DVDs Or Death!

I almost forgot (and/or was too busy with... um... stuff) about this... which is ironic considering one of our few titles this week. I'm getting very close to wanting to pick the latter part of the title for DVDs Or Death!

Iron Man.

Brief Synopsis: Weapons Manufacturer Gets Change Of Heart (Literally) And Becomes Superhero.

Comments: One of the best movies of the summer, Iron Man is finally coming to DVD. The only negatives about this movie, to me, were the subpar climax and the female lead. Otherwise, this movie was awesome.

Viewing Option: Buy (like everyone else).

Forgetting Sarah Marshall.

Brief Synopsis: Girl Breaks Up With Guy, Then Both End Up In Hawaii.

Comments: It's a Judd Apatow vehicle, but it only got so-so reviews. Didn't see it in theater, but I'll end up checking it out at some point, anyway.

Viewing Option: Rent.

Taxi To The Darkside.

Brief Synopsis: Documentary About U.S. Torture In Middle East.

Comments: Got a lot of recognition, obviously. I've been getting more and more into documentaries lately, so I might check it out.

Viewing Option: Rent or TV.


The Student Teacher Chronicles: Week Five.

Alrighty... here's week five! In case you missed it, I also posted a short review for the movie EuroTrip below this, so this will be the second post for the day. Enjoy! (Oh... and let me know if anybody is reading these or are actually enjoying them. That'd be lovely).


So apparently I look like I could be a Jedi. Huh. Oh, and my dancing skills are either hilarious (because they’re awful) or make students afraid for their lives.

Anyway, this week was a total rollercoaster of emotions. There was really bad and really good, and it seemed to really alternate throughout. This was homecoming week, too, so everybody was all hyped up and dressing up randomly throughout the week (each day was themed). And as to not boggle down your reading time here, I shall continue forth into that which is… okay, I’ll just start now.


Homecoming theme: Nerd day.
What I did: I’m already a nerd, so I dressed normally.

Monday was, so far, my worst day. It seriously was a day that made me sit and reevaluate what I’ve been wanting to do with my life. It didn’t start off well. I was up at 6:25 AM, get to the school sometime between 7:15 and 7:25, and as I get to the school and go to make copies of things, but the copy machine is acting up. And then other teachers, once it was working, were hounding the thing for ages printing numerous sets of 100+ page documents. But when I finally got around to being able to use it, either the machine or me kept screwing up, so it was very aggravating. And this is before I’ve even taught a class for the day!

So now I’ve basically taken over completely for second through sixth period (so I’m teaching everything except English 3 AP, which is first period). But things just went poorly. The kids were having issues understanding the subject matter. All they would do was complain on certain other things. It was just mentally straining. However, after each class, my mentor teacher would give me advice (she gave me a whole load on pretty much everything I was doing wrong… and while there were only a couple main things, they were really big things). So with every class, I was able to alter my methods a bit. By the time I reached fifth period, I had it down pretty well, and it went as smoothly as a class that day could have gone, though still slightly rough.

When sixth period (creative writing) came, I had to introduce a new thing for them to do every day. I have these simple journal prompts to help simple writing and such, which none of them are liking too much, but my mentor teacher is pretty much swearing by them (plus I really needed a stable anticipatory set/warm-up for the class). And then they started on new vocab, which, again, didn’t go over too well. We didn’t even finish going over everything by the end of class.

Seventh period was, thankfully, conference period, but the day wasn’t over… oh no! We continued working on stuff until about 4:30 when she let me go for a bit. So I went home for about an hour to scarf down some food before I basically had to turn right back around and go back to Open House. I even had to talk to the parents at one point because my mentor teacher had to go get her son right quick from football practice, and that was rough… mostly because they stared at me like I was crazy and didn’t really say much. So I was doing that from about 6:30 to 8:30. I didn’t get home until about 9, in which I went straight to my room and worked until about 10:30 on stuff I needed to have prepared for the next day before finally going to bed, completely and utterly exhausted (physically and mentally).


Homecoming theme: Blast from the past.
What I did: I dressed so last week.

Tuesday, on the other hand, was a much better day. I was still completely exhausted when I got up and got to school, but things quickly started turning around. For instance, my mentor teacher finally got me started working with the AP class first period. She split the class into large groups, and she worked with one half while I worked with the other. I was so terrified of this because I had, over the weekend, read the work (Maya Angelou’s “Finishing School”) that we were to have read and answered questions on. During the weekend and the previous night after Open House I had gone through all the questions that needed to be answered and did them, but I had no idea if I was right or not, because it wasn’t like some professional key. I had to actually bank on all my learning in English and Lit classes throughout college. Thankfully, however, it worked out really well. In fact, most of their answers were basically exactly the same as mine, so that alleviated a lot of worry on my part. There’s some really smart kids in that class, I swear. But we laughed, we gave answers, and we all got out of it alive… so it was all good.

As for the regular English 3 kids, we continued with the stuff they had been doing the previous day. But this time I used a lot more examples and more modeling (one of the things that was my bigger issues with the English 3 classes… because, ironically, I do everything pretty well in creative writing, but I have trouble elsewhere), so that helped a bit. First we continued going over “Showing versus Telling” in writing, and they worked in groups to write examples paragraphs that they shared with the class. They all did very well here. Then we continued on with grammar and discussing “Object” (as in Direct Objects). A lot of them were having a lot of trouble with this, though. So after I made everything “nauseatingly clear” with how to find a direct object (it must be after an action verb only, etc.), I went through the examples with them all the same, where I’d either ask generally or call on people individually to read the sentence, tell me what the verb is, tell me if the verb is an action verb, and, if it is, what the direct object was. By the end of the practice section, they had it pretty well down and were all answering at once. And if that weren’t enough, my mentor teacher helped me come up with a fun exercise. I made fifteen different sentences and split the sentences into groupings of three, cut each part of the sentence out (for instance, the subject, the verb, the direct object, and any other part of the predicate would all be different slips of paper), and put three cut up sentences in five different envelopes. I then split them into groups and handed out the envelopes, and they were to create sentences (whether the original ones or creative ones—and they had a lot of fun doing the latter) and tell me where their verb was and what the direct object of the sentence was. By the end of the class, they had everything down so perfectly and were so clear on how to locate a direct object, I don’t think any of them should have trouble anymore (at least in the near future).

Then in creative writing, I had to laugh because I gave them a fun little assignment. I asked them to come up with ten completely random words which I wrote on the board. However, they picked some really big and difficult words, most of which the majority of the class didn’t even know. And they only picked up on what I was going to do (or at least had a general idea) when it was too late. I had them take those ten words and then write a one-to-two paragraph original plot summary that required them to use all ten of those words. And because a lot of them didn’t know all of the words, they had to get out the dictionaries and start looking words up, so it was a little bonus there. And any time they asked me what a word meant, I didn’t give any slack and told them to look it up, because they need to learn to rely on themselves and their own abilities instead of being dependent on others (that, and I could barely explain, although I knew what they meant, the definitions of the words myself... but I prefer the other explanation).

All in all, it was a pretty good day (except for back and knee pains). Oh, and the crazy girl I’ve mentioned before is getting a lot better. She still thinks she’s better than everybody else, but she’s getting a lot more tolerable in class, and even interesting to talk to. And all I did was ignore her annoyingness for attention, continue to treat her with the same respect and politeness as everybody else (in a fair way, not necessarily an equal way), and speak to her on her level (for instance, she likes to say “Merry Christmas” as she leaves, so I told her that as she was leaving, and she got all happy and was like “You remembered!”… whatever works, right?).


