Books for everyone

I have been reading a lot. I have the time being in quarantine. August is almost here and the question is what happens to the opening of schools. All schools. What is the answer going to be? I nor my teaching friends have been asked our opinions so I might as well keep on reading as the time clock ticks down to when we go back into the non-ventilated germ infested schools! Do you think that every school has been sanitized? I keep reading because this last question will never be answered!

  • Trilogy, The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, A Closed and Command Orbit, and Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers. 4 stars. Each book is set in space and each talks about a different aspect of the characters that are introduced in book one. I enjoyed each book and like the aspect that the story does not just continue but sends you to different aspects of the same universe.
  • Trilogy, Countdown, Revolution, and Anthem. 4 stars each. No need to read these in order. I read the third one first. Each takes a period of time, the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s and tells a story of that decades most interesting happenings using music and showing pictures that backup the history used in each decade. These are found in the young YA section and I believe they should be put in YA and or adult. I loved this trilogy.
  • News of the World, if you live in Texas and are interested in Texas history or history of our country in general this book is the one to read. 4 stars
  • Meet Me in Monaco, historical novel that puts Princess Grace, Grace Kelly into the story of a young woman who wants her perfume shoppe to be remembered. You will want to learn more about the first U.S. princess and Monaco. 4 stars
  • The House of Styx, ARC, to be released soon, this sci-fi novel takes place on Venus. Forget Mars because Venus with its sulfuric atmosphere and its violent storms make this read very different and has Venus as a sub character that takes the lives of some and makes the lives of others that live in it’s atmosphere work to stay alive. Characters in this book range from a female leader of a family, to a son with Down’s syndrome, to another son who is finding his gender identity. 3 stars
  • Magic for Liars, one sister has magic , the other does not. A death takes place and both sisters are thrown together to find out who did the splitting kill! 4 stars
  • The Farm, young women are paid to be surrogates for the rich, for the women who cannot have their own children, and for the women who have waited too long to carry. The Farm takes care of everything but is this ethical usage of other women’s bodies worth giving up a child that for nine month’s was part of their bodies? 3.5 stars
  • Same author, Lisa See, loved both, The Island of Sea Women and The Tea Girl of Mockingbird Lane. Both take you into the lives of women of districts of China. The Sea Women dive for their families while the men take care of their children while in the Tea Girl, you follow the life of a young girl who has been adopted who eventually finds her birth mother who is a tea seller in China. Both of these books tell the story of how women in China are the ones who do the work and who carry on the traditions that were handed down to them. Their stories follow their past generational makeup and take you to the present day. Loved both of these books. 5 stars each
  • Time travel, two books, Oona out of Order by Margarita Montimore and Here and Now and Then by Mike Chen. I love time travel novels. Oona is turning 18 and when the clock strikes midnight on Dec. 31. She suddently wakes up to be in another time in her life. This book is a different aspect of time travel and I loved it. Every year Oona awakens to be in another year that are not in order of her life. Mike Chen’s time travel book takes place in the future and the main character gets stuck in the past and cannot seem to return to his time. Also like this different take on time travel. 4.5 stars/3.5 stars
  • Did not care for, The Knockout Queen, liked the premise of a too tall girl and a gay boy becoming friends because they are ‘misfits’. Did not like it in that each of these go through so many things that are in the news today that it became a cliche every time something happened or was suggested. Also no student gets a full ride to college and achieves a PHD in the time that one of these characters accomplishes. 3 stars from me. I do like the cover though! 2.5 stars

SUMMER – 2020

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COVID came to visit. This school year ended in a different way. But thanks to our school being able to change we went online and we were able to continue to learn until the end of the school year.

Guess what?

I love teaching online and some of the students continued to learn as they did in the classroom, some did better with no distractions, and some became lazier. What does it all come down to? Parents!

I noticed that the kids that did well in the class room setting just learned as they always have. Some parents decided that they would join in while we learned because I guess they do not realize that their child can handle school on their own. Some student’s parents just let them do as they could and that’s all right too. I have noticed that there are two types of parents. The parents who trust their kid and the teachers and know that their child will learn and perform without them. Yes, they will make mistakes, but that is the part of learning that needs to be experienced. Other parents cannot let go and they think that their child is not capable of learning without a guiding hand right next to them at all times. It is hard to let your child go but they learn so much more when they have to do the little things on their own.

I loved teaching online and that may be the future. Yes we need human contact and playing outside and showing your kids the world around them is everyone’s job. I have noticed through this all that parents have either loved this time with their kids at their sides while they also work or they cannot seem to handle that Me the teacher is not the babysitter of their child. I am there to find the extras that fill in the learning gaps to help all in the teaching of “our” kids.

