Saturday, September 04, 2004

Arranging the Classroom

Originally uploaded by spoowriter.
I put up a gallery of my newly-almost-ready classroom here. I was at Sycamore quite a long time today, putting the finishing touches on the room, but what took the longest was the copier, which suddenly decided to be a snail. (Sigh)

But, all I have to do now is make the kids' word books, portfolios, write a "how the classroom works letter" and get some work ready for Tuesday.

It'll be a weird week. Our behavior specialist (who I took a class from that I didn't even need 'cause she's fun to listen to) is gonna be by because one of my new guys, S., has some extremely self-injurious behaviors (he hits himself on the head until his head and knuckles are bloody); the OTs and speech therapists will be by to make a schedule -- ditto with the APE guy. So it won't be a normal week anyway.

I'm far less freaked out than last year, unlike the new primary SDC teacher, Jenn, who has never had a classroom herself, and although she's worked with adults with severe disabilities, her credential is in mild to moderate disabilities.

So, here's to a good year. Hope you enjoy the pictures. I work hard to make the room look as similar as possible to any other classroom. I feel that's very important, because it starts everything off with an...aura, so to speak...of age-appropriateness.

I just lost my train of thought there. More later, maybe.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Banned Books Week

The 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990–20001

From the American Library Association. Bold means I've read it. Italics means I've heard of it but not read it..

1. Scary Stories (Series) by Alvin Schwartz -- my 3rd/4th grade teacher read these to us all the time...we loved them.
2. Daddy’s Roommate by Michael Willhoite
3. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
4. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
5. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
6. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
-- didn't like either of these, but had to read them for school.
7. Harry Potter (Series) by J.K. Rowling
8. Forever by Judy Blume
9. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson -- another one my 3rd/4th grade teacher read us.
10. Alice (Series) by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
11. Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman
12. My Brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
13. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
14. The Giver by Lois Lowry -- this is a fabulous book
15. It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris
16. Goosebumps (Series) by R.L. Stine
17. A Day No Pigs Would Dieby Robert Newton Peck
18. The Color Purple by Alice Walker

19. Sex by Madonna
20. Earth’s Children (Series) by Jean M. Auel -- well, I've read the first one...the others were too weird for me.
21. The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
22. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
23. Go Ask Alice by Anonymous

24. Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers
25. In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
26. The Stupids (Series) by Harry Allard
27. The Witches by Roald Dahl
28. The New Joy of Gay Sex by Charles Silverstein
29. Anastasia Krupnik (Series) by Lois Lowry
30. The Goats by Brock Cole
31. Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane -- this is a riveting, fascinating story about living under apartheid that I found in my middle school library.
32. Blubber by Judy Blume
33. Killing Mr. Griffin by Lois Duncan
34. Halloween ABC by Eve Merriam
35. We All Fall Down by Robert Cormier
36. Final Exit by Derek Humphry
37. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
38. Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George

39. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
40. What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Girls: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Daughters by Lynda Madaras
41. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
42. Beloved by Toni Morrison
43. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
44. The Pigman by Paul Zindel
45. Bumps in the Night by Harry Allard
46. Deenie by Judy Blume
47. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

48. Annie on my Mind by Nancy Garden
49. The Boy Who Lost His Face by Louis Sachar
50. Cross Your Fingers, Spit in Your Hat by Alvin Schwartz
51. A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
52. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
-- I wasn't really fond of the book as a whole, but the beginning part that describes the "decanting" of children and the conditioning process is fascinating.
53. Sleeping Beauty Trilogy by A.N. Roquelaure (Anne Rice)
54. Asking About Sex and Growing Up by Joanna Cole
55. Cujo by Stephen King
56. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl -- another 3rd/4th grade one
57. The Anarchist Cookbook by William Powell
58. Boys and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy
59. Ordinary People by Judith Guest
60. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
61. What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Boys: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Sons by Lynda Madaras
62. Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
63. Crazy Lady by Jane Conly
64. Athletic Shorts by Chris Crutcher
65. Fade by Robert Cormier
66. Guess What? by Mem Fox
67. The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende
68. The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline Cooney
69. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
70. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
71. Native Son by Richard Wright
72. Women on Top: How Real Life Has Changed Women’s Fantasies by Nancy Friday
73. Curses, Hexes and Spells by Daniel Cohen
74. Jack by A.M. Homes
75. Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo A. Anaya
76. Where Did I Come From? by Peter Mayle
77. Carrie by Stephen King
78. Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume
79. On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer
80. Arizona Kid by Ron Koertge
81. Family Secrets by Norma Klein
82. Mommy Laid An Egg by Babette Cole
83. The Dead Zone by Stephen King
84. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
85. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
-- I'm not a huge fan of Toni Morrison, but this was the best of the ones of hers I've read
86. Always Running by Luis Rodriguez
87. Private Parts by Howard Stern
88. Where’s Waldo? by Martin Hanford -- if you can count it as reading...
89. Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene
90. Little Black Sambo by Helen Bannerman
91. Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett -- I think I read this one once
92. Running Loose by Chris Crutcher
93. Sex Education by Jenny Davis
94. The Drowning of Stephen Jones by Bette Greene
95. Girls and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy
96. How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell -- does reading it Patrick count?
97. View from the Cherry Tree by Willo Davis Roberts
98. The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
99. The Terrorist by Caroline Cooney -- haven't read this one, but I read a number of hers
100. Jump Ship to Freedom by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier

