September 15, 2014

Monday, September 15: Some notes from Miss Harris

Hi guys,

I trust you are all doing your best to show Miss Vymislicky what fine, cooperative, and thoughtful students that you are. She will be teaching all of my classes for the next few weeks, and I will be stopping by now and then to see how she and you are all doing. Know that everything that she does with you she has gone over with me, and I have approved of her plans. Please be as respectful of her as you would be of me.

If you have any concerns or questions, I encourage you to speak to her first. If there is anything that she can’t resolve on her own, she will share it with me. I am available to you most of the day in the English Office, room 273. Feel free to stop by if you need to.

I am currently grading the English 12 college essays. My goal is to finish them this week and give you appointments for individual conferences by Monday of next week. Feel free to check to see if I have graded yours starting tomorrow. I started with period 4, will move to 5 and 7 as I finish.

If you did not have your paper in on time, I spoke to you in class today, but I will not come chase you down. You are responsible for getting the essay into me ASAP since you are losing 10% with each day that it is late.

Copy and paste on turnitin:
I did learn today that you can copy and paste your essay. You just need to look for the drop down menu at the top of the screen when you hit submit. It defaults to “Upload a single submission,” but you can select “copy and paste.” Thank you to all of you who emailed me your papers when you had trouble with internet submission. Also, I appreciate that some of you gave me a hard copy. Never let internet/computer troubles stand in the way of you meeting your deadlines.

English H2: I will have you quote projects for Miss V to hand back on Tuesday. It was scored out of 50 points total. You will see one number, out of 25 for the paragraph, then a second number, usually designated with a “p” for the poster grade. These are followed by a circled grade that is the sum of those two numbers.

To All: Please visit goodreads and do the following as soon as you can:

  • Upload a profile picture
  • Enter you SSR book as “Currently reading”

Goodreads facts:

Interestingly, 7 of the last 30 people on goodreads are former students. This really is a great place to get in the habit of visiting and keeping track of your books.

Also, one student contacted me though a goodreads message on Sunday with a question about her essay assignment, and I answered almost instantly. It really is a great way to contact me if you need a timely response. I only check email when I am in school.

Keep up the good work!

March 5, 2014

Wednesday, March 5

Eng H2: After a guidance presentation, we began studying the tone of chapter one and the mood of chapter two. We will continue this tomorrow as well as look at the mystery in chapter 3.

Eng 12: A full day to work on 1984 fan fiction, which is due by the end of class Friday. I want a double spaced, 12 font copy submitted to turnitin AND a single spaced copy printed out.

AoW 18 is due for all by Thursday night.

October 1, 2013

Check out my cool birthday cake!


Bet you didn’t know I was into Minecraft.

I’m not, actually, but my nephew is, and we partied together. The airplane is for me, since I’m studying to get my private pilot’s license.

And Happy Birthday to Amy Manchester, who had her birthday yesterday, too!

October 1, 2013

Thank you!


Thank you for the birthday wishes! I am definitely feeling the love (oddly, from some more than others! ;D). I had a great day, but I am eager to get back with all of you! Be good for Miss Aeschbacher, and I will see you soon!

July 23, 2013

Motivation to learn

I spent the day in a workshop at school for the new Common Core English regents set to roll out this school year. Ugh. Who thought it would be a good idea to work in the summer? Anyway, I found it predictably tedious, being yet again taught things that I already know. Seriously, when will people learn that English teachers live and breath close reading skills? Apparently no time soon. Bored.

My flying came up when we were talking about the challenges of reading complicated texts. I ever so kindly remarked to the presenter, “No offense, but when I’m being “taught” things that I already know at school workshops, I have very little motivation. However, what I love about flying is the very challenge of all that I have to learn. I am tackling very big and complicated texts, full of totally new information because I am motivated and, therefore, engaged. No tricks. I see the relevance in the material, so I want to learn, even on my own. It’s all about engagement.”

Now, you know it’s pretty apparent when you say, “no offense, but…” that you will most likely be offending, but there really is a truth here that educators often miss. You’ve got to show the relevance of what you are teaching or the students will never want to learn it. How much of what we present to them lacks any real world value? Sadly, more than you’d think. If, however, we teach what matters and can convey that value, then the motivation to read, to explore, to learn has a strong chance of becoming intrinsic.

I’ll be the first to admit that this is an ideal. My experience with generally unmotivated seniors last year showed me that even when the content is very relevant and timely in a real world way, some students are simply too lazy or apathetic to care. But that does not excuse us from continually choosing work that matters and trying to impart that value on to our students.

Flying. I am learning because I want to learn. How many of our students would say that about our courses?

June 23, 2013

Why study English?

As another school year ends, and my mind is eager to escape thinking about my job for a glorious ten weeks, I am still, while it is June, left wondering if what I do really matters. Yesterday I watched our seniors graduate, heading on various paths of personal and intellectual growth, and I am left today hoping that what I have done with my group of 85 has made a difference in their sweet, young lives.

This article reminds me of why I love teaching literature, writing, and even a little theatre now and then. It is on the decline in the study of the humanities, and it articulates the inherent value of an education that includes the study of English.

Whether you are a fellow teacher or a student who questions what purpose there is in studying reading and writing, this article will hopefully answer any doubts you have about why we English teachers do what we do.

June 22, 2013

Congratulations Class of 2013!

What a day!

It was my honor to be part of your graduation today, to see you all so happy, so proud, unburdened by any concerns of school work. The joy in your faces and the faces of your families and friends in the crowd lifted my heart.

I was also moved by the absolutely amazing speech of John Pedro. I do not believe I have ever heard a better written or more eloquently delivered speech at a graduation. Thank you, John, for reminding us all of our place in this world and the necessity of personal responsibility. Oh, that your words touched the minds of all who heard, so that each may be a beacon of truth and action in the world. If anyone knows John, I would love to post a copy of his speech here on the blog for visitors to the sight to read, so tell him to contact me if he is interested.

Enjoy your celebrations. Our lives are marked by many milestones and countless celebrations, and it is our task to savor those moments with a sense of gratitude for what has been accomplished and who we have in our lives to share these moments with. We are nothing if we achieve in a vacuum. Be joyful today and the days to come. Let this moment of happiness carry you to the next challenge, remembering that there is so much that you can and will accomplish in this world beyond this day. Make it all happen.

But today, have a great, well-deserved party.