Friday, July 20


I finally saw them :) tons more pics on Flickr.

P.S. I'm home in MN! And about to go to sleep for a long time- Do Not Disturb!

Tuesday, July 17

Home Sweet Home South Dakota

Sunset behind the Rosbud Casino and Quality Inn. 25 exhausted but happy TFA corps members arrived back in South Dakota Sunday night after two looooooong days of driving from Houston. I don't think you could find another TFA corps more thrilled to be home. This place is beautiful/amazing/magical/otherworldly.

Yesterday I went to St. Francis where we found out that our trailers are not actually here yet, nor have they actually secured them yet. They are supposed to be getting unused or unneeded FEMA trailers leftover from Katrina, but apparently lots of other people want them as well, so we'll see. What they do have at St. Francis is a BRAND NEW high school building which we got to go inside and it was so exciting! I actually had goosebumps looking in at a classrooom that could be mine in the fall and seeing myself in front of that white board delivering excellent lessons. There is so much potential in that building, so much learning and growing that can happen in there. It's going to be a great two years. Today we started our sessions which we'll continue tomorrow and Thursday. The orientation sessions here really focus on creating a vision for our class and setting goals and planning the first few weeks. Reading the South Dakota 9th grade English standards makes me a little bit giddy. I kind of love English :) I have so many ideas and thoughts on what we could do in that classroom with those standards--projects and books and essays and presentations oh my! so much fun and yet so terrifying and overwhelming because now I have to actually decide what we're going to do and how and what my students are going to come out of my class with at the end of the year. Wow. Me. I have to do that. My students' learning in my classroom is all up to me now. I can't even express how happy I am to be here doing this right now or how enormous this challenge is or how happy/scared I am to be taking it on.

More goal setting and unit planning to come...

AND- Three days to Minnesota!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, July 13

Last Day of School

Great Teachers = Great Kids

We just had our last summer school class! Today is the last day of institute!! Unbelievable. Our kids are so amazing and smart and great, I wish I could take them with me.

On Wednesday after their final we asked them to write letters to our future students (Mine in South Dakota and my partner's here in Houston). Here are some of my favorites:

"Dear Ms. S's future students,
I don't really know how weather is in South Dakota, but I don't think that that will affect your ability to learn. Ms. S is a very good teacher she might have some bad days that she forgets how to spell some word, but shoot me if I'm lying, nobody is perfect in this big world... I know I only had her for four weeks, but damn I have learned a lot since she started teaching. I have less problems reading stories when before I even fell asleep when I was reading."

"As you will have seen, Ms. S is energetic and spunky, so if you get as excited as she does you might increase your intake. She's open to your ideas so speak up when you think of something. She's a great teacher."

"Here is some advice for you, pay attentions, participate in class, and follow the rules. She really doesn't have many rule so it will be easy. Work with her, she will give you something in return. She is a really nice person so appreciate her and have fun. Enjoy!"

"For the short time I had her Ms. S was an OK teacher, and in case you wanted to know, I hate practically all of the teachers at school, so being an OK teacher is a big compliment from me. I have to admit, Ms. S is not a perfect speller, no one is, but when she would misspell something class would be so boring that I would get a kick out of seeing how long it takes the teacher or another student to notice. I'm sure Ms. S will be a great teacher to Ya'll, she was to our class."

So sweet... granted they knew I'd be reading these and had yet to give them a final grade, but I'll the same, I'm going to give myself a pat on the back. They were fantastic and we had at least a little bit of fun in summer school. Hopefully they'll never have to be in summer school again! It really is all about the kids... I can't wait to get to SoDak and meet all my kids there that I get to keep for a whole year! I love them already.

Saturday, July 7

Institute Week Four

I think I've finally hit my institute stride. Five step lesson plans seem to flow forth from my fingers effortlessly, I feel perky after six hours of sleep, and Houston is definitely growing on me. Too bad there's only one week left :-P

Here are some highlights of this week:
On the 4th (after a morning of sessions and an afternoon of lesson planning) some of us went downtown to watch the firework show. It was a great show and even greater to get out of Moody towers and see real people in the city. And I'm glad I got to see some fireworks on the fourth, sometimes I forget that it's actually summertime here.

Your teachers were never this cool. My CMA group threw a mini dance party at school Friday afternoon to break it down with a little Cupid Shuffle. (It was also college shirt day- we don't usually get to dress like this!)Friday night Kereoke bar extravaganza. Need I say more?

And finally, today the SoDak corps took a trip to the beach in Galvestan. It was possibly one of the ugliest beaches I've ever seen, but still a beach and a totally fun day.

Also today I bought a really truly authentic pair of Texas Cowgirl boots and I'm about to go break 'em in with some two steppin'. Texas does have it's strong points :)

Sunday, July 1

Institute: Week Three- Plus Bonus MN Mini-break!

Week three over and we're already halfway through summer school! Ah!! Two more weeks! We gave our class a mid-term on Wednesday which went fairly well. We're on our way to significant gains! (never mind that the data is marginally worthless.... the whole testing and data collection they do here is pretty silly and has little to do with actual student achievement). Anyway, so after the testing we started a play with them on Friday which I'm pretty excited about. We're reading the Glass Menagerie and it's going to be cool. Short stories are not really my favorite literary genre, they can be good, but I couldn't take only reading short stories all summer. This way they get involved in reading in class. I started Friday by having them do 10 second auditions to decide who would read in class. It was awesome, they're totally hooked. Or as hooked as unbelievably apathetic teenagers can be...

Speaking of apathetic teenagers... how cute are my brothers and I? Yes, Scott is as tall as I am and he's about to be a ninth grader!! I can call him for some lesson planning tips next year :) In case you're confused, I went to MN this weekend for my Uncle George's wedding which was so fun, I'm really glad I made it. I'm getting sick of missing important family events because I'm far away, I'm ready to be closer to home. The wedding was great and they are so happy and cute, I can't wait to have more baby cousins!!

I heart Minnesota so very much. This morning I was cruising around the lake on our pontoon boat with my two bestest friends... now I'm back in hideous moody towers working on lesson plans. Sigh. Two more weeks!! Then one more week in SD and THEN finally a three week vacation at home. I. Can't. Wait. I need a vacation like whoa. It's time for life to slow down for a minute....

But not quite yet! Gotta get ready for week 4 and some classroom drama (in a theatrical sense only I hope).