Thursday, July 31, 2008
Oh, I have soooooo much to do before I go back to work next week. I need to . . .
1) Finish writing unit plans.
2) Make calendars for August & September for three classes.
3) Write letters to my homeroom kids.
4) Write parent letter and create postcards to go in said letters.
5) Get my hair cut.
6) Monster haircuts
7) Monster #2 checkup before school
8) Finish setting up my classroom
9) Call out technician to fix my dryer!
I'm probably forgetting some things. Anything interesting on your back-to-school TTD?
Monday, July 28, 2008
I don't really have a lot to talk about. I spent the day viewing two weeks' worth of graduate class videos and discussion posts. I'm working ahead. :-) Then I wrote a new opening unit for my 9th Lit/Comp class.
It looks like I might have a break between this grad course and the next one -- about a month, if I'm right. (If I'm not, that's okay too). The break would be nice, as the first month of school kicks my butt on a yearly basis. I always think I'm all prepared, and then I realize . . . I'm not.
On another note, the house is more organized and relatively clean. I'm hoping that this weekend, we'll be installing the patio doors and that will clear the way for painting in the living room. Oh, joy. I love the freshly painted look. The actual painting, not so much. But we're almost finished! Yay!
And on that note . . . I'm going to bed.
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Friday, July 25, 2008
I pulled a sample framework from the GPS website for American Lit, but I think I'm going to teach it the way I normally do. The framework I found is chronological with the genres mixed (the traditional way to teach a survey course). It feels spotty to me, though, to hit a novel here, a short story there, etc.
A friend of mine from another high school introduced me to the concept of frontloading a survey course a few years ago. I tried it, liked it, then turned the fiction semester around so we start at the contemporary period and work backward. Last year was the first time I'd done that and it seemed to work well.
So here's my yearlong plan for 11th American Lit:
First semester: Fiction
1) Contemporary (or Post-Modern) period (short stories by Anne Tyler and John Updike)
2) Modernism: The Great Gatsby
3) Realism: The Awakening
4) Naturalism: Crane
5) Romanticism: The Scarlet Letter
Second Semester: Drama, Non-fiction, poetry
1) The Crucible
2) Colonial & Revolutionary period letters, journals, etc.
3) Transcendentalism: Thoreau & Emerson
4) Poetry: all 400 years of it
The second semseter also contains a 12-week personal research project.
I have to start making calendars for August & September soon. And set up my classroom. And . . .
Thursday, July 24, 2008
1st Semester: Fiction
The Short Story: Last Rung on the Ladder, The Scarlet Ibis, etc.
Novel Studies: TKAM, at least one more (A Day No Pigs Would Die or . . . something)
2nd Semester: Drama, Nonfiction, Poetry
Romeo & Juliet
Need one or two high-interest nonfiction books
9th Writers Workshop
Skills for High School Success (Multimedia presentations, technical writing)
Literary response & analysis
Research: the I-search, unless I come up with something different for research since it seems to have migrated to the 8th grade, anyway an introduction to hefty research project
Poetry anthology to correspond with 9th Lit *or* writing a webquest
1) an engaged leaner
2) an improving writer
3) an active reader
4) a student working toward high school success
5) an active thinker
with the totality of the portfolio showing that the student is making progress on the standards and adapting the habits of mind. Portfolios can be multimedia. Following the parent conference, parents are asked to write a reflective piece on the student's portfolio/presentation. This will mean actively teaching kids how to be reflective, how to use the vocabulary of reflection.
I think I'm going to go back to my old way of teaching vocabulary, which is to integrate two words daily with my DOL. This way, they are still exposed to 360 new words per year. I am horrible about not grading vocab homework. Although, I hate to not use the vocab book. I may think of a way to integrate it (the book) differently, as part of an oral or journal activity.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
My friend Pam is a middle school media specialist. We used to teach middle school English together (the principal hated us -- we could get into trouble by breathing). A couple of weeks ago, we went for coffee and swung by the school. It was weird being there, but good to be with her. Anyway, she went into her office to get some things and one of those items was a bright yellow folder. She called it her "bright ideas" folder. When she has a neat idea, she jots it down and it goes in that file.
