Archive for June, 2009

Hummus & tabbouleh wraps

June 29, 2009

This is another dish I made on Father’s Day that I’m finally getting around to posting. It is in an incredibly easy snack, appetizer, or light meal. When I eat them, I think of the annual Christmas day open house at my parents’, since my mom always make them then.


  • 8 ounces or so of hummus (flavor of your choice)
  • 8 ounces or so of Tabbouleh
  • 1 piece of lavash bread


1) Spread hummus onto the lavash bread. I find it’s easiest to use a spoon–you can scoop out the hummus and then use the back of it to spread.

2) Spread the tabbouleh on top of the hummus.

3) Roll up the lavash bread.

4) Put toothpicks at regular intervals along the wrap. Imagine the wraps being 1-1 1/2″ wide, with a toothpick in the center. (I didn’t have toothpicks and it didn’t really matter, but it makes it harder to cut and eat.)

5) Using a serrated knife, cut the wrap.

Whole wheat waffles & strawberry sauce

June 29, 2009

I apologize for the poor quality of this photo...

These are the waffles I made on Father’s Day. I got this recipe from the King Arthur Flour website.

Whole wheat waffles


  • 1 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/3 cup melted butter or vegetable oil


1) Whisk together flour, baking powder, and sugar.

2) In another bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, and butter or oil.

3) Mix the two bowls together, stirring only until they are combined.

4) Cook the waffles according to the directions that came with your waffle iron.

Yield: About eight 8″ waffles

Strawberry sauce

I created this recipe by looking at a lot of different recipes and combining them.


  • Approximately 20 ounces of frozen strawberries
  • 1/4 cup sugar


1) Defrost the strawberries. If you’re in a rush, put them in the microwave until they are soft enough to mash up.

2) Using a fork, mash up the strawberries. I like mine to still have chunks of berries.

3) Put the strawberry puree on the stove, over medium heat. Add 1/4 of sugar (or to taste). Heat until simmering.

4) Take off the stove, allow to cool, then put into the refrigerator until chilled.

Serve with whipped cream!

Exhibition Night & the end of school

June 29, 2009

Wednesday night, as I mentioned in my previous post, was Exhibition Night, an evening to celebrate students’ work over the course of the trimester. I don’t have too many photos because I recorded two videos–one of a Midsummer Night’s Dream performance and one of a spoken word piece that was performed at Camp Darfur (totaling 21 minutes)–so I ran out of space on my memory card.

Peace cranes made by students after school during a unit in history on peace. Next year they will be sent to Japan.

They are hanging in the main entryway to the high school side of the building. Spectacular!

These are from the choice block "Stupid Sock Creatures." Students designed and sewed them, and wrote their life stories, which are imaginative & hysterical. (Choice block classes are electives that meet once a week on Fridays. Other choice blocks include: knitting, softball, tech squad (they fix the school's computers), and Green Team. I teach Newspaper.)

Aside from the many performances, including the performances by an experimental theater group that meets after school and a student band, my favorite part of this Exhibition Night was the tours given by students. I received a tour of the school’s organic garden (below). I also went on a tour of an art project that involved extensive research into the history of our school’s land. It culminated in the creation of large wooden silhouettes of each of the people who have lived on our land, which are displayed along the roadside.

The school's organic garden, created by honors biology students and anyone else who wanted to help, under the guidance of our fabulous biology teacher.

Friday was the last day of school. It ended at 1pm and the last two hours of the day were a schoolwide barbeque, organized and run by parents. After getting my food, I sat down in the grass with two other teachers. Soon there was a group of 20 or so students sitting around us. This is so ordinary, but it really struck me when I was telling David about it because I think it really sets us apart. There were lots of places to sit, but the students were drawn towards their teachers.

Earlier in the week, one of my colleagues ran a reflection activity for 10th graders. We’ve come a long way since our days in the town hall last year, with only the 9th grade. When I walked into a classroom later in the day, a chalk talk was still on the board. Students were asked something along the lines of, “What do you most like about our school? What don’t you want to lose as we continue to grow?” Four or five times, the same thing: “Our relationships with our teachers.”

