Thursday, December 31, 2009

Streams in the wasteland

“This is what the LORD says— he who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters, "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.”-Isaigh 43:16, 18-19

This is one of my very favorite verses, and it's taped to my desk at school. The Lord is so good; He promises deliverance and grace for those who put their trust in Him. And as the new decade begins, I am filled with such hope. I haven't been around that long on this earth, but I rejoice in the things that God has delivered me from, and I know change in so many things is possible through He who gives me strength.

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas break thus far

Joel and I had a great Christmas together, celebrating with both of our families. Joel got me a new camera, so now my posts will contain pictures! I'm very excited about this.

With some gift cards, I decided to buy a sewing machine. I've been wanting to learn how to sew for a while, and I'm really hoping I don't stink at this...
It took me a whole afternoon to figure out how to thread it. I'm not claiming to be great at following directions. How-to manuals often make me want to rip my hair out. Especially when you have to thread this medieval looking contraption which, by the way, I completely disassembled without realizing how unnecessary that was.
So after a couple of hours of fiddling, I was finally able to practice some stitching.
And I made some totally useless... napkins?

The rest of the break has been really relaxing. I've only got one day left on the Beth Moore Esther study, which makes me extremely sad.
Joel and I have been continuing our tradition of watching Lord of the Rings, a very dorky but very fun annual event at Christmas.
I've been working my tail off on the Wii Fit. Joel likes to laugh at me on the skiing game because my affinity for overcompensating is, apparently, hilarious.
I picked up a couple of new books from the library, including some interesting books about autism, and I've been catching on my Discovery Health shows.
We saw Invictus and The Blind Side and I ran out of tissues.
I've tried some new recipes: cornbread stuffing, green bean and cheddar casserole, and caramel apple pie. Mmmm... thank goodness for the Wii Fit!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

I'm finally in the Christmas spirit!

I know I seem like the Grinch, but I always take a long time to get into the "Christmas spirit." I like to celebrate Christmas at, well, Christmastime! But last night as Joel and I were walking through the flurries to see Invictus (one of the best movies I've seen), James Taylor Christmas songs starting playing at North Hills, and it hit.

So today, we put up our tree (a fake, but I love it), wrapped lights around our banister, set out a snow globe and small nativity scene, and even listened to two whole Christmas songs!

Joel is out tonight, but he built me a warm fire before he left. A couple of days ago, he bought me a bottle of wine, and I got yummy chocolate from my students yesterday. So this evening, I've enjoyed a new Bible study that set my head spinning for a while. I poured a glass of merlot and have been enjoying real-life chocolate bon-bons. There are fresh tulips on our table, a cookie-smelling candle burning, and I'm watching The Wizard of Oz. Soon, Meredith is coming over and we'll watch Elf!

Really, it's the little things.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Basking in happiness

This morning, I enjoyed my peppermint mocha while reading Beth Moore's Esther study. She wrote about enjoying the little moments of happiness, grabbing on to them and basking in "lightness."

This afternoon, our schools were dismissed 1 hour early because of a few flurries (a fact that made the Northerners laugh, but I was genuinely concerned about my last of frozen pizzas at home should the flurries stick for more than an hour). Our Hanukkah party and book exchange party, which were scheduled to be back to back, were now smooshed together as parents flooded in early to join the party but also pick up their kids early.

Needless to say, I was expecting chaos. I hadn't made a backup plan for a 2 hour party being squeezed into a 45 minute period.

As the party unfolded, there were smashed goldfish in the carpet, stickers all over the desks, and oil from the latkes covering the reading table.

But my kids did beautifully, saying "Thank you" and enjoying each other and their parent's company. And then, the most wonderful thing happened.

The snow flurries began! Outside our second story window, big fat flakes were falling from the sky, and a dozen kids ran to the window to see. Truly, in North Carolina, December snow is a big deal! I hated to be "that teacher" and calm them down, but with lots of running over my computer cords, it had to happen!

All "classroom management" aside, it was such a special afternoon, and I'm so thankful for my wonderful class, room parents, and the sweet hugs I got today!

I feel so blessed by the Lord to have experienced this great day with these cutie patootie kids.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Young and the Restless Update

I forgot to mention, the day after the note passing and the "break-up", Alan came to school in an oxford and a bowtie. No lie. Too bad Kelly was out sick that day...

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Thoughts on grading

Does grading make anyone else cranky?

Because interims just went out yesterday, this frustration is still fresh on my mind.

Giving paper/pencil quizzes is a really easy way to get a grade, but a few of my kids are
a) space cadets and b) terrible writers, so those assessments end up being inaccurate pictures of what they really know. However, the EOGs are formal assessments, so paper/pencil quizzes are a good picture of how they'll do on the EOGs.

Projects and other formative assessments are helpful for students with different skill sets, but I find it really subjective as to whether or not they students have nailed down the important concepts.

Our school uses Activexpressions and an interactive whiteboard to "text" in answers to assessments, which I love, because it's really black and white. Because these questions are given one at a time to the whole class, and the entire class must answer at the same time, you know the kid that takes 28.6 minutes to answer a multiple choice question just doesn't know the answer. Also, the program grades the questions for you, so there's no stack of papers or answer key.

Our grade uses all three of these forms of assessment to get a picture of how a student is doing. My frustration comes when there's a kid that you KNOW knows it, and is lazy as molasses for 9 weeks, and his mom is furious when he doesn't make a level 4. OK, I'm exaggerating, but those "on the border" kids stress me out. It's the inconsistency that makes me nervous. Maybe they have it for the interim, but by the time the report card comes out, they've lost it.

Any thoughts on this?

Monday, December 07, 2009

I teach 8 year olds...

...who pass love notes during an entire writing period.

This is today's installment of The Young and the Restless.

Alan has been flirting with Cara all year long. It's ridiculous. But ever since I've moved their seats to the OTHER SIDE OF THE ROOM, Alan has been turning his attention to Kelly.

Well, today, I found this little morsel written on a scrap of paper:

Alan: Why are you braking up with me?
Kelly: (in purple ink) Were not gana work out.


No wonder Alan hasn't written anything substantial in a solid week.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Some Early New Year's Resolutions

I'm going to start my New Year's goals pronto. Why wait a few weeks when there are things I can do now?

Goal the first: Many of you know I was on Weight Watchers for a while. I did reach my goal, but Thanksgiving calories do count, contrary to popular belief. So my goal is to be back on track, taking care of myself. I guarantee you Milk Duds are not organic, nor do they contain antioxidants, protein, or fiber.

Goal the second: Over the Thanksgiving break, I made three loaves of homemade bread that made their way straight into my trash can. Here's the thing about homemade bread I don't understand. People all over the world have been making bread by hand for an extremely long time. It cannot be rocket science. But somehow, I managed to make three of the most disgusting loaves of bread the world has ever known.

I'd like a bread tutor.

Goal the third: I'd like to learn how to sew. I can decently sew on a button, if you like that "threads hanging off" look. It'd be great to be able to sew simple things, like a formal dress or something. Really though, I'm tired of shopping for tablecloths and curtains and not being able to find one I love.

Goal the fourth: Read more. In general. The back page of Joel's Sports Illustrated does not get to count.

What are your goals?