Monday, November 08, 2010


Apparently my comparison of symbiotic relationship types using the Kardashian clan as example organisms was too abstract for the middle school.

Parasitsim = Kourtney and Scott (one is harmed, one benefits)
Mutualism = Kourtney and Khloe at Dash (both benefit)
Commensalism = Bruce Jenner and/or Rob and the "girls" (one doesn't notice, other benefits)

Ok. I also thought it would be funny to start the lesson reading the learning objective. "Today's lesson is on relationships" then said "... I do wish I had that lesson in 8th grade."

There was that weird class pause thing that doesn't happen that often but happens enough to have a "the thing the teacher just said was weird" vibe.

So I moved onto the regular science bit.

Parasitism = gross tape worms
Mutualism = Flowers and bees
Commensalism = the Barnacle on Whale

"I suppose you could never prove to the mind of the most ingenious mollusk that such a creature as a whale was possible." -- Emerson

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Long Day

Kids were off the hook today! yelling, fighting, talking, criticizing, interrupting, rude. Never let them see you sweat!!!!

Seriously... "why don't we do labs" "why is this lab boring" "why don't you have kleenex" "why were you just talking about grandmas" "why can't we blow stuff up" "why can't I go to the bathroom". I'm leaving off the question marks because they are said as critical statements, not questions.

But I did, in my calm rant about procedures, get to say "I know you're more than a test score". And I am really behind in my grading.

The rest of the week I am to find out about each kid. And respond to each critical question/statement with a philosophical dichotomy... "Why do you think we don't do labs?" "Why do you think this lab is boring, write a paragraph explaining your evidence" "Why do you think I may be out of kleenex?" "I'm glad you asked that? Who can tell me why I was making a reference to being comfy at grandma's house compared to being in the classroom learning?" "What would happen if we really conducted a lab that blew up? Develop a scientific method inquire about how to blow something up. Can you come to coach class or after school and I will explore that idea with you?" and finally... "why can't I go to the bathroom? If I can't, you can't okay?"

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

I'm quite familiar with the phrase "The Honeymoon is over"

Ended by the GDMFAssess county controlled written "quiz" standardized quiz. Need to work on studying skills. But we don't have time to study in class... what to do. ughhhh

Plus there was a fight during a lab so now we can't do today's lab and I have to make them do book work, but the book says a chapter in one page so I will have to explain it. Perhaps today is read the book out loud day. hmmmm.

The fighters got suspended which is good because it means the administration is supportive.

And alas, like a first year rookie, I am typing out my lesson plans minute by minute for the full 80 minutes. It's helping

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Not Ready

I'm reading "Let's talk about race. In the era of resegregation in Education" Except it's really sitting on the coffee table while I rewatch my awesome video montage's my students can't see at school but can at home. Interesting.

We're gearing up for our first short cycle assessment. A county written quiz. It will be awesome. Except I never showed them my moon picture slide show or the Earth viewer reviewer because they are blocked at school. Maybe they can see it from home.

Any way... We're talking about air pressure and atmospheric layers. The demo with the layers worked out well. The demo with the air pressure did not. Even though I practiced for nights with the can and the stove and the precise amount of water and the goggles, tongs, etc. Then the hot plate didn't work. Hard to demonstrate the point of air pressure when you can't get some heat! I'm sure it never worked because I left it plugged in and on for the entire night.

But any way... the schoolhouse didn't burn down.


But Hooray! I didn't do the exploding straw fountain!

Air Pressure Experiment
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Saturday, September 25, 2010

Let Them Read Books!

Recovered from a day of futile technology class that won't work on public education computers with dinner, great conversation and the porch with a good teacher friend of mine. We discussed a lot of similarities in our schools, our teaching practice, our troubles in the classroom and within the school around the school yard it's neighborhoods, it's tax dollars, it's sociological percentages and FRL's.

Should schools invent the wheel or recognize and utilize technology that is already in place but corporately owned websites such as facebook and youtube? Is it a detriment to the classroom to not recognize that computer gaming, social networks, texting, video on demand, and search engines have changed the school age child in America and must therefore be reflected in their learning processes?

Should I focus on Fig. 15 on page 26 or show the video I downloaded from youtube, posted to my FB and on my blog, and sent you the link in a text?
Should I type all my students' parents emails into a Blind Distribution list or add them as friends to a FB group?
Should technology in the classroom rely on the privacy and the anonymity of its users?
How much blocking of the internet is required at school? What sites are okay for kids? What sites are unnecessary? What sites should block school age students? What is the definition of social and private? How much blocking is too much? How do parents restrict and monitor student computer use? How do teachers monitor student computer habits? How long are students on computers each night? How long should they be? How long are they reading? How long should they be?

