Monday, November 29, 2010

RIGHT Back into it

Here we are. Back in the Delta. Possibility of 5 basketball games this week. No planning done. None. One more time, none. Getting up at 430AM tomorrow morning to do some legitimate work.

Check ya later world. See you December 20th.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Happy Thanksgiving family and friends! Many thanks for all of you and what you do for the world.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Top 100 Books, How Many Have You Read?

Have you read more than 6 of these books? The BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books listed here. I'm going to bold the books I've read, italicize the ones I have tried to, and unsuccessfully, read.

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee

6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller

14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveler’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - C.S. Lewis
34 Emma -Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe - CS Lewis
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 - A.A. Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
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
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
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
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-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
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
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
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 Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - E.B. White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
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
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Homemade Coffee Treats

Look at these cute little designs in the coffee from yesterday! Thanks @jacoffaro for joining me at Alterra.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Weird Contraption

Charlie St. Cloud

1. Zac Efron
2. Cheesy movies that make you cry
3. Zac Efron
1. Finish up resume
2. Pick out final graduate schools to apply to
3. Take the GRE and kick its ass
4. Finish up Unit Plan for the rest of the semester
5. Read a book
6. Sleep


The Most Intensely Horrible High School Girls' Hurdles Race You'll Ever See

Sunday, November 21, 2010


GD GRE tomorrow morning. Pray for me.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Big Goals for TGiving

1. Finish up resume
2. Pick out final graduate schools to apply to
3. Take the GRE and kick its ass
4. Finish up Unit Plan for the rest of the semester
5. Read a book
6. Sleep
7. Celebrate Ali and Brian's union! :)

Big push has been pushed!

The "big push" = the time between Labor day and Thanksgiving break. It's been conquered, and I feel great! What a huge relief to have lasted this long, and only one day taken off of school at this point.

Right now I am sitting at home, feet propped up, about to go to Harry Potter in a bit, and content with relaxation. My toes are a little cold, but that comes with the Northern territory I guess. I'll take it.

The week ended well, we are working on a new unit where students are working in groups on poetry and eventually creating a expository essay on them. Should be interesting to see their writing skills, and also their analysis of poetry. I like the unit, although I am not 100% confident in it, since it's really my first time teaching poetry. But.... I'm not going to think about that for a few more days.

Once I was home we went out to brunch at a nice little restaurant and then went to a Celtic fair in Wauwatosa at the Irish Heritage Center. Saw some old bosses, nuns, and family friends. Nice way to start out Thanksgiving break.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

My feet are sore.

Forgot what it feels like to wear heels two days in a row. And I've got two more days left of games. 1-1 so far, hope we start winning.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Basketball, Game 1

Well, Game 1 is in the books! And it goes down as a victory, perhaps the easiest one of my coaching career thus far. Congrats Lady Lions!

(The other team didn't show up. Thanks for the forfeit though!)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

If, Made the List

Just reread the poem "If," deciding if I wanted to teach it in this unit. The answer is yes, absolutely. What a powerful poem for students to read! Take a look.

IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!'
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
' Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!

Perspective Reflection

3 weeks until I am 75% complete with this experience in the Delta. I feel both motivated to continue to make a difference (hopefully) and motivated to leave. What an experience this place has been. Did I think I could survive in Arkansas? Of course. Did I think when I was graduating from Minnesota that I'd be teaching 10th & 11th graders, coaching 7-12, and leading adult learners in a few capacities, a few short years later? Absolutely not.

What has changed in the past 21 months? A lot. Adaptation. This skill is not one I thought I completely had. Going to school at Minnesota, I always wondered if it was a cop-out. Only 5 hours from home, still in the Midbest, still in an environment I had seen before.

Now, I know that is not true. Arkansas is clearly not an environment I have ever experienced. Either is the profession or assignments I have received in the past almost two years. I have proved I am capable of more than I thought I was. A great feeling, and hopefully something I will remember as I apply (and subsequently get rejected) from jobs and schools in the coming weeks.

Student Death

We have had the unfortunate experience that no teacher wants to experience; a student was killed on Friday night. A sophomore special education student was hit be a truck on the highway and later passed away. Ending a tumultuous day at the High School (see the previous post), this student was a great addition to the student body and a native of the small town I teach in.

We went to the hospital to support another corps member and the family who were already there. It was pretty terrible to experience that first hand, as different parts of the family arrived. The student was apparently walking on the highway with his two cousins, one of which was at the hospital too, and a truck came around the curve in the town hitting him straight on. It was about 7PM when the accident occurred, so darkness had set in and the lack of street lights in our small towns I am sure was a contributing factor.

