Tuesday, November 28, 2006

meeting the neighbours

I am currently accepting donations to fund the "get chelle out of Canada and into the tropics" initiative. While a tax receipt will not be provided, your choice of cookies, muffins, or chocolates will be. An added Christmas incentive will include homemade Baileys.

Seriously, it's all kinds of stupid in this province right now. Yes, I am aware it's all kinds of stupid every year. I haven't quite decided which relatives I should blame this insanity on, but believe me, when I do, I will give their children/grand-children quite a scolding. What were they thinking? It's not like we had an excuse like most people - no one in my family farms. We are not "tied to the land" in any way shape or form. Currently, the only thing keeping us here is the rest of the family (and the pretty bridges, trees, and lovely 4 summer months). Gah.

So two days of blizzarding, two days of almost dying every time you leave your house. I'm not exaggerating here, for some reason, there are still people who have not figured out how to drive in the snow and ice. If you are not from out of province, what is your problem? This is nothing new. Gah.

This weather hasn't been all bad - I met a new acquaintance! We were brought together by the very blizzard I am cursing. You see, my parking spot is behind the rec center, beside the Loras bin, and conveniently collects snow drifts. It is also a low point, and collects water when it's warmer. So my parking spot is currently an excellent geological study (maybe not as good as Gnat's sandwich) - somewhere there is a base layer of asphalt, then many small layers of ice and snow, with severe ruts due to melting with a very loose but deep layer of blowy snow. There is no science needed to realise that this is a recipe for a stuck car. If I were single, this would be a great way to meet guys - drive, get car stuck, need help, get help from cute boy, meet cute boy for coffee and then hope the planets align. As I have a wonderful boyfriend, I don't really need to meet guys, but am very happy when they show up and offer to push my car out all the same. Thank you new neighbour acquaintance, from myself and my boyfriend who I would have had to call had you not showed up.

This whole process took around 15 minutes. It's a 3-5 minute drive to school. If you include the time my car warmed up, we're at around 25 minutes running car time. That is the same amount of time it would take me to walk to school (add minutes for snow on blizzard days). Currently I am trying to decide if I should spend money on better winter tires or better outside winter clothes.

Monday, November 27, 2006

follow up

And the mom set up continues.

I talked with HAS today. Finding out how the double date went was high on my priorities of things that needed to be covered during the course of our conversation. These are the very first two things she said:

"It sure was great catching up with you mom!"
"[insert mom's bf's name here] sure is nice..."

Notice she mentions nothing of her supposed date. We chatted more, and there may or may not be a follow up coffee date. Le boy made a fatal mistake in not loving the Vanier Cup, or at least pretending to be interested in it. Will he recover? Stay tuned!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

think, then speak

It would appear I have become a smidgen too comfortable with my job, and by extension, my students. This week, in what loosely could have been called a teachable moment, things escaped my mouth that very surely should have only been uttered by a teacher with a permanent position. As of yet, I haven't received any phone calls, but it's not Friday.

My grade 10s are determining the equations of lines and exploring slope. Parallel and Perpendicular lines to be precise. Titillating material I assure you. To get them to really understand that when writing the equation of parallel or perpendicular lines it is only the slope that matters, I am ridiculous in choosing the intercept point. 2, -3, 103, 4 000 356. I shout these silly numbers over and over at them, hoping they'll get it.

This year, my extremely mature gr 10s, very much enjoyed this exercise. It started out with a y-intercept of 369. Small tittering around the room. Then, just 69. Quiet snickering. Another 69. They're almost laughing now, not quite sure if I'm going to say anything, or just keep writing 69 up there on the board for all the world to see. Another 69, and now we have laughing. I'm simply smiling, telling them that that is in fact a line parallel to the original. One boy is brave enough to admit he has no idea what anyone is finding funny. He asks me what 69 means. He's serious. He honestly has no idea what the joke is. I matter of factly tell him that's something he's going to have to ask his dad, since I don't really have that kind of extra time on my hands - curriculum and all. The rest of the class is dying, this lack of knowledge from a peer is too much for them. I continue on, highly amused at gr10s.

We come to a tricky example - one involving horizontal lines. This seemed like a good time to review the properties of horizontal and vertical lines. I write horz on the board, and start writing short notes underneath. My class explodes in laughter. Now it's me who has no idea what's going on. I turn around, searching the red faces for answers. They can barely contain themselves. What's so funny? I ask the giggling masses. Horz, one student manages to squeak out. I'm confused. I say it to myself in my head. (This is a French class, all dialogue is happening in French, and 0-ri-zontalle isn't really seeming funny to me.) Horz, like.... they trail off. The light bulb goes on. Like whores.

