Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Careless Whisper

I have loved the song "Careless Whisper," by George Michael since he released it in the early 1980s. I would have been about six at the time and I can still recall the music video. Every time I hear the saxophone I get goosebumps all over my arms. Saturday night (6.21.08) one of my dreams came true--I saw George Michael perform the song live. I must admit that I actually shed a tear (I know I'm a big sap).

My brother Scott bought me tickets to see George Michael's concert for my birthday. (THANKS SCOTT!!!) Before the concert we went to a Brazilian restaurant at Planet Hollywood we stuff ourselves with shaved meat and then headed over to the Garden Arena at MGM Grand. Our seats we really very good (20th row on the floor, left hand side). Considering both of our heights we had no trouble seeing the stage. In fact, we had a perfect view the entire evening. It was unfortunate for the ladies sitting behind us.

The concert started 45 minutes late--but I didn't care, I was just glad to be there. We saw a few famous people at the concert (Nigel Lithgow - judge on 'So You Think You Can Dance," and a player from Manchester United Futbol team).

I honestly never thought I would get to see George Michael live. Last summer I purchased tickets to one of his shows in London, but with only a 2 day window to travel to England and back and flights around $1200 I just couldn't afford to go. On the last day of my trip to New York in March I saw the posters announcing his North American tour, the first one in 17 years, and I was so thrilled.

After being a fan for 25 years--the concert was well worth the wait. The crowd jumped to its feet as he opened the show with "Waiting," and didn't sit back down until he rounded into some of his slower tracks ("One more try"). He seemed to place his slow songs at just the time I needed to sit for a few minutes. George looked and sounded amazing all night.

The stage design was both visually impressive and nicely unobtrusive, providing just enough effects to keep things interesting but never distracting our attention from George. There were three video screens, including one that sloped from ceiling to the floor under Michael’s feet, and the live band was located on a three-tier set-up at the back of the stage.

Throughout nearly the entire show Scott and I were cheering, clapping, waving our hands and singing at the top of our lungs. There were countless numbers of time when I looked over at him--we would smile at each other--and then keep singing as loudly as possible. I know for me half the fun was just being there with him and knowing that he was having such a spectacular time.

Set list for the evening:
“Waiting (Reprise)”
“I’m Your Man”
“Father Figure”
“Hard Day”
“Everything She Wants”
“One More Try”
“A Different Corner”
“An Easier Affair”
“Too Funky"
"Star People"

We were surprised to see a twenty minute set break during the middle of the concert--I hadn't seen that before.

Rest of the show included:
“Spinning the Wheel”
“Feeling Good”
“Kissing a Fool”
“Flawless (Go to the City)”

Encore 1
“Praying for Time”
“Careless Whisper”

Encore 2
"Freedom '90"

Friday, June 20, 2008

Birthday Celebration

Tiffany's birthday and mine are only 5 days apart. This year we decided that we would take a day off work and head to sunny LA to celebrate our mutual birthdays. Tiffany had booked our room at the Biltmore Hotel in downtown LA. It is a beautiful hotel that has been used to film countless number of tv shows, movies and music videos. In fact they were filming for the show "24" when we arrived which was really cool.

On Friday night we saw the Broadway hit "Wicked." It was really fun--I always love a good show. One of my students had been prepping me to see it. She is a huge fan and was beside herself that I was getting to see it. Leading up to us leaving she had created a "Wicked" countdown on her computer for me. (students are funny)

Saturday we headed to one of my favorite stores Ikea for a little shopping before going to Venice beach. The weather was actually really chilly, so I wasn't too disappointed that we didn't stay at the beach very long. Tiffany got in some geocaching while I read a book.

The final highlight of the trip was the Michael Buble concert Saturday evening. I had seen him perform once before in Vegas and loved it so much I had to see him again. When I purchased our tickets I had mistakenly thought we had really good seats, only to discover that we were sitting on the highest row in the nose bleed section. Although the seats were terrible, we still had a great time. Tiffany even mentioned that she would pay to see him again. A high endorsement from someone who typically does not listen to his style of music.

