Friday, June 29, 2012

Fights in Middle School

This teacher had an approach I've never seen to squashing a fight.  This was a boy fight, and I think it'd be an approach that might be effective now and then on a boy fight, but I don't think it would work for girls.  I'd much rather break up a boy fight...even with that big kid on the left side.  What are your most effective fight-preventing/ fight-ending strategies??  Seriously, I'd love to know.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Layering Lady

I had my week off, and now it's on to class on-campus every day.  I've been really proud of myself because I 1) haven't gotten lost, which is a HUGE accomplishment for anyone that knows me and 2) haven't taken the bus at all, and instead have walked everywhere.  I like getting reacquainted with the campus.  As you can tell, summer has arrived. :)  It's actually been really beautiful out in the early mornings and in the evenings, but it's shaping up to be a bit warm.  These are the actual temperatures, no heat index added.  Awesome.  One of my classrooms is permanently set at 68, which is super cold to me.  I keep the house close to 80 in the summer.  Not to mention, it's incredibly unhealthy for your body to have to transition more than about 10 or 15 degrees at a time.

As humans, we're wonderfully warm-blooded animals, but unlike the animals that live outside permanently, (most) of us lack the body hair to keep our internal temperatures regulated when the change is that drastic.  The result?  Become a layering pro like me. :)  Layers keep you comfortable, and who doesn't want to be comfortable?  It IS admittedly difficult to layer for the 106 to 68 changes.  I figure I shouldn't really walk around in my fig leaf outfit, and I'd probably have a heat stroke in my hoodie, jeans, shoes, and socks.  Or maybe I'd just set off the self-appointed campus watchmens' radars.  Any great layering tips from my fellow layering ladies?  I feel a little strange carrying around so many extra clothes.

I'm spending my days working through an overload of grad classes, and my early mornings and evenings feeding farm animals and introducing the puppy to new things.

This horse is a big bully.  We'll call him the 8th grader of the middle school, aka top dog.
So sweet.

Kiawah meeting the sweet horse.  He was fascinated by her.  This was after she met the world's loudest mooing brown cow.  'How now, brown cow?' was stuck in my head for-e-ver.  She did end up touching noses with this horse, but I was too intrigued to snap a pic.

So, what are y'all up to for the summer?  If you're a teacher, how are you keeping busy?  More to come on other uneducational topics like eating a diet of un-processed, local, organic foods and NOT breaking the bank. :)  So many fun things!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Try Something New! Days 6 and 7

I actually did these on the days I was supposed to....but I've been everywhere but the computer since.

Day 6:

I roadtripped up to the Columbia area to see one of my besties and her sweet baby girl.  I've never had such a long conversation with a baby.  I'd never really enjoyed a baby so much.  And, it was great to see my sweet friend and have lunch at McAllister's, an old favorite restaurant that isn't too close to home for me, so it was a special treat day.

Day 7: 

I'm renting a room in a friend's house for the second session of summer school, since I have to be on campus every day and my lease was ending and is also an hour away from campus, plus the time to find parking.  It's a great option for me.  I showed up the first night, let the puppy into the yard, and came outside to see what all her barking was about.  As it turned out, there were donkeys hanging out at the fence.  According to the neighbors, you can feed them.  I got to pet them.  Definitely a new experience!  Since then, I've also seen the horses.  I'm really really looking forward to seeing the buffalo.  Thank you, Mexican restaurant owner that owns all the land behind the neighborhood.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Omg shoes

For my fifth consecutive day of trying new things, I went shoe shopping. There's an awesome shoe store in Charleston called Phillips shoes. I've been trying to go replace my favorite teaching shoes for several months, but they close for events like Easter, mothers day, and Fathers' day, which is when I've been visiting. I went today, and they were having a huge SALE!!! My Mom said "uh oh." as it turned out, I replaced both my favorite teaching shoes and my black flats for cparitively little. My teaching shoes are usually expensive because I'm picky like a grandma about the shoes I stand in all day. My impulse buy was a pair of five fingers. I had no idea what the hype was about until I started wearing them around the store. How often does a gal take off her shoes and immediately wish she were still wearing them? So, at 65 % off, they came home with me too. So comfy!

And, for your enjoyment, 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Day 4: Think on your Feet!

