Monday, March 31, 2014

Slice of Life - Day 31

I was a little stuck on what to write today, so I used a random word generator, then I wrote a story using the words that came up.


The day waxed, but Jim continued on his journey.  The danger didn't frighten him because he was prepared to execute his duty through.  

He squeezed through a narrow pipe as nimbly as his six-foot tall body would allow.  The stench of sulfur didn't offend him. The pipe was dripping with a black slimy substance, and it covered his clothing as he belly-crawled through the narrow passageway.  

All of the sudden a glow appeared in front of him. Yellow light became stronger and brighter until Jim could hardly keep moving forward with open eyes.  Still, he squinted and continued his task.  

Finally, he arrived at the end of the pipe. Amazed, he gasped with awe as he peered over the edge.  Jim could hardly contain his excitement as he squirmed his way back through the pipe. 

A crowd of people waited impatiently for Jim's news.  As his feet appeared then his calves, they held their breath eager to hear his words.  

Jim stood stiffly up and turned around.  His face was covered with soot, but his eyes shined brightly. The concourse stared expectantly as a smile slowly spread across his face.

"It's a planet!" 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Slice of Life - Day 30


Strive to be what everyone else is.
Wear the same shoes,
the same style of jeans.
Grow your bangs out.
Hang out with the "cool" kids.

Leave behind what everyone else is.
Wear what you want
when you want.
No make-up,
wet hair.
Connect with some,
Forget the others.

No more obsession with looks.
No more desireable cliques.
Still, the same discomfort arises.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Slice of Life - Day 29

Since when did airline give flight attendants permission to make snarky remarks during announcements? 
The pre-flight instructions that are usually bland and routine were loaded with jokes and puns. "If you don't like our service, there are six exits located throughout the plane." "When traveling with a child, our your mask on first. If you are traveling with two children, choose the one with the most potential."
 People chuckled in response, and it grabbed my attention more than any other previous instructions ever have. There was definite flavor in its informality, but I'm not sure what the goal was, and whether it was completely appropriate. Regardless, the wit was present in both of my flights today. It was an interesting approach to an otherwise banal commentary. I guess it was a unique approach. And as the flight attendant claimed when we were preparing to get baggage from the overhead bins, "shift happens."

Friday, March 28, 2014

Slice of Life - Day 28

A bright blue sky soars above the snow-covered mountain. The sun is out, and only slight wisps of cloud dot the horizon. Towering evergreens form a maze of pathways that travel down the mountain. Chairlifts creep slowly, silently straight up, up, up. Colorful dots glide gracefully from one side of the slope to the other. Amidst the deep greenery, swishing sounds cut crisply through the cool air. Though the land is ripe for animals, few frolick about - too many unknown dangers for all but the intrepid and the famished. The flitting birds prove their presence, albeit unseen. How could they not be? This beauty only nature provides is their home. It is the snow bunnies who are misplaced. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Slice of Life - Day 27

A bad habit of mine is neglecting to correspond with people who send correspondence my way.  The correspondence I'm referring to has nothing to do with day-to-day communications.  I'm very prompt in my email correspondence for work.  What I struggle with is corresponding with people who are not actively present in my life.  
I'm not sure why this is the case.  I know that it is rude and probably gives people the feeling that I don't value them. So why can't I write a quick letter or place a simple phone call?  There always seems to be something that I "need" to do.  Why don't I make the correspondence a priority? I want my extended family to know they are in my heart and mind, yet I don't view correspondence with them as a necessity.  
This needs to change. I need to make more effort to communicate with family and friends. This is my official vow.  I will show the people who are in my life but not IN my life that they are important to me by writing them or calling them.  I will make the communication a priority in my life. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Slice of Life - Day 26

What is my religion?

Immediate response.

"A set of beliefs 
of the universe"

Movement forward.
To what? 
The end.
For what?

one believes
in and 


"A matter
of ethics
or conscience"



Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Slice of Life - Day 25

What would I do without Pinterest?

Sitting at the dinner table today eating our quinoa pizza bites and zuchini slice pizzas, I asked my husband, "What would we do without Pinterest?" Many of the meals that we eat are from my perusal of pins on Pinterst, and I couldn't imagine what we would eat if we didn't have my "food" board. 
"We'd go to the library and get recipe books."
Though I am definitely old enough to remember life without the Internet, the convenience of Pinterest makes all other options seem ridiculous. 
I'd have to search through books, often without pictures, to find one or two recipes that we may like.  I'd have to photocopy the recipes or write them down.  When we wanted a variation in our dinner plans, I'd have to sift through sheets of paper to find a desirable dish.  Ugh. That seems like such a hassle.  
With Pinterest I have my collection of recipes that I've found over the course of a causal browsing experience. When we are making our grocery list, I search through my board to see what looks tasty.  If the picture catches my eye, I'll check out the recipe, find out the ingredients, and add them to the list. Dinner time comes, and I set my iPad on the counter and get to work! Easy as Chobani pancakes!
It really isn't that much different than having a collection of recipes, but the diversity of my collection is amazing. I have found recipes that we love, recipes we never would have thought of or found in a book.   It is truly pinspirational!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Slice of Life - Day 24

