Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ~Elizabeth Stone

Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Wishes

I was given this card quite a few years ago by a good friend that I have since lost touch with. I loved the card so much that I had it framed and think of it every year when the New Year rolls around. I hope you like it too.

i wish for those i love 
this new year
an opportunity 
to earn sufficient
to have that which they need
for their own
and to give 
that which they desire 
to others,
to bring into the lives 
of those about them
some measure of joy, 
to know the satisfaction
of work well done,
of recreation earned 
and therefore savoured,
to end the year 
a little wiser,
a little kinder 
and therefore 
a little happier.

~Eleanor Roosevelt

Happy New Year Everyone! See you in 2010!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Thinking Back

2009


It has been quite a year. When I think back over 2009 I see a lot of bad times and difficult moments but a lot of growth too. I have much to be thankful for and a great year to look forward to in 2010. I hope that the year to come brings more good times than bad and everyone I love has a year to remember.

"Thinks" about 2009:

To my husband, it has been a difficult road for us this year. I didn't believe anyone who said the first few years of married life were hard. How could they be when we had been together for so many years before getting married? How could it really be that different? But it was and it is. I am so happy that we are in a better place and that we fought for us. Let's keeping fighting everyday, forever.

To my parents, could there be two more giving and loving people in the world? I continue to count my blessings everyday that I was born into your family and have received your love throughout my life. You are beyond generous with your time, your love and your money. I know you said you are fine and that I shouldn't worry... but really, at some point you will need to retire and I want you to be able to do it in style.

To my sister, congrats on all the happiness you have found this year. You deserve every moment of it. Your fiance is a wonderful man and your puppy is super cute. You will be a beautiful bride and I look forward to the months that come, helping you to plan and prepare for your very special day.

To my friends, you make my life full. You keep me smiling and lift me up when I am down. I know some of you have had a difficult year this year as well and I am glad to know that we were there for each other. We provided a shoulder to cry on, a ear to listen and a hug when it was needed. I think we are better friends for it and I look forward to all we will share in the future.

To the friends I have let go, I reached out to you in a time of need this year and you dropped the ball. I know everyone "gets busy" and that life moves fast, but I needed you and you never called. I spilled my heart in my lowest moment and you didn't even bat an eye. It is time to say goodbye, and good luck to you. Our friendship was just not meant to be.

To my extended family, I have a huge contingent of beautiful aunts, uncles and cousins. I love every moment we get to spend together. I am looking forward to the new babies, the new in-laws and more time spent laughing together in the year to come.

To my colleagues, I continue to learn from you everyday. I learn about the kind of teacher I want you be, and the kind of teacher I don't want to be. I foresee some changes in the future and for some of us it will be time to say goodbye and a time to move on to other things. I have appreciated the time we spent together.

To my students, you keep me going. There are days I would like nothing more than to stay in bed and spend no time whatsoever with any teenagers...but those days are far outweighed by the days that you make me laugh, make me look at something in a different way, make me learn and keep me inspired to do what I do everyday. It will be hard to say goodbye to you all in June and send you on your way to Grade 9.

To new friends made this year and re-connections made with old friends, I have treasured the time we have spent together this year, either in person or virtually online. I feel rich because of the time we spend together and the discussions we have had. All the best in 2010 and I look forward to see where our friendship takes us.

To my puppy, I love you and your cute little face.

To my reading, thank god for books.

To everything else,  thank you and all the best in 2010.

By the way...this is my 100th post. Congrats to me!

Puppy Playdate

Here's how the day went with the puppy's yesterday. (Note: We took them outside to run for about 1/2 an hour to 45 minutes but I forgot the camera, and it was way tooooo cold to take off my mittens!)


This is my dog Kahne. He is a puggle (beagle x pug) and is 2 1/2 years old.


This is Simon, my sister's 6 month-old golden-doodle. At 6 months he already weighs in at 75 lbs!! Seriously.


Tug of war.


Kahne has no fear. (Note: Kahne is only 34 lbs!)


Good boys!


Kahne finds, and steals, Simon's rawhide.


