Sunday, December 15, 2013

Minor Peeve of the Week #1

Minor Peeve of the Week: It makes me depressed that all the kids flannel jammies are polyester. I mean, I know my children are in danger of bursting into flames as they sleep each night, but sheesh. And the secondary peeve that is part of that peeve is that to shop for cotton flannel jammie pants for my kids I have to shop for "cotton flannel lounge pants." And also that apparently J.C.Penney has stopped carrying these, or at least at the one nearby. They were always my go-to for flannel pants because they always had tons of 100% cotton ones on sale at the holidays. Pooh.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

A Thought from Emerson for Thanksgiving Day

“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson

I am grateful I have had so many days to blunder and be absurd.  Thank you to all the people in my life who are still willing to love me and be my friends.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

How to Behave in Public as a Female Professional

Wow.  I am sad that this type of thing is still happening. This is from the New York Post.

Firm to female staffers: Learn hard words

Smart women don’t show cleavage — or at least that’s what one high-powered Manhattan law firm is telling its female employees.
The legal firm Clifford Chance sent female associates a bizarre memo advising them to  stop giggling, squirming and showing cleavage while speaking in public, irking female employees who called the tips sexist, the legal news website Abovethelaw.comreports.
The memo urges lady lawyers to “practice hard words,” stop saying “like” and to button up, explaining “No one heard Hillary the day she showed cleavage” and “Think Lauren Bacall, not Marilyn Monroe.”
It also offers tips on how to be more masculine while speaking, noting “lower your voice” and “take up space.”
The presentation tips were sent to female employees of the firm across the country, which angered  lady lawyers, who said it unfairly singles out women as air-headed and unprofessional.
“[F]emale associates are very upset by not only the elementary nature of the tips themselves, but the suggestion that these would only apply to women. We have never been a very female friendly firm, but this is beyond the pale,” one employee told the site.
Other tips on the memo include:
  • “Like” You’ve got to Lose “Um” and “Uh,” “You know,” “OK,” and “Like”
  • Don’t raise your pitch at the end of a statement if it’s not a question.
  • Lower the pitch — say “uh-huh” and match that pitch to how low you can go
  • Don’t qualify: “Kind of, sort of, just…”
  • Don’t giggle
  • Don’t squirm
It also offers “what not to wear” tips:
  • Don’t dress like a mortician: if wearing a black suit, wear something bright
  • Don’t dress like you do every day, wear something special
  • If wearing a skirt make sure the audience can’t see up it when sitting on the dais
  • If wearing a scarf, make sure it stays tied
  • Make sure you can stand in your heels, not trip, don’t rock back on them
A rep from the firm said the  tips came from one particular individual who found them helpful.
“The original presentation and associated tips represented a personal perspective, shared with a group of colleagues, some just starting out in their careers,” the representative said.
“We believe that it is important that women as well as men are given access to a range of different viewpoints and approaches; there is no Clifford Chance template on how people should present. The offense caused by a small percentage of the suggestions in the tip sheet was entirely unintentional.”

Monday, November 25, 2013

Dear Page

[flash fiction]

Dear Page/ Dear Screen/ Dear Void,

I'm writing because I haven't written. You poor neglected beast.

I haven't been writing but I've been thinking my head.
Thoughts that are better left unsaid.

Those hasty generalizations and anxious bursts of feeling that can only cause trouble. Averse to trouble as I am I have a way of finding it, probably because of those thoughts. They nip at my heels like playful pups with their sharp milk teeth. Like cats they crawl up to my chest while I'm sleeping and suck my breath. 

They are the thoughts entertained by anyone. Or so I must assume. I can't confirm that because I won't let them see the light of day, poor children chained under the porch while I enjoy the cookies and milk. 

They starve of neglect, but wither and do not pass. Rather I pass them in the street and deny them coins. 

They sneak into my bed at night and leave changelings.

They are disagreeable. Personas non gratas. uninvited guests. But their voices twitter outside the windows and their nails scrape the panes. I leave them in the cold. They never let me forget it.

So I am sorry I have not written. I do miss you. 


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Apology to Non-Idiots

Dear J, D, C and J,

    Today in class, I slipped and called you idiots. You are not idiots, and I apologize for that.What I intended to express was that, because you are not in fact idiots, you should not act in such ways that degrade your own intelligence and capability.  All three of you were not acting like students today.You were listening to your classmate present, but instead of showing him support by remaining quiet until there was a chance to ask questions, you continued to talk under your breath during his presentation.  The person at the front of the room can’t hear what you are saying, and it could affect their confidence and their ability to make their best presentation. Watching this happen was very frustrating to me, and yet there was no time to interrupt the presentation to correct this juvenile behavior, and I didn’t want to throw the student off even more by stopping his speech.  So by the time I called you the name, I was very frustrated with your behavior.

    In addition, there was continued chatting and even whistling as I was going around trying to get the class going on the in-class essay.  Time was very short for this assignment because I changed my plans to accommodate you classmate’s presentation, and I was in disbelief that you would be so callous as to continue the disruptive behavior as people were trying to work.  Besides that, one of the people being disruptive was someone that I was personally trying to help by sharpening a pencil and lending it to him.  It seemed extremely disrespectful and ungrateful, not to mention completely in disregard of other students, to be whistling.  Another of you has often whistled and made random noises during other such moments, and so that was the first person I addressed.  

     However, none of this really excuses namecalling.  I just want you to understand how much I want you to do the work and move on in life, perhaps with better skills than before.

    What I intended to express, and what did not come out correctly, was that you are behaving in an idiotic manner, and that you and your minds deserve better.  You deserve to complete the work and learn, and the way you are behaving only diminishes your opportunity, but also I want you to respect yourself a little more.  I’ve been teaching a long time, and I have been shown both respect and disrespect by hundreds if not thousands of students, and what I have come to understand is that most of the frustration I feel in these situations is not so much because you are disobeying me, but more because my highest wish for you is to give yourself and your classmates the opportunity to do your best work.  When I don’t see that happening, I respond intensely.  

    Anyway, I sincerely apologize and hope that you can understand what my real intentions were and forgive me.

Your teacher,

Ms. H.S.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Playing with Infographics

I'm going to teach my students how to make infographics next week.  I found a couple of great sites.  Here's one I started... (work in progress-- It doesn't make much sense yet.)


| Create infographics

Sites on Infographics:

Sunday, October 27, 2013

How I Became a Teacher. A Webcomic.

My newest Stories from School blog entry answers the question of why I became a teacher.

The webcomic doesn't display very well on that blog, so I'm going to also put it here:

I forgot to post my last two entries on this blog...  about the limitations of using release time to get teachers to do good innovation and leadership work.

Teacherprefakeurism: Sound Awkward?
Teacherprefakeurism Part 2: The Story Behind the Rant

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Text Complexity Resources

I thought I'd start an entry about text complexity, where I could gather the resources I'm finding. Here's a start:

Here's a playlist from Youtube:

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Visit to the Homestead

Temps in the nineties down in Double Adobe feel pleasant after Tempe's wet 110's for weeks on end, and teaching in my "sustainable" eighty-degree classroom. Brother Bill took us out on my sister's quads and we found paths through the green grasses, gourds, wild flowers and thorny clumps of Mesquite. The mesquite, usually lacy, low and and semitransparent, is woven with vines of what must be an invasive plant with small purple flowers. Woven so tightly that the taller stands are almost unnavigable and we find ourselves backing out of surprise dead-ends over and over again. What is usually all red dust and ferny thorns is damp and jungle-like. We pass over the horse tracks from time to time, but don't see them until we pass by the feeding trough at the fence on our way back. We pass the bones of dead pets and the debris of our family's history. We eye the extent of our domain. The clouds pile on all horizons around the valley, but not above us. The sun moves lower and the breeze feels cool on our foreheads.  After making sure the rusty barbed wire holds the gate at least tentatively, we lead a trail of dust back up the road to the front driveway and head inside.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Easy Blueberry Flax Pancakes


2 c. Bisquick
1 c. Milk
2-3 tablespoons finely milled golden flaxseed
2 tablespoons sour cream
1/3 c water

1 1/2 c. Blueberries

Mix ingredients except blueberries. Lumps okay. Adjust liquids for desired consistency. Fold in blueberries. Cook on a griddle and top w butter and syrup.

Add daughter.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Having it All, as a Teacher

Here's my newest Stories from School blog entry.

I have more resources than I've ever had in my new teaching job.  In this entry I reflect on the implications of that a bit.


Friday, July 19, 2013


Flash fiction

She knew this was supposed to be like eating summer cherries, fleeting but sweet, the hard pits something to roll around in her mouth until all that remained were small bitter shreds of flesh, like the hole in the gums when a molar comes out. It was supposed to be sweet like that, pregnant with its own nostalgia. 

It wasn't terrible, torturous, or an aching grief. But instead of sweet cherries, it was the cherries you buy from the supermarket because they are plump and taut, a deep ripe red, and you buy lots of them because it is mid-summer, and these prices won't last, and you remove them from their ziplocked plastic bag and wash them in a colander because then they look like a feast. But when you finally try one, they are neutral. The texture is right, but somehow modern living has chlorinated out the sweetness.

You roll the cherry against the edge of your teeth, stripping the flesh free of the pit, because maybe, if you eat a whole mouthful, you can conjure the flavor. But no, just cherry-textured neutral. Not sour enough or overripe enough to return to the store. Any romance in the fruit has been lost as a thin film over the asphalt that stretches from the orchards in Washington to the air-conditioned interior habitats of summer in the desert.

So you are left with a pit, shreds of cherry in your teeth, and a colander load of subtle disappointment. 

That's how it was for her. It didn't sour her or leave her hardened. Just fed, in the least satisfying kind of way.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Family Camping Trip Packing List

Some of my fondest memories in Girl Scouts are of preparing for camping and backpacking. I've written before about the "stuff" involved. Although getting out of town puts me on edge and makes me almost unbearable to be around, I actually enjoy the mental preparation for a trip, and I like going over the checklists. I enjoy the anticipation of breaking routine, exploring, thinking about where all this equipment will take us.

Could we get by with less than the list below?  Of course.  The first time I really took the kids camping on my own, I felt that we had really overdone it in terms of equipment.  However, once we had a well-organized camping site, it allowed us to spend several days together without having to flail around, look for things, drop things in the dirt, etc. every time we wanted to prepare a meal or get ready for bed.  A well-organized and well-stocked campsite makes it a lot easier with kids, tell you what.  Mine are elementary aged, and it's the golden age for camping trips.  They are old enough to help, not too whiny, and excited to explore anything new.  I can still get them interested in identifying types of trees, wildflowers, birds and rocks.  It's the best family activity I know.  Hopefully our list helps you prepare your next trip.

This link will take you to my document with any changes I make to it, but here's the list as it stands right now:
Camping Trip Packing List

Shelter and Sleeping
  • Ground cloth
  • Tent(s)
  • Sleeping pads
  • inflatable mattress & pump
  • cots
  • Sleeping bags
  • Pillows
  • Chairs
  • rug for tent entryway

Camp Kitchen
  • folding table
  • Stove (be sure to test it each time before you go)
  • Stove fuel
  • Charcoal and lighter fuel (if grilling)
  • Firewood and kindling (if allowed)
  • Matches/lighter
  • Cooking pots and pans
  • Cast iron grill
  • Extra drinking water & large water dispenser (to get you started & then to refill for your campsite)
  • Utensil set (including spoons, knives, forks, and cooking utensils such as serving spoons, knives, and spatulas) TONGS.
  • Can opener
  • Mess kits for everyone (plates, cups, bowls)
  • sporks
  • Cooler and ice  (make block ice)
  • Dish detergent
  • Dish towels/ small towels
  • Sponge/scraper
  • Plastic basin (for washing dishes)
  • Small bottle of bleach or antibacterial kitchen cleaner
  • Tablecloth
  • Trash bags
  • Foil
  • Ziploc bags
  • Hot pads
  • Citronella candle
  • Food Items
  • Snacks
  • Fruit
  • Peanut butter and bread (very quick and handy if your kids like it)
  • Butter/cooking oil
  • Condiments (salt, pepper, multi-spice, and mustard/catsup when applicable)
  • Beverages (juice boxes, milk)
  • Coffee, tea, or hot chocolate
  • Milk, sugar (if needed)
  • Desserts
  • Makings for s'mores (marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate)
  • 2 big coolers.  Picnic cooler.

Handy Stuff
  • Extra shade-- tarp or whatever
  • Paracord
  • Rubber bands/ zip ties
  • bungee cords
  • extra adjustable straps
  • Clothespins
  • Duct tape
  • Multi-tool/utility knife & vise grips
  • Small handheld broom (for sweeping out the tent)
  • Lantern
  • Headlamps for all
  • Batteries/ car chargers for everything
  • bandana

  • washcloths
  • Soap
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Shampoo/ conditioner (if showers)
  • Face cleanser/ moisturizer
  • Quarters for pay showers (?)
  • Toothbrushes/toothpaste
  • Deodorant
  • Razor
  • Toilet paper and trowel
  • Sunscreen
  • Lip balm
  • Baby wipes

First Aid/ Medical
  • Bandages
  • Gauze/ tape
  • Ace bandage  (or instead of tape I buy that stretchy stuff that sticks to itself and it can double for an ace bandage)
  • Benadryl
  • Neosporin (with pain relief)
  • Bug repellent
  • Ibuprofen
  • Tweezers
  • Moleskin (if hiking)
  • Prescription meds

Clothing for All
  • Shoes/Boots
  • Shorts
  • Long pants
  • Tee shirts
  • Sandals/flip-flops or water shoes (for public showers)
  • Wool socks
  • Underwear
  • Rain/wind jacket
  • sweater or jacket
  • Pajamas
  • Bathing suits
  • Sunglasses
  • beanie-type hat
  • Sun hat/ cap
  • Swim towels
  • Daypacks

  • Water bottles/ hydration packs
  • Camera
  • Video camera
  • Reading material for all (including good bedtime stories)
  • Guidebooks and maps
  • Camping reservation info
  • Cell phone

Kid Stuff

  • Bicycles
  • Whistle/compass
  • crawdadding equipment (line, hook, summer sausage, bucket)
  • knot-tying books
  • Toys, board games, or deck of cards
  • Journal or sketchbook & writing/drawing implements.