I was trying to make this really neat thing I found on Pinterest as a little treat for my mom when she got home from work.  I've been doing some major procrastinating and have found other ways to keep myself busy.  We love our cucumber tomato salad, so I thought it'd be a hit.  The recipe tells you to slice the cucumber with a mandoline.  I had  have no idea what a mandoline is.  It said that if you didn't have one, you could use a vegetable peeler.  Clearly, author of said post has not met someone with my coordination.  I butchered a section of cucumber, my thumb, and completely failed at the "thin slice" the recipe calls for.  I did what teaching has helped me finely hone: thought on my feet.  I ended up with this: which looks slightly yucky, but tastes oh-so-good.  Cucumber, feta, red bell pepper, tomato, and a little greek yogurt and some herbs to gel together and season.  Delightful....but I forgot that mom won't eat anything with peppers in it.  The rest of us loved it.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Day 3: Learning New Things

If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it may NOT be a duck!

Or, in today's adventures..... if it looks like paving tar and smushes like paving tar, it may not be paving tar.  While driving home today, my baby (17 yo) brother and I noticed some oddly smushed black substance on the road that turned into black tire tracks further up the road.  It looked like somebody overdid the repaving project.  All of a sudden, we got a whiff of something rather unpleasant, and it wasn't the salt marsh at low tide.  We noticed a water supply truck and some men sucking up a HUGE pile of this black substance.  As we drove by, the odor became so strong you could literally taste it and was virtually unbearable.  It was a gargantuan pile of manure, hopefully animal, but quite probably human.  Or, in other words, my car and tires STILL smell like shi-poopie.  As soon as rush hour traffic ends, I'm heading out to get it cleaned.

My something new today was a Fort Sumter Ferry Ride and Tour.  I'm sure that at some point in my life, I've been to Fort Sumter, but I have no recollection of such event.  My kid brother and I played tourist.  He works for the county parks, which means he and 1 other person get to do basically everything touristy in the Charleston, SC area for free. :)  I learned some new facts about Ft. Sumter and Charleston.  For instance, Abraham Lincoln was assassinated just a few days after the end of the Civil War, which happened to be the same day that the Yankees were re-claiming and re-raising the flags at Ft. Sumter.  It was enjoyable, and I spoiled baby bro with some Belgian Gelato.  It gave me a nice taste of Europe, walking down the stone street and eating my yummy gelato.  Strangely enough, I had a friend tell me just last week that Charleston reminds him of the best parts of Europe.  What a compliment from a European!!

Here are some pictures from our historic visit. :)

North America's Largest Cable-Stayed Bridge

The Yorktwon

Where the Civil War Began...

It's very difficult to get two people and a 55,000 pound cannon in the same frame.

Ready, Aim,.... Fire!

moving the cannon up and down to aim and adjust the length of my shot

View of the Charleston Peninsula from Fort Sumter

Same view from the Fort, but zoomed out

Bending to fit in the door

He's too tall to have been a confederate...

heavenly sugar coma

Monday, June 18, 2012

Summer Vacation: A Time to Learn

It's SUMMERTIME!!!!!!!!!!!!

School was out for students Thursday, and we worked Friday, then headed out.  I moved out of my classroom and had a very bittersweet day, but I'm so looking forward to my new teaching opportunity.

This week is pretty much my only week of traditional summer vacation.  I'm starting Summer Session 2 next Monday and will be taking 7 hours plus working on my masters project and planning for new curricula in the fall until the 1st of August.  I'm going to be a busy, busy bee. :)  August brings final exams, training on how to use / spend lots of money, a few "free days" in which I'll be setting up my classroom and getting organized, and then we have teacher work days and BACK TO SCHOOL!

So, I'll be learning in the traditional sense plenty this summer.  For my week off, I'm trying to enjoy as much as I can.

Father's Day Brunch with Mom and Dad

A rare photo of JUST my parents

me and my Daddy.... I need sunglasses!

In order to help with this, I've decided to try something new every day for a full week.  You learn something every day , right?  Here are the first two days.  I highly recommend both things, y'all .

Chia seeds as treatment for reflux....instead of Tums.  It worked, too...even the very small dose I apprehensively tried.

I also mixed a few seeds into my yogurt and felt quite full.  It was a much more productive snack than a teeny cup of yogurt would.

Paddle Boarding.
My Dad bought a deal for a tour on Livingsocial and couldn't find a good time to go, so Mom and I took advantage.  We got a 3 hour tour slightly a la Gilligan's Island but had a BLAST with the tour guides.  One is a marine biologist, so he and I connected on the science teacher front.  The other graduated from the same college I did and we had some interesting chats, especially since I'll be working in that sleepy town this fall.  I wish I had pictures, but I didn't want to risk ruining the camera, so no such luck.

I've also taken my dog and mom's dog to the beach once for a good walk/ play in the ocean.  I've gone once for myself and met some neat people after I got in from my swim.  I love that my parents live at the beach!

Happy summer, everybody!