Simon chews on a rawhide AND the rope. Multi-tasking.


We don't give Kahne rawhide, so it is a real treat when he can steal some at Simon's house.


Jenni tries to distract Kahne with peanut butter on the nose....no luck.


Simon and the tree.


Simon is thirsty from all the running and chewing...


...but they settle down together to chew.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Chunkster Reading Challenge

I have decided to join another reading challenge for 2010...yes, I know, it's a lot. I figure that I read a lot and that I really enjoyed tracking my reading last year so doing a few challenges this year will be a new interesting twist on what I did last year. (Note: I do not think I am going to make my 81 book goal for 2009...so I might keep that as my total goal for 2010!)

I am going to join the Chunkster Reading Challenge which is being hosted here.

I am going to participate at the Do These Books Make my Butt Look Big? level.  I will be committing to 4 Chunksters over the next twelve months. I am pretty sure I could do the 6 Chunkster level but I don't want to overextend myself before January even gets here! The one good thing is that books from other challenges can cross over with this one, so two of my choices for the Books to Read Before I Die Challenge will fit nicely with this challenge (Pillars of the Earth, The Book of Negroes).

I am really into this whole new world of book blogging and reading challenges I have discovered over the past few months and am really looking forward to 2010. I have also set a goal for myself to read less YA fiction. I usually try to read as much YA as possible in order to be able to discuss books with my students and suggest titles they might like but I have been feeling lately like it is taking over my personal reading so other than the titles I need to read for my YA reading challenge and the school board review committee I will be reading much more adult fiction this year!

Coffee, a Snuggly Dog, and Loads of Plans

Being a teacher sure does have its perks. I love that I get two weeks off at Christmas time (I don't like when people accuse me of going into teaching for the holidays) but the two weeks goes by so fast. I posted earlier about my plans to finish all my marking BEFORE Christmas because I make that promise to myself every year and it never happens. Everyone can rest assured in the comfort of knowing that same things never change because I didn't get it done again this year. However, I do have a bit of an excuse since I was hit by a terrible sinus infection the moment I turned my back on the work and started my vacation. It was like the sickness was just laying in wait for me to let my guard down, it never strikes while you are still working...oh no! That would be too easy. Needless to say the days leading up to the holiday, and actually a lot of the holiday was spent in bed wishing I could breathe.

The worst of it seems to be behind me now and I have plans, plans, plans!


The first plan of the day is to have a coffee and a snuggle with my dog. Check and check. As I write this I am enjoying a Nabob coffee made on our new Tassimo machine as my little puppy cuddles into my side. Sometimes the puppy cuddles make typing a little difficult as I have to reach OVER him to get to my MacBook, but he's such a darling it's worth it. Getting back to coffee, I am starting to feel a little like an aficionado of coffee machines. I bought a Keurig machine for my classroom last winter, we have a drip coffee maker that was a wedding gift and NOW my husband's parents have given us a Tassimo machine. There are all sorts of ways we can make you coffee when you come to visit!

I am somewhat (but not really) concerned that I have a slight coffee addiction. It always gets a little worse around my mom as she always has a pot brewed and it is usually flavoured as well. YUM. I must say that most days I limit myself to one cup while I am working, but there are the days when my teaching partner, who drinks even more than I do, talks me into making a 2nd cup to drink with him, or surprises me with a cup from Tim Horton's. At least I am not at the point, yet, where I feel like I can't get through the day without one. I'll let you all know when that happens and we can schedule an intervention!

As for the rest of the day I AM GOING TO DO SOME MARKING. I have promised myself. Then Kahne and I will be heading to the "puppy spa" to get his nails trimmed and off to my sister's for a puppy play date and dinner while my husband works late. Ahhh, it's good to be off work. Maybe this summer I will try not working summer school and see what 2 months off is like? Maybe.

P.S. Thanks to Brian at The Zoey Blog for the "Nice Person of the Week" Award! So sweet.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Finally...a cute layout!

Thank to The Cutest Blog On the Block I have finally found, and edited, a blog layout that I love. I think it looks great, and I hope you all do too. Pretty and pink.