I am exasperated by grades. Students and parents alike are so obsessed with grades that grading is...uncomfortable. I am a passive person. I hate conflict, and I do not want people to be displeased. I want people to be happy, but grades make people unhappy.  
I feel like no matter how much thought I put into making a good and fair assignment, there is always someone who is displeased. Even if I give a clear indication of how the assignment will be assessed by giving students a rubric in advance, students still complain when they don't get a "good enough" grade. An A is what they want, but they don't really want to put forth the effort and thought that it takes to earn an A
This is upsetting for two reasons. As previously stated, I detest conflicts even it if is with people whose brains aren't fully developed yet. More detrimental to society, though, is the fact that students don't want to learn, they just want to earn. "How many points is this worth?" "Can I have extra credit?" It seems like so many students are doing the work simply because they have to in order to get the points.  There is no curiosity, no desire to learn for learning's sake. 
As I typed that last sentence, I had my adolescent self in my mind. Did I go to school to learn? Or did I go because that is what was expected of me? I'm sure that I wasn't very interested in much of what my high school had to offer. I was self-absorbed and concerned with my social life. I liked reading, and I enjoyed my English classes, but I'm not sure that my motivation for attending school was to expand my mind and encounter novel and diverse ideas. 
Okay. Perhaps the end of our society as we know it isn't nearing because my students don't appreciate reading Huck Finn.  Perhaps society is continuing as it always has with egocentric teens who eventually develop into English teachers who desperately want their students to love what they love. 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Slice of Life - Day 23

Breathe. Breathe in deeply as if trying to calm the heart and the mind. Exhale slowly, pushing out the air at an even pace, feeling the rush of breath leave the body. Breathe. Feel every part of the body relax. The toes, the heels, the ankles all vibrate with the energy of life. Feel the calves, the knees, and the thighs as they tingle slightly. Focus thoughts on the nerves sending signs of existence to the abdominals, the back, the arms, and the fingers. Lastly, feel the neck, the jaw, the forehead, the hair release in tranquility. Breathe in, letting all bodily sensations surround and prevent externalities from disrupting the halcyon mindset. Breathe.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Slice of Life - Day 22

Dear Jennifer,

I know that you haven't always liked me because I am small and old-fashioned, but I feel that you have unjustly destroyed my essence, and it is only fair that you hear my complaints.

First, you took away my throne, then you gerry-rigged my tap.  You allowed your husband to screw with my head because he thought I was too wasteful.  You trash-talked about me behind my back, claiming that my choice to adorn myself in pink and blue was hideous, without recalling those colors were trendy! You knocked down walls and pitched pieces of me, and you didn't even have the consideration to do it yourself. 

You assumed that you could do whatever you wanted to me, but I will no longer tolerate your abuse. 

This letter serves as my official notice for termination of service. I will no longer provide you with a quiet solitude to relieve yourself. You will never again be able to bathe in my cast-iron heart.  Because of your cruelty, I am joining the great community of salvagers. Future attempts to contact me will be futile.  


Your bathroom

Friday, March 21, 2014

Slice of Life - Day 21


Muscles straining 
I pull and
I squeeze and
I squat and
I run.

28 hours
is all it takes 
to feel
each fiber 
stiffen and

When did pain, 
discomfort and sweat 
become the goal 
not something to

will be over 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Slice of Life - Day 20

A Flash  

It took me a long time to find a man that I wanted to marry. Of course, I dated men, and I thought I wanted to marry them, but marriage wasn't really a reality. There were things that didn't fit with my personality or issues that I just couldn't conquer.  I'm not sure I would have accepted the right man had he come along earlier in my life.  I like solitude.  I'm okay by myself because I'm perfectly capable of entertaining myself and living my life without a companion to help. My relationship with my parents provides affection and love.  Though a lover is enjoyable, I never thought about one as a necessity. 

As I aged, I did realize that there was something that I wanted that only a husband could provide.  I wanted to create a loving family.  I wanted to enjoy raising children, and I wanted to do it with someone I loved, valued, and respected. 

When I did meet my future husband, I didn't recognize what a treasure he was.  I called him the "bird guy" because on our first date, he took me to a park and brought two pair of binoculars so that we could look at birds.  This wasn't typical for me.  A park, walking, and talking? Yes. Bringing binoculars? I appreciate nature, but what is so great in Ohio that I need a pair of binoculars to see?

After some brush-offs on my part, my husband was kind enough to borrow a friend's truck to help me move my grandma into an assisted living home. He was so happily energetic, even in the pouring down rain, as he bustled from one side of the truck to the other tying down the mattress and furniture. 

I rode with him in the truck, and my mom and grandma followed in the car behind us.  We chatted as we drove, and I remember turning onto the street of the assisted living facility and him saying something about his job.  At that moment, I caught a glimpse of something in him that I liked.  Previous to that moment, he was just a really nice guy, but he wasn't someone I could see myself with. In that instant and the hour that followed, I recognized that I wasn't giving him a chance to show me who he was. 

After my realization, everything fell into place. There were a few bumps, but we smoothed them out together. 

