Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Classics Club Spin #3!

It's time for another Classics Club spin! And I am signing up, even thought I failed miserably at the last 2.

In both of the previous Classics Club Spins, I ended up with the same spin book-I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou. And while I know it is a marvelous book, I didn't read it. Either time.

For this go around, I'm hoping that I get a good one-one that will surprise me and suck me in and encourage me to continue on with my classics.

So, here is my spin list:

4 Books from Challenges:
1. All Quiet on the Western Front by Remarque
2. Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
3. Going After Cacciato by Tim O'Brien
4. Billy Budd by Herman Melville

4 Books my Husband Picked (based on title):
5. The Fall by Albert Camus
6. The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
7. The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene
8. A Doll's House by Henrick Ibsen

4 Books to Reread:
9. Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
10. 1984 by George Orwell
11. A Light in August by William Faulkner
12. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

4 Books by Favorite Authors:
13. Beloved by Toni Morrison
14. The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
15. The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
16. Tess of D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

4 Books I'm Dreading:
17. Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyon
18. Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad
19. The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
20. Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Dog Days of Summer Readathon.

I posted about my participation in this readathon MONTHS ago and then forgot about it. Then, I popped on last night and remembered that it was this weekend!

I've been needing a fun reading weekend for some time, so it was perfect that I had already committed to this. I've been doing a lot of work on things for school and reading for my AP history class, that all my fun reading time has disappeared (as well as my own presence). This is a great way to take a break!

Let's face it, we all deserve a little down time to remember why we read and why we love it so much. And while I love history...I'm a little sick of reading it as my "fun" reading.

So, I pulled a stack of books last night and determined that I would read 2 fun books before diving back into any prep work or anything that seemed like work.

Here is my pile:

From top to bottom:
  • Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis: I actually read the first chapter of this during my AP conference a couple of weeks ago and really enjoyed it, so it got bumped way up on my TBR.
  • The Girl who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente: I've never read anythign by this author (or heard of her), but it came in a package from my Book Swap buddy this month. It looks fantastic and I'm going to dive in as soon as I publish this post!
  • Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell: I need to admit that I cheated and read this last night (the whole thing in one big sitting). I had heard SO MANY good things and this book lived up to those good things! It was a great read. HIGHLY recommend it!
  • Founding Brothers by Joseph Ellis: All of the AP kids had to read this over the summer for their reading assignment. I read it years ago (for fun), but the details are hazy and I need to read it again before school about 2 weeks.
  • 1776 by David McCullough: I'm about 3/4 of the way through this one, so I just need to settle in and finish it. It was one of the other choices for kids to read this summer, and like Founding Brothers, I've already read it. I'm hoping I can crank this one out tonight after I finish the Valente title and a little prep work.
Since I've already finished 1, and I am determined to read the Valente title before doing anything else, I already consider this readathon a success. :)I'm off to go read, and finish prepping my semicolon and colon unit. :)

Happy Reading!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Weekly Wrap-up for August 4, 2013: Busy and History Talk.

I thought that when I took this summer off, I would have a lot of time to be productive and get things done. And while our apartment is the cleanest and most organized its been since we moved in 3 years ago, I'm not feeling very accomplished.

I have made a little headway with prepping school items, but I don't have as much done as I would like. School starts in one month (we start September 3), and I feel like I have a mountain of things I'd like to get done. Deep down I know it won't matter how much I get done now-I'll still be working on things when school starts, but cranking out grammar and vocabulary things for the semester will be a huge weight lifted off my shoulders-then I can concentrate on the lit and writing.

Another big weight was learning (about 2 weeks ago), that I am no longer teaching U.S. History. Instead, I am teaching AP (Advanced Placement) U.S. History. I'm excited about it, but also a little nervous APUSH is a very intense class! I'll be co-teaching the class with another teacher (in fact, the teacher who I'll be working with is the teacher I subbed for in my very first placement in this school). Both of our classes will be in one big room, and we'll run two hours of the class (so, 35 students each=70 students IN the class times two). It will be a great challenge to take on.

I was fortunate enough to be able to go to a conference this past week geared specifically for the class. I'll admit that after the first day I felt incredibly overwhelmed. The pace of the class is intense (3 chapters of material in about 2 weeks), and the workload is high (lots of writing and reading for me and the students). I also felt a bit intimidated by the teachers with me in the conference-lots of very experienced history teachers with a lot of knowledge about the subject!

However, once we moved into the second day, I felt a lot better. We worked a lot on evaluating the writing piece. I feel like I was pretty confident with that part, even though the writing is different than English class writing. We also did presentations on the last day of lessons we've done before, and I came away with a lot of ideas for the class.

So while I know that this class is going to be A LOT of work, I'm also pretty excited to dive in. It'll be a good challenge for me, and I think I'm going to learn a great deal teaching it.

Our instructor also reached out to textbook publishers and scored us all a bunch of books! I walked away with 6 brand new textbooks (all different!), as well as 6 books full or primary and secondary sources to use! I've already started reading our textbook, and I feel like the others will just help me gain more knowledge!

I've also started looking at reading some other outside books to give me better context, and picked up David McCullough's 1776 last night. I read it a number of years ago, and quite enjoyed it! I'm also hoping to get through Founding Brothers by Joseph Ellis (another one I've read before) in the weeks before school starts. I'd also love to read John Adams by McCullough, but it's a beast, and I'm not sure I'll have enough time.

Other books looming on the horizon and already on my shelves are American Lion by Jon Meacham (about Andrew Jackson), No Ordinary Time and Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin (about FDR/WWII and Abraham Lincoln), as well as Truman by McCullough. I also accepted two books for review from HarperCollins that will fit in nicely: The Men who United the States by Simon Winchester (I'm really excited about this one) and Camelot's Court by Robert Dallek (obviously about the Kennedys-I'll save this one for next semester). All in all, I have some good history books in my future, so you can probably already tell that those will be appearing on the blog at some point.

In any case, I will have a busy school year ahead of me, and I've planned out the next month to make sure that I am as prepped as possible for what I can control. This means I am letting go of some other stressing myself out about not making reading progress for my 250 list. It's something I have been fighting (and stressing myself out about) for months. It's time to let it go. I'm j