Sunday, September 21, 2008

AVID Leadership Cadre

I was invited this week to join the AVID Leadership Cadre. This means that I will be trained as an expert in AVID teaching strategies so that I can then teach other teachers. Our districts goals are to implement the AVID program in every middle and high school. I am excited about this opportunity because it means that I will also have the opportunity to train people for AVID on a national level.

Yesterday I attended our first meeting. The other teachers that were selected for the cadre are very experienced and I am really humbled by the group. I am the least experienced teacher and I am still surprised that I was selected for the group. This year they will train us so that next school year we will be ready to implement all the training.

Month 1 Report

Four weeks have flown by and school is in full swing. My classes are still every bit as huge as I reported from week one. However, I was told on Friday that the school is hiring 12 new teachers to help offset the unexpected higher enrollment numbers. By Monday the 29th my classes will be a little different. My sixth and eighth period classes are the only two I am concerned about. I know that my students are not learning much at the moment and I hope it will improve with smaller class sizes. I am pleased with a couple of changes I made to my teaching this year. First, I record my class lectures and the students that miss class have to download my podcasts. If any of you are interested in what are truly riveting class lectures you are more than welcome to listen. Visit: (search for my last name). I must admit that as I listen to my lecture I realize how idiotic I sound most of the time. I sure do say a lot of umms.

My students were a little surprised by the appearance of Cleopatra last week in class. I donned last year's Halloween costume and delivered my Cleopatra speech. In 3 of my classes I was moved to tears when talking about Marc fact during 5th period I couldn't look at one of my students because she was sobbing. I knew that if I looked at her I would start to cry even harder. During my two average world history classes I wasn't very emotional in the performance because I had to keep telling them to be quiet, wake-up, take notes and spit out their gum. Sort of kills the mood.

The second thing I am doing this year is trying to condense my three different world history classes. I have been able to refine my powerpoints to make them effective for all three levels of class. I do tailor my individual lecture differently. I also try to use my AP materials for my honors and average classes. I don't expect my students to be able to complete the same assessments but it saves me time. I told my average students that some of the schedules might be changing and I could lose a few of them. A couple of the students commented that they hoped to leave my class, not because they didn't like me, but because they wanted an easier class. I told them they didn't offend me and I wouldn't apologize for making them do some work. Right now all my history classes have very pathetic grades. AP class average is 74%, Honors is 79% and my two average classes are around 59%.

The students have started warming up to me and they are stopping by my class more often to talk to me and seek advice. It is charming when they have questions about love and dating. High school is an awkward time and I know I am glad I don't have to live through it again. I don't envy them.

The Right Stuff

In 5 days I get to see some of my favorite men again. My best friend Chandra and I are flying to Boston on Wednesday for the NKOTB Friday reunion concert. I can't wait...

Summer Travels Part 6: Anaheim

My final trip this summer was to Anaheim, California to visit my brother Steve and his family. Since his wife already posted pictures and updates about the trip, I will keep my blog very short. I had an amazing time hanging out with my cute nephews and niece. I had so much fun just being goofy and silly. I realized while playing with them that you get very few opportunities to be childlike as an adult and it can be very liberating to just be silly. Here are a couple of my pictures of the trip.

Steve, Stephanie, Seth, Rhianna & Rand

Love those blue eyes!

Seth loves the sand

Rand & Rhianna enjoying the water

The one thing I did discover about myself is that I love looking at the water and walking along the beach...but I am not a beach person. This was my first opportunity to go to the beach for the day. Although I was covered in sunblock, I was still worried about burning, so I stayed covered up for most of the time. I also did not enjoy sand in every crevice of my body.

Summer Travels Part 5: San Diego

Before I left on trek number 4, I was able to spend 2 days at home. This was just enough time to unpack one bag, do a little laundry and pack my bags for San Diego. This trip was not a vacation - but a summer AVID convention. AVID is a program for students who are traditionally under served in school and with a little guidance and assistance could be in honors and AP classes. Ultimately the program is designed to get kids in 4 year colleges. It is an amazing program with a stellar track record. I went to the conference last summer and I was excited that I was invited to attend again. This year I am teaching AVID and so I was able to learn more specifically what I needed to teach my students. Our district pays for our enrollment, lodging and transportation costs and so this year to save a little money two of my colleagues and myself decided we would drive. I was the chauffer and the drive down was quick. My coworker Harold and I enjoyed a diverse conversation which made the time fly by.

San Diego is always beautiful and it was no exception this year. Perfect weather every day. Durango high school sent 7 of us to the conference. During the day each of us were in different classes and then we would meet back up to discuss our school plan in the afternoon. Every evening we went out to dinner and played card games. Here are a few pictures of us goofing around.

Someone commented that Harold looked liked Joey McIntryre from the New Kids on the Block, so Kristin, Julie and Nikki are prentending to be in love with him.