I’ve been reflecting a bit on the growth I’ve experienced this year with classroom management, something that I still need to work on. I think, though, that the improvements I’ve made this year have little to do with developing new strategies and are mostly the result of getting to know my students. As I developed relationships with some of my students with less than perfect behavior, they listened to me more. Slowly, and not entirely reliably, two students who once fought me began to respond with a knowing smile and mumbled apology when they were misbehaving. As I got to know students, I also learned how different students would respond to different methods of redirection. I think that getting to know my students, both as English students and as people outside my classroom, is one of my greatest areas of success this year.

Near the end of school, a student who spent much of the year disliking me and my class, but has slowly come around, said to me with honesty and kindness, “You have a really great sense of humor.”

Last night, around 10pm, I finished writing my 15 pages of narratives for report cards. It is officially summer vacation!!

16 miles

June 27, 2009

This morning I rode 16 miles on the Rail Trail. It’s amazing how much easier this is getting. I wasn’t tired at all and could have ridden much further, if it weren’t for report card narratives…

two things at school that brought a smile to my face

June 24, 2009

1) Tonight is exhibition night. Four hours today were dedicated to setting up exhibition night–revising work, putting it on digital portfolios, and setting up the exhibitions. Students needed to have their work (and rubrics with teacher feedback) so they could revise during prep time. One of my students didn’t have her rubric for her recent Midsummer Night’s Dream project. Frustrated, I asked her where it was. “Well, I was so proud of it… it’s on my refrigerator at home…”

2) We had an all-school assembly in the auditorium so that Endersession groups could present what they did and learned last week. During one group’s slideshow of photos, the students started to complain that there wasn’t music to accompany it. That lasted for about 5 seconds, when one student said, “Let’s make the music!” It started with just a few voices, but eventually almost the entire school was singing Build Me Up Buttercup.

Father’s day!

June 23, 2009

Me & the most patient, generous, intelligent, and geeky dad I know.

My parents came over for brunch on Sunday, Father’s day. I made: quiche, hummus & tabbouleh wraps, fruit salad, and whole wheat waffles & strawberry sauce.

Recipes will come soon! I hope you had a great day, Dad. xoxooxoxoxo!

Back from biking in Martha’s Vineyard with students!

June 23, 2009

On Friday I got back from two nights and not quite three days in Martha’s Vineyard. We left school around 8:30am on Wednesday; parents dropped us off at the ferry in Wood’s Hole. We got there a bit early, so students were allowed to go off to buy food and look around. We then boarded the ferry for a 45-minute ride to Oak Bluffs. A number of students had never been on a ferry before, so it was awesome to get to see the sheer joy they found in riding across the ocean. It was sunny and we all spent the entire time outside.

When we got to the Vineyard we walked just a few blocks to the bike rental shop since most students were renting bikes. The bike rental place kindly took all of our bags and drove them to the hostel where we stayed. After everyone had a bike, a number of us got pizza slices. I took the lead and my co-leader (one of the school principals) brought up the rear as we rode to Edgartown.

A line of bikes, shortly before leaving for Edgartown. *Note: I have so many beautiful photos from the trip, but am only posting ones where students aren't identifiable.

We stopped for a bit at the famous bridge from Jaws because within 15 minutes one of our students had a flat tire and one had fallen off her bike, ripped her jeans, and was bleeding. Luckily the girl with the flat tire was riding a rental bike–they sent a repair truck!

Several students on the beach by the bridge from Jaws, taking a break while we waited for the repair truck.

When we got to Edgartown students went exploring in groups, and my co-leader who has been to the Vineyard a lot showed me around.

We then continued on to the youth hostel where we were staying, which was in West Tisbury. We were able to go virtually the entire way on wide, paved bike paths lined with trees. My co-leader took the lead and I brought up the rear. It was slow going in the back, and there where a couple of times when I had to get off my bike because I couldn’t ride that slowly… But we made it! We rode about 13 miles in total, but that was spread over four or five hours with lots of breaks.

I still really wanted to do more riding. I hadn’t previously put much thought into what makes a bike ride rigorous. After wondering why 13 miles felt like nothing, I realized that it depends only somewhat on its length; speed and steepness are huge factors! I found two students who were also eager to ride again. It was one of my favorite parts of the trip–talking and riding with two teenagers who are thoughtful and considerate, filled with ideas, energy, and compassion.

The two students on our evening ride. We rode off of the paved bike trail for awhile, to this mowed trail through grass and purple & white wildflowers.