I look at my relationship with him now, and I relish what we have. I am so privileged to be a part of his life. He makes me a better person. We laugh together, we live together, and we love together. It is a relationship unlike any that I have ever had, and I am thankful that I saw the glimmer of his essence before it was too late. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Slice of Life - Day 19


So cozy 
in my bed. 
Downy cover 
layered with a quilt.
Warmth saturates my body
as I burrow,
moving my feet rhythmically,
feeling the textures 
against my legs and toes.
Fluffy pillows encase me
while the contoured one

No drug can mimic 
this wonderful feeling.
No show can prevent 
my eager approach.
No light can disrupt
the heavy slumber.
No alarm, No!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Slice of Life - Day 18

Eulogy for Noah Webster

70,000. That is how many words that Noah Webster Jr. collected, organized, and defined to create his American Dictionary. It was the first dictionary of its kind in that it presented not only words that had been previously used in literature but also words that were used in everyday life.  In addition, Webster's dictionary presented American English as different from British English.  He added words that Americans were creating as the country grew and scientific pursuits were achieved.  And perhaps most important, Webster revised the definitions of words so that they included thorough descriptions that distinguished the minute differences among similar words. 
Though Noah Webster Jr. is best known for this ultimate achievement, he did much more than this in his 85 years.  Because of his authorship of the dictionary and his instructional spelling book for school children, Webster promoted the need for copyright laws throughout the United States.  When he published The American Spelling Book in 1782, people had no way to protect their intellectual property.  Webster used his connections with politicians of the time, including Thomas Jefferson, to urge legislators to create copyright laws.
In addition, Webster began the first marketing campaign to sell his speller.  He promoted his own work by writing advertisements and publishing them in newspapers.  The salesman sought support from local officials and was able to capitalize on their acknowledgement of the merit of his speller in order to promote his books. This was a predecessor to the blurbs of praise on modern-day book jackets.
Though it may seem like these contributions benefitted Webster himself, much of his literary life was devoted to encouraging support for the federal government during times of conflict. When the constitution was drafted, he wrote editorials that provided sound reasoning for states to ratify.  
As the new nation dealt with yellow fever, Webster strove to understand the cause of the disease.  He attempted to gain information about the disease by sending a questionnaire to doctors in various large cities.  His questionnaire was the first scientific survey and spurred medical professionals to develop processes of medical research. 
Noah Webster was a motivated man who had a strong opinion of what America should be like.  He was assiduous (he worked nearly 27 years) in his creation of a dictionary that mimicked the language of the people using it.  Though some may say that one who creates a dictionary is merely copying what others say, I would assert that Noah Webster Jr. was a true innovator.  After all, his ideas have become essential elements in the United States today. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Slice of Life - Day 17

Tomorrow my honors American studies students will begin discussing "The Fall of the House of Usher" by Edgar Allan Poe.  I am rereading it tonight and developing discussion questions and ideas for ways to urge students to look at the text in a deeper way.  Ultimately, I want my students to be able to identify literary devices that Poe uses in his work and explain how those devices contribute to his purpose in writing the text. Before any analysis that answers this question, there are some basic components of the story that students need to understand. Below are the discussion questions and thoughts I've had reading the short story again. 

1. How does the narrator feel as he approaches the House of Usher? What diction does Poe use to convey the atmosphere of the setting? Why would Poe choose these words? 

2. For what reason does the narrator come to the House of Usher? What does this reason tell readers about the narrator? Close read the description of why the narrator visits Roderick Usher.  What is wrong with Roderick?  

3. What are the Ushers known for? 

4. Close read the passage describing the house beginning with "Its principle feature seemed to be that of an excessive antiquity..." Describe the house.  What details does Poe choose to provide that may foreshadow the end of the story? 

5. Upon entering the house, prior to seeing Roderick, what Gothic details does Poe provide?

6. Describe the physician that the narrator meets on the staircase.  Why might Poe include this minor character in the story?

7. Describe Roderick Usher's in your own words. Close read the physical description of Usher and analyze the diction that Poe uses to describe him.  What might Poe want readers to get from this description? Does the description sound like something familiar to you?

8. Close read Poe's description of Roderick's ailment.  What seems to be the problem? What does Roderick claim is the cause of the problem? What are some symptoms of Roderick's ailment?

9. What does Roderick claim is the connection between is malady and his house? Is this connection present in any of the text prior to this revelation? If so, where?

10. Roderick claims that there may be an additional radon why he is sad...what is the reason? 

11. How does Poe describe lady Madeline's entrance into the story? Why would he describe it in such a way?

12. What is wrong with lady Madeline?

13. What do the narrator and Roderick do to pass the time?

14. Why would Poe allude to Carl Maria Von Weber's music and Johann Heinrich Fussli's paintings when describing Roderick's talents? 

15. The narrator describes one of Roderick's paintings.  How does he describe it? What does the pianist tell about Roderick's state of mind or his preoccupations? 

16. Poe includes his poem "The Haunted Palace" in this story as one of Roderick's song creations. How is this "song" a mise en abyme? Why would Poe use it at this point in the story? How does the song contribute to the mood of the story? 

17. If the House of Usher is a symbol, what is the meaning of the symbol? How does the inclusion of the mise en abyme support the meaning of the symbol?

18. What does it mean when the narrator says that Roderick believes in the "sentience of all vegetable things?" What evidence does Roderick give to legitimize his belief? What is Roderick's assertion about the house?

19. What happens to lady Madeline? 

20. What does Roderick decide to do with Madeline and why?

21. Reread the funeral procession paying particular attention to imagery.  What is Poe's goal in this section of the text? 

22. How does Roderick act after Madeline's passing? How does Roderick's behavior affect the narrator? 

23. How does Poe develop the mood of the story after Madeline dies?  If his goal is to develop a feeling of terror in the reader, what does he do to achieve this? What details does he include? What dialogue is expressed? 