Homecoming theme: Celebrity day.
What I did: Read below.

This day there was no student teaching due to student teacher seminar.


Homecoming theme: Superhero day.
What I did: Hiro Nakamura from Heroes (I’m me from the past… wearing something from previous student teaching).

Thursday was another annoying day. It seems that when my mentor teacher has a bad or annoying day, I’m going to have a bad or annoying day. I’ll feel tense and whatever, and there’s just this damper of an aura around the room. This was one of those days. It wasn’t like that the entire day… but just on and off throughout the day. But anyway, onto classes…

The regular English 3 classes (except second period, who was a day behind) finished up “Showing versus Telling.” I wrote a “telling” sentence on the board and they had to write a paragraph changing it into a “showing” bit of detail. They had a bunch of criteria they had to meet, too, and they were all given a grading rubric on what they could do in order to get certain grades. However, most people actually didn’t want to settle for less than a 100, so we were constantly called over to look at their rough drafts (after they got it written down on scratch paper, they were to transfer it to construction paper, which is to be put around the room).

For Creative Writing, I had those who hadn’t done so yet read their Word Plot aloud and turn it in (there weren’t many left). Then I started a new assignment wherein they would take the character from their short story and pretend they were walking through a mall (even if the character lived in a time without a mall). They were to use description/sensory details (sight/hearing/taste/smell/touch) to describe everything that was going on. It was a relatively good day in this class.

But overall, the day was rather ‘blah’, and, by the end, I felt there was something wrong (and being paranoid, I thought I had done something, but I really don’t think it was me). Oh, and my mentor teacher finally had to give in and give this one student a detention (he’s very GT, ADHD, and he never pays attention or listens when he’s told to stop doing something). And there’s this other girl that gets on my nerves, because her attitude is very “I hate school; I hate English; I refuse to do anything; you can’t make me, either.” But that’s another story…


Homecoming theme: Viper Pride.
What I did: I just wore a blue shirt… although it was a bit lighter than our blue.

Funnily enough, the first period English 3 AP class pulled a prank on my mentor teacher with the principal. My mentor teacher always jokingly complains about starting talking in the morning, and then gets cut off by announcements, so she just keeps going on anyway. So some of the class went to the principal and gave him an idea… so this morning toward the end of the announcements, the principal was like “*Mentor Teacher Name*… *Mentor Teacher Name*… Are you talking while I’m talking?” It was so hilarious, especially because he paused after each one, so my mentor teacher thought he could really open the channel up to our room, so she was like “Yes” after each time. It was great.

In the regular English 3 classes, they went up to two vocab words for their warm-up in order to finish up their unit for vocab so they would have their quiz on Monday. Some of them then finished up their “Showing versus Telling” assignments, though that’s all second period did, as they were a day behind anyway. But for third through fifth period, we finished up going over the chapter on “Objects” with objects of a preposition, which everybody pretty much got down easily (and there were even students who seem to normally have difficulty with this stuff pick it up very easily and answered a lot). They then worked to do the review section of it for the rest of class.

In Creative Writing, they did the vocabulary review and used the rest of class as a make-up day (to finish up a lot of stuff that needed to be turned in by the end of the day). Amazingly enough, everybody (with two exceptions, though I knew that was going to be the case) turned it in and made perfect scores (or very nearly perfect), which was a vast improvement over the last time I took up their vocab reviews, in which pretty much everybody failed.

Friday was a pretty good day, overall. However, I did have to just break down in a couple classes and shout over them to shut up. I got into a semi-argument with one class (the class with the girl that refuses to do stuff, who was, naturally, one to argue with me) about doing their vocab upon coming into the classroom. The issue was that some students would be done, and others would barely be starting on writing down the word, slowing everybody else down. So I brought that up and got all sorts of back-talk about it, though I think I handled it mostly well. And in two other classes I had to cry out at the top of my voice for them to just be quiet as there was too much talking and too little working and people were asking the same questions over and over because they either couldn’t hear or weren’t paying attention. And then in my Creative Writing class (which is my loudest class), they got very loud, but they still ended up doing pretty well on their stuff and turned most of it in, so that was good anyway. That class is seriously a hoot (yes… I said hoot). It’s a laugh-a-minute.

But really, it was a very long week on the whole. I wasn’t the only teacher who was exhausted by mid-Monday and incapable of fathoming anything else but the end of the week. I seriously hope next week is better, because I really don’t want to have another week like this week again (at least anytime soon, as I know it’s inevitable). On the bright side, I asked my mentor teacher how I was doing now and if I had improved. She said I had greatly improved and have really stepped up and done so much better on pretty much everything I was having trouble with. I think the only thing she said I do now that I need to work on is my filler words during the awkwardness (she said I have a tendency to say “Okay… yeah” when I’m trying to think or process information after I read something or am asked a question). She also said she plans on video taping me teaching, too, pretty soon, so that’ll be interesting. And… I think that’s it for this week.

Stay tuned!

Short Review: EuroTrip.

This is for the LAMB Movie of the Month, but I couldn't find a better way to review this movie than for a short review, so here we are.


Premise: After getting dumped by his girlfriend and drunkenly sending hate mail to his German pen pal, who he mistakenly thinks is a man trying to get with him, a guy travels to Europe with his friends in finding his pen pal and telling her that he loves her before it's too late.

Starring: Scott Mechlowitz, Jacob Pitts, Michelle Trachtenburg.

My Reaction: This is seriously one of my favorite comedies. No matter how many times I see it, it never gets old. It has a very memorable and original song, "Scotty Doesn't Know," which really is as catchy as it's meant to be. There's also some great and memorable cameo appearances, including David Hasselhoff and Matt Damon. But it's the Matt Damon cameo that's the most memorable, because he's made up so out-of-character that it's hilarious. In fact, I didn't even realize it was him until toward the end of his scene. I can't say enough about this movie, though because I love it so much, it makes it hard to do a full-out review for it, which is why I took to this format. From Robot-Mime street fighting to "You made out with your sister!," this movie is great.

Royale With Cheese



So what we have here is a fairly entertaining action movie with some logic issues. After the death of Jerry Shaw’s (Shia LaBeouf) twin brother, Jerry goes home to find his place covered with military things that point to him being a terrorist. Meanwhile, Rachel Holloman (Michelle Monaghan) is a single mother via divorce whose son is going on a big train ride to Washington D.C. in order to play the trumpet in a junior orchestra. Then suddenly both of them get calls: Jerry to escape from the FBI, and Rachel to do as she’s told unless she wants her son to die by having the train derail. After them both are military officer, Zoe Perez (Rosario Dawson); Defense Secretary Callister (Michael Chiklis); and FBI Agent Thomas Morgan (Billy Bob Thornton). So the rest of the movie is a big chase scene with cool tech-related things getting them through situations while the mysterious woman’s voice commands them to certain places at certain times. And sometimes they aren’t even alone in their journey.

The coolest part about the movie was the action. A lot of stuff reminded me of the really awesome movie The Game, except with more tech-related things happening. There was a great car chase sequence… hell, there was great everything with the action. But one thing that bugged me about it was that there could be so many different horrendous car wrecks, but only one time in the movie (when it was plot-necessary) did it actually affect any character. They would get up and walk or run around with sometimes not even a scratch.