Very sad news, and I am not sure how the school is going to handle the situation. Do we have a vigil? Do we meet as a school? These are the moments that truly put things into perspective.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Kanye West - Runaway (Full-length Clean)

New song of interest. Love the new album, even though I only have a clean version.


Anger, rage, uncontrollable emotions - these were not things I had truly experienced to the level that I have in the Delta. As I was driving home today from work, I was really shocked, and generally impressed that my parents were able to shield me from so many of these things while I was growing up.

Some of these students have no ability to look beyond what is right in front of them, lack the ability to talk things out, and generally escalate things beyond a necessary point. Where does this stem from? Is it nature or nurture? I just don't understand how you can have this "ride or die" mentality. Just because someone is your "cousin" or your "n," does that mean the expectation is you fight until you can't anymore?

I understand loyalty, I understand defending yourself - but I have never been in an environment where that automatically translates to physical intimidation or brutality. Where did this break down occur? Blahhh, these are the moments where I again just don't know how much of a direct impact I have as a single teacher. Students say "you're weak Ms. Butler if you wouldn't fight." I guess I must remain focused on what I can control inside my classroom, because some of the bigger cultural problems are not going to go away in two years. These are difficult lessons, with no end in site.

Fights, Insanity Ensues

Let me say this first, this fight comes from a different perspective. Having been here a year, I have had some experience with students at the high school, but nothing really prepares you for fights. Last year's big brawl was completely over my head, completely overwhelming, and completely shocking. This year, I was a little more prepared, kind of.

This morning we were loading our girls and boys onto the bus to go play basketball at the elementary. I see two students come out of the breakfast room cussing and dropping the n-word every other word. Throwing their arms up and obviously challenging each other to fight, they began to get a crowd. It was dispersed quickly by one of them being escorted away with teachers in toe. 

Well, then all hell broke out. They were brought to the office, and the one that ran off campus brought back a high school GRADUATE (yes, a grown man) back and his brothers. A boy stormed out of ALE, and the students in the office came outside - a huge fight ensued. State and local police came, arrested at least three people - including one in possession of cocaine, marijuana, and a concealed weapon. 

Then the following events happened; another fight between two girls over the same topic resulting in almost punches, an ALE student throwing a desk at the window, two students arguing and cussing at each other saying they had better watch their back tonight once it's dark outside in the hallway, the students in the original fight coming back to school at the end of the day to "take a walk around," special ed. student snapping and cussing out a teacher and fellow student about how his face was going to be unrecognizable if he didn't shut his mouth up. This is unfortunately not an exhaustive list 

And to top it off, the Principal and Dean of Students were not on campus at the end of this day.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Fort Andrew

This is what happens when you ditch us on a school night for your "other friends." Love, your roomies.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Smart People Sleep Late

via @GriffinPepper I found this article by StumbleUpon. I feel better about my previous post now, ahh it is because I am smart! I definitely buy into this study.

Smart People Sleep Late

Sleep Cycle

Why, after two years, can I still sleep for 13...14...15 hours and still feel sleepy? I thought I'd grow out of this after high school and college.


Today I realized there is only 5 more weeks until the first semester is over! Two more weeks until Thanksgiving, and three more after that before Christmas break. These kids have hopefully learned a few things, and there is not much time left to teach the rest.

I have my state exam in the first weeks of March, which means I only have about 12-13 more weeks of teaching/instructional time. It's an interesting perspective to have, as last year I had no ability to look past a week or two in advance. I feel good knowing now that I need to calendar out these things and have some planning skills.

Weirder yet though, is that after that test, and then one more quarter, I am done with my Teach for America commitment. In a few short weeks at Christmas break, I will be 75% done with my commitment to this program. That's a crazy thought. Now, back to work!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Delta Traveling


Grading can become one of the most overwhelming tasks of teaching. I try to give a quiz every day to assess where my students are in the class, and to give them an incentive to pay attention the day before/do their homework the night before. It has really started to work, but dang, I have SO MUCH to grade. This weekend I had a stack of papers (that I just finished) that was about 4 inches tall of single sheets. Yikes!

It took me about 2 hours to grade all of it, but I am still pretty happy I did it. I've seen a definite change from last year, where I would give an assessment at the end of a book and find out 1/2 never even read. Now I know exactly who doesn't read, and can individually "plan" with them aka tell them to freaking read.

Happy teaching! One of the only professions in the world that you always have more work to do at home and on the weekends.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Teacher Life Full Circle

On the phone with my friend named "Tom"

"Oh my gosh, this massive bottle of Germ-X is only $4.19"

"Tom's" hypochondriac teacher life, full circle