Tuesday, May 29, 2018

I can't believe it's not a run-on sentence 5

File this under first-world problems or world's mildest rant: I'm on an airplane, and the seat doesn't recline; in fact, the majority of the seats don't recline, and my understanding is that reclining is now (at least on one airline) among the services that can command a fee -- along with carrying on luggage, receiving food or drinks besides water, choosing where and next to whom one sits, and having additional legroom -- which qualifies as a disappointing development, in any world, even one where I'm miraculously whisked thousands of miles in mere hours.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Soup's IN

I ate my first soup dumpling more than 20 years ago in New York City. It was a culinary locked-room mystery: a supple pouch sealing in gingery broth and a porky filling. "How'd the soup get in there?" my fellow diners and I marveled. (Newsflash! Secret's out.)

Our memorable inaugural bite came at a joint whose reputation was built on their xiaolongbao, Joe's Shanghai, so when I left New York behind, I figured that meant soup dumplings, too.

Still, in these western parts, my comestible radar has detected their presence three times in the intervening decades. Expectations have been high on each occasion, mostly leading to disappointment -- dumplings that were insufficiently soupy or not hot enough, even a little rubbery.

Third time, though, was the Goldilocks charm last week. A new place right around the corner from home offers the closest approximation of the savory deliciousness I remember. Eat your heart out, Proust! You can have have your Madeleines; I'll be in the corner slurping from a deep spoon.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Win - win

Students and I are running through the semester's end game, reviewing expectations for what they're collecting in their digital portfolios and how their grades will reflect those components, when eighth-grader Thomas speaks up. "I put together this spreadsheet if any of you are interested," he says, or words to that effect. "Let me know if you want me to share it. It can help you determine what you need to do to reach your grade goals."

I follow up with Thomas, and he shows me how his table crunches together individual elements to demonstrate whether students' standard-by-standard performance is or isn't on track for their desired finish line. (He's made a grade-book sandbox!) If a con in this system is some students calculating to the fraction of a point what's the least they need to do to achieve what they deem success, I figure the pro is more students feeling like savvy, informed players of the game. I'm calling Thomas' ingenuity and independence, not to mention willingness to share his hack with others, a win.

A second win reveals itself in a conference with another eighth grader, Evan. He's describing progress he's noticed this year in his speaking skills, and he reminds me of a connection we had talked about earlier between performing music (a passion of his) and making formal presentations at school. He tells me how it finally clicks for him: how he can get in a speaking 'zone' that resembles how he feels playing music. When it's time to speak in school, he's now less self-conscious as he lets his words, gestures, and voice work together more freely to convey his message. Even without a guitar, he channels the feeling of being a rock star who commands the stage. I'm calling that win number two.

While the ends of school years are frenetic, they're also time to celebrate learners who continue putting valuable pieces together. (Another Slice of Life blogger reminded me of that today.)

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Series of Simultaneously Unfortunate & Fortunate Events

I'm on a cross-country flight, unexpectedly.
I'm reading a book when the flight attendant announces the onboard wi-fi system isn't working, so all passengers may enjoy complimentary DIRECTV by way of apology.
I decide I'll check out the in-flight movies to see what's on that I might've missed in theaters.
I settle on "The Post."
I watch actor Tom Hanks playing Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee say, "The only way to assert the right to publish is to publish."
I reflect on how that's not only true in times of political crisis but also in humble matters of personal writing like blogging.
I write this and press a button that says Publish.