2010 is going to be a great year and blogging about it is going to be great fun. I am looking forward to starting and of course looking back at 2009.

10 Followers!!!

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!!

I now have double digit followers...super exciting. I know I not posted in awhile, but both my parents and my in-laws line in the 80's...no internet (well, there is dial-up at the in-laws but it's not worth the headache), so while we were travelling over the holidays I was cut off from my usual Blogger, Facebook, email world. It's an unusual experience for someone who spends so much time in the virtual world. I never felt a desperate need to go online, which is a good thing I suppose, it hasn't become an addiction (yet!) and I quite enjoyed being somewhat cutoff from the world for a few days. I still had my blackberry, of course, but I only use it for calls and texts so I was still mildly reachable.

I have big plans to write some posts about my thoughts about the past year, don't we all do that close to the new year?... and, of course, my plans for 2010.

Has anyone set any resolutions or goals yet?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Very Merry Christmas

I am heading out in a few hours for Christmas with my family. My parents, and in-laws both live in the country and only have....gasp!! dial-up internet...so there will be no new posts from me until I return to the city after the 28th (or 29th).

I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday with their family. All the best to you all!

Books to Read Before I Die Challenge List

I compiled (well, copied) the Indigo top 100 books to read last year and this challenge works in really well with my goal of reading every book on the list. Here are the 10 books I've decided to read in 2010 for this challenge! I can't wait to start.....

1. Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
2. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
3. Fall of Your Knees by Ann Marie MacDonald
4. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
5. Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt
6. The World According to Garp by John Irving
7. The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill
8. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
9. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
10. The Kite Runner by Khalid Hosseini
*Added on Dec 28th, 2009
11. Superfreakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
12. Why Your World is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller by Jeff Rubin

I highly doubt these will be read in this order however!

Monday, December 21, 2009

After ~ by Hazel Hutchins

Wow!! What a book.

This is another one of my Red Maple reads for school and I can't wait to hear what students think of this book AND to use it in my class next year. It is an amazing read. So far, of the 4 books I have read for the Red Maple program I can see After and War Brothers being the top runners for the prize.


This is a story told from two view points after a tragic accident claims the lives of two teenage boys. Kate lost her brother Josh and a heavy blanket of grief has settled over her entire family. In hope of leaving their tragedy behind the family has left the city and moved to a small country community. However, Kate and her family are unable to shake their grief and find themselves growing more and more isolated from each other.

The second view point is that of Sam, the brother of the young man who caused tragedy and took the lives of Josh and the other's involved in the shooting. Sam is struggling with the perceptions of the people in the community after the shooting. His family is subjected to speculation that they could have, and should have, prevented the tragedy. Sam feels alone and isolated as he struggles with his own grief and pain.

This is a powerful story that would provoke a great deal of amazing discussion among teenagers. I am interested to see what my students have to say about and to find ways to use it in my classroom next year.

If you are interested in reading the Red Maple books, here is a link to the book choices for this year. 

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Inspiration

I never fail to be inspired by my friend Brian's blog, The Zoey Blog.  He has a way of looking at the world and then writing about it that always gets me thinking, and his blog is a big reason I even started blogging in the first place. I love getting all sorts of little glimpses into his family and their adventures, even if we haven't actually "seen" each other in years. Both Brian and his wife, June, are the type of people that make everyone around them comfortable and happy and that comes through in the blog as well.

So thank you to Brian- for inspiring me to write a blog and sharing your family with the world through your blog and your eyes. I am super glad we have "re-connected" this year, it's one of the best parts of 2009 for me. Merry Christmas and have a safe trip home from Florida.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Layout Change

Yes, I am still working on finding a layout I like. Sorry.

Word Nerd by Susin Nielsen

I have just finished "Word Nerd" by Susin Nielsen which is one of this year's Red Maple books and I am very happy that I choose to read this book for this year's Red Maple program.


