Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Plagiarism, Part Deux

While reviewing the past few posts, I realized that I never followed up on the plagiarism post. Well folks, you didn't ask for it, but here it is anyway.

I sat my language arts class down and gave them a lengthy lecture on plagiarism, which somehow devolved in music piracy and their respective criminal records (very scary, by the way). After reviewing the sanctity of the written word, I passed out the essays they had written with some portions circled. They were asked to rewrite the portions that were circled in their own words. Unh. I have a lump from banging my head against my desk. After countless repetitions and variations on "How should I say this," I had an original response.

"This is exactly how I would say it," says Miss Underachiever, throwing her paper on my desk.

"Then find another way to phrase it because those aren't your words," I reply, patiently.

"You don't know that."

"Yes, I do, " I smile, opening the reference book and pointing to the entry she blatantly copied.

"My father is a lawyer and he is going to sue you for libel!"

"See you in court." I probably should have resisted the little finger wave as I handed back her paper. At least it was all my fingers and not just the most significant one. What? I meant my RING finger.

And Miss Hypermammiferous? Well, I asked her what the word meant and, without blinking an eye, people, she replied, "Very energetic and mammal-loving." BWAHHHAHAHAHAHA.

Oh.my.gawd. I do so love my job.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Turkey, Money and Gloating

hmmmmm. Back to work after 5 days off and yeah, it pretty much sucks. I so don't want to be here.

Thanksgiving was a joy and Missy Hoo-Haw's first actual eating Thanksgiving was hilarious. I have a 15- month -old foodie on my hands. As we wheeled her high chair to the table and she saw the myriad dishes full of yummy things, her eyes grew wide and she stretched out her hands with a grabbing motion, saying loudly, "UM UM UM!"
A dollop of mashed potatoes was stuffed into her mouth and she pointed to the stuffing with a gooey finger, mumbling, "Dat. DAT!"
We, of course, obliged, letting her sample everything and giving her more of what she loved. Green beans wound up on the floor, but everything else was shoved in her chubby cheeks as fast as she could get it in. I really think this one has a career as competitive eater.

The 11 year old Drama Queen had her birthday fall on Thanksgiving this year. She hated it, but was a trouper.
"I'm just glad I was born on a LEAP YEAR, " she declared, glaring at me, " so I only have to do this every 11 years, instead of 7!!!

" Mmmfph," was my thoughtful, sensitive response.

She spent most of the day burrowed in my mothers room, watching a DVD of her new favorite movie, Herbie Reloaded. ( Can I get a pfpfpfbbtthh for Miss Lohan?) On Saturday evening, we went to spend the $185 in gift certificates she had netted. Really people. $50 for an 11 year old? Can we say excessive? I'm just glad we had already donated the money to Powerhouse Ministries, because she was gripped by consumer fever. I suggested a few purchases for our Angel Tree child and she laughed! Uproariously, no less!

She did bow out of going for tapas as her birthday dinner, because I seemed "far too tired to handle Missy Hoo-Haw in a nice restaurant." I was. Thanks, sweetie. Your Mama loves you.

I think most of the drama stemmed from meeting Daddy's new girlfriend, Sweetie-Pie, who is expecting his child in a few months (his soon-to-be ex is SOOOOO happy for them and I'm thinking, uh-huh, saw that one coming. But I'm not one to gloat.) Drama Queen loves Sweetie-Pie, who has a cat and two dogs and birds and fish and apparently, a rather excessive fondness for baby talk. ugh. She came home spewing this baby talk and quoting Sweetie- Pie. Now, I work hard at being cordial and respectful of my ex-husband's (SUCKY) life choices. But baby talk is my pet peeve, so we made a deal. She can tell me every little thing about Sweetie-Pie and as long as no baby talk is involved, I will give her my somewhat undivided attention. See? It's win-win! Besides, I confess to a somewhat morbid curiosity about my ex's new love. I wasn't crazy about the soon-to-be ex-wife. (She was a little uptight and wasn't particularly fond of my little Drama Queen.) And now I can sit on my happily re-married perch and say, "He's no longer my problem." No, that is NOT gloating!

Monday, November 21, 2005

A few words about plagiarism

And to think, only moments ago, I was writing about quitting. I can't quit! This job affords way too many laughs. Let me explain.

My class has been writing biography reports for about a month. They've checked out biographies, searched the web, read magazine articles...the she-bang. When I assigned this project, the only stipulation was that they had to be able to find one biography book on that person and two reliable web pages. Needless to say I will be changing the rules next year.

I'm grading the papers now and stumbled across one about everone's favorite pop vixen with the initials BSF. You know...the one that everyone snickers about her marriage and feels sorry for her new-born son? Yeah, I though you did. Sooooo, in this biographical report my 6th grade student has magically developed a remarkable vocabulary and discovered a here-to unknown gift for sentence structure. She has in the past given me sentences that are completely lacking in verbs and articles. (And blank looks when I ask her to read the sentence and tell me what it's missing.) She refers to BSF as "hypermammiferous." AHAAAAAHAAAAHAAAAAAHAAA. Yes, I am still drying my eyes and holding my sides as I type this. We've obviously taken the liberty of lifting a few phrases from the internet. God, I really hope it is the internet and not an actual book.

I truly cannot wait to review plagiarism tomorrow.

To teach or not to teach

Oh...I am pregnant. Not sick with this one, like I was with the last, but pregnant none the less. I know this, not because I am tired ALL the time (I am), but because my husband and I are redoing our budget to fit the changing parameters of our family. fun. ooh boy.