On the subject of illogic happenings, one of the biggest issues I had with the movie was one that the whole plot rested on: the train trip of Rachel’s son. Seriously, what kind of train ride lasts almost two freakin days? And not to mention in that time span, they only slept once and didn’t have a total body failure from all the running around? I suppose, though, adrenaline could be part of the latter.

On the acting side of things, I think everybody did really well. Shia and Billy Bob were the best. It was so refreshing to see Billy Bob in something that wasn’t a dark comedy lately. And just imagining Shia going from Even Stevens to this is an amazing thought in and of itself, so I commend him there.

The story was a bit out there, though, but I don’t want to go into the story too much, as it could spoil quite a bit. There’s a nice twist halfway through that for whatever reason I didn’t expect. Maybe at one point, but I didn’t follow the trail of that thought. I did like the fact that they made the movie show the bad sides of the government instead of having some underlying theme of patriotism like any other movie dealing with terrorism would. Maybe that’s why a lot of those stuffy, old, conservative critics didn’t care for the movie, eh?

Honestly, to me, the movie was a fun time. Things about the story could have been tweaked a bit to fit better, but otherwise it was a really fun action movie. I could give two movies that I could say “Combine these and you’d have this movie,” but then that’d give it away. Let’s just say one of them is The Game… but I can’t tell you the other until you’ve seen it. And I do recommend it if you don’t mind going out for some action-packed fun and aren’t easily annoyed by logical issues. So yeah… good times.

A Keanu 'Whoa'



Another exciting weekend is upon us! It's time for Pre-Emptive Strike Thursday!


Title: Miracle at St. Anna.

Pre-Thoughts: I think this looks like an amazing film by a great director. I've also heard the book is amazing, as well, though I haven't read it. Even though I'm not a big war-film fanatic, I'd love to check it out, definitely.

A Keanu 'Whoa'

Title: Choke.

Pre-Thoughts: Where the hell has all the advertisement for this movie been? The next big film based on a book by the guy who wrote Fight Club? I've seen a couple different T.V. spots for this, and none of them tell anything about the film whatsoever. This movie is going to bomb completely. I'd like to see it, though, just for the sake of having seen it... but seriously... what the heck?

I Am McLovin!

Title: Eagle Eye.

Pre-Thoughts: I think this will be the big one of the weekend. I've already got plans to see it with a friend, so I know there'll be a review up for this either late Friday or early Saturday, so keep an eye out. I've been excited for this movie for a very long time. To me, it just has one of the most awesome trailers I've ever seen. Can't wait for tomorrow night.

A Keanu 'Whoa'

Title: Nights in Rodanthe.

Pre-Thoughts: A movie for old people and/or people who like sappy romances with old people. I'd say this'd draw the same crowd as, say, The Notebook, except for the fact that the leads are... well... not Ryan Gosling. And are old.

Feed Me, Seymour!

Title: The Lucky Ones.

Pre-Thoughts: Ironic in title... I hadn't even heard of this film up until a few days ago. Never seen a trailer for it, never heard anything about it. Therefore, much like The Women, I can't really give it a pre-score.

Pre-Score: N/A.


2 In 1: Arthur and the Invisibles and Tron.

Can it be? I actually have something appearing during the week? And it’s not a DVDs Or Death, P.E.S.T., or Student Teacher Chronicles? Not only that, but it’s reviewing two movies? That’s right! You’re in for a treat, as I actually have a 2 In 1 for y’all! For this 2 In 1, I’m focusing on two movies wherein both are partly live action and partly computer animation, and where the computer animation kicks in when the main character gets introduced into a brand new world other than the human realm. And both are movies that I had just seen for the first time before reviewing them. Anyway, I hope you enjoy!


Arthur and the Invisibles.

Luc Besson is my favorite writer/director/producer/filmmaker, but when this film first came out, I had a similar reaction to Robert Rodriguez doing Sharkboy and Lavagirl… and didn’t see it. But I recently saw it coming on Showtime, set my DVR to record it, and finally got around to watching it. And I have to say, it wasn’t as bad as I figured. Arthur (Freddie Highmore) is an imaginative boy living with his Granny (Mia Farrow), because his parents (Penny Balfour and Doug Rand) are off trying to make some money. So Granny tells Arthur stories of the adventures of her missing husband, Archibald (Ron Crawford). The latest story is that of the Minimoys, a tribe of incredibly tiny, elf-like creatures that Archibald had found in Africa, and who had offered up a treasure of rubies to Archibald. But when he goes to retrieve the treasure, he goes missing. Years later, Arthur and Granny’s house/property is up for demolition unless they can find some money in two days. So Arthur decides to travel to the land of the Minimoys, who had apparently been transported from Africa to his front yard, to reclaim the ruby treasure. But when he gets there, he discovers that he showed up right as Princess Selenia (Madonna) is about to claim the right to go and slay the evil Maltazard (David Bowie). Coincidentally, both are in the same location, so they, along with Selenia’s brother, Betameche (Jimmy Fallon), go on this wild adventure.

This movie is like mixing Arthurian Legend, Honey I Shrunk the Kids, and really any fantasy story that follows Joseph Campbell’s Monomythic structure. The Arthurian Legend is quite literal. The main character’s name is Arthur, and he’s able to pull a sword from a stone when the apparent ‘chosen one’, Selenia, couldn’t. The Monomythic structure is blatantly obvious, as well (though, really, Arthurian Legend follows the Monomyth itself, anyway). There’s the princess/love interest (Selenia), the friend/guardian (Betameche), the mentor (Archibald), the villainous mastermind (Maltazard), and the numerous helpers along the way. And they’re all on a ‘quest’ to find a special item (the rubies) and to slay the villain.

But this is part of its downfall. The movie is a short 94 minutes, but acts a lot more epic than it is. There’s a whole world and mythology behind all of this, and you can really tell this movie was based on a set of books. Unfortunately, not all of it is explained (such as the random appearances by the African tribe, or the stone guardians), and a lot of it comes off as episodic or choppy (think A Series of Unfortunate Events). They go from one location and set of characters to the other, each with its own big sequence, but only long enough for something cool to happen before moving on. In other words, the movie is so focused on the idea of the story and characters than the story and characters themselves. There is no character development or depth. There is no rise from reluctant hero to hero from Arthur; he starts out heroic and ends heroic. There is no build in the relationship between Arthur and Selenia; they’re enraptured by each other from the start, and with absolutely no warning or whatever, they’re suddenly soul mates. The story and characters are about as flat/static as they can get.

However, all of that being said, the movie was still really enjoyable. The parts that were animated looked really great. My favorite simple scene was the part where they go to sleep in the flower pollen. That just looked amazing. But my favorite scene in the whole movie was the fight sequence on the record player. I thought that was quite imaginative and pretty fun. Oh, and even though it was silly, the goofy bad-guy soldiers were great and funny.