Birthday Drama

Turning 31 is not a significant event. It doesn't warrant parties, celebrations or applause. So when my birthday rolled around this year, it was business as usual. Tiffany had arranged to take me to dinner with some friends that night which I really enjoyed.

Since it was no big deal I didn't tell any of my students. Well, at lunch that day, I had my usual group of kids in my classroom eating and gossiping, when a fellow teacher walked into my room to say hi and to wish me a happy birthday. When my student's found out it was my birthday they were furiously angry. This stunned me. They felt betrayed that I had not informed them of my big day. No kidding aside, I don't think I have seen my students this upset. "How could you not tell us, Ms. Boivie?" "We would have done something for you." I tried to assure them that I was perfectly happy, but to no avail.

With less than 5 minutes left in the school day three of my students entered my room and presented me with a cake. It was a sweet gesture. I smiled and thanked them. However, they had ditched my class to go and buy the cake. (This was during my broadcast class when they are usually not in the room, so I wasn't aware that they had left campus) I then proceeded to give them a stern lecture about not ditching my class.

Here is my cake and their little tribute they wrote on my calendar.

Race for the Cure

On May 3rd, the annual Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer race was held in Las Vegas. There isn't a race for uterine cancer research and so I enjoy participating in this event. It is a pretty big deal with our high school and I have walked with Durango's team for the last three years. The school really gets into it and we have around 300 students, teachers and parents that walk on behalf of Durango.

Pictures from 2007 Race

This year, like usual, I headed downtown (Freemont Street) to participate in the race and I had a couple of students with me. We were talking about the event and who was going to be showing up when they spotted the Durango group--both of them ran across the street to meet up with their friends. Never wanting to be left out, I hurried after them across the street.

As I was dashing across the street I ran through the planter bed in the middle of the road. I was so caught up trying to avoid the plants that I missed a very large, metal half circle that rose about 6 inches from the ground and surrounded a light. Although my eyes missed it, my feet certainly did not. I ended up spread eagle, face down with half my body still in the planter box and the other half kissing the road. My initial reaction was of extreme embarrassment, because the Durango team was directly in front of me. Of course, I jumped up and tried to quickly dust myself off, while trying to maintain some semblance of pride. I didn't check to see if all the students were laughing, but I felt as if they were.

Al La Rocque, a fellow colleague, rushed up to see if I was okay. He was so sweet, helping to dust me off, asking if I was alright. Our principal and a couple of other teachers also hurried over to check my status. Other than the stabbing pain in my left arm I was fine. Initially, I wanted to stay and still participate in the event, but Al was positive I had broken my arm. He escorted me to find the first aid booth. The paramedics wrapped my arm in a sling and gave me some ice and then I headed off to the emergency room.

Fortunately, my roommate Tiffany, was still home because she met me at the hospital with my insurance card and a book. While in the emergency room, I was seated next to a gentleman who had the same injury as mine (broken left arm), he moaned, cursed and yelled at the doctors the entire time complaining about his pain. At one point he turned to me and asked why I didn't appear to be in suffering. I told him that on the scale (1-10) of painful physical impairments I have encountered this only ranked as a 3. He did have a much better story for his injury than I did (he was mugged).

Four hours later I was bundled up, given my prescriptions and I was finally able to go home. Since that accident, my arm was in a cast for 2 1/2 weeks and then a split for 3 weeks. The only complaint I had about the entire event--was the inconvenience. It is challenging only having the use of one arm for 4 weeks. Right now I am not using anything and for the most part there is virtually no pain. I am still getting full mobility of my wrist back, but I am doing good. I don't have many pictures of me with the broken arm, but here is what I have.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

AP Reflections

While I was cleaning today I came across the essay of one of my AP World History students. As a final exam for my AP students they had to write an essay based on the following prompt: "Prove to me you learned something this year." As expected most of the students furiously tried to tell me what they thought I wanted to know which they assumed was lists and lists of minute detail from world history. I was moved by what this student wrote:

"I used to see world history as an endless stream of dates, boring events and old men in funny outfits. I thought this class would be dedicated to memorizing dates, events and people. I only saw world history as a whole...a whole lot of crap. I wasn't interested in it, I didn't get it, and I never imagined my view on it could be anything but just that.