We had balked at $820 a month for day care. Teachers are notoriously underpaid and that's a big hunk of my check. But hey, let's double that. Sound like fun? It is. Add to that, an increased grocery budget and various other expenses and you've got a panicky man on your hands.

We started to seriously consider the stay at home option, which I have long lobbied for. We're still discussing it, but it looks like I may leave my contract position and sub a few days every month. hmmm.

Yes, on the face of it, it seems like jumping from the frying pan into the flame. But I subbed for many years before getting my credential and I loved it. There were bad days and punky kids but at the end of the day, I get to walk away and never look back. Right now, I not only get to see them every day, I get to meet with their parents regularly!!! wheeeeee!

So, I may leave all the glory, acclaim and excitment. If I do, I'll go gladly. *kicking up heels*

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Porcelain Gods and other musings of a sick mind

I have been gone from my class for three days (4 if you count Friday.) In years past, I wondered how they were faring, had they killed the substitute, had the sub killed them...Etc. These past several days, I did not care.

Thursday and Friday were spent caring for a sick 15 month old. So. Much. Fun. My darling husband was at work both days and when I fell ill on Saturday, decided the wood MUST be split and stacked that day. This chore took all day Saturday. I was supremely, irately angry. My rage was awesome to behold. For the first time in our three year marriage, I threw things (hard things!) at him and screamed. And I was really sick. No, I am not proud of this (well, maybe a little) but we worked it out and he even took Monday off work to take care of me as I repeatedly lost everything I ate.

An epiphany happened on Monday. My husband was wiping my face with a cool cloth and mentioned how strange it was that I wasn't feverish.

"Did you eat something that might have made you sick?"

" I don't think so." I replied, silently thinking, perhaps the McDonald's you called dinner last night? Yes, I am Queen Bitchy when I am sick.

"Hmmm." He looked at me speculatively.

"No." I said, fear snaking through my veins.

"No?"

"No."

"Okay..."

"Just go get a damn test."

Yes, world. I am pregnant. My earlier reveling in a year with no pregnancy or maternity leave has bitten me square in my admittedly large buttocks. Be afraid. My husband sure is.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Field Trips

WHAT A GREAT DAY! I love team teaching. I teach SDC at a middle school. Because it is a large school, we have two SDC teachers. Several weeks ago, my teaching partner came to me and said, "Let's organize a field trip."

And so we did. Permission slips were printed, busses were arranges, tickets were purchased. As we're comparing notes on which students are going and which students can not go, we realize the "stay" group is too much for a sub to handle. I magnanimously offer to stay with them.

Because these children are not going due to grades, we plan a boring lesson that has mandatory output. *insert fiendish laughter here* The students watched biographies on two historical figures and took notes, then did a math packet. I got so much work done, it was insane. I'm planned for the next two weeks. My grade book is caught up. My counters are clear. Reports have been written, IEPs filed and attested...I'm giddy with it.

I looooooove field trips.

Proud Mom

I blog today, not as a teacher, but as a mother. I have a beautiful preteen daughter who is smart and funny. She has a birthday coming soon and she had requested an American Express gift card, so she could shop for herself. We were discussing her birthday the other day and she said to me, "Yes, I still want a gift card, but I'd like to make a donation to charity as well."

I was floored. My daughter has some really great qualities, but generosity has never been one of them. I guess that comes from being an only child the first 9 years of your life. Not wanting to discourage her new philanthropic urge, I cautiously asked, "So you'd want to have, say, $50 dollars on your card and donate the other $50 to a charity?"

Understand, I was thinking she'd suggest more of 80/20 split, but she shocked me again. "Yeah," she said, "That sounds good." Again, I was cautious. What had sparked this? Was my ex-husband talking up the Red Cross again? Not that I would have a problem with that. I was curious as to where the motivation had come from.

"Did you have a charity in mind?"
"Not really."
"Maybe the Red Cross or a children's charity?"
"Defintely a children's charity."
"For sick kids or homeless kids?"
"Homeless kids."

Wow. My baby is growing up. Together we researched charities online and decided on a local charity that ministers to families of prisoners. Katie and I are going next week and she will give them the check in person. I am so very proud of my child. As proud as I am of her numerous academic achievements, I am even more delighted by her developing character. I marvel at her. How could something this wonderful have come from me?

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Another day in paradise

There are days when I feel I should be drunk to do my job. Not today though...so far.

It's started out to be great. The kids are working hard, and yeah, I've asked for quiet more times than I like to, but they are turning in work and seemed to get how the Mongol rule of north China affected Chinese citizens. This is good.

Tomorrow's a field trip to see a play. Valium, anyone?

Monday, November 07, 2005

Meet the teacher...

If you only knew the things that are said in a teacher's lounge. I am truly glad parents don't hear some of the things we say about their little darlings (though we know full well they've said worse.) Come to think of it, I'm glad parents never hear the things teachers say about them. It makes me curious about what my daughters teachers say about my husband and I. I am probably better off not knowing.

I just got yelled at by a parent who thinks I hate their child. They think this because I am failing the child in two classes. To be fair, I do dislike their child, but that's not why they're failing. They're failing because they don't do any homework.

No, teachers do not like every student that comes into their class. We have those we like and those we don't. We're indifferent to a few. But we teach them all and try a little harder for the ones we don't like, because we feel bad that they're little turds. Sorry, but it's true.

And yes, I do a little "joy dance" when that child is absent. But I wait until my prep period. Cause I'm nice that way.