For those of you who don't know, Red Maple is a reading program for Grade 7 and 8 students to promote the reading of Canadian authors or landed immigrants. It is run by the Ontario Library Association. More information can be found here. When the students have read the minimum number of books they have the opportunity to vote with the others students in the program and choose which book(s) should win the Red Maple Awards. Each year the librarian at my school runs the program for our Grade 7 and 8 students, as well as the Silver Birch program for our Grade 6 students (also run by the Ontario Library Association). She asks for teacher readers to read through the books each year and meet with the student participants to discuss the books and ensure they have an understanding of what they are reading.

I have volunteered for the past 4 years and really enjoy the books and discussing them with the students. The first one I have read this year is "Word Nerd" by Susin Nielsen. It is a fantastic story of a 12 year-old boy who doesn't fit in anywhere, has an over-protective mother and is poor. This is a deadly combination for a teen trying to make friends in middle school. He is subject to bullying and excluded by almost everyone. When a deadly incident takes place at lunch, a peanut is slipped into his sandwich and he has a peanut allergy, his mother pulls him from regular school and he begins correspondence school at home. Ambrose, the protagonist, is a fantastic narrator and I believe that this book shows how many teens actually feel and the real things they think about. This might be what has lead to parents attempting to ban this book over the use of objectionable language. The author has included words like boner, boobs, etc. If any parents walked through the hallways while the students are at their lockers they would know that these words are the least of what teenagers are saying!!!

The book is a wonderfully realistic portrayal of a teenager trying to survive growing up, an over-protective mother and the incredibly difficult process of "being cool". I think this is a must read for every teenager, especially the "cool" ones. An inside look at the life of those who are bullied but have the courage to still be themselves.

The First Saturday Morning of Christmas Vacation

The first wake-up of vacation is by far the sweetest. Waking up an knowing that there are quite a few days between now and when you have to go back to work is a wonderful thought.

I always have grand plans for a vacation. I say to myself..."I am going to do this, and this, and this." So much is planned to be done. Cleaning, organizing, marking, planning. It's going to be a full vacation. But then it gets to the end of vacation and so much didn't get done. LOL I am sure there won't be anything different about this one.

I am going to try and do all my marking BEFORE Christmas so I am not rushing to finish at the last minute but like anything else sometimes good plan go awry so we will have to wait and see. I already have lunch plans on Monday with a good friend, a dentist appointment on Tuesday, I need to finish my shopping and I would like to get a massage as well. This is also my last opportunity to complete the 999 Reading Challenge I set for myself this year. I have ONLY 14 books left to read to reach my 81 book total!!! Last year I read 12 books over the 2 week long holiday so it is totally do-able!! (Here is a link to my original 999 Challenge post in case anyone is interested in checking it out.)

But I suppose I had better get off my butt and start getting some stuff done. There is no time to waste when it is vacation time.

Friday, December 18, 2009

DONE!

I am on Christmas vacation....finally!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Rejuvenation!!!

I have been feeling the "my students have checked out and I am still teaching, where is Christmas and a truckload of wine" blues the past few weeks. Today started out no differently.

I haven't mentioned before that I am currently hosting a co-op student in my classroom. This is a Grade 11 student who is interested in being a chilpsychologist. So naturally my Grade 8 Language Arts/ History/ Geography class is the most natural place for her to be to learn about that particular career.... Whatever. What it has meant for me is that sometimes I have someone who can do some menial work for that might otherwise have cut into my evenings- things like cutting and pasting displays, marking quizzes and scribing for students who have difficulty writing (naturally, the last one there would NOT have occurred in the evening!). Sometimes though I am scrambling to find things for her to do because she is so close to my student's age that it is difficult to find work for her to do and I am a control freak when it comes to my classroom.


I digress....my co-op student showed up late today, and as I had nothing for her to do I shuffled her off to my teaching partner to mark math tests. I settled in to moderate the last of 6 literature circle discussions with my class. And yes, after an entire month of harping about the importance of these discussions some students were still NOT prepared. For real. (I have decided this week my saving grace is going to be to speak as little as possible, because my mother taught me that if you have nothing nice to say you shouldn't say anything at all. There are some students who I have nothing nice to say to right now.) Anyway we settled into the discussions with the usual kids doing well and the other usual kids doing nothing, and the day moved on and on.