Oh, my heavens. Why didn't I think of that?! I'm constantly jotting ideas for my classroom and lessons and things while reading for my grad courses or talking with fellow teachers or students, then I lose the sticky notes.
Hello! I need a bright ideas folder.
Isn't that a, well, a bright idea?
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Scenes from St. Augustine -- The Oldest House. It's a museum now and supposedly haunted (the ghost throws Skittles). The Monsters were quite disappointed that they didn't get ghostly Skittles.
Monday, July 21, 2008
Sunday, July 20, 2008
My brain is doing weird things. Carol says it's stress. I think I'm just odd. I spent an entire day battling the "I've done nothing with my life, have nothing to show for it" depression, which really isn't me. I spent another few hours obsessing about something that is entirely out of my control. Then last night I had this weird movie-like dream about a possessed house, a dream which featured two of my characters. I never dream about my characters. It was strange and left me all scared, sad and disturbed because their relationship was destroyed by this possessed house and there was nothing I could do about it.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I see the parallels.
Does your brain do weird things when you're under stress? Or is it just me?
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Next week is going to be horribly busy for me. I'm working in the house -- not construction, but cleaning and organization. We have too much stuff and everything is in the wrong place. However, we've got to be better organized before school starts, or the Monsters and I will never survive.
I'd hoped the renovation stuff would be complete before school started, but it's not going to happen. We're much closer, but no banana. Maybe by Labor Day or fall break (October). Yeah, that would be good.
Fall Into Me is essentially finished. I have some clean-up, fill-in work to do, but I have until August 6, so I'm good on time. I'm still thinking through what to work on next. I probably won't start anything until after the beginning of August. My brain is tired, and I need to be focused on school prep right now.
Oh, yeah, I have to go work in my classroom next week, too. Where did summer go?!
Friday, July 18, 2008
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Images from St. Augustine -- A white peacock from the Fountain of Youth. The attraction itself is a little hokey (although the planetarium is so worth it), but the fourteen acres of grounds are fabulous. I have a whole series of photos of Monster #2 getting up close and personal with this peacock. The fun part was the squirrels. There are coin-operated peanut dispensers near the gift shop. When you turn the crank, the squirrels come running. Tons of squirrels. Like a squirrel pack! And they will eat out of your hand. The Monsters thought that was fabulous.
I got nothing. Absolutely nothing of interest to talk about today. Author copies of His Ordinary Life showed up yesterday, which was kind of neat. The tub is sitting in the bathroom and we only scratched the new flooring a teensy bit (I refuse to stress over that. It's a house, not a showroom. It won't be perfect forever.). I painted the bedroom ceiling and refinished the headboard. Today, I have to paint the bedroom walls.
I was going to talk about the different sides of quitting, but I'm not coherent enough for it to make sense, so we'll save that for another day.
Monday, July 14, 2008
I am within about 2K of finishing Fall Into Me. Now, if I could just sit down and go straight through those scenes. But nooooooo. It's not happening like that. That would be too easy.
Mary (MJ) can't believe I posted a countdown to school. I actually need that ticking clock to keep me focused on what needs to happen in July. That would be . . .
1) Clean out Monster #1's closet.
2) Clean out Monster #2's closet.
3) Get my classroom ready (I always do this before preplanning. Preplanning is for, well, planning.)
4) Clear book closet in mobile unit for Connie. (I am so excited about sharing a unit with her!)
5) Write year, semester and unit plans for Brit Lit, Amer. Lit, 9th Writers Workshop, 9th Lit
6) Make August calendars for above classes.
7) Turn in Fall Into Me to Anne the Editor Goddess.
Then there's the renovation TTD list for this week:
1) Paint bedroom ceiling
2) Repair wall under bedroom window (Monster #2 put his knee through my dry wall trying to look out the window)
3) Paint bedroom walls
4) Paint dresser and headboard
5) Prime bedroom floor
6) Install bedroom flooring
7) Stage furniture.
