Help Fund My Classroom

It’s been awhile but I’m trying to get my classroom funded with some supplies.  Any help would be greatly appreciated.  Spread the word, pass it along.  Math is awesome!

Link  —  Posted: June 7, 2013 in Uncategorized
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“Introducing a groundbreaking technique that seamlessly merges computer-generated and hand-drawn animation techniques, first-time director John Kahrs takes the art of animation in a bold new direction with the Oscar®-nominated short, “Paperman.” Using a minimalist black-and-white style, the short follows the story of a lonely young man in mid-century New York City, whose destiny takes an unexpected turn after a chance meeting with a beautiful woman on his morning commute. Convinced the girl of his dreams is gone forever, he gets a second chance when he spots her in a skyscraper window across the avenue from his office. With only his heart, imagination and a stack of papers to get her attention, his efforts are no match for what the fates have in store for him. Created by a small, innovative team working at Walt Disney Animation Studios, “Paperman” pushes the animation medium in an exciting new direction.”

One of the many reasons I love art. I believe that being an animator would be one of the coolest jobs ever.

Video  —  Posted: January 30, 2013 in Uncategorized
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I’m going to try to do a bit of recording regarding teaching and the amazing students I work with.  We’ll see how long this lasts – it may be rather sporadic but we’ll see.

There’s nothing quite like getting rooms full of 14-20 year olds excited about mathematics.

Best quote of the day:

15-year old sophomore in Algebra 1: “Mrs. L, I’ve gotta take the Brown’s to the Super Bowl if you catch my drift. . . And it’s going to be a tough, long fight”  My response (after trying not to burst in to ridiculous laughter), Raul, do what you need to do.  Best of luck to you in your endeavors.

Wins for the day:

Getting a room full of AP Calculus students to say “ohhhhhh!” when introducing the basic rules of integration.

65 Student Budget Projects turned in out of 72 students (that’s two classes of freshmen!)  God those are going to take me a while to grade, but I’m so excited that they are thinking.

Developing a list of strategies for what to do if you are stuck on your math and it’s due the next day.  (The list included: looking through class notes and old homework assignments, reading the textbook, searching the internet, emailing Mrs. L, texting or facebook messaging your friends in the class for help, asking an older sibling, asking a parent – even if they can’t help with the math they might be able to help understand what you are being asked to do).

Facaltones practice in which I finally started to figure out a workable bass line for the Sukiyaki song which we are planning on playing for International Day in April.

Rough patches:

An insane level of boredom and confusion in ELA Advanced Algebra.  I’m not sure where things went wrong this morning but it was like walking down a horrible dark hole and knowing that there was nothing but unhappiness ahead.  At least about half of them stuck with me.  We’ll try again Wednesday (no school Monday/Tuesday).

I speak in music. I hear a conversation, the depths of your soul, when you put out your own interpretation of the notes, the melodies, the harmonies, that somehow or another all come together to mean more to me than any words you could possibly say. I understand your pain and your joy through music. I understand myself.

Video  —  Posted: January 2, 2013 in Uncategorized
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A New Year

Posted: January 1, 2013 in Uncategorized
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I’ve never been much for new year celebrations – I mean I get them and I get their significance culturally and all but I guess they were never really my thing.  I always figured the idea behind new year celebrations was that you essentially get to start again.  You are supposed to have some sort of cleaning of yourself, setting goals, committing to who you want to be and all that, but I kind of have always figured this is something you should do when you find you need it.  I suppose many people use the new year as a catalyst for making these changes.  I guess that is something I can get behind.

So here’s my new year – I hope to be kinder, more loving towards my husband, more curious about the world, more thoughtful and willing to argue and listen, a better teacher, a better student, a better friend, sister, daughter, and wife.  I hope to be better everyday.

Some people say you shouldn’t set goals you know are impossible to obtain – I know I can’t be better every day.  Somedays I am just essentially shit and I recognize that will happen.  We have a tendency to think short term in this culture.  My new year is about the long term.  In the long term I want to be better.  And this is something I know I can accomplish.

So here’s to a new, better, 2013.