We then came back and the hostel threw us a huge barbecue. Another Endersession group, who were camping on the Vineyard and volunteering for several conservation groups, joined us for dinner.

So much delicious food! (Veggie burgers too!)

After dinner, a lot of people sat around and played cards, played volleyball, or enjoyed the hammock. I took a group of three students (including one who went on the ride before dinner) on another ride at sunset.

In total, I rode 21 miles on day 1. When we got back, we had a bonfire and made s’mores. It was really nice connecting with students in the dark, with the heat of the fire on my calves and melted chocolate in my mouth. Campfires always make you feel more open, and closer. I got to hear a lot of neat stories. It was amazing seeing typically shy students tell stories of sleep walking and sibling rivalry, and then see them beam as everyone laughed.

The next day over breakfast (the hostel provided us with oatmeal, make your own pancakes, freshly made bread & homemade jam), my co-leader suggested he take the bulk of students that day on a shorter ride to Edgartown and then to South Beach. He showed me a route he thought I should take four or five or our more advanced riders on, to Aquinnah. We left around 9:30; it was overcast, but thankfully the rain held off. It was incredibly hilly, and the absence of a shoulder on the road in parts made me nervous, but it felt so good to have a challenge. Biking in a much smaller group not only made it easier to stay together and keep up a good pace, but it enabled us to have conversations we couldn’t have had in a large group. I’m so grateful that my co-leader gave me the opportunity to do this.

The cliffs and lighthouse in Aquinnah.

We walked around the very, very small shop area by the lighthouse, which consisted of two or three food stands and a gift shop or two. We then headed to the beach.

While on the beach we ran into a few men who were also staying at our hostel. They told us to walk down the beach a bit further, that not too far off there was a huge shark washed up on the beach!

Here I am with the shark.

I was expecting the shark’s skin to be smooth, like a dolphin’s, but it was incredibly sharp–far rougher than sandpaper. Much of the shark was buried beneath the sand because of the tide, and parts of it (like the head) were clearly missing. I found out today, after reading this Martha’s Vineyard Times article that it was a basking shark and when it originally washed up it was 30 feet long! The photo on the newspaper’s website is incredible!  This was, far and away, one of the coolest parts of the trip. My small group of students were so excited to tell the rest of our Endersession group about it, and are still talking about it days later.

We then got on our bikes for the return trip. We were all pretty exhausted because it was so hilly and we were hungry. At one point, one of the students wanted to quit and catch a bus back. Another student in the group (a very talented cyclist who spends hours riding his bicycle most days, and said to me with a smile, “This is why my homework doesn’t always get done…”) rode behind her, saying encouraging things, and telling her which gear to ride in.

We found a place to eat alongside the road, Chilmark Store, which was both a convenience store and a sandwich/pizza shop. We all ate a slice of pizza while sitting on rocking chairs on the patio. We felt much better after eating and realized we shouldn’t have waited until 2pm for food. We then road back to the hostel–a total of 27 miles. It was much more difficult than previous rides I’ve done though, because there were so many steep hills and so little flat terrain. We arrived 20 minutes before the other group, which meant we got showers right away! (I was sharing a bathroom with two showers, two toilets, and two sinks with 16 teenage girls, plus a few other hostel guests.)

For dinner that night we made a huge spaghetti dinner. I ran the cooking of the meal and my co-leader led the clean up. After dinner, I got to talking with the three men who we’d run into at the beach. A ways into the conversation, it came up that I wasn’t a student they were pretty taken aback, though they said, “You were so eloquent and it seemed like you were in charge, but you just look so… YOUNG!” They then told me that their high school teachers were “in their eighties or nineties.” I’m used to people thinking I’m 15, so their amusement was pretty funny. The students always get a kick out of it.

I spent quite awhile talking with Larry, Ron, and Tony. They have all been friends since 1967. I’d estimate that they were in their mid-60s, but I’m not so good with ages. We sat around the kitchen area and they recounted lots of their old stories–you could tell that they’d told them dozens of times before, but still got a kick out of recalling their adventures. They’d each jump in, sometimes cutting each other off, to add details. The told me about their 145-mile bike ride through New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania in one day. They told me about the 212-mile double century where they started in the dark and ended in the dark. They each live in a different state now (NY, NJ, and PA), but they get together at least once a month and talk on the phone several times a week. I could have listened to their stories and laughter all night long.

