Thursday, August 27, 2009

Amazing Alice in Wonderland Remix

Less Than One Week

Counting down the days until I begin officially teaching for the fall, and boy, am I amped up for it.

I've finalized the majority of my activities and short stories that I want to use for my three freshmen English courses, and I've compiled almost 50 improvisational exercises, ice-breakers, and acting activities for my theatre course. All that remains is to find out exactly what condition my Writer's Workshop students are in and I can begin figuring out lessons for them. I've heard differing views on what these students will need the most work on, ranging from simple grammar and spelling to sixth grade English concepts and terminology. Others say they need help forming sentences and completing essays and my main priorities should be to get them better at writing in general, finding their errors and self-correcting them, and then move onto stories and readings with them. Being a first-year teacher, not knowing what to expect from this class, yet trying to plan out everything for this class, is becoming the most confusing and taxing aspect of the pre-planning for the school year. I think once we actually get this class' metaphorical hot air balloon off the ground, I'll be able to see where we need to point it, but right now I'm lost somewhere in the woods waiting to see what sort of supplies they're going to come with.

Other than that I've just completed three poems that I like very much. While they might not be of the highest quality, I sure will have a lot of time to complete and revise a lot of my work in the coming months. The environment in my classroom seems to be very conducive to create work and I bet that I'll find myself revising and writing after school some days--feeling inspired and energized from teaching and familiarizing myself with the wonders of literature. I felt that way while I was student teaching, but unlike during that time, I won't have a job I have to run to directly after school. That provides me with an additional 12-15 hours per week that I didn't have when I was student teaching. Seems promising and exciting.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Les Paul, Frank McCourt, Michael Vick, etc.

Sad to hear yesterday that Les Paul died, though I must admit I thought that he had died already--sometime when I was in high school. Well, I guess not.

What we all know about Les Paul was that he was a virtuoso on the guitar, and was the equivalent of Einstein to the guitar. He invented, reinvented, redesigned, and shattered all the concepts of what a guitar should be: what it should look like, how it could be played, what colors and designs could be utilized, how to augment the sounds the guitars produced, and how to mass market these guitars to the public. The Gibson LesPaul is still one of the most popular guitars in history and revolutionized 70s rock n' roll. Without him, Led Zeppelin might have sunk like a lead zeppelin.

K. and I got a new computer a few days ago and I have been scrambling around trying to get everything installed on it, and have been trying, though futilely at this point, to successfully set up the wireless network on all the computers. First, I went through the process of reinstalling the wireless device on each computer, then I had to deal with the computers not recognizing the wireless, then the wireless itself looking for a cord (hence being the antithesis of wireless...), and then one computer (the one I'm typing on, obviously) recognizing the wireless network and another not. Needless to say, I need to work on all of this more tonight. Hopefully Tyler can walk me through some of the more intricate ins and outs of troubleshooting so I don't dropkick all these devices out the window.

Also sad to hear of the passing of Frank McCourt a week or two ago. I've been away from the blog for so long that I'm missing news stories by the weeks now. I remember the first time I read Angela's Ashes in high school and how it affected me. I remember arresting description, a whole world that transformed Ireland from a picturesque emerald isle into a place that's not so one-dimensional, but one that's challenging, poverty stricken, and intense. I'd love to teach the book in the years coming. Perhaps I will try to read it during the first few months of teaching this year; since McCourt was a great high school English teacher, I could probably glean a few things from him through Ashes and Teacher Man.

BTW, just finished watching Bear Grylls wrangle a wild reindeer in Siberia. He trapped it against a tree and tied its head to the trunk, then struck it between the ears to kill it. It seemed a bit too manufactured, but overall very enthralling. He's still one of the toughest and craziest guys on television.

Now onto Michael Vick. I've already blogged on how I feel about Vick, but upon hearing he was being reinstated by the NFL, I felt that he could only repay this extreme debt he now has to Tony Dungy and the NFL (who I still don't believe should ever have done him favors) by donating his $1.3 million salary for next year to PETA or another animal protector's association. Wouldn't that make a great gesture? Proof that he has changed as a man and has altered his opinions as he swore to the committees? Wouldn't it make him look better in the eyes of all the people who still aren't satisfied with a measly 18-month prison sentence?