martes, junio 28, 2005


i love...

1. opera man and the culps on saturday night live
2. "sueño (dream: eve before adam)" by alfredo arreguin. click on the links below the painting to see the amazing details.
3. anything mocha-flavored
4. my cousins
5. good mexican food. i mean, GOOD mexican food. i don't like peas or carrots in my spanish rice, i prefer black beans over pinto, i like my corn tortillas capable of rolling without cracking, my horchata super cinnamony, and my tres leches oozing. y toda la comida picante, por supuesto.
6. good chinese food. chinatown style, no forks allowed. pan fried noodles, mmm.
7. good indian food. seekh kabob, chicken biryani, spinach pakora, aloo pouri, meatballs, piping hot naan, and kheer with the perfect consistency so as to not drip off your spoon.
8. kissing. i think too many guys go overboard with the tongue thing, "harpoon-style" as a friend said not too long ago. otherwise... slow, frantic, eyes open or closed, in the dark or in broad daylight, alone or in a crowd, on the mouth or elsewhere, expected or not, kissing is grrrreat.
9. eye makeup, nail polish & lip gloss. my girly guilty pleasures. i don't blow dry my hair or own a lot of perfume, but i do indulge in a wide assortment of the aforementioned accoutrements.
10. alliteration =P
11. orchids. otherwise flowers bore me.
12. my kitties, they make living alone bearable
13. music. no details necessary.
14. the floral designs found in mughal art & architecture
15. getting text messages
16. getting letters in the mail
17. recommended reading & listening
18. people who can use the words "existentialist", "arbitrary", "fuck" and "dude" in a sentence that makes perfect sense
19. people who don't make excuses & always put forth their best effort
20. dimples

east coast, here i come. blogeros y blogeras, what do YOU love?

lunes, junio 27, 2005


no te prometo amor eterno, porque no puedo

i haven't addressed relationships, love, and other things of that ilk since my eHarmony fiasco back in april. so let's make up for lost time.
  • The Rules: am i the last woman on earth to have heard about these? a friend brought this book over for lunch and i couldn't believe what i was reading. i had heard of He's Just Not That Into You (nice related article on salon) but i had no idea how popular it was. i've always scoffed at the mere thought of the self-help book section, but that can probably be attributed to my family's general disdain for any talk whatsoever about feelings. anyways, this book outlines everything from the questions (or lack thereof) that you should ask during a date to when you should have sex for the first time. an example:

    Rule #3: Don't Stare at Men or Talk Too Much

    Looking at someone first is a dead giveaway of interest. Let him look at you! If he doesn't notice you first, he's probably not interested. Keep walking, someone else will notice you.

    Did you know that there are workshops designed to teach women how to make eye contact with men they find attractive? Save your money. It is never necessary to make eye contact. What about letting men know you're receptive? We suggest simply smiling at the room (or the universe, if you will), and looking relaxed and approachable. That's how to acknowledge a man's attention, not by staring at him. Don't look anxiously around for "The One." That is certain to make anyone look the other way. There is nothing attractive about anxiety. ...

    i'm sure books like this are helpful to some people, but some of the rules get pretty ridiculous. the main premise, for chrissakes, is that man pursues woman, period. another example: you're not supposed to tell too much about yourself when you're still dating... only answer questions that he asks you, so you can stay mysterious. sounds kinda hokey and outdated to me, call me crazy!

  • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind: I had been wanting to see this movie forever and ended up falling asleep about 1/3 of the way through. Those of you who have seen all of it: thoughts?

  • Some Quotes: I spent a lot of car time this weekend sketching and brainstorming for future art projects. there are several quotes that i adore and want to use, either directly or as inspiration:

  • "no te prometo amor eterno, porque no puedo" reyli, "desde que llegaste" (i don't promise you eternal love, because i can't)

  • "and you know that i love you... here and now, not forever... i can give you my present, i don't know about the future... that's all stuff and nonsense." split enz, "stuff and nonsense"

  • "tengo hambre de tu boca, de tu voz, de tu pelo" pablo neruda, "cien sonetos de amor" XI (i hunger for your mouth, your voice, your hair")

  • "aquí te amo." pablo neruda, "poema no. 18" ("here i love you)

  • "yo la quise, y a veces ella también me quiso.
    ella me quiso, a veces yo también la quería.
    ya no la quiero, es cierto, pero cuánto la quise.
    ya no la quiero, es cierto, pero tal vez la quiero."
    pablo neruda, "poema no. 20"
    ("i loved her, and sometimes she loved me, too.
    she loved me, and sometimes i loved her, too.
    i no longer love her, it's true, but how (much) i loved her.
    i no longer love her, it's true, but maybe i love her."

  • "No quiero ser la culpable de dañar tu corazón" aterciopelados, "la culpable" ("I don't want to be the one guilty of hurting your heart")

  • Lastly: why the love fixation when i've declared that i'm not interested in a serious relationship right now? because i've been rocking out to Erasure's greatest hits, namely "Victim of Love" and "Ship of Fools".

  • domingo, junio 26, 2005


    autism article

    found it on salon! here's a snippet:

    Deadly immunity
    When a study revealed that mercury in childhood vaccines may have caused autism in thousands of kids, the government rushed to conceal the data -- and to prevent parents from suing drug companies for their role in the epidemic.
    By Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

    June 16, 2005 | In June 2000, a group of top government scientists and health officials gathered for a meeting at the isolated Simpsonwood conference center in Norcross, Ga. Convened by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the meeting was held at this Methodist retreat center, nestled in wooded farmland next to the Chattahoochee River, to ensure complete secrecy. The agency had issued no public announcement of the session -- only private invitations to 52 attendees. There were high-level officials from the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration, the top vaccine specialist from the World Health Organization in Geneva, and representatives of every major vaccine manufacturer, including GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, Wyeth and Aventis Pasteur. All of the scientific data under discussion, CDC officials repeatedly reminded the participants, was strictly "embargoed." There would be no making photocopies of documents, no taking papers with them when they left.

    The federal officials and industry representatives had assembled to discuss a disturbing new study that raised alarming questions about the safety of a host of common childhood vaccines administered to infants and young children. According to a CDC epidemiologist named Tom Verstraeten, who had analyzed the agency's massive database containing the medical records of 100,000 children, a mercury-based preservative in the vaccines -- thimerosal -- appeared to be responsible for a dramatic increase in autism and a host of other neurological disorders among children. "I was actually stunned by what I saw," Verstraeten told those assembled at Simpsonwood, citing the staggering number of earlier studies that indicate a link between thimerosal and speech delays, attention-deficit disorder, hyperactivity and autism. Since 1991, when the CDC and the FDA had recommended that three additional vaccines laced with the preservative be given to extremely young infants -- in one case, within hours of birth -- the estimated number of cases of autism had increased fifteenfold, from one in every 2,500 children to one in 166 children.

