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Brain Dump

June 5, 2011

Summer has finally arrived here in Minnesota.  I am not really sure we had an actual spring, we went from long-sleeved shirts under sweatshirts to tank tops and shorts.  Yesterday’s weather was PERFECT.  Sunny and 80.  NO RAIN and no tornado warnings.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to enjoy it.  Well, that isn’t exactly true, I did have a baseball game over lunch to sit outside and love the weather.  The rest of the day and night was devoted to dance recitals.  I am happy to be done with them, and I think today’s weather is going to be a repeat of yesterday.  I will be outside reading my textbook and doing my homework for Tuesday.  I am taking a class called “The 20-course make-over challenge” at school.  It is based on a new taxonomy by L. Dee Fink (contrasted with Bloom’s Taxonomy).  I am hoping that it will bring clarity and consistency to my course for next semester.  The best part?  It will FORCE me to build my course over and it is FREE.  The worst part?  It is at school, where people know me, and I feel vulnerable.  I really wear my heart on my sleeve, and I am very honest when I feel like I am not teaching to my potential.  I really don’t want anyone to think I am not competent, even though that is how I feel many days.   I also don’t want to hide my confusion, I want to ask all of my dumb questions and have discussions about effective teaching at the college level.  I have decided to tread carefully and to be SUPER prepared for class so I look smart.

This week is the last week of school for the kiddos.  They are excited, and I am sort of dreading having them home all day every day.  It has been nice to send them off to be entertained every morning.  After school is over, I am the entertainment.  I am not that entertaining.  So, we will begin with a list of what our summer plans are and go from there.  I want to go to the Science Museum and see the King Tut exhibit.  Jeff’s parents have already taken the kids over their spring break when I was working.  Katie is scared of mummies.  She may just have to suck it up and take one for the team.  Either that or I will dump her off at a friend’s house while we go.  (Is that bad?)  That is the only thing I have my heart set on, but I am doing some digging to see if there are any plays we can see (matinees) and then there is the beach and the pool.  I also want to check out some “drop in” art for kids places.  I have a few that I have heard about, and they sound really cool.  (Maybe they would let me play too?)

My other job this summer is to get the kid’s rooms cleaned out (oh, and mine too).  I am hoping that my whole house can be cleaned out.  PURGED.  We have so much stuff that needs to leave this house.  That will make EVERYONE feel better.  I also need to re-commit myself to a healthy lifestyle.  I have completely reverted back to NOT CARING about anything.  I have only walked once, and my eating is nothing close to healthy.  I have half-heartedly started by buying some of the old groceries with less fat, and trying to eat fruit.  However, I need to do more than try.  The exercise is getting to emergency status.  I really need to come up with plans for both of these things and stick to them.  It will make me feel better, I know that.  It is just that these two aspects of my life are not enjoyable to me at all.  I dread both.  Half the battle is turning my attitude around.  I need a goal.  And a deadline!  That is my motivation.

On a positive note, I finished my Theory and Practice:  6+1 Traits of Writing book and it was very worthwhile.  I needed more clarity for the 6 Traits.  I think it will be a great benchmark for me to use with my students to evaluate what they are reading, and for me to evaluate their writing.  I am still a bit unclear about how to grade their writing though.  I assign reflection papers for every essay they read.  I want them to write about their thoughts, connections, questions, inferences etc.  I don’t want to make this into a LONG assignment.  Just a quick free-write and then I would like them to draw some conclusion.  It is, to me, part of metacognition.  I want to see what is going on in their heads.  However,  many of my students have difficulty putting a sentence together.  I need standards for their papers, even though I want it to be open-ended.  The majority of my students do exactly what I expect, but the quality goes down as the semester goes on.  I am hoping that this book and the rubrics can help me put teeth into the assignment without making these papers too formal.

I also have read the paper every day.  I have missed this ritual.  I love that quiet time and knowing what is going on in the world without saying to someone, “WHAT happened?”  And having them look at me like I lived under a rock.  (Which I do.)  I also found this for Lizardek:

Hope your week has gone well!

  1. June 6, 2011 4:33 pm

    When did your blog get all fancy?! I usually read it in an rss feed reader, so I just noticed. The dilbert made me laugh out loud!

    • June 7, 2011 8:49 am

      I guess it has always been “fancy.” I haven’t changed a thing since I set it up a year and a half ago. In fact, I was just thinking that it needs a makeover! I am glad you liked the Dilbert. I read it and instantly thought of you. Maybe you could make the same suggestions to your boss?

  2. June 7, 2011 11:46 am

    Your constant grappling with how to be a good teacher really inspires me. I hope to teach again one day. It’s SO hard, and I think it takes years to feel really good at it. At the same time since you always have new groups of students, each with their own story (that plays into how they learn to write) it’s always new too. But the repertoire of techniques for handling the complexity keeps growing – especially when someone has as much dedication as you do!

    • June 16, 2011 1:07 pm

      Wow. Thank you so much Willow. I do grapple, a lot. It is such a blessing to have you as a commenter…I am so glad you did. These big questions about how to educate and reach all of my students the best way are on my mind so much, it is nice to share them with you. Your insight is so valuable to me. xo

  3. June 16, 2011 9:18 am

    HA– LOVE that Dilbert– who knew he wrote just for our Lizardek?? And you<–! Be nice to yourself as you fill your days with endless heavy lifting– health-wise– best book I have read lately that totally jazzed me up in the good way was Kris Carr's Crazy. Sexy. Diet– check it out– even reading it made me feel more healthy.

    xoxoxo, E

  4. June 16, 2011 1:13 pm

    There has been very little heavy lifting going on here. Although not enough napping either. I did start walking last week and added in the running this week. Starting is always the hardest. It is amazing how quickly the body remembers what it should do. Right now I am one of those people you see running down the street, and you think, “oh, honey…” because of their pained expressions and heavy breathing. But today, there were glimmers that told me that I could possibly run a bit longer. So, it has begun. Thanks for the book recommendation, I love the crazy and the sexy, the diet? Well, I need that! I will have to check it out! Thanks for the comment :) It kicked my ass into writing a post! xo

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