Saturday, September 13, 2014

Week 4: It Never Rains...

I mean this literally, actually.  I ran out without thinking to rescue our recycling bin this morning from the flooding and managed to grab it before it completely floated it away, but when I tried to rescue our neighbor's as well, I found myself in water up to my ankles and decided that, nope, his could get stopped by a car further down the street.  Bill Meck from WLEX has told me my whole life to turn around, don't drown, and I have no intention of ignoring him now.

Most of this was from about an hour of rain this morning from a storm that rolled in over the laguna, and I was never quite so happy to have gotten our flood insurance handled yesterday morning!  We were watching the back door quite carefully to see if anything would seep in there, but it didn't.  It might actually be the coldest it's been since we came to Corpus Christi--70 degrees! 

This week has been full of ups and downs, some of which I won't talk about and some of which I can't talk about.  But the best part about teaching are those little triumphs that make you go back to your office and punch the air and go "YES!"

For example.  My 1302 classes are reading Ibsen's A Doll House right now, and after so many of them said they'd had an easier time with A Raisin in the Sun after finding video clips of it online, I thought we'd try acting parts of it out in class.  That way, students also get to inhabit the characters and get to think about the choices of the director and the actors as well, since that so often influences how an audience sees the play.  So for Act I, I had some of my students in each class act out the first confrontation between Nora and Krogstad, and it was wonderful.  I was so amazed at how well it went and how insightful these off the cuff performances were.  In the first class, Nora and Krogstad were both played by young men (this is what happens when the teacher has to randomly select people who are then volun-told that they'll be taking part in the activity).  But it was so neat to watch, because "Krogstad" was very forceful and intimidating, and afterwards, "Nora" pointed out that "Krogstad" kept backing him in the corner, even when he tried to get out of it!

But the second class had a completely different take on it.  "Krogstad" in the second class wasn't in-your-face and forceful.  Instead, he was supercilious and slimy...but still menacing, and "Nora" (played by a woman this time) was much more child-like.  The Noras were very similar, but the take on Krogstad was so different.  This Krogstad was almost like watching James Spader as Alan Shore in Boston Legal.  And the best part was that I got to see both interpretations!  I don't know that the second Krogstad would have felt free to do that on the heels of watching the first.  It was so neat to watch, though.

My 1301 classes have been talking about blogging and writing reviews.  I'm very excited about this, because many of them are talking about doing restaurant reviews, versus movie or book reviews (and they all seem excited, because I told them I was looking forward to having them recommend places for Dear Husband and I to eat as newcomers--and suddenly that really got everyone interested!).

But we've also taken a look at blogs and blog conventions, and I think my 1301 classes have decided that despite the fact that my blog has had a bit of a makeover in the last month or needs some more work!  I've gotten suggestions that I need some new graphics, some better organization, more descriptive tagging, etc.  So my blog will be under continual construction for the foreseeable future (possibly with the help of my 1301 students).

I've found an incredibly helpful tool to keep me organized while I'm working, though.  Snarky Writer introduced me to HabitRPG a while back, and I can't even begin to tell you how much it helps.  Everyone makes to-do lists (and if you're me, then loses the to-do list), but this isn't just a to-do list.  It gives you rewards for doing your to-dos, daily or not daily.  And it's put together like a game, so rather than just a boring checklist, you actually have fun goals that you're working toward.  You accumulate gold as you check off tasks, and you can set rewards for yourself.  For example, when I get 1500 gold, I am going to reward myself with Jan Karon's new Mitford book, Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good. (I have 46 gold right now.  I've been getting equipment for my avatar to boost my stats so I can get some in-game rewards lately.)

When it comes to school, though, I've been using it to keep myself on track.  Under the dailies category, I keep things that I need to do every day, like take my medicine, etc., but also to enter attendance into Canvas.  I use my To-Do list to organize everything else I have to do--all the lesson planning, grading, etc., and because I can move things about, I can reorganize them and put the highest priority at the top.  I can also edit them and put due dates on certain tasks, particularly for things like bills that need to be paid, to make sure that they don't get lost in the shuffle of everyday life.  As a teacher, I could also really see how this could be helpful for students.  Just opening the app up after class and listing the homework for each class under tasks with the due date would help organize things, and it gives visual learners a clear picture of how things need to be organized in order to get them done. 

And the best part about HabitRPG?  It's totally free, both the online version and the app for your phone, so even if you're not going back to school, it's something to look into.

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