Fallin for a Safety Net

There is something to be said about high quality professional development. When you participate in a good one, you can walk away with immediate ideas and an implementation strategy to try out the very next day. You know the PD was worth your time when you learn something new that blows your mind a bit and makes you excited to try it out. This was how I felt after a PD led by one of my colleagues recently on “close reading”. I had been struggling with teaching my students how to read independently AND gain useful information from their reading. None of my students in Brooklyn were reading at grade level and I never really knew how to teach them reading comprehension strategies. Of course I took a literacy class in my credential program, but that was more theory and not at all practical applications of teaching literacy.  At most, I annotated for/with them and hoped that things stuck after some questioning and discussion. Here in Denver, some of my honors kids are reading at or above grade level, but I still have a majority who will read fluently, but without full understanding. It’s refreshing to have a short PD that teaches you something concrete, useful and simple to implement the very next lesson. In addition, it’s super helpful to have somewhat of a safety net in the form of a fellow teacher right at your school to help clarify routines, and give you tips.  If you want more information on close reading, check this out (though it’s much more useful to see it in action).

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glasses: warby parker – cardigan: madewell – tank: banana republic – pants: urban outfitters – boots: steve madden

This outfit is from the day I incorporated close reading into my lesson on Potential and Kinetic Energy.  I know these pants aren’t the most flattering for my body type with it’s slouchy look.  But hot damn, they’re comfortable.  They were also just $15 from the sale section at Urban Outfitters.  They’re still on the website (but for $30 – I got them at an extra 50% off), the Silence and Noise Winston Trousers.  They’re thick and warm for this freezing weather in Denver, and have I mentioned how comfy they are yet??

Black and Maybe Blue, but White?

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glasses: warby parker – top: madewell – jeans: uniqlo – boots: franco sarto via nordstrom rack – jewelry: family heirloom, some craft booth in brooklyn, fossil watch, fitbit

I wear black jeans to work on most days.  Jeans for me generally means skinny jeans.  I know this is tabboo for some teachers, but I personally don’t really see a problem with it.  As long as they’re dark, they could just be plain old black pants.  The only difference between my jeans and some other teacher’s pants are the material.  At least, that’s how I rationalize it.  Sometimes, I’ll even wear blue jeans.  Not often, but occasionally.  But what about white jeans?  I asked B the other night if I should wear white jeans to school.  I thought they’d look really cute with this blue silk top I bought at Madewell recently (on super sale – extra 40% off – and with my teacher discount).  I knew I wouldn’t wear them anyways, because white jeans, to me, veer into the “probably shouldn’t” territory.  But I thought I’d ask his opinion anyway.  He said very bluntly, “white jeans are not appropriate for teachers”.

Is that true?  Who says?  Why?  What do you guys think?  Are white jeans taboo for teachers and why?  Are jeans in general “not appropriate”?  Be sure to answer this prompt with a claim, evidence and analysis.  Just kidding!

The Winter Stay-cation (instagram round up)

Welcome back!  Today is the first monday of January – which means the first day back for us teachers!  Initially I had been working on B to take a Denver –> San Francisco and back road trip for the 2 weeks I had off.  in the end, he couldn’t be swayed to sit in the car for the 20 hours it would have taken us to get there, so a  Stay-cation is was.  This winter break was the chance to so all those “Colorado” things I’ve been missing out on this whole fall semester!  So I made a mental list and checked some off.

1) I went indoor rock climbing for the first time in 4 years at Thrill Seekers.  I’m hoping to continue it and eventually move into some real rock climbing – outdoors.

2) We found time for some more archer-ing (?).  It’s an amazing feeling to hit the bull’s eye.  One day I’ll Legolas the shit out of the target.  In the mean time, Abe and I (my Bio partner in crime) just let them fly and am happy if one lands on the paper inside the circles.  Getting better with practice though.


3) I finally went snowboarding in Colorado, one of the main draws for me moving out here.  The snow has been coming down pretty heavily since christmas, so B and I made our way up to the mountains for the first time this season.  We both bought the Epic Local pass, so we have more than a few resorts to chose from.  Also, I bought myself a new board and bindings this year.  It was time to retire the old beat up, gouged up “vintage” Rossignol Strato from 2001.  The new board is amazing and I’m sure it will last me another 14 years!


4) B and I went on 2 nice dinner dates – once at TAG and once at MY NEW FAVORITE RESTAURANT IN DENVER, Beatrice and Woodsley.  Sorry, that had to be in caps because this place is seriously amazing.  The decor is nothing short of magical (and I hate that word as a science teacher), and it feels like you’re dining inside an Anthropologie store (without all the clothes).  Just check out the photos!  The food is also amazing, interesting and French (my favorite only second to Vietnamese).


5) I painted.  B had this large 3’x4′ canvas in his apartment in SF that he used as a projector screen.  When we moved to Brooklyn and in together, I insisted on keeping it, thinking I’d paint something cool and abstract on it one day.  Fast forward 3 years and the canvas was still untouched, save for a huge red wine splash on a corner.  B kept threatening to get rid of it if I wasn’t going to do anything with it, and I stalled for 3 years.  I’m not a painter.  The last time I painted, I was in high school taking a summer art class at Academy of Art College (now University) in SF.  This stay-cation was the perfect time to get it done.  It has been amateur hour at the Schenck artist studio.  I channeled my inner Bob Ross and bought a mixing knife, a fatty brush and 4 colors from a Michael’s craft store.  I started out with some paint scribbles and what looked like might be ocean waves, and ended up with this.  No idea how it worked, but I like it enough.  i think I’ll call it, Serenity.  Lolz.