The voice acting is something to commend, as well. As I’ve already stated, Freddie Highmore lends his voice (as well as doing real-life acting at the beginning and end), as do Madonna, Jimmy Fallon, and David Bowie (I love this man in villainous roles). But then the movie also has Snoop Dogg, Emilio Estevez, Robert De Niro, Harvey Keitel, Anthony Anderson, and Jason Bateman. Though while Snoop Dogg and Anthony Anderson’s characters don’t have too much screen time, they are in my favorite part of the movie (the part that leads into the record player fight). But I think the best voices of the film were Madonna, David Bowie, Jimmy Fallon, and Jason Bateman. You can’t even tell it’s Jason Bateman, but the way he speaks is hilarious. And, as I’ve already stated, David Bowie is just awesome.

It’s sad to think that Luc Besson stated this was going to be his last film as a director, though. It’s not totally true, as he’s coming out with two more films (as director). However, those films are the two sequels to this film, so who knows (though that does make me a bit happy, as they never explain what happens to the bad guy). It was a fun little film and had some good visuals (and some cool music). However, they made it almost too child-friendly by dumbing down the characters and story. Hopefully the next two won’t be as choppy or static as the first, and I know this man can write intricate characters, so I know it’s possible. I’ll go see the sequels, but if they’re the same as the first, it’ll be disappointing.

(And I still refuse to see Sharkboy and Lavagirl).

I Am McLovin!


So of course I’d heard all about Tron and knew everything about it (after all, I wouldn’t have been able to get through Kingdom Hearts II sanely without having known anything about it), but I just hadn’t seen it before now. And with a sequel on the way, I figured it was as good of a time as any to check it out. After Flynn (Jeff Bridges) gets all his video game codes stolen from him and fired by Dillinger (David Warner), he begins to hack into their computer system in order to find proof that he was robbed. But it’s not that easy, as Dillinger has created and set up the Master Control Program, which is a security program that is slowly taking over all other programs and becoming stronger and smarter. Meanwhile, Alan (Bruce Boxleitner) has come up with a security program of his own, Tron, that could be used to take down the Master Control Program. But when they and co-worker Lora (Cindy Morgan) try to use Tron and hack into the system, Flynn gets hit by a brand new particle laser beam that transports him into the computer world, wherein he must fight for his life in different video game trials whilst venturing with Tron to take down the Master Control Program.

For a movie with outdated special effects, it really holds together through the test of time. I wasn’t really bothered at all by the cheesy special effects and thought it worked well. And I really can’t wait for the sequel, which should look really cool (though I figure people will react one of two ways—they will either think it looks stupid a la Speed Racer and it’ll flop, or they will be like “OMG TRON 2 LETZ GO!” and be hypocrites because they just finished bashing the stylistically similar Speed Racer).

On the acting level, Jeff Bridges was great as usual. I’m really starting to think this man can do anything (even though Flynn reminded me a little bit of The Dude here and there). Besides him, though, everybody else did alright. The one acting level that bugged me a bit was Bruce Boxleitner as Tron. At his introduction, Tron was almost emotionless. Halfway through, he starts getting a bit bubbly at times. At the end, he’s different yet again. It’s like the character of Tron couldn’t find a suitable personality.

The other low points for me on the movie were strange little inclusions. For instance, what was the purpose of the Bit (the little ball that Clu sends off at the beginning and comes back later on to Flynn for a couple minutes)? It’s set up to be important, but after it comes back, it’s on screen for only a couple minutes, as I said, before disappearing from the movie completely. And then there’s the inclusion of Yori (the program equivalent of Lora). I didn’t even have a clue how the two were connected until I read up on it later and saw that you have to pay close attention during the laser test run toward the beginning of the movie. But even then, how do Yori and Tron know each other? And why did Tron go to get Yori’s help? What was her purpose other than to have the actress show up in the computer world? And it was a sad attempt at a love triangle, as well. At the end, she ends up kissing both guys and without any resolution to that fact?

Otherwise, the movie was fine and fun. There were just those little things that could have been explained much better if the movie were a little longer. I’m not gonna go rush out and buy this movie or anything, but it was an entertaining 90 minutes that I wouldn’t mind experiencing again. And I’m probably going to check out the sequel when it comes out, as well.

I Am McLovin!


DVDs Or Death!

Monday = DVDs Or Death!


Brief Synopsis: The Beginning Of Football.

Comments: I'm not a big fan of sports films, and I heard this one isn't even too worth it on its own.

Viewing Option: T.V.

Run, Fat Boy, Run.

Brief Synopsis: A Portly Loser Gets In Shape To Run A Marathon And Win Back Love.

Comments: I really loved this movie in theater, and I love Simon Pegg, so I would really love to own this. And it's about time this came out, too! I've been waiting ages.

Viewing Option: Buy.

Sex and the City.

Brief Synopsis: Big Screen Version Of Small Screen, Estrogen-Filled Television Show.

Comments: Not a fan of the show, didn't see this in theaters, probably won't see it at home.

Viewing Option: Skip.


The Student Teacher Chronicles: Week Four.

One word to describe this week? Insanity! So this week I broke two of the three (nearly all three) cardinal rules of subject matter in teaching. One of them went well. The other… not so much. They say the big three things not to bring up in class unless you prepare the class for it beforehand and ready their mindset and set the rules of discussion are the following: politics, religion, and abortion. Let’s go through my week now, shall we (It’s a long one)?


I really don’t remember much from Monday, honestly. I couldn’t even remember Monday when it was Tuesday. Most of the regular English 3 classes took a vocabulary quiz over the vocab they’ve been copying down at the start of class for the past three or so weeks. That took up pretty much the entire class. In creative writing, though, things were really fun. Before I did anything, I finished reading my short story I had written for them, as not all of them had finished it. They thought it was awesome. So anyway, after that I discussed setting and symbolism with them and how both are important to a short story. To further help this concept, I had them read “Hills Like White Elephants” by Ernest Hemingway, which is all about setting and symbolism. I had them read it in the same way I had them read “The Nose” before, which was “When the spirit moves you” (when everybody can only read a paragraph at a time). However, because the story is pretty much nothing but straight dialogue, they had a lot of fun with it. People were trying to read at the same time and doing funny voices, and we were laughing almost the entire time. However, for anybody who knows the story also knows what it’s about. The whole story is about a woman deciding whether or not to have an abortion. However, the subject went over very well with the class as I was able to show them the symbolism that helped to point this out and connect it all to the story to keep their focus.


Tuesday I started something new with the regular English 3 classes. They all began their new set of vocab words on this day, but instead of me reading out the word, definition, link word, and example sentences, I explained to them the new rules. Everyday, I will choose a new ‘power person’ who will do what I had been doing before. They’ll go up to the laptop (getting them working with the technology, too) and read off everything for the rest of the class. For two of the classes I didn’t even have to pick anybody. I had immediate volunteers. So this is working pretty well. They also began splitting up into workshop groups on this day. A couple weeks back they had taken a pre-test to let us know what they know in this specific unit. The areas each class most missed were the ones we would go over together as a class. However, then each student had specific areas of concentration and a different work packet for each section. The classes were then split up into groups based on these individual sections and they could work together in these groups to basically teach themselves the information. My mentor teacher and I would basically just walk around and act as facilitators. My supervisor also came for her second visit on this day (this time for fifth period), too, and had really good comments for me, as well. Again, almost all were positive; the one negative was that it took a bit long to explain how the workshops were going to work, but even my mentor teacher was taking a good length of time to explain it (in order to be ‘nauseatingly clear’ in her instructions so they would all know exactly what to do), so I wasn’t really upset by that or anything.