    Even for scientists and doctors accustomed to confronting issues of life and death, the findings were frightening. "You can play with this all you want," Dr. Bill Weil, a consultant for the American Academy of Pediatrics, told the group. The results "are statistically significant." Dr. Richard Johnston, an immunologist and pediatrician from the University of Colorado whose grandson had been born early on the morning of the meeting's first day, was even more alarmed. "My gut feeling?" he said. "Forgive this personal comment -- I do not want my grandson to get a thimerosal-containing vaccine until we know better what is going on."

    But instead of taking immediate steps to alert the public and rid the vaccine supply of thimerosal, the officials and executives at Simpsonwood spent most of the next two days discussing how to cover up the damaging data. According to transcripts obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, many at the meeting were concerned about how the damaging revelations about thimerosal would affect the vaccine industry's bottom line.

    "We are in a bad position from the standpoint of defending any lawsuits," said Dr. Robert Brent, a pediatrician at the Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Delaware. "This will be a resource to our very busy plaintiff attorneys in this country." Dr. Bob Chen, head of vaccine safety for the CDC, expressed relief that "given the sensitivity of the information, we have been able to keep it out of the hands of, let's say, less responsible hands." Dr. John Clements, vaccines advisor at the World Health Organization, declared that "perhaps this study should not have been done at all." He added that "the research results have to be handled," warning that the study "will be taken by others and will be used in other ways beyond the control of this group."

    In fact, the government has proved to be far more adept at handling the damage than at protecting children's health. The CDC paid the Institute of Medicine to conduct a new study to whitewash the risks of thimerosal, ordering researchers to "rule out" the chemical's link to autism. It withheld Verstraeten's findings, even though they had been slated for immediate publication, and told other scientists that his original data had been "lost" and could not be replicated. And to thwart the Freedom of Information Act, it handed its giant database of vaccine records over to a private company, declaring it off-limits to researchers. By the time Verstraeten finally published his study in 2003, he had gone to work for GlaxoSmithKline and reworked his data to bury the link between thimerosal and autism.

    Vaccine manufacturers had already begun to phase thimerosal out of injections given to American infants -- but they continued to sell off their mercury-based supplies of vaccines until last year. The CDC and FDA gave them a hand, buying up the tainted vaccines for export to developing countries and allowing drug companies to continue using the preservative in some American vaccines -- including several pediatric flu shots as well as tetanus boosters routinely given to 11-year-olds.

    Watch an ad for a free daily pass or subscribe to read the rest.



    Howdy folks! I've had a great week... traveled to three major texas cities in the last six days and had a blast in each of 'em. First things first:

    The Art Show Premiere: I'm beginning to think I'm not cut out for these things. My friend and I arrived totally overdressed (picture it: satiny black halter, white skirt, killer black heels... and everyone there was wearing shorts and flip flops like they were at a neighborhood picnic), so we u-turned and did a mad dash to the nearest mall so we could look a little less formal. When we got back there weren't a whole lot of people there, so we did some leisurely browsing and drinking as we looked for my pieces and checked out the other stuff. There are 147 artists in the show including myself, and the range was pretty standard: some amateurish, "I could do that in my sleep" stuff along with some fantastic work by world-famous artists (more of the former than the latter, though). I did a little schmoozing, but mostly I walked around feeling like I was in middle school again.

    However... Just as we spotted "El jarabe", a lady walked by it and exclaimed "Cool!" "El colás" was located in the biggest showing room with some of the show's best pieces, so that was a good sign, and of the three 5x7 donation pieces I submitted, one had already sold before night's end. So even if I don't necessarily fit in with the artist crowd, my work speaks for itself. YAY!

    My pieces in the show (I only have one photo of the donation pieces, and it's still on my camera):

    This weekend I went with my parents to visit the city of my conception. We met up with their old friends who are way cooler than I ever expected. One of them owns a beautiful upscale Italian restaurant, where we were treated like royalty and ate some of the best food I've ever had. Mmm. Then in true Texan tradition, today we ate the shit out of some fantastic barbeque before heading home. Didn't see/attend the Spurs celebration in SA, but I was there in spirit! The next few days will be spent relaxing, reading, and painting before I head up to the East Coast for my godson's baptism. If you'd like to see more of my artwork, email me at and I'll set you up with a link to ALL of my stuff... completed paintings, works in progress, etc. My maestra flickr site only has work that is unsigned in order to preserve my anonymity.

    viernes, junio 24, 2005


    zoom zoom zoom

    i totally don't have time to blog, but i haven't touched a computer since monday and i'm starting to go through withdrawal. rapid-fire summary of my last four days:
  • my friends ROCK! i spent the last three nights with my honorary little sister, my favorite college roommate, and another college buddy who went through the student teaching sequence with me. we watched our spurs bring it back, ate lots of yummy food, had great conversation, saw some movies, and i now have a picture of an ACTUAL picasso painting on my camera-phone (i once thought they were excessive pieces of technology.. i shall bitch no more!)

  • one of my friends now works at an autism treatment center. she informed me that the national incidence of autism among children is 1 in 166. that number is absolutely astounding. apparently it's much worse in the rio grande valley. she suggested an article in that i don't have time to find right now, but once i've got it i'll be sure to post a link.

  • nothing like some old-school p.m. dawn to make a long car ride by yourself fly by!

  • tonight is the premiere party of the art show my work is in. some world-renowned artists will be there and that intimidates the shit out of me. i think i may need a few margaritas beforehand. bueno, back on the road!

    lunes, junio 20, 2005


    aww, they miss me!

    i got a last-minute call from the summer school office about signing something to get paid, so i took a detour from running errands (aka browsing, not shopping) and stopped by school during lunch. my kiddos were very sweet, asking me why i left (as if i didn't explain it to them) and giving me hugs. apparently la princesa stopped showing up after i left, which frustrates the fuck out of me. on my way out, three kids were walking ahead of me to the early bus. i noticed that the boy, one of my former students, had a curious white thing rolled above his ear. "¿Qué es eso?" "Papel." "¿Papel?" "Sí, papel." "¿Por qué tienes papel allí?" "No sé." ("What's that?" "Paper." "Paper?" "Yes, paper." "Why do you have it there?" "I don't know.") By this point, the monolingual principal had finally caught on. Did this kiddo think he'd look cool around the other 5th graders if he had a fake cigarette? Probably. "Pues QUITATELO." "Take it OFF."

    i continued my errands afterwards... picked up some art supplies then stopped by urban outfitters just for the hell of it. cause i used to be young and "hip" enough to shop there, so you never know. the clothing proved too quirky and expensive for me, so i found myself meandering through the housewares section, where i discovered this shit, which is basically floral fabric stretched across canvas. price? $36. insulting to anyone that works with a paintbrush.

    tonight, i continue my summer vacation poolside with wine and more teacher buddies. i'm very impressed that last week school-related talk was kept to a minimum. tomorrow i head out to the big D to catch up with some folks i haven't seen in forever, so i probably won't be blogging until the end of the week. ¡cuídense!

