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
More educational games & videos on Seasons at  

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.