And that third period class is like the heavenly class. There was this one group that worked so amazingly well together it was like something from another universe. They were working together and at one point this one girl was like “No, that can’t be an object… it’s acting as a modifier,” etc. She was just using all this technical English jargon or whatnot, showing that she really grasped the material. And then when one of the guys in the group wasn’t grasping the material, the other three in the group were like “If you’re having trouble, just ask us and we’ll work with you. That’s what we’re here for.” My mentor teacher and I just about melted with happiness. But not just for that group, either. Practically every group around the room didn’t need our help and were working like a dream, leaving the two of us just to walk around bored. It was great.

Creative writing wasn’t anything special. I handed out an information sheet I created to help them focus their ideas for their short stories. I went over it with them (as it brought up information I hadn’t yet gone over with them, such as point of view and first/second/third person).


Wednesday was an insane day. Grades for the three-week progress report were due, so everybody was going crazy trying to get everything in. The regular classes did well enough today, continuing their workshop groups. One of the vice principals (and I’m assuming she’s over the English department, as well) came in during third period and gave glowing reviews for what was going on. Like the previous day, they really were brilliant. There was also a funny moment in fifth period when this one guy heard his name mentioned somewhere in the classroom. He was like “What? Who said my name? What are y’all sayin about me?” And I responded (paraphrasing here, because I used his name) “They’re sayin you’re awesome.” He beamed and was like “Oh, alright.” So I continued with “Yeah, you’re seriously in the top 20 most awesome people in this class.” And he was like “Yeah I am!” Then about two seconds later, both him and the guy in front of him responded. “Wait, there’s barely 20 people in this class!” And we all laughed.

Anyway, on to more important things. So in creative writing, things got interesting. I went over a grading rubric with the class that I had made for their short stories. I used the information I had gathered from the anticipatory set I had done a couple weeks ago when I asked them what they believed made a good short story and a good main character. A lot of people said the same things (like ‘complex characters’ and ‘imagery’ for short stories, as well as things like ‘interesting backgrounds’ and ‘realism’ for characters, so a lot of those things went into making the rubric). But while I was explaining this, I asked some question, and this one girl said something (she’s crazy and gets on my nerves, my mentor’s nerves, and pretty much everybody’s nerves… not to mention scares a lot of people. She makes crazy death threats and tells everybody that she’s the best novelist/writer/author/whatever that has ever walked the earth, including famous and established writers. Like, seriously, she’s better than anybody and anything, no matter what, and she’s the most unique, special, whatever person ever, especially in her writing, and nobody can do what she can. I have to vent about this girl practically everyday, but that’s getting a bit off topic. Anyway…). I thought she was talking to me, so I responded. But she told me “I wasn’t talking to you.” So then this other guy, a pretty cool and laid back guy who I’m pretty friendly with (and who I had made a ‘power person’ to help me calm down the class if it got out of hand) started going off on her. He was like “So then you’re talking while Mr. 'Last Name' is talking. That’s rude. That’s disrespectful. You should be quiet and listen to Mr. 'Last Name' when he’s trying to teach.” I could feel the death glare without even having to look. So crazy girl starts going off on the guy, saying stuff like “That’s enough! You don’t need to talk to me like that and tell me what to do,” etc. There was this huge, awkward silence over the class. And of course, my mentor teacher wasn’t in the room at the time (she often lets me have sixth period alone). Surprisingly, there were no death threats from the crazy girl or anything like that, but you could cut the tension with a knife. I had no idea what to do (my mentor teacher told me later after I told her what happened, though, so I’ll be more prepared next time). So I just kinda let it go and kept teaching (though I think that dissolved a bit of the tension, because I was like “So… anyway…” and everybody laughed).

I got back to the rubric, which also included other things I had taught, such as setting and symbolism. However, they were still having issues grasping symbolism. So they all wanted more help understanding that. I tried to give them some examples to help them out when one of the guys said “Give us an example from Harry Potter,” because a lot of the class are Harry Potter fans. Well, of course, I say the first thing that pops into my head, and it was probably the worst thing I could have said. It’s absolutely true, but it came out like a wrecking ball from left field. I said “Harry Potter himself is a symbol of Jesus.” The class went crazy. But then I couldn’t explain it any because there were people in the class who hadn’t finished the series and told me not to spoil anything, and this particular symbolism is most prevalent at the end of the final book. So I tried changing the subject to “Chronicles of Narnia.” But we were still on religion, and everything was going downhill fast. It was loud and out of hand. There was this one girl who was confused even more and getting upset (though the ironic part was that she wasn’t getting upset because of the religion, but because she couldn’t grasp the symbolism). So we all tried to change the subject to something else. But once we did, not even two minutes later, that same girl brought back up the religion thing again, causing everybody to sigh with frustration. But when we finally changed the subject for good, putting it behind us, it hadn’t even been another 5 minutes when another guy brought up politics. But I stopped him right there and told him “We just finished getting over religion, we’re not starting politics!” So that got stopped before it started.

Otherwise, that class went alright. I regained control of the class and nobody was upset or anything from the discussion, so all was well. I helped more with symbolism until everybody understood it, including the girl having trouble grasping it (she was trying to make it more complicated than necessary, so I told her to think simply, like water, fire, winter, spring, etc. After that, it finally snapped with her and she got it). And after that, everything was peachy keen, as they say.


Thursday was an overall good day. Nothing too out of line or anything from what I can recall. In fifth period, this real ghetto gangster-type guy fixed a stereo with a paper clip all MacGyver-style and then put on my mentor teacher’s spare heels and walked around, so that was a fun highlight.

In creative writing, because they were asking about symbolism, I had made up another form to give them to help with symbolism by giving them five different books and situations from each book and asking what that symbolism could mean. During this part of class, something great happened. So in front of the crazy girl sits this super nice, but kinda shy person that’s the kind of person that gets teased a lot and is hunched over, slightly mousy, etc. Anyway, so this girl is trying to throw out answers for symbolism on this one book, though she hadn’t read the book. Then crazy girl is like “You should just be quiet and stop now.” So I looked at her and was like “She can answer if she wants to.” So the crazy girl responded, “Let me rephrase. You ‘should’ stop answering, then.” And this was such a great moment. The one girl turned around to the crazy girl and was like “Well, if you would stop thinking you were better than everybody else and let me talk, maybe I’d say something right.” I got all wide-eyed with proud surprise, but didn’t say anything (though I wanted to), because she just got told. But then, of course, crazy girl responded with “I don’t ‘think’ I’m better than everybody else, I know I am.” So I told them both enough, and I got back to the lesson.

So anyway, I then modified an exercise slightly that I was going to have them do anyway, but did it to help them out more. I started out by going down each row and having everybody introduce their characters to the class (because as writers, they’d have to be comfortable sharing their stories). I told them to all write notes on their favorite ones that weren’t their own. Then, after all that was over, I split them into groups of four and they would pick another person’s character and start by writing a paragraph introducing that character in a setting of their choice (that made sense). Then they would pass their paper to the next person in the group and that person would have to continue the story in the second paragraph, but the second paragraph needed to at least have one example of symbolism. Then they would pass it on, and the third paragraph would need imagery, and then the forth would introduce conflict. So by the end of the first four paragraphs, they would have character, setting, symbolism, imagery, and conflict using a character not of their own imagination (to help with improvisational skills and imagination).


