Friday, June 20, 2008

Studying for the GRE is making me dumber

The GRE prep page really (seriously!) wanted me to answer this question.

14. If 300 jellybeans cost you x dollars. How many jellybeans can you purchase for 50 cents at the same rate?

B. 150x
C. 6x
E. 1500x

The correct answer is A, by the way. Stupid GRE prep.

p.s. Just because I've posted on top of it doesn't mean I don't want teaching tips anymore. If you know anything about teaching, please scroll down, read my teaching post, and pass on your wisdom!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Things that made me laugh today

It's a sign of maturity when you can laugh at yourself, right?

(during a thrilling exercise wherein I read a list of words and the kids held up cards that started with the same letter as the word, possibilities limited to S, P, N and T)
Georgie: This is fun!
Me: Are you being sarcastic?

Me to my cat: If you come near my chickens, I'm gonna throw you across the yard again!

(ya hear?)


Tuesday, June 17, 2008


So I've been thrown into the water without a life jacket.

A year ago, if you would have told me that I'd be teaching a class of 6-9 year olds in a Yurt in the middle of the country and picking blackberries during recess, I'm pretty sure I would have laughed. This is me, the girl who doesn't converse with anyone below the age of 14 because they're not smart enough to talk about interesting things yet. And here I am, telling these kids to clap when I read out a word that begins with "s." Good. Lord.

Things I've learned/started working out in my mind so far:
1) Kids need physical space to match psychological space. The school-Yurt doesn't have desks and the kids have to squish around a low table, sitting or kneeling on the floor. Consequently it's a lot harder to separate subjects from each other, and especially playtime from work time. There is a picnic table which is too big for them to sit at comfortably, but I make them sit there for reading lessons because I think it's important for them to have a place that's just for reading. But they do everything else at the round table, and it's hard to distinguish between what's work (requiring quiet and discipline, where they can't just get up without permission) and play (where they can talk quietly (ha! quietly.) and get up without permission).

Solution: long, low tables with adjustable height so that we can have a school table that's comfortable separate from a play table. Enough space on the school table where they're not crowded, so I can enforce rules about keeping their eyes on their own papers, which I haven't even tried to introduce yet because of the crowed space and circular small table.

2) Related to #1, circular spaces are not psychologically conducive to school. Square spaces are. (The second observation comes from my own memory; the first from direct observation over the past two weeks.) In circular spaces nothing is oriented in a particular direction, there's no front of the classroom, and therefore there's really no way to direct motion or guide it to appropriate places. You can't even make kids line up - how can they make a straight line with their bodies when all the lines around them are curved?

Solution: blue painters' tape on the floor, sectioning off parts of the room. One square will be the "lessons" part, one square will be the "free time" part, one square will be the "story time" part, and maybe there will be one more, but I haven't decided what that will be. Even though there won't be physical barriers between sections of the room, I'm hoping that having the floor sectioned off will provide psychological boundaries to help the kids understand that it's not playtime all the time, and also to discourage running.

3) I need a blackboard. Oh my dear sweet Lord, do I need a blackboard.

Stay tuned for more Adventures in the World of Making Up Teaching Methods as I Go Along and Pretending I Knew What I Was Doing All the Time.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

I'm really not very good at being a country girl

I don't like it when things have to die. Even when they're 5 foot long black snakes that are trying to eat my chickens. (note: this is the second snake I've had to ask my dad to kill. Dorothy says they come in pairs, so maybe this will be the end of the black snakes. A girl can hope.) Life would be a lot better for me if I could just catch them and throw them out into the woods and they'd get lost and not come back to the chicken coop. I'd be all for keeping them as pets (I mean, they don't bite people, so why not?) but my parents are antipathetic about the idea, and aside from putting them in an aquarium and feeding them crickets, the only way to keep them from finding their way back to the chickens is to kill them. Which makes me sad.

Speaking of chickens, I've always heard that guineas are social birds. If that's true, I have defective guineas. The chickens let me catch them and cuddle them, and they even stop flapping after a minute or two. The guineas flap and squirm for as long as I hold on to them, and seriously endanger my eardrums. Have you ever heard guineas? They're loud little bastards.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Many events, zero pictures to show for it so far

So, I graduated. "But MC," you say, "you did that last year!" Yeah, you and the rest of the world. Fr. JD told me as I walked down the Mall in my cap and gown and the band was playing the Prince of Denmark March (side note: for a graduation?? whatever.) that I graduated last year. And I said, no, I'm graduating this year. And he said, "oh, you're doing it twice."

Anyway, it was a lovely graduation, complete with a fabulous speech by Dr. Lenczowski (text here). Re-reading it, I find myself thinking "he said that?" Obviously the rivers of sweat pouring down my back by this point distracted me a bit. But I was impressed at the time with the speech, and am more so now, which is probably as it should be. Dr. Lenczowski is the first graduation speaker in my memory to get a standing ovation.

Also, I went to DC for Amy's wedding, and my excuse of not having wedding pictures is that I haven't gotten them developed; also, there are 19 exposures left on one of the rolls so I'll probably try to finish it out before I go in to town. But it was a beautiful wedding, of course, because everything Amy touches is beautiful. Mary said so during her toast, but I'd like to point out that I had said it independently and previously and therefore am not plagiarizing. She wore her grandmother's wedding dress, which is just about the epitome of awesome and makes me really sad that neither of my grandmothers passed down their dresses.

We sang some stuff too. I'm pretty sure that this was the best group I've ever sung with. I think I counted two missed entrances, one of which was my fault, all weekend. I'm not saying there weren't more mistakes; I'm just saying I didn't hear them. Props to Sean for keeping the tenors on pitch.

And I met the American Papist, himself, in person, which fills me with all sorts of nerdy Catholic delight. Not only is he cool because he runs a fantastic blog, but he also knows all the words to the Winnie the Pooh theme song.

But I didn't get to visit the National Shrine.