Friday, May 25, 2007

Pick a Pocket or Two

This is just... weird.

Apparently, a new theme park has opened in England. This may rival the ride (yes, ride) Mercedes and I enjoyed at the Cadbury factory and the "multimedia" castle tour Emily and I found in Dover. Now you can experience 19th century London in Dicken's World.

I think my favorite part is Fagin's Den:
"So how has Dickens World presented Fagin's Den? As a children's playpen, of course, where young' uns can muck about on slides and climbing frames and bounce off soft, colorful walls."
(from this article)

Which, especially given my current commute listening ("The English Novel" - a 24-part lecture series), makes me wonder just what other British tomes may inspire theme parks? The Jungle Cruise remade for Heart of Darkness? "Thornfield - Bertha's Haunted Mansion" (complete with firework show every night at sunset)? Six Flags Over Canterbridge?


A Boy Like That/I Have A Love

Today was happiness for me - I visited our newly-opened Ikea!
Janelle and I went there after the end-of-the-year faculty party today at school. She's never been, and I was almost giddy at the prospect of being able to shop here whenever I want. Well, kinda. The store was crazy - it officially opened two days ago, and there were cops directing traffic and the store was swamped with people. The screaming kids were what really got to me. There was one cute one, though. Janelle brought Donavon along with her, and aside from a lot of squirming, he was pretty darn cute.

With four days left, school's been getting more and more interesting. It's really quite exhausting to try to teach, especially when the system works against you. My kids basically figured they were done learning the day they finished the state tests - two weeks ago. I've also been working long shifts - there's been stuff going on in the auditorium in the evening every day for the past two weeks - concerts, dance recitals, awards night, etc. Yesterday was our first annual film festival (hosted by Ben and me), and I was thrilled when it ended both because it went well and because it was the final after-school event I had to work.

Other excitement these days include someone dumping an entire bag of flour in the hallway during locker clean-out today, one of my kids bringing a knife to school, a group of eighth graders declaring a day "mob day" and trying to beat up seventh graders, training my new stage crew, doing a ton of paperwork-type stuff for the district, trying to get things settled for the AVID conference in Chicago, and so on.

I've got a stack of papers to grade over this holiday weekend, but it should be my last of the year. Next week should hopefully go quickly - Tuesday's the ninth grade field trip to our local amusement park. Janelle, Kelley, and a few of our other teacher-friends all volunteered to chaperone. Free admission and we just have to ride the bus with the kids? Not bad. The rides there are kind of lame (I'm not into roller coasters), but it's fun to hang out with the others.
Wednesday is the farewell assembly and yearbook signing, Thursday is the ninth grader's last day, and Friday is the end for everyone else.

Seven and a half weeks till Russia!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Unexpected Song

I've been feeling a little melancholy about my summer lately. Don't get me wrong - I'm counting the days left as fervently as my students. But I was missing a "big picture" for the summer; something I can be proud to claim on my "what I did..." back-to-school essay. I'm sure part of it is the wistful thoughts that are cropping up as the anniversary of the Shakespeare Institute of last summer draws near.

But I have found a cure! And acted on it with remarkable swiftness. I, friends, am going to Russia!

Yes. Through the Cross Cultural Solutions volunteer program, I will be spending three weeks in Yaroslavl, Russia. It sounds like I will mostly likely be working in one of the city's orphanages, which news immediately brought up suggestions of hepatitis shots from my mother. I'm so excited I grinned all day.

It sounds like a great program, plus I'll be there over two weekends (Hello Moscow and St. Petersburg!). It is all very suddenly, but it also feels very right.

NOW I'm excited for summer!

(I don't know what building this is, but I will in two months!)

Sunday, May 13, 2007

In the Light of the Virgin Morning

Last week, I walked out of my apartment to drive to school and discovered a completely flat front tire. Fun! Luckily, my parents taught me well - none of that weak-girly thinking for me! In ten minutes' time I had the flat off and in the trunk, and the spare on. I was covered in grease and had to run back inside to change. Remarkably, I made it to school with about 30 seconds to spare before the bell.

While I'm uploading photos, here are some from the Shakespeare Festival:

My three actors who performed "Romeo and Juliet" (they're performing the Prince's final speech here, with saxophone accompaniment.)

The students had the option of dressing up for extra credit. Some of the costumes were pretty good:

while others were more... creative.

Monday, May 07, 2007

It's May

(photo from here)


Another school year is coming to a close, both rapidly and not nearly soon enough. With less than a month to go, the tug-of-war for my students' attention - okay, fine, for my attention, is becoming apparent.

My English class took their state tests last week:
"What are we going to do the rest of the year?" one of my students asked as he passed the booklet forward after the second section.
"Go back to Romeo and Juliet," I replied cheerfully (and sincerely - I am enjoying discovering that play again along with my students).
"But we'll be done with the state tests!" he exclaims.
"Yeah, but I don't teach for the sake of the test. I teach to make you a well-rounded, literate person."
He groaned and let his eye-rolling propel him farther down into his seat.

Speaking of Romeo and Juliet, the Shakespeare festival went well. I've got photos, but I've lost my card reader yet again, so the photos are stuck on my camera for now. But we had fun and my three actors did a fine job performing.

We also finished selecting next year's stage crew. I had 18 applicants, a good mix of 7th and 8th graders. I based the decision on GPA (they had to have a 3.0 to be considered) and on teacher recommendations, and wound up selecting 5 students to join the one (two, if she looses the SBO elections) eighth grader I have this year. It'll be a good group, I think, although my techies this year are shaking their heads in dismay that next year's techies are almost all girls. Granted, they're not your typical stage-crew-types, but I'm still excited. And, hey, nothing wrong with breaking stereotypes, right?

So, yeah. I'm tired, for a Monday. The changing weather (80s, 50s, snow, 70s, 40s, and now warming back up again) isn't helping, but it's keeping me on my toes. The rainstorms Saturday set up a mood to suit my latest reading ("The Tenant of Wildfell Hall" by Anne Bronte), while the sunshine Sunday let me walk to church. Both were pleasant.

16 days to Ikea. 18 days left of school. I can make it.