COVID, you are not welcome but you may have changed our way of learning!

 

 

New School. New weird concepts.

I have not been on here lately because I have been teaching in a new school and because they will not give teachers their Wi-fi password I cannot log on with my personal electronics of any type.  I take my cell phone to school, I always put it on silent, but I always have it in case there is an emergency outside of school where people may want to get in touch with me instead of waiting for the end of the school day.  I even wonder what would it be like if someone did come into our school and we had an emergency.  Our in-class phones do not dial out and our cell phones are spotty because of not being on their internet wi-fi.  I try not to let this bother me while I am teaching.

So it was just Valentines Day.  A day that I do not really celebrate but now that I am teaching 4th grade I wondered if this holiday was celebrated in my new school like I celebrated it in my school when I was in grade school.  We would all make our Valentine boxes out of the shoe box that we could find, we would go out and have our parents let us choose what Valentines we would need to show our “like” and “love” to our fellow classmates.  I would wisely pick which Scooby Doo Valentine I would choose for my friends, for the students that were nice but not my best friends, for the kids in the class that were “bad”, and then for that one student that you never talked to who you thought would one day in high school be your “boyfriend”.  Of course the Valentine with Daphney in a pose by the Dream Machine van surrounded by hearts would be the one that you would choose for your Valentine dream card receiver.

I asked my team if we did have a Valentine party and the answer was yes!  We would have about an hour at the end of February 14 to trade cards and candy and to eat the cupcakes brought in by the room parents.  YAY!!!!

We decided as a team to have them deliver all 51 Valentines to all of their friends in 4th grade.  We are a private school and they have been together as a group now for 5 and 6 years.  They know each other well , have recess together, play sports together, and eat lunch together and they want to spread their good Valentine greetings to all of their friends.  We thought that we were being nice in allowing the kids to receive 51 Valentines from all of their friends.  Once agin, we were wrong.

We received emails from parents arguing with us that they did not have the time to go out to buy these Valentines, they cost about $2.50 for a pack of 28.  The marketers are the winner in this one since most classes in the U.S. have around 21-30 kids in a class.  Go over 28 and that parent has to buy another packet anyway!  We gave the parents and students a good week to prepare.  The parents were arguing with us that they did not have time to do all 51 Valentines.  Our response?  You are not “doing” the Valentines your child is.  I even had a parent in the car pick-up line stop the movement of cars to yell out her window nicely at me that she didn’t agree with what we chose to do.  With my hand out in the proper keep the car progression going , I yelled back, “Sorry, we are moving on with our plan, you are allowed not to participate, it’s your choice.  BYE!  have a great evening!”  I should have added, “the stores are open now with Valentines for sale!”

Valentines day arrived and the kids started to bring in their boxes and bags.  We told them that if they couldn’t find a box to decorate just bring in a bag for their Valentines to be dropped into.  Kids do not care, they just want the Valentines and any candy that my be given with them!

Boxes were coming in decorated with hearts, flowers, pink stripes, red dots, arrows, and the boy decorated boxes with Fort Nite and Spiderman on them.  They decorated in the way that they enjoyed for what should be just a fun day of celebrating friendship and love of one another.

The best Valentine box that arrived was from a boy who made a toilet that when you lifted the lid the kids could deposit the Valentines right into the toilet bowl.  His mom came in with him and his 2nd grade brother and asked me if is was ok.  OK?  I said that it was the most creative box and that I loved that she and her son took the time together to make something that he chose.  The Valentine toilet box had an aluminum foil handle and was made perfectly.  When you open the lid and looked inside he had also placed a little poop emoji!  The emoji is everywhere these days, kids love it.  Its not my favorite but 4th grade kids think a lot of stuff is funny that sadly I have outgrown:(

We went on with our morning in school , we went over a test and then played a color Scattergories game.  We had a fun morning in our first class.  This class also voted for the Valentine toilet as the best box in that 4th grade section.  I was to take this class on to their outclass next so they packed up and we were on our way to what we thought was the continuation of a fun school day of love.

I came back to my classroom and a representative of the school was looking at all of the creative boxes in the hallway.  She was taking pictures of them for the schools online news write up.  I showed her the Valentine toilet box and that is when we can say literally that this was when the “shit hit the fan”.

Another person who thinks that they rule the school saw us laughing and thinking how creative the VT box was.  This person immediately said that it was inappropriate for school and “luckily” the Vice Principal was just walking by.  She turned her head in disgust!  Now the pot was stirred and the first person ran up the steps to the headmasters office faster than any person that ever needed toilet space ever ran.  The next thing I know I have my lead teacher, the headmaster, the pot stirrer and the Vice Principal all staring at and discussing the most creative Valentine box in that hallway.  We all go to the bathroom, everyone has seen a toilet.  What is the big deal?

