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Common Core

Teachers (and probably some parents of school-age kids) are all probably very aware of the national push toward use of the Common Core Standards in the classroom. It’s another well-intentioned attempt to raise our academic standards, particularly in reading and writing.

I like the idea of nationalized standards for a variety of reasons, but I find the Common Core extremely overwhelming. For our Chancellor’s Day Professional Development, I’ve been asked to lead the afternoon humanities workshop. We’re meant to analyze a Common Core-aligned task and ask ourselves about how it aligns to the standards and this new Cognitive Rigor Matrix, a re-imagining of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning, which should look almost annoyingly familiar to any current-or-aspiring teachers who read this. The amount of preparation I’ve had to do for this PD is staggering; the sheer amount of reading material required just to understand these standards is overwhelming in itself. When I begin to think about teaching with these standards in mind, I almost fall into a fit. My students can barely write a complete paragraph, let alone smoothly incorporate and clearly explain text evidence (a huge part of the new ELA standards) to support their ideas.

I’m not quite sure what I hope to accomplish in posting about this.

Fellow teachers, what do you think of the Common Core? How do you think it will change your teaching? Do you think it’s an improvement on older standards?

Anyone else, please also feel free to weigh in or ask questions! I need to keep the Common Core on my mind, as I plan this PD (and work toward helping revise my district’s English curriculum).

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Cleansey Recipes

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New Year, New Resolve

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I’ve been done with school for about a year now, and I have no excuse NOT to blog. I have no outlet for my writing, and I have more free time than I’ve had in years. However, though my obsession with food continues, I want to broaden my horizons a little bit… so expect more food posts, but also some posts about work and life!

I was doing this Bon Appetit detox.  For four days, I lived on vegetables, whole grains, yogurt, and beans. I really wanted to see if maybe I was lactose intolerant or gluten intolerant, since I so often suffer from stomach problems.  Then, on Friday,   I ate Cheese Doodles and Fritos and drank a lot of beer.  Eating those chips is especially ridiculous, since I almost never eat chips in my regular life anyway.

Yesterday, I resolved to do it my own way. I’m going to just make sure I avoid processed food and seriously cut back on dairy. As Chris pointed out, I don’t really want to learn that I’m intolerant to gluten or lactose. Let’s be real. I’d never totally cut them out of my diet anyway.

I did, however,  add some delicious recipes to my repertoire; I’ll post a list to follow.

Sundried Tomato/Pea Dip and Endive Spears

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So, Giada de Laurentiis is annoying. I don’t quite know how to explain why. Maybe it’s her constant display of cleavage, or her constant display of conspicuous high class consumption. But she’s irritating. Her recipes, however, tend to be lovely. We picked up some endive to try at Trader Joe’s and made a delicious and easy dip (recipe by Giada) with frozen peas, endive, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Our food processor, as usual, came in handy.

Chris also attempted Mark Bittman’s homemade crackers today. They were good, but we still need to tinker with the recipe. So stay tuned!

It’s Going to Be a Long Week…

Chris is working until 8 tonight (and nearly every other night this week). I have a crippling inability to enjoy being alone at home for more than about 3 hours.  I can fill 3 hours with obsessive cleaning, TV watching, and cooking, but when it gets to be more than that, my crazy head starts to spin. Since I get home at 4, and Chris will be getting home at 9, I best figure out what to do with those two extra hours.

Last week, making that Anne Burrell’s time-consuming bolognese helped. Tonight, I plan to braise some chicken thighs and work on the journal for my Aunt-in-laws student’s Flat Stanley paper doll.

I’m really broke this week, as usual, so any suggestions for cheap ways to fill my time (that don’t require intense amounts of stressful thought) are appreciated.

Salmon Croquettes

Toward the end of the week, I have to get creative with stuff in my pantry, and left over in my fridge… and I’m usually pretty lazy. Tonight I made easy salmon croquettes. The use of canned salmon might make most foodies cringe, but I think it’s fine in a pinch. I’ve seen recipes using nice salmon fillets, and I bet they’re great. But on a lazy Friday? These’ll be delicious.

The first time I made these, I followed Paula Deen’s simple recipe;  now, I’ve a number of made my own adjustments. Tonight I’ll serve these with a simple green salad, and a small serving of quinoa (cooked with chicken broth and some lemon).

  • can salmon, flaked with a fork
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup of bread crumbs, plus more for dusting on the outside
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1/4 red bell pepper, diced
  • juice of half a lemon
  • chopped fresh parsley, a tablespoon or two
  • salt, pepper
  • canola oil

For dipping sauce:

  • 2 tbsp. mayonnaise
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon juice
  • sprinkle of onion powder
  • salt, pepper

1. Combine the salmon, beaten egg, bread crumbs, onion, pepper, parsley, and dry seasonings in a mixing bowl until they’re sort of similar in consistency to a meatloaf mix.

2. Cover your large sautee pan with canola oil (you’re not deep frying; just cover the bottom) and heat over medium while you make your salmon into patties (I do this by making balls roughly the size of golf balls and flattening them). You should have 4-6 patties of equal size.

3. Dust each patty with a little of the bread crumbs on the outside before placing them in the hot oil. They should sizzle as they’re placed in the pan. Cook for about 5 minutes per side, or until brown.

4. Combine mayo, lemon juice, and seasonings in a small bowl with a fork. Serve either dolloped lightly on top or, as I like to do, in a small dish for dipping.

Cooking Slump?

 

by Web Comic xkcd via bonapetit.com

I keep finding myself in this vicious cycle. I love food so much. I know how much healthier, more cost effective, and (often) tasty home-cooked meals are. But I get into a certain rhythm with work, and socializing, and just don’t feel like it. The sausage soup I made a couple of weeks ago went bad in only a couple of days, and is still sitting in it’s container in the fridge (ahem, Chris, ahem). Superbowl Sunday meant a super fun party, but also an afternoon with no time for groceries. Plus, we’re broke, and shopping the circulars stops feeling like a game after a few weeks.

I’m hoping Chris will cook tonight’s dinner, with the ground beef we stuck in the freezer last week. I have a few go-to meals when I’m uninspired: fast tomato sauces, tortellini in chicken broth, rice and beans. But then the slump starts to perpetuate itself: the things I’m cooking bore me, so I stay bored with cooking.

This week will likely stay boring. I’m too busy to do any good shopping… maybe I’ll try and get amped up and plan for next week.