Do you make TTD lists? Or are you a play-by-ear kinda person?
Friday, July 11, 2008
Believe it or not, it's been five years this summer since I returned to writing after taking a sabbatical for about a year. Steph has blogged about how she misses the good ol' days of our early blogging, when it was new and fresh and we didn't know who was watching us. Scariest moment of my blogging life? Having an agent show up to comment that I really shouldn't talk about rejections on my blog. They didn't like to see that. Best moment? Having Deidre Knight show up to comment on one of my posts. That was cool.
But the truth is, rejection is hard. It's demoralizing. It's frustrating.
As an admitted control freak, I've learned that one of the hardest facets of being a writer for me is the letting go involved in submitting. However, the letting go is crucial. I can write a great book. I can put it out there. And that's where my control of the situation stops.
In the past five years, my outlook on submitting and rejection has changed. Early on, I took each rejection letter to heart. Doing so chipped away at me. I let it beat me down. However, over time and through some non-writing circumstances, I changed and that, to paraphrase Frost, has made all the difference. The rejections still sting. Sometimes they make me crazy.
My new attitude is this -- I can write a great book. I can submit it when it's requested. And I can let it go. At the time it goes in the mail, I've done everything I can do. At that point, it's a fifty-fifty shot and the outcome depends on the person on the receiving end. She (or he) will either like it or not. If I get a rejection, I can roll with that. That means pick it up, write something new, start all over again.
Recently I was cleaning out the office so we could complete the renovations in that room. In my old desk was the folder full of rejection letters. I considered throwing them out. I ended up carting them to school. Why? They're going on my wall as a montage, with a headline on them that will say something like "you don't lose until you quit." I think. I'm still thinking through that part. If you have suggestions, I'm open!
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Thirteen things I love about summer:
1) Not having a schedule
2) Staying up late to write
3) Sleeping late
4) Hanging out with the Monsters
5) Going to the lake (which we haven't done this year)
6) The smell of freshly cut grass
7) The way the freshly cut grass smells after a rain
8) Going for ice cream. Just because.
9) The pool (which is green and nasty right now. We're having an impossible time maintaining it this year)
10) Hanging out with my friends (another thing I haven't done much of this summer, since we're all too dang busy)
11) Grilling out.
12) The beach
13) Coffee on the front porch
What are your favorite things about summer?
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
I'm in the last chapter or so of Fall Into Me! Whoo!
Only endings are the hardest parts of anything for me to write. And once it's finished, that means I'm on page one again . . .
Thursday, July 03, 2008
I'm less than 10K from finishing FALL INTO ME (the new title for Troy Lee's book). If I turn it in early, I'm seriously tempted to take a week, maybe two, off from writing. Tempted, but then my brain is thinking . . . you could get a great start on the fall project in two weeks. But I don't want to burn out, either, and I've been writing fast this summer.
I'm officially half way into my graduate degree. I only have five more classes and I will be finished! Well, then there's three years of doctoral work. I think I get a break between this current class and the next one. That would be nice.
What about you? If you write, do you schedule yourself time off or is it all-writing, all-the-time?
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
Carol teased me last night with the beginning of her western romance. I say teased, because after reading those first few pages, I am in love and want more. We talked about why I'm in love and a big part is the hero. He's great and he's been lost in unrequited feelings for the heroine for a long time, it appears.
Let me tell you, I love me some good pining.
Here's my list of the elements I love in the romance novels I read (some of these you may never find in a Linda Winfree novel, though):
1) Pining. (See above)
2) Alphas who are alpha, but not above groveling to win the heroine back.
4) A Big Mis plot, if it's really well done and I can suspend disbelief.
5) Relationship in jeopardy plots.
6) A strong heroine. I don't like whiny women in real life, why would I want to read about one?
There's more, of course, but that's a start. What are your favorite romance elements?