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The End of Summer–Already.

August 10, 2015

On the Eve of a New Semester

I didn’t feel like I could use the same title for this post as I did on the last one–even if it is true.  Students begin in two weeks, and I have been going in to work almost daily for over a week now.  I am still on summer time, schedule-wise, but I am beginning to get serious about plunging into work again.  I haven’t written here at all this summer, and I regret that, however, I have been writing in my notebook which has been really nice.  No censor necessary, just me and my idiosyncrasies.  When Lizardek (Happy birthday to you Liz!) posted that she created a new category for defunct blogs called “You Never Write, You Never Call” I got scared that I would be banished from her “inner orbit.”  I made the decision that I had better write a post.  Even a bad one is better than none!

So, that PERFECT schedule last semester opened up time when I could do all the other CRAZY stuff that happened outside of my teaching responsibilities. I think I worked harder last semester than when I had 18 credits in the fall.  When I was finally done teaching for the summer, my summer class began…which was HARD.  It was called “Advanced Writing” and was instruction on how to write a scholarly journal article.  It ate me alive, that class did.  I also took my favorite Literacy Institute this summer, but still…that was another class.  By the time I actually had time to unwind it was August.  Don’t worry.  I did take some time.  I read several books:

A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout

This book is still with me.  I can’t really stop thinking about it.  I love the writing and although it has two specific parts that are haunting, I am aware that it could have been written with many more details of torture and horror.  I appreciate that it wasn’t, because I don’t know if I would have kept reading.  This book narrates Amanda Lindhout’s experience being kidnapped and held captive for 18 months (give or take) in Somalia.  It is a tough read, but I really liked the book.  I also would like to read Nigel Brennan’s book The Price of Life.  He was kidnapped with Amanda.

The Terrorist’s Son by Zak Ebrahim

I bought this book because of Mr. Ebrahim’s TED Talk.  I wanted to know more.  It was a short, simple book.  I thought it was interesting, and I got what I wanted out of it.  I loved his message, and I was happy that his life has been well lived.

The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout

I was obsessed with this one!  I loved it.  I love Elizabeth Strout.  This book is another master of characterization–with all the characters.  It also dips briefly into the Somali community and the perspective of an immigrant.  It was excellent.  I am also still thinking about this book.  I love how Elizabeth Strout can describe characters so well, and so honestly that you see yourself in them.  Sometimes a not-so-good look at who you are, and that makes you think about how to make yourself better.  Her words are powerful.

A Curious Mind by Brian Grazer

I read this one with a class in mind, but it was pretty good just for me.  I decided against using it in my class mostly because of the hard cover, $25 status.  I can’t really ask my students to pay that much for a book in addition to their text book.  Especially one that is not *perfect.*  I liked the premise and I thought it would be an engaging read for my students.  Being curious is a wonderful concept, and one that is not encouraged even if it should be encouraged.  There were many interesting parts, but there were also many “name dropping” parts.  Brian Grazer is a movie producer who partners with Ron Howard.  He is an interesting person, and has interesting stories, but he also likes to tell about all the famous people he is around and how great his movies are.  And, they are great movies.  And, he does rub elbows with many famous people.  But it got over-bearing at times.  I loved his concept of “curiosity meetings” with a diverse crowd of people.  The list of people he has interviewed, just because he was curious about them and to learn something from them is astounding.  I wanted more stories from his interviews, but it was not the premise of the book.  He wants EVERYONE to be curious and to live curiously.  As I have said, I like that premise.  I enjoyed the book.  Maybe when it is out in paperback I will revisit this one for a class.

My current read was suggested by our CTL leader (staff developer).  It is called Make it Stick by Peter Brown, Henry Roediger III, and Mark McDaniel.  It details “The Science of Successful Learning.”  So far I am on chapter 2, and it is fantastic.  I can’t wait to think about my classes and how to integrate some of these strategies this semester!  I also have two more books I want to read:  Making Thinking Visible and Discussion in the College Classroom.  I don’t think I will have time, but who knows.  I have a new English class that I am taking that begins August 21, I am sure all of my reading will be for that class!  Composition Pedagogy is the class….I am scared.  It is with the same instructor that I had this summer, so I know it will be…a….challenge.

I am sad that I didn’t read what was originally on my list for this summer:  College Fear Factor, and How Children Succeed.  I have had these books for a year now, and I know they would inform my teaching.  ACK!  TIME!

As far as family time, we did take a trip to the Black Hills right when the kids got out of school, like the day they got out of school.  It was such a fun trip!  It would have been even better if I was not in the middle of my HARD class at the time.  I spent late nights in a chair in the hotel hallway reading articles and writing.  But during the day we saw Mt. Rushmore, did a cave tour, drove through Custer State Park (and saw Buffalo–babies too!), toured a real archeological dig sight for Mammoths, and MORE!  It was busy and fun.  Then, for the rest of the summer, of course there was hockey, softball, tennis, baseball, golf, dance, and plays.  I should get paid for my taxi driving.

OOOO.  And!  I got a new car!  Well, a new, old car.  Jeff bought a used van about 18 months ago, and he bought a brand-spankin’ new van last month–so I got the other one!  I am so happy to have air conditioning again!  Woot!  I feel very fancy in it as well.  Oh, and safe.  My old van was almost 12 years old and had housed babies, toddlers, preschoolers, and elementary school children.  In a word, it was trashed.  I still miss it though.  I am not used to the other one.  We are going to donate the old one to some mechanics’ school.  They will have a lot of practice with that van, I tell you.  Still, I am sad to see it go.  My kids grew up in that thing.  Not that I would choose to drive THAT instead of my new one!  Um. No.

I am not at all ready to go back to work on their schedule.  I am loving working on my own.  I know it will be here in a blink of an eye, so I guess I will take some time now to read my book, and pretend it is still July.

See?  This is nice.  I have missed this dusty blog.  xo

  1. August 12, 2015 11:46 am

    Oh! Oh! Oh! If I have accomplished anything this year, this is the best! I got you to blog again! YAY! AM SO HAPPY! :D You sound so busy and so fulfilled at the same time. Your books are also way deeper than anything I have been reading. I have just started The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls, which is for book group and I had to force myself to put it down to go to sleep last night, so that bodes well! Lovely post, Megsie (I love how you do this over at June’s! heeee!)

    • August 15, 2015 7:17 am

      You have influence. I respond to threats, really.

      I LOVE The Glass Castle. In fact it is one of the book club books that my students can choose to read. I thought it was fascinating. Let me know what you think! (And if you want to write quiz questions as you read…that would help me out…)

  2. August 12, 2015 11:47 am

    also, I didn’t realize that my name wasn’t showing as lizardek when I writing that comment and when it published, all I could think was, ACK! How formal!

    • August 15, 2015 7:18 am

      Word Press has SO MANY names for you! Good thing I know them all, too.

  3. Letha permalink
    August 13, 2015 5:41 am

    Thank you for the book reviews! You are busy, busy busy, and I appreciate the time you took to talk about them over at the Pie for me (and June, of course).
    I hope you didn’t go too long without air conditioning in your car!
    Lovely post, Megsie!

    • August 15, 2015 7:14 am

      Thanks Letha! I am honored to get your comment, you being a Pie Star and all! Let me know if you read any of the books, I would love to hear what you think of them! As for the air conditioning…I went all last summer without it and until the end of July this year. I appreciate the shit out of air conditioning now!

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