Sunday, February 24, 2008
  Have you ever had your emails subpoenaed?
I haven't been posting as much as I would've liked to this past week, which isn't to say I haven't been drawing/painting. I've been busy worrying about job-related situations that I have no control over really, but still decide to worry about. One situation involves a student of mine whose parents are terrible creatures who just need to rot in hell. Social services was called to beat down her parents (i wish)...since then, this student has not been in school. It's been 1 week, and I am nervous, anxious, because what the fuck happened to her???. Another situation involves another dreadful parent who can't accept that her daughter is not eligible for special services. This parent wants her child to be disabled as insurance in case high school is too hard. Fuck that. So, here I am, having to be interviewed by lawyers, have my emails scanned, and be pulled out of teaching. To be honest, it has been a depressing 2 weeks because my idealism has been rattled. But, as my father put it, that is the real world.

Okay, so, I finally transported the 5' x 42" canvas to my house. Here is a before picture, as in, before it will be slapped with gesso:

Tomorrow, I will gesso the canvas, let it dry for 24 hours, and then...upload more art...
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
  Days Three and Four: Dos and Don'ts
Sometimes I write as a creative outlet instead of barbarically smear and slop paint onto a canvas. For the past couple of days, I've been writing a 3-week lesson plan for my 7th graders that seeks to teach them about the ways in which X Middle School and other middle schools across the country celebrate diversity and, more specifically, Black History month. The main question is, Are we doing enough? So far, I have sketched out the (1)"Diversity Research Project" description page, (2) Expository Writing Rubric, and (3) the first three days of lesson plans that focus on defining the concepts of diversity and discrimination. I can't copy the Expository Writing Rubric here due to formatting, but below are the description page and three days of lesson plans. Any feedback or suggestions for future activities are welcome!

Diversity Research Project

Objective: As a group, students will write an expository research paper on the ways in which XMS and other middle schools across the nation celebrate diversity.

Questions We Will Consider as a Class:
1. What is diversity? defining
2. In what ways does XMS celebrate diversity and, specifically, Black History month? data collecting and summarizing
3. How do other middle schools across the country celebrate diversity and Black History month? researching and summarizing
4. In comparison to other middle schools’ celebrations of Black History month and diversity, does XMS do more/less/about the same than them? Provide support from the data you collected and information you found while researching. analyzing
5. Should XMS do more to celebrate diversity and Black History month? Why or why not? If you answered yes, please provide two ideas that celebrate diversity that you would like to see implemented at XMS next year. Base your answers on the data you collected and information you found while researching. evaluating

Grading: Each student will receive an individual and group grade for this project.
• Spiral notebook
• Use of pre-writing strategies to organize and develop paper.
o Structure of paper through thinking maps
o Vocabulary concept development
o Content development through free writes
o Details, details, details
• Final paper grade based on the attached Expository Writing Rubric

Day One: Introduce Diversity

Activate Prior Knowledge (15 minutes)
• Create two circle maps for the topics, “diversity” and “Black History month.” Include what you already know and experience you have with the topics
• Class discussion: Share circle maps
• Glue circle maps onto pg. 1 (front) of spiral under the heading: “What I Already Know”

Gaining Equal Footing (25 minutes)
• Students look up the definition of “diversity” in a dictionary, thesaurus, Life Science text book, Civics text book, and
o Each student completes one of the attached definition worksheets based on which reference source he/she chooses
• Class discussion: Present definitions while Ms. Cousar takes notes on the board
o Glue diversity reference cards onto pg. 2 (front and back) and pg. 3 (front) under the heading “What Does Diversity Mean?”
• Group assessments:
o Create a vocabulary card for “diversity” (using Language Arts template)
o Fill in a double bubble map comparing and contrasting the similarities and differences between all of the definitions
o Students glue vocabulary card onto pg.3 (back)

Diversity Presentation (30 minutes)
• Provide background information for the PBS documentary, A Class Divided
o Older film footage from April 1968 featuring Mrs. Jane Elliot and her all-white 3rd grade class in Iowa; MLK, Jr. assassinated April 1968
o This documentary was made in 1985 featuring the same Mrs. Elliot and her students all grown up
• Show the first 26 minutes of A Class Divided

Pre-writing Activity: Free write (10 minutes)
• Today, we’ve discussed the concept of diversity. Based on the activities we completed in class (vocabulary card, circle and double bubble maps, and watching a film), what is diversity?
• Share your thoughts and/or feelings concerning the film we just watched. In Mrs. Elliot’s 3rd grade classroom, what does “diversity” mean?
• Glue onto p. 4 (front) under the heading “Diversity Free Write”

Day Two: Introduce Discrimination

Activate Prior Knowledge (15 minutes)
• Create a circle map for the topic, “discrimination.” Include what you already know and experience you have with the topic
• Class discussion: Share circle map
• Glue circle map onto pg. 5 of spiral (front) under the heading “What I Already Know”