Eduardo, Kristin and Harold on the trolly

Julie & Nikki

On the last evening, there were only 5 of us left (the other 2 went home early) and so we drove to Little Italy for dinner and decided to walk along by the ocean. As we were enjoying our evening stroll a police officer drove by on his loud speakers announcing that they were looking for a missing child. He gave the description (4 years old, black male, spiderman bike, spiderman shirt). All of us talked about how horrible it would be to be the child's parents and wonder what we would do in a similar situation. About 15 minutes later as we decided to head back towards my car we passed a woman and young boy. Almost immediately we all turned to each other and questioned if that was the child described by the cop. It only took a few seconds before we had agreed that we saw everything we heard in the description. I told Harold (our only man) to call 911. We casually moved 25 yards away from the woman and child and waited until the police arrived on the scene. Harold was amazing and directed the officer to the woman. It turns out that it was the child in question and the woman was his mother, but she did not have custody and the father had called the police. When we finally left the scene, the officer was waiting for backup and child protective services to take the little boy. Of course the mother was freaking out, which wasn't pleasant, but we had done what was necessary.

The AVID superheros just minutes before our discovery.

I think I can speak for all of us involved that we felt proud of being observant and solving the crime. We joked around and called each other AVID superheros for the rest of the night. The week was very informative and a lot of fun. My roommate for the week Julie, helped me find my new enjoyment: yoga. As a certified yoga instructor we got up a few days and she led me through some stretching which felt terrific.

The other highlight of the trip was our (Julie and I) visit to Laguna Beach for the Pagaent of the Masters. The show is 90 minutes long and they use people to faithfully recreate classic and contemporary works of art. The show is amazing and I still can't get over how authentic the pictures and statues look. To learn more about it check out their site:

Summer Travels Part 4: Rexburg (part 2)

After returning to Rexburg following my dad & I's trip to California I decided that I had spent enough of my vacation just relaxing and it was time for me to get back to work. Over the next week I began working on school lessons, typing activities, and working on my Turkey book. In addition I went to 4 movies at the $2 theater. I must admit one of the things I miss most about living in a smaller community is the inexpensive movies. I was able to see Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Prince Caspian and The Emma Smith Movie - all for the same price I would have paid for on movie in Vegas.

Besides just working, I was able to spend a little more time with my nephew before he left on his mission. Sunday, July 20th he was set apart and I was able to be there for the blessing. It was a very spiritual evening and we were all moved to tears.

Summer Travels Part 3: Santa Rosa

My third trip took my father and I to Santa Rosa, California to visit with his family. We left at the crack of dawn (5:00 a.m.) on Tuesday, July 15th to catch the shuttle to the Salt Lake Airport. We had timed our arrival perfectly and we quickly managed airport security, arrived at the gate and had to only wait about 20 minutes before we boarded the flight. I planned this trip so that I could try and gather some Boivie family pictures and information. Two years ago I created a family history book for my mom's side and wanted to create a similar book of the Boivie's.

After collecting our rental car in Oakland we headed to Santa Rosa. My directions were good and we arrived at my grandparent's house in great time. That afternoon and evening we talked and Kay, my grandfather's wife drove us around Santa Rosa and her school. We oohed and ahhed over the spectacular houses around town.

Wednesday the 16th was a busy day as we prepared for the family barbecue. Kay's grandson James was in charge of the chicken which turned out spectacular. My dad and grandfather were responsible for moving all the yard furniture and setting things up. Kay and I enjoyed our trips to a variety of stores to purchase all the food. In addition to gathering family photos I also borred a video camera from school and I decided to interview all the family members present. It was great to see so many of my relatives. The following people attended:
  • Grandpa Carl & Kay
  • Paul Boivie, wife and daughter
  • Diane Christian & husband (dad's cousin)
  • David Boivie (dad's cousin)
  • Bernice Boivie (dad's aunt)
  • Bob & Diane Boivie (aunt & uncle)
  • Larry and Debs Boivie (aunt & uncle)
  • Kay's daughter Natalie and family
  • Kay's grandson James & his girlfriend

The conversations lasted until dark and it turned out to be a really relaxing and fantastic day. Thursday, July 17th my dad and I drove down to my aunt Sherri's house to see her. She had been unable to attend the barbecue and I didn't want to miss seeing her. We were fortunate to spend a few hours visiting with her.

The trip ended early Friday morning when we had to drive back to Oakland to catch our flight home. The trip was indeed a success and I was able to gather more information than I had expected. It will be a while before I finish the book, but now I feel I can get a good start on it.

Diane & Bob Boivie

Debs & Larry Boivie

Paul Boivie & Grandpa Carl

Enjoying the warm July afternoon.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Student Email

Tonight I just received an email from a student in my world history class. She mentioned that her little cousin was diagnosed with leukemia and even though she hadn’t been in my class long, she said “I felt I could tell you…what should I do?” I am moved that she already feels safe enough with me in the second week of school to share something so personal. Even though at times I have a frustrating day and I get mad at my bulging classes of 50 and the lazy and helpless attitudes of my students-- it is little things like this that reinforce why I decided to change careers, take out student loans and become a teacher. It also makes my 14 hour-day not so tiring.