Tired

Posted: December 1, 2012 in Uncategorized

I’m so tired.  I don’t even know where I’m headed or where I’m going right now.  I’m completely and totally exhausted and am desperately in need of a break from the world.  But I know that’s not in the cards for right now.  I’m starting to get that feeling again where I want to feel pain as a sort of release, a sort of balance to the tension.  I’m trying so hard to be this amazing teacher, student, innovator, mentor, musician, daughter, sister, and wife that I’m pretty sure I’m sucking at all of them.  I hold myself to very high expectations and I don’t want it any other way but at some point something has to give.  I can feel myself getting close to my breaking point but last time I was there I didn’t have about four of the eight tags I’m currently living under – one of those being a wife.  He’s never known me when I enter my lowest of lows and there’s a part of me that doesn’t want him to see.  He’s seen me break down, over the death of a friend, heart attack and cancer scares with my father, but he’s never seen the lowest of the low that I get myself into.  The part of my life when I stop feeling.  People seem to think that if you don’t feel you don’t get hurt.  While this is true to some extent not feeling means that you are essentially giving up yourself.  You can only live without yourself for so long before the idea of living without yourself in the world becomes a prominent idea.  I can’t get there but I can feel myself headed in that direction.  It’s been years since I’ve been there.  Hopefully this time the supports are in play for a better outcome and some sanity for me.  But I’m just so tired.

Yesterday was probably one of the best days that I have ever had as a teacher, and it didn’t even happen during the school day.  Yesterday was a deadline for students to turn in missing work and test corrections so of course I had a ton of seniors who are panicking about graduating and some freshmen who have suddenly realized they don’t want to be freshmen again next year hanging out in my classroom and trying to figure out mathematics.  By 4 everyone had turned in their stuff and left except for Omar.  Omar is a senior in my Algebra 2 class and he has been in this country for four years.  He came from Iraq via Syria and ended up in the United States.

I should mention that the school I teach at is a magnet school for non-English, non-Spanish speaking students.  We actually have a program geared towards helping refugees acclimate to life in the U.S. and get a high school diploma by the time they turn 21.  The school is absolutely amazing.  We have students from over 60 countries who speak 40 different languages so teaching every day is a roller-coaster ride of strategies to teach English language learners.

But back to Omar.  Omar is the most polite young man that I have ever met.  He is 18 years old and works incredibly hard.  Someday he hopes to be a petroleum engineer and possibly move to the UAE, but not back to Iraq.  Omar and I have built up a pretty good relationship over the year and he loves to hang out in my room after class and just talk.  We are both type 1 diabetics and so I think it has really helped him to talk with someone who has dealt with all of the emotions that come along with that as a teenager.  But today, while Omar was working he didn’t want to talk about diabetes, he wanted to tell me about his trek to the U.S.

So we sat, and I listened for an hour to the most amazing, heartbreaking, strong, story I have ever heard and he is a young man that I respect now more than just about anyone.  His family was very wealthy in Iraq and did a fair amount of government work.  They lived about 6 miles from the largest military base in the Baghdad area and on March 19, 2003 the bombings started.  Omar told me about the endless stream of explosions.  The family learned that if you didn’t leave all your windows open they would explore from the air pressure of the bombs in the surrounding areas.

He told me of the atrocities that he witnessed, family members murdered.  Omar estimated that approximately 1/3 of his immediate and extended family was killed through a combination of military actions, suicide bombings and what he called mafia killings.  The mafia killings were what eventually caused his family to flee Iraq.  His uncles body had recently been recovered after a year of missing.  They were only able to identify him by his clothes.  And then one day someone came up to his father in a cafe and told him that he needed to leave because his children were going to be taken by the mafia and held for ransom and then likely killed.  So Omar’s father went home, told his wife to pack and the family escaped to Syria, where they lived for a year before obtaining a green card for entry into the U.S.

Omar talked to me about how much he hated the United States and Iraq for bringing this into his life.  But he made sure that I understood that when he said this it wasn’t the people that he hated.  He hated the people who made these decisions.  Iraqis and Americans are amazing people who care and love and want only the best but the decision makers often just think their way is the only way that is right.  They do not believe that people should be allowed to hold different opinions or follow different sets of what is right and wrong.

All Omar wants is to love his God and his family and live a happy, healthy, successful life wherever he ends up.  Right now that happens to be America and he loves it here.  He loves the people (for the most part) and the chance to do and be anything that he can dream.  But he also loves Iraq, for all of its horrors and chaos at the moment, Iraq is still his home and someday, when the world begins to be more normal he hopes to go back and help his home country become a successful, integral, part of the world once again.

 

I wish that people (yes in general) could understand what Omar does.  That people do not always model the practices and beliefs of their government.  Omar understands that if you love your God, and your family, and try to do something for yourself the world can throw lots of horrors at you but in the end you will be alright.  He is a young man that I hope that I get to know over many years and I am sure that he will change the world in amazing ways.