You know, my elementary school teachers read many of these to me, and others, I found wandering the library at school, which was small enough that I stumbled upon things I wouldn't have found elsewhere.

Do I think 5 year olds should read Cujo? No, of course not. But should a 15 year old read Cujo? Why the heck not? It they wanna have nightmares, let 'em.

Be involved with your kids...know what they're reading -- and you decide something is not appropriate, fine. But don't assume that what is inappropriate for your child is inappropriate for another. It might just be the book that inspires them to write the next "great American novel," to use a fairly cliched phrase.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Testing, Testing

Patrick at the Coke Store
Originally uploaded by spoowriter.
Just testing out the blogging part of flickr, which is a Mac-compatible almost-as-good-as-Picasa-and-Hello. Miscellany is below. Click on the picture to see a bigger version.

Miscellaneous Musings

I think all this classroom-arranging has been bad for my ankle. It really hurts tonight, and my ice pack is still at my mom's house. :-(

On the other hand, all I have to do, really, is the bulletin boards and rearrange the desks, then make photocopies of the first week's work. My goal from now on is to be a week ahead in work -- that is, I'll have week 2's done over this weekend, so I can photocopy it and modify it on our early-out Thursdays.

That'll probably only last a couple of weeks, but it's a nice thought.

On the third hand, I think I'll get along great with the new primary SDC teacher - whose name is also "Jennifer." There are now 4 of us at Sycamore, and 3 of us teach special education, in one form or another. This is her first year teaching, and her credential is mild/moderate, not moderate/severe, so she's kind of freaking out right now.

I spent a lot of time today going through kids' IEPs with her, and showing her how I have my classroom set up. I tried really hard to walk the line of "give useful advice" without the "this is what Dana did" trap. I spent the first 6 weeks or so of last year constantly being told "Kate did this" or "Teacher Peter did that" ("Teacher Peter?" For 5th graders? Really?) or "What's-her-name-who-was-pregnant did that." Drove me nuts.

I told Jenn to tell me if I was doing that too much, but I'm not sure if she really would....

On the...fourth?...hand, the principal was insistent that Lauri (the preschool teacher) and I explain to Christina and Jenn how to get the kids off the bus.

Um, I'm sorry, but if they can't figure out how to get a group of kids off the bus and to the right classroom...we have much bigger problems here, people.

I don't know...Suzanne stresses about weird things, in my opinion. Last year, one of the first things she said after she hired me was, "Make sure you put up bulletin boards and stuff because the parents want their kids' room to look like everyone else's."

First off, after I went all over in my interview about how I worked in inclusive environments, and how important age appropriateness is to me, and how I was going to give homework because that's part of everyone else's school experience...what on earth did she think I was gonna do? Put up bars on the windows and "Warning: Special Education Students Here" on the door??

I'll have to post pictures of my classroom. I think it's a fairly nice compromise between looking very typical and having to respect the needs of my students by providing quiet cool down corners, a couple of individual work places, and a little corner for speech, OT, etc.

See? Toldja it was miscellaneous.

By the way -- thought of the night -- "The spear in the Other's heart is the spear in your own; you are he." -- Diane Duane.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004


If anyone who wants a gmail account hasn't received an invite, check out The Screensavers' Kevin Rose's website.

I'll miss Pat, and I already missed Leo, but I'm looking forward to giving the new Screensavers a try anyway.

By the must be the night for weird grammatical images. I just read something about a character being the one to...ahem..."bare" a baby....

Interesting Image

"Feint" basically means taking mock swing at someone. I believe it's a fencing term, as well.

Either way, it presents interesting images, when you read how it was used here.

However, it's worth noting that if someone feinted at me with a sword, I'd be faint of heart too. :-)

Manual Dexterity

I am the least coordinated person on earth.

And yet, I have tasked myself with creating triangular name labels for the kids' desks, because the ones that can't yet read their names weren't looking at the taped down ones last year anyway. These new ones are triangular and velcroed, to make it easy to move kids around without having to peel off old name tags.