24. Describe the story of the Mad Trist.  How is it a mise en abyme? What does it tell us about the text as a whole?

25. What does Roderick claim the two have done? 

26. Close read the description of lady Madeline's return. Identify words that Poe uses to create the mood.  

27. What does the narrator do after lady Madeline finds Roderick? 

28. What happens to the House of Usher? How is it symbolic? 

29. In what ways does Poe foreshadow impending doom? 

30. Reread "Sonnet--to Science".  What is the theme of the poem? How does the theme connect to "The Fall of the House of Usher"?

31. Why can the narrator conquer the house but Roderick cannot? How does the narrator conquer the house? 

32.  What tense does Poe use in the story? How does the tense help with his purpose? 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Slice of Life - Day 16

My speech class has been reading autobiographies or biographies of successful leaders or entrepreneurs in preparation for the culminating of assignment of delivering a tribute speech.  We have talked about the necessary elements to a tribute speech and watched several speeches including Oprah Winfrey's eulogy to Rosa Parks and Tina Fey's tribute to David Letterman.  On Friday I spoke with the students about finding a goal for their speeches. Some will choose to show the struggles that a person overcame in order to achieve success or others will illustrate ways in which a person changed lives.  I need to figure out what my tribute speech will about, so below are my ideas for my tribute speech of Noah Webster. 

 I have been reading The Forgotten Founding Father by Joshua Kendall.  It is a biography of Noah Webster Jr., the creator of the first American dictionary.

- Socialized with Ben Franklin, Aaron Burr, George Washington, James Madison, and John Marshall.

- Clarification of syllables to help with the instruction of reading and writing
--Reverend Thomas Dilworth - an English author who wrote the 1700s most commonly used speller (A New Guide to the English Tongue); started the instruction of reading by dividing words into syllables; defined a syllable as "either one letter; as a; or more than one; as man"
--Webster created his own speller (The American Spelling Book) that clarified and standardized American English; defined a syllable as "one letter or so many letters as can be pronounced at one impulse of the voice, as a, hand"; divided words up by their pronunciation instead of by principles form Latin grammar

-Because of his efforts to protect his intellectual property (The American Spelling Book), Connecticut was the first state in the U.S. to pass a copyright law; he also instigated the passage of copyright laws in New York, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island

- First author to create a marketing campaign 

- Wrote multitudes of editorials (both anonymously and signed) that encouraged support of Congress in tumultuous times; encouraged ratification of the Constitution by various states 

- Because of The American Spelling Book, people of all ages across the nation developed an interest in spelling. It was his book that ignited the Spelling Bee as a national pastime

- contributed ideas to the Constitution; suggested that the nation should governed by a single person (a president) 

- interest on the causes of Yellow Fever spurred him to send a questionnaire to doctors in the major cities of the U.S.; this was the world's first scientific survey and helped spur medical research  

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Slice of Life - Day 15

On Friday morning, I sat in the English office at 7:30 a.m. waiting for the kids to start their last day of standardized testing.  I had already completed my duties as a P.P. and an S.P. (Primary proctor and Secondary proctor), so I could hide in the office and wait for silence to continue working on my R.E.S.A. (Resident Educator Summative Assessment).  The door was cracked a bit, and I could hear our principal out in the hallway wishing kids good luck on the social studies test.  I had no obligation to go out in that hallway, and for a moment I sat there deciding whether I, too should greet the kids.

I stood up and exited the office.  I didn't go out into the hall because my principal was there, and I wanted to make a good impression on him.  "Playing the game" is not something I actively engage in when I do not have to.  I went out into the hallway because I like greeting the students, and I wanted to give them my well-wishes and perhaps a little of my energy as they plowed through the last of the O.G.T.s (Ohio Graduation Test).  

As a natural cheerleader (and a coffee drinker), it is easy for me to feign excitement about things that aren't so terrific. My high school's football team rarely won a game, yet it always was effortless for me to put on a smile and encourage the crowd to cheer for the losing team. Standing in the hallway watching students drag themselves to their assigned classrooms, I used the same skill. Warm words of encouragement flowed from my mouth as I smiled with bright eyes when students passed by.  

Some students, those who don't have me, gave weak nods, perhaps because this weird lady was so hyper about tests in the morning. My students met my eyes and engaged in small conversation before heading to their final task of the week. 

With the last of the students trickling to their tests, I headed back to the office to take my own standardized test.  Of course there was dread in the back of my mind. The tedium of answering the same questions over and over is a game that I am forced to play. However, I disregarded my lack of desire and sat down to begin working.  

Is it fun or entertaining to do work that someone else deems important? Not at all. But sucking it up and doing it is a part of adult life.  Students have to learn this at some point, and perhaps an advantage of all these tests is that students will recognize that not everything in life is enjoyable, yet we still must perk up and plod on. 

Below is the song/cheer that I said to my students over the past several weeks.  I'm sure that it didn't make my students earn higher scores on their tests.  Instead, I hope that it motivated my students to keep a cheerful outlook on a rather bleak requirement of their lives.

Gonna pass the O.G.T.s
Gonna pass the O.G.T.s
Gonna pass the O.G.T.s
And then we'll say "Whopee!"

Friday, March 14, 2014

Slice of Life - Day 14

If I were on the beach right now, the umbrella would shade my pale skin, and the heat would waft lovingly over the curves of my body.

If I were on the beach right now, the waves would crash upon the sand, and my love would dive and flip in the brilliant blue ocean.

