Category Archives: Uncategorized

Summer Search Phrases

After Watching Jurassic World

  • Google Search: are rhinos herbivores
  • Google Search: are hippos herbivores
  • Google Image Search: hippos rhinos triceratops
  • Google Search: Jurassic Park when they first see the dinosaurs scene
  • (for your viewing pleasure) 

(results: Rhinos are herbivores, hippos are omnivores (savages) and no, a triceratops isn’t a mix of a hippo and rhinoceros — that’s not even how it works but you know. and dinosaurs are so cool.  Oh and hippos are terrifying).


On Rosy Boas

  • Google Search: How to train a snake not to bite
  • Google Search: 10.9 oz in grams
  • Google Search: 309 grams adult Rosy boa
  • Google Search: rosy boa weight
  • Google Search: Is my Rosy boa underweight?
  • Google Search: Rosy boa gain weight
  • Google Search: why tap a snake on head?
  • Google Search: why tap a snakes head
  • Google Search: bely
  • Google Search: belie
  • Google Search: normal for Rosy to eat every four days?
  • Google Search: normal for Rosy boa to eat every four days?
  • Google Search:Rosy boa tap train
  • Google Search: how often should rosy boa shed?
  • Google Search: underweight rosy boa
  • Google Search: do rosy boa pee

Results: no conclusion except that there is no “bely”.. I’m a terrible rosy boa mom.


On Sorry to Bother You

  • Google Search: Sorry to Bother You
  • Wiki: Omari Hardwick
  • Wiki: David Cross
  • Google Search: Sorry to bother you what???
  • Google Search: what did i just watch Sorry to bother you

Results:  I guess what I understood about the movie is what everyone else understood too.


Another End of Year Post

Yesterday I posted a super wordy post on my Instagram (@oaklandteacher). Today I posted a super lengthy Facebook post, another photo-heavy IG post, and now I’m here.

I think I honestly do low-key grieve when the year is over. Just give me a few days to slowly unwind and let the year wash over me and fade out. But for me, I like to process expressively.

I did a Keep/Change/Start/Stop reflection with my seventh grade kiddos and out of the list of suggestions, here are things that stood out:

-shaking hands at the door
-changing seats every month
-math notes pages
-being available after school (except the kid who said this has NEVER come. He said he just likes the option. Lol. Security?)
-math reflections
-Growth mindset
-algebra tiles

-more projects
-more homework (every time this was suggested by kids who never do homework so I don’t understand why…)
-saltiness/attitude/outfits/haircut (Evelin and Alex, I will hold a grudge until the grave)
-more blended time
-incentives systems
-more field trips
-less time for warm-ups

-different table arrangements
-computer homework
-class jobs
-more specific comments on math work

-Last minute projects (🙄🙄 I always give 3 weeks)
-Toby the Testing Toad (one kid chimed in, “Hey! He helps!)
-overlapping tests and project due dates with other classes

This was a sweet group of seventh graders. I never had such a sweet seventh grade group before. Unfortunately the seventh-gradiness kicked in around May but hey! Twas good while it lasted.

I love the Keep/Change/Start/Stop for so many reasons. But I’ve waxed on that before so without further ado… I’m just going to close though with this: “Ms. Kim, you’re the perfect amount of salty.” – Lexi

Thank you for staying (or leaving)

It’s May, and I’m seeing a bunch of convocation speeches and phD photos. I love staying updated with my alma mater (Go Bears) and my grad school (HGSE), and every year, I’m a little tempted to go back.

In a sense, it’s more validating. There’s more and more questions that build up as I teach, and there’s not enough research yet. [What *is* the best reading curriculum; What skills in middle school lend to success in high school and college? Academic or SEL? or a balance of both? Is it better to talk about reading levels or genres and love of reading? How can we make tests shorter and more effective? What’s the best math curriculum and why? what’s the best new teacher training? How effective have teacher-intern programs been? How has the homeschool landscape changed over the years? Results of busing and integration in schools. What’s the sweet spot for school budgeting or school time? What makes a good teacher? Experience? Excitement? Expertise? Arts? PE? Science? Where’s the place for all that?] .

