Thursday, March 26, 2015

Can't Shake It Off

I did that thing that teachers always swear they shouldn't do. I went on Normally it's not a big deal - a random snide comment here or there, but usually it's overwhelmingly positive. And so despite better judgment, I wandered to that site last Sunday while killing time before who knows what. And there was a comment that crushed me - it was short, bitter, and obviously from a kid who isn't a fan of what goes on in my classroom. His (I'm assuming it's a boy from the writing style) final comment is a hashtag (misspelled by the way) that essentially says anyone can be a teacher these days. 

I don't know why this comment is haunting me, but I can't seem to shake it. With any minor set back in my school day this week(and let's be honest there are many), that comment flashes through my mind. I am trying so hard lately to be innovative and optimistic. I'm trying to not get bogged down in the typical March malaise that traps well meaning teachers and students each year. But I'm sad and feeling like I can't ever do enough. 

But thankfully each day is a new day. Spring break is coming. And perhaps if I play Meghan Trainor's "Dear Future Husband" and Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off" enough times on repeat, I can just let it all go. 

Happy Spring.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Out of the Dust

Out of the DustOut of the Dust by Karen Hesse
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am so impressed by authors that can convey depth of emotion and characterization in a book comprised of poems. Hesse's narrative arc is very well done and tells a powerful story of a teenager girl living in Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl. I can't believe it's taken me this long to read this book. I loved it. Wish I could give it 4 and a half stars.

Happy reading!


LandlineLandline by Rainbow Rowell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

After reading tragic story after tragic story, I needed this book - something clever, but not so upsetting that I can't keep it on the bedside table. Rowell's first foray into adult fiction includes screenwriting, LA living, a phone that lets you talk to someone in the past, velour sweatsuits, Christmas, pugs, and drama - it has cheesy romantic comedy stamped all over it...only in novel form. Perhaps it wasn't worth the hardcover price, but I had a gift card. I'm happy.

Happy reading to you.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Help Me Raise Money For Books...Please

Hi friends-- I am attempting along with some of my fellow 10th grade English teachers to try and bring in some new books to our classes next year. Unfortunately the school doesn't have the funds to buy those books. I'm trying to raise that money. Our goal is 270 books. This donorschoose project is for 45 of the books. If you're able or your company looks for local projects to donate to, we'd appreciate any potential help.
Even better, this project qualifies for the SPARK match: For the next 7 days, when someone donates to your project and enters the code SPARK, will match their donation dollar for dollar. Fingers crossed we can make it.
Thanks for any and all help!!

[Just click here to check out my donorschoose page :) ]

p.s. In a perfect world, this project will be filled. The next 100 books we're trying to fund are on this donorschoose page

Monday, February 2, 2015

Bring on the Rain

Weird confession. I love Groundhog's Day. I find it hilarious that we believe a tiny creature can predict the weather. And honestly, I really hope Punxsutawney Phil is right this year because we desperately need six more weeks of winter rain here in California. 
Happy Groundhog's Day and happy February!!

A Raisin in the Sun

A Raisin in the SunA Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I very rarely read plays, and I very rarely read at work...but today I found myself trapped all day in a computer lab with my classes filling out one of those surveys that generates little to no productive action from school or district personnel....

I have been meaning to read "Raisin in the Sun" for years, and honestly it was nothing like I expected. It's such an unfiltered look at life for a poor, black family in the 1950s living in southside Chicago. It leaves an unsettled feeling in my stomach - the same way "Death of  Salesman" or "The Glass Menagerie" does.  And while I recognize its merit and how ahead of her time Lorraine Hansberry was, I can't say that I like it. It makes me too sad. It feels too real...which perhaps is exactly what Hansberry was trying to do all those years ago.

There isn't a true happy ending. Things start hard for the Youngers and end hard for the Youngers. Perhaps, a read or audience member might think they've found some sort of resolution, but I'm left feeling a can of social issue worms are covering the metaphorical floor. And honestly, I don't know what to do about it.

All that said, this should be required reading at some point - perhaps not at the sophomore level with students who may not be prepared to understand the gravity of failed dreams and misapplied social stigmas...but at some point, this seems like something all Americans should read. Perhaps it would help us make sense of the racial tensions we observe every day. Maybe that's just wishful thinking because sometimes I sure wish I could make sense of the world around me....

Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Usual Rules

The Usual RulesThe Usual Rules by Joyce Maynard
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really, really like this book. I like it so much in fact that after reading my sister's copy seven or eight years ago, I thought about it enough to buy it for myself and reread it. It's not perfect, but I am so impressed by Maynard's ability to tell an authentic story without dipping into the overly-dramatic or overly-simplified. 9/11 is such a hard topic to use as a backdrop for a story, but Maynard tells a poignant coming-of-age story about a girl named Wendy who loses her mom in the towers. What I love most about this book is the description of Wendy's mother and step-father's relationship. Maybe it's because I love love, I love Seth, and I love reading about people's little details. This isn't a casual read because the topic is so heavy, but it's a worthwhile read. Think about it. You might really enjoy it.

Happy reading!

ps. I shouldn't be so excited, but I actually read three books in January. That's a big improvement for me. :)