And how, after only 9 years in this business, can I be shocked at how far we have come with technology. When I started teaching most adults had cell phones. Sometimes you checked your email. We did attendance with bubble scans. Grades were bubbled too. Kids passed your class, they passed the class. Sept 11, 2001. The access to instant information, live coverage of the event on the classroom TV. By my third year of teaching most teachers had purchased their own laptops. My fifth year of teaching started YouTube, Katrina, we watched the event from sea to shining sea from satellite, weather channel, cnn, youtube, myspace, STEM became a theme among schools to inspire innovation and technology in schools. New technology with cords and probes and adaptors and software and batteries. The phones got thinner, all kids had phones. Then there were iPods and wireless. And then iPod and wireless got married and had a baby iPhone. Emails were sent daily by bosses and their bosses and parents and subcommittees. And now... the news is in your hand at a moment's click of the big button. Parents can view a teacher's gradebook from Internet. A new song downloaded, a new email sent, a picture text sent with a video link, a streaming video of the NFL kickoff in your hand from outside at a birthday party. And you can send a lesson plan, check attendance, record quizzes, and report to parents from the iPhone from a beach. (Well, I think you can... I'll try it out next vacation)

How can I complain that the wiki and voki and gofster and wordle and magic box and comix I made today didn't work or display with the embed codes?

Let them read books.

Next post will discuss "The achievement gap".

Get a Voki now!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

2/3 is 80%. 5/10 is 75%. 0/10 is 25%.

I am so bummed. I thought I was doing well.

I thought the little amount of socializing in the class was normal.

But...Alas... it turned into quite the disorganized, loud, out of control, throwing markers, disaster of a scene. Every teachers' worst nightmare. (This could be the scene in the movie they make about me where I regain composure of the class with a song, or a snickers bar, or a sargeants bugle.... No. Little miss hootie voice herself is saying in her stern voice I tried to learn at Indiana Jones training school for dogs...) "Sit down!" "Those still standing, you have detentions" Miraculously at this moment in actual life I pictured the principal of the "Breakfast Club. "Do you want another one? And another one? I own you"... We are now in two movies or three at once in this paragraph... Can you mix movie plots or is that like mixed metaphors? Anyway, in walked Teacher X.

I thought that the learning objective was on the board. The students recorded the vocabulary homework. Question 2 in the packet had them analyze the objective and write a sentence about the objective...

But...Alas... my objective was written incorrectly. In walked Head Honcho Y.

I thought grading on the point scale for completion and accuracy is what I should do.

And I was doing well. All assignments were graded, returned, and uploaded to the computer online system an ENTIRE WEEK before they were due. I need to give a test. I need to see some writing. But basically, I had 10 assignments classwork, 2 assignments homework, and 2 quizzes. On a roll. Warned about quiz, reviewed for quiz, practiced the quiz... grading scale was computed incorrectly according to Teacher Z.

The Advise...

"Honey, I don't play! 3-2-1" Teacher X. And the class was quiet.

"Write your lesson objective to do_________________ in order to know __________ DON'T DEVIATE" Head Honcho Y.

"The average student will probably only do 75% of the assignment so an average of the average is 60%. Therefore, you should change how you grade from that crazy point system that i don't understand, and grade students on a 3 2 1 scale. If 3 is outstanding, and 2 is satisfactory, 1 is unsatisfactory the grading scale shouldn't be 100%, 66%, and 33%. If A,B,C,D are 90-80-70-60, then we need to rank all numbers above 50 as the criteria. Therefore, if a student doesn't complete the assignment, but attempts the assignment, they should have 50% score. Therefore, give kids that did all of it 100, some of it 70 and none or little(or none) 50." Teacher Z

Monday, September 20, 2010

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Great Weekend!

Good week at school. Tired I napped for 4 hours Friday. But a trip to Sams club (it's right around the corner from me Nik it's a must) turned into a trip to Atlantic City which turned into a fun night of nice wine and dancing, eating, and gambling, then repeat. We did stop outside of Philly to ask a boy fishing in the nearby stream where to get a good Cheesesteak. He said "Philly" but then directed us to a tavern 10 minutes out of our way. So we sent 54 into the 7-11 and he came back with a similar story. If you want a good cheesesteak go to philly, if you are 30 miles from Philly you can get a pretty good one at a wonderful sports bar name Philly's. We even got to enjoy the first day of the football season with great fans in a local scene. We had several version of the cheesesteak at our table. When you're in Bmore it's customary to say "No hots" and they are served with lettuce, tomato, and mayo. Here they just had cheese. So we added mayo. Kim added the veggies, sauteed onions, and ketchup. Roomie had marinara sauce and pickles. It was so cool to be a few hours from home and get the complete vacation experience with good friends that had a good time. The drive home we were all tired and I missed out on some work time, but I really had a nice weekend.

