Wednesday, December 31, 2008

204th Carnival of Education--New Year’s Eve Edition

Welcome to the New Year’s Eve Edition of the 204th Carnival of Education! Put on those party hats, grab a little eggnog and let’s make some noise! It’s time to party hardy, make some resolutions and ring in the New Year.

So to sort of paraphrase Prince’s song (or whatever his current name is)…Tonight I'm gonna party like it’s 2009!

BTW, everyone looks absolutely marvelous especially Sarah Ebner from across the pond at School Gate. Everyone looks rather posh, don’t you think? I think Victoria Beckham must be right when she announced that she dresses “like a teacher.”

Hey, there’s Mr. Teacher by the front door handing out his Christmas letter written as only Mr. Teacher can while Clix from Epic Adventures Are Often Uncomfortable chats about her end-of-term reflections. Of course, there’s Larry Ferlazzo giving out his list of the best images of 2008.

Nancy Flanagan from Teacher in a Strange Land has a list too, but her list is for the five most influential people in education. I think she’s on to something especially with her Top #1 spot. And, of course, who wouldn’t put the Eduwonkette on that list as well? Isn’t she’s on everyone’s “A” party list. Oh my goodness, I hope she wears her mask and costume even though we know who she is. Now, wouldn’t that be fun?

Oh, there’s Joanne Jacobs by the punch bowl talking about proficiency promotion. I hope she can get me one of those nifty charts, but I’ve gotta tell you, I think I’d be stuck on the “I need help” level.

Hey, our buddies over at the Right Wing Nation are stirring things up talking smack about how all that high tech stuff doesn’t helps one bit. Check out Hi Tech Hype. Jeez Louise, if this little excerpt doesn’t tweak your interest, you’ve had a bit too much eggnog… “Forget the wading boots for the educration hype about High Tech High. You need a hazmat suit and oxygen tanks, because there’s nothing here but organic fertilizer of the equine fecal variety.”

Now those Right Wing Nation guys aren’t the only ones stirring things up. Dave is talking about teacher unions and that Rasmussen Report.

Did someone mention low tech classrooms again? A Stick In the Sand is talking about exploring metaphors without technology. Ah, the possibilities. Oh have you met the Pugnacious Irishman yet? OK, OK, OK, so I invited him for the name alone (I’ve told you before I’m easily amused) and because he was doing a little pondering about relevance and education.

And while we’re talking about relevance, why in the world is Tom talking about cars? I thought we were talking about education. Oh, I see and you probably should see what he’s talking about too. What? Darren from Right on the West Coast is talking in Mandarin Chinese? No, wait, he’s talking about the ROTC.

All this serious stuff is making me hungry. Let’s go grab some hors d’oeuvres. There’s quite a group gathered there talking about New Year’s resolutions. Desertjim points out the need for early childhood education and believes the incoming administration supports such programs. The Science Goddess thinks we need to rethink and revamp what it means to make the effort. Mathew Needleman over at Creating Lifelong Learners has some thoughts on making classroom rules while Ms. Teacher said something about rethinking her teaching.

And last but not least, I’m sure glad Daniel Willingham from over at Britannica Blog dropped by. He has some interesting thoughts on memory. I’d tell you about them, but I, uh, forgot.

But one thing I know I didn’t forget–this year we have a leap second! OMG, there’s so many things I need to do with my extra second. How will you spend yours? I know how I’ll spend mine…

I’ll spend my leap second wishing you blessings throughout the New Year!

Now I think I’ve taken care of everything except to tell you about my New Year’s resolution. I will once again resolve not to call anyone a Big Fat Stupid Head (I know, an exercise in futility). Still, I’m inviting you to join me in my Big Fat Stupid Head Challenge #3. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we shall once again commence the counter on January 1, 2009. Let’s just see how long I can go without calling someone a Big Fat Stupid Head. The last challenge ended after 111 days, 16 hours, 19 minutes and 28 seconds. You can read about it here.

Oh my, the clock is ticking. It’s time to thank everyone for stopping by. Now before you start to party too hardy, make a note to meet us at the next carnival hosted by the Right Wing Nation. You can use this handy, dandy submission form. If you can help Ed the Carnival Master by hosting a show, pah-leese email him at owlshome [at] earthlink [dot] net and volunteer.

And as always…

“I’ve got this feeling that there’s something that I missed…”
–Snow Patrol

And, if I did, my apologies. Until next time…Happy New Year!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Calling all Entries!

I certainly hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas! I just got back into town and in the Christmas spirit decided to give the Education Wonks a break and agreed to host the 204th Carnival of Education. So-o-o-o my friends, submit your entries by emailing me at mybellringers [at] gmail [dot] com or use this handy, dandy submission form. If all goes well, I’ll be posting the carnival here on Wednesday, Dec. 31.

And for crying out loud, someone else volunteer to host the next carnival by contacting Ed at owlshome [at] earthlink [dot] net.

See you Wednesday!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

FERPA, Ninnyhammers & Clock Stoppers

Some of you may recall when I chatted--OK, so make that ranted--about FERPA (the Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act) that initially was enacted to protect the confidentiality of kiddos’ education records. Despite its original intent, school districts across the land went bat-crack crazy and decided to FERPA-ize everything, and, in the process, terrorize student publications advisers. (You can read about it here, here and here.)

Now my buddies at the Student Press Law Center tell me that the DOE (Department of Education) apparently has gone beyond bat-crack crazy and enacted some additional changes to FERPA that are slated to take effect Jan. 8.

I got a nice little email supposedly from Frank LoMonte himself (the executive director of the SPLC) asking if I would chat about it. OK, so he didn’t use the word chat exactly. I, of course, ever-so-easily flattered thought once again I must be a VIB (Very Important Blogger) to have received such a request. That is until I remembered that this nice little email was probably a mass emailing sent by some computer in a backroom. But, oh well, it’s important enough to chat about even if I can’t be a VIB.

You see, these new rules broaden what the DOE considers to be confidential education records to include basic stuff like statistical data about school safety, discipline and academic performance if school officials think that the person requesting the information or even kiddos on campus can figure out who the information might be about.

Personally, I like the DOE’s illustration of compliance for this new FERPA rule. Under the new guidelines, school officials would not be able to confirm whether it disciplined a student for bringing a gun on campus if the identity of the gun-wielding student could be known to other kids on campus. Because, after all, it’s more important to protect the identity of felons instead of telling students, parents or teachers of impending doom or what steps were taken to deal with said impending doom. No siree, Missy, we’ll have none of that. Hush, hush, don’t say a word.

My new buddy over at the Student Press Law Center tells me, “The DOE simply said that accountability doesn’t matter and that its only concern is secrecy.”

Now, all that nonsense got me to thinking, and by-golly, we all know what happens when that happens. Jeez Louise. But let’s just think about what a fab-u-lous idea it would be to FERPA-ize everything. Everything. Just think about it. Here’s my list…

Richie’s Top 5 list of things to FERPA-ize

#5…Spelling Bees…Those little competitions would have to be the first to go because everyone would know when someone gets an answer wrong, and OMG, we can’t have that now can we? Someone might be identified as a ninnyhammer, n-i-n-n-y-h-a-m-m-e-r, ninnyhammer.

#4…Group work and Project Presentations… Fugettaboutit