    * una preguntita: in case you haven't noticed, i've started translating spanish snippets for those of you that may not speak the language. is this helpful or should i go back to assuming everyone either understands or doesn't care to know?



    i woke up this morning (once again, before 8 am) and realized i had just dreamed about a male teacher from summer school. yes, a sexual dream. weird.

    domingo, junio 19, 2005


    big shot bobby

    big shot bobby
    Originally uploaded by La maestra.

    can't help myself!



    first things first: GO SPURS GO! but i'll admit it, g, this last game was a good one... but your boys are going to go DOWN once they set foot in texas! =P

    at father's day lunch, i rambled for a good 40 minutes about teaching... i got my parents caught up on summer school anecdotes, end-of-the-year reflections, and a few choice funny kid stories. afterwards we stopped by target where i picked up a shelving unit that was on sale. my dad tried to convince me to buy the shelf with 8 compartments although i wanted the one with 9. while arguing why the 9-compartment unit was superior, i found myself slipping into teacher mode, pointing at dimensions and counting aloud. (shakes head) you can take the teacher out of the school...

    since those anecdotes are still fresh in my mind, here are some of my favorite quotes from my first year teaching (+summer school):

  • "Yo tengo x-ray vision." (in response to my 5th grade students' doubts about my being able to see their minds at work)

  • "¡Se va a volver LOCA!" "She's going to go CRAZY!" (Ss response to my reaction to our perpetually leaking sink once it was accompanied by a leaking water fountain)

  • "Saaaaaaaaabes a chocolaaaaaaaaaaate..." (Ss immediately began to sing the Kumbia Kings song anytime i said the word "chocolate")

  • (from 2 different students, before i could get a word in edgewise) "Maestra, ¿cuándo te casas?" "¡NUNCA!" "Teacher, when are you getting married?" "NEVER!"

  • "¡Estamos perdiendo NUESTRO tiempo!" "We're wasting OUR time!" (often heard being hissed by Ss in line as they waited for permission to go to recess... after seeing a crappy line for a few minutes, i'd usually plop myself on a table and eat cookies or something while shrugging and nonchalantly saying that they weren't wasting my time, so they could take as long as they needed to line up properly)

  • "Necesito un clipex." I need a kleepex. (my kids are English language learners and apparently don't know any other word for tissue other than "Kleenex"... or some variation of it)


    kids are amazing...


    viernes, junio 17, 2005


    i'm too old for this shit

    dinner with a teacher friend, college buddy and "surprise guest" turned into a full-fledged night out. it's 2:22 and i just got home. i am taking a friend to the airport at 7 am. the "surprise guest" turned out to be another teacher i knew back in my americorps days. good times were had by all. but now i think i'm gonna die of exhaustion. sigh. how these 30something friends of mine do it, i'll never know.

    jueves, junio 16, 2005


    apparently my body prefers work

    time my alarm clock normally goes off: 6:25 AM
    # of times i normally hit snooze: 3
    time i went to bed last night: 2:45 AM
    time my body woke up totally independently this morning: 6:15 AM

    i am the type of person who cannot go back to sleep once i'm awake. the ONLY plus side is that i forgot to take out the trash yesterday and now it's ready for 7:30 pick up. stupid internal alarm clock.



    i don't know why i feel the need to blog when it's way too late and i'm slightly drunk, but perhaps i just want you all to know that i'm making up for lost vacation time. tonight was spent quite lazily at a coffeehouse then bar, enjoying good conversation, some sketching, story-swapping and people watching. the perfect beginning. may the rest of my vacation be just as fulfilling and relaxing.

    miércoles, junio 15, 2005


    this shit's bananas, b-a-n-a-n-a-s

    i don't have cable so i miss out on a lot of junk, but this is totally out of control.

    back to my list craziness very briefly: you know, sad songs say so much!


    outta there!

    people have been coming in and out of my room since school started, so today i thought nothing of it when the principal, a reading mentor, and another random lady walked in. i gave them my schpiel about what the students were doing and what it was for, then they left a few minutes later. on my way into the office to make copies at lunch, i saw my friend (the other 5th bilingual math teacher) talking to the principal. the principal motioned for me to come over and informed me that, as she had already told my friend, our classes were going to be combined due to low numbers (another student in my friend's class left). consequently, one of us would have to move immediately to another school across town where a bilingual class was over capacity. starting tomorrow morning, 7:30 a.m. zero prep time, no time for additional testing and certainly no paid time to stay late getting caught up and up to speed with the students' needs. and we had 45 minutes to decide who was going. after a short chat with my friend, i decided that instead of being placed in an undeniably shitty and stressful situation, i'd rather just start my vacation early. so i quit (after verifying with the principal that it wouldnt make me look bad!).

    i typed all of the above an hour and a half ago, but have been interrupted by half a dozen phone calls. i'm suddenly making a visit to dallas next week before i head to the northeast for my godson's baptism at the end of the month. ladies and gentlemen, my vacation is officially in full swing. YEE HAW!

    martes, junio 14, 2005



    there's another bilingual teacher in the blogosphere, who KNEW?!?


    oh the irony

    my kids make me look good. the summer school math facilitator and a district bigwig walked in at 8:15 this morning as we were reviewing the math warm-up. none of my students knew the names of shapes and i wasn't sure if i was making up the word pentágono, so i had just grabbed a dictionary to look it up when they walked in. after we finished that up, we reviewed the word problem. my kids participate quite often, so their eagerness to solve the problem and explain each step certainly wasn't an act.. i've just trained them well =P as i circling the room checking individual work while a student solves the problem on the overhead, there are a series of flashes... picture taking, wtf?!? then they were gone. several minutes later, my facilitator returned to leave me this note:

    The learning environment in your classroom looks really good.
    Even more impressive is the students' involvement in the lesson! They talk/share their strategies and their thinking.
    A impressed me when he came up with "quintagono" for a pentagon. Excellent! Thanks for doing a great job!

    considering i was starting to feel exceptionally helpless (today we're doing multiplication and hopefully starting division if all goes well), that was a nice little ego boost. these work packets i've been making them leave me with an awful lot of down time. doot doot doo.

    lunes, junio 13, 2005



    i was planning on skipping my nightly post in favor of an early bedtime, but madhatter's latest post got me all riled up.

    friday i lectured my class. i have six students, and two of the three girls have made fantastic progress. the other is consistently late, never finishes her work, and has the audacity to write/doodle while i direct teach. i'm sorry, if there are SIX of you, do NOT think i'm going to let misbehavior slide. that particular day, my class clown was also piddling around instead of doing his work, so i felt a little talk was in order. i'm definitely the slow-burning type... first i told them that i didn't want to lecture them, i hadn't found it necessary because we all knew why they were there. this was their LAST CHANCE, and so far, most of them were taking it very seriously and i appreciated it. BUT... and then i let my two slackers have it. i did the whole schpiel about how we teach a year's worth of curriculum in three weeks, how they are responsible for their own education, etc. then i looked princess dead in the eye and told her that if she didn't want to pay attention while i taught, she did not need to come on monday. no point in wasting my time, her time, or that of her classmates.