I must have been having a really good day, because there are days when this kind of ridiculous stuff really gets to me, but on this day, I'm almost laughing with them. So, I scan the room. I reel them in. You can't tell you parents what I'm about to teach you I tell them. Probably for the first time since September, everyone is paying attention. I explain: Horizontal lines are just like whores - they're flat on their backs for nothing. I used my arm to demonstrate the flat, zero sloped line for extra oomph. There was a brief pause of disbelief that a teacher had actually just said that before the laughing started.

I reminded them that this was something that should not be repeated around the dinner table later that evening, nor anywhere near the principal. I would like to think that no one will mess up the horizontal line questing on their upcoming exam, but I know better. Sigh.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

beware my single friends

My mother may try to set you up on a blind date. She won't ask what I think or anything, she will just contact you out of the blue with a gentleman in mind. People will talk to people, and before you know it you'll be going on a blind bowling double date with my mother and her boyfriend. Don't get me wrong, my maman and her gentleman friend are swell people. Going on a date with my mom? That seems all kinds of wrong.

Giddy from hearing this hilarious news, I had to contact Rach ASAP. I have yet to contact HAS, the subject of my mom's scheming, to find out full details. As Rach and I giggled and squealed over this delicious bit of gossip (which is only going to get better, I just know it). Rach had some very pertinent questions.
1) HAS agreed to this?
2) your mother knows single young men?
3) a double blind date with your mom and her man?
4) is her tumour back?

I think number 4 sums it all up folks...

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

i support you rodger rare!

95% of the time other people are able to better express what I would like to say. If I thought he was game, I would invite Kev to do a guest blog here so he could enlighten you to the crooked practices of Wal-Mart right here in little Saskatoon. I would attempt to explain what happened, but I'm sure I would mess it all up. End product, Wal-Mart wins, Saskatoon loses. We're not just losing on a moral issue, we're also losing 8 million dollars. I hate you Wal-Mart.

This hurts my brain, fuels my rage, and make me happy other people are like minded. Well played Mr. Shawn, well played.


Monday was a swell day. We had PD all day out at the Western Development Museum. No kids AND a nice change of scenery from a classroom or the cafeteria. Thank you PD committee, you are indeed doing a good job.

So we started off the morning with some entertaining group activities. Since we were at the WDM, naturally they revolved around early Saskatchewanians. We were divided into towns (go Pelly!) and each town was given the task and limited ressources to raise a barn. By limited resources, I mean our group had some cardboard, red paper, string and some markers. They also showed us a quick clip from some movie where Mennonites raise a barn, so we would "get the idea." A quick survey amongst the 6 Pelly townsfolk revealed none of us had ever raised a barn. Did I forget to mention a time restraint had been placed upon us? 15 minutes is not a whole lot... Anyway, despite our lack of expertise, our barn came together very nicely indeed. Keys were our main method of cutting things, and we securely wrapped our barn together. I, now a barn building expert, patented the design for our very solid roof. Just a hint, it involves slits and notches. Our group had finished the task and was just about delve into the discussion questions when a time extension was issued! Ridiculous! The competitive nature of Pelly did not appreciate the bending of the rules for lesser capable towns. However, we stood by our original product and chose to leisurely discuss the follow up questions over coffee instead of mess with near perfection.

Did I mention the media was out in full force for this little activity? I had a girl from Global in my face almost the entire time we were trying to build our barn. I think this testifies to how great the town of Pelly really is. I was however very glad she chose to interview someone else who had proper PD jargon down. Seriously, my fellow Pellian has a future in politics. One of my students came to school today and promptly informed me he'd seen me on the news last night. "You looked confused." was what he got out of it. Dude, I was building a barn out of cardboard and string, heck yes I was confused. CBC and the Star Phoenix were also out snapping away. From what I understand the story failed miserably at conveying what was going on and just reinforced the idea that teachers don't do any real work. They pay people downtown money to worry about my public image, I don't see the point in getting too worked up about it. I do think it's convenient that one 30minute activity in a 6 hour day is all that was mentioned.

Back to the barn. As I was getting my coffee, it became apparent Pelly was an independent and resourceful town. Other towns had scissors and tape! Cardboard rolls and newspapers! The discussions that followed the activity were surprisingly meaningful and insightful. Especially if you knew the bunch of jokers I work with. This part naturally got no media coverage.