To prepare for my new math gig I found this movie montage that I just loved.

Sunday, September 05, 2010


Science topic this week.

All Seasons Timelapse
More science games & videos on Seasons at  

Seasons- One year in two minutes
One year in two minutes
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Friday, September 03, 2010


First week of school. Wow.

Things that worked

K-W-L of P dub. A teaching method in which you generate prior knowledge lists and come up with questions you want to research and then learn them. I showed pictures of my journey the last two years, classes, etc, kids got to ask questions about the pictures to find out more about me. Loved it, need a thick skin for this one folks!! They knew about me in the first five minutes as much as I had expected all my students to know after a year. I drink coffee, wear glasses, bump into desks and trip over cords. I talk to myself and I talk to the chalk. My face gets red when I'm mad. I'm fat. But engaged. Fun, Energetic, the best so far... I have a thick enough skin to hear it, love being 35, also love the energy of the first days of school.

The Matter Lesson. Ice melted, Liquid didn't boil, but had technology back ups which worked great as a projector/ video demo. Especially on the Promethean.

Stomping on the big spider in front of the entire class to squash the big screaming mess of student mania from fear of spider. Sorry spider.

Going over and over and over procedures. How to come in, how to sit down, how to flow... and not interrupt the learning of others. I often say "FOCUS!" "Are you off focus? We need to get back on focus!" It's new this year.

The Songsraps for each lesson.
Videos, Clips, Commercials, Educational songs, Where in the ... is Matt? was a smash hit was were the .

The terrariums. I couldn't vision these mini-bio-domes until they were put together. Thanks to 54 for getting all the materials, and new boss for having (for a rather awesome set up) 9 empty pretzel wide mouth jars plastic with green lids. They look fantastic.

The new Promethean board. Awesome! Has speakers for this

We're All Awesome!

Things that didn't work

Seating chart with cards not taped securely to desks. Kids were kids. Still not sure who anyone is yet. Didn't have money for new packing tape...

The Interest Inventory at the beginning of the class was too long. Some questions were regarded as weird. "What's under your bed?", and "How many rings til you answer the phone?". Make a few questions for formulating thought and written responses. Maybe make one for next week.

The FAN! Oh my LBJ it was hot! One day the county closed due to heat reducing school by 2 hours in the afternoon. My room is the hottest in the building. But I was introduced to the exhaust fan, written up by the custodial crew twice, lucky with mod4 off twice a week, infested with stink beetles.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

First Day of School Eve

First Disc To School. Alphabetical list.

Sun, Earth, Moon Rhythm, Rhyme, Results Science (Disc 1)
Lab Safety! (Recall) Rhythm, Rhyme, Results Science (Disc 2)
Water Cycle (Recall) Rhythm, Rhyme, Results Science (Disc 2)
I'm Lucky Joan ArmatradingJoan Armatrading: Greatest Hits
Celebration Kool & The Gang Funk Essentials
At Your Best (Remix) Aaliyah
Fastest Finger Theme abc Who Wants To Be A Millionaire
Atom's Theme Song Atom and His Package
Lose My Breath Destiny's Child Lose My Breath -
Elevated Earth, Wind & Fire & Floetry Elevated - Single
A Day Without Rain Enya Only Time: The Collection
At Last (Single) Etta James
Vocab (Refugees Hip Hop Rem) The Fugees The Score: Bootleg Versions
I Ka Barra (Your Work) Habib Koité and Bamada Muso Ko World
I Want You Back Jackson Five
Sun On The Moon James Taylor Live [Disc 2]
Gravity John Mayer Continuum
I Heard It Through the Grapevine Marvin Gaye
Cool, Cool River Paul Simon Rhythm Of The Saints
Sing for You Tracy Chapman Our Bright Future

