1,000,000 Syllables in Korean Update

My primary goal this year is to read one million syllables (자소, 글자, take your pick) in Korean. So far I’m a little behind. The blue line shows where I should be and the red line shows where I am. I update it only after I finish a book.


We’re still basically snowbound here and it’s no longer fun. Seriously, there’s only so much cleaning, reading, and knitting one can do day after day…


I finished re-reading Pippi in Korean this morning. I got to the word 해적, which Good Man had had to translate for me last time. “해적 means ‘pirate,’ right?”


“Like ‘ocean person?'”

Good Man shook his head, “No, 적 is enemy.”

I laughed. “Ocean enemy?” Good Man nodded and I pointed to him and screeched, “담요적이야!” Blanket enemy.

If Good Man can turn 90 degrees in bed, he’ll turn 270 degrees. He tosses and turns like no one I’ve ever met. It drives me crazy!

I started the second Pippi book in Korean tonight (꼬마 백만 장자 삐삐) and made it through the first two chapters. That’s 37 pages, so I was pretty pleased with myself.

I was a little nervous about reading Pippi Goes on Board in Korean because unlike the original Pippi book, I’ve only read this one once, about twenty years ago. However, my Korean level is keeping up with the book, which is a surprise and a relief.

I laughed out loud at several parts.

삐삐는 금화 한 닢을 흔들며 말했다.

“여기, 사탕 18킬로그램만 주세요.”

Pippi shook her gold coin and said, “Hey, please give me 18 kilograms of candy.”


When I went to Korea, I was pretty strict about what I brought into my house, since I knew I’d be leaving again. I was afraid that coming back to the States would change my habit.

Luckily, for the most part, it hasn’t.

Still, one of my goals this year is to bring less into the house than I push out of the house.

I’ve started with a very obvious, tangible thing: my books. I’ve made it a goal to get 100 books out my door this year, and to bring in 10 books or fewer (this is post-Korea spree). So far, 61 books are out the door and another 20 or so are ready to be donated, given away, or sold.

By finally admitting that I’m not going to read or re-read books, I’ve been freed. I’ve let go of my own self-created obligations. This has made me eager to read the books I’ve chosen to keep.

I’ve gone beyond the books a bit. I’ve cleaned things up, sorted things out. I’ve finally restrung a necklace that’s been broken for years. On the other hand, I’ve gotten rid of jewelry I no longer wear but have felt compelled to keep because it was a gift. It’s getting easier to see what’s important to me. The broken jewelry was more important than the unbroken jewelry.

It’s magical how getting rid of things makes you happier with what you have.

Snowmageddon 2010 Photos

Snowmageddon 2010 Album

Damn. This is some snow.

Being snowed in for one weekend is fun. Being snowed in for two weekends in seven weeks? Not so fun. Today Good Man and I were going stir-crazy and since it’d finally quit snowing (!) we could go out without risking life and limb. Well, went out we did for a 3.5 mile walk and some lunch at Cosi. At some points I was thigh-deep in snow.

Now, I grew up in Minnesota, but even this is unusual for the Great White North.

School is canceled tomorrow and the custodians aren’t even expected to go in. This makes me suspect we won’t be back Tuesday, either.

Heck, the Federal Government is closed tomorrow. That’s how you know it’s a bad, bad storm!

Making a Snow Angel

Making a Snowball

I Think It Is the End of the World Going On

OK, Virginia, I thought you were in the South. The South politically and physically. So what’s up with the damn snow?

My school district canceled tomorrow’s classes as of 4:15 this afternoon. We aren’t even supposed to get snow until noon tomorrow. I’ve taught two days this week, and we’ve now used up all of our snow days and we have to give up holidays to make up the days.


Good Man ran to the grocery store, called me, and said, “I think it is the end of the world going on.”

Yes, it is, Good Man. The snow is coming!


As part of my GT endorsement class I had to survey a small group of gifted students on curriculum. I surveyed my math class.

I only have six students in my math class, so it was fairly easy. I told them that I would only use their answers to make math better and I wouldn’t be upset with anything. They must trust me, because I got very honest answers.

Their responses were interesting, funny, and… surprising. Five of my six students said that algebra is their favorite part of math. It’s their favorite thing to do.

What I like MOST about math is: when we solve algebra problems because it helps you in real life.

We should do more word algebra problems because they’re more challenging than the regular algebra.

What I like MOST about math is: Algebra, some I get, and some I don’t. I feel good when I complete it.

When I was in sixth grade, around February, thirty of us (twenty boys and ten girls) started doing seventh grade math. We were with the math specialist and even though I’d always been strong in math, algebra stumped me. Oddly, the teacher had done Hands-On Equations from September through January with Mark and one other student. But when we came through, that went out the window and she made us just memorize all of the steps. I didn’t understand. I remember getting in a huge argument with my mom over it in the car one day.

Plus, under the Chicago Math series, we were allowed to re-test and re-test as many times as we wanted until we got “mastery.” As a teacher in a high-stakes testing environment, I know why this is done. We have to re-teach students until they show mastery. However, as a student, I know that we took advantage of that. What’s the point of studying and trying and learning it the first time if you’re never allowed to fail? (One student asked another teacher at my school, “If I fail this test you’ll just keep me after school and re-teach me, right?” Things don’t really change.)

I did come to love algebra, once we got into more interesting questions—one of my major difficulties was that “x + 7 = 12″ was too stupid to solve step-by-step, so what was the point? (“Mom, they know it’s five. So why write x?!”)

But while I wanted my students to struggle a bit with algebra, I didn’t want them to dread it. So I introduced it like my mother did: as a game, as a puzzle.

And whatever I did worked, because most of my class loves algebra and wants more of it. And even the one who didn’t claim it as his favorite part of math said it’s OK when they’re not “those super long algebra equations […] they just are paper eaters.”

And we’ve gone far, far beyond the one-step equations that the curriculum mandates and onto “set it up, simplify it, and two-step it” word problems.

There are four brothers. The oldest gets $10 more for Christmas than the second oldest, who gets $10 more than the third oldest, who gets $10 more than the youngest. If the total money they receive is $220, how much money does the oldest brother get?

My students know how to set that up, solve it, and check it. And almost all of them like it.


Like an Earthworm

We had another snowstorm. Good Man went out in it last night.

And this is what it looked like this morning.

Good Man has taken to singing “Like an earthworm~~ ooh!” to the tune of Madonna’s “Like a Virgin.” When he does so, he wriggles his arms around.

My husband is odd.