Again, it wasn’t that big of a day today. Everybody in the regular classes continued with workstation stuff if they had already finished all their homework (without having an ‘I’) and didn’t have to retake the vocab test for either not having made a passing grade the first time or having not even taken it the first time. And the amazing thing here was that everybody that retook the quiz passed it (and most of them made 100s or A’s. There were a few B’s and maybe only one or two C’s, but most did amazingly well). I also did some crazy white-boy, arm pump dancing for my classes randomly throughout the day. And this other cool guy in my fifth period class with this super deep voice (I’ve talked about this guy before in my blogging) helped to quiet the class by crying out something along the lines of “Yo, Mr. 'Last Name' is trying to talk, so stop being so disrespectful!” It was great.

In creative writing, they continued doing the same assignment from yesterday. They were having a lot of fun with it, though I don’t think everybody was doing it exactly right. But I just shrugged that off because it’s just an exercise, and I wasn’t taking it up anyway. But then in the middle of laughing and reading paragraphs of stories that had been written so far, I had a great moment with the crazy girl. So she’s complaining that she hates having to write/continue off somebody else’s writing, and also that she can’t come up with something symbolic based on what the other girl had written for the first paragraph. But the kicker was that it was for her own character, which she’s constantly highly praising and knows so well. So she’s griping and moaning about how she can’t come up with symbolism for her own character just because she didn’t write the first paragraph of the story, so I straight-up told her “You say you know how to do symbolism, and this is even your own character. You tell us you’re the greatest writer ever known to mankind, so you should be able to write this, then, huh?” And I dropped the paper on her desk and walked off. I heard all of them around her going like “Oh!” (as in ‘burn’) and the girl that sits in front of her was like “Yeah! That’s right!” Victory for me!

Otherwise, things went well. That’s pretty much the important stuff in my week. I know that’s a lot (and I’m probably leaving out a load), but like I said, I had a crazy week this week.



So I finally got around to seeing this movie, and I now know why they didn’t show really any plot within the trailer. It’s best summarized in the last couple lines of the film, but I won’t write them here, because it’s one of the biggest laughs of the movie. So instead, I’ll try to do my best here. Osborne Cox (John Malkovich) quits his job at the CIA after they start to screw him over and decides to write his memoirs instead, but this doesn’t bode well with his wife, Katie (Tilda Swinton). Katie is an austere hardass who just so happens to be having an affair with the highly paranoid Harry Pfarrer (George Clooney), who is also married and having numerous affairs with other women. Katie starts to file for divorce against Osborne and pressures Harry into doing the same with his wife so they can be together. Enter Linda Litzke (Frances McDormand), a woman with low self-esteem who works at a gym and wants to get four different cosmetic surgeries, but just doesn’t have the money to pay for it. And then a disc that includes copies of Osborne’s memoir notes shows up at the gym, wherein Linda and her friend/co-worker Chad (Brad Pitt), a goofy and rather innocent ‘good Samaritan’, think they could get some kind of reward for returning what looks to be highly confidential information. But things get mixed up and everything begins to spiral down and become chaotic, causing bad things to happen to pretty much everybody.

The movie starts off rather slow. For about the first twenty or so minutes, I would figure, everything seems slightly random and unimportant. I wasn’t sure what to make of the movie, especially when it would use highly over-dramatic music for scenes about practically nothing. But the movie really starts to pick up once Frances McDormand and Brad Pitt are introduced. I would say that they were the highlight of the movie (specifically Brad Pitt). The only character I liked better than Pitt’s was JK Simmons’, but he was only in the movie for two scenes (though those two scenes were basically two of the best/funniest scenes in the movie). And the humor itself was randomly dispersed throughout, so it wasn’t non-stop laughter, but there were a good amount of laugh-out-loud moments.

The two best things about the movie, I would say, were the acting and the camera work. The acting from everybody was top notch, which is expected from such high-caliber actors and actresses. The underdog of the acting scene of the movie, however, was Richard Jenkins, who I don’t believe was even promoted to being in the movie, even though he has a rather big role. His character was rather heartbreaking, really. His and Brad Pitt’s character can really be seen as the two ‘innocents’ of the film (even though Pitt was involved in blackmail schemes, the quality of his character wasn’t even remotely malignant). And as I mentioned, the camera work was great. There were some really fun angles and shots that caught my attention as I was watching. Though this is a Coen Brothers’ movie, so that is expected.

There isn’t much else to discuss about the film. Those are all my positive and negative comments about it. I think the beginning could have been done a bit better, but the second half of the movie is just superb and really funny. There should have been more JK Simmons, though. Similar to my biggest complaint about No Country For Old Men, I would have almost complained about it having some anti-climactic moments (for not showing huge events and just ‘telling’ about it instead, especially at the end), but the only times that happened, it was ‘told’ during a JK Simmons scene, which really redeemed the quality of the effect. Otherwise, that’s all I have for you.

A Keanu 'Whoa'



Do a little dance! Make a little love! Get Pre-Emptive Strike Thursday!


Title: Lakeview Terrace.

Pre-Thoughts: Well, I have heard that Sam Jackson is pretty good in it. And it does look relatively entertaining, too. I might check it out, though I plan on seeing Burn After Reading this weekend as first priority since I didn't get the chance to check it out last weekend due to the hurricane evacuation stuff (wherein nothing happened). So yeah... might be good.

I Am McLovin!

Title: The Duchess.

Pre-Thoughts: Keira Knightley with big hair and puffy dresses? I think I'll skip on this one.

Feed Me, Seymour!

Title: Igor.

Pre-Thoughts: The family-friendly film of the week, Igor looks really cute. And it does have a great voice cast including John Cusack, John Cleese, Steve Buscemi, Sean Hayes, Eddie Izzard, Jennifer Coolidge, Molly Shannon, and even Jay Leno. I don't know about immediately, but I think this would be a fun one to see.

I Am McLovin!

Title: My Best Friend's Girl.

Pre-Thoughts: I do admit I am a Dane Cook fan. This movie, while it looks like it'll have some funny moments, will be a renter, I figure. I'm in no rush to go out and see this.

Stop Saying Okay! Okay.

Title: Ghost Town.

Pre-Thoughts: Ricky Gervais in a lead comedic role in an American movie? Wow. I'd think about checking it out just for that. Though I don't know what it is, but it just feels like this concept has been way over-done. And I feel bad for the wonderful Odd Thomas film that's in the pre-production process right now, because people who don't know the book are going to think it's ripping off this film or something (because it's a funny, average guy who helps out ghosts... even though they can't talk in Odd Thomas)... but OT is so much deeper and darker than this movie probably will be. But anyway, I've gotten off subject. It looks... well... remember that movie Just Like Heaven with Reese Witherspoon, Mark Ruffalo, and Jon Heder? No? That's my worries exactly.

Feed Me, Seymour!


DVDs Or Death!

By God, it's been a month, but I will post a freakin DVDs Or Death!

88 Minutes.

Brief Synopsis: College Professor Gets Death Threat And Must Solve It In 88 Minutes Or Die.

Comments: Already saw this about a year before it even hit theater (no hyperbole there, folks. This movie was pushed back like nobody's business... which is exactly what it got in theater).

Viewing Option: Skip Altogether.


Brief Synopsis: Documentary About Old Folks Singing Rock/Punk Songs.