Monday, August 23, 2010

First Day

I couldn't sleep. Watched Mad Men, and Criminal Minds. I can't stand Criminal Minds. I should like it. But I absolutely can't stand it when the wife from Huff always calls and says "I found a blood trail" and Dharma's husband or the other boss guy says "well, follow it" Like no duh! I also can't stand waiting around for the serial killer to kill again. They do it every time. So - "when he kills again this time he will leave in a red car" yeah sure. It makes my skin crawl. I also don't appreciate that they show you the bad guy and then you congratulate them for figuring it all out. It makes for boring TV. PLUS the show is a little creepy and at times more uncomfortable than SVU to watch but at least on that show, they do some investigation and evidence collection. For example, last nights dealt with a necrophiliac and they nabbed the wrong one, so like there are more than one creepy necros running around saying "I sleep with Dead People". Oh yeah, I also hate how the blond can just "call to put a rush on the DNA analysis". It takes 48 hours even without a line. But this FBI group can go back to their private jet and get the results out of thin air, literally. Plus the private jet is completely unrealistic. It's like Air Force IX or something. And I hate the computer lady, not just because she gets terrible lines and called babygirl by the sexy black character (skin crawl again), no, it's because she single handily let the really bad guy after them into their computer system by playing a game on her wireless laptop. She should be fired.

So I perfectly arranged all the desks into groups. Then changed them to a Double U shape. One big U with 20 desks and smaller U inside with 16 desks. Lab Tables. Each of which have to be turned over and moved. So one, mean evil one, knocked me right on my ass. On the floor, under a table. Dreaming.


The principal that hired me retired on Friday. Friday. Before teachers report. So... we met our new principal today. Someone is new-er than me! Who knew? Hooray!

Saturday, August 21, 2010


Using a literary activity in science! The assignment is to look at the
wordle pick a word and then write about it in your reflective journal. title="Wordle: States of matter"> src=""
alt="Wordle: States of matter"
style="padding:4px;border:1px solid #ddd">

I will also be using wordle for vocabulary lists this year. We'll see.

Friday, August 20, 2010

August 24. 2008

Almost two years ago I made a list of places I still have to see in the blog post Shattered Memories. I am totally glad that upon all this list making, I have actually crossed something off a list! And within a year!. So time for these plans. I changed Italy to Rio. Let's see if this works again!

"Places I still have to see
Brazil: Rio Di Janiera, Sao Paolo, Amazon rain forest
Greece: To replace Renee Z's dad's prayer beads from 5th grade project
Hungary; Budapest (and perhaps Prague Castle District)
Netherlands: Anne Frank's House
Romania: Count Dracula's Castle
Spain: Basque Bilbao Museum and Portugal: so I can say "the Plane to Lisbon"
Iceland: for the ice ice baby
Egypt: Nile Cruise, Aswan Dam, Abu Simbel, Pyramids of Giza
Kenya: The Masai Mara
Tanzania: Safari
China: Lhasa (Tibet), Three Gorges Dam, Warriors of Xi'an, Hong Kong, Beijing
India: Uttar Pradesh Taj Mahal & Varanasi
Cambodia: The Silver Pagoda and Angkor Wat
Jordan: Petra
Fiji; Um Fiji, to see the coconuts
New Zealand: To Zorb down a mountain and find the lord of the rings
Mexico: Teotihuacan & Monarch Butterfly migration Michoacan Feb/Mar
Guatamala: Tikal
Peru: Machu Picchu
Chile: Easter Island
Mali: Timbuktu for the mosques and to say "I'm going to Timbuktu how about you?""
Italy: Rome, Venice, Sicily

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

New Job

I am starting work at my new job in 1 hour and thirty two minutes.

Things that are good...

I loved teaching middle school.
My entire life has been influenced highly by my experiences in 8th grade.
I will help a population of kids that need to be helped.
I lived in the same neighborhood as the school for 7 of my 8 years here.
I get to commute by the best liquor store in Baltimore on my way home.

Things that are scary...

It is a middle school.
Meeting the new administration and teachers.
No air conditioning.
Only one photocopy machine.

Things I know now that I wish I knew then...

Don't wear heels. It's not the job for them.
Look sciency and sound sciency and act sciency. It is all in the appearances.
Labs make for an easy and interesting class and just take time to set up.
Demos are even better.
Look organized and sound organized and act organized.
If you don't grade every day after classes, it will just sit in a pile for a long while.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Spa weekend = fabulous

The highlight of the weekend was the yoga outside and I have continued the practice into the week as well. The list of activities was exciting but I am glad I didn't go to the spa and spend the money. I already bit off some of the fingernails, the pedicure still needs the polish, I couldn't sit still during the eye cucumbers but I have to remember that for the school year, puffiness and tired eyes! The part that I didn't do on my scheduled spa weekend was the hike. It has even been cool weather but scattered showers. I prefer to do yoga on the porch in the rain.