If I were on the beach right now, the gulls would call as they soared in the sky, and the wind would shake the palms as the beachgrass bowed in greeting.

If I were on the beach right now, the horizon would remain, and the boats would line up only to disappear.

If I were on the beach right now, I would be.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Slice of Life - Day 13

Today I had my first ever eye exam.  I know it is probably my lack of familiarity, but I think I'd rather go to the OBGYN than the eye doctor.  

The doctor was friendly and chatted to make me feel comfortable, but all the "tests" to see how I see were quite nerve-racking. I felt like I would fail every question. I know that my eye sight has decreased minutely as I have aged, so identifying the smallest letters that I could see really freaked me out.  As she continued to bombard me, I wondered How can I ace this test? I wanted my eyes to be perfect! But no test-taking strategies or studying would help me do better on the eye exam.  Eew! What an awful feeling to know that nothing I could actively do would help me have better eye sight.  And even worse, as I get older, my ability to perform on the test will definitely decrease.  

After the mental stress of the question and answer portion of the test came the physical. First, electric yellow drops that made my eyelids feel like weights, then drops to dilate my pupils.  The amicable doctor continued to make conversation with me as she flashed bright lights and searched my eyeballs for abnormalities. 

"You have a very interesting nerve," she said. 

Oh god! What if she is using interesting like I use interesting when a student says something that makes no sense?!


"Yes. It is very elongated. I'll show you a picture of it." 

Ummm... "Okay."

She showed me my eyeball pictures and my elongated optic nerve in my right eye. She also pointed out my maculas and their lack of white spots, which would indicate macular degeneration.  
The exam was over, and I was glad for it. No bad news, just the discomfort and nausea of overly dilated eyes.

As I drove away from the office, my sunglasses on and my visor down, I relished in my ability to see distances clearly while still waiting for my vision of close objects to clear.  I thought about the peace of mind that the visit brought to me.  Macular degeneration runs in my family, so I know I need to regularly visit the eye doctor from now on to make sure my eyes are healthy. Still, it was good to be done with that experience.

As I stopped for a traffic light, I blew my nose, and though my vision was still blurry, I noticed Mt. Dew colored snot in my tissue! I hadn't realized that part of the exam would be take-home.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Slice of Life - Day 12

One of my favorite feelings in the world is laughing so hard that I cry. I love it when something that someone says or does tickles my humor in such a way that I cannot control my laughter. My eyes tear up, my stomach tightens as if I were doing crunches, and if I really get going, my nostrils even flex and pulse!  
This kind of laugh certainly doesn't occur all the time.  In my life I have only experienced it with a couple of people.  I'm happy to say that my husband is one of those people. Another one is my mother. Even before I hit adulthood, we had wonderful moments of laughter.  The following describes an incident that my mother and I experienced while shopping at a large home decoration store that is no longer in existence. This incident brought us so much amusement that we were doubled over in the aisle of the store.

As my mom and I walked around the store looking at the pillows and lamps, we talked about whether Grandma would like the shower curtain we picked out for the bathroom in our new house. It was unlikely that she would like it because it was a shower curtain, and she preferred doors.  Also, it had brown in it, and Grandma didn't care for the color brown. But it also had a variety of blues that matched the "Tiffany Blue" paint in the kitchen, and since her bathroom was off of the kitchen, it would nicely complement the color.  
We had already gotten what we had come for -- a curved shower rod, a decorative shower curtain, a mildew-resistant shower curtain, some throw pillows for the couch, and handles for the kitchen cabinets.  I didn't need lamps, but the store had such a selection that we were perusing the aisles before we headed to the register.
As I looked up to see the overhead lighting options, I left the cart and gazed around.  Mother also walked briefly about to see the current trends. There were so many options! Fancy chandeliers, enormous silver monstrosities, lights with ceiling fans, floor lamps, desk lamps. It was really quite impressive.
Ending our star-gazing, we decided to head to the register.  The store was the size of a department store, and we were in the center of it.  At first, we were a bit turned around as to where the registrrs were, but I had been there previously, so I soon realized what direction we should go.  Mother protested a bit, thinking that we needed to go a different direction, but I was certain, so I grabbed the cart and headed the correct way.
We got to the register and were next in line when we looked down at our purchases and noticed that instead of shower curtains and pillows, the cart was full of lightbulbs and empty boxes. In my haste to prove how right I was, I had grabbed a cart that a store clerk was using to replace bulbs and had left our cart somewhere in the middle of the store!
The entire walk back to our cart was full of silent, tear-enducing laughter. My mom kept mimicking me  -- my eyes narrowed, my nose in the air as I proudly marched with the cart up to the register. 
We laughed through the purchase of our items and even in our car as we got on the highway. It was a wonderful laugh that we will certainly never forget, and I can only hope to have many more of the same.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Slice of Life - Day 11

This idea is taken from another Slice of Lifer.  I just loved it when I read the post and knew I had to do something similar.

A short list of reasons why I like being a high school English teacher:
**In no particular order
1. Discussions (of literature) often bring to light ideas and concepts that I had never thought about before. I love it when a student says something that has never entered my interpretations of a literary text.  Discussions (of current events) are always fun because students get so passionate about hot topics. I think about how I may be in the presence of future lawyers.
2. The gray area of analysis and interpretation.
3. There is so much to cover. I never get bored, and I can always change.
4. Learning about history is a large part of literature.
5. Words.