Yet at the same time, I know that it’s so hard to implement research in the classroom. It’s so hard to stay up to date. And regardless of what the research might uncover, putting it into practice is totally different.

It’s so hard to be in the classroom real time.

I’m thankful for my coworkers who stay or leave for another school — because they’re staying in schools. This is the toughest place to be, and every year, I’m grateful for coworkers who’ve had experience. Experienced teachers are WAY easier to work with than new folks… and I totally don’t mind working with them, but at the same time… it’s just disheartening sometimes knowing that a teacher is only there for 1-2 years before they pursue higher education or other callings within the ed sector.

So anyway, thank you to returning teachers and to teachers moving on to other schools.

Getting Musical in Middle School!

This year, I had the privilege of participating in our school’s second musical production. We had a LOVELY group of around 30 3rd-5th graders, and just finished a smashing rendition of Disney The Lion King Kids (funded through Disney Musicals in Schools – a GREAT program that provides support, licenses, and basic materials for Title I schools that are wanting to get their feet wet in this area). The teacher who mainly headed this up, was AMAZING, and the other two teachers had their own talents and strengths. All in all, it was one of my favorite parts of this school year, even though it was after school and did not include any of the actual kids that I teach. haha.

I love musical theater because this was definitely an area where I learned to take risks, be silly, make friends, reserve judgment, and recognize talents in others that I may not have seen right away. Interestingly enough, currently on social media, the folks I actually casually chat up the most (on Facebook), are not my friends from sports teams or school projects, but from the one season of my life sophomore year, when I participated in a community musical.

Anyway, I think it’s an awesome way to get kids excited, creative, resolve differences, etc.. and I think the excitement is there to try to run junior musicals for 6th-8th graders…

But where is the money? What I’d really love is maybe $3,000 in seed money. It would be to start off our main costume needs and set needs, and then have enough to purchase 2 licenses – one for the kids musical (3rd-5th) and one for the junior musical (6th-8th). Essentially, after we sell tickets and get better at fundraising, we’d just be bringing back about $5-600 a musical.

If I set my sights real high, I’d love an artist in residence to help us lead the 6th-8th grade junior musical. To help us figure out how to schedule rehearsals, lead dance practices, etc.

I guess I missed the boat for a lot of grant opportunities this year, and most programs are unfortunately closing because our government decided arts is no longer a priority… buuuut for future reference: — this is a grant I can apply for since we would be doing arts as an extension of our school day (after school). (Fall 2018) – I would need to be able to match whatever funding I receive, but this could be a possible source… Spring 2019… except they might lose their funding.. — this is the organization where we got an artist in residence and 2 years of free licenses. Feel free to apply! – should I try to get sponsored by Bank of America?? hmm — apply in the Fall of 2018 – Okay, this is for soccer, but I might as well throw this in here. Plus there are other grant opportunities. – APPLY NOW! *rolling* — will look into this list more closely later

Whole30 Teacher

Last year, my friend from grad school who is also an educator got a group of us from around the US to commit to Whole30 at the start of 2017.  I had attempted it before, and it was HARD. However, I was pumped to try it again since.. crowd mentality!

I accomplished it, I got a lot of cool grocery advice, and began COOKING, and EATING 3 MEALS, and STOPPED FASTFOOD, and basically just reset myself, because let’s be reeaaaaal honest:

June-August: I’m fit, working out, sleeping well, it’s summer!

August-September: I’m struggling, but keeping up the cooking, etc.

October: I’m dead. I’m eating chips and fastfood.

November-December: Potlucks, leftovers, cookies, cake, pumpkin pie is a vegetable.

January: Trying to recover from the holidays and scrambling to get the year started at school after winter break.  (Stopped cooking anything a LONG time ago).

