!!! They won't even let us play in the snow!!!

By lunchtime, after-school tutoring had been cancelled, and it was a good bet that school would be cancelled for Friday (today). The kids were admonished, in a PA announcement, to go STRAIGHT to their buses and not play around in the snow.

Of course, as I was leading my class out to the buses, and I kept hearing other teachers shouting, "NO!! Put that snow down!!" I kept thinking, "I can't possibly tell a kid not to make a snowball when I want so desperately to make one myself!!!"

As soon as the first bus took off, I was throwing snowballs at other teachers. It just seemed such a waste of good snow NOT to use it!!

Sure enough, today was an official inclement weather day, and there was no school. While awesome in one sense, it stinks in another, because I had ordered some Valentine's Day flowers to be delivered to my fiance at her school. No go on that one.

But we did take advantage of the snow to build a snowman and take a few pictures. And thankfully, we haven't lost power here yet!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Just a regular school day

It's a little after 7am as I write this. I'm looking out the window, where the snow is coming down somewhat intensely, and the ground is covered in white.

Yet school is open today, just like any other day.

Thank you, DISD.

Monday, February 08, 2010

You're entitled to your opinion

Last Friday, I gave a Fact vs. Opinion test, and in my ever so humble opinion, there are several kids who just don't get it -- and that's a fact!

Apparently, "Broccoli tastes nasty!" is a fact to some. As is, "John Cena is awesome!"

Conversely, it is merely one's opinion that "One yard equals three feet," or that "There are 50 states in the USA."

Any Language Arts teachers out there have a great way of teaching fact vs opinion?

Thursday, February 04, 2010

How I Became a Tutor

Thursdays are after-school tutoring days at my school, which just makes them about the longest days ever -- second only to Parent Conference night. Come to think of it, conferences are always on Thursdays.

Tutoring has not been bad this year, but my morning class really got under my skin today. There are 19 kids, yet it always seems to be the same 3 or 4 raising their hands and answering questions. When I call on others, they stare blankly at me or they give me crazy answers. Yet these same kids don't pay any attention to the kids who give correct answers. Very frustrating.

We also went on a field trip today. We went to the Dallas Children's Theater to see their production of How I Became a Pirate.

I enjoyed it. We had read the story earlier this week, so it was fun to note the differences and similarities between the two. We'll be doing a compare and contrast in class later, so it will be interesting to see what the kids come up with.

There was a 10 minute intermission during the play, during which 3 kids begged me to let them use the bathroom -- despite my very stern warnings before leaving the school that they could NOT go once we were there. When the intermission began, one boy in front of me turned and said, "Man, this is boring! All they are doing is dancing!"

His neighbor argued that he thought it was interesting, and the first boy amended his statement to say, "It IS interesting, but it's just a little boring!"

Overall, the kids were really well behaved, and the show was enjoyable. I think the funniest reference was on pirate shouting, "We're gonna need a bigger boat!" when a shark appeared off the bow.

Tomorrow appears to be another shirt and tie day. I really miss casual Fridays. We have them sporadically, but not nearly often enough.

Maybe I can just dress as a pirate and say it's class-related...

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

The fact is, we cannot do that

Yesterday was a very interesting day.

We had a conference with a student's mother who told us that she thought we should put tape over her son's mouth to embarrass him into not talking so much. Though the thought had certainly crossed my mind, it's sad for a number of reasons. First, that she would think we COULD do that even if we wanted to, and second, that she would suggest that WE do it in class rather than her doing something herself.

During class, we were discussing fact vs. opinion. I asked if the following statement was a fact or an opinion -- Mister Teacher is a math teacher.

We all agreed that it was a fact. I then added a word, saying Mister Teacher is a great math teacher.

Many of the kids still said fact, and quite frankly, I was reluctant to correct them. :)