A short list of reasons why I hate begin a high school English teacher:
**In order from least favorite 
1. Grading.
2. Preparing for two standardized tests (reading and writing).
3. There is so much to cover. It can be very overwhelming. 
4. Grading.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Slice of Life - Day 10

Several of my classes are reading Poe poems this week.  I have never been a lover of poetry, probably because I cannot write sophisticated and wonderful poetry like Poe does. My poems seem so trite and simple.  Poe, on the other hand, is a master at conveying feelings and ideas through poetic verse.  
One poem that I particularly enjoy is "The Haunted Palace."  I love that it supplements his short story "The Fall of the House of Usher." My students are using TPCASTT to analyze Poe's poem this week. The week will culminate with a class discussion of common themes in Poe's poetry followed by a class analysis of "The Haunted Palace." Below is my analysis of the poem using the TPCASTT system.

FYI: TPCASTT is an acronym for the elements of the poem that one can analyze. 

The title makes me think off haunted houses. I assume that the poem will be about a haunted palace and the spooky and weird things that go on in the palace. Because it is haunted, there will likely be some ghosts or paranormal activity in the poem.

Stanza one - In a lovely valley there was a mansion that was grand and beautiful. It was so elegant that flags made from high quality yellow fabric billowed from the rooftop.
Stanza two - People who walked through the valley saw people dancing to music around a king.
Stanza three - the front door was red and when it was open, you could hear wonderful voices singing the knowledge and humor of the king.
Stanza four - Something terrible happened that changed the happiness of the mansion into sadness.
Stanza five - Now when people walk by the house, the windows have a red hue and odd forms can be seen dancing.  Instead of lovely music coming through the front door, only sad sounds are heard.

Line four - "reared its head" makes it sound like the mansion is a dragon or a beast 
Colors throughout the poem - green, golden, yellow, red, pearl, pale
First stanza - angels, fair, radiant, seraph, glorious, float and flow, gentle air, sweet day, plumed - these words seem light and airy. The imagery in this stanza develops a happy mood. I can envision a lovely palace on a bright sunny day.
Second stanza - luminous, lute, well-tuned - good music. "ruler of the realm" is alliterative. The r is harsh though, not soft and wispy like an s. It says "glory well-befitting" so the king deserves his glory. This may mean he is deserving because he is good or because he is well-known. Music is something that would accompany grand parties.
Third stanza - "glowing" followed by "flowing, flowing, flowing" is assonance. I can almost visualize a mist coming from the front door. Poe also chooses the words sparkling, fair, echoes, sweet duty, voices of surpassing beauty. This makes me think the king is a good king because it is a sweet duty.
Fourth stanza - evil, sorrow, assailed, mourn, desolate, dim-remembered, old time entombed - these words are darker and sadder. 
Fifth stanza - vast forms, fantastically, discordant melody, ghastly rapid river, hideous throng, rush, smile no more - these words are more freaky than sad.
Personification of house as a person - banners yellow = hair; two luminous windows saw = eyes; pearl and ruby glowing  and out of the palace door came echoes = mouth; high estate = mind; red-litten windows = eyes and pale door = mouth

Attitude and shift-
There is a light and favorable tone for the first three stanzas. Then there is a shift to a sad and dark tone.

Someone can be happy and easily turn sad even if we don't know the cause of the sadness. 

Title- If the palace is a person, then the haunted palace could be someone that is haunted. The haunting could be literally a ghost haunting him or it could be a mental disorder, or a terrible event.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Slice of Life - Day 9

Weekend Accomplishments:
1. Ceiling of bedroom edged and ready to be rolled (painted)
2. Purchased bathroom accessories (two large towel racks, one toilet paper dispenser, two hooks, two hand towel racks) and ceiling fan
3. Visited Costco for necessary bulk items
4. Lunch with dad
5. Went to OSU v. Minnesota hockey game (OSU won)
6. Read chapter or so in "The Forgotten Founding Father" in preparation for Tribute Speech 
7. Planned two weeks for EBA Speech
8. Planned week for English 2
9. Planned week for honors English 2
10. Photocopied documents for the week 
11. Graded one set of OGT expository essays 

Still on the to do list:
1. Grade honors OGT argumentative essays (must be done by tomorrow's classes)
2. Resident educator task 2 (finish by the end of the week)
3. Grade revisions of honors assignments 
4. Grade English 2 ethos, pathos, logos worksheets 
5. Resident educator tasks 3, 4, & 5
6. Read OSU coursework for next Monday
7. Sign up for summer class at OSU
8. Finish "The Forgotten Founding Father" 
9. Write Tribute speech for Noah Webster
10. Grade demonstration speeches
11. Plan next speech unit
12. Plan structure for English 2 editorial assignment 
13. Plan Huck Finn sections for honors
14. Plan gothic unit for honors
15. Roll ceiling of bedroom
16. Edge and roll ceiling of bathroom
17. Edge and roll bathroom 
18. Edge and roll hallway
19. Paint quarter rounds
20. Plant seeds to get starter plants going
21. Clean house!
22. Iron clothes 
23. Fold clothes 

