Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Monday, November 24, 2008

My Friend, Brian the Director

I think I have mentioned to most of you, my students, that my friend, Brian Thompson, is currently working as a Director in Los Angeles. Here's the link to his company, The Vault. My favorite video is "Don't Be Shy" by Small Change. Most of the other videos are rock. Brian said that he would be willing to make a trip down to SPA to talk about his career. Thoughts?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Theme Video Sample

This a sample Animoto video. My students made videos illustrating themes found in literature that we read this year.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Sunday, 11/16

We are finally settled into the new house. I just put up a photo tour, as narrated by Savannah. She kept jumping into my pictures, so I decided to go with it. The only major things left, besides decorating all of the naked walls are painting the stairwell and upstairs hallway, the arrival of the dining room table my parents ordered us, purchasing bookshelves and a coffee table for the living room, hanging a few more curtains, and making the backyard livable. In the backyard, we laid sod, but it quickly died, a result of clay-like dirt and dog urine. We attempted to give the girls vitamins to make their urine less acidic, but it led to uncontrollable drooling. Oops.

When the puppies aren’t destroying our little lawn, they are normally pretty well behaved. Right now, their favorite game is chasing each other up and down the stairs from the couch to the beds. Every once in a while, we hear a thud as one of them crashes into the wall at the bottom of the stairs. They also spend hours chewing on toy bones, chasing balls until the end up under the couch, destroying their stuffed animals, and snuggling on the couches.

I also take the girls on nightly walks around our new neighborhood, wearing their new blinking red tags. They have learned to continue walking when passing a fence of barking dogs and sit while I get the mail, but they are still working on leash manners. After the geniuses at PetsMart suggested that I continue to use their harnesses (which ease discomfort of the pulling) and attend dog obedience school (which I am not going to attend, because I dislike the superiority attitude of the trainers), I went to a cute little local pet store for suggestions. The owner directed me toward some cheap choke-collars, which I have also seen on The Dog Whisperer. We attempted our first walk with them last night, and it was a huge improvement. Don’t worry—the collars did not hurt them, and we took plenty of breaks to play in grass and snuggle. I wish I could find a nearby dog park.

Thanksgiving is coming up, and even though my dining room might as well be a dance floor, my family is having Thanksgiving dinner here. Since my grandparents died last year (Remember it was all within six months!), my family has been a little lost on the holidays. I am hoping that the change of scenery will help everyone to appreciate the present a little more. However, I am almost a vegetarian—there is no way I am cooking a turkey after my family raised them when I was younger. So, hopefully this will be a potluck Thanksgiving. Additionally, my new table better arrive soon, or we will be eating caveman-style on the floor.

This Thanksgiving may be Nycole’s last one at home for awhile. She leaves for Coast Guard boot camp in January. Ren, Ashlei (one of Nycole’s best friends), and I will fly out together, but we can only stay for a few days, because Ren cannot miss paramedic school. It is unfortunate that we will spend so much money on a flight, without having time to sight-see. Her graduation is in Cape May, New Jersey. SarahMoe, who lives near DC wants us to meet up with her sometime during our short trip. We’ll see. I still need to book the flights.

Noland obviously will not make it home for Thanksgiving, because his Coast Guard boat is somewhere off South America. But, he was able to stop by San Diego for a week while his crew completed some training.

Nathan, my other brother will be around. He is living in my grandparents’ house in La Mesa with Nycole. The poor economy has hit his work hours. Work installing fire-safety sprinklers is a little sporadic, because there is just not enough business.

My parents will be there—of course! Since all of their children are finally out of the house, they are spending a lot of time with the dogs. Tigger, the tank Mastiff/Boxer puppy, is turning out to be a very calm and slightly wimpy guy, even though he must weigh over 80 pounds. Don’t tell my dad I said that! Sam, the weenie dog, is just a grumpy old man who thinks these puppies have ruined his life. Pixie, the black lab mix, has developed a new habit of running away for an hour whenever she gets a chance, so she mostly gets to hang out in the front yard.

My loving kitty Hooter, did not move down to Santee with me. He loves going outside during the day to chase birds and lizards at my parents’ house, so we decided that he would be unhappy in the little townhouse. Besides, he hates my puppies. The new kitty Cleo misses playing with my puppies. The old one-eyed dryer cat, Molly, spends most of her time growling at Tigger, sleeping on the guest bed, and hoping that someone leaves the bathroom faucet dripping.

Back to my parents, my mom is still working at Country Treehouse Preschool, potty-training the entire mountain. I often remind my students that they should be able to behave at least as well as her two-year-olds. My dad is recovering from the shoulder surgery that he had over the summer as a result of breaking up a fight at Mountain Empire. On the first day of school, him and his students had a good laugh when he realized that he couldn’t raise his arm to write on the board. Luckily, he works in a woodshop, so the board time is minimal. And, yes, they are not in a new house yet.

Back at my house, Ren is busy with paramedic school. She is in class at EMSTA Monday-Thursday, 9:00-5:00pm. When she comes home, she still spends at least an hour memorizing pages of protocols. I try to help quiz her, but it is like another language to me filled with medical terms and abbreviations. She is on a leave of absence from the fire station to focus on medic school, but is still working a few EMT shifts at night and on the weekends. She worked Madonna a few weeks ago and The Jonas Brothers last night. She was amazed my Madonna’s performance and stage presence.

We both went to the Carrie Underwood and Little Big Town concert last week. Ren said that Madonna ruined Carrie for her, even though Carrie is her absolute favorite, because Madonna’s show was just so much better. At the Carrie concert, we had second-row seats! I never want to move back to the normal seats. This was our second time seeing Carrie, and she has really improved from her show at the Del Mar fair a few years back. That girl can sing! I love Little Big Town, who we have actually seen three times within the past year. Their performance skills improve every time we see them.

Since this is my blog, I guess that I should talk about myself. Whenever I am not at home, I am at work. Well, my classroom is a messy disaster right now, but my kids are learning. A few of my freshmen are still struggling to figure out how to act appropriately in a classroom and struggling to complete their homework assignments. My kids live on campus and have mandatory, supervised, nightly study hour, yet they still fail to complete their homework. How does this happen? My sophomores are moving along quite nicely. The big exit exam is in the spring. I expect that most of them will pass it, but I have a few kids who need to really focus on improving their writing skills between now and then. Last year, 98% of my kids who had been in my classes for English 9 and 10 passed it on the first try, which is an outstanding pass rate. Hopefully, these kids can achieve the same results. Most of them definitely have the desire. We’ll see. Oh, I also had all of them create little WeeMes and blogs. The blogs are pretty simple right now, but we will be adding to them throughout the quarter.

So, that was a lot about my people and animals. I suppose enough info about me is woven in there. Today, Nycole, Ashlei, and my parents are coming over to watch the Chargers game. It’s time to tidy up our little house.

Second Quarter Goals

This quarter, I will help my students to have class averages of at least 70%. In order to achieve this goal, I will give my students plenty of advanced notice for upcoming tests and encourage them to complete their homework, .

This quarter, I will try not decrease the amount of time my students spend outside of the classroom. In order to achieve this, I will talk to kids when they are upset and begin class with calm music and "a hug, handshakes, or high-fives."

This quarter, I will communicate with others partners on our campus. In order to achieve this, I will update the Blog daily and send home weekly Classroom Notes and grade printouts.