Comments: It looked... what's the word... cute. I might check it out at some point just for a few giggles.

Viewing Option: Rent or T.V.

Speed Racer.

Brief Synopsis: Live-Action (Sorta) Movie Version Of Classic Anime.

Comments: I was one of the few who saw this in theater... and as I said then, the only people saying bad things about this movie were people who didn't bother to see it. Every review I read from people who actually saw it have been incredibly positive (stuffy professional critics notwithstanding). This movie was freakin awesome.

Viewing Option: Buy.

Made Of Honor.

Brief Synopsis: Male Best Friend Becomes Maid Of Honor At Secret Love's Wedding.

Comments: Interesting concept, though it didn't get a bunch of good reviews. My mom and sister saw it and enjoyed it, though, and the only movies they ever turn their noses up at are, you know, good ones that require more than 'no brain'.

Viewing Option: T.V. or Skip.

Avatar: The Last Airbender - Complete Book 3 Collection.

Brief Synopsis: The Final Season Of Great American Anime Series.

Comments: I wish I owned the first two seasons on DVD. Alas, no time or money. But yeah, this was one of my favorite shows ever, and it was actually fully completed within 3 seasons. Forget those shows nowadays that have to drag everything out for 8 seasons in which not much happens and every other season is only so-so... this show actually knows how to please and everything is done absolutely right. It only got better with every season, and with only 3 seasons, you don't have to wait forever to get the full story.

Viewing Option: T.V. Re-Runs or Eventual Buy (whenever I have time/money).



I really do apologize that y'all aren't receiving much lately. This would have been a good movie-viewing weekend, too... had it not been for stupid Hurricane Ike heading directly for us. But alas, even though I shall be in the evacuation process by the time you read this, I shall still give you it anyway... and that 'it' is none other than... Pre-Emptive Strike Thursday! (No hurricane/evacuation pun intended... or 9/11 pun, either, as I just realized that it'll be 9/11 when this is posted. Anyway...).


Title: The Women.

Pre-Thoughts: ...Come again? I've never even heard of this movie... at least, I didn't until one of the teachers at the high school randomly brought it up last week. I haven't seen a trailer or heard anything about it. But it has the following people in it: Meg Ryan, Annette Benning, Eva Mendes, Debra Messing, Jada Pinkett Smith, Bette Midler, Carrie Fisher, and Cloris Leachman. It probably should have been re-title "The Women... Without Huge Careers Anymore All In One Movie." So... yeah, probably not gonna see it.

Pre-Score: Uh... couldn't tell you even if I wanted to.

Title: Burn After Reading.

Pre-Thoughts: The next big Coen Brothers movie, and one of the big two coming out this weekend. Personally, even though the trailer doesn't give too much information on what the hell the movie is actually about (except a computer disc, a disgruntled and slightly awkward John Malcovich, and a dancing Brad Pitt), I think it'll be pretty good. The Coen's are great directors, especially in their comedies (gotta love The Big Lebowski). And amazingly enough, it will be coming here, so that's awesome.

A Keanu 'Whoa'

Title: The Family That Preys.

Pre-Thoughts: On the one hand, it's a clever pun in the title. On the other hand, it's Tyler Perry... yet again.

The Zed Word

Title: Nothing Is Private.

Pre-Thoughts: ...except the advertising on this film, which I haven't seen. I've heard of it, of course (under it's other name, Towelhead), but I haven't really kept up much on it. Though I've heard it's really good. I'll keep an eye out for it, though I don't think it's coming here.

A Keanu 'Whoa'

Title: Righteous Kill.

Pre-Thoughts: Earlier this year, we were blessed with the pairing of Jet Li and Jackie Chan in one film. Now that we're later into the year, we have a movie that, after 20 or 30 years, has re-united Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro. I think it looks good, though with the potential of becoming overrated. But I'll have to check it out before I say anything. It's number two on my list (Burn After Reading comes first). Otherwise, yeah, I'd check it out.

I Am McLovin!


The Student Teacher Chronicles: Week Three.

Hurricane Ike is coming my way, so everything is shutting down, and everybody is evacuating and whatnot. As such, the rest of the school week was canceled, making for quite the short week. Anyway, here we are.


And now, another short week.

Monday wasn’t too special. I just did the usual vocab for the regular English 3 students. For creative writing, I started out having them think of who their favorite fictional character was and why before I randomly called on them to divulge the information. I handed back the vocab review to some shocked students, though I think it helped for later (see Tuesday). After that, everybody finished up their “I Am” presentations (including me, since they asked me to do one, as well. My mentor teacher also did part of her own). And that was about it.

Tuesday was interesting, because I basically took over for every period except first and second. I don’t do too much in first period yet, as it’s AP, and she’s setting a lot of things up with them. And she often uses second period as an example of how to do things in case she hands it over to me later. And that’s exactly what she did. I went over capitalization and (the beginning of) punctuation with most of the classes. It went very well (though I could tell I was starting to lose my voice by the end of the day). However, 5th period was a bit strange. The one guy who seems to really tie the class together was absent, so it really felt like something was missing. As such, the class didn’t come off nearly as interesting and was actually quite awkward. Everybody was dead silent. So I’m standing up there reading off these rules and stuff from this packet, and it feels like I’m just doing this straight lecture to people who I can’t tell if they’re paying attention or not because they’re refusing to respond to anything. I was seriously very close to saying “Bueller… Bueller…” None of my jokes or anything was working like they had with the other class. They were just dead completely, and it was very awkward. I know you’d think it would be a teacher’s dream to have a silent class, but it was very unsettling.

Anyway, for creative writing, they had a vocab test… and in the last 10 minutes, I began reading the short story I wrote for them based on the character they had come up with. They were so into it (at least according to my mentor teacher, who was watching their reactions and stuff), but the bell rang when I was just a few paragraphs away from finishing. But they were all like “I’m totally gonna finish it tonight! Don’t worry!” So that made me feel good that my writing was enthralling enough to make them want to read at home. After that, I graded all of their tests, and almost all of them did very well. Only two people failed… one of which was a new guy who had only been there half the days he’d been on the roll, and the other was an ESL student who doesn’t really seem to care too much. And most of the grades were A’s and high B’s. So that made me realize that they took it more seriously after that review grading the previous day.

Wednesday, we didn’t have student teaching because of our student teacher seminar. And Thursday and Friday are canceled due to Hurricane Ike, as well.

And that, as they say, is that.


The Student Teacher Chronicles: Week Two.

For a short week, this week had so many things happen. First, I must say that I got sick over the extended weekend (around Sunday) and have been sick since (though it’s really starting to clear up). I’m not sure if it’s because of normal allergies or whatnot or just being around the students so much, but I started taking Vitamin C anyway, and I’ve been all drugged up on other medications trying to fight it out, which I have.

So Tuesday wasn’t much special from what I remember. I started doing the vocabulary warm-up different with the students of the regular English 3 classes. Instead of reading out the word, definition, link word, and example sentence(s) myself, all I did was pronounce the word, and then have one or more of the students do the rest. I found that the class is more opt to get quiet and listen to a fellow classmate over me. But hey, whatever works, right? And it worked very well.

