Pam Webb

a writer's journey as a reader

Archive for the tag “School”

Outtakes on Sleeping In

The answer was fairly unanimous. Everyone in our teacher lunch bunch had “sleeping in” has a checklist item for Christmas break.

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Sleeping in. That concept of ignoring the alarm, rolling over, snuggling down under the covers, and being the boss of wake up time is very appealing. At least it is for those over nine years of age. The notion of not getting up before the adults of the house are ready to acknowledge the day somehow does not kick in until after a child has learned to embrace the joy of breaks from school.

So–here it is: Christmas Break. I’m ever so willing to sleep in. The problem is my body clock is so attuned to waking up at before 6 am that I don’t even need an alarm clock anymore, not after twenty plus years of getting ready for teaching a roomful of teens the joys of English. It takes at least a month into summer break before my body realizes that it is no longer required to rise and shine. The truth of September looming and trying to convince my body to go back into sleep regiment is a whole ‘nother post.

The first couple of days of Christmas Break go like this.

*eyes blink open* it’s still dark out–disorientation–What day is it? What time is it? Realization–Oh, I’m on break. Roll over. Try to go back to sleep. Good for about 15 more minutes. Might as well get up and finish grading those essays.

Running around doing Christmas errands and staying up late watching movies, reading late–no problem sleeping in. I make it to about 6:30.

After Christmas, with no immediate obligations to tax my energies (shoveling the driveway is always obligatory depending on the snow forecast) sleeping in becomes a given. I might make to the faintest of daylight seeping through the window shades, which means it’s going on 7:35 am.

Today, my body reverted to pre-Christmas Break mode and bright-eyed at 5:30 am I found myself too awake to bother rolling over. Reading a bit, with the hope of getting sleepy, I covered my eyes and plugged my ears and threw the covers over my head and basically bullied my body to go to sleep.

Nope. Just because the clock said 10:00 am doesn’t mean I slept in. Feigning sleep is not the same at all. I did not wake up refreshed, and worse, I remembered I had wanted to get out to do errands before noon, otherwise the traffic starts to get dicey on the roads.

I think I will go with my sleep flow and get up when I get up. After all, in one week I will be back to routine when school starts up. My solution? Naps. Ah, the art of the afternoon nap. The Art of Nap is worthy of an entire book, not just a post.

The Amazing Days of Christmas Break: Day One

Word Nerd Confessions: September

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September equals schoolish thoughts. Here are some words that get us on track for edumacating (which is found in the Urban Dictionary) our minds:

nisus (noun): an effort or striving toward a particular goal or attainment; impulse. “Receiving stellar marks is a worthy nisus,” noted the counselor upon hearing the student’s dream of attending Vassar.

intellection (noun): the action or process of understanding; the exercise of the intellect;  reasoning;a particular act of the intellect;a conception or idea as the result of such an act; notion; thought. The purpose of a sound education is to increase one’s intellection.

brio (noun):
vigor; vivacity. “One must continue with tenacity and brio,” the teacher encouraged her students already showing signs of Senioritis.

vinculum (noun):
a bond signifying union or unity; tie. After spending nearly twelve years together in school, the seniors form quite a vinculum by the time they graduate.

august (adj): inspiring reverence or admiration; of supreme dignity or grandeur; 
majestic. An august performance of academics is not usually expected of students in September.

athenaeum (noun):
an institution for the promotion of literary or scientific learning; a library or reading room. The teacher momentarily stymied her students when she announced, “We are going to check out your books in the athenaeum.”

solecism (noun): a nonstandard or ungrammatical usage, as unflammable and they was. solecism (noun):

diapason (noun):
a full, rich outpouring of melodious sound. The band teacher smiled in rapture at the unexpected diapason when the first piece was played by his fall students.

hypocorism (noun):
a pet name. Students referred to the principal, Mr. Alderson, as Sonny–never to his open acknowledgement, of course.

sequacious (adj):
following with smooth or logical regularity. The kindergarten teacher held her breath as she led her students down the hallway, hoping they would do so in a sequacious fashion and not fan out like distracted duckling like the last time.

excogitate (verb):
to think out; devise; study intently and carefully in order to grasp or comprehend fully. “One must practice excogitation to fully appreciate James Joyce, ” the English teacher encouraged her students. Silence was her reply.

sennight (noun): a week. The first seven days of school makes for a long sennight.

bezonian (noun):
an indigent rascal; scoundrel. Mr. Jameson felt a headache forming as he checked his roster of new students and noticed Bobby Mack’s name, who had earned a reputation as a bezonian among last year’s students.

lateritious (adj):
of the color of brick; brick-red. Loren always associated education with a lateritious feeling, perhaps due to all her schools being old-fashioned brick buildings.

mea culpa (noun): “my fault!” an acknowledgment of one’s responsibility for a fault or error. Julius Caesar as a student might have admitted “mea culpa!” as opposed to the modern counterpart of “my bad!”