However, this involves making a 1.5" table in word, putting the kid's name in, color-coding it by grade level, printing, cutting, and then (the manual dexterity part) folding along the lines on the table and gluing the extra flap from the top margin to the rest of the triangle in order to fill it with old phone book paper.

This is not easy. Worth it, rather than having to create new name tags every time I want to move kids' seats, but not easy.

Just thought I'd whine a bit.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Let there be light

Aha! I have light! Well, in 4 of the 5 bulbs -- since I wasn't sure I had the right bulb, and they came in packs of 4, I decided not to buy 8 bulbs I might not potentially need.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Sci Fi Fandom

I've only ever been to one sci-fi convention, and that was mostly at the behest of my friend Caryn. I've never been overly interested in a celebrity's private life, or even in meeting them in person, because what I'm attracted to is most often the character, especially a well-developed one.

That's one of the cool things about DVD commentaries. You get to hear all of the insights an actor has about a particular episode; you get to hear the interesting vignettes (like Claudia Black, who does just about the best commentaries I've ever heard - funny, thoughtful, and knowledgeable - filming one of the first episodes of Farscape, getting her finger smashed, and sitting in a tree telling herself that she can't cry 'cause Aeryn's a tough chick and wouldn't cry either); you get to hear about the actor's choices and reasons they played a certain scene a certain way, etc.

Those are the questions that, if asked, might draw me to a convention.

But what I saw all those years ago in LA was a lot of people with reality issues. That is, they'd ask the actor questions that should be directed towards the character -- a rather difficult proposition. I don't get the dressing-in-costumes thing, but honestly, that didn't bother me as much as the inane questions.

But there have been a couple of moments over the years that I've read about that I wish I could have seen. The tribute to Kevin Smith (the actor from New Zealand, not the American director) a few years ago, after he died from a head wound, for one. I'd hope there would have been one at some point at some sci-fi convention for Jonathan Brandis, who played Lucas on SeaQuest and committed suicide sometime in this last year.

And this weekend, the entire living cast of the original Star Trek, along with a few other cool people like Neil Armstrong, gathered to pay tribute to James Doohan, attending his last convention because he has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's.

Did you know you have to pay to get a star on the Walk of Fame? I read a few years ago that one of James Doohan's sons was leading a campaign on the net to get contributions for one, because James Doohan refused to pay for one, not wanting to "pat himself on the back" as his son says on the website.

He's getting one tomorrow.

And for one of the first times, I wish I'd gone to the convention, and that I was a fangirl nerd enough to head on over to Hollywood tomorrow.

I started watching Star Trek when I was 5. My dad set me in front of "The Trouble with Tribbles," and there you have it. That's a little bitter sweet today, since Scotty played a large part in that particular episode.

I guess this is a little tribute of my own to him. Wish I had some technical journals to I can do is my Macworld and PC World magazines.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

The Light Odyssey

Once upon a time, I bought a cheap halogen lamp for my dorm at CLU. At some point, Stacey acquired one too, and then somehow I inherited both of them (maybe the "I don't want to make any more moving trips to Lompoc" phase?), as I was moving home after we graduated.

Those lamps have served well. One burned out a month or two ago, and I kept forgetting to take the bulb to Lowe's to get a new one. Well, I finally did, and it turns out the bulb was fine -- it was the lamp that died.

The second still lights (when you jiggle the switch, which is supposed to turn) but the bottom has been crossthreaded or something, and it won't stand up straight unless I tie it to the bedframe with an ace bandage.

So when the second's bulb finally burned out, I browsed around one night and found this nifty one that was supposedly available at my local WalMart. Well, yesterday, I went to 3, and none had it. Finally found it tonight, assembled it, and found out that the bulbs I bought are the wrong size.

Oh well. One more night with just the laptop and the TV to light the room isn't so bad.

Ad Choices

You know, call me crazy, but I'm not sure the audience that watches the Sci-Fi Channel would be the ideal place to advertise The Passion of the Christ. I know it was a mega-hit and all that...but...the Sci-Fi Channel...really? I'm really not sure that it would be your target audience, but I think I've seen 6 ads just in watching Friday's Atlantis.


But I'll think it's weird until I see a preview for, oh, say, Stargate: Atlantis on...the Game Show Network. ;-)

(Incidentally, about Atlantis. Okay. Can be funny. Last week's was very good. I'm more impressed than I was with SG-1's first season, if only because they haven't renamed anyone important. I don't know why renaming Sha'uri (Daniel's wife's name in the movie) to Sha're bugged me so much, but it did. Anyhow.)