nerdlutiont555I’ve been very addicted to Twitter lately — it’s almost all I do except read very important books!! 😉  The other day, I creeped into a conversation where some important people wanted to re-commit to personal goals. There’s a hashtag, round of blog posts, and a picture to make this all “official”! Here is one blog I read that explains #Nerdlution better than I ever could: Sharpread

I’m making a commitment that for the next 50 days, I’ll do a few things I’ve been neglecting. Here’s the short list:

1…blog each day. It can be here or maybe in my daybook, but writing is a must!

2… SOME sort of exercise. The best way to do this is to follow that blasted Fast Metabolism book!! Just do it, please!

3…have Game Night with Lily once a week. Wednesdays sound good (and with Jake when he’s home).


That’s probably all the resolutions I need to make. Hell, I’m already behind on the first day’s…it’s after midnight. Maybe Dec 1 will be the start date…now if I can just do the math to see when the 50 days are up! haha…

Good news is I’ve read 2 1/2 books this week: One Night That Changed Everything; a skeery book from the WL library (that I can’t remember the name of, nor can I find it!); and half finished with The Sea of Tranquility, a creepy book that Donna told me to read.

I also started another website to house my teaching “stuff” — I’m being horrible by keeping resources in a million other places, so today, I tried to put websites and ideas and documents in one spot. We’ll see how long that lasts! For now, though, I have 4 pages…but the Home page is my favorite. I’m really struggling with staying with teaching, so I added a cute WeeMe avatar (where I’m holding my old Blackberryand a Starbucks coffee),3 videos that inspire me, a poem, a quote by Ghandi (for when I’ve feeling really bad) and, a Spotify

Avatar Me2playlist of 13 songs that should definitely inspire me (or, at least, define how I feel about teaching — when I love it, not now when I’m pissed).

    I know…cute, huh??

That about does it for today’s episode!


sols_6So, I’m trying to find different ways to address argument, common core crappy standards, NC high school English test-prep, and technology without boring my students (or me) to tears. In my unit on storytelling right now, I have planned on using two TED-Ed talks: Sir Ken Robinson’s on education killing creativity and Dan Pink’s on motivation. Well…

This morning, on Twitter, I followed a link to a TED talk (but I can’t find the link at the moment). Once at the site, a tab tells me to “Flip this lesson”!! I’ve spent the better part of the afternoon working on this activity that might be a total BUST!!! But I’m a tad excited about it. Rather than use a paper version of my Article of the Week assignment, my students will watch these two videos and complete test prep and extended writing about them. I know I don’t like the test-prep part, but that’s the nature of my job at the moment.

Anyone up for completing the activities — or really just looking at them — and giving me some feedback? If so, go here — my class website. I would definitely appreciate it!!

Happy Sunday!

Now that sleep has disappeared as one of the essential characteristics of being me, I’m reading much, much more. Early this morning, I finished a book called Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry. It’s a zombie book (a series, of course) — a genre that has quickly become one of my favorites. Why? Maybe because I think they are more real than the crappy old fall-in-love-with-a-vampire-werewolf-demon-angel story. Zombie stories are much more about the survivors than the zombies — how do the characters deal with danger, destruction, chaos? It’s everyday people trying to keep living in the midst of horrendous circumstances. So of course I love The Walking Dead series, but I can’t watch it at night — have to get caught up during the day when I don’t think the zombies can get me — I always think it’s funny that I can read some scary books in the dark, but not watch the same kind of tv shows or movies except when the sun is up!

Anyway, Rot & Ruin follows 15 y/o Benny Imura as he learns about family and bravery and love. I think it’s a classic hero’s journey, too, and easily the best book I’ve read since The Scorpio Races by Maggie Steifvater.  Benny has to learn to defend himself against the zombies in the forest, but also the humans who act more like zombies than humans.

It will appeal to teens because I think that many of them learn that some people they thought they respected or admired turned out to be something completely different in certain circumstances. Maybe it’s a boyfriend the mom warned about; or a best friend that an uncle said was bad news. It’s growing up time. Happens to adults, too….but I think it’s harder for us to see sometimes; we’re better at telling teens how to live their lives and worrying about who they are hanging out with than we are taking out own advice. We stay too long in jobs that aren’t “right” — or in relationships/friendships we’ve outgrown, but find it too hard to let go — or get in ruts without changing something we know we should.

So, zombies are all around already. It’s what we learn about ourselves as we fight them that teaches us about ourselves and the ones we love and let into our lives.

