December 16, 2012


Stupid Christmas on a Tuesday this year! I still have another week of school. I'm going to be on survival mode for sure!

It just so happens that my students are working on a survival project. The other English teacher found it, and it's basically one of those lessons where students are given a scenario where only a few people can survive, so they have to try to figure out who it should be. Age-old, right? I remember doing something like it in high school with a moon colony theme, and I am pretty sure I did something like this in my early years of teaching. Maybe with an island theme? Well, she's found one with a zombie theme, and we've made it into full-blown interdisciplinary research project with the science department.

I heard some interesting thinking and conversation earlier last week, but by Friday the kids were so wound up, I was seriously doubting the quality of presentations we will have next week. I don't know if the rain had them wound up, and if it felt like we should be going to break already. (I say that because my body clock says it's time for a break!)

Oh please, please, please, dear students, work hard in the next two days to firm up your ideas and create a compelling presentations with your arguments of who should stay to build a new civilization and who should go and probably die from a zombie virus. Please do not make me regret having a collaborative project in the days before Winter Break. Seriously. This project sets the tone for next semester.

Oh, oh, oh! Did I mention that this project is also a type of survival challenge? It's true. We've struggled with wifi issues in trying to do research. In this pilot iPad program program, we are still finding ourselves woefully short on connectivity. My students and I are pretty used to this on-going challenge, but as if we were on some sick survival show, as the end of the day on Friday, I found out that students will need to surrender their iPads for a full day sometime this week for updating.

So, dear children, here's your own survival scenario! You're given a in-depth project, which requires research, peer collaboration, and a persuasive presentation. You know there will obstacles. Oh, you got this, aye? We'll see! Here's a roadblock--You watch the Amazing Race, right?--you will need to surrender your devices either on the last day of research or the first day of your presentation. What will you do? Your grade depends on it. Go!

See what I mean?


December 15, 2012


Last month I met up with some of my writing project colleagues at a special Friday session during the National Writing Project's Annual Meeting. I was sitting between two women whom I admire very much, one has survived cancer twice, and the other one was in the middle of surviving being a co-chair for our local NCTE, whose members worked so very hard to with the Annual Convention that was held her in Las Vegas. I cannot even begin to tell you how both of them inspiration both of them are as teachers as women.

The co-chair and I were commiserating over our lack of time, amount of preps, stacks of papers, number of inane correspondences we had to answer to from parents and administration, and the struggles of just taking care of our families. (Obviously, I had nothing on her this month!)

Of course, the other lady, who has some refreshing perspective on life after having faced critical illness twice--the last just a year ago--could absolutely relate, except her children are college-aged now. In the middle of our conversation, she pointed asked us, "But when do you have time to write?"

Ouch. When do I have time to write? That was like a dagger to my spleen.

I don't have time to write.

Sometimes I don't have time to read.

Sometimes I don't get enough sleep.

Two weeks ago, I was at an iPad trainer's training (like I needed to take on anything else this year), and we were talking about blogging in the classroom.

"Who blogs?" asked the trainer.

Ouch. A twist of dagger, reminding that it had been stuck there for a few weeks. I used to blog. I want to blog again.

Technically, I am not any busier than I ever have been. A few years ago, while I was getting 4 hours a sleep a day while working on my master's degree, I still found a moment or two to write. I fully realize that I am actually busier than I used to be, as the work load, which does not seem to be more really is. You know, it's that little trick, where each year just one more responsibility (or stupid paperwork) is added, or another  5 students are added to each class period, which ends up being another 35 students I didn't have to grade or document last year, and the next thing you know, I'm in deeper than ever.

But when do I have time to write?

Or read other bloggers? Yes, I really enjoy that!