Saturday, March 16, 2013

What's in a Name?

Quote from Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
*Names have been changed to protect the identity of my students

I recently read an article called 'Respect the 'Little Q in Your Class' by Ashley Lauren Samsa and it reminded me of one of my college professors.  The article talks about how teachers should learn how to say their students' names and this was something that my professor drilled into us.  Samsa discusses how someone's name is part of their identity.  She says, "Names are personal and reflect  our identity and culture. It is important to get them right."

In my experience as a teacher, I have seen the importance of getting a child's name correct first hand.  For example, in my afternoon class, I have two sisters.  It took me about two days to get them straight.  Well, I've noticed that some of my students still haven't figure out which sister is which.  So I'm constantly hearing this:

Joe to Nina: "Hilary, do you want to play?"
Nina: "I'm not Hilary! I'm Nina!" 

I can hear the frustration in Nina's voice when she corrects Joe.  She doesn't want to be called Hilary because that's not her name, it's her sisters.  

The moral of this post is that teachers need to learn the correct pronunciation of their students' names.  Like Samsa says, "Throughout life, students will encounter enough people who mispronounce their names. As teachers, it is our responsibility to learn our students’ names and thus respect their identities and their cultures. "

Monday, March 4, 2013

BBC Top 100 List

According to the BBC, most people have only read 6 books on the following list.  I've decided to challenge myself to read every book on this list with the possible exception of the complete works of Shakespeare because, well, no thanks.  Frankly, I've read many Shakespearean plays and I think that's enough.  Furthermore, I do not plan on taking on number 6 (The Bible) mostly because I am not a religious person and that will take forever anyways. Finally, there is NO WAY I am reading War and Peace. (It's 1440 pages).

Luckily, I have read many books on this list already:

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen 
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien 
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling 
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare 
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveler’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma -Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - A.A. Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez 
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen 
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens I have read this, but I don't think I really finished it.  So I will try and read this again
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Inferno - Dante 
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - E.B. White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

After going through the list above, I discovered that I have only read 18!  After consideration, I decided not to read War and Peace, The Bible, and The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (I've read about 10 of his plays).  Therefore, I have to read 71 more books.  Here's how this will work: I will post the novel I recently finished, what I am currently reading in the right sidebar and the novel I plan to read next.  At the end of each month, starting in March, I will repost this list with the newly crossed off books and tell you the following: 
  • How many books I have read on the list
  • How many more books I have left to read
How long do you think this will take me? Wish me luck!

Monday, February 4, 2013

"Memories of childhood were the dreams that stayed with you after you woke"

Quote by Julian Barnes, author

This post is dedicated to my maternal grandfather, without whom this memory wouldn't exist.

Picture this: it's a warm summer day and you and your family are visiting your grandparents.  They live on a farm complete with a beautiful house, barn, playground for you and your cousins to play on, and a greenhouse.  If you walk past the barn and continue on into the woods, you will find yourself on a path through the trees.  Waiting for you at the end of the path is a pond.  The pond is affectionately known to you as the Beaver Pond.  

In my childhood, I have spent countless summer days at this farm and made countless memories here.  However, the memory I would like to share with you now is the treasure hunts my grandpa sent me, my cousins, and my brother on.  

Now ask yourself this: what do you think the best part of these treasure hunts were? Think about it carefully.  Okay, I'm guessing you said the treasure.  Shockingly, that isn't the case.  My favorite part about these treasure hunts was the hunting.

This is how the treasure hunts worked.  My grandpa would drive all over the farm taking close up polaroid pictures of various objects.  Each picture was accompanied by a riddle.  He would then give us the first clue and picture.  We would read the clue together and as soon as we figured out, we'd get giddy with excitement.  "The bird feeder! Its at the bird feeder!" Then, we would take off running to find the next clue. It's been many years since the last treasure hunt, but if I remember correctly, the last clue would always lead us to the same place: a chest my grandpa kept in the barn.  In the chest, we would find cool frisbees, kites, water guns, and other various outdoor activities.