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Slice of Life - Day 8

Today, I ate a double chocolate pizzookie that was freaking fabulous.  It was luxurious goodness in my mouth. A warm chocolate cookie topped with Ghirardelli chocolate ice cream. And the cookie was big! Probably 3-4 inches in diameter. Oh! It was wonderful.  Every bite was delicious and that includes the Ghirardelli chocolate square placed atop as embellishment.  
My husband says I have a "sweet mouth," and this isn't provocative slang. Anyone who knows me will agree, I do love my sugary treats.  So I shouldn't be surprised, after watching a Ted talk called "How sugar affects the brain" by Nicole Avena, to realize that I'm addicted to sweets.
In the five minute clip, Avena describes how the brain reacts to sugar.  Basically, the brain never tires of sugar just like it doesn't tire of drugs or alcohol. Once you start partaking, it is quite easy to "need" more.  Ugh. 
For years I have eaten sugar with virtually no inhibition. I do eat healthy foods as well. I love vegetables and fruit.  But a staple in my diet is sugar. 
A person once told me that once you stop eating sugar for a while, you no longer have the cravings for it.  Do I have the self-restraint, the discipline to avoid sugar long enough that I won't desire it after a meal?  I've bee addicted for so long! What if I'm like a heroin addict? After a healthy dinner, I'll break out in a cold sweat and start itching for a brownie. 
My health conscience has always known that my love of desserts is not just naughty but downright dangerous.  But my willpower has never been able to conquer my cravings. What will it take for me to get my addiction under control? For the well-being of my future, I might just have to go cold cookie.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Slice of Life - Day 7

The week is finally over.  This usually means that I am happy for the weekend and the freedom that it brings.  Today, however, my happiness is twofold. Not only am I thankful for the end of the week,  but also I am glad for the end of test preparation.
Next week my students will take the OGTs.  Every morning for two hours, sophomores will come to school to take standardized tests while the rest of the students sleep in.  Because of the emphasis that the state, and therefore the schools, place on these tests, most teachers of sophomores use a lot of the time preceding the week to prepare their students for the tests.  By the time the tests roll around in March, it is all I can do to fake my enthusiasm for the day's lesson. 
No matter what ability level, there is typically some component of preparation for the tests. And English teachers get the extra special bonus of preparing students for both a reading test and a writing test. I teach both honors sophomore English and regular sophomore English.  In my honors class, I do not need to focus on the reading test because the students' abilities to read, comprehend, and answer questions about passages surpasses the material on the actual test.  Instead, I focus on the writing test.  There is usually no concern about honors students passing the writing section, but there is a  pressure to nudge the students into the advanced score category.  This means that students need to know what they must do to write a high-scoring essay, and they must practice it. 
In my regular English class, I focus on the reading test more than the writing test.  For this test, I really teach testing strategies more than anything else.  My students learn to eliminate all "no, no, no" answers in order to figure out the correct answer. We also practice dissecting a short answer question by looking at the number of points it earns.  This helps students understand how many tasks they need to do for the question.
Last year I began at the beginning of the year, and we did OGT practice every Tuesday and Thursday. This year I started after winter break.  Either way, the kids are slow to get on board and, in general, dislike the practice. But I have found that the saying "practice makes perfect" is typically true, and the preparation pays off with the majority of my students passing their English tests.
It definitely consumes my energy as I must work hard to engage the students, but I don't mind the preparation as it is easy to prepare. What I feel this year, now that I am done with it for the rest of the year, is eagerness to delve back into literature. 
I cannot wait to read "The Fall of the House of Usher" with my honors students.  And soon we will begin Huck Finn.  I'm tired of working on texts and writing prompts that are geared toward tests.  Instead, I want to have conversations with my students about questions that have no definitive answers. I want to have my regular students write editorials in which they have to research an issue that they actually care about and want to study. 
Yes, I know what people say...that if I'm teaching the curriculum well enough, I don't have to do test preparation because the students will learn and will pass the test anyway. I'm just no so sure about that. I think that for many students, particularly below-average ability level students, familiarity and practice with the questions are what they need to pass the test. At least these tests.
So I do test preparation because I want my students to pass.  It isn't the entirety of my curriculum, but it is a big part of it until March.  And now that the week has come, I am ready to transition my focus from passing the tests to enjoying the content. That is freedom. 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Slice of Life - Day 6

Today I had to write a proposal for the reimbursement of a journalism conference that I would like to attend this summer. Below is what I wrote.  

Practical application of the conference for the development of the journalism program at the high school.

The main reason that the Advisers Institute will be of use to the high school is because the newspaper has become a fully digital publication, and as such, the teachers need to develop instructional material that suits the change.  The Advisers Institute provides opportunities to learn about developing online publications, incorporating social media into an online publication, helping students make ethical decisions about their writing, and incorporating the Common Core Standards into a journalism classroom.  This knowledge will help to achieve the ultimate goal of having a comprehensive journalism program at our school.

Because the newspaper is no longer in print form, it is critical that the program implements positive and effective digital strategies that will promote not only the newspaper, but also the school and the district.  An online publication is an ideal way to endorse our school to the community.   The newspaper is currently published on the school’s Web site. Because of security risks, only the teachers can actually post articles on the site.  Learning about an alternative location will allow students the opportunity to be more involved in the entire publication process.  In addition, the presentation of articles on the current Web site is rather bland.  Though photos and pictures can be included, the site is not as eye-catching and attention-grabbing as popular news sites.  The Advisers Institute will highlight ways in which we can build a stronger and more enticing online publication.  By learning about coordinating social media with our online publication, we can foster an interest in all of the school’s events and promote cross-curricular education.  