Period 6- 8D. Grrrrrrr....8D. The thought brings a headache. I am attempting to start my History lesson (Note: they have a major Unit Test on Thursday) and everyone is talking. So in the spirit of my decision this week I sit down in my rocking chair and rock. They slowly star to realize and quiet down. They are staring at me. I say 'I give up. Go read, study. The test is Thursday." I am greeted with wide-eyed stares. "Yes, seriously. Just read. I am going to sit here. Teach yourselves. This material is one the test."


One brave student raises their hand, "For real? You give up?"


Me, "Yup. I am really tired of begging you to listen to me. You don't need me, I give up. Go learn. I'll see on you'all on Thursday at the test."


To which a student who is driving up the wall blurts out, "There's a test!!??" (Note: I told them about the test LAST Wednesday and have already posted TWO sets of review questions on my website.) I just put my face in my hands and tried not to cry. 45 minutes later the period was over and they left.


So you are probably asking yourself.....umm, the title says rejuvenation? Doesn't it?


Yes, it does! I went to a Drama workshop after school and got a new picture book and learned a ton of new drama strategies I am VERY excited to bring back to my classroom. I think they will really fit well with my unit in January on Social Responsibility and will really, really help my students start to understand History a little better. There were some fantastic strategies to help students get into the role of a character and see the world through there eyes, some powerful writing techniques and sharing methods that with help the students who struggle learn from their peers. I almost CAN'T WAIT for the Christmas Holiday to be over to start some of these new things in my classroom!


How's that for a 180?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Reading Challenge

As we approach 2010 I have been thinking of what reading challenges I might like to take on next year. Although I do not see myself completing the 999 Challenge this year..so close, so close...I really did enjoy tracking my reading and seeing how many books I actually read over the course of the year and what genres they are from. I have started to create a spreadsheet to track next year's reading (for anyone that knows me a spreadsheet about reading is not all that strange, I do own my own label maker as well) and was trying to figure out all the columns I might need to track my reading and what goals I wanted to set for myself. 


I obviously want to read more books than I did this year, I really felt like I have a slump in the summer and can do better. I have spent some time today surfing around through a variety of reading blogs and found reading challenges that interest me for 2010.


1. Read the Book, See the Movie Challenge
In this challenge I will read a number of books and see the movies that correspond with them. After that has been accomplished I will post a review of the books and movies I have read/seen. I have decided to enter this challenge at the level of Saturday Movie Marathon: four books/movies. This gives me room to make a few choices and not be tied down to reading a bunch of books I may not like.





2.  You've Got Mail Reading Challenge
In this challenge I am to read as many books as I want by authors mentioned in the movie You've Got Mail. I love that movie and I love the idea of this challenge. Books to be read for this challenge can be
any book by or about the following authors:
Jane Austen
L.M. Montgomery
Maud Hart Lovelace
Noel Streatfeild
Roald Dahl
Kay Thompson
Shel Silverstein
E.B. White
Beatrix Potter
Dr. Suess
Ludwig Bemelmans
Mario Puzo
George Bernard Shaw
Thomas Jefferson



Some of these are my favourites so that's pretty exciting as well!







I found both of these challenges through an interesting looking blog I just discovered tonight so I want to give some credit there as well- Book Psmith. I am very interested in reading this blog more often as it seems that the author is just as crazy about reading as I am, maybe more so! And I love to read, talk and hear about reading! There are quite a number of reading challenges listed on the blog and I am looking forward to spending some more time perusing this new blog find!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Kitchen Renovations

My husband and I are contemplating a new renovation project. Our kitchen currently has a ceramic tile floor AND a tile counter top! The floor looks okay-ish but the grout is really starting to come up and we find ourselves stepping on small rocks on almost a daily basis these days. The countertop, which sounding quaint and interesting, is a cleaning nightmare! When we first moved in the grout was reddish which didn't seem quite right since the tiles themselves are white and yellow. Low and behold, I bought some grout cleaner and sealer, a nice little scrub brush and it actually turns out that the grout is white....double gross. So now I need to bleach it and keep it clean all the time because, of course, I am preparing food on it. As much as I enjoy having something different than everybody else a normal countertop would be great and I believe better for resale than tile.