omnifarious (adj):
of all forms, varieties, or kinds. As the students walked in through the front doors it became clear to the admin staff greeting them that they were in for quite a year as the omnifarious batch of teenagers sauntered on towards their classes. Strangely enough, the students were thinking the same of the staff.

having failed, missed, or fallen short, especially because of circumstances or a defect of character; unsuccessful; unfulfilled or frustrated: The teachers gathered and conferred about the manque of several students not having produced a single completed homework assignment all semester.

contextomy (noun):
the practice of misquoting someone by shortening the quotation or by leaving out surrounding  words or  sentences  that  would  place  the  quotation in context. Winston Churchill’s famous WWII speech has fallen under contextomy as most people quote him as saying “Blood, sweat, and tears,” when he actual said “Blood, toil, tears, and sweat.”

univocal (noun):
having only one meaning; unambiguous. “Late is late,” the teacher reminded the student who traipsed in four minutes after the bell rang. “Late is univocal.”

hypnopedia (noun): sleep learning. Placing her French textbook under her pillow at night proved to be an ineffectual attempt at hypnopedia.

And there is your September batch of Word Nerds. True to course here is a short quiz.

  1. Sleep learning is associated with what word?
  2. Nefarious sounds quite a bit like which word?
  3. Sennight means?
  4. What word might a choir teacher appreciate?
  5. Why might having brio be considered a compliment?

Well, what did you learn today? BtW, if you scored at least 4/5 you may pull out your SSR book and read the last five minutes of class.

Drug Free Teaching

Today was the first day back to school. I went home just before lunch after confessing to the principal I couldn’t handle it any longer. The look on my face made him step back and say: “Go home.” Good thing it was only staff day and not class day.

It’s been a month since I ditched my mountain bike on the bike path embankment to avoid crashing into another cyclist. It’s been a long month of adjusting to using my left hand instead of my right, learning to love ice packs, and enduring physical therapy. Tolerating pain meds is its own post.

Being a lightweight (wave a cork at me and I’m tipsy), I take half doses of my pills in order to maintain some state of functionality. This means I’m always at about a three on the pain scale–I think ten is an elephant standing on your head (like when I first figured my wrist must be broken after I crashed).

Apparently, I cannot teach or drive, if I take my pain meds. Driving a car or teaching teens under the influence is frowned upon . Something about impaired judgement. So, to prepare going back to driving and teaching I have been cutting back on my dosage. Way back. How about no meds for a day? Yeah–that didn’t work so well.

Thankfully, my understanding principal let me go home and nap so I could return for open house. Yes, it was a long day first day back.

At this moment I have ice on my wrist and I’m hoping to go back to sleep and go for another day of staff meetings and prepping my classroom. During staff introductions I held up my black air-cast wrist and joked I had on my Wonder Woman titanium bracelet. The joke was on me when I said, “And it’s my first day without drugs.” And the quip? “In your teaching career?”


I went home and napped for three hours. Ice is nice.

Of Purple Cows and Ending of School Year

Monday is the last week of school. My seniors are already done with their finals and have vamoosed. There is an empty spot in my schedule, and in my teacher’s heart. I so enjoy my AP Lit classes. I hope they remember the stuff I taught them or attempted to teach them when they are sitting in their university lecture halls.

This week the sophomores take their finals. They will be tested on their knowledge of Julius Caesar, the last unit of their tenth grade English. For the most part they enjoyed learning about this important Rome leader. They still have misconceptions about him though–such as him being the inventor of s salad. They were amazed July is named after him.

Some complained about how much history goes with English literature. One influences the other, is what I tell them. They still grumble.

My one another AP class, my AP Language, affectionately known as Langsters, will be presenting their Senior Project Starters this week as their final. Most will be moving on to AP Lit, so not too much sadness, although they did make my first year of teaching AP Language quite enjoyable. Juniors are done with underclassmen drama, aren’t infected with Senioritis, and realized that with a wee bit more effort it’s possible to get great SAT scores which can open doors to desired colleges.

After June 12th I’m free to get back to “me” pursuits, such as reading books, instead of essays. I also hope to finish up a YA novel I started (about five years ago). It’s tough finding time to write as a teacher.

Surprisingly enough, I’m on the short list to teach creative writing second semester. It’s been about four years, so I’m brushing off some of my lesson plans. One them involves parody writing. Tell me what you think:

Parody Poems

“Imitation is the best form of compliment” or so they say. A Parody Poem emulates or copies a known style of poet. Special attention is paid to tone, diction, rhythm, meter—basically getting the poet’s style so that it is recognizable.

Here are some parody poems using the famous “Purple Cow” poem:

 A Purple Cow  (reading by Stuart S.)
by Gelett Burgess

I never saw a Purple Cow,
I never hope to see one;
But I can tell you, anyhow,
I’d rather see than be one.