The next morning I ran into Larry who said, “I hope we run into you again some day.”

We began the trek back to school around 9am and got back at around 2:30. I was so grateful the rain held off until our last day.

I would have liked to stay even longer and students kept saying the same thing. My co-leader and I are thining about planning some weekend school trips next year–another bike trip to Martha’s Vineyard in the fall, a ski trip in the winter, and possibly some hiking in the spring.

Off to Martha’s Vineyard

June 16, 2009

At our school we have a program called Endersession, which is a week long course spanning the last full week of the school year.  It allows students to experience unique educational opportunities in an intensive, hands-on course.  It is designed to foster educational methods that reach beyond the classroom walls, encouraging students to develop varied interests and insights that allow them to embrace and reflect upon the world around them.

Students are taking courses like: music production (they are producing songs & recording an album in one week!), backpacking in the white mountains, historic Massachusettes (field trips somewhere different every day), blacksmithing, creating a public art piece, etc. It is really one of my favorite times of the year; instead of suffering through end of the year burnout, students and teachers share their passion and engage in real-world learning!

I am co-leading Biking in Martha’s Vineyard. We’ll be gone tomorrow (Wednesday) through Friday. Yesterday and today we learned about bikes and the Vineyard. (By the way, if you have any interest in cycling, I strongly recommend the documentary Hell on Wheels, which is about the 2003 Tour de France, and follows the German team both in the race and behind the scenes.) For part of today, about a third of the group went on a warm-up bikeride. Those who didn’t have bikes, and are renting them once we arrive, went on a 1 1/2 hour hike in the woods with me. Our school now owns 200 acres, most of it completely undeveloped. It was a bit wet and overcast, but so beautiful.

When we couldn't go any further on this trail (it was flooded), we saw a huge heron colony in the tree tops. There were dozens of nests, filled with birds. It was amazing.

They're small in this picture, but you can see several nests.

Most Endersession groups have one leader and 6-8 students. My co-leader and I have the biggest group–21 students, five boys and 16 girls. Since I am the sole female chaperon, I will be spending the next two evenings sharing a room at a hostel with 16 teenage girls!! (I probably won’t get much sleep, but I really am excited!)

I wish I had time for more, but dinner and packing await… I’ll update when I get back!

bean, corn, and salsa salad

June 15, 2009

I made this dish after my co-worker and friend Shannon brought something similar for lunch last week. We had it for dinner on Saturday, and I made it again to bring for lunch today. Prep time = less than 5 minutes!!


  • Lettuce/greens of choice
  • Corn (I used canned, no sodium added, drained and rinsed)
  • Black beans (drained and rinsed)
  • Salsa (I prefer the fresh, not from a jar kind)
  • Sour cream or plain yogurt (I used plain, fat-free yogurt)


All you need to do is take a scoop of each of the ingredients (corn, beans, salsa, yogurt) and put it on top of the salad. Toss. So easy! Eat with tortilla chips (on the side, or break into bits on top).

Newburyport & Plum Island

June 13, 2009

This is my favorite photo from Plum Island today. It was so, so beautiful.

Today David and I drove to Newburyport, MA. We walked around downtown and split a roasted veggie sandwich and a bowl of gazpacho for lunch at The Purple Onion. We ate outside in the sun. I don’t remember ever going to Newburyport before today, but it reminded us a bit of Portsmouth, NH–brick sidewalks and buildings, cute shops and cafes, and the ocean.

We then went to the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge on Plum Island. It was absolutely beautiful. We rode our bikes almost the entire length of the island, or about 10 miles round trip. We stopped to do several walks through the woods, marshes, and dunes on the way. Afterwards, we walked along the beach (a portion of which was closed because of nesting piper plovers, a shorebird that is threatened).

There are so many photos from today, it was hard to narrow it down…

This is right next to the road we biked on.

This is also alongside the road we were biking on.

We parked our bikes and walked...

We are getting so good at using the self-timer on my camera.

We are getting so good at using the self-timer on my camera.

I've identified this bird as a red-winged blackbird. I have other photos where you can see the bird's striking red wing, but I like this photo of the bird best.

I hope to go back again this summer!