5.28.2010

The Hunger Games

Imagine a totalitian dictatorship that uses Reality TV + Roman Colosseum style bloodgames + elements of Shirley Jackson's short story The Lottery to control the masses, and you have the basic conceits of Suzanne Collins' young adult novel  The Hunger Games, a book I started (and finished) last night.  I recommend as a co-read.  Read it with your child, and have a rousing discussion about civil liberties and the proper role of government.

5.24.2010

Best Lost Recap

Here is the take-away message, courtesy of Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer: "Pssst, if you are a single girl reading this? Farradays and Sayids are complicated and intriguing. Desmonds make you feel all swoony. Sawyers look great in jeans. But you know what? Find yourself a Jack, girlfriends, and marry him." 

Lost

Remember in the movie The Sixth Sense how the shrink, in denial of his own death, created a false reality and carried on until he was forced to acknowledge and accept that he had, in fact, been killed?  I think that for the Losties in the sideways flash there is something similar happening.  Christian Slater said that they created that place in order to find one another.  I think the sideways flash is a concocted (with some help from Elanor) reality, and that when they realize this they leave it; but not for a new place, but just to return back to where they should be, which is the island.

So in my understanding, the Sideways Flash Reality is canceled out, and the Island Reality is real.  Which leaves Jack and Ben and Hurley and Rose and Bernard and the dog on the island, and Miles and Sawyer and Kate and Claire and Lapidus and Richard (no longer immortal) flying away. And pretty much everyone else is dead, most of them from blowing up or exploding.  Wait, where's Desmond?  I don't recall.

Interesting how pulling that plug out of the mysterious light sort seemed to cancel out Richard's immortality and  Smokey's invincibility.

So many questions left unanswered . . . here's one, just for fun:

Isn't the statue on the left the same one that Mr. Eko's friends stuffed with heroin?  And what was Smokey up to when he was inhabiting Eko's brother and moralizing with him?  Just sporting?

5.17.2010

bits and pieces from Teach Like a Champion: 49 Techniques that Put Students on the Path to College by Doug Lemov -- #1 No Opt Out

So, I am reading this really good book on teaching -- Teach Like a Champion: 49 Techniques that Put Students on the Path to College by Doug Lemov -- and hoping to share its wonders with you, though I know full well that I will lose track of what I wanted to say by the time I finish the book, as I get to read it in 30 second intervals between words on the spelling test or between innings or between going to bed and falling asleep.  So I'm going to share little tidbits for you.

The book is a collection of 49 techniques that Doug Lemov observed being used by master teachers in successful classrooms, success being measured mostly by how many of the kids go off to college.  I am finding it useful in parenting, in home-schooling, and in teaching, even though I teach exclusively on-line these days and to students who are in college.

#1 - No Opt Out -- Say someone says "I don't know." Find someone who does know, have them articulate it, return to the would-be quitter and ask again.Obviously, Mr. Lemov had an academic setting in mind, but it works at home too.

Me: Why is this milk on the counter?
Chickadee: I don't know.
Me: Dandy, why is the milk on the counter?
Dandy: She spilled it and left it there.
Me: Why is there milk on the counter?
Chickadee: I spilled it and left it there.
Me: Yes.  Thanks for telling me. Please clean it up.
Soon she realizes that it is even more uncomfortable to get her brother involved than it would be to just answer in the first place.  Because she recognizes that she will have to answer eventually, she may as well get it over with.  She's not allowed to opt out.

Here are the three merits of this technique, according to Lemov: " . . . it empowers you to cause all students to take the first step. [. . .] It reminds them that you believe in their ability to answer. And it results in students' hearing themselves succeed and get answers right. This causes them to grow familiar with successful outcome" (p. 31).

I had to question the apostrophe on students in the above passage.  It results in a thing (hearing themselves succeed) that belongs to the students, so it is the students' thing. I think I'll send this sentence in to Anne Lobeck of Discovering Grammar: An Introduction to English Sentence Structure fame.

5.10.2010

a mish-mash: mother's day, scissor beak, pullets (teenage chickens) roosting on goats, garden report

We had a great Mother's Day. First my children made this lovely meal for me.  Then we went to church (where our pastor incorporated LOST into the sermon -- he's very cool) and then to my Mom's for the day.  We brunched and weed-eated and pruned and hedged and raked and swept and roasted hot dogs and came home tired.  This was much better than our previous holiday (Easter) where we swept and cleaned and cooked and ate and ran off to ER to hang out with Dad and Mom.  Dad had driven his van into the house and broken  his van, his chair, his femur, his ankle, the screendoor and his renter's shiny new BBQ.



Our pullets are growing and have discovered a new roost.  The near pullet is sound asleep and doesn't wake up as Alex wanders about.  Alas one of our pullets has scissor beak.  We are still checking, but we doubt that much can be done for her.  When she starts to starve we'll have to put her down.  Just exactly how this works I don't want to think about.  And speaking of impending sorrow, our beloved Joy (13 year-old house-rabbit) has a rapidly growing lump.

On to good news: the asparagus we planted has come up. We have nine raised vegetable beds, all full. Andy is having a great time with baseball; he hits almost every game. I am deep-purging the house (every cupboard, every storage bin, every sock drawer, nothing is safe) in preparation for a big garage sale and to raise money for my van; we've outgrown our station wagon.

We are having a beautiful spring with a just the right mix of rainy days (indoor work gets done) and sunny days (outdoor work).  Some days are a mix of both.