The headmaster then tells me that it is a big deal.  That box is offensive and has to be removed.  So, what to do?  You can tell the boy that he is not in trouble but it has to go into the room so that no one can see it.  My VP moves it into my room, I just nod in disgust in my head and I go to get the kids to return to the room from their outclass.  The problem is that I was also told that the parents would be told and that we, the 4th grade teachers had to tell the student that his box was not acceptable but do not tell him that this decision came from the administration!  OK, so then who do I tell him that it came from because all of the 4th grade teachers thought that it was creative and fine.

The box got to stay without the poop emoji, I gave that to the boy to put in his pocket.  Our main principal said to put it back out in the hall behind other boxes, don’

t make a big deal about it.  Hmm, WE DIDN’T!

What really gets me on this whole ordeal is that the student who made this is a great student, he loves sports but also loves to be creative.  Also his mom took the time to allow both her boys to choose a design to make for their boxes and then she allowed them to be creative for a fun day.  This boy has a great sense of humor and will always correct himself in the classroom if asked by the teacher.  He gets good grades and is very respectful.  He is in 4th grade, he wanted to have fun on Valentines Day in the way that most 4th grade boys would also choose.  Adults once again could not see through the eyes of a child.  They were once children, would they have once thought that the Valentine Toilet Box was offensive in their school days?  I would bet high stakes in Vegas that they would not!

Hope that you all had a great Valentines Day.  Mine was kind of poopy!

 

 

 

I’m Back

Teaching now in a private school that has a school selling point of, “We teach each grade at a grade above”.  I’m teaching 4th grade which is the lowest grade that I have ever taught and I have now decided that I am a true middle school teacher.  I love the kids and they are really progressing but the day to day slowness is killing me.  Now I have said that we are teaching at a grade above so I am technically teaching 5th grade in 4th grade.  Guess what?  I’m still teaching at their level.  Sure there are some students who can learn at a higher level but in this day of age where everyone gets a trophy, everyone is also put in a class with every level of knowledge so I have smart kids, really smart kids, average kids, kids that are at a low level , and also one student who cannot read English and cannot write in it either. So I have all of these levels of students and I am supposed to teach them at a higher grade level.

This happens in every school.  When I was in 6th grade and had moved on to the middle school, we all knew that we were in classes with students who were at our level of learning.  We didn’t go home and tell our mom’s that we were not in the high achiever class.  In today’s schools every one is a straight A student and every one is eventually going to Harvard!

I like my new school but I seriously worry about how we are making schools look good.  We are not teaching the basics, we are teaching to look good.  The students may be able to mimic the work done in class but are they really learning the material?  Can they carry what they have so called learned and apply it to something else?

I feel that ours schools are doing an inservice to the majority of students in that we are forgetting to teach the basics before we progress with them onto further learning.  You cannot build a car if you do not understand how to put all of the car parts together.

So a new school begins

I recently started teaching again.  I am teaching 4th grade at a private school, the two subjects that I am teaching are science, which is a perfect fit and Texas History.  I am from Ohio so I guess I will be learning about the history of Texas with my new students.  That’s fine, we all need to keep on learning whether it is forced learning or learning that we ourselves have chosen.

My new school is 3 miles away and that is great.  I am not sure about teaching at the 4th grade level.  I have to slow down.  After teaching middle school for so long you forget how the 4th grade mind takes a few more minutes to do everything!

We do have a slight problem in the school where I am now working.  They are a school that sells the “theory” that we teach a grade above and that every student that we take can handle this.  I’m supposed to be teaching at a fifth grade level in fourth grade.  The concept sounds great and some students are ready for this.  Here is the problem that I and some other teachers have noticed.  The teachers know that some of the students are not at an advanced level but every parent that I have met so far thinks that their kid is a genius.  I would say that out of 51 kids, maybe, and that is a big maybe , we have 6 kids who can work ahead and understand and handle advanced work and can get the right notebook out of their cubby when asked.

Its a nice school but it hasn’t been long enough for me to determine if I truly believe that what the school is selling to the parents is true.  I will teach to the best of my ability and will see how the year ends up. I hope that I am wrong.  I want to see if some of these students  catch up and in some cases to watch to see if their parents do appreciate the time that we teachers take in trying to help their student achieve within their expectations. Time will tell and I will tell you what happens.

 

 

 

New job, new teacher!

