Friday, June 29, 2012

Hey! So! Summer Reading!

Finished another book the other day, and it was pretty good: How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and How to Listen So Kids Will Talk.

Yes, it's a parenting book originally published in 1980.  Yes, I'm convinced my mom read it when I was young.  You see, I recognize many of the "skills" in scenes from my youth, particularly the one about listening while saying "hmmm," "oh?" and "so."  And, Yes, I've tried some stuff from the book already and I really like it.  My favorite part was the section on helping kids get out of playing roles. 

For instance, Mac is kind of shy.  But that's a role that he might not like to play, so instead of saying, "He's shy," when we meet a new person and he won't say hello, I can say, "It's scary to meet new people sometimes, isn't it?"  That way I'm validating his feelings without pigeonholing him.  Yes!

I recommend it for parents and teachers!  Good stuff!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Summer Reading Status

I finished another book in my queue: Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life by Wendy Mass. The book was entertaining and I can see myself pulling it off the shelf in the library to recommend to some 7th and 8th grade readers. The biggest problem with the book is that the plot is super similar, sort of ridiculously rip-offily similar, to that of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Here are some similarities:
  • The setting of NYC
  • The fact that the male protagonist's father died young
  • The motifs of keys, locks, and quests
  • The adventures of each of the protagonists being engineered and controlled by their mothers
  • The large role of grandparents
  • The protagonists' fear of people and things - a fear that they each overcome through the course of the story
So anyway, all those similarities bugged me.  I did some research and discovered that Safran Foer's novel was published just shortly (months) before Mass', so the reality is that they likely wrote the whole darn things concurrently.  Bad luck! 

But good luck that they're meant for totally different audiences.  Extremely Loud is meant for adults who will bawl their eyes out during the reading of it.  Jeremy Fink is meant for middle schoolers who will be moved, but not devastated by this charming, mysterious story.

I'm going to keep reading.  That's the bottom line.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Remedial World

Does it surprise anyone to know that Pronto is the worst dog at Obedience Class? Here's what the pup requires: a divider with a tarp thrown over it so that he can't see and attack the other students.

Yesterday when Coach Lynn instructed the class to take their pets on a walk around the room, she warned everyone, "GIVE PRONTO HIS SPACE! He might lose his little puppy MIND!" And then, sure enough, he completely spazzed and she had to go to her car to get a special face leash called The Gentle Leader. The other dogs do not seem to require this intervention.

The good news? The Gentle Leader seems to be a game changer.

We're on our way to Best Pup in the Universe. We're getting closer every day.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Summer Reading Report

Hey, so I finished my first summer reading book, The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides. I had super high expectations for this novel because I loved his Middlesex a lot. Good news: The Marriage Plot didn't disappoint!

There were three believable, sympathetic characters. There was a love triangle. There were interesting ideas about religion, class, commitment, and education. I feel enriched by reading this excellent novel.

For my next text, I'm reading a chapter from Visible Learning by John Hattie. My Professional Book Club is doing a jig saw of this book. So far, so good.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

First of Five

Here I am at Camp Foley. I just woke up here. In a short while, I'll be giving a seminar on how to do all the writing you need to do when you're a counselor. I'm going to try to make it tolerable for the audience. I planned to have prizes, but then I got distracted and drove right by Target without making a stop.

Lucky for me, this is Camp and my pal Alli has some extra prizes just lying around. She and another camp gal, Taylor, helped me come up with a few trivia questions for my "middler" break. They also helped me trouble shoot my community builder problem, which relied on me picking up some Laffy Taffys. We're going to use M & Ms instead. Not the best because the Taffys are individually wrapped.

But, I'm a teacher and I'm generally good at thinking on my feet. I can make the M & Ms work.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Two Things You Might Not Have Known

First: This dog is the spazziest of spazzes. He requires between one-and-a-half and two hours of structured exercise per day. Then, you have to apologize to just about every other dog walker, those who are in close proximity and sometimes shouting out to those a block away, for the complete and total fuss your spazzy dog is putting up.

Second: Dan is fast becoming a famous tweeter. While I'm very proud of him (he's gone from 60 followers to 363), sometimes I don't approve of his tweets. When this happens, Dan says I "don't understand humor." Whatever. I just like to be appropriate. Here are some tweets I do like:

To tell the truth, (and this may be selfish) I always hoped that if someone in my marriage would become an internet star, it would be me. However, I've come to realize it's better to have one internet star than none. Congratulations, Pronto Senior! Well done.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

It's My Birthday, Too

So, the Macster is 4 tomorrow. We just had his party, which was super fun. Dan and I got him a Hex Bug habitat, which seems to be a hit.

Grandparents purchased accessories for said habitat. Nana also brought squirtelers shaped like crayola crayons. All three cousins needed complete changes of outfit following the soaking. Tomorrow summer starts in earnest. Even though my spirit guides want to remind me that "life is not a series of final exams," I feel compelled to share with you my goals:
  • Read at least one book per week 
  • Provide book reviews on my blog
  • Exercise five times per week
  • Practice violin at least five times per week
  • Turn Pronto into the Best Dog in the Universe
  • Analyze data for NCTE talk
  • Have an amazing time with and without the kids
 That's all.  

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Beat the Band

Just back from a baseball game. Game was momentous for two reasons: First, Shef hit his first homer. Whoo, Shef! And, second, I brought Pronto the Pup. This was risky because Pronto has been kind of a DYCTA. That's a Dog You Can't Take Anywhere. Sometimes I even call him DD, which is short for Damn Dog.

But, after three weeks of socialization and training, he now can behave with people most of the time. If he's on the leash. And only most of the time.

However, Pronto doesn't understand about meeting other dogs. He goes crazy and pulls and jumps and barks. It's kind of embarrassing. But, I'm not giving up. The Canine Coach is coming to help us tomorrow. Obedience starts the following week. I have confidence in the Pup. He hasn't been with us too long and he's our Pup for life.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Gonna Write Some Comments

It's time again for narrative comments. You write a couple of hundred words on each kid. Reporting on this and that. I'm done with 48. I have 32 left to go. This is a very time-consuming process, and it can require quite a lot of finesse.

Kind of like the finesse that's required by Emily the Bachelorette to reject the guys one by one. At this moment, I'm taking a break from the comments to spend some QT with my fave show. It's really worth it. I have to keep my priorities in line during these trying times.

Friday, June 1, 2012

She Don't Know Oh Oh

A while back I agreed to be on a Marathon Relay team called the 4 Fools. I signed up for the shortest leg, which was 5.2 miles. I trained a bit and then I got swamped by work and also I got Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease. I'm still feeling the after effects of that phenomenon, by the way. That's a full 8 days after I went back to work.

So basically, all I've done to prepare for the Marathon Relay, which is on Sunday, is reach my fighting weight via the pestilence. Also my leg became 6 miles instead of 5.2. This probably won't go too well, but I have to get out there and do it for the team. I'm going to do it slowly for the team. I'm going to try not to walk for the team.