As my brother, cousins and I grew older, my grandpa increased the number of clues.  At one point, I think he eliminated the pictures from the equation, though I'm not sure about that because it has been so long.  Anyway, I remember that sometimes he would lead us on a wild goose chase.  One clue would take us all the way to the beaver pond and then all the way back to the house.  A couple of clues later, we would be led back to the beaver pond.  I remember how we would groan and run back to the pond.  Now that I think back on it, I laugh because my grandpa can be quite the jokester and he had to get his kicks some way, ha ha.  

This is by far one of my most treasured childhood memories.  Not only was it fun, but it got us to be active.  Nowadays, children stay indoors, spending countless hours in front of a television, playing video games or watch t.v.  I was fortunate to have a grandpa who took the time to set this treasure hunt up in order to get us active.  Children today definitely need to get outside more.  Therefore, when I have children of my own, I intend to take a page out of my grandpa's playbook and send my own children on a treasure hunt.

"Grandfathers are magicians who create wonderful memories for their grandchildren" -

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Ab Workout

The first week I started Jillian's workout, I got sick and couldn't finish.  Last week, I was extremely busy.  Therefore, I haven't really had a chance to really start the workout.  My goal is to get into it hot and heavy next week.  

However, I will share with you my first impressions.  The workout is very difficult.  I made it through about half way and had to quit.  This is going to be a hard workout plan for me, but I plan on sticking with it.  I think my best bet is to gradually work up to the whole workout.  Therefore, it will most likely take more than six weeks to achieve a six pack.  

I will let you know how things are going next Sunday!!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Top Ten Books I've Read

In no particular order, here are my top ten books that I think everyone should read.

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants Series by Ann Brashares

  • The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
  • The Second Summer of the Sisterhood
  • Girls in Pants: The Third Summer of the Sisterhood
  • Sisterhood Everlasting
If you are a young girl or young woman and you haven’t read this amazing series yet, go to the library and checkout book one now.  The series follows four best friends, Tibby, Lena, Bridget and Carmen, from high school to adulthood.  In book one, for the first time, the girls were all going to be apart during the summer.  Tibby, the filmmaker, stays at home to work at the local Walman’s.  Lena travels to Greece to visit family.  Bridget goes off to a soccer camp in Mexico, and Carmen visits her father in North Carolina.  Before departing, Carmen finds a pair of pants at a thrift store.  On the night before the four girls will be separated, she brings the pants with her.  Each of the girls tries on the pants and discovers it fits each of them perfectly, even though they are all different sizes.  They decided to send the pants to each other over the course of the summer and set up ten rules for wearing the pants.

As the summer progresses, each girl discovers something about themselves.  The pants link all of them since they can’t be together.  It’s ultimately a coming of age story and I think every woman should read the series.  Think of it as Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood by Callie Khouri for younger women.  

The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

  • Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
I have read the entire series twice.  This series is especially close to my heart because I was ten years old when the first book came out and at 22 years old, I am still a huge fan of the series.  My favorite part of the series is how the books parallel topics ranging from world history to Greek mythology.  I’m not going to write a synopsis for this series because it is such a popular series.  However, if you haven’t read the series yet, do it!

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin

This is such a beautiful love story about two people who come from different socio-economic backgrounds and seem like completely different people.  The Bennet’s are a family of seven.  Mrs. Bennet is a busybody whose main goal is to marry off each of her five daughters.  In those times, women couldn’t inherit, so it is important to Mrs. Bennet that they each daughter marry well.  Mr. Bennet is a loving man who isn’t as pushy as his wife.  Then there are the five Bennet girls.  Jane, the oldest, is a sweet, beautiful woman who never sees the bad in anybody.  Next is Elizabeth, who is a strong, smart woman.  Mary, the third daughter, is a piano player as well as a spinster in the making.  Finally, there are the two youngest Bennet’s, Kitty and Lydia.  The youngest Bennet daughters are silly, boy crazy girls as well as best friends.

Jane falls in love with Mr. Bingley, a rich bachelor who loves her back.  The Bennets also meet Mr. Bingley’s friend, Mr. Darcy, who has even more money than Mr. Bingley.  He is a reserved man and comes off as prideful and superior.  Elizabeth Bennet immediately dislikes him. 