Image result for purple cow

And here are the parodies:

Edgar Allen Poe
Parody by Susan and David Hollander

One lonely, gloomy, windswept eve
A mournful sound did I perceive.
I cast my eyes beyond the pane
And to my horror down the lane
Came a sight; I froze inside
A spectral cow with purple hide.
Emily Dickinson
Parody by Susan and David Hollander

On far off hills
And distant rills,
Sounds a distant moo.
A purple spot
I think I caught,
Yes! I see it, too!
In Bovine majesty she stands,
Her purple tail she swings,
The amethyst cow,
To my heart somehow,
Perfect joy she brings.
And yet the thought of being
Of that race of royal hue,
Though glowing like the violet sweet,
It really would not do

My contributions…

Dr Seuss
by C. Muse

Hey Sam–
Who cares about greens eggs and ham?

I like cows.
I like cows here and now.
I like cows and their moo.
Do you like cows?
You like them, too?

I like cows brown or black and white.
A purple cow?
I think not.
That can’t be right.


Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art so lovely, as thou eats hay.

Gentle creature, thou shows its color true,
Of thy hide of which you are adorned
A rich amethyst, a most unexpected hue.
Some may give shriek and others scorn
Yet, it matters not, thou still dost moo.

So long as all can breathe and see,
So all appreciate the purple cow that is thee.

POM(s) for May: Because one month of poems is not enough

I’m finding it difficult to wean myself from inserting a poem into my blog having recently filled my April calendar with a daily poem. So who says I have to? Good, glad we agree on this. Along with my spotlights on blogs, my ongoing series on “Why We Say,” as well as the usual spate of book reviews, I will include a POM–Poem of the Month. There are just way too many poems to wait again until National Poetry Month in April to post. Yes, I’m a confessed poetry junkie. Indeed.
In fact, I am accruing so many poems already, that my meter is running overtime (that’s for you, Mike A.). Here are three plus one extra, just because I couldn’t stop at three poems that seem to fit my almost-done-with-the-school-year mood.

“The Yawn”--my students are yawning a lot these days. I can’t believe studying the poems and literature of the Modern Era isn’t making them jump up and down with enthralled enrapture.

The Mentor”–I’m hoping down the road my students will realize they truly did learn something in my class.

“Dandelion”–though I teach English, not science, I do find wisdom in knowing the importance of knowing parts to understand the whole. And, yes, I am ready to float away on strands of gossamer fluff.

“Who Burns for the Perfection of Paper”--I do appreciate paper. My life would not be the same without it. I can relate to paper cuts as well.

Of Memos and Mementos

When I return to school on Monday I will return to countdown week.  Every day is finals, which means every day is closer to school ending. Pause… How do I feel about that? Umm, isn’t this what I’ve been waiting for all year?  Okay, maybe not all year, but pretty close to it.

The year started out with surprises:

1. New technology. Learn now.  You didn’t get the memo?

2. We moved the Senior Project up one month. Sorry, we forgot to send the memo.

3. Two classes have 30 students, while one has 14.  Maybe I should send a memo.

4. Common Core Standards implementation–no one counted on month long testing.  Forget memos–stock up on Tums.

Those were not the nicer surprises, although I did have a few of those as well:

1. “You’re my favorite teacher!” one of my special ed students reminds me every class.

2. All AP students stuck it out and didn’t transfer when the going got tough.

3. I received a glossing 8×10 photo of the “Three Hubri” decked out in their prom finery.

4. More freshmen passed than failed first semester this year.

The end of the year always surprises me when it arrives.  I can’t wait for summer to start, yet there is still so much I want to teach my students.  Unfortunately, they too want summer to start and their brains are beginning to resist anymore knowledge bits that try to drift in past their deflector shields.

Tick, tick, ticking the time away.

Really. Where did the year go?

Back-to-School Reads for All Ages

I have been going back to school for longer than I care to admit.  First it was as student (that’s 18 years), then more as a student (add on 6+ years), and then as I raised a family I watched them go back to school (another 18+ years), and here I am back at school, except I am on the other side of the desk (add on 12+ years).

Going back to school creates mixed feelings, doesn’t it?  It signifies the end of summer, yet it’s a new year. It’s finding old friends and making new ones. It’s reviewing old concepts while compiling new knowledge. It’s mix of the familiar and the unfamiliar.  It’s a good thing authors know all about these feelings and have provided books to help anyone through the September Struggles.

Here is a list of suggested reads from as a means of coping with all those changes, expectations, and palpitations as we all head back to school.  Even if you don’t have a child in school, school will always be a part of who we are as a culture and as a society.  Learning doesn’t stop once you get that diploma in your hand!

Going to School (Usborne First Experiences)This Is the Way We Go to School: A Book About Children Around the WorldPirates Go to SchoolEmily's First 100 Days of School

Amelia Bedelia's First Day of SchoolMiddle School, The Worst Years of My Life

Little Critter: First Day of SchoolA Smart Girl's Guide to Starting Middle School (American Girl) (American Girl Library)The Night Before Kindergarten

So Happy Back to School.  And if you are shining up that apple for the teacher I suggest saving it for your lunch and go for the Starbucks gift certificate.  Better yet, Dove dark chocolate.

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