Gaining Equal Footing (25 minutes)
• Students look up the definition of “discrimination” in a dictionary, thesaurus, Life Science text book, Civics text book, and
o Each student completes one of the attached definition worksheets based on which reference source he/she chooses (Each student should choose a different reference source from yesterday.)
• Class discussion: Present definitions while Ms. Cousar takes notes on the board
o Glue discrimination reference cards onto pg. 6 (front and back) and pg. 7 (front) under the heading “What Does Discrimination Mean?”
• Individual assessment:
o Create a brace map of the different groups who have historically been discriminated against
o Students make copies of each and glue onto pg. 7 (back)

Diversity Presentation (20 minutes)
• Show the rest of A Class Divided

Pre-writing Activity: Free write (10 minutes)
• Today, we’ve discussed the concept of discrimination. Based on the activities we completed in class (vocabulary card, brace map, and watching a film), what is discrimination?
• Share your thoughts and/or feelings concerning the film we just watched. Did you see “discrimination” in Mrs. Elliot’s 3rd grade classroom? How so?
• Glue onto p. 8 (front) under the heading “Discrimination Free Write”

Day Three: Diversity and Discrimination in Action

Review (7 minutes)
• View a summarized version of A Class Divided

Gaining Equal Footing (15 minutes)
• Class discussion: Discuss how A Class Divided added to students’ understanding of diversity and discrimination.
• Is diversity a natural phenomenon?
o Think of real life examples (nature, human physical and emotional characteristics, language, types of ice cream, personal experience [family life, geographic location], education, values, religion)
• Is discrimination a natural phenomenon?
o Think of real life examples (natural selection, intelligences, choices, Rosa Parks, religious (Muslims in America), physical appearance (better dressed interviewees get the job more often than not)
o EOE:
EQUAL OPPORTUNITY EMPLOYER: The XC School Board is an Equal Opportunity Employer. The XC School Board does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, age, national origin, marital status, military service, disability, or sex in admission or access to, or treatment, or employment in its programs or activities. Reasonable accommodations will be provided to persons with disabilities if requested. The Assistant Superintendent for Instruction is designated as the responsible person regarding assurances of nondiscrimination under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and Title IX of the EEOC Act, Education Amendments of 1972. Requests for hearings over any complaint alleging discrimination based on a disability under Section 504, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and IDEA, shall be made in writing and directed to the Director of Student Services.

Discrimination Activity: 1965 Alabama Literacy Test (25 minutes)
• Objective: Students experience the injustice of voter discrimination
• Instructions: Say, The U.S. Constitution is so important to citizenship that you should know it perfectly without needing previous study time. No textbooks may be consulted. This will count as a test grade in Civics.
• Pass out the 1965 Alabama Literacy Test. Students should spend no more than 15 minutes taking the test.
• Students trade papers and score the tests as Ms. Cousar reads aloud the correct responses.
• Say, You have just taken the 1965 Alabama Literacy Test to determine whether you were qualified to vote. If you missed more than 7 answers, the registrars would have refused you.
• Students share their thoughts on whether they thought the test was easy/difficult and fair.
• Students glue in 1965 Alabama Literacy Test onto pg. 8 (back) under the heading “Voter Discrimination”

Present Diversity Research Project
• Hand out Diversity Research Project description and Expository Writing Rubric
Monday, February 11, 2008
  Day Two: Tusks and Squirrels
I was anything but successful with retrieving the rather large canvas from my parents' house. So, no news there...just gesso sitting in a can waiting to be spread. Sexy.

Instead, I want to share a watercolor that I did a couple of months ago. It's only a sketch, but I really dig it. I present:

Commando Squirrel: the streets are a war zone

Next, I started a sketch, very rough, for a CD cover. More details later.

Finally, my models for the evening.
the Get Outta Ma Face Model with Creepy Hand

Sunday, February 10, 2008
  Day One: Gesso and Roses
I've decided to hold myself accountable, for I have developed a recent tendency to be lazy. So, each day (or, let's be honest, each week) I will upload any progress or lack thereof made toward my art. I have various projects going on: dodo napkins, the Nice Jenkins CD cover, and a huge 42" x 5' canvas that I've had for over a year and a half but am just now doing something with it. Here are some pictures from today's work:

That's right...All I did today was buy gesso. If you don't know what gesso (pronounced jess-oh) is, it's a white substance used to cover a naked canvas or a canvas that has been painted upon with a horrible example of one's creativity and/or skill. I have a situation of the latter variety. So, step 1 is complete. Step 2--getting a 42" x 5' canvas to my house is another ordeal yet to be resolved.

On another note, I made Valentines cards a la Sandra Lee of the Food Network. I bought pre-cut cards and a rose stamp, but added my own touches of color. See below:

Antique Rose

Green Rose

Bunny Trapped in a Rose
My stamping wasn't all that great, leaving a part of the rose white with some detailed outlining that looked like bunny ears. Thus, a bunny in a rose.