My free advice for today. You are so totally welcome! 😉

Does being almost mid-40s make you automatically think about the road less traveled? I read a writing prompt on Twitter today to choose a career you’ve always wanted and write about a character who’s actually working in that field. Well, it’s late, and I didn’t sleep last night, and as long as I have the computer on, the LilyBelle won’t go to sleep, and I’ll be in here forever….so, I’m just going to write about my dream jobs…

I’m not sure it’s a secret that teaching wasn’t my first career choice. Well, let me think…in high school, I was accepted to UNC-Greensboro in the Teaching Fellows program. I wanted to work with kids who had behavior-emotional problems (I knew I could fix them, you see!). Life happened, and I didn’t go — Oh, stupidity…why do you affect the young so?? Anyway, working with kids seemed to be the best fit for me, so I ended up studying psychology; flirted with chucking it my junior year and getting a teaching degree, but that would require an additional year of school, and at the time, I wasn’t willing to do that.

So…here are some dream jobs I’ve had since I was little — in sort of chronological order as I recall them:

Steph’s 13 Dream Jobs

1) astronaut — life dream since 3rd grade at least. I used to love looking at the sky and wondering about the clouds and what was above them and what space travel was like…and, you get to pee your pants and no one says ANYTHING!!! But about sixth or seventh grade, I figured out that math was involved, and, well, math and me…we’ve never gotten along.

2) lawyer — this may have been like a middle school ideal. I like to argue, but not listen, so I figured out quickly that I would suck at lawyering. (Umm…this could have been because I was way into a tv show at the time called the “Paper Chase” — wasn’t that about law students at Harvard? But I also wanted to right the wrongs of the world (probably for selfish childhood reasons).

3) CIA agent — I still haven’t given this one up. It was definitely high school when this idea came to me. I was into reading about the government and gathering intelligence and being undercover. I seriously want to be Kinsey Bly on NCIS Las Angeles! She is so freaking tough!

4) travel writer/photographer — because every day would be an adventure. I especially wanted to travel to Italy and Greece and follow Odysseus’s trail — I loved mythology.

5) radio announcer — because I was in love with the son of a local radio station owner, and he’d call to flirt with me and put me on the air and make me do stupid voices and then he’d show up unexpectedly at my high school job to do “remote” broadcasts…I figured if I wasn’t shy on the radio, he’d overlook our seven year age difference. Apparently, he was more worried about how it would look for a 23 y/o dude to be “dating” a 16 y/o girl than I was! haha…

6) cemetery historian — I came up with this one a few years ago in a graduate English class when the professor had this as a creepy outside hobby. I haven’t given it up, but I think she’d get pissed if I stole her idea. But it’s sooooo me!!!

7) archeologist — well, this one sort of combines with an underwater treasure hunter because I’d love to be able follow clues and unlock mysteries of different ancient cultures. Or go diving and find some cool undiscovered pirate ship. This one has been a dream job since I was probably twelvish, but got worse when I lived in Vegas and attended a training on The Jason Project. I learned about the age of the mountains out west and that if the earth plates had moved like a quarter inch, Vegas would have been a rainforest rather than a desert. Cool, huh?

8) Greyhound bus researcher — I just found this one out….I saw an interview with a dude a few months back who had literally ridden the bus cross-country several times, interviewed fellow passengers to find out their stories, wrote them down, published it, and now he’s a gazillionaire. Why can’t I think of something stupid like that??

9) Heiress — I just want to learn that my long lost great-grandmama, who had been searching for me since the tragic death of my real parents, had finally found me. The shock was so great that she keeled over dead with a heart attack, but not before leaving me her gazillions and English title of Duchess!! (I’m not giving this one up either; it could happen!)

10) traveling fair/circus performer — Have you read Water for Elephants??? If so, you’d understand; if not, get thee to a bookstore immediately!

11) independent bookstore owner — I tried to get the Kevman to start a bookstore/coffee shop for me a few years back, but he’s not brave enough. He likes that I have a steady paycheck. “YOU’RE HOLDING ME BACK, SUCKA!”

12) Senate aide — I know government jobs probably aren’t very popular, but I’ve always thought that Washington would be a glamourous place to work. And the way the Representatives and Senators are, there could be “perks” — haha….(geez, I’m glad no one’s going to read this post tonight!! haha)

13) investigative reporter — Can I bring down the bad guy? I think this goes back to my wanting to be a CIA agent…I need a world of good guys and bad guys. Who am I supposed to believe? Who’s lying? And, most importantly, WHY???

I like collecting dream jobs…you never know when you might get the opportunity to do something different, so you have to be ready. But now that I’m finished with my list, I think I might really want to write about a character with one of these jobs….I can wonder what it would be like to live that life rather than the one I have. Wonder if I’d miss this one??