    i've never been that mean. today, she strutted in 40 minutes late as the rest of the students were reviewing their TAKS warm-up. as the other five were taking turns solving problems on the overhead, she made a ruckus with the shit in her desk. i damned near lost it. she was busting out all kinds of cleavage AGAIN, this time with body glitter. i definitely need to whip out the dress code guidelines for this one. but show up on time and respect her classmates' while they did the work that she missed? imposible, no hay TIEMPO.

    of course, the next exercise we did on estimation, she totally bombed. which meant i had to chill the fuck out and do some serious one-on-one. it's amazing how much apathy can piss me off. at this rate, no way in hell she's passing. no way in hell.

    so... do i let her continue her downward spiral? she has no concept of when to use what operation, and although i've been putting heavy emphasis on that underlying process, i can't forsake other material that the other students desperately need to review (i also found out today that they don't really understand area or volume... or how to add/multiply with decimals... or how to convert decimals to fractions... and a million other things). i've been giving my students basic operations homework to review those skills, but of course she hasn't been doing any of it. or rather, she's conveniently left it all at home. sigh. nothing in the world drives me crazier than kids who are doomed to fail simply because they, and their families, just don't give a shit.


    oh geez

    how is it already 10:30? how are we SO FREAKING BEHIND? WHY do these kids not have any idea how to divide? why do they not know the difference between area, volume, and perimeter? HOW the HELL are they going to pass this test in ELEVEN days?!?!?

    domingo, junio 12, 2005


    awesome lists & reward systems

    MORE LISTS, just not mine:
  • César and Gustavo have some musical suggestions of their own.
  • They also read a lot. Here's stuff César suggests to amuse you at work and Gustavo's booklist.
  • Elenamary has a fantastic list of requirements to date her. I echo many of these sentiments and may have to make a list on my own here (one such list already exists in my head).

  • More teacher reflections, part two:

    These are my best teacher tools. When I found out that I was beginning my teaching career mid-year and entering a classroom with no rules, no consistency, nada, it was imperative that i lay down the law while creating functional reward systems. Some needed a little revamping and this will be the case with any new group of kids... some will work perfectly with one group and horribly with another. Just gotta feel it out and keep changing them until they suit the needs of you and your kids. And the number one and two rules, respectively: Keep 'em simple, and be consistent. No bending of rules/criteria or it all goes to hell.

    Here are the ones that worked best for me, with my particular group of 1st graders:
  • Lunch Bunch: god only knows why kids would get such a kick out of eating with the teacher in the classroom, but they loved it to DEATH and would beg me to have it. we'd get our lunch from the cafeteria and bring it to the classroom, where they could eat while watching a movie or cartoons. This is a reward system that i used very infrequently, no more than twice a week IF THEY WERE LUCKY. sometimes we went two or three weeks without it. usually it was a surprise: i would announce 30-60 minutes before lunch that all students with good behavior (as reflected in our behavior chart) would be allowed to join me for lunch bunch. slackers would stop slacking and the good behavior kids were superior models for the rest. other times, i would promise the day before or reward the class the day after everyone showed exemplary behavior. additionally, for my kids with behavior management plans, lunch bunch was a great goal for them to meet: they could have a special, private lunch bunch where they could invite just 2-3 friends and they themselves could pick what they watched. i'd even roll out some butcher paper and let them eat on the GASP! carpet. they thought they were the awesomest kids on god's green earth when i did that.
    some teachers do lunch bunch on a regular basis; my mentor teacher had it every monday for students with good behavior ONLY... however, i found that my constantly misbehaving students would never have had a chance like that. i'll admit, some days when such students were behaving beautifully, i would purposely choose to have lunch bunch so that they knew they were capable of receiving such rewards. other days, when normally model students were being little jerks, i'd do the same thing but to teach them a lesson. one time a student was leaving our class for good, so we had a special lunch bunch where all students were invited, una despedida. so use this at your discretion, but my rule was always that since *i* decided lunch bunch, i could cancel it at any given moment as well if behavior went south suddenly.

  • Behavior chart: blah, boring, everyone in primary grades does it. Fantastic behavior merited a congratulatory letter home and a sticker, so that parents weren't only receiving bad news notes from the teacher.
    addendum: my kids began each day with a clean slate on "día excelente", which i actually think is pretty generous of me. if they did all their work, they could move up to "buen trabajo" and if they were a good classmate and participated a lot they moved up to "día estupendo" (where the letter home and sticker came into play). if they did not follow directions, they got a verbal warning, then moved down to "1era advertencia" (first warning), where they lost 5 minutes of recess. Continued misbehavior moved them down to "2a advertencia", which meant a loss of 10 minutes of recess and their being moved to another classroom (this usually only lasted the duration of the next activity/assignment). If they couldn't pull it together and kept acting up, they got moved all the way down to "3a advertencia", which meant a loss of 15 minutes of recess plus a little chat with the asst. principal. worked pretty well.

  • Weekly Raffle: i had a little caja de tesoro (treasure box) that i filled with all kinds of dollar store goodies. when students would participate in whole group, ask great questions, win our word wall game, make perfect grades on spelling tests, show exemplary behavior/character skills, etc., i would reward them with a ticket for the raffle. each friday, i pulled 5 names out of the box. sometimes those who didn't win would bust out into tears, but they soon learned the gist of probability, and besides, 3/4 of the class didn't get anything either, so by the end of the year, there were no more tears.

  • Super Table Chart: the last two systems reward kids on an individual basis, and after my first month i was struggling with ways to find small group rewards, specifically for my students' tables... they would get way too chatty sometimes. so i started rewarding tables with colored popsicle sticks whenever i saw each and every student in a group working quietly or following directions. i'd also give them sticks if they all turned in homework and their personal behavior sheets. peer pressure can work miracles. at the end of the day, we'd count the number of sticks at each table then graph them. initially, we did a bar graph where i put one colored post-it for the corresponding table that had the most sticks that day. as we learned about tally marks, we would record the total number of sticks for each table. at the end of each month, the winning table(s) would get reward grab bags with stuff from the caja de tesoro and a free pizza coupon. i have no problem whatsoever with friendly competition, because you better believe that at the beginning of each month, the tables that lost were dead-set on winning and acted like angels... at least for a few days.

  • etc. then of course there's the little stuff... stickers, extra recess time, etc. if you've got any improvements or other reward systems you'd like to share, go comment crazy!

  • sábado, junio 11, 2005


    what kind of latino am i?

    By Daniel Alarcón, courtesy of Salon:

    Last April I was invited to a literary fundraiser of sorts. It was a fancy affair, full of very wealthy people and well-dressed waiters carrying trays of wine and strange-looking appetizers. A couple of dozen writers had been invited, and we were plied with alcohol and dispersed into the party. I fell into a few pleasant conversations with some very kind people, all of them genuinely excited for me -- You're so young to have published a book! etc. -- and then was seated at dinner next to a woman in her 60s, who spent her meal asking me about the exotic origins of my last name. I'm Peruvian, I told her. But that last name, it reminds me of a bug that bit me when I was living in Mexico! Oh, I said. Where does it come from? she asked. I explained to her at one point that most words in Spanish that begin in "Al" are Arabic in origin, that the Moorish influence transformed the language, so that my last name may have been Arc�n or Arco. I'm not sure why I told her this. I'm neither Spanish nor Moorish, and certainly not a linguist, but I felt she needed something to keep her occupied for a bit.

