Monthly Archives: April 2008

Geekiest cake ever…

LEGO NXT cake

My camera’s in the shop, hence the lack of visuals lately. The cake is chocolate butter cake, with lightly mint-flavored buttercream frosting, for the last day of LEGO robotics tomorrow. I couldn’t stay true to the NXT colors, no one wants to eat grey! Yuck.

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Filed under food, New York, photos, robotics, teaching

Hell. Freezes. Over.

I have agreed to organize a talent show, a.k.a., “M.S. 999X Idol / So You Think You Can Dance?” This was on my never list pretty much since I started teaching. Maybe it’s because there’s no possible way I can ever be asked to do it again that I suddenly feel liberated to give it a try. Maybe it’s because the kids want it and I want something fun for them, since this year’s been kinda rough on everyone. Maybe it’s because if I have to watch the darn thing, I want to make sure it’s watch-able (control freak: yes). Auditions in two weeks, kiddies.

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Filed under New York, teaching

Budget Cuts Vigil in the Bronx this Thursday!

I can’t go – I have to run from the last session of robotics down to my writing class – but that doesn’t mean YOU can’t. Sure, the economy’s not doing so hot, but to spend trazillions of dollars on data-management systems that barely function, near-monthly assessments, and reorganization after reorganization – and then to demand that schools find the money to cut out of our budgets for things like supplies, enrichment programs, custodial services (the very nice man who sweeps my floors is looking at losing his job), you name it… well. This is not okay. Get out there and show ’em.

Thursday, May 1, 2008 – 4 pm – Bronx Courthouse Steps (161st St., near Yankee Stadium)

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Filed under education, New York, politics, teaching

So there’s this summit in DC…

called Ed in ’08, which sounds like it would be interesting, at a minimum an opportunity for networking and debate, and I went right ahead and sent out an email to a couple of folks I thought might agree (turns out one of them is not only going, he’s speaking) but then, luckily, before passing it along to another half-dozen NYC education bloggers whom I know, I stopped and took a closer look. Most of the people I know who blog about education also happen to be teachers… and this summit is on a Wednesday-Thursday. It makes me a little sad & irritated that a summit intended to be about education reform would occur at a time that is virtually impossible for any actual working educators to attend. We have an obligation to our kids to be present pretty much every weekday between now and the end of June. That doesn’t mean we don’t have opinions or experience relevant to education policy – on the contrary, what is policy without the voices of practitioners?  We’ve put our voices out there through our blogs – some more overtly political, some more personal, but each trying to share stories because we think someone can learn something from them.  Don’t carelessly exclude us from the conversation!

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Um, never mind.

First day back.   I tried to wrap up part of a unit before the break but didn’t make it, so I left the kids with an article to read and questions to answer, mostly to keep their heads in the game because I only wanted to do one day of review, then a quiz, then onwards to density and convection.  The pouring rain didn’t help attendance today, and many kids had not done the homework.  It was a sluggish and disjointed way to start the week back, but we made it through.  Quiz tomorrow and then some fun stuff involving liquids of different densities.

Mistress of the off-the-cuff-analogy, I found myself describing to the kids those sleep-over-camp chains where one person lies with her head on her friend’s belly, and someone else’s head on her belly, and so on.  Someone laughs and pretty soon the laugh takes off down the chain.  It’s not even a very good analogy for conduction.  The kids just stared at me and made goofy noises as I trailed off.  Win some, lose some.  I think a few of them were trying to figure out if I’d told them about something inappropriate.

Third run today in my 10K training plan.  I walked for an hour twice last week in addition to my two runs.  Today, miraculously, felt a lot easier, my legs loose, breathing smoother, much less desire to back off on the speed or just walk right off the treadmill.  Watched some awful MTV dating show called NeXt, gave it up when the caveman costumes came out; where is DanceCrew when I need it?

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Um, WordPress?

Where do you get off listing “possible related posts” at the bottom of my posts without so much as my say-so?  Can I turn this OFF?  Sheesh.

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Vacation is winding to a close,

and I actually have a fair amount to show for it.  I’ve been writing a lot.  A friend sent me a list of magazines and other outlets that pay for essays, and I actually wrote and edited a couple and sent them off.  I think one has a decent chance of being published, the other is probably a long shot but I’m treating this as a “getting your feet wet” moment.  (Just for fun, I also sent two “micro-essays” – 50 words or less, it’s really a form of poetry – to Common Ties).  I need clips.  Next year, I’m writing for a living.  Not all freelance, I will have a full-time job, but the freelance will be important for both financial and personal reasons.  It’s a little scary, this huge change that’s approaching.  I used to really disdain that idea that writers “have been writing since they could hold a pen” but, to tell you the truth, I have been writing, in one form or another, most of my life.  I wrote back and forth to pen-pals, kept (generally short-lived) journals, wrote fiction and poetry – lots of poetry – for literary magazines.  Sometime in college, maybe earlier, I realized I wasn’t going to cut it as a poet or fiction writer.  It wasn’t a disappointment, just a realistic assessment.  I gave journalism a try, writing for the Stanford Daily, but after the six articles necessary to get paid, I stopped accepting assignments.  The editor would call in the middle of the night, wanting something for the next day’s paper, coverage of an event happening that coming morning.  People who wanted it badly enough made it work.  Out of college, I wrote a little poetry again, and then I found blogging.  Here I am today, writing more of a need than it ever was.  Yet it still feels a little presumptuous to imagine that I could make a living at it.

But this post wasn’t going to be an announcement, just a recognition of the need to get some schoolwork done this weekend.  Two days left, then back to school.  I did a big chunk of grading early in the week, but that, by itself, is not enough, there’s planning and entering grades into the computer and ordering stuff for my chem enrichment class and a half-dozen little tasks that continuously get pushed aside.

I’m close to finding an apartment, I think, though everything could fall through.  I made the mistake of moving into one in my mind, a couple of weeks back, leading to devastation when someone else got the place.  Anyone out there live in Sunset Park or Bayridge and care to comment on your ‘hood?

Finally, because it’s that kind of year, I’ve decided to train for a 10K in August.  I haven’t found the race yet, just the goal.  I’m inspired by my sister, who ran “bandit” in the Boston Marathon this past weekend.  She did it in just under four hours!  That’s so impressive.  I’ve always thought pulling off a ten-minute mile for 26.2 miles would be an achievement; to give you some perspective, 10 minute miles would mean a 4 hour and 22 min. marathon.  My plan is to run two or three days every week, and to do one additional workout every week, whether it’s yoga or bellydance or walking or whatever.  I already ran two days this week, and walked for an hour yesterday.  I have that lovely tightness in my legs that makes you want to just sack out in front of the TV, to hell with exercise.  Push on.

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