Monthly Archives: August, 2009

New Year, New Me

Sepia, affianced, and panacea: do you know how to pronounce all these words? Until today, when Grammar Girl’s newsletter shocked me into looking up the second in that list, I did not.

Despite this mildly distressing lack of confidence in my ability to pronounce seldom-used words, I feel cautiously confident about my teaching abilities going into my second year of teaching. I was overwhelmingly nervous last night, more so than I was before my first first day last year. Once I finally got to bed, though, I slept like a rock.

Overall, today went oddly smoothly. I was overplanned in a good way; what I didn’t do yesterday will either be thrown out because it wasn’t vital anyway or I’ll squish it into the rest of the week/unit somehow. I got all the way through the syllabus in every class, which was good since the syllabus agreement is all my students’ first homework assignment.

Tomorrow is another challenge. I intend to actually start teaching, by which I mean covering flash fiction and maybe some beginning grammar. I also have to collect everyone’s summer reading forms. (I don’t have to read them, and I don’t have to test them–thank goodness! That gave me such a headache last year, especially since I had to read the books before I felt comfortable grading their tests.) And I have to sell them the school-printed grammar book.

I can tell, though, that this year is going to be different. I can’t quite surmise whether that is because I’m at a different school, because I’m a different person than I was at this time last year, because these are different kids, or because life is always different from day to day. I’m in it to win it, though.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
–2 Timothy 4:7

Forthright Computer Applications

It’s no secret that I love Firefox. It’s not perfect; I use a few extensions that I cling to. When I first upgraded to version 3.5 and found that Tab Mix Plus (my favorite extension) hadn’t been upgraded to match it, I downgraded Firefox rather than go without it.

So you can imagine my delight when, after I tried to watch an episode of 10 Things I Hate About You (now a tv show, I found), and my computer froze, this is what Firefox gave me when the session manager kicked in:

embarrassed_firefox

Words Matter

Microblogging time, because school starts soon. Today, I ran across a gem of a sentence showing how important word choice is. If you add the word “only” in different positions in the sentence, “I hit him in the eye yesterday,” the meaning changes quite dramatically.

Only I hit him in the eye yesterday. (No one else hit him.)
I only hit him in the eye yesterday. (I also considered slapping and poking.)
I hit only him in the eye yesterday. (I could have hit plenty of others.)
I hit him only in the eye yesterday. (Not in the nose or the mouth.)
I hit him in the eye only yesterday. (Ah, what a day that was.)
I hit him in the eye yesterday only. (Had it been two days in a row, then you could be mad.)

via A Capital Idea

The Death of Handwriting?

Not being at school/work gives me so much more time to read. As an English teacher, I read more than anyone should (though it’s almost never for pleasure). I got to be really fast at reading paragraphs, which was helpful, but also sad because my students should have been able to write more than one decent paragraph by the end of tenth grade. But I digress.

As a result of a year of teaching and my own school experience, I am excellent with bad handwriting. To date, I have found only one paper that I had to struggle to read. It was while I was grading the diocesan writing assessment, though, so I had the prospect of being free for the day three hours before school let out ahead of me. That was motivation enough. We talked a lot in ACE classes this summer about teaching students with learning disabilities and such. Reading that paper felt vaguely like someone with a language processing disorder, because I had to expend so much mental energy to decipher the words that by the time I reached the end of a sentence, I had no idea what any of it meant.

Which brings me to an article I read last night in TIME about the alleged death of handwriting. While I agree that today’s students are more apt to be great typists than have beautiful handwriting (though even typing isn’t a guarantee), I still think handwriting is important. When I write in my spiritual journal, I use cursive exclusively. The same goes for notes to parents. Not everyone has pretty cursive, sure, but there’s still a need at least for neat printing. Not everything can be typed. Pixels can only say so much.

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