Weekly Update

Here’s the last to-do list I posted here:

*Book orders at elementary & high school – I did half the order at the elementary, and have the HS one ready to go the next time I’m in the building (the office puts it through).  This week!

*Finish article for newsletter – Check.

*Wednesday teacher exploration meeting – We had that which went pretty well, even if the projector was had a funky TV from 1978 vibe (the display was purple for some inexplicable reason!).  The elementary principal asked me to go to the SAI meeting this week about integrating technology, and we’re going to decide how to proceed with these meetings after that.

*Year-end report infographic – Chirp, chirp, chirp (cricket sounds).  That would be a no.

*Create ebook information page on website – I did this – can’t link to it because whenever I seem to blog (at night), the site is under maintenance.  TLC – it doesn’t need maintenance every stinking night.  FYI.

I did lots of other things too, though, including hosting an anti-bullying assembly on Monday, having two Technology Club and one Book Lover’s Club meetings, and hey, catching up on my RSS!  Hmmm, it felt like a lot of other things even if it doesn’t sound like it.

Oh!  And I got the greatest email from a bestie who said, “I love teaching but no one I know has a passion for their job like you do. You’re awesome.”  How cool is that?!

So, what’s new on the list?

*Order video camera for Technology Club.  We’re making a news program video for Literacy Night next month.  We don’t need to start filming yet – still in the planning stages – but need to do so ASAP.

*Meet with Reading Coach about reading incentive program.  My para and I did a fun program last year, Read Around the World, but it was soooooo heavy on our end with work.  We’re going to change things up so the record keeping is more on the kids.  Students have been asking us what we’re doing this year, and how soon we’re starting.  They really liked the competition aspect of it.  I think it’s a balance to encourage reading for reading’s sake with putting in prizes and such.  Things to consider.

*Make a list of magazines available online.  An English teacher wanted this, and for now, I was able to placate her by giving her a bunch of magazines (like a 3′ high pile!) that we got over the summer.  But I would like to expand that a bit with an online presence.

*Portfolio.  I’m in my second year of teaching, and so my portfolio is due in February.  I have my portfolio online right now and expect to expand on that.  I bought myself a domain and hope to put it there, using Iowa Core standards.  

*Keep up with my Coursera course in Greek and Roman Mythology.  I was done a day early last week, but am reverting to my old habits and finished this week’s work twenty minutes early.  (And only because I did the quiz before I watched all the videos . . . )

By john.schultz, from Flickr
Used with permission under Creative Commons license

Things I love Thursday

5.  O, the Oprah Magazine

I’ve subscribed to a lot of magazines over the years – Martha Stewart Living, Everyday Food, Cook’s Illustrated, Cook’s Country, Newsweek, Fitness, National Geographic, etc. etc. etc.  But the one that I will always get is this one.  Yes, the clothes are terribly expensive, but it was in this magazine I learned about the store Steve & Barry’s, where everything was under $10 (which sadly has gone out of business).  It was in O that I read about Valer Austin, an amazingly rich woman who has changed the world with her philanthropy.  I love that you open the cover, turn one page and then there is the table of contents – rather than having to look through twenty pages of perfume and makeup ads.  I haven’t watched Oprah’s show or channel in decades, but I do love her magazine.
I just started a class with Coursera in Greek and Roman mythology.  So the first week we had some videos about mythology in general, and now we’re reading this classic.  I read it a decade ago when I was a student at Austin Peay State University.  I had a class in World Literature and here I was, a good decade older than my classmates, and we read this and Gilgamesh and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.  Pretty much all of my classmates were too cool for school, having read a lot of these in high school.  (I read A Separate Peace and The Old Man and the Sea when I was in high school – I’m glad it was saved until I could really appreciate it.  Thanks, Mr. Blaine!)  Now I’m reading The Odyssey again with a different translation (Fagles translation, where before I’d read the Fitzgerald one), and it’s just as amazing.  I simply cannot wait to get to “Test of the Bow” scene!
3.  Fall leaves
Image by mksfly, used under Creative Commons copyright; Available on Flickr

It’s that time of year where the air gets cooler and I’m definitely wishing we’d bought a new dryer this summer.  (I put clothes on the line yesterday, but I think we’ll have to go appliance shopping this weekend.)  I hope we have as mild of a winter as we had last year, though!
I came upon this Twitter feed when someone online said Honest Toddler was their form of birth control.  I had to see what that was and my goodness, is it hilarious!  Here are his tweets from a trip to the library:
Not participating in library story time. How will learning animal sounds make me successful.
I’m only here because I heard there would be a snack. So far no sign of refreshments.
How am I supposed to learn on an empty stomach. Librarians don’t care about anyone but themselves.
Cow says moo who care WHEN IS THE SNACK
When my brain is this hungry it can’t keep the knowledge.
Dog says woof I already knew that what’s your point
Cat says meow when are we eating
I hope we didn’t pay for story time because it’s not worth a red cent and libraries don’t keep their food promises.
Snack Time! Lining up with all my best friends I love this place!!
This lady just handed me a box of raisins and a sticker. I can’t…I just can’t.
This is so hateful. Volcano coming.
Tried to push over a bookshelf and break a chair with my teeth. On our way home.
Ate my sticker.
Enjoy cleaning up my mess library I won’t be back because I can’t trust you.
1.  My kids

My kids are so. much. fun!  I love hanging out with every one of them.  That’s not to mean one or another or all of them don’t get on my nerves from time to time – they definitely do!  But if I’ve done anything in the world, I’ve raised some pretty cool kids.