Friday, June 15, 2012

A Gamble

I'm not a good better, which is probably why I rarely make bets.  I've had my hopes hung on a job.    Quite honestly , I was surprised I didn't start drooling during the middle of the interview when I realized how perfect the job seemed for me.  At the beginning of last week, the principal called my current principal and both asked and said really promising things, as I'm told.  My principal told me not to get my hopes up, but that she'd had a very good chat about me.  She asked what my take on the school and position were, and I shared them with her.  From that day on, almost any time I passed the principal in the hall or saw her, she'd ask if I'd heard yet.  It was torture to keep waiting.  I finally reached the point Monday where I decided I wasn't going to get this "dream job" and just wished that they'd call and tell me no and let me go on with my happy little life.

This past Monday, I was pretty upset that I hadn't heard and was (probably) over-analyzing things.  Wrong-pocket Man, as he likes to be called, suckered me into making a bet with him.  He said that he was willing to bet things had just gotten crazy and that I'd get the job within a couple of weeks.  The winner picks any restaurant and the loser buys dinner.  I grudgingly agreed.  By the time I got home, I had an email requesting me to come back and talk to the Assistant Superintendent.  Woohoo!  So, I went down to visit again, and actually got to talk with both the AS and the Superintendent.  By the time I left, the AS told me I should be expecting an official offer by the end of the business day.  It was all I could do not to jump in the air and click my heels then and there.  I did a little happy dance and continued my wonderful day in a very wonderful mood.  Later that afternoon, I got the call.  I have never been so happy to lose a bet.  There's lots to be nervous about for my next school years, but even more to be excited about!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Well, that's depressing.

At least the stress generally pays off.

4: Teacher

Most teachers deal with lots of job stress. They have to be well prepared every day, and they get very little down time -- none, really, while students are present. Many people think that teachers have good working schedules, but teachers take a lot more of their work home with them than other professionals. There are always lessons to plan, papers to grade and records to keep. In addition, the pay isn't much, compared to professions with similar educational requirements.
Increasingly, public school teachers face additional problems of lack of respect from students, and even from students' parents and the general public. Because they're paid with tax dollars, public school teachers are always under scrutiny. Few professionals are judged as closely as teachers are. Emphasis on test scores finds teachers held accountable if their students don't improve each year -- even if the students may be hampered by factors outside the classroom.
Go to the next page to read about a professional that's always been stressful.

Make my day

I woke up on the sunny side of life this morning, thinking positive thoughts about my day. My day has been completely made by two events. One- we finally taught the kids how to hold pushup position and do the line dance style army crawl through the human obstacle course.

The second thing is that the sweet grandpa that's been long term subbing for us had his wife bring in fresh from the oven strawberry muffins and orange salad, which is one of my most favorite foods. for right now, I am on top of the world.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Proud To Bursting: Career Day

First of all, we took our 8th graders to a Career Day yesterday, and it was WONDERFUL.

I was literally proud to bursting of my kids.  Unfortunately, I was SEVERELY disappointed in the etiquette of many of the teachers from other schools. 

I teach at an alternative school.  I still maintain that I don't teach "bad kids" I just teach kids that need to be reached in different methods.  I can't wait to see their yearly growth, which I'm sure is much more than one grade level based on their MAP test scores. :)  At any rate, these teachers needed a lesson in etiquette.  I repeatedly heard them trash talking our students, who were behaving at least as well as, if not better than, many of their students. The district entirely ignored us, refused to acknowlege us, and so forth during the group meeting, our kids took the very pointed jab well.  I witnessed multiple accounts of teachers pulling aside their former students who are now mine to talk to them.  One student was asked if he missed the teacher who formerly wrote him up nearly every day.  He answered, "No ma'am," and I couldn't help but smile.  He was both honest and respectful.  I'm sure he would have preferred to say H - E - double hockey sticks no!!!  She was sweet as pie to him, then turned around and said she was sure he was still a terror and couldn't be helped.  Apalling.

They had a blast.  Every . single .  time I peeked into a room that had some of my students in it, they were sitting quietly, paying attention, and participating.  Gotta love them!

Not so many interested in our lives.....

This guy was a HUGE hit with our kiddos.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

DIY Body Wash

I used another of my pinterest finds for an experiment in class today.  When my 7th graders did the Laundry Detergent Lab to reinforce the concepts of  'products and reactants' and 'chemical v. physical reactions', they LOVED it.  They had a blast, wanted to do it again, wanted to take it home and try it, etc.

When I saw a DIY body wash, I was a little skeptical, but scientist that I am, decided to try it and see if it worked.  I knew that this is something that my kids would love, especially if I could find a way to let them take some home.