6) B and I went shopping at the Arcteryx outlet and spent way too much money on awesome jackets.  I bought a new snowboarding shell, and he bought a soft jacket and a shell.  All last year’s colors and and extra 30% off the already reduced prices.  We were like kids in a candy shop, wanted all of the things.  Now we match like major dorks.


This is a complete coincidence, I promise.  I bought my black jacket at the start of fall.  Then B bought his black beanie from REI and I just “had to have” the orange version (I wanted to look like this girl) a few weeks before the break.  Then he just “had” to get the orange version of my jacket way later.  We’re just too cool, man.

A Giant

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scarf: topshop – cardigan and jeans: uniqlo – shirt: giants – belt: banana republic – boots: madewell

A few FAQ from students:

“Miss, are you going to have kids?” — No.

“Miss, what are you?” — I am a human being with feelings.

“Miss, did that hurt?” — (about my nape piercing) Of course.

“Miss, why are you so damn tall?” — Because I come from a city of giants.  Duh!

The Mids

We are just about midway through the school year here in Denver – winter break is just around the corner.  The weeks in between TG break and winter break just seems to draaaaaag forever!  It’s crunch time for everyone at school.  Kids are just now worried about their grades and getting in heaps of late work.  I’m scrambling to serve each and every one of them while planning for their final exam review sessions, grading like a mad woman and trying to make as many “sorry, but your kid just may fail this semester, but here’s what I can do for them” phone calls as possible.  The countdown to a full 2 weeks off has started.  I’m working on convincing B to take a road trip back home to SF this break, but so far he’s not biting.  We don’t have anything else planned, so it’s either stay-cation or road trip.  I vote for an SF trip!

This is a new dress I picked up at Anthropologie over the Black Friday weekend.  It was on sale with extra % off so by the time I swiped my card, it was practically dirt cheap at $35 or something.  I got a lot of comments today, such as “Ms. Schenck, why you wearing an old lady dress?”  and “you look … different”.  At the same time, I also got more than a few, “I really love your dress!” and “where did you find that dress?”  So hits and missed over all.  I just know that I really like it and makes me feel even taller than I already am at 6ft.  I found a picture of what it looks like on the anthropologie model here, and it makes me think the dress is a tad too big on me.  Too bag = extra comfortable, right?

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dress: anthropologie – cardigan: super old free people – belt: f21 – boots: madewell

Made By Mommy

My mom grew up in a time and a place where there weren’t a lot of fast-fashion type stores to shop at.  She was born and raised in Vietnam, though my family is ethnically Chinese.  Back then, their version of shopping was shopping for fabric, and they all learned how to sew for themselves.  Even now I think my mom gets a thrill out of finding great fabrics for a good price.  So when my sister and my mom travelled to Myanmar this past fall, she brought home a stack of really cool embroidered fabrics.  She let me pick out the ones I liked the most, and sewed me a couple of skirts.  My mom has always been resourceful and ingenious — I think in her past life she must have been an engineer.  She took my favorite J.Crew #2 Pencil skirt, turned it inside out to show the seams, and used it to trace out a pattern.  After a number to try ons, lots of taking in and letting out seams, I left Washington DC with 2 perfectly fitting skirts in gorgeous fabrics.  I wore one of them yesterday to school and it is now my most conformable skirt, ever.  My mom is amazing.

By the way, my Honors Bio kids have been killing it lately learning about cellular transport.  I’ve never had such an easy time teaching this subject.  They’re making connections left and right, applying osmosis to their own lives and asking fantastic questions.  Lessons that took 3 days to get through in the past took me ONE day with this bunch.  Amazeballs.  Revamped curriculum and honors level kids FTW!

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necklaces: etsy (gift from b) similar and f21 – tank: alternative apparel – cardigan: j.crew – skirt: sewed by my mom – boots: steve madden – fitness tracker: fitbit

Mustard Mondays

I have new clothes to talk about!  Finally – I’ve been somewhat uninspired by the shops lately, so I haven’t been shopping much (for clothing anyway, I’ve been too spendy with the skincare and makeup).  This weekend though, the sales sucked me in.  I picked up these grey jeans (with a high waist that helps balance out my long torso/short legs combo) at Urban Outfitters to $15!!  I love a great deal.  The boots I got at H&M at the start of fall, and they’re really awesome.  Whether or not they will last past one winter, we’ll see.  The sweater is an oldie from my time in Brooklyn (last seen here and here).MustardMonday MustardMonday2 MustardMonday3 MustardMonday4

glasess: warby parker – infinity scarf: american apparel – sweater and jeans: urban outfitters – belt: jcrew – boots: h&m

As far as the whole having-a-life thing is going, we got a week off for Thanksgiving.  I flew out to DC to spend time with my family and I got to hang with my little niece in between naps and fits.  My mom and sister are speaking to her only in Mandarin, so I also got to brush up on my Chinese!  Practically no one in Denver speaks Chinese, so it’s gotten rusty from disuse.  My niece is just starting to talk, so she taught me that her favorite toy (which is a mother fox from IKEA) is called hu-li mama.  My mom speaks 4 different Chinese dialects, so at dinner times, my niece will say “good eats” in 3 of them – Cantonese, Mandarin and Fujian.  hou sic, hao chi, haw jia.


Of course, we also had to take a pre TG dinner family portrait (minus my brother in law).



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