Top ten "older" books I don’t want people to forget about


10. Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene
I read all the time as a kid, but I don’t remember many specific titles.  I do this one, though.  I came in the living room, weeping a bit, and said, “Don’t mind me, I just finished the best book.”  My siblings just rolled their eyes – I was the youngest and was always weeping – or crying, or bawling – a little bit!  Still, I should push this a bit more in readers’ advisory.

9.  The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden

I read this when I was trying to read all the books on the National Endowment of the Humanities Summertime Favorites book list.  The thing is, they have a new list – with some fun new books like Ivy + Bean, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, etc.  But to take out one like this?  I’m going to go through the lists later today and see what else they took out.  So disappointing!
With that said, I am struggling on where to put this book.  The copy we have is a large one, more like a picture book, but it’s obviously not a picture book.  But put it in fiction, and who will read it?  Perhaps my juvenile fiction for early chapter book readers.  (Go to this link to see what the earlier – about 2001? list looked like.)

8. Holes by Louis Sachar


A few years ago, I asked my kids to suggest the one book they would have me read, above all others.  My oldest daughter suggested this one, which she had read when it first came out several years before.  After reading it, I said, “Why didn’t you tell me to read this years ago???”  It really is a great book.  I try to book talk it to students and succeed about half the time – the other half, kids say, “Well, I already saw the movie.”  For some books that wouldn’t make a difference, but this one, it probably would.

7. The Great Brain by John D. Fitzgerald

I talked about this book in last week’s list (Top Ten eight series I haven’t finished).  This and Summer of My German Soldier are the only books I remember reading as a kid – and yes, I was always reading!  (I do remember a lot of Jackie Collins as a teenager . . . that’s so sad, I know!)  I’m in the midst of doing my fall book order at the elementary; I need to order this as it’s not in my collection.  How can I really mean that I don’t want people to forget this book if it isn’t even in my library?

6. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card


This is the book my oldest son said that I needed to read, and boy, am I glad I did!  I’m not a sci-fi aficionado by any means, but this is a great book.  It’s one of the few that I remember audibly gasping at a scene (the other is Sandra Dallas’ The Persian Pickle Club).  I’ll have to check if this is in both elementary and secondary libraries.

5. Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
This is another that has gone off of the NEH list.  Boo!  I read this as a teen, and though I certainly didn’t understand the symbolism (I guess it’s about British economic policy of the 18th century), I was glad I read it.  It’s one of those things where the characters and plot are in our cultural conscious (like The Odyssey or Alice in Wonderland), so if you read a Newsweek article there will be some mention of Gulliver and it certainly helps to have read it. 
4. 1984 by George Orwell
I read this as a teen also, in fact, in 1984.  (So obviously, it did not have that cover, but I think that’s awfully fun.)  The NEH has taken 1984 off its classic book list, too.  How is this possible?  Oh like we have no fear of government surveillance or censorship, right?  Please.  (The previous school librarian had kept lots of clippings of important events.  Some aren’t so important anymore as others – sniff, sniff, I guess I see the point of culling the list, NEH – but I definitely kept the ones FROM 1984 ABOUT 1984.)
3. Strawberry Girl by Lois Lenski


I read this from the NEH list – thankfully, it still makes the cut.  What amazes me about this book is that the setting is really not that long ago in American history – about 1900.  By then, most small towns in Iowa were formed, and we were certainly on the way to progress.  But in Florida, it was still very much a backwoods sort of place.  It’s amazing how fast the state progressed in the 20th century!  I love the colloquialisms in this book, too. 

2.  The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin
I love Ben Franklin!  I think of all the folks in history, if he were to time travel to our age, he would totally get it.  Air travel, antibiotics, the internet, 3-D printing, all of it.  He is a genius.  (And the NEH?  Ben isn’t on the list?  You’re dead to me.)
When I was a nontrad student a decade ago, I had to write a paper comparing two of the works that we had read in American Lit.  I chose this one and The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass.  I said that they both had served time in servitude, both were American heroes that many still looked up to, and that both were quotable.  My favorite one for Franklin? 

And when you are criticized, as you will be, remind your critics that you have the right to speak your mind. And if they shout you down, as they probably will, then inform them that since they insist on being asses, you will henceforth communicate with them with the appropriate part of your own anatomy. And turning to face them from the posterior, let them know where you stand. Let every fart sound as a peal of thunder for liberty. Let every fart remind the nation of how much it has let pass out of its control.


It is a small gesture, but one that can be very effective—especially in a large crowd. So fart, and if you must, fart often. But always fart without apology.


Fart for freedom, fart for liberty—and fart proudly.

I obviously got an A.
1.  Millions of Cats by Wanda Gág
Want a classic book that is still on the NEH list?  Check.
Want a book that changed children’s book illustration forever, by pioneering the double-page spread?  Check.
Want a rhyming, cute picture book, that features cat genocide?  Check, check, and check.
For the record – if you want to get blogging done in a hurry and not fiddle-fart around with it all day – do it when you don’t have access to your charger!  You will get it done in no time.