* Plus, who could complain about them getting soap???? Most middle schoolers stink and several of ours have told us their parents can't afford soap.*
I'm all about killing two birds with one stone if possible.  It looked inexpensive and relatively simple for middle school students.  So, I tried it at home.  I really didn't think it worked, but the directions told me to wait 24 hours.  I did, and it looked AND smelled like real, brand-name body wash.  Next step: become a human guinea pig.  I took a scoop-ful of my homemade body wash into the shower and tested it out.  Success! I looked , felt , and even smelled clean.

Today, my 6th graders got to try it out.

Step 1: Instruct about the reactions, lab safety reminders, read lab together.

Step 2: Assign jobs to each student.

Step 3: Gather materials, trek down to the teachers' lounge, and make our invasion.
(We're not allowed to use a microwave in our classroom and the last time I tried to use my hotplate, the circuit kept blowing.)

Step 4: Prepare materials on the table.

Step 5: Begin

* 6 cups of water
* 3 bars of soap

This is just a 1 : 2 ratio, and could be adjusted as needed.  This made enough body wash for 7 students to take home 8 oz of body wash each and still have a little left over.

There are two ways to approach this:
1) grate the soap and stir it into simmering water until it dissolves
2) microwave the soap and mix with boiling water until dissolved

I bought Dove Men Care in the scent that has an orange label.  I snagged a couple of teenage boys in Target and had them smell the variety of Dove Men Care scents, then pick their favorite.  This was their pick, and the boys were thrilled with the scent.  This was good, since we had half the school smelling like soap for about an hour.

I personally don't like grating soap and didn't want to risk the kids cutting themselves on the grater, so we opted for the microwave.

Step 6: Boil water in microwave safe pyrex, then pour into spaghetti pot and cover with lid

Step 7: Put 1 bar of soap into microwave safe pyrex, heat for 90 sec - 2 min, or until melted.  It foams and bubbles- but will bubble over very quickly if not watched.  (I had it bubble over at home, but not with the kids--- they're better bubble watchers. :) )
Actively watching the soap melt

Step 8: Pour melted soap (use a spatula to get it all out like making brownies) into spaghetti pot, stir into water until most chunks of soap are dissolved.

Everybody wanted to stir! 
Step 9: Move to a container to cool.  Some recommend glass, but I used hefty cups so I didn't dirty as many things and didn't have to transfer it all again for the students.

Step 10: Send body wash home with students and enjoy their fresh and clean scent. No more BO!!!! :)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Elbow Burn

Today was field day.  Even middle and high school kids get seriously pumped about field day.  Think about it from their perspective- no class, mingling with friends from other grades, PT clothes instead of uniforms, whatever shoes you want to wear, massive amounts of junk food and soda.... what could be better for a teenager?

I woke up at 3:19 this morning to a massive downpour.  I'm a pretty sound sleeper and since I've started using an air purifier, the white noise in my room pretty much allows me to sleep through anything, so this was some loud rain.  It kept raining as I dozed until a little before 6.  It almost stopped when I went to walk the dog, but we got caught in a downpour on the way back from our walk.  I was so afraid the school would cancel the day.  

BUT, Thank goodness for rain plans!!!!!!!!!

We set up inflatables in one half of the gym and had basketball games, shooting competitions, shootouts, etc on the other half of the court, good music from our resident event DJ/ PE coach, and bleachers full of jabbering kids.  After lunch, they had snow cones, cookies, chips, and soda on the covered walkway.  For snack, they had their snack PLUS an ice cream sandwich.

The inflatables were an amazing source of fun.  One had a ladder up the middle and two steep slides, one on each side of the ladder.  The other was a racing obstacle course.  Both were a HUGE hit, though the boys did wrestle too much and deflated the racing one a couple of times.  Oops.  In my mind, every time a kid went through this, it was like watching a contestant on Wipeout or Ninja Warrior, both shows I absolutely enjoy every time I watch.  

Not afraid to play dirty
Yes, I know you were wondering...I raced some kids through the obstacle course.  It's taken me until this late in the day (more than 8 hours later) to figure out why my elbows hurt so much and are's from the inflatable vinyl.  I feel like a kid with cool battle wounds and I love it.  PS- I won two out of three. :)  AND I only cheated by sneaking a head start once.   I kinda got stuck in the bobbing things when I lost.  I mean, technically, I still won because one of the male teachers grabbed the kid and let me sprint back to half court first, but he definitely had me until my buddy helped me out.

An unexpected obstacle...sneak away student at the top of the ladder to push you back down.
Overall, field day was a success.  To look forward to on Monday, our last full day: a dunking booth (I didn't volunteer) and the opportunity to pie teachers' faces based on the number of points your MAP scores increased (I did volunteer).