Thursday, January 06, 2011

Back in the Saddle Again

Hello from Limon, Colorado!

I'm at a hotel there in preparation for a speech meet tomorrow. To be more precise, I'm in a lawn chair in a corner of the swimming pool room at a hotel in Limon. I'm on pool duty, watching a gaggle of girls and one boy splash each other. I've positioned myself so I can see through the window into the exercise room where another 5 of my students are working out. Hopefully, they'll all tire themselves out shortly and move into the breakfast room that the hotel has so kindly opened up for us to practice in.

Since I can't swim nor can I go out on the town ("town," I should say) and since the hotel has wifi, I thought it would be a good time to inaugurate my iPad & keyboard's bloggingness. How''s it looking?

Reallly, I've been almost shamefully attached to my iPad. I love using it to watch tv shows on, especially while working out since it easily rests on my elliptical's "dock" - better than a book and certainly better than a laptop. I went without it all day at school today, and I missed it. Then again, I did watch old episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer while I was working most of the day yesterday. A fun background to work to, but I had to turn down the volume on occasion lest the passing teachers wonder what those screens and stabbing noises coming from my room were. During a normal school day, sure, but when I'm akone in the room? Strange.

So, today was the first day of classes for this semester. Since our school is on a non-alternating block schedule, that means everybody has all new classes.

I have 1st period consultation. It could be good for getting me to eat breakfast, but it does mean I work straight through the rest of the day without a break.

2nd period is Humanities. A very different vibe this year. There's quite the spread between all the grades (4 freshmen, 3 sophomores, 2 juniors, 5 seniorss), whiich will make it harder what with trhe range of prior knowledge. However, 1) the class will probably grow in size over the next few days and 2) the kids were really great at discussions AND almost all of them have been to at least one art museum before..

After the usual preliminaries, I showed them the Discovery Channel's "The World is Just Awesome" video (boom diada) and "Where the Hell is Matt?" We talked about what those videos meant about the world, then I asked them whether the second video was "Art." That lead to an activity where I showed them a series of 24 other things that may or may not qualify as "Art" and had them write for each one whether they thought it was. Most of the things were from a slideshow I put together last year to introduce 20th century art. It's a hodge-podge of stuff, and I was pleased to hear how many of the item from the Denver Art Museum the kids recognized.

We spent the rest of the period discussing what was art. Ahd they got reallly into it! They tackled questions like
- Is art always beautiful?
- Is art more about the object or the process?
- Does the art or the idea come first?
- Can art change society?
and so on with thoughtfullness, disseention, and with good examples to back up their arguments. A few complained about having to talk about hard things, but even they had good things to contribute.

In short, I think it will be good. One of the freshmen had me later in the day, and she came running into the class to tell me how much she likes Humanities. Well, good!

3rd period is Advanced Drama. For the first time here, I've been strict with the counselors about who gets enrolled in that. As a result, I have a class of 26 kids who have all had drama before. Most were with me, although there are three who took it with Ruth as freshmen.. They were so, SO excited to be there, to know what they were doing, to hear what comes next. Itr'll be an interesting and exhausting group.

Lunch was next. Between cleaning up the last class, setting up the next one, and helping a duop team practice their speech piece, I had about 5 bites of soup while putting the finishing touches on my sub plans for tomorrow. A few of the kids who had be last term pointed out my fondness for missing the first days of class. They couldn't complain too much, though, since most of them were coming with me to the speech meet.

I finish the day with Intro to Drama. A lot of the speech freshmen from the class last term signed up for this class, too. I explained at the beginning how speech was a Venn diagram bubble completely encompassed in the bubble of theater, and that therefore there would be soome repeats of activities. Over and over again they kept asking to do stuff - "Can we play Hunter-Hunted" "Can we do dinosaurs?" "Can we sing the Belly Button Song?" "Can we do the Romeo, Romeo speech?" "Can you do the flying squirrel?" I chastised them, saying I had a plan, alll willl be revealed in its due course, and pointed out that they didn't get to learn all of that the first of class last year. "You weren't here the first day of class last year!" they exclaimed.

It's down to four in the pool noiw, and it's almost 8. I'm going to start herding them towards rehearsing. Bon nuit, and thanks, parents o' mine, for the mobile blogging hookups!

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