…. and then in February.. there’s random attempts to do different things to get fit but nothing really gets done until May when school is almost over.


ANYWAY, last year was a GREAT reset. I lost THREE POUNDs. which actually is nothing, since I lose 3 pounds after I spend a good time in the loo, if you catch my drift. but what it ACTUALLY reset was increased my water intake, less carbs, paying attention to additives, and cooking a lot more.

Then, ya know.. rinse, repeat (see the June-February thing I just wrote).

So, I started Whole30 again in 2018.. and although I was reluctant to start, it was a LOT EASIER!

AND, I’m EATING 3 MEALS AGAIN (although I do eat breakfast and lunch at 12:30pm…).  and I’M EATING VEGGIES AND FRUIT AGAIN!!!

And today, I did my first attempt at a Whole30 Instant Pot Galbi Jjim (Korean braised short ribs).

I am not going to go into details about Instant Pot, but.. yeah.. it sucks.  I suck at it.  Also, Korean food is really hard to make on whole30 since there’s no soy or sugar or rice wine allowed.  Plus, I’m used to just cooking Korean food by taste and not by recipe.

Anyway so far…

Whole30 Instant Pot Korean Braised Short Ribs Recipe:

  • 2 lbs of short ribs
  • 1 package of chopped oyster mushrooms (you can use shiitake, which is more traditional, or whatever mushroom you have… I had the oyster mushroom on hand).
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1/2 a daikon radish chopped
  • 2 chopped carrots (I don’t like carrots)
  • 3 chopped red potatoes

(basically, the veggies and ratios don’t matter that much — it’s just what you like)

  • marinating sauce: (blend 6 cloves of garlic, 1 inch of garlic, 1 asian pear (or in my case, 1 honeycrisp apple) peeled and sliced, 1/2 C of coconut aminos, and 1/4 c of pomegranate vinegar, salt and pepper to taste).
  1. Soak the short ribs in cold water for 20-30 minutes to let the blood and stuff drain out.
  2. While that’s happening, chop up the veggies, about 1 cm thick, and similarly sized so that they cook evenly.  (I always rinse my veggies in Trader Joe’s veggie wash to get rid of pesticides and wax).
  3. Make your marinade.
  4. Pour out the water and rinse the short ribs.  Sprinkle in salt and pepper and mix it into the meat.
  5. Cut slits (not to the bone) into the side of the meat. Why? I don’t know — it just said that on all the other recipes. My mom never does this.
  6. Turn on the Instant Pot to “Saute”. Wait until it’s hot, and pour in 1-2 Tb of olive oil.
  7. Saute the short ribs (again, I don’t know why I did this – other recipes did this, because normally I parboil them for 3-5 minutes and pour out the water).  I did them in groups, and then removed them.
  8. Added some sesame oil (1-2 Tb — I accidentally overdid it though).  Sauteed the onions briefly.
  9. Put the short ribs on top, put the veggies on top of that.
  10. Added a handful of frozen chestnuts I had in my freezer.
  11. Poured the sauce.
  12. Poured 2/3 C of water in the container to get the remainder of the sauce.
  13. Set it to “meat/stew” for 35 minutes.
  14. Wait and blog.


annnnnd it turned out … that it’s really bland and watery and that SOY SAUCE MATTERS.

ALSO, I accidentally set a delayed-cooking timer instead of the timer so I had to wait an extra 35 minutes. so sad.

The daikon wasn’t bitter and the short rib was VERY tender though.

If I were to do this again, I would omit the 2/3C of water.  I would put in another apple OR just use an Asian pear (sweeter), and maybe I’d put in sweet potatoes.


Or.. just wait until I’m off Whole30 and make it with soy sauce and mirin

Middle Grade Books and Authors that I Highly Recommend!!!