What dream jobs do you have?

p.s….I left off Krispy Kreme employee…but that’s probably for the best!

p.s.s Thought, if you’re still reading, you’d like to hear the poem my post reminds me of…


There are a few things I wanted to do before exams started this semester; however, I’m NOT a planner and barely ever pay attention to the calendar, so of course I didn’t realize the year was over until…well…it was over! I really should have taken the time to write my students a letter/note/message…something to let them know what I would remember about each of them and what I hope they took away from our time together. I know how elementary-school that sounds, but I haven’t given awards out since last Fall, and I’m feeling disconnected from “connections” if that makes any sense.

Yes, I know that I’ve talked poorly about my silly students, but, despite their laziness in turning in assignments, many of them were very sweet kids. And, I remember when a teacher did take the time to send me a postcard telling me how she enjoyed being my teacher, blah, blah, blah….it was just one of those things that made me smile every time I read it.

The other thing I wanted to do was create a soundtrack for our time together. I really thought I’d have time to do that, but I’m not sure what happened there…again, probably has something to do with me NOT looking at the calendar….oh, and they were making book trailers, too, so I didn’t have class time. Thanks goodness I cleared that up!!

So, in light of my problems, here it is:

13 Songs for the 2010-2011 Sophomores…..

1)  For Your Entertainment — Adam Lambert….This class was almost totally out of control when school started. They laughed at EVERYTHING, even when they knew they were failing. I’m not even sure if we had the “honeymoon” period that most school years start with…so I had to turn up the heat of my teacheryness!! Adam’s lyrics say: “it’s about to get rough for you ……I’m here for you entertainment,,,,,Oh, I bet you thought that I was soft and sweet
‘Ya thought an angel swept you off ya feet…..But I’m about to turn up the heat…I’m here for your entertainment”

It wasn’t long before I realized where I was headed….

2) Highway to Hell — AC/DC ….Umm….self explanatory! haha….

3) Don’t Matter — Akon…..This is a total love song, but I love it to describe some of my harder-to-wrangle-in students. Sometimes you’re just in a love-hate relationship….They want you to love them and see through the fight they’re putting up…find that goodness that’s lurking beneath. Akon sings: “Nobody wants to see us together…We gonna fight…It don’t matter, ’cause I got you.” And we fought. A lot! But then they’d get hooked on a book or write a poem or tell a funny story, and our differences really didn’t matter. It was my job to create as many relationships as I could to try to help them become more literate.

4) If I Had a Million Dollars — Bare Naked Ladies…..Umm….because I’d have soooooo retired this year!! hahahahahaaha…..

5) Saturday Night — Bay City Rollers….Because nobody in this sophomore class can spell!! I think they’re all out partying instead of studying, and NOT just on Saturday night! And, seriously, who DIDN’T learn to spell “Saturday” by singing this song? Heck, I still sing it every time I have to spell it!

6) Trouble — Elvis…..My man has a song for every situation, and this on is not different. His song is actually what we call in the business, a “theme” song….haha…”if you’re looking for trouble…you’ve come to the right place. If you’re looking for trouble, just look at my face…” LOVE IT!!

7) I Gotta Feeling — Black-Eyed Peas….I think I sang this song every single time I gave an assignment….I’d say, “Your paper should be finished, so go ahead and take it out…we need to revise…but “I gotta feeling….” and all the little children would laugh because they knew my feeling was right, and they had NOT completed their assignment!!! My feelings were rarely about “good nights” OR good children…how sad!

8 ) Three Little Birds — Bob Marley….These students had absolutely no worries. About anything! Seriously, they knew that the teachers couldn’t “give” them lower than a 60 for a grading period, their parents wouldn’t really do anything to punish them for poor school performance, and if they did get in trouble, they could just hang out or sleep in ISS. No worries.

9) Keep On the Sunny Side — The Carter Family….In November and March, we started blogging. In April, we started writing poetry–LOTS of poetry. You never know what you’re going to learn about a student when you ask him/her to write about personal interests; however, because this group really has no filters, they were pretty free about the tragedies and losses that pervaded their lives. I liked to play this song sometimes just so they could hear some goodness.

10) Gypsies, Tramps, and Theives –Cher….One student, Chris, had an obsession with gypsies. Everything he wrote, silly stories he told, books he read all had something to do with gypsies or that weird Borat character….One of my favorite kids EVER!!! But, I played this song a lot when I tried to teach them to use commas….it helped some. Or maybe they just liked to hear the song!

11) Will You Still Love Me? — Chicago…..My poor little students just want somebody to listen to them and love them. It was very hard this year to love many of them. There were too may hooligans….but the ones who wanted to learn and showed up most every day and made me laugh and tried in class–those are the ones who you wish you could have just a little more time with. But there were always those students who’d leave class with a “Love ya, Mrs. McCabe.” Of course they were usually the ones I wanted to smack! haha…

12) Hard to Say I’m Sorry — Chicago…I received several “I’m sorry” letters this year….from a student who was using dip in class to two students who were begging for a passing grade when they didn’t deserve it (They both wrote a 5 page apology letter!!). But I’m also sorry for that one student who failed. I feel so bad that I couldn’t get through to him. He never returned any of the make-up assignments I gave him and slept after he took my exam, refusing to do any other work. Somehow, though, I feel like it’s my fault if he drops out of school like I heard his brother did. Then I might cry.