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Slice of Life - Day 5

Why I like being alone:


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Slice of Life - Day 4

Today I heard a song that reminded me of another time in my life.  Of course, there are particular songs that we remember from our childhood or teenage years that are emblems.  Songs that we listened to over and over that have become part of the soundtrack of our lives. But this song was different.  It wasn't the song itself but individual sounds within the song that elicited my thoughts.  
It is an interesting sensation to be transported back in time simply by the sound of the chords in a piece of music.  Much like a smell can bring back emotions and memories, this music virtually pulled from my memory the time period when I first heard the band. As I listened to the song, there were only portions of it that actually instigated the sensation.  Whiffs that stimulated my brain so that I recalled only what it felt like to live during that time. I didn't think of specific events or problems I had encountered, but instead I thought of the person I associated with the song and the time in my life. That person is gone, yet his essence still continues to swirl around me.  I do not think about him a lot. I do not yearn to speak with him. I do not regret his lack of presence. What I feel is more a sense of nostalgia for the loss.  So when I heard the song today, and whenever I hear a song by the same band, I remember, and I relish.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Slice of Life - Day 3

For clarification purposes, my slice today supplements my day 2 post.  I explained in that post that I would be teaching my students how to complete a Key Word Outline in order to create their notecards for their demonstration speeches. I neglected to explain what a Key Word Outline is.  Below is my understanding of a Key Word Outline. Some may know it as the Cornell Note-Taking system. Obviously there are variations, but I believe my description is a common one.

The Key Word Outline 
Measure six inches from one side of a sheet of paper and draw a vertical line down the sheet.  The paper is then divided into a six-inch section and a two-inch section.  Take notes or create your outline in the six-inch section.  Once you finish note-taking, you will use the two-inch section to write key words and phrases that will serve as memory tools as you study.  Either fold the paper along the vertical line or cover up the six-inch section in order to practice and memorize the content. 
This is a great tool for learn eras because not only does it provide an efficient method of studying, but also it helps students identify the most important words and phrases from content material. 

My students will be giving their demonstration speeches soon, and I'll be collecting their notecards to check their use of the Key Word Outline. It is rare for me to ask students to memorize material, so this is the first time I've asked students to use the system. I'll let you all know how it goes in a future slice. 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Slice of Life - Day 2

Today I have been working on a demonstration speech that I will model for my speech class.  Below is my outline for the speech.  I will be using this outline to demonstrate how to create a Key Word Outline.  Students have already outlined their speeches, but tomorrow I will be explaining what a Key Word Outline is so that they can create one from their original outlines.  Then, they will use the Key Word Outline to create note cards they can use as memory tools while they deliver their speeches.

MsWagg Demonstration Speech Outline

Main idea: To convey the materials, terms, and steps necessary to paint a room.

Purpose: To convince the audience that painting a room yourself is a cost-efficient, easy way to change a room.

Visual Aides:
·         Paint brush
·         Roller
·         Roller pad
·         Tray
·         Tray cover
·         Paint
·         Tape (optional)
·         Tarp (optional)
·         Cardboard
·         Photo of edged room
·         Slide with descriptions of types of paint (primer, water v. oil, matte v. glossy)

Imagine leaving the last day of school in June only to return to the same building the following Monday. For three of my teenage summers, I spent my days at my school, painting walls, doors, floors, and anything that kids can scrawl upon, scratch, and scuff. Eight hours a day, five days a week, I painted. Sound dreary? Unbearable? Not really. True, I painted, and painted, and painted, so perhaps it was a bit monotonous. But I worked with pleasant and interesting young people who were eager to converse about any and every topic, so the days were not terrible. Even better, I learned how to paint so well that I can edge a room with no tape, and when I finish rolling, my paint job looks professional.
What I would like to share with you today is how to paint a room so that you can paint a room professionally without the expense of hiring a professional painter.

Body 1:
  • Prior to painting, there are several decisions you need to make.
    • Color – dark colors vs. light colors
    • Type – location of room and use of room
    • Sheen – personal preference
    • Decide whether the room needs primed.
      • Bare drywall always need a coat of primer to seal the drywall and help the paint adhere.
      • Painting a dark room a lighter color typically needs primed so that you completely cover the previous color.
Body 2:
  • Acquire the necessary materials.
  • Step 1: Edge room.
    • Tape the edges if you have an unsteady hand or are not practiced in painting.
    • Always edge first so that you can roll over the edges to ensure no obvious difference between rolling and edging.
  • Step 2: Roll room.
    • Slow and easy so as not to splatter
    • Repeat over area to completely cover missed spots.
      • Angle roller.
Some may shy away from dipping their “brushes” and tackling the task of painting a room. It does take time and energy. It can be messy. But with knowledge and practice, painting a room yourself can save you hundreds of dollars. Just this month, I saved $300 by priming and painting my own bedroom after contractors remodeled it. Throughout your lifetime, you will live in countless rooms. You will inherit colors that the previous occupants loved but that you see as hideous. You will get tired last year's “Tiffany Blue” and want this year's “Robin's Egg Blue.” Remember this speech, and you will be able to paint your rooms with ease and confidence. 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Slice Of Life - Day 1

Life is a grapefruit.
Sweet, sticky, pink pulp
dripping juice on my fingers.

I stab the orb 
and saw it in half.
Carefully slicing 
around the rind
separating flesh from fiber.

Or maybe I peel and pick,
popping pieces 
like candy, then
quickly devouring 
bite after bitter bite.

Always I squeeze
the last drops