So today we spent a few hours combing the aisles of our neighbourhood Home Depot looking at colour choices and picking up samples. We figure we can re-do both the floor and the countertop for around $1000.00 depending on our choices for the backsplash tiles...those things are crazy expensive!!

I see the next few months full of more trips to other neighbourhood home renovation stores and more samples before we make a final decision and of course save the money we need. I am excited for when it is done because I can picture it in my head and it looks awesome. We currently have white (crisp linen) cupboards and these will remain. I want to paint the kitchen a light grey, a bluish grey, once we have put in the new countertop and floor. The floor we are thinking of has a red, grey and darker grey tint in it and the countertop has a brown base with a similar linen colour and grey mixed in.



Flooring Option- Allure Tile Ashlar




 I think it looks better than I am describing here. Basically it's going to be a dark floor and counter with white cupboards. The backsplash is still in question but we looked into some stone (beige) tiles.

I am excited for it all to come together and see it finished...however many months it takes at this point!

I sometimes struggle with stuff like this because I spend so much of my teaching time talking with the kids about how people in other countries don't have the same opportunities we have to get an education, to drink clean water and provide for their families...and yet I can waste hours deciding on how I will make my perfectly good kitchen LOOK better. Not be more energy efficient, or greener, or reduce waste...just look nicer. It's an interesting dichotomy and something I often feel very guilty about. I mean should I be spending my Saturdays volunteering somewhere, raising money for charities or simply helping other people. Perhaps I shouldn't be spending my Saturdays looking for ways to spend money or otherwise useless things that won't make a difference in the end? And yet a part of me really wants to have a nice kitchen. Does this make me a bad person?

I hope not.

The December Blues

I have been suffering from the December blues. Whether they were brought on by report cards and a horrible run-in with the administration at the school, stress from Grade 8's who continue to ask me questions they already know the answers to (i.e. Which bin does this go in? Which class is it for? History. Then I would put it in the History bin.) Or my massive two-day migraine, but whatever it is I have not been myself and I think people around me are starting to notice. I think that mostly because people are asking!

I need to figure this out and find a way to get my cheer back. Maybe wrapping presents this weekend will help? One can only hope because I don't want the holidays to get here and me still be in this funk.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Home, Dogs and other Minor Ramblings

I am home sick today with a migraine. I probably should have been home yesterday as well seeing as the migraine came in early yesterday morning with our first major snowfall and a dramatic change in air pressure. Instead I went to school, was in a major bad mood all day and snapped at kids for small things I might not have otherwise snapped at them for. So today I am keeping everyone safe and staying in bed, where I belong.

A lot has been going on lately...school is starting to wind down as we head into the holidays (or actually wind up as the kids get more and more excited! Plus, snow has now been added to the mix so that's just GREAT fun *note the sarcasm here). I have been working with my students on a Literature Circles unit in our English class. I wrote about it here the other day actually. I have been so impressed with my students and the dedication many of them have shown throughout this unit. They are reading tonnes! And they are really talking about their books. I mean really talking, not just going through the motions. I think I may implement a talking circle once a week or once a month from now on! It would be interesting to have the kids sharing their independent reading books as we move through the year.

On a sadder note, my family dog Sebastian is not doing so well. We were all home for the weekend just this weekend past for a curling bonspiel in memory of an aunt who passed away. Now that my sister and I both have dogs, and I brought friends home to curl with me, the house was going to be too full. So my parents enlisted the help of their friends to care for Sebastian over the weekend. When my dad brought Sebastian home on Sunday he had a seizure and needed to be rushed to the emergency vet clinic.


Look at that face!!