Man was I wrong. Through this class I learned that I had to see world history as an evolution, not just random dates and people. The most interesting part of it all was realizing how closely related every civilization is. Today the world seems endlessly diverse, and while this is true, this year we learned how each civilization got to that point. They all follow similar patterns and had common needs and desires.

The development of technology comes from a common need for more, faster, and better. Religions exist because of mankinds need to explain the unexplainable. I found that racism and discrimination come from a need to feel superior. I saw how the environment one lives in has a profound effect on your capabilities as well as disabilities. That also leads into how much of an impact humans have on the environment.

All of the revolts, revolutions and uprisings in history are results of the oppression of many be a few in power. It turns out, people don't learn from their mistakes, or anyone elses for that matter, because I noticed many repeating patterns throughout history. No matter what part of the world, what beliefs, or what the time period was, I noticed similarities between histories of civilizations. The different manors in which situations were dealt with explains the diversity of today's society.

Aside from world history, I learned a lot of other things in this class as well. I can without a doubt say that I have worked harder in this class than any other before. At times it was unbearable, but I got through it and now I am so proud. I can read faster, study better and organize my time in ways I couldn't before. I realized it took a little excessive work and stress to teach us the true meaning of 'hard work.' That skill will help me in every class from here on out and beyond."

I think she summed up really well what I had hoped the students would learn this past year in my class. I was extremely tough on this class. It was the first time I had taught AP and I was obsessed with trying to get all my students to pass the AP exam. I won't find out until the beginning of the next school year in August how many passed. But I am satisfied that I did all that I could.

The day of the final exam, the students surprised me with a scrapbook they had made. They had taken pictures of each person in the class and they had written letters to me expressing how much they had enjoyed having me as a teacher even though it was the hardest class they have ever taken. It was a good reminder to me about why I teach.

Reliving Turkey

Now that I have some extra time on my hands I have been trying to catch up with my mountain of projects. So, for the past week I decided that I would finally start designing my book from Turkey. The task has been more daunting than I could have imagined. While on the trip I took somewhere in the neighborhood of 1200 pictures, and on top of that, anytime one of the participants I was on the trip with have posted their pictures online I have downloaded images that either I didn't take or included me in them. As you can tell the numbers have grown substantially. It took me 5 days (8-9 hrs a day) just to sort, organize and color correct the images. Last night I was able to actually start designing the book. As of right now I have laid out 22 pages and I am only on day three. I decided that I would not censor myself and make the book as long as I felt it needed to be. The final stage in the design will be writing about the trip. I am pleased with the results so far and I will be excited to post some of my favorite pages once it is finished. In the meantime, here are a couple of my favorite pictures of my trip.

Hagia Sophia

Picture from inside the Jewish section of Istanbul.

The Spice Market in Istanbul

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Technology Wonderland

Since school ended on June 5th, I have been taking technology classes. Although I enjoy taking classes just for fun, I realized back in May that with only 9 credits to go I could move up the salary ladder with the school district. The classes that I have taken include:
  • Using Technology to teach History (waste of time)
  • PowerPoint Basics (complete waste of time)
  • Multimedia Video Use - Understanding Camtasia (really cool)
  • Dreamweaver Basics (very exciting)
  • Using the Ipod in the Classroom (AMAZING)
  • Photoshop Elements (Heidi I will let you know all about it when it is finished)
  • Methodology of Technology (total bore)
As you can tell I have liked some of the classes better than others. The Ipod class is astonishing and I think it will help me streamline the way I teach with my students next year. I had a long conversation with my roommate about it and she thinks this could help me as I start to contemplate my National Board Certifications this next year. The only problem now is getting an Ipod. My first year of teaching one of my lovely students stole mine and I have never replaced it.

Here I go

After some gentle persuading, I have decided to throw my hat into the ring and start my own blog. I can't promise to write often, or even if it will be interesting, but I hope that it lets my friends and family get to know me a little bit better. For the next little while, I am going to post information on stuff that happened over the course of the first six months of this year, in the hopes of catching everyone up with my life.