From the Classroom and From the Baby's Room #1

23 January 2012

I've decided to do a weekly installment during the school year where I catalog my students' and my child's "milestones"... I'm hoping that it will help me more thoroughly embrace my current roles as teacher and mother. 

I give you Numero Uno

From the Classroom: 

It's Monday morning and Jake's asleep and I should be seizing the moment to....grade.

Ugh. Ugh. Ugh. Ugh.

I really appreciate my job. I enjoy my students (mostly). I don't mind lesson planning. But I hate, loathe, despise, and abominate grading. 

Today I have but to grade some short little weekly writing assignments. I've been trying to start grading them since Thursday afternoon, but all I've managed to do is put them in alphabetical order.

Enough with that rant. Now two weeks into a semester of teaching Intro to Poetry, and overall I'm enjoying myself. I've never had my students write any of their own poetry in this class because it's actually a writing ABOUT literature course. But this semester, to teach my students iambic pentameter, I've been having them write their own.

For my non-poetry buffs:
Iambic pentameter is your basic English poetry fare: a line of verse with 10 syllables and five beats. In straight iambic pentameter the beats will alternate between unstressed and stressed syllables. Here's an example a la Shakespeare (I've bolded the stressed syllables):

That time of year, thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang.

I'm not a meter nazi, but I want my students to build some awareness of the rhythms of language. Anyhow, their first attempts at iambic pentameter woke me up to how much more explaining I needed to do because they were laughably terrible. But we've been working on it and they're getting better. As evidence of their improvement I give you my two favorite examples:

I wish I had a Justin Bieber doll.

They told me not to eat the yellow snow.

 And there you go.

From the Baby's Room:

Jake's been working tirelessly on one of his alveolar consonants. So our lives have been peppered with:

Da da da da da DA DA da DA da da, etc


He has two teeth. He got them for Christmas...terribly cliche I know.

Best to you and yours.


09 January 2012

Sorry for the silence. I'm sure you were here everyday wondering what the Rhodes weren't logging...

I wish life could slow down for a second but somehow I managed to get back from holiday-ing a mere three days before I had to start right now I should be writing a syllabus instead of a blog post, but I didn't want to wait to tell you about our most recent adventures. 

In the name of Christmas, we have spent the last three weeks traipsing around the country. We spent Jake's first Christmas in TX. We hung out with family and friends, revisited old running routes, drank too much alcohol, and were generally spoiled. I will send some photos your way soon. After time with my family we adventured with Jacob's.

These adventures were necessarily photo-less. But I will give you a hint that Google afforded me:
Yes, if the post title didn't tip you off, we spent the last part of the holiday with the relatives that don't celebrate holidays...or use electricity.

Since this isn't news to most of my grand followship, I will make a very long story very short: 

Jacob's father used to be an old order Mennonite, so we went to visit Jacob's grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins in Kentucky and Tennessee. Oh. All hundred or so.

Highlights of the trip.
1) Bathing once in ten days. And don't be fooled. By this I mean: washcloth + bucket.
2) Going to bed at 8:30 on New Year's Eve
3) Going to bed at 8:30 every other night.
4) Waking up at 5:30am on New Year's Day.
5) Waking up at 5:30am every other day. Unspeakably difficult for these Pacific Time Zoners.
6) Watching the slaughtering, plucking, and disemboweling of 35 chickens on Tuesday.
7) Eating chicken wings on Wednesday.
8) Not breaking a single oil lamp chimney. (First time I can boast this out of my three visits.)
9) Going for a run in a skirt that reached my ankles.
10) Avoiding flagrant cursing mostly successfully. (i. e. I only said "gosh" three times. This was a marked improvement over previous visits.)
11) Eating scrapple almost every day. (And no. This is in no way related to Snapple. Couldn't be more different actually...)
12) Successfully chopping firewood with a saw and an axe. (Jacob graciously reminds me that, no, I used a two-man crosscut and a splitting maul, but I figure you, my readers, won't be so semantically obsessive.)

Jacob and his mother and brothers and sister lived there for a year while he was a Junior in high school and for a few summers. I'm always thoroughly touched by how much the Mennonite relatives love Jacob and his family--a love that is richly extending to me and little Jake. I was touched by it more this visit...probably because I was able to stop wondering if my head covering was falling off every other minute.
I was overwhelmed by the sensitivity of a people whose austere facades can deceive you into thinking they lack emotion. Relatives recounted details of our previous visits to me as if they'd happened yesterday. Scraps of paper where I had doodled some young cousins' names three years ago were displayed to me memorialized in a baby book. On a walk, one of Jacob's cousins told us how sometimes she wished she'd never met Jacob because of how much it hurts when he leaves.

I must cut off abruptly. So much to say. So little time to say it. Or at least say it well.

Away to my schoolwork.

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