    She gave me this wide-eyed look: That is so topical, she said. Like al-Qaida.

    Even in the dim light, I'm sure she sensed she had stunned me: not that I'm saying you're one of those people.

    Keep reading...


    WHY am i incapable of sleeping in?

    woke up at 7:30. tried to make myself go back to sleep, but by 8:15 it was undeniable that i was awake and sleep would not take me back. grr.

    while i wait for the sun to hit my window at the perfect painting angle, i'll take this opportunity to share some teaching stuff and then a poem and some song lyrics. just cause i have nothing better to do early on a saturday morning.

    things i learned my first year of teaching:
    1. kids need: structure. routine. consistency. love. firmness. humor. clear and high expectations. surprises. fair rewards and punishments.
    2. there is nothing wrong with bartering play time for serious work time. pretty surprising how often i found myself saying, "you are wasting my teaching time by playing right now, so i will take away your playing time at recess so that i can teach you what you need to learn today."
    3. to me, teaching seems to be 60% psychological manipulation, 30% classroom management, 7% determination, 2% pleasure and 1% masochism.
    4. planning is overrated. every great teacher is exceptional at flying by the seat of his or her pants. not to say that planning is never needed, you just need to quickly learn the art of changing things around according to students' interests, struggles, and academic needs.
    5. there is no point in having student work, lists, signs, word walls etc. posted in the room if you don't require the students to use them as a resource.
    6. teachers are there to facilitate learning, not to hear the sound of their own voices. sometimes the kids learn oodles more through group exploration and peer explanation than through you directly teaching.
    7. overbearing and metiche parents are crazy creatures that need to be tamed as soon as possible. gently remind them that you are there to help and support their children, and if that doesn't work, have an administrator beat it into their head.
    8. sometimes answering the classroom phone is a terrible idea.
    9. sometimes you just need to sit back and watch the kids learn/work/play.
    10. be nice to your co-workers. custodians and office staff rule the school and should be treated with the utmost respect.
    11. work with teachers in other grade levels: have your students present to them and their students work with yours. it's a great way to build confidence in your students, have them interact with children of different ages, and see what happens in other grades.
    12. there is no such thing as too much caffeine.

    Now for your Spanish reading pleasure:

    Poema no. 6 de Veinte poemas de amor by Pablo Neruda

    Puedo escribir los versos más tristes esta noche.

    Escribir, por ejemplo: «La noche está estrellada,
    y tiritan, azules, los astros, a lo lejos.»

    El viento de la noche gira en el cielo y canta.

    Puedo escribir los versos más tristes esta noche.
    Yo la quise, y a veces ella también me quiso.

    En las noches como ésta la tuve entre mis brazos.
    La besé tantas veces bajo el cielo infinito.

    Ella me quiso, a veces yo también la quería.
    Cómo no haber amado sus grandes ojos fijos.

    Puedo escribir los versos más tristes esta noche.
    Pensar que no la tengo. Sentir que la he perdido.

    Oír la noche inmensa, más inmensa sin ella.
    Y el verso cae al alma como al pasto el rocío.

    Qué importa que mi amor no pudiera guardarla.
    La noche está estrellada y ella no está conmigo.

    Eso es todo. A lo lejos alguien canta. A lo lejos.
    Mi alma no se contenta con haberla perdido.

    Como para acercarla mi mirada la busca.
    Mi corazón la busca, y ella no está conmigo.

    La misma noche que hace blanquear los mismos árboles.
    Nosotros, los de entonces, ya no somos los mismos.

    Ya no la quiero, es cierto, pero cuánto la quise.
    Mi voz buscaba el viento para tocar su oído.

    De otro. Será de otro. Como antes de mis besos.
    Su voz, su cuerpo claro. Sus ojos infinitos.

    Ya no la quiero, es cierto, pero tal vez la quiero.
    Es tan corto el amor, y es tan largo el olvido.

    Porque en noches como ésta la tuve entre mis brazos,
    Mi alma no se contenta con haberla perdido.

    Aunque éste sea el último dolor que ella me causa,
    y éstos sean los últimos versos que yo le escribo.

    Poema no. 20 de Veinte poemas de amor by Pablo Neruda

    Para que tú me oigas,
    mis palabras
    se adelgazan a veces
    como las huellas de las gaviotas en las playas.

    Collar, cascabel ebrio
    para tus manos suaves como las uvas.

    Y las miro lejanas mis palabras.
    Más que mías son tuyas.
    Van trepando en mi viejo dolor como las yedras.

    Ellas trepan así por las paredes húmedas.
    Eres tú la culpable de este juego sangriento.

    Ellas están huyendo de mi guarida oscura.
    Todo lo llenas tú, todo lo llenas.

    Antes que tú poblaron la soledad que ocupas,
    y están acostumbradas más que tú a mi tristeza.

    Ahora quiero que digan lo que quiero decirte
    para que tú me oigas como, quiero que me oigas.

    El viento de la angustia aún las suele arrastrar.
    Huracanes de sueños aún a veces las tumban.
    Escuchas otras voces en mi voz dolorida.
    Llanto de viejas bocas, sangre de viejos súplicas.
    Ámame, compañera. No me abandones. Sígueme.
    Sígueme, compañera, en esa ola de angustia.

    Pero se van tiñendo con tu amor mis palabras.
    Todo lo ocupas tú, todo lo ocupas.
    Voy haciendo de todas un collar infinito
    para tus blancas manos, suaves como las uvas.

    La chica difícil by Aterciopelados

    soy una chica difícil pero yo valgo la pena
    yo busco un santo un gran romeo
    que por mí vaya hasta el cielo

    pícame el ojo
    pélame el diente
    échame flores
    hazme canciones

    no creas que es fácil tenerme,
    titanico sería el esfuerzo
    yo busco un mago, un principe azul
    que por mí derrita el polo sur

    pícame el ojo
    pélame el diente
    échame flores
    hazme canciones

    viernes, junio 10, 2005


    esos chavalotes

    i am having a sneezing attack. my nose piercing keeps flying out. this is annoying.

    i am also extraordinarily sleepy. we decided to end our first week of summer school with an early happy hour. shrimp tacos, mexican martinis, and sopapillas make me happy.

    *UPDATE*this is list week. please note, i am not trying to regurgitate Rolling Stone's Best Albums EVER list. there are many other fantastic musicians and albums in this world, these are just the ones that mean the most to me and that i could enjoy thoroughly from beginning to end at the drop of a hat. here you go (and yes, i DID go back and alphabetize everything, you got a problem with that?):

    Afghan Whigs, 1969 - Their earlier albums were grungy but this album proved what true fans already knew: the Whigs have the funk, and they will bring it to you whether you are ready or not. Bonus: Lead singer Greg Dulli oozes sex in his vocals. Mmm =)
    Aterciopelados, Evolución - My favorite band's best singles all on one CD, plus a couple fantastic new songs and the excellent remix of "Florecita Rockera"
    Belly, King - Post-grunge murky guitars plus Tanya Donnelly's voice of an angel fronting gorgeous harmonies.
    Jeff Buckley, Grace - Buckley's only completed album is absolutely fantastic from beginning to end. Buy it. Now.
    Manu Chao, Próxima estación: Esperanza - My other favorite Manu sings in Spanish, Portuguese, English, French, and sometimes even Arabic. If you like multilingualism, Bob Marley, "world music" or quirkiness, this is for you.
    Coldplay, A Rush of Blood to the Head - Sometimes the bandwagon makes some pretty good music.
    Concrete Blonde, Mexican Moon - I'm a dork. But the cover art has calaveras and Johnette's voice kicks ass, which almost make up for the way they butcher the Spanish translation of the title track.
    Erasure, Greatest Hits - I had a hard time picking a band from this genre, but since this album has their great dance stuff PLUS an Abba cover, it trumped Depeche Mode.
    Michael Jackson, Thriller - C'mon now. I liked him before any of this molestation business, back before he completely lost his fuckin mind.
    Pearl Jam, Vs. - Yes, Ten is a good album. Yes, I like Vs. better. It's rawer (more raw?), angrier, more energetic, more frenetic, yet still has some great mellow tracks.
    The Roots, The Roots Come Alive - Best live hip-hop band of this decade. Listen and you shall believe.
    Selena, Number Ones - What can I say, I was born and raised in South Texas and I work with bilingual children. Even if I didn't want to like her, I would still have to. However, there exists no such clause with the Kumbia Kings. Slight tangent: I've met Abraham Quintanilla and irritated him slightly. HA!
    Singles: The Motion Picture Soundtrack - You may not have noticed that I *heart* grunge. This soundtrack has Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Mother Love Bone, Alice in Chains, and the Wilson sisters from Heart covering Led Zeppelin.
    The Supremes, Greatest Hits - My parents loved Motown, thus I love Motown. "I Hear A Symphony" is my favorite.
    Julieta Venegas, Bueninvento - Who knew accordions could rock? This 2000 album is infinitely less formulaic than her much more popular 2003 release... the music varies much more and the lyrics aren't nearly as stupid. She even covers a Juan Gabriel song, and somehow "Sueño de sombras" sounds Mazzy Star-esque to me.
    The Who, Live at Leeds - Rocks. Your. Ass. What rock 'n roll was, could be, and should be. Modern rock doesn't hold a candle to this.

    Aterciopelados, "Mi vida brilla"
    Aterciopelados, "La chica difícil"
    Fiona Apple, "Never Is A Promise"
    Blue Oyster Cult, "Burnin' For You"
    Jeff Buckley, "Hallelujah"
    Café Tacuba, "Cómo te extraño mi amor"
    Café Tacuba, "Déjate caer"
    Tracy Chapman, "Fast Car"
    Coldplay, "Shiver"
    David Garza, "Drone"
    Juanes, "La paga"
    Annie Lennox, "Why"
    Mazzy Star, "Fade Into You"
    Outkast, "Rosa Parks"
    The Pixies, "Here Comes Your Man"
    The Pixies, "Hey"
    Prince, "Kiss"
    Martin Sexton, "Where Did I Go Wrong"
    Simon & Garfunkle, "The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)"
    The Who, "Baba O'Riley"

    Okay, I was showing the above lists to a friend and decided it was imperative to make yet another list of my favorite cover songs:

    Afghan Whigs, "Superstition/Going to Town" (originally by Stevie Wonder)
    The Bangles, "Hazy Shade of Winter" (Simon & Garfunkle)
    Jeff Buckley, "Hallelujah" (Leonard Cohen)
    Erasure, "Take A Chance On Me" (Abba)
    Alejandro Fernández, "A mi manera" (Spanish version of "My Way" by Sinatra)
    Kula Shaker, "Hush" (Deep Purple)
    Letters to Cleo, "I Want You to Want Me" (Cheap Trick)
    The Lovemongers, "Battle of Evermore" (Led Zeppelin)
    Pearl Jam, "Leaving Here" (The Who)
    Pearl Jam, "Dock of the Bay" (Otis Redding)
    Solar Twins, "Rock the Casbah" (The Clash)
    Julieta Venegas, "Siempre en mi mente" (Juan Gabriel)
    Rufus Wainwright, "Instant Pleasure"


    let me be honest

    my laptop died AGAIN this morning so guess what i'm doing from school?

    i am not a big fan of cleavage on fifth graders. maybe that's just me, cause mom obviously isn't bothered by it.

    jueves, junio 09, 2005


    can i get a HELL YEAH


    la música

    per gustavo's request, here's what i've been listening to lately. please realize i was totally a child of the 90s and will probably never get over that.

    recent releases:
  • Ryan Adams & the Cardinals, Cold Roses: straight-up alt-country, very chill background music... great for painting!

  • Café Tacuba, En viaje: 3-disc set plus DVD of the best rock en español band out there. if you have the chance to check these guys out live, DO IT. they're touring los EE.UU. this summer.

  • Andrea Echeverri (eponymous): first solo album by the lead singer of Aterciopelados. her voice is amazing, which makes up for the hokiness of a lot of the album's songs (they're all about her new baby).

  • currently in rotation:
  • U2, The Best of 1990-2000: no explanation needed.

  • Toad the Wet Sprocket, Dulcinea: shut up, you loved them too!

  • Café Tacuba, Avalancha de Éxitos: un poco de todo, buy this CD first to get a good taste of all their different styles. "Como te extraño mi amor" and "Ojalá que llueva café" are two of my favorite songs. Oooh "Alarma" también. Ah, I like 'em all!

  • Belly, Star: I loved this band with all my heart and wondered why they never made it big other than a couple eMpTyVee buzzclips.

  • Maneja Beto, para que las paredes no se aburran: i try to support local texas music. these guys are fuckin' fantastic, so they make it very easy for me.

  • Cocteau Twins, Heaven or Las Vegas: the ultimate chill music, totally ethereal.

  • REM, Monster: my favorite album, i love falsettos.

  • while i'm admittedly a music snob, i listen to a little of everything. i tend to gravitate toward rock en español these days, but i like a lot of r&b, rap, and the occasional cheesy pop song (english or spanish, doesn't matter). mariachis i love desperately. some of my favorite bands/musicians are the roots (fantastic live shows), outkast, pearl jam, the who, simon & garfunkle, jeff buckley (everyone should own Grace), alejandro fernández, aterciopelados, juanes (new album's kinda lame though), manu chao, julieta venegas (first album's better than the new one), celia cruz, plastilina mosh, really i could go on forever.