Wednesday, however, I started really taking over the Creative Writing course. And I don’t just mean teaching it how my mentor teacher asked me to. I’ve taken full initiative. I’m writing the lessons and coming up with what to teach them and how to go about doing so. So the first unit of the class is over short stories, which we began on this day. I began by talking about the differences between novels and short stories and how the latter focuses more on character than plot, as opposed to the former. What I did was create a “Character Creation Form.” As a class, after my explanation, I projected the form up and had them create a character using the form. I also told them that I would create a short story of my own using whatever character the class comes up with. They all had a whole lot of fun with this. We ended up with a really interesting character, and now I have to get to work on the story. I’m going to present the story on Monday, and I’m also going to use it to help show them how to use and flesh out a character even more within a short story, and I’m also going to use it to segue into the next topic of discussion (Setting). My supervisor was also here on this day, and she had a lot of great comments for me. In fact, the only negative comment I received was that I typed out “Seattle” in lowercase when I was typing up the response on where the character lived. And then I had another teacher even ask if she could have a copy of my character form to use in her class, so I thought that was great.

Thursday was insanity, and not because of the classes. The school decided to do yearbook pictures on this day for all sophomores and juniors. And every English class was to go to the library every period to have this done… AT THE SAME TIME. So there were constantly 300+ students crammed into the library (or forced to line up outside it) all at once. Students were late to class, and there was no telling who was supposed to be where. And on top of that, the eSembler (the program the teachers use for everything, including attendance, grade book, lesson plans, etc.) wasn’t available because the server was down. And it was down until around 3rd or 4th period, so nobody could even take roll or anything. It was pure chaos, and everything was very poorly planned. My mentor teacher and I alternated after first period in who would take them to the library (for instance, we both went first, then I went second, her third, me fourth, her fifth).

However, while our classes didn’t really meet for 1-5 period, 6th period is Creative Writing, so it got to go on as normal. What I did for Creative Writing was that I started with an anticipatory set where I put up two different pieces of butcher paper with two different questions—“In your opinion, what makes a short story good?” and “In your opinion, what makes a character interesting?”—and I had everyone go around and write their responses in each. I read off some of them to the class afterwards. What I’m going to do with them is take the best/most appropriate ones (because there were some silly or inappropriate ones), which I’ve already listed out, and have them written onto two different posters and tape them to the walls for reference on what they said they liked in characters and short stories. Then I had them read a short story called “The Nose,” which is a highly descriptive Japanese short story that deals with a character with an abnormally huge nose that tries everything to shrink it down to normal. I did this in a fun way that was introduced to me by my mentor teacher called “When the spirit moves you.” It’s not like Round Robin reading, which is ineffective, but does include the whole class. I read the first paragraph and then stopped, and then one of the students would have to pick up and read the next paragraph and so forth. A student could only read one paragraph at a time, even if the paragraph was only a sentence long. Everybody had a lot of fun with this, and it got some students to read that probably normally wouldn’t have even participated. And everybody really comprehended everything, as well, reacting to all the imagery, etc. So after we finished that, I tied it back to the anticipatory set and asked them if the story was good for them (and they all loved it), if it had good imagery (“almost too much!” in a graphic sort of way), if the character was interesting or piqued their interests, etc. Oh, I was also talked into creating my own “I Am” presentation that the students had to create. So on top of my short story I have to write over the weekend, I get to come up with that, too. At least they’ll be entertained next week.

Friday I ended up taking a handful of students in each class to the teacher’s lounge so that they could finish (or start) this unit pre-test while the rest of the class went over it together. I didn’t do much beyond that and the normal vocab stuff during those classes. And the fourth period class got into a lot of trouble with my mentor teacher, though I missed the telling-off portion due to being in the lounge. But it was intense, and the class was dead silent for the times I had to go back in. Oh, and I also had to call this one student’s mother today. Not for anything bad, though. He’s a handicapped student and has been absent for a few days, so I called to see if everything was alright and if there was anything we could do, such as putting together a homework packet. I also assured her we’d be very easy with him when he comes back in helping him catch up. She was so nice and grateful about it all.

Anyway, for Creative Writing, I began by handing out a vocab review for them. But as I’ve stated before, the class can have issues staying on task, so my mentor teacher told me something to do. I gave them the usual 15 minutes to work on it and told them we’d be going over it. But after that 15 minutes was over, I asked them to pass the papers forward. I collected them all for a grade, and then we went over it orally, with me calling choosing different students to fill in the blank of the sentence example I read them with the vocab word. For the most part, they did well on the oral, with a few exceptions (the students who don’t much focus). When I graded the papers later on, only a small handful of them passed, and as that’s the only grade in the class thus far, I’m going to be handing them back to them on Monday with that notion in their head, giving them a wake-up call on needing to stay focused. But after that, I passed out some dry-erase boards and some Expo markers (with some student help), and I had them draw examples from the story the previous day (either just the main character with the large nose, or a specific scene that stood out to them). Then I had them show their pictures off. They all loved this, as well, and had a blast with it. Some of the pictures were hilarious and so good. In the last few minutes, I passed out individual copies of the Character Creation Form to use as a helpful guide to them when beginning their short stories. Oh, and my mentor teacher left me alone for a huge chunk of this class, too (without telling me she was going to leave, even though I saw her walk out). But I did fine, anyway, so I wasn’t bothered.

Overall, even though I was sniffling and a bit sickly, it was a very productive week for me. I feel very comfortable in the classroom, and I’m actually to the point where I’m already feeling sad knowing I won’t be able to stay with them for the full time. I’m really hoping I get hired on mid-year so that I can at least see these people (students and teachers) again, because I already feel a part of their life and don’t want to go away from it. For instance, there’s this one student that impresses both me and my mentor teacher so much. He’s this really tall, intimidating guy who, sadly enough, most teachers would probably stereotype and write off as an immediate lost cause. But if you actually take the time to get to know the guy and be friendly and respectful and fun with him, he opens up and is actually a great guy, just putting up this tough, ‘dumb’ front. And he’s really intelligent, too, which he doesn’t want to admit to either because he really doesn’t believe it or it is part of his front. But he had one of the best attempts on the unit pre-test out of all four regular classes, and he’s shared with me and my mentor teacher what he wants to be in life, which caught us both by surprise, so we helped him out with finding out what he’d need to do in order to get a start in that direction college/class-wise. But anyway, I know I’m probably forgetting something, as it was such a full week (especially for a short week). I’m getting pretty comfortable teaching and being in front of/interacting with the students, even if the teacher is not in the classroom (which has happened on more than the one occasion). I think my lessons are doing very well, and they’ve been greatly complimented by my supervisor, my mentor teacher, and even my students. So I must be doing something right. My mentor teacher is still there, though, helping me through it and giving me advice on how to tweak or improve things that I’m doing or give me ideas on how to approach things. She’s very helpful and supportive. Oh yeah, and I can’t forget the grading and endless amounts of copies I’ve helped to do/make. Seriously, I feel so bad for that poor copy machine.

Anyway, I really do hope to get a job mid-year, because I don’t want to leave this. We’ve been told you know whether or not teaching is for you within the first 3 years. I agree with another teacher at the high school who once told me you’ll know within 3 hours. I don’t know about that quickly, but I do know that even with the inevitable rudeness, randomness, immaturity, or annoyingness of students, or the excessive paperwork or extra behind-the-scenes stuff required of teachers, or even the need to wake up early, stay up late, and work/plan over weekends, I could never imagine being in another profession. Now that the sentimentalism is through, I’ll shut up.