My mom was unable to call and tell me (I had already left to return home) so my sister called. She was very upset, crying and the whole bit, which made me very upset. But Sebastian is 13 years old, that's pretty old for a big dog! I think we need to maybe prepare ourselves for what is coming....

My mom did call me on Tuesday to tell me he is doing much better. The vet thinks it was a seizure, perhaps caused by a tumour but seeing as Sebastian is 13 years-old my parents do not want to put him through the pain and shock of an MRI to diagnose the problem. I have spent a lot of time this week cuddling my own dog, Kahne.




How funny is his "I just woke up face"?!

My family has always had a dog around. My parents owned a boxer when I was born, and then we had a golden retriever when I was a kid, but it wasn't until we got Sebastian the summer before I left for university that I really LOVED a dog. Sebastian and I were connected, and still are. I love that dog and he loves me. We cuddle on the couch when I am home, he sits with me and sometimes still tries to sleep in the bed at night. Which worked better when I was single but now that I have a 200 lb husband in the bed there isn't much room for a 75 lb dog as well!

It will be sad when Sebastian goes. My mom has said this it, there will be no more dogs for her, it's too hard getting over it when they go. She is home alone all day and Sebastian has been her constant companion for many years so I can see where she is coming from, but I think she will be lonely without a dog around. I just hope he makes it to Christmas so I can see him one more time.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Where are the holidays?

There is nothing worse than being a teacher 2 weeks before the holidays....well, except maybe teaching 2 week before the end of June. Either way a 13 year-old child said something so rude and disgusting today to my teaching partner that I feel I have lost a little of my love for teaching. Even worse, I am not sure how I can respect this child when he returns from his 5-day suspension.

Now you may be thinking that a 13 year-old is not a child, but is some instances they still are. For the most part they still want to be loved, they still want to please and they still want you to listen to all their stories. However, I know for a fact that there are 13 year-olds in this world who have lived through more horrible ordeals than this boy has, and don't get me wrong his story is pretty ugly, but they made the CHOICE to have a better life. To live a better life. To do everything they could to make sure things were BETTER for them.

They don't mouth off to make themselves look "cool" because in reality that will make them look like a child acting out in anger. They make the CHOICE.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I may have created a monster...more than 1 actually!

Last week we started Literature Circles in my class. For any of you that don't know what that is, think of a book club. There are 5 or so students all reading the same book and they meet with the teacher (me) a few times a week to discuss their reading and at the same time they have assignments to do that shows their understanding of the book and the characters, etc. So anyway, we started just over a week ago and almost a quarter of my students have finished 1, if not 2, novels already. I am thinking that either I picked awesome books,, or books that are too easy...hmmm.

One of the books was new to me as well, Peak by Roland Smith. This is an adventure book about a teenager who attempts to become the youngest person to ever climb Mount Everest. It is a fantastic adventure; suspenseful, gripping and full of theme as well. The main character, Peak, is on the climb with his father who is a famous mountain climber. They have not spent a lot of time together during Peak's childhood and Peak does not have many fond memories of his father supporting him throughout his life. A secondary storyline, that becomes the main storyline, is the fact that there is a second boy, Sun-jo, who is on the climb as well. The novel touched briefly on the conflict between China and Tibet through the character of this boy and would lead well into further studies if this were to be used for a full class novel study. I really got into this book and the characters and I know my students did as well.

All 5 students who read Peak finished the book in a week's time and have decided, as a group, to move on to a new book together. They did all this without any prompting or influence from me. I love when students become independent learners and start to create their own learning atmosphere.

There are quite a few other students who have finished their book as well, and in some cases, finished 2 books. It's hard to believe, and I don't want to be egotistical, but that makes me proud that maybe I am inspiring my students to read so much! I have made some notes about how I will change the unit for next year; such as having the students complete an assignment before they move on to their next book. I also don't think I would do the unit right before the Winter Break as I am feeling very rushed.

But I am super proud of the reading my students are doing and that I have found a new YA favourite in Peak.

Last Words...

Thinking is easy, acting is difficult, and to put one's thoughts into action is the most difficult thing in the world.

~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe