Blackout Poetry for the Win!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Okay, so I hardly ever post lesson plans/resources. There is a cornucopia of reasons for why I don't, including:

1) Writing about lesson plans/resources is not fun for me. Maybe this makes me a bad teacher? Oops.
2) I often come up with my lesson plans the week (and sometimes even the morning) that I'm doing them.  Again, maybe this makes me a bad teacher. But because of the disparities in ability level of the population that I teach and the fact that I have close to forty 8th graders in my classes, it's hard for me to plan ahead when I don't know until I teach something whether or not they will be able to master it one day or whether it'll take a week.
3) My lesson plans are very rarely phenomenal. 
4) There's just way too many other things I'd write about, like students long-jumping over piles of barf or the bizarre things I catch myself saying out loud on a daily basis.

But once in a blue moon, there's something we do in class that makes me want to bust through the doors of the teachers' lounge, saloon-style, and shout at the top of my lungs, "ALL OF YOU MUST DO THIS!!!"

Thursday was one of those days.

We had some leftover time on Thursday, and earlier in the week I had discovered some class library books that had been ruined in my move across campus this summer. Some had been torn in half, others had a huge chunk of the middle missing. Obviously, I couldn't throw them away (that's breaking one of the 10 Commandments of Reading), so I decided to tear out all the pages and assign my students some blackout poetry.

The idea comes from this website, Newspaper Blackout, recommended to me by a Love, Teach reader. Basically this guy takes a permanent marker and redacts newspaper articles to create poetry.  So we did, too! I showed my students from examples, talked them through how to not get Sharpie on their desks/heads/faces/tongues, and let them loose with the pages I'd torn out.

IT WAS THE COOLEST. Take a gander.

Doesn't this remind you of that famous line in Vonnegut's God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater? No? Just me? Oh, well. Still cool.

"She took a deep breath and felt all the love whisper to her." Excuse me while I cry ALL THE TEARS

"Less than pleased is all you are."

This is just a handful of the amazing stuff my kids made. It is really cool to see what they turn out, and you'll find yourself in really neat conversations with students about their work. Do it this week, ELA teachers! You'll be surprazed (that's my portmanteau for "surprised" and "amazed." You're welcome.)



14 Reasons Why I Will Die Alone

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Most of the time, I love being a single gal teaching in a big city.

But sometimes, like this week, I take a look at my life and realize that I will probably die alone and that my body will be eaten by coyotes.

Because it's Tuesday and everyone knows that Tuesdays are for whining, I give you:

14 Reasons Why I Will Die Alone

1) I don't go out anymore because I'm tired all the time. If I do happen to be persuaded to venture out beyond the confines of my apartment, car, and classroom, I'm usually:
  • With a pack of other teachers 
  • Wearing my faculty shirt that has a giant paw print on it
  • Sporting stray pen marks and dry erase marker ruboff on my arms because I erase my white board with my forearms now, like a Neanderthal
  • Yawning at 8:00 and telling anyone who will listen how I'd rather be in my pajamas
Line up, fellas.

2) I for sure won't meet anyone at school. The male teachers at my school are either:
  • Married
  • Have caught me whispering to my clothing
  • Have said the following words to me, "Did you forget your comb today? Haha. Relax, I'm just kidding. I actually think your hair looks nice like that."
  • Also crazy and our offspring would be genetically forced into a disturbing brand of weird
  • Maybe too normal, which says a lot about how weird I've become
3) I basically have been controlling my own life for the past several years now, and I'm not sure I could handle not being in control anymore. Isn't that an attractive quality?

4) I bought these plastic mystical ponies at Target tonight.

What? Why? I have no answers to these questions.

5) See my fingernails in the above picture.

6) Because I live in a large city, I've learned to walk with a sense of purpose so that strange men don't approach me to say gross things. However, I am now so good at this that NOBODY approaches me.

7) These are my recently used emojis:

8) I have limited interaction with the male species due to my schedule, so when I am around a guy that is even marginally attractive or nice to me, my body betrays me and I can't stop giggling, sweating, or saying super weird things like facts about dolphins that I learned from a podcast P.S. it's this one and it's amazing.

9) Looking cute is time-consuming, expensive, and I give up. My student teacher has offered to help me, so that's hopeful. I told her I may have time next March.

10) I am too afraid to have kids anymore. I used to want to crank out so many kids it would require some kind of commune to raise them all, but teaching has made me realize that kids, while lovely, are mostly just fragile and dangerous creatures. They're basically walking Ziploc bags full of organs that sass you sometimes. Also, I blame my lack of interest on my pregnant coworkers and their absolutely horrifying daily updates on what pregnancy does to your body. Thanks for nothing, pregnant coworkers!

11) My standards are warped because of my literature man crushes, which may be the dorkiest thing ever typed in human history.

12) I'm looking into taking a quilting class at the suggestion of my pen pal.

13) I just believe that the above sentence should probably count twice in my list of reasons I will die alone.

14) Someone has been lingering outside my window listening to the radio on speakerphone for the past several minutes. So I may actually die alone tonight.

I know that I won't really die alone-- I'm just being dramatic. I'll die surrounded by my books, my lifelong companions.