Crushed it. It’s 11:44 am on Monday, June 4, 2007, and I am done, baby. Flying high. I feel so good after speed-typing through six half hour essays that I’m sitting at my keyboard in the man zone to write a seventh, just to capture the moment. After a year plus of what has at times felt like biblical agony, I planted my flag in the summit this morning. And now I can truly say, I have been to the mountain. Here’s the blow by blow. Last night I cleansed myself mentally and spiritually by not ...


The big day is Monday. Casting about for ways to prepare the weekend before, I decided to do another one of Patrick Ledesma’s tri-pane practice prompts. My two-year old son, who was supposed to be napping upstairs, woke up when I was six minutes into it. I made it back to the keyboard an hour or two later and forced myself to finish, but had lost my mojo. In reviewing, I realized that the only thing my practice essay presented clear and convincing evidence of was that I could type 370 words in approximately thirty minutes. Anyway, here as ...


Monday, June 4. Hopefully it won’t live in infamy. It is, however, the day I will take the big test. To continue preparing, I reviewed the comments colleagues have left on this blog or by email. I figured you might want to check them out, too, so they’re copied below. More words of wisdom welcome. By the way, excuse me for cannibalizing my own board to piece this entry together, but maybe others don't go back and read comments on every post as obsessively as I do. Also, I want to take this close-to-graduation moment to recognize that ...


On this beauteous spring day, I’m sitting here in the man zone (my basement office), looking up through a casement window at a bird’s nest in the eaves of my neighbor’s roof. I’m thinking about... well, you know. The testing window is open until June 15. I have to figure out when to shimmy through before it slams shut. I’m having a hard time getting psyched to go do it-- I wonder if anyone else out there is feeling the same sense of ennui? The assessment center seems anticlimactic, in a way, after the portfolio. ...


Let me set test prep aside to share some exciting news. The dugout canoe that my 10th graders have been working on all year is about to hit the water: we launch from the banks of Mount Vernon at 10 am on May 30. As well as being the centerpiece of our Humanities curriculum, loyal readers will recall that the canoe was a big part of Entry 4 in my portfolio. Most recently, I mentioned a spring break overnight where we cooked cobbler in dutch ovens on The Flaming Canoe as students scraped away with sharpened oyster shells (April 8,2007)....


I tried a practice prompt. On the advice of my loyal entry reader, Stephanie, I chose one related to English Language Learners. Those are the trickiest, she warns. The trial run, below, was based on a transcription and writing sample from a (probably Hispanic) student who had read Tom Sawyer. Instead of composing in word, I used an online simulation set up by Patrick Ledesma, an FCPS National Board coach, who’s set up a tri-pane display with a timer on the bottom to give you a feel for the real thing. I found that jumping from box to box ...


The final test consists of six essay questions, a half hour for each. That’s three hours of intense concentration at the keyboard. I’m going to have to get in shape to tackle this. Fortunately, the NBPTS website provides “exercises” to help candidates prepare for the assessment center. Copied below is the text from an NBPTS guide (in italics), followed by my comments. Next week, I will turn to the “retired prompts.” For now, let me get tired the first time. Exercise 1: Literary Analysis Teachers will analyze the connection between literary devices and meaning. They will be asked ...


I promised to write about the released test questions this week, but like for everyone around here, banal concerns have been washed away in the swirling wake of the Virginia Tech tragedy. We all made it through our week somehow, alternating between voyeuristic horror and self-preserving denial according to our natures and how psychically linked we were to Blacksburg. TJ, the high tech high where I teach, was awash in maroon and orange and the awareness that so many of our own were close to the epicenter. The same sense of family that humanized New Yorkers after 9-11 has drawn ...


I have nearly scaled the mountain. Last spring, from a distance, it looked imposing and majestic. After a more arduous approach to the base than anticipated, and then a harrowing series of ascents, only the exposed final pitch remains. (Note to the casual visitor: This will read a lot better if you check out my very first post, and if you’ve read Into Thin Air by John Krakauer). After two weeks in the tent, subsisting on power bars and boiled snow, I venture from my cocoon. Empty oxygen containers and the occasional frozen corpse litter the landscape… Okay, enough ...


Or, Spring Break's Sprung. Nearly a month ago, I wrote about putting one foot in front of the other as I trudged through Entry One ("Day by Day", March 10). Here is another week-in-the-life now that I’m done with the portfolio, to show how much lighter my step has become. While there’s not much about National Board per se, Tuesday’s overnight trip was a memorable stage in the canoe project I wrote about for Entry Four. Sunday Ran 10 miles along Rock Creek Parkway with 18,000 like-minded souls during the 35th annual Cherry Blossom Classic (and ...


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