    ***oooh, idea time! i'm going to come up with a list of my 20 most-listened to songs... in the meantime, please post any albums that you recommend and/or your all-time favorite songs!


    yes, i'm an asshole

    tonight we had "back to school" night for summer school. more like "still in school" night. the lady that did the spanish translation did a HORRENDOUS job, and apparently saw me and my friend snickering at her spanglish and false cognates. first of all, if you don't know the word for "tag", "hall", "sticker" or "shared reading", circumfuckinglocute, don't say it in english... the point of translation is to communicate with those that don't speak english, remember? or you could ask one of the five bilingual teachers sitting in front of you. secondly, "atender" does not mean "to attend." thirdly, translate the gist of everything, not just the first or last few sentences. thanks.

    so i'm not being fired, despite my increasingly low numbers. we have 12 days left to stuff nearly a year's worth of math into these kiddos' heads. daunting is an understatement... PLUS my kids are a day behind! hijole. i'm trying to make things more student-oriented. i figure, they've been subjected to teacher-led instruction for a year and still haven't gotten it, so they should just get their hands dirty and hear from their peers about alternate strategies and ways of thinking.

    what i'm most excited about for the next two weeks: the constant uncertainty of whether or not i'll have any materials in spanish. as of monday, i'll have nothing unless my facilitator has inspired a miracle within the district.

    miércoles, junio 08, 2005



    i'm taking a painting break these days and trying to read more. has anyone read Teachers Have It Easy by Dave Eggers et al? sounds interesting. i've just started The Death of Artemio Cruz by Carlos Fuentes and will probably start reading The Karma of Brown Folk by Vijay Prashad later tonight. anyway, i'm a big book fiend and am constantly shoving books at my friends, so here are some of my recommendations. starred entries are my most highly recommended books of ALL TIME, so check them out!!!

  • jim cummins, language, power & pedagogy: bilingual children in the crossfire

  • herbert kohl, 36 children

  • alex kotlowitz, the other side of the river

  • alex kotlowitz, there are no children here

  • jonathan kozol, amazing grace

  • south asian fiction:
  • chitra banerjee divakaruni, sister of my heart

  • khaled hosseini, the kite runner* (he's afghani, but whatever!)

  • jhumpa lahiri, the interpreter of maladies (short stories)

  • jhumpa lahiri, the namesake*

  • rohinton mistry, a fine balance*

  • arundhati roy, the god of small things

  • salman rushdie, haroun & the sea of stories*

  • vikram seth, a suitable boy

  • latin american fiction:
  • isabel allende, la casa de los espíritus*

  • paulo coelho, the alchemist

  • gabriel garcía márquez, cien años de soledad*

  • gabriel garcía márquez, los funerales de la mamá grande (short stories)

  • dagoberto gilb, the magic of blood* (short stories... by my buddy!)

  • horacio quiroga, cuentos de amor, de locura y de muerte (short stories)

  • josé saramago, blindness

  • et al
  • richard brautigan, sombrero fallout

  • truman capote, in cold blood

  • zora neale hurston, their eyes were watching god

  • milan kundera, the unbearable lightness of being

  • pablo neruda, veinte poemas de amor y una canción desesperada

  • marion nestle, food politics

  • randy schilts, and the band played on

  • eric schlosser, fast food nation

  • i also firmly believe that no one can go wrong reading a lot of chomsky... linguistics, politics, it's all excellent.


    welcome to america, nutjob!

    tightening the border, my ASS. this man just looks out of his fucking mind.

    thanks to j for lending me his laptop indefinitely so i can resume blogging in appropriate places. today was a good day.. my kids slowly but surely got the hang of tenths, hundredths and thousandths and their personalities are totally coming out, for better or for worse. some of my favorite snippets:

    estudiante L: "Ud. es mexicana?"
    la maestra: "No."
    estudiante L: "No?!?"
    la maestra: "No."
    estudiante L: "COMO?"

    estudiante R: "A está hablando de besos con lenguita!"

    i made them cut out several pages worth of hundreds tables (the tiny base ten ones) and i have never heard so much moaning and groaning in my life. according to them, fifth graders never cut stuff out nor color... "¡puro estudiar!", they claim. sadly, it seems like they hadn't studied quite enough. silly me, i thought some cutting-out time would be a nice break from all the tests, warm-ups, and TAKS practices!

    three things continued:

    3 things you want to do before you die: fall in love again, have some kiddos, be a rockin' grandma!

    3 ways I am stereotypically a boy: I am more likely to have soda and beer in my fridge than fruits or vegetables (although currently i'm about even on both); i can park parallel without breaking a sweat and often will circle downtown 20 times looking for a free parking spot; i like building furniture and would love to learn how to weld.

    3 ways I am stereotypically a girl: my nails are always painted; i own a million pairs of shoes; i can bake and decorate cakes like nobody's business!

    3 celebrity crushes: Brad Pitt, Alejandro Fernández & Benjamin Bratt

    martes, junio 07, 2005


    fix #3

    i have become a lazy bum. yesterday and today i came home, fixed myself a huge lunch which i ate while watching death to smoochy, then took a longass nap. right now i'm at the library where i renewed books about orozco and rivera. i have ten minutes left at this workstation.

    i found this over at megan's but nixed the stuff about my name, nicknames, and heritage (cause they are dead giveaways):

    3 physical things I like about myself: my hair, my ghetto booty, my eyes

    3 things I am wearing right now: purple tank top, jeans, flip flops

    3 favorite bands/musical artists: aterciopelados, cafe tacuba, pearl jam

    3 favorite songs: "baba o'riley" by the who, "yellow ledbetter" by pearl jam, "el album" by aterciopelados

    3 things I want in a relationship: trust, honesty, laughter

    3 things about the preferred sex that appeal to me: humor, confidence, artistic ability

    3 favorite hobbies: reading, dancing, singing to myself and my kitties =P

    3 things I want to do badly right now: have a computer that works, watch the angelina jolie interview on dateline, have someone make me dinner

    3 things that scare me: junebugs flying in my mouth, things poking me in the eye, and being burned by people's cigarettes at bars/clubs

    3 of my everyday essentials: hairclaw, cell phone, dr. pepper lip gloss

    3 careers you have considered or are considering: artista, cantante, chef

    3 places you want to go on vacation: mexico, spain, thailand

    3 kids' names you like: Omar, Nevin and Larissa

    OUT OF TIME! To be continued...



    so while the kids do a "TAKS ATTACK!" i'm sitting here marveling at this strange situation. i really like this! i can be sarcastic and goofy and complain about measly teacher salaries while teaching place value and the kids eat it up. i also saw a kiddo from my time in americorps... he was the custodian's little kiddo, in pre-k and unbelievably adorable. still a super-cutie, he's now in third grade. way to make me feel old!