This story is about how two seemingly different people can actually be alike and perfect for each other.  I can’t give this book justice, so you will just have to go out and read the book yourself. (Sense and Sensibility is also a phenomenal book by Jane Austin).   

Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

I am not even going to try and summarize this book because not only is it a long book, it jumps around between multiple characters. Therefore, I am just going to give you the Wikipedia summary:

"The Pillars of the Earth is a historical novel by Ken Follett published in 1989 about the building of a cathedral in the fictional town of Kingsbridge, England.  It is set in the middle of the 12th century, primarily during the Anarchy, between the time of the sinking of the White Ship and the murder of Thomas Becket.  The book traces the development of Gothic architecture out of the preceding Romanesque architecture, and the fortunes of the Kingsbridge priory and village against the backdrop of historical events of the time."

I experienced many different emotions when I read this book: anger, excitement, sadness, hope, happiness, and more.  If you enjoy historical fiction as much as I do, read this book.

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant

This book is set in biblical times and features the family of Jacob son of Issac.  However, the story is told from the perspective of Dinah, Jacob’s daughter.  The red tent is where woman go during their menstrual cycle.  The woman of Jacob’s family bond in this tent and the book is ultimately about womanpower in a time where women didn’t have a vote. 

Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

This is a classic book everyone should read.  It has been a long time since I have read the book and I would love to read it again.  Because I haven’t read it in about almost 7 years, I am providing you with the Amazon summary:

The hero-narrator of The Catcher in the Rye is an ancient child of sixteen, a native New Yorker named Holden Caulfield.

Through circumstances that tend to preclude adult, secondhand description, he leaves his prep school in Pennsylvania and goes underground in New York City for three days. The boy himself is at once too simple and too complex for us to make any final comment about him or his story. Perhaps the safest thing we can say about Holden is that he was born in the world not just strongly attracted to beauty but, almost, hopelessly impaled on it.

There are many voices in this novel: children's voices, adult voices, underground voices-but Holden's voice is the most eloquent of all. Transcending his own vernacular, yet remaining marvelously faithful to it, he issues a perfectly articulated cry of mixed pain and pleasure. However, like most lovers and clowns and poets of the higher orders, he keeps most of the pain to, and for, himself. The pleasure he gives away, or sets aside, with all his heart. It is there for the reader who can handle it to keep.”

The Inheritance Series by Christopher Paolini

  • Eragon
  • Eldest
  • Brisinger
  • Inheritance
First off, let me start by saying that Christopher Paolini wrote Eragon when he was only 15 years old!  Second, the book is a phenomenal fantasy series for young adults.  I actually haven’t read Inheritance yet and I have to reread the series before reading the last book. 

Again, here is the Amazon summary of the series:

“The Inheritance cycle is the unforgettable, worldwide bestselling saga of one boy, one dragon, and a world of adventure. When Eragon finds a polished blue stone in the forest, he thinks it is the lucky discovery of a poor farm boy. But when the stone brings a dragon hatchling, Eragon soon realizes he has stumbled upon a legacy nearly as old as the Empire itself. Overnight his simple life is shattered, and he and his dragon, Saphira, are thrust into a perilous new world of destiny, magic, and power. Can Eragon take up the mantle of the legendary Dragon Riders? The fate of the Empire may rest in his hands…”

The Sword of Truth Series by Terry Goodkind

  • Wizard’s First Rule
  • Stone of Tears
  • Blood of the Fold
  • Temple of the Winds
  • Soul of the Fire
  • Faith of the Fallen
  • The Pillars of Creation
  • Naked Empire
  • Chainfire
  • Phantom
  • Confessor
  • The Omen Machine
This is an adult fantasy series, so I do not recommend anyone under the age of 18 to read this series.  I read this series as each book came out and as such, cannot give you a good summary of the series.  Therefore, I will provide you with another Amazon review:“The series is set in a world divided into two major regions: the New World and the Old World. The New World consists of three lands with Westland in the west, D'Hara in the east and the Midlands in the center of the two. D'Hara is ruled by a magically gifted member of the Rahl family, while the welfare of the Midlands is decided by a council of representatives led by the Mother Confessor, who is also the leader of the Confessors. The Confessors are a group of women who each have a magical power to force a person to become entirely devoted to them, allowing them to fulfill their purpose – to find the truth. Westland, a land of no magic, is also ruled by a council of representatives. The Old World is not introduced until the second book in the series and its geographical features are described in less detail.