All of this prepared me to write two pretty darn good lessons.

And yesterday, 54 and I were both home kicking around when he decided to put up shelves. I got to help. I spray painted the brackets. He put up a shelf above the oven, above the kitchen table, and above the TV in the living room. They are absolutely beautiful. I was amazed at his skills. It was like wood shop on the porch for a bit, but for absolutely no money, three new beautiful shelves, practically out of thin air. I keep walking around saying I love my new shelves. I do!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Day Two

Pilates. With Cat.

I don't have much experience with Pilates. Except my twin was a dance major in college. And my niece loves her ballet class. And I once owned a pair of toe ballet shoes. So I had one experience with a Pilates instructor. Named Kat or something like that. You tie yourself onto the expensive rowing-esque machine with legs and arms like a bow flex and Kat tells you to breathe and contort and do it 5 more times. Then switch. With like a million thousand exercises until you get off that thing feeling a little experienced with a medieval times torture chamber and stretched like you were on a salt water taffy machine. And then Kat charges you a fee of $75 for the service. Or, conveniently, you use sister math in that you attending the almost missed but would have to pay any way allow sister to pay for session.

So, I needed a cheap (free) version of the real Hollywood Body Pilates that I cannot afford especially in August. I researched what I had scheduled for myself this day of my spa vacation, and there were some floor exercises that are fancy ballet-esque ab and glut routines that seem torturous but not too bad. But I was way less disciplined than in leading my own yoga routine so I fell back to using On Demand Less is More Pilates 20 minute floor routine. The cat, Han Solo, joined me in my stretches. Wherein I wrote a Pilates Rap. Pilates for the Ab-iEs, And I felt a little flabby. But I'm not crabby. Not too shabby. Word.

In other do it yourself Three Day Spa news, the facial mask (Papaya Mask) was replaced with the Milk and Honey mask I made up because yes, I had no Papaya. 1 tbsp honey 1 tsp milk. On face. 10 min. Then shower it off.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Day One

Yoga. With Fox.

The thunderstorm greeted my morning as forcefully as the smell of coffee permeated the bedroom. I was inspired to start the day of pampering and accomplishment that I have scheduled. The first class Yoga meant to start at 8 am but I was eager and started at 7:30. It occurred to me that I live on the edge of a forest with a covered balcony. What a great place to do Yoga in the rain. Following my index card of poses I listened to only the rain, my breath, and the poses. It felt fantastic. And then, out of the green in the distance, was a fox watching me do hero pose. We just breathed.

It was awesome.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Stay at home 3 day spa vacation

I read most of this in a magazine. I decided to put the items on the schedule and just pamper myself. It will be the best start to a new, and as always stressful, school year. Hoping to teach some classes, take some classes, and cook some good food this upcoming year. This will set the tone.

Three Day Spa Vacation. At home. Free (practically) and DIY.
The At Home Spa Guide by Martha
Detoxify and Cleanse
At home remedies

Here's the Three day schedule of activities
Thursday 8/12
Farmers Market Visit
Papaya Mask facial

Friday 8/13
Herbal Steam Shower & Bath
PM Yoga

Saturday 8/14
Eye Soothing MaskDo it yourself spa
Power Yoga

Menu Items

Breakfast Smoothies
Cobb Salad
Soup, Salad, Sandwich dinner
Brunch Quinoa Quince Quiche
chunky apple muffins
strawberry freezer jam
Homemade Gorp and Granola Bars

Thursday, July 29, 2010

July's Music

The Weakness in Me - Joan Armatrading
OOH Child - The Five Stairsteps
Taylor - Jack The Muppet Johnson
Where is My Mind? - Pixies
Love the Way You Lie - Eminem and Rhianna
Don't Fuck Wit Me - Lil Jon & The East Side Boyz
You Shook Me - Led Zeppelin
Bedda at Home - Jill Scott
Comin Back to Me - Jefferson Airplane
Something for Cat - Henry Mancini
Romeo and Juliet: Romeo at Friar Laurence's - Libor Pesek
You're the One - Tracey Chapman
Your Mother Should Know - The Beatles
You're Crazy- Guns N Roses
Freak Like Me - Macy Gray

July is a good month for music. Concerts outside, live music on porches, playlists traded on the kitchen radio. It's also a good month for birthdays, squash, apricots, cucumber water, fireworks, new grills, water parks, roller coasters, bike building, swimming, and fairy lands.