Thursday, April 30, 2009

Disneyland! Here we come!

Do you like my art?

In five days my entire family will be going to California and to Disneyland! We have been counting down and now that we can count on one hand (for Sawyer), we are so excited that it is so close.
This will be Sawyer's first time to Happiest Place on Earth and we are sooooo excited. We leave on Tuesday evening and will spend three days in the Park before we drive down to Laguna Niguel to stay at The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel for Mother's Day weekend (See, my second job pays off!) and fun at the beach.
This is my family's first Family Vacation in nine years and we could not be more happy to have all of us there. Jarom, my brother, leaves for Marine bootcamp on Monday when we come back, so this will be a bitter-sweet farewell tour to him.
My parents have been awesome to help implement this trip and I wish it was tomorrow.
Our first day there, we are surprising Sawyer by taking him to a "Character Breakfast" with all the Disney Princesses. He is just in love with them all and is going to flip out when they come right up to him and talk to him. My little mommy-disney-thrilled-heart is overjoyed and I know that the crazy magic that Disney conjures up for little ones is going to make my day. Sawyer has no idea what he's in for, but at almost five-years-old, he is at a perfect age and will think that Mickey in real-life is as real as in his cartoons. Our first stop will be Splash Mountain, as requested by little guy and I can't wait to get back to tell you all about it.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Poem of the Day in Ms. Demke's Class

by John Lennon

Imagine there's no Heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world

You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one

. . . need I say more?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Poetry Continued

Last week I wrote about my students reading poetry and how one of my students thought that the dates next to Elizabeth Barrett Browning's name were the year in which she apparently slaved away at this poem, taking her about 60 years to write it.
Yesterday, we read The Tiger by William Blake. You may know him, "Tiger! Tiger! Burning Bright. Through the forests of the night. . . " I'm sure you were forced to read it in school, just like my students were yesterday. : ) Trust me, I see the irony.
Yesterday, same student from last week, saw the title of the poem, The Tiger, and yelled, "Oh boy! Is this 'Eye of the Tiger?'"
I'm not kidding. Thought you'd like to know. I wonder what Blake would think?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

36 Days and Counting

It's Spring! . . .sort of. It's supposed to snow today, but I am positive that spring is on it's way. Yesterday was gorgeous. Stuart and I (mostly Stuart) put together our new patio set and we are so excited for the warm weather, BBQs, and having friends over.
We were quite busy over the long weekend. We put in new carpet downstairs, got new couches, did yard work, babysat Mason, cleaned and organized the playroom, I hosted a baby shower, we had Easter celebration with my family, the Easter bunny came, we registered Sawyer for kindergarten, and went shopping at Home Depot, IKEA, Ross, etc. to name a few places. We kept pretty busy this weekend but got lots and lots done. We are so excited that our little house is becoming a home! For those of you in the area, can't wait to have you stop by!

After my awesome Spring Break spent with my husband and son, I do NOT want to be at school anymore. I am basically check out now and hoping the students won't notice. I'll start putting things away. Start cleaning. I don't think they'll notice. They are pretty checked out too.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

You Wanted to Know

How big a nerd am I? Seriously? You don't know already?
Yesterday, I went to a conference, it was entitled "The Best Books of the Past Decade for Teens and How to Use Them in Your Program."
This conference was like going to a Beatles concert for me (if that was possible), like finding a secret free stash of the great chocolate as big as the world, like finding a pair of cute Steve Maddens on a clearance rack. My husband texted me in the middle of the conference and I literally told him that I was so "into" this conference that I would have to talk him later, and "sigh, why are you interrupting me (just kidding, Baby! Exaggeration makes good stories into better stories)?!!!"
This conference gave my a list of Cambria-crack, that's right, over 300 titles of books for teens that Cambria NEEDS TO READ! I was so blasted excited when I left the conference that I drove straight to the bookstore and if I hadn't been for some self-conscience that my husband makes me have, probably would have blown all of our savings on books (But don't worry, Baby, I didn't.).
This conference made me realize (well, not really, made me reaffirm) how important it is that children (teenagers included) see grown-ups model how important/essential/life-or-death (okay, maybe not that)/FUN reading is. Studies show that if prekindergarten children are not read to or shown by example by adults how cool reading is, they will struggle, fall behind, and even-GASP-hate reading by the time they are in 6th grade-that means no "SuperFudge" for them. No Dahl references, no joy at Charlie discovering that golden ticket, they hate reading. Are you kidding me? You can't hate James and that Giant Peach, why it's delightful. I can't have one more student say to me, "I don't know who Charlotte, Old Yeller, Little Anne/Old Dan, Miss Nelson, BFG, and Sam Am I are."
These same studies show there is a direct correlation between these kids lack of literacy and their "behavior problems" in class. That means that as a Freshmen teacher, I have the daunting job of trying to get students who HATE to read, read The Most Dangerous Game, A Christmas Carol (and you already know how I feel about that book-I cry EVERY TIME Cratchit cries over little Tiny Tim's body-oops, I think I might tear up just thinking about it), and The Outsiders (come on! Who doesn't love gangs, swearing, and angst when you are a teenager?). And let me tell you something about teenagers, especially those with "behavior problems," they will tell you when they don't like something-EVERY TIME!. . . so, for many who hate reading, anything to do with a book is not in the cards in a Freshmen English class.
My point? PLEASE READ TO YOUR KIDS! AND LET THEM SEE YOU READ. . .ANYTHING! You have no idea what an impact you are making on your little ones one way or another. Read!*

*Ranting is read at your own expense and is in no way by any means meant as yelling directly at you. Remember, I am a nerd.

I'm Sorry, Poets

It is National Poetry Month. . .and yes, I am a nerd! I love my Poetry Unit that my students GET to do. I do NOT make students go through long poems, analyzing every line, trying to figure out what it all means. Instead, we read some cool poems, listen to some cool songs, and I teach them a little about poetic devices with some fun activities. I am not a believer in any way that students should be beaten over the head with poetry.. .which is why that everything seems to be going well.. . .until .. . . .Elizabeth Barrett Browning, "How do I love thee?"
I think this is an important poem, not because it is particularly good or profound, but because of the pop culture references that the kids need to know. What a shame that so much of satire toady is missed by teenagers because they don't have the original art to compare to.
As my students look down at the poem thinking, "what the heck does breadth mean?" One student notices that I have the years that Browning was alive next to her name (1805-1861). As the other students discuss why this poem is "cheesy," this student suddenly blurts out "It took her this long to write the poem?"
Followed by laughter, some of it my own (Sorry student).
That was almost as good as one student who wrote a metaphor (another poetic device we are practicing) that went like this (OH! And don't worry, he read it aloud)-- "Friends are like butt cheeks, they try to separate, but they keep sticking together." Thank you, student. I'm sorry great poets, they are trying.
Another student today told me that Bob Marley needed to stop crying and stop taking acid. Huh?. . .ah, excuse me, student, Bob Marley is dead. . and really, crying? Student said Marley needed to pick up a gun and fight! Did I mention, we have also talked about irony in class lately?
Who knows what they are going to do to poor Langston Hughes tomorrow?