The main character is a young man named Richard Cypher, a Westland woods guide whose simple life is forever changed after he becomes the Seeker of Truth – a position similar to that of a Confessor, requiring him to uphold justice in the world. Over the course of the series, Richard learns about his heritage while seeking to stop the evil that others would unleash upon the world of the living. Because Richard refuses to sacrifice his values and lives his life as a free man, others begin to understand the nobility of man and what it means to be free. Each book is loosely themed around a Wizard's Rule, tenets by which all wizards should abide.”

The Lord of the Rings Series by J.R.R. Tolkien

  • The Fellowship of the Ring
  • The Two Towers
  • The Return of the King
Everyone should read this classic fantasy series.  In a world of hobbits, elves, dwarves, men, orcs and other various magical creatures, an evil tyrant named Sauron terrorizes Middle Earth.  A young hobbit named Frodo Baggins comes into possession of an evil ring.  The ring was forged by Sauron and was created to hold sway over 19 other rings given to the race of elves, dwarves and men.  Frodo goes on a journey to thrust the ring into the fires of Mount Doom, the only way the ring can be destroyed.  He is accompanied by eight others: Samwise, Meriodoc, Pippin, Aragorn, Gandalf the Grey, Legolas, Boromir, and Gimli.  

Read this series!

Anything by Ellen Hopkins (below are the books I have read)

  • Crank
  • Burned
  • Impulse
  • Identical
  • Glass
  • Perfect
Each book above is written entirely in prose.  The books are for young adults and cover various issues some teenagers face, from drug abuse to suicide.  I love these books because they are unique.  There aren’t many novels out there written completely in prose.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Intro/Before Picture

Hello dear readers! Tomorrow, I expect to receive my Six Pack in 6 Weeks dvd in the mail.  Beginning that same day, I will start the workout.

Here is how it will work.  At the end of each week, I will update you on my progress with the workout I will share the following:

  1. Successes and Failures of the Week
  2. How I Feel
  3. Current Weight
Starting Weight: 168 lbs
Goal: To feel good about myself and to feel physically fit.  To get down to 145-150 lbs

Monday, January 7, 2013

Jillian Michaels' 6 Week Six Pack

I've decided that I need to start exercising more.  I have three reasons for this:

  1. Teaching preschool is exhausting.  I need something to help relieve stress and exercise is a great way to do so
  2. I'm out of shape and want to remedy that
  3. A six pack in 6 weeks? Need I say more?
In the past, I've tried Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred.  That was one difficult workout! I've always admired Jillian Michaels for the way she pushed her trainees in The Biggest Loser and she obviously gets results.  When I did the 30 Day Shred (which I didn't finish by the way), my body hurt so much! I attribute this to the fact that Jillian Michaels made me feel guilty for letting up and forced me to push myself... and she wasn't even training me in person! Therefore, I definitely believe I will get great results from her workout.

Now, the reason I chose not to order the 30 Day Shred is because, like I said, I didn't finish the workout.  Also, I wanted to try the Six Week Six Pack dvd because that's where I believe I need the most work.  

So wish me luck as I embark on this new workout! I hope to begin the workout next week as I won't receive the dvd until the end of the week.  According to a description on amazon, this workout should be done 5 times a week.  

$6.86 on Amazon

I also want to document my progress for you.  As a blogger, I believe that if you are going to promote a product or try something new, you should share your progress with your readers. 

On Monday, I will post my first entry about this new venture of mine.  In that entry, I will post a before picture and before weight.  Then I will share with you how my first workout went.  

Stay Tuned!