We followed up our barn raising with some department time and a chance to explore the WDM. This was not overly useful for myself seeing as anything I could accomplish there I could accomplished as effectively and cheaper elsewhere. Someday if I'm in the position to teach an advanced class (they have more opportunities for multi-disciplinary projects) or maybe something in Core French will be more pertinent.

I need to mention lunch briefly because there was no mayo or mustard on the sandwiches. Do you have any idea how rare that is? Fantabulous.

After lunch I went to a fantastic session lead by a terrible presenter. I really felt for her. I was so interested in what she was saying, and amazed that she could be a teacher AND such a terrible presenter. I later found out she's even been presenting all over lately, so by now she should be at least a little better. I'm not sure what her presenting issues are, but I was able to overcome them to be able to appreciate what she's saying. She's teaching at my old school, and I feel a little jealous that I didn't get to work with her. What her old school in Ontario developed is something I really stand behind and would like to see more of in the curriculum revisions that will be coming our way shortly. Happily, I think it's something my current staff is leaning towards as well. Yay math! It's nice to be reminded about good practices and awesome ideas that get forgotten about when curriculum, textbooks and time get in the way.

We finished off the day with a good old fashioned scavenger hunt. Pelly had somehow disintegrated and we were down to 4 townsfolk. Urban migration isn't a myth my friends! At first I wasn't very excited. This took me all of 30 seconds to get over. 2 minutes until full competitive me took right over. It was requested we not run. Ummm, nice try. It was also requested that we not split up. Again, Pelly makes it's own rules. What do you get for making your own rules? 2nd place and an old fashioned candy stick. Looking to have a scavenger hunt? I highly recommend the WDM, it's chock full of history and tricky things to find. And had I had a camera and some friends - fantastic photo opportunities.

I'm already looking forward to our next PD day. Which may not be til January. I think maybe I should take a peek at my Professional Growth Binder before then...

Thursday, November 09, 2006

je suis pathétique!

I have finally decided to go back to the gym after a bit of absence. There is one right across the street from me after all. The particular gym I have joined, offers what appeals to me - some pretty fun looking classes and a weight room that is essentially never used because 95% of it's clientele is stay at home mom's who do step classes.

One of these classes is called "group centergy." i think it's pretty obvious from its name how awesome a class it is. I mean, someone took the time to make up a new hybrid word - just for this class! Group centergy is offered at 6am on Thursday mornings. Now, i'm no morning person, but for centergy, even the 6 am couldn't keep me away. Oh, I know what you're all saying - get out chelle! no class could be THAT good. oh ya? resist this!

Group Centergy is a revolution in mind/body training that will change the way you feel about your body—forever. You'll stand straighter, feel stronger, become more flexible, and more physically aware. Set to uplifting music, Group Centergy is designed to increase your endurance, reduce stress, and relieve pain. So get your mind and body into the flow - Group Centergy.

It's a revolution! It's going to change me forever! It's centergy!

Anyway, I figured it would be a good place to start my re-entry to the world of being in shape. The yoga thing appeals to me on a conceptual level. Realistically I've hated the little I've done, it's way too hokey. I've been told pilates is better, but more expensive. Tai chi? Something a little more hollywoodesque?  Really what I was hoping for was a good old fashioned stretch class. If it needed to be called centergy, so be it.

I roll out of bed. The cold hurts me, but the studio was nice and warm. I was all set to start my day with some good stretching and stress relieving. You know, in a relaxed manner. I was picturing the funny class Xtina and I took in Japan one day, minus the weird foamy things. For some reason my knowledge of the excitement over "centergy!" didn't make me think that it would be strenuous.

The fine folks at the gym really need to bold and underline the word endurance in their class description. Maybe make it flash or something. This was no gentle wake up. It was more of a plunge into cold water. Only the cold water was a flashback to doing deep pliés in second for hours on end (for you non dancers, wall sits are somewhat equivalent, minus the wall).

I was enjoying it - I did kinda ask for the stretch class - that is, until I just about passed out. Oh ya, that's right folks, I just about passed out from doing YOGA. I'm so out of shape that yoga makes me dizzy. True it was a little like yoga on speed (which, once i'm not a loser, will be awesome cause it makes it not hokey), but still. About 20mins in I had to leave and sit in the dressing room for fear of actually falling over. I'm a trooper though, I got over it and jumped right back in. Just in time for the lady to try and kill us all.