Last year when I taught 4th and 5th graders, I began to really dig into the books in that level.  I usually like to know what the kids are currently reading, and as a 7th and 8th grade teacher, I read Percy Jackson, Hunger Games, and the Divergent series with them.  The issue though, for me, was that these YA books began to feel like cotton candy.  They were really fun to read, but after a while.. they felt overly saccharine.  I actually finally finished  The Brothers Karamazov after a long stint of YA.  I just craved something.. substantial.

Interestingly, that didn’t happen when I began reading these “children’s novels.”  And it made me remember reading an interview or article with/about Katherine Patterson (or was it Lois Lowry) where someone said that they love children’s books because they stick with you forever.  Or basically, these children’s books are written for children who will grow up to become adults who will still read and remember these books from their childhood.

I really believe that to be true. There are so many books that I read as a kid whose themes stick to my bones even now. There were so many books that helped me navigate situations… And even though I wasn’t a little white boy with a dog, I really appreciated the lessons that followed me through the years.

Anyway since last year, I’ve gotten to read old authors that I’d never experienced, new authors that are hitting the scene, and old books that I enjoyed in the past, and new books from old authors … (Did I hit every category)?

Usually, after reading a lot, I tend to get desensitized to quality so then when something really good died happen, it totally pops out!! With that said, after literally reading over 50 middle grade (NOT YA books) in 2017, these are the books and folks who definitely out to me:


Current Books/Authors (authors are alive and still writing):

  • TRENTON LEE STEWART!!!!!! (The Mysterious Benedict Society series is so great.  The Secret Keepers also was really well done – there was a point where I was frightened and had to speed up my reading because I couldn’t figure out how the protagonists were going to get out of their predicament)
    • Great read-aloud or independent book for kids who like puzzle and mysteries.
  • KATE DICAMILLO – how she can write on themes of loss, death, poverty… in a way that is quiet, solemn, and yet doesn’t “baby” her young readers is beyond me.  Her books are lovely and so different. Each one.
    • Think: Katherine Paterson type books
  • Rebecca Stead – impressed by her different stories, protagonists, and the real way she addresses real middle-school conflict.
    • One of her books is a throwback to A Wrinkle in Time!!! She plays a bit with some sci-fi and there’s always some mystery.
  • Jacqueline Woodson – I love books written in prose poetry.  Her books allow kids to experience books that help you feel, books that describe, books that “show”.  She also highlights experiences that are usually pushed aside.
    • Think: Sandra Cisneros (House on Mango Street).  Lots of protagonists of color!
  • Richard Peck – I think he’s still writing, and he’s been writing a LONG time about books that are set in the early 1900s in rural areas and I love them I love them I love them. [I liked his books so much that it warranted a run-on sentence].  They’re short and perfect for 3rd-5th graders, I think.  I don’t know how I’ve never read his books, but I’m making up for lost time at the age of 30.
    • many different protagonists all set in earlier times.  Kind of your precursor to Anne of Green Gables or Little House on the Prairie.. or Old Yeller.  Those kinds of books.  But a LOT easier to read.  
  • Sharon G. Flake – books may be for kids 4th grade and up.  The way she writes REALLY rings true for so many of my students of color.  Her authentic voice and situations (and not watering down facts) but still acknowledging the difficulties of childhood is really wonderful.
    • Set in urban areas – and realistic without sensationalizing anything.
  • Neil Gaiman – He writes books that ranges – from funny kids picture books to intense adult novels. This man has so much talent.
    • Coraline, The Graveyard Book .. are for kids. Other ones might be a little more adult
  • Grace Lin  – One of her series (geared towards a 2nd-4th grade audience) is a typical Ramona Quimby or Junie B. Jones type of chapter book except her main character is Taiwanese-American girl. It’s nice!  Then she has books for older readers that are beautiful and weave in folktales.  Lovely.
  • Catherynne M. Valente – Magickal with a K!  More for older readers, I think BUT a great/fun read aloud. Great for those who enjoyed Phantom Tolbooth or Alice in Wonderland – type stories.
  • Jason Reynolds – Raw, stories that are unapologetic and real.  His books really captured my male students of color.
  • Sarah Pennypacker – I haven’t actually read a lot of her books, but Pax is a story about a boy and a fox.  And … just think of Homeward Bound, or Where the Red Fern Grows, and you’ll understand the appeal of this book.  If she can write Pax, I’m sure the others are great too.