13) Should’ve Known Better — The Beatles….Most of my students decided that it was easier to love me and do what I say rather than keep up that crappy fighting. There are many students who I’ll miss….and who will definitely live in INFAMY in my memory! hahaa….

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These are the reflection questions I asked my students today, so I thought I’d answer them myself….

1. Describe what you are most proud of regarding this project.

This is the second year I’ve participated in Slice of Life and honestly, becoming a “blogger” has been one of the most rewarding experiences for me. Before last year, I did write most days with my students, but it felt stifled and uncreative. I love that now I’m always on the look-out for a writing topic–even if I don’t develop it on the first go-around. I feel like a “real” writer.

2. How did you show effective writing skills?

Hmmm….I always re-read my posts before publishing them, then read the published version for any additional mistakes. If I find something, I edit it. I may not get every mistake, but I try! I think I’m also decently detailed and put forth effort to think about what will engage my audience, eliciting comments.

3. What personal writing issue did the blogging project help you overcome?

I have to be careful to not be too sarcastic when I write. Sometimes I think my ideal job would be to write for The Daily Show or The Colbert Report!! Most days I’m aware of this, but others, like last night’s post about The Idiot of the Year Award–I just can’t seem to help it.

4. When the month dragged on, how were you able to stick with the writing?

It’s funny, because I was really worried about this. Last year, I’d sit with my laptop, googling “What should I blog about today?” just trying to get a topic. However, this year, probably because I’ve continued to blog and practice looking for topics, I didn’t really have much of a problem. I did, however, buy a discount book from Books-A-Million on daily scrapbooking just in case I needed some inspiration. Reading others’ posts before I wrote sometimes helped. And, I made it a goal to try to match some media to highlight my slice for the day.

5. Describe how your Blogroll’s comments affected you; give some examples. How could comments be more effective?

(My students were in blog groups and added each other so they could comment–that way everyone had somebody reading and responding). I always read the comments of my fellow Slicers–they were like a validation that someone appreciated my view of the world. And I loved reading other posts so I could return the favor. I hope I can keep up with some of my favorite Slicers and remember to add comments to their posts during the rest of the year.

6. What problems occurred for you during our blogging? What strategies did you use to handle/overcome them?

(My students’ main problems would have been dial-up Internet service and not keeping up with the number of posts I asked them to write).

7. How effective do you feel you were when learning to embed videos and pictures? Explain.

A strength of mine, I believe. One of my favorites was Better of With Elvis because I used his song titles in a poem and embedded video of him singing. I also liked A Happy Place because of the picture, video and links I added to enhance my message.

8. What are some additional topics you’d like to write about?

(I wanted my students to start a list of topics to help them when they are stuck).

9. Was this project worth the new learning, headaches, and practice? Why or why not?

Blogging has become one of my favorite ways to write. Even when I’m sure no one is really reading or paying attention, just the act of “publishing” makes me happy. Definitely worth it to live as a writer!

10. What grade do you think you should have, based on your effort, personal commitment, amount of learning, and growth as a writer? Please explain in detail.

(I hate that I have to put a grade on this project for my students. I want them to have a sense of accomplishment without feeling penalized or comparing their readiness to others. However, I think I made the grading as fair as possible; I just wanted them to tell me how they viewed themselves.)

Once again, this month has flown by, but I’m indebted to this community for turning the lightbulbs of writing on again.  🙂

ummm…tonight probably wasn’t the best time for me to push “glee” on my students!!!  it was the “madonna” episode–totally fantastic, mind you–but 3 couples were being pressured into sex. a definite LEVEL 2 sin!!! and, for santana (the cheerio who seduced finn) a probable LEVEL 3–sexual gluttony!! ha!

however, while the show did address the differences between males & females and the whole sex-thing, the only person who looks like they went through with it was the dude–finn! the girls were “virginal” –another stereotypical abstinence example. to complete this view, the boys (men, in will shuster’s place) were gracious and accomodating when the girls said “not now.”

once again, i KNOW this is a tv show. but i LOVE the writing; the realness; the total applicability of the situations in this show to my students. not every storyline, of course, but tomorrow when we’re discussing peer pressure during the Holocaust, you can bet that i’m going to refer to this particular episode: how were students pressured into having sex? what resistance did they feel? was each person honest as a “witness” of their account of the date?

kurt said it best when he said that they (the glee members) have to “respect each other as individuals–really see each other.” what would have happened if more germans felt courageous enough to do that during ww2?