I'm an abs person. I love abs stuff. Probably cause it's something I've always been relatively good at. They didn't include in the centergy description that abs of steel were a prerequisite. Steel probably isn't good enough anyway, centergy demands some kind of crazy new alloy. Abs of centergy. The good thing was we were on the floor at this point so passing out would be almost undetectable.

For the first time ever, I appreciated the end cool down breathing/visualisation thing. Because I thought I was dying. Because I'm not sure I would have been able to walk out of there without it.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Folks seemed to be pretty excited to find out what goes on at Diva's for halloween so I thought I'd share some of the goodness.

These two certainly don't do anything half assed now do they?

Just cause I love them so much, here they are again.

We're off to see the wizard!

That pic really does the tin man no justice at all, but oh well.

How cute is this? Sure it's easy, but it's still awesome!

Not so cute, but pretty impressive.

I can't imagine how uncomfortable she would have been walking around with the world's biggest cookie pan on her back.

And lastly, I have no idea what this guy is, but I'm not convinced anyone cared...

So ya, that was halloween Diva's style. There were lots of other cute costumes, but they either didn't photograph well or at all.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

robot what?

not surprisingly, big red is obsessed with the tv show robot chicken. not knowing what it was, he made it a mission to force me to like it. i humoured big red. sure it was funny, but it wasn't the roll around on the floor/couch kinda funny that he thinks it is

until this. sweet corn. this video sold me on robot chicken. and if you watch this clip and have no idea what is going on, do yourself a favour and go rent "you got serverd." you can thank me later.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

i heart nerds

I love nerds for many reasons. Currently it's for their love of halloween and cool costume ideas.

Have you ever seen anything cuter than this? (scroll to bottom of page) Ya, I didn't think so.

we all love product placement everyday...

While I was busy immersing myself in all sorts of ways to create a French environnment in my classroom, another conference was also giong on in Regina. Yet again not knowing anything, it may or may not have been a big deal. Sci-matics, the annual math/science conference. I think it is annual and provincial. I guess I will find out next year when I go (alternating French Math seems like a plan to me).

Anywho, the staff who went to Sci-matics are super. They brought me back presents! Merci beaucoup other staff. A spectrum pen, some handouts, a CD with graphing calculator games/exercises from the fine folks at Texas Instruments and a package from CBS.

Oh yes, that's right. CBS. The tv people. They are the brainchild (with a helping hand from Texas Instuments) of the "We all use math everyday" program. Right off the bat this sounds awesome. A program supporting math and providing cool activities can't be bad can it? can it? Hmmmm.

The WAUMED program has at its base the tv show Numb3rs. Oh. I've never watched Numb3rs, mainly cause I watch too much tv already. Maybe it's a great show. I'm still not sure I was to shamelessly promote it in my classroom. Even when you pair math teachers, university professors and the calculator people to make up activities about a tv show, the bottom line still apprears to be advertising for the tv show. The activities can be made to stand alone (or so they claim) but they focus on math used in the episodes.

Each week, the fine folk from WAUMED publish 3-5 acitivities that correspond to the math used in the upcoming episode. It does appear like the include all sorts of cool ressources for follow up things if the students interest is piqued (that are not related to the show), but the lessons themselves are full of dorky plugs. Unnessesary plugs. While it would be fairly easy to modify this stuff, why put it in there in the first place? It feels like the NCTM sold out on this one.

One of the sample activities is about cryptography. A brief history on cryptography is given as well as an example of where "Charlie" receives a coded message in the show. Followed by a really solid lesson on creating ciphers and modular math, examples included. Ok, I'm willing to let the reference to the show in the intro go, seeing as they are most likely paying for this stuff, and we are supposed to be linking where this would be used in a real life situation. On to the student participation aspect. It asks the students to code their own sentence. Logical considering the lesson. However, having the student code the sentence "I watch numbers every Friday" is so cheesy and lame it hurts. Now, it's not hard to have you students code a different sentece or something of their choice, but this just became something that I couldn't just print and use. Unless of course I wanted to get into a discussion about product placement in our lives. And then this becomes an awesome lesson.

Argh. I put the we all use math everyday poster up in my classroom because it abides by the Quebec laws - what I want the kids to read is over triple the size of the CBS ad in the corner. But still. I feel like I'm being used by a network. Isn't this where selling out starts? Subtle manipulations that we ignore because we think the good is better than the evil?

And even if I use the cheesiness to discuss product placement, selling out, etc, with my kids, doesn't the network attain their goal anyway? We're still talking about them, their show and what they're doing. Something about all press is good press...