I will be teaching again this year at a private international school that allows me to teach science again.  Oh and they threw in teaching Texas History.  I can give that an Ohio flair!  Teaching 4th grade at the 5th grade level.

We started back this week and had parent orientation today and all is well.  The students will start back on Tuesday and the new year begins.

When I introduced myself to the new faculty I let them know that I came from the Catholic Schools and I told them to forgive me if I stopped to shake their hand with a Peace Be With You!  I am hoping that peace has arrived with my new school.  I am pretty sure already I have found a good school to teach at.  You just know these things.:)

 

 

Front Row Seats, Oh Boy!

Recently I bought tickets to go to see the 80s bands the Thompson Twins, the B52’s and Boy George and Culture Club.  I usually buy the mid priced tickets and I make sure that I am in the middle of the seating at any level.  In the large arenas I never buy floor seats because even though I do not mind standing for an entire concert, my height restrains me from sometimes seeing everything because I know that the only 6 foot 10 person will end up in front of me.

My husband agreed to go to this concert with me and we were happy with our first level seats that we bought at a reasonable price.  We got to the Smart Financial Centre in Sugar Land Texas about 45 minutes early because I am always early and I do like to look around at what may be available in the lobby.  As we walked in to the lobby I saw that they had video games and I commented that they didn’t have those the last time that I was there for a concert.  My husband Steve said that he heard on the radio station that was promoting the concert that they said to stop by to play the 80’s video machines that they were bringing to the concert.  We got in the cue to play the games and they also had a raffle to win front row tickets for that night’s show.  I signed a ticket and Steve declined because I am the gambler/game player and he is the engineer in the family.  I signed the ticket with my name and phone number and because there was a wait to play any game I just went on to other offerings in the lobby.  I named an 80’s song and won a new sweat towel for my car so I was happy.

We went to our seats and they were in the 200 section directly viewing the middle of the stage down below.  I commented to Steve that I needed to keep checking my phone because I knew I was going to win the front row tickets.  Steve rolled his eyes at my comment and he decided to go to get us a popcorn and a drink.  He returned and that was when my whole concert experience changed.  I received a text saying that I had won the front row tickets and that I needed to return to the video game site in 5 minutes to receive my tickets.  I jumped up and ran.  I ran and flew down those 4 flights of carpeted stairs faster than any one has ever descended there.  I got to the girl who had the tickets and she asked for my blue ticket that was the mate to the ticket that I had signed.  For a second I was worried that maybe that matching ticket had disappeared when I had visited the restroom but as I looked in my pocket there it was.  My blue lucky ticket matched and we were given two front row seats.

Sitting in the front row at a concert in which you know every song is the best experience ever.  I could see the set lists on the stage, I could see the people off of the side of the stage, I could see the sweat on the performers faces, and I could see every detail of their outfits.

We missed part of the Thompson Twins set but as the B52’s came on I stood up and never sat down for the entire concert to come.  The B52’s were colorful and just fun to listen to.  A girl down from me was also standing and enjoying the music while those around her where not.  I glanced at her and she felt like she should also sit and I nodded to her to keep enjoying our front row experience.  I know most of the B52’s songs and even those that I did not know I still stood and enjoyed.  After the B52’s were finished, a band roadie offered me the set list and I accepted it gladly.  Another lady just took one and was chased down by a worker.  I was given mine.  Do not just grab what not is yours.

Between sets the lights in the arena would go on and there would be a 15 minute break.  I could not wait until Boy George came on.  The lights went down and here came Boy George.  Let me tell you, his out fit was great, it was a loose fitting black jacket with matching black pants.  His signature hat had a band surrounded by white buttons the size of half dollars, and his shirt had writing on it that gave the vegan fans something to love.  Boy George has beautiful blue eyes and he had makeup and a jewel as part of his face makeup that makes him thee Boy George.

I noticed during all of the sections of the concert that even though we were in the front row of the concert and could see virtually everything up close people still had their phones out the entire time.  Yes, I took pictures but I took a couple and then my phone was in my pocket so that I could enjoy the moment.  Boy George was maybe on his 6th song and he remarked that he was no too hip with technology and then he headed my way and pointed to me and remarked how I was thoroughly just enjoying the show.  At this time he came right to me and I went towards the edge of the stage and I grabbed his hand that he offered.  He asked me my name, I said Kim and he remarked that he liked my blue shirt.  Yes it matched my blue lucky ticket!  He held onto my hand I turned around with the spotlight on me and waved to my new fans.;)

At the end of their set we all applauded and the band and Boy George exited.  I could see the set list so I knew that there were 3 more songs ending with Karma Chameleon.  Boy George came back on and announced that the next song was one that we probably did not know but that he enjoyed singing.  Then he dedicated that song………to me!!!  “This song is for Kim in blue!”  He laughed and then sang Give Me Life.  He finished the set with Karma and thanked Houston for being a great crowd.

