Saturday, August 29, 2009

A Dog's Life - The Autobiography of a Stray

Being the dog person that I am, I was instantly interested when I saw this book in a scholastic catalogue. And when I noticed that it was written by Ann M. Martin, I knew it was definitely on my wish-list. (Yes, I grew up in the era of The Babysitters Club series. I was the proud owner of #'s 1-100. Yes, seriously.)
I really enjoyed this book. Many parts made me cry and a few made me laugh. It made me want to go home and love on my dogs. It also made me want to adopt every stray dog on the planet : ) I would definitely recommend this book for all students intermediate and above. It will expose the student to death and grief in a serious way, but not in a way that is too heavy for their level of maturity. It is unique and well written so that adults could really enjoy it as well. has a great site with more resources related to this book, including a really great message from Martin about writing. Find it here.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Jodi Picoult Book Deal

Yes, you heard right. Jodi Picoult books are buy 2, get 1 free at Barnes and Noble. I am not sure how long this has been going on, or how long it will last, but they are sitting out on a table at the B&N here in BG. I am not sure if all of the titles are buy2,get1, but they did have several to choose from. I chose Salem Falls, Mercy, and Second Glance. Any ideas on which to read first??

(If you are a JP fan and want to make a suggestion, it may help if you knew that I have already read Nineteen Minutes, My Sister's Keeper, and Plain Truth and enjoyed them all)

Deep and Dark and Dangerous

I read this book because a lot of my fourth grade girls last year loved it. Some boys are even into some of her other books too. I thought this one was okay, but I would definitely not have liked it as a ten year old girl! I am not going to lie: it did freak me out a little bit. Yes, it was very predictable and you can tell that it was written for tweens and young teens, but it was still just a little bit creepy. But you have to remember that this is coming from someone who doesn't watch scary movies anymore because even the corny ones keep her up at night. So take this review with a grain of salt. But, if you do have a younger child who is interested in this author, please proceed with caution.

Even though it was spooky, I think I will read MDH's Wait Til Helen Comes next. I read this book in sixth grade and don't remember a thing about it except that I liked it. I don't even think it scared me then (but neither did the movies at that time - it's amazing what living alone will do to you!). Plus I have a boy in my class who is reading a copy from my class library right now. He is a bit of a difficult student and maybe, just maybe, we could make a connection through this author/genre??

Teach Like Your Hair's On Fire... and my ramblings

I just finished reading the above book Teach Like Your Hair's On Fire by Rafe Esquith. I love reading books that I think will inspire me and give me ideas on how to be a better teacher, but the truth is, most books for educators are a huge snore fest. However, this book was different. At times I felt very inspired and it was a very easy read. His writing style was not boring in the least. He also had lots of good ideas that I could maybe use in my own classroom. I may post more on those later. And his kids really are amazing. You can view their official website here.

That being said, I am still undecided on whether I am a fan or not. Yes, at times I did feel inspired, but at times I also felt very discouraged. A lot of his ideas are really, really great, but putting them into practice is a whole different story. His world is completely different from mine. I would like to hear his take on RTI and the time constraints it puts on all other subjects. Sure, I would love to spend time teaching my children art and baseball and guitar, but when??And yes, he has a lot of minority students, but not the kind I have. I will stop there at the risk of getting myself in trouble. He has supportive parents who do not care if their kids stay at school for twelve hours a day because that is how much they value education. My kids value baseball practice. And I am not saying that is necessarily a bad thing. When I have children, I don't want them to spend twelve hours a day at school either and if they want to play baseball I will by all means let them!

Also, it is clear that teaching is this man's LIFE. Yes, I love teaching. I really love my students. And while I do want to be the best teacher I can possibly be, I do not want teaching to become my whole entire life. There is no way I would want to be at school from 6am to 7pm everyday. I feel that would be totally unfair to my husband and one day to my own children. My family has to come before my career, even if my career is teaching. And does that make me a bad teacher? I don't think so. What kind of teacher would I be if I was neglecting all the other areas of my life? And even if it does, I think I would settle for being just a 'good' teacher so that I could be a good wife and mom. It's not worth it to me to be a bad or even an average wife and mom just so I can be an amazing teacher.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I'm Gonna be an Aunt!

This is a picture of my brother, Timothy, and his lovely wife Katie. Until Saturday, I thought they were both just okay. But then, I found out they are going to bring my very first niece or nephew into the world and I instantly loved them a whole lot more! (not really - I actually already loved them)

Anyway, I am so excited for them! They are due the beginning of April. I know they are so excited. We all are. It is so hard to imagine my little brother being a daddy, but I know he will be an awesome one. They are both very Godly people and I have no doubt they will do the best they can to raise their children according to the LORD's perfect will. And I cannot wait to love on the little one and spoil it like crazy!