On a sidenote, albeit a major one, I do not know how to operate my digital camera all that well. Hopefully better images to come in the future.
Friday, October 19, 2007
I don't write too much about my overwhelming love and adoration for Ryan. We leave that for the bedroom. But, since Ryan and I have entered into a long-distance relationship, where the only time we can talk occurs after he gets off a 17-hour shift at, um, 1-2am his time, which is 4-5am my time, I feel a need to express my feelings to this small world of 5 readers. I'll leave the content of our rather suggestive conversations to your imaginations, but, Ryan is simply awesome. For working 17 hour shifts. Not complaining. Doing his best. Being Ryan. And, at the end of his long day, still talking to me and listening to me talk his ear off and blah blah blah. So, give Ryan some props for surviving his internship and me.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
  Second Best
I've been teaching, for 10 weeks now. It is heaven and hell, switching between the two at least 40 times over an 8 hour period. I can't explain it much better than that. I've cried in front of a math class because one student said something outrageously funny, which made me have to sit down and compose myself. I've had a bookbag and chair thrown at me with the grand finale of a SLAP. Heaven and hell. Regardless of work being so fickle, I never understand how Friday comes so quickly, or how the day can't just contain one more hour to teach everything that I intended to teach. For me, time is in the fast lane. Lately, this has caused me to fantasize on my way to and fro school (my roundtrip commute is 1hr 20min).

I remember, not so long ago, but too long at this point, I had a plan to see the world, to experience its people, to have simple routines, to write, to have time to appropriate the best words to explain the unexplainable. I've always been interested in Latin America and SE Asia, and, as I drive the same path everyday, come home to the same abode, know where I'm going to sleep, eat, that I'll have access to virtually anything I want, I find myself wanting simple chaos.

Simple chaos? you may wonder... It's a method of travel where you place yourself in uncomfortable, adventurous situations (which inevitably bring chaos) where the only things you have to do are, find shelter and food (ah, the simplicity). When these are the only two things required of your time and energy, you are freed up to notice people, to cultivate distance friends. I won't go on much more about this, except for the fact that, I've come to realize that I'm doing second best. I love teaching, in a strange kinda way, but, what I love most is momentum, juxtapositions that only different cultures bring, and understanding what else is out there. Thinking about the fact that I'm thinking about, "Hey, why not save up for the next 9 months, quit my job, and travel for a year," makes me so dreamy and feel so out of place where I am right now.

Anyone up for an adventure?

CONCLUSION: Yet to be revealed...
Friday, August 17, 2007
  Bringing Up Backhoes
I have taken a teaching position in a rural (like, there's only one IGA in a 15 mile radius) middle school. While the job wasn't exactly what I wanted, it was an unanswered prayer (yeah, Garth Brooks). I am a resource teacher in Language Arts, Math, Civics, Life Science, and Study Skills. I am swimming, quite beautifully, in the massive amount of content that I once knew but have since forgotten. Take the example of the eight steps of the scientific method. I can name them in 5 sec. You can't.

Beyond loving the fact that I will become a fucking wiz at Trivial Pursuit, I was hesitant about the type of students I would teach. I didn't want rural. I didn't want bosses and superintendents with severe accents. I didn't want kids who know what a backhoe is by age 4. Before beginning my job three weeks ago, I saw a news report about the mold situation at the elementary school that feeds into the middle school where I work. The one person the news casters decide is the best candidate to present a parent's perspective on the situation is a crazy-haired, toothless woman who stares blankly at the reporter and replies, "I didn't know there was a mold problem. I haven't seen it." Ug, I thought. I have to deal with parents like this! Parents who don't know about mold overtaking their child's school!

Since then, I've come to realize how incorrectly I (and A. County, in which I reside) have perceived F. County, in which I work. A lot of this comes from the media, from there being no reason for me to take a spin in F. County, from whatever other bad sources of information I've been lead to believe are good. The F. County residents and teachers and sheriff and store clerks are 100% awesome! In fact, I've never found a school administration so supportive of its staff and students and community. I even venture to suggest that I only want to ever work in rural schools because the community element is so pervasive and strong. On my first day, I met the sheriff, who is the brother of the assistant superintendent, who is married to the former assistant principal of the middle school, who now owns and runs the only teacher store in F. County. It's quite a web, but, I like this. It keeps you on your toes. It's similar to the close, Southern community in which I grew up. It's familiar, and something I haven't been a part of since I left TN.

My point: Yes, like, 60% of the students drew a rebel flag on their assignment notebook the first day of class, and I can't tell them that the south will never rise again, and, yes, there is a scarcity of paper in the copier room where the old copier jams 40% of the time so that it doesn't matter whether there's paper or not, but, I sense a kindness, an openness, and a welcome in them all.

September 2006 / October 2006 / December 2006 / January 2007 / February 2007 / April 2007 / June 2007 / July 2007 / August 2007 / October 2007 / February 2008 /

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