Oldies and Goodies 

  • Katherine Paterson (so. many.)
  • Lois Lowry (The Giver, Number the Stars…)
  • Jerry Spinelli (so many…)
  • Sandra Cisneros (poetic prose. Lovely)
  • Roald Dahl (everything!)
  • Beverly Cleary (Ramona Quimby!!)
  • Judy Blume (her Tales of Fourth Grade Nothing, Fudge, etc.. are hilario)
  • Oh and of course: Harry Potter, A Wrinkle in Time series, Chronicles of Narnia, Percy Jackson, Dear America, Encyclopedia Brown, Ender’s Game, and Pony Pals. 🙂 🙂 🙂

I’m sure there’s many more…  I try to review almost everything I read on Goodreads but if I’m missing something, definitely drop a comment.

PS:  There is something to be said for comics and graphic novels. I think authors are doing amazing things with that cartoon medium, and kids can learn a lot about rhetorical devices from those genres as well.  I’d always encourage diverse reading with kids (and if it takes reading books out loud to a kid to sell it to them, why not? Or get an audio-book for them to read along to!) … but I am totally not opposed to comics even if that means that’s all a kid reads for a season.

Some graphic novels and comics (or authors of them) that I recommend:

  • The Arrival by Shaun Tan (no words at all — lots to ponder though)
  • Persepolis (definitely for older audiences — talks about life in Iran before and during the Islamic revolution)
  • Raina Telgemeier has books that were super popular with my 4th/5th graders.
  • Amelia’s Notebooks, Dork Diaries and Big Nate are both popular series for students who are reluctant readers.
  • Brian Selznick has interesting gray illustrations that are a big part of the plot.  (He wrote Hugo)
  • Gene Luen Yang (American Born Chinese is wonderful)
  • Nelson Mandela: The Authorized Comic Book

Report Card Comments

“I hope that he will continue to be a purr-fectly paw-sitive presence when he enters 5th grade” – is a sentence that I definitely put into one of my report card comments (he loves cats).

“Why does she read like she’s running out of time?” – is a sentence that I put into another report card (she loves Hamilton).

But I just wanted to include this whole comment that I wrote for another student of mine.  I feel so privileged to be able to write something like this; this girl was a literal rock star.

I can’t say that it was a joy to teach **** this year… because this year, I don’t think I really taught **** – she basically taught herself. She always went above and beyond in all subjects and did a great job in making sense of materials that I gave vague directions on (since she was ahead of the class), and constantly made positive choices.

Yet beyond her academic gifting and maturity, I really appreciated ****’s kind and patient nature. I know there were many times where her questions and needs weren’t met because I had to help other students, where she wasn’t called on to participate, and where she ended up with tasks that required trust but weren’t the most exciting. I really appreciate **** for taking this on and just helping me out as a teacher with her positive attitude and kindness towards others. It definitely helped keep the classroom mood light since **** was the friend that some of our students really needed.

I hope that if she learned anything from fourth grade, it is to take risks and to embrace mistakes. I hope that she won’t always be met with success but have some real challenges and opportunities to grow. Like I said, I can’t say it was a joy teaching ****, but I can say it was a joy learning from her and witnessing the power of her being in my class.

Here’s an excerpt from another one. I think this is amazing to witness in anyone, let alone a 4th grade boy..

As a person, **** is one of the most empathetic and kindest boys in my classroom. There are so many instances where he stayed loyal to a classmate even when his peers were not, and other instances, where he was understanding of students with special needs even when they offended him. He celebrates with his classmates and forgives easily. That is not an easy thing to do, and I felt blessed to witness that in my classroom this year.