CoNgRaTs TiM aNd KaTiE!!!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Back to School Update

I know I've been back in school for almost two weeks now and have not posted an update, but hey, I'm back in school now! Who has the time??

Anyway... the school year is off to a great start! Life is as smooth as it possibly could be considering all of the changes. I feel so much better right now than I did this time last year. The difference is unbelievable. It's crazy how much having a year's worth of tips under your belt can help you! The first few days of school are so critical and can really set the tone for your whole year. I am so glad that I have focused so much on procedures. I tried to do this last year, but I feel that I have done a much better job this year. I have a feeling it is going to make a big difference! That, and the fact that my kids are so stinking sweet! Serioulsy. Yes, they're are a few sour ones in the bunch, but they are kind of that sour-sweet type, ya know? Kind of like sweet'n'sour sauce. I love that stuff.

Here are some of my "teacher" goals for this year:
1.) Love first. Teach second.
2.) Stay on top of filing.
3.) Respond to emails ASAP instead of putting them off.
4.) Grade and record papers ASAP so they don't pile up on me.
5.) Make better use of my planning time. (this is when I am going to try and make most of my copies, since the line can be bad in the mornings and afternoons)
6.) Umm, it seems like I had so many more than just these five... oh well!

I will let you know how these go. I'm doing pretty good so far! (And yes, I know it has only been two weeks!) More updates to come on how our new students and our refugee students are doing. For now, I have papers to grade and plans to make. Can't slack on Goal #4!

Monday, August 3, 2009

First Day Jitters

I thought this year my stomach wouldn't flip as much the night before the first day of school, but I was wrong. I am just as nervous as last year, my first year.

Because of redistricting, this year my school has around 115 more students than last year. The new students will add to our school's culture in ways that are scary and exciting. Thirteen of these students are refugees from Burma (more info later). My school is predominantly white, middle class, country kids. It is definitely going to be interesting, that is for sure. I know we will continue to be a great school where children are safe, happy, and thriving. All the change just makes me anxious.

Please pray for all of the students who are starting school tomorrow. Whether they are at their same old familiar school or a completely new one. Whether they speak English or Spanish or Burmese. Please pray for their teachers. Pray that they will love first and teach second. Pray for all of the administrators, secretaries, and counselors as they work to make sure everyone is where they are supposed to be.

Just Pray.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Books, Books, and More Books

Just for fun...

The BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books here. How do your reading habits stack up?

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen - READ
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien - READ 1
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte - READ
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling - READ - LOVE THEM!!
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee - READ
6 The Bible - READ EVERYDAY (but have never read the entire thing : / )
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte - READ (and want to reread)
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell -
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman - (no desire)
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens -
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott - READ
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy -
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller -
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare - SOME, BUT NOT ALL
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier - READ (and currently rereading)
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien - READ
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk -
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger - READ (not really a fan)
19 The Time Traveler’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger - (want to read)
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot -
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell -
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald -READ (and enjoyed a lot!)
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens -
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy -
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams - (it's on my list)
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky -
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck - READ
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll - READ
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Graham -
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy -
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens -
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis - READ
34 Emma-Jane Austen - READ
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen -
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis - READ (and isn't this part of #33?)
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini -
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres -
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden -
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne - READ
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell - READ
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown - READ
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez -
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving -
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins -
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery - READ
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy -
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood -
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding - READ
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan -
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel -
52 Dune - Frank Herbert -
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons -
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen - READ
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth -
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon -
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens -
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley -
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night - Mark Haddon - READ (good insights into the world of autism)
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez -
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck - READ
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov -
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt -
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold -
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas - READ (and want to reread)
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac - READ
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy -
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding -
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie -
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville -
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens -
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker - (really want to read)
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett - READ
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson -
75 Ulysses - James Joyce -
76 The Inferno – Dante -
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome -
78 Germinal - Emile Zola -
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace -
80 Possession - AS Byatt -
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens - READ
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell -
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker - READ
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro -
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert -
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry -
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White - READ
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom - READ
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - READ SOME, BUT NOT ALL
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton -
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad -
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery - (i think i read this in french??)
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks -
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams -
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole -
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute -
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas -
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare - READ
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl - READ
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo -

I don't really think this is the best list in the world, but like I said, just for fun!

So what about you? Are you a reader? How many have you read? What do you think of this list? What books would you add?