The rest of the band left the stage and the drummer came my way.  I motioned if I could have their set list and he gave me that.  I always wear more than one bracelet so I took one off and gave it to him and asked him to give it to Boy George and tell him that Kim loved the concert.  He said, “Of course I will give it to Boy!”

I was exhausted as I left with all of my set lists but it was the best concert in the front row ever.  Oh we also got a guitar pick that we thought went over our heads.  When the lights went on there was the pick laying there for me to pick up.

Best Concert Ever.  The front row experience will now make me think about what tickets I choose especially if it is for an act in which I know every song.  It would be worth it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read this…

Recently I picked up the book Bouillabaisse by Stacey Sauter at this year’s BookCon in NYC.  She was nice enough to give me an advanced copy.  I received many books this way but I read this book first and I am very glad that I did.

It is based in the 1960’s with a family that takes in it’s cousins because their mom has been killed by their adoring father who is on the lamb after robbing banks.  Gail is the the main character in this book.  She is 15 and awakes one morning to find a baby boy in the lower drawer of her bureau.  This baby is one of the children that comes to live with her family after the horrible “fall” that her aunt has taken when pregnant with this baby.  Gail becomes the child in the house that helps her father and mother take in her now homeless cousins.  Oh by the way they are all boys and Patti is the lone girl who comes to live with Gail’s family and she has special needs.

This story will bring the memories back for older female readers but I think that younger teen girls need to read this and will also love it’s story for a different reason.  I liked the story because it resonated with my Catholic upbringing and it shows how far females have progressed in being able to make our own choices.  Teenage girls with understand what it takes to have a baby at a young age.  This is always the best birth control as I see it!

Gail is a strong young lady and she questions the adults in this story.  She also sees the needs of her cousin Patty who is not treated too nicely at first in regards to doing what the other kids in the family are expected to do.  Gail’s father makes an agenda for each kid to be responsible for dinner once a week and Patty also wants this responsibility.  Needless to say, one of her cousins calls out her inability to do such a thing with her intelligence.  Patty finds help with the neighborhood’s Catholic school nuns who teach Patty how to make Bouillabaisse soup.

The book continues to follow the path of Gail’s family as they struggle in taking care of all of the family’s needs since they all have to depend on each other under one salary by Gail’s father.  Gail’s mother loses some of her get up and go from losing her sister in such a cruel way and Gail leads the family in a story that leads you to an ending that is surprising and well told.

Bouillabaisse is available now on Amazon in paperback and is a book that you need to read.  Loved it.

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Why was I cut out of the movie?

I was recently in NYC and saw the movie Ocean’s 8.  I really liked the movie, I love all of the women in it and I liked the story line.  I have read reviews on it and the reviewers all have commented on the storyline being too simple.  Please, it is a movie to entertain us.  I do not need every movie to teach me a lesson or to bring a hardship of this existence on Earth.  I go to the movies for enjoyment.

Some of you may be reading this and just said to yourself, “she capitalized the word Earth”.  Yes, yes I did.  Why is every other planet capitalized and Earth usually is not when used in a sentence?  It is our planet’s name.  The last time that I was in an English class I believe I learned that a proper noun as in a name is to be capitalized.  Right?  So why does no one capitalize the name Earth?

If you are to become an astronaut and have the dream of traveling to Mars you will always capitalize it’s name when you are sending text messages back to Earth because you probably are not coming back any time soon.  Why is our planet not being treated as a proper noun?  Heck with finding out what life forms can be found on Mars, I want to know why we are not capitalizing the word Earth.

Now there are some circumstances where the word Earth should be used with the beginning e being lower case.

Example lower case:  She picked up some earth in her hands.  (This form of earth is dirt, or any substance that was part of our planet named Earth.) .

See how I did that.  My name is Kim and if my arm falls off and someone picks it up they would not say, “hey is this a kim?”  No!  That is Kim’s arm.  Yes this is silly but please then explain why the Earth when named in any sentence is usually not capitalized?   When you can explain this get in contact with me.

So I liked Ocean’s 8 because it was a simple fun movie but I am constantly irritated when I am reading and the word Earth comes up in the dialogue and it is in lower case letters.  Maybe that is why I wasn’t asked to be in the movie.  I would have brought this question up and then the movie would have been too complex for the director but the reviewers would have loved the in-depth thought that I would have added.

Oceans 8 was a movie made on the Planet Earth!