    day 2

    straight from the trenches: i started the day off in my self-assigned role as teacher's aide, spending the first part of the morning cutting up hundreds tables for a center activity my friend (then the only 5th grade math bilingual teacher) was going to do today. as i was cutting away in the lounge, another teacher came by to remind me to get my attendance. "oh, no big deal, i'm not even teaching!" i announced. she gave me a funny look and told me that the principal had just sent a kid to my room. i took off running since my room is empty and all the bilingual 5th graders are in my buddy's room. the student had already been intercepted, but on my way back to the lounge i saw two kids wandering around looking for their classroom. one had a post-it with my name, another with the other teacher's name. i thought it was weird that they were still assigning me students, but i quickly led them to the other teacher's classroom then went back to the building... where three more kids looking for me showed up! so now i'm back in my room giving the same practice TAKS test we did yesterday to all the newcomers, totally unprepared to teach and kind of wishing that they hadn't shown up so i could have been released from summer school duty and been given a slightly longer vacation. ah well, guess it's not in the cards.

    that said, fifth grade math is freakin hard, at least from the point of view of someone who has spent a year teaching first and second grade math. i taught sixth grade math for about a month as a substitute, but it was at a charter school where academic expectations were very high. not to say that public schools don't try to challenge their students as much as possible, but let's be realistic. i guess more than anything i'm amazed by the breadth of material we're expected to cover over the next 15 days. i graded the first group's set of practice TAKS tests yesterday, and sadly all of the 8 students' scores fell between 10 and 13 correct out of 23 problems. some of their biggest struggles were with tables and fractions, but a lot of them also slipped up on the underlying math skills like knowing when you need to add or subtract, multiply or divide. my heart really goes out to these kids... there's so much pressure on them and so very little time left for them to make the grade. the phrasing of a lot of the test questions in spanish is particularly complex, unnecessarily so in my opinion. really, it's just as much a reading test as it is a math test.

    in summary: this is why i don't teach a TAKS grade, and have no desire to ever do so. for more info about standardized testing and what we can do to reform it, go to or read this article addressing accountability in bilingual ed by THE MAN james crawford.

    in other news: cheers to meeting fellow bloggers in random places, people cooking me dinner, mothers ironing my clothes (ok, just one mother =P), friends going on dates, people introducing me to cute guys, and good art books at the library. boos to nose piercing infections, friends who seem to have fallen off the face of the earth (coughmadhattercough), pencil sharpeners without the cover that prevents the little shavings from flying everywhere, and me being too stupid and preoccupied to talk to cute guys!

    lunes, junio 06, 2005


    tsk tsk

    i'm being naughty and blogging from school... the chamacos are taking a practice TAKS test and i'm BORED. so far, it's hard to say whether i'll even continue teaching summer school because the numbers are so low. the class list i was given friday had me at 9 students, but when i called parents to remind them i found out one had moved. this morning everyone gathered in the cafeteria as the principal read out names... and only one student showed up. my friend who is teaching the other bilingual 5th grade math class (and had a list of 7 students friday) had two students, so we combined our classes for today. slowly more kids have shown up late so that now we have seven in total, but i've already spoken to the principal and volunteered to move or leave as needed... i don't really need the money and i wasn't planning on doing this anyway, so i'm good either way.

    spanish materials were indeed here this morning, however the lesson plans are identical to those in english save for a few references to spanish texts (page numbers, etc.). the fun part: we only have the "updated spanish" lesson plans through the end of the week. of course!

    these poor guys. subjected to tests all year long and now again in the summer. we don't even have time to be cordial and get to know them. so far they've been really good, pretty timid and quiet but better that than angry and unwilling to work. we may need to find room for a pep talk at the end of the day.

    one more hour of testing to go. BLAH!

    domingo, junio 05, 2005


    mi compu es una porquería

    my computer has been down since friday and looks like it will be out of commission for a while, so i begged a friend to let me come over and get my internet fix tonight so that i don't have to blog from school.


    this weekend was great, very restful and very socially productive (obviously). got lots of painting done, finished a couple projects and started some new ones. once my computer decides to stop being an asshole, i will post lots more photos.

    tomorrow will be rough, seeing as how i have no transparencies, texts, activities, or center materials in spanish. after looking over my binder of lesson plans and whatnot, i'm starting to freak out about all this math vocabulary that i don't know in spanish. let's hope the district is finally able to deliver its promises tomorrow morning. i have a feeling my friend and i will be at school well past our official end-of-workday time trying to play catch-up for the rest of the week.

    viernes, junio 03, 2005


    the surreal life

    being a bilingual teacher makes you a very patient person. at my wednesday training, none of our materials were ready. we were told to take an english set and we could swap them for spanish materials thursday afternoon. thursday, we were told things still weren't ready. today we were given more stuff in english and supposedly our materials will be delivered first thing monday... but just in case they aren't, we should be prepared to use the english materials and translate accordingly.

    first of all, our pre-written lesson plans are jam-packed and don't allow much flex time period, and certainly not time to spend translating things in written form as well as orally. secondly, these kids are taking the test in spanish and should be instructed using only materials in the spanish language. my off-the-cuff translations are not the same as the wacky "academic" (often Castellano) versions that they will be seeing and don't give the kids the practice they need understanding the test's very specific mathematical language. we have sixteen days before these kids have their last shot at passing the TAKS; my district needs to get its shit together already.

    yeah, bilingual teachers get paid more, but we often find ourselves doing double the work and short-changed in terms of funding, services available (my school has neither special education, reading recovery, nor speech therapy for bilingual students, despite the fact that they comprise at least 1/3 of the school population), and materials and resources. our kids are subjected to more testing than anyone else. i'm not being bitchy, this is just the reality of the situation and it's pretty sad that me and my co-worker/friend are not the least bit surprised by the oversight upon oversight when it comes to our two bilingual 5th grade classes.

    besides, if i wanted to be bitchy, i'd complain about how my classroom had no furniture and how one of the teachers is an old-school yapper who is already driving me crazy after just one day of knowing her. one of those always-first-to-give-a-suggestion-or-complaint-or-often-both types who likes to hog supplies and materials for herself when it is painfully obvious that we all have to share.

    anyhoo. last night a teacher friend and i went out for a drink. there is an alcoholic phenomenon in texas that we call the mexican martini. this beverage is basically a glorified margarita that comes in a shaker and with olives, just a bit more potent as long as you demand a good tequila. which i did, of course, which led to me getting drunk (of course). in the midst of a heated conversation at the bar, i ran off to the bathroom. when i came back, my friend was chatting it up with a random old dude who had been sitting next to us in silence for awhile. this fella was talking about dubai, where several of my relatives and family friends have lived, so i jumped into the conversation immediately. we ended up talking to the old guy until midnight when my friend insisted we leave in order to be up at 6:30 for summer school. he bought us drinks, told us about his international travels and life experiences, and supposedly wants to hire me on for some paintings. i'm not holding my breath, but the characters you meet in bars are so crazy sometimes!

    miércoles, junio 01, 2005


    el jarabe

    this is the second piece i submitted to the art show. so far, summer school training has been a bore (i know, teacher trainings boring? i'm just as shocked as you are). unsurprisingly, no bilingual materials whatsoever were available, despite the fact that our district has more bilingual than monolingual students attending summer school. funny how that works. also funny how on the math taks, english test-takers only have to get 30 questions correct in order to pass mientras spanish test-takers must get 32 correct.

    any conspiracy theories? i've gotta wake up at 6 am for the first time in a week, ¡que pena!

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