BulgingButtons

Not bad for a fat girl


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Skillet Dinner – Recipe Included

It’s not what you think.

It’s not what it ought to be.

It ought to be a delicious, hearty skillet full of things like vegetables and potatoes and sausage. Maybe it has an egg on top, or some cheese melted over it. You can picture it, right? So can I, but it’s not what was in my skillet dinner the other night.

My skillet dinner was actually dessert.

Yes, I skipped the whole dinner thing altogether and just made, and ate, dessert.

I blame the internet for this.

You see, one of those delicious Buzzfeed recipes came across my Facebook page and I just had to check it out. It claimed to be a three course meal, but all I saw was dessert. A giant, gooey skillet cookie.

I didn’t have a skillet.

I bought one.

It was on the list, anyway, so don’t judge me.

It was so easy. It was so delicious. It was so full of calories.

At least there were fewer calories consumed than if I had eaten it AFTER a meal, rather than INSTEAD of it, right? And there were leftovers, plenty of them. It was too rich to eat much of.

Would I make it again? Yes.

Would I have it for dinner again? Also yes.

I have no shame.

 

Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookie

as made by BulgingButtons

30 oz. package chocolate chip cookie dough

(original recipe said 24 oz. but I couldn’t find it)

8 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips

(original recipe said 8 oz chocolate, didn’t say what kind)

Preheat oven to 325° F

Press 2/3 of cookie dough into a 10 in iron skillet

Place chocolate on top

Roll out remaining dough, then place on top of chocolate and seal edges

Bake for 35-40 minutes

Eat for dinner


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Getting Busy With Prezi

What do you do when you’re busy? Get busier, of course.

Why is it that when I’m already pulled in a million directions I feel like it’s the perfect time to take on something new? Maybe because my brain is in overdrive and it feels competent and energized? Or maybe because my common sense has abandoned me?

Either way, IUnknown.jpeg decided that I should learn how to use Prezi presentation software. I’ve seen it in action a few times, and to me it’s far more engaging than good old PowerPoint (no worries, PP, I’ll still be using you for many years to come, I’m sure).
I visited their website and was delighted to learn that educators can use a version of Prezi for free upon verification of their status (it was easy, just submit school email and website). The tutorial is straightforward, and blessedly short. In under five minutes I had created my first Prezi.

Of course that first one had about as much complexity and polish as a first grader’s attempt at poetry, but it’s a start. I keep pushing my students to try new things and stretch their brains, so it stands to reason that I should do the same. I plan on playing around with Prezi more in the future. In fact there’s a report on the Mayan culture that we just wrote that would look great as a Prezi. Oh yes, this is going to be good!


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Why Do I Write?

This was the question posed to my fourth grade students on their recent “Writing Motivation Survey.” It was in the form of an online poll, complete with twenty-eight questions that they were to rank on a 1-4 scale. It was required before they completed their annual district writing assessment.

Twenty-eight questions. They are nine years old. If I ask them why they write they will tell me things like, “I have to” or “I like writing because it’s fun” or “I like making up stories.” Those replies are perfectly appropriate for a nine year old. But twenty-eight questions? Too much.

Speaking of too much, there’s the assessment itself. In the old days we passed out a paper folder with a writing prompt on the front. It was one or two sentences long. We also passed out a check sheet that kids were to use for revision and editing purposes. Some used it, many did not. After they completed a rough draft they got a second paper folder for the final draft. It was a long process, and quite demanding, but appropriate to the age and grade level.

Times have changed, however. Now the kids get a copy of the scoring guideline, which is written for adults. Good thing we have access to it ahead of time so that we can teach them what it means. The test is now on the computer, which isn’t uncommon, but it does take quite a few more steps to get to than passing out a paper. They have to read through two dense pages of “how to use the tools” (again, we are able to do this ahead of time, thank goodness), before they even get to the prompt.

Ah, the prompt. It’s on the right side of the screen, with a related article on the left side. Remember the old one to two sentence prompt? That’s gone. Now there’s about 200 words of text they have to navigate before they can figure out what they’re supposed to write about. And am I allowed to read it to them or help them interpret it? Absolutely not. They are on their own (even though this is not a reading comprehension test, it’s a writing test).

The expectation is that they will then independently read the included article on the topic (again, no help is allowed) and incorporate information into their response. They also watch an informational video and take notes on it to include. Then they are to independently compose their piece, revise and edit it, and type it into the computer. Did I mention that they’re nine?

We try to prepare them for this task, but frankly it’s too much. Even if I could rewrite the prompt so that it’s easier to understand, even if I could choose a shorter, simpler article, even if I could read it to them, it’s too much. How often do you have to read text, view a video, and compose a piece of writing all in one sitting? And you’re an adult!

It’s a good thing they take the “Writing Motivation Survey” before this assessment, because afterward I don’t think too many of my kids were feeling very good about writing, and that’s terrible. I have to do damage control, and work hard to get them back to a place where they don’t hate to write. Tasks like this are discouraging to so many learners, even kids who are normally enthusiastic about writing.

I understand the value of being able to accomplish that type of task, but honestly for kids in the fourth grade it’s too much, too soon. Now we’ll take a few steps back, break down some of those writing tasks into smaller chunks, and tackle those. We’ll also go back to enjoying language and learning how to play with it.

fun-writingThe good new is that kids are flexible. They did it. They survived. They’ll move on. My creative writing club kids met yesterday afternoon, and they proved it to me. They wrote for thirty sustained minutes about planets they created based on their watercolor paintings from the previous session. We had poetry, a space explorer account, a newscast drama, descriptions of the unicorn planet, the rainbow planet, the basketball planet, and more. Now that’s a reason to write.