WHAT I WORE
Pic #2: Shirt: Forever 21 Necklace: Indigo Bean Bracelets: Shine Project Skirt: Forever 21 Shoes: Forever Young
Pic #3: Cardigan: Downeast Outfitters Dress: Target Leggings: Forever 21 Boots: A buddy on study abroad who was throwing them away. Thank you, Jordan Hall!
Lately I've been feeling really frumpy in pants so I've been hitting up the skirts. I don't know what it is about "work pants" but they make me feel ultra unsexy. Anybody else struggle with this?
WHAT WE DID
Seniors: We have started reading Lord of the Flies, and so far so good! I read on the New York Times Teaching Blog that Lord of the Flies is on the top ten list of books that English teachers don't like to teach so I was hesitant going in. But the kids have been eating it up like wildberries on a desereted island. To introduce the book we took a quiz on survival skills from this site. I taped A, B, and C, to different places around the room and then had students move to which answer they thought it was. No student in my three classes got to the end- most died of the snake bite. Some of the avalanche. Sometimes I worry that when I do these activities I am just wasting time, but when I quizzed them the next class period on their first reading assignment and 80% of my students got full credit on the quiz, I figured it was well worth it. I try hard to get the kids into the book before they ever open the first page. Given, with some books it's easier than others.
While reading Lord of the Flies we have had some great discussions about the way our society works. Does there always have to be a "Jack"- the jerk leader? Does there have to be a "Piggy"- the kid who everybody makes fun of? Why does our society insist we have these roles and is this inevitable? I love seeing these kids thinking deeply about things they have always accepted... our society, our culture, the way their social groups run.
Because age is such a factor in the book, we filled out a paper yesterday on what ages we are allowed to do certain things, like rent a car, see an R rated movie, or drink alcohol. We talked about whether or not we agree with these age limits, which ones should be lowered or raised, and why age restrictions are necessary in society. All agreed they were necessary (for example, no one thought a 10 year old should be able to own a gun or a 13 year old able to have an abortion) but what they couldn't agree on was at what age. Our foreign exchange student from Italy informed us that their legal drinking age is 16. Cray Cray!
Juniors: They finished Tuesdays with Morrie last week and I just finished grading their tests today. This and The Great Gatsby are my students' favorites of the year. I enjoy teaching Tuesdays because it's an easy read and I don't have to do cartwheels and handstands to get the students to finish the reading.
In one section of the book, Morrie talks about living life as if there were a bird on our shoulder constantly asking us "Is today the day?" The point is to live life to the fullest, to get everything in while you can, to not take the day for granted. After we read this part, I give the students cut out birds and have them color and decorate them. Then they paperclip the birdies to their collar. The assignment is to wear the bird for as long as they can and every time they feel it or see it or have somebody ask about it they are to remember the purpose of the assignment and ask themselves "Is today the day"? Some hate the assignment, but others love it. I tell them it's okay if they take the bird off, but then they have to explain to me why they did that. Was appearance and what other people thought so important that they choose to cave into those societal pressures? It makes them think deeper about not only living life with purpose, but on the role that appearance has in society and the deep desire we have to be accepted by our peers.
Next up- Scarlet Letter. Someone help me!
Funniest moment: A fellow 11th grade teacher was complaining to the junior team about the beast of a research paper that we have to assign the students. He lamented that none of his students did the paper, and in fact they all viciously hated him for assigning it. I couldn't help but laugh when he whined, "I mean, I had a kid call me an asshole! It might be true, but it just isn't polite to say it out loud!"
Sophomores: We are more than halfway done with October Sky. Here's my issue with the book- it's written by a scientist, not a writer. Homer Hickham, "Sonny", is a rocket scientist who decided to write a memoir about his experiences getting into rockets as a young boy. The book is in dire need of a good editor- there are key details to the story lost between paragraphs and pages of useless details and boring descriptions. I cut the reading big time for my students- basically just giving them the highlights. This is one of the rare instances where I find the movie to be much better than the book.
Yesterday we had the "sex talk". Sonny loses his virginity to a girl he doesn't care about after his longtime crush starts going out with his brother (Still with me?) I know I could skip this part of the book, but Sonny's reactions to the girls in his life and his way of dealing with heartbreak are pretty common. And kids totally relate. We talk about Sonny's desire for acceptance, for love, for some kind of validation. We talked about how we do stupid things when we are upset and vulnerable. When I asked why Sonny slept with the girl even though he didn't like her one kid said, "She was pretty and she was willing. That's all it takes for a dude." While a lot of students agreed with this, some were adamant that not all guys are this way and they shouldn't be stereotyped that way. Always makes for interesting discussion and I am impressed how mature my sophomores were throughout the whole discussion. Only an occasional uncomfortable snicker.
Because October Sky is a memoir, the students are writing their own "mini memoirs." This is a paper that I genuinely enjoy reading and it is always good for me to get to know my students better through this assignment. Some tell me about cruises and grandma's house and their cabin in the mountains. Others tell me about drug abuse and losing parents and depression. Their experiences vary greatly, and it is so eye opening for me to read these. I always end up wishing I would have done it earlier in the year- to give me more understand and sympathy for the young bucks.
Funniest moment: I overheard the most hilarious conversation by a bubbly, popular cheerleader and a small, shy boy. "Oh my gosh, don't you just love Justin Beiber?" she said to him. He was listening, but not responding, so she obviously took this as her cue to continue without stop, "I seriously just love him so much. I listen to his music ALL the time. I'm serious. I only listen to other music once in a blue moon. Once in a blue moon! I told my mom straight up, "Mom! I am IN LOVE with Justin Beiber! In love! I would give anything if he would kiss me and I could get a picture and then oh my gosh- profile picture! Even if I was married, I wouldn't care! I would just love it if he would kiss me. Have you seen me wearing my Justin Beiber shirt? I'll have to wear it for you! Remind me tomorrow to wear it. Haven't you even tried listening to him? He's seriously the best- I think you would like him I even know his birthday. It is March 1, 1994 and his middle name is Drew. We are going to have a birthday party for him if you want to come...." I grabbed my pen and frantically started jotting everything that was coming out of her mouth. The poor kid just sat there, wide eyed, listening to all that crap. He shot me a couple of looks and we exchanged knowing smiles.
Ah, cheerleaders. They never let you down.
And that's a wrap! My copy of Gone Girl came in the mail yesterday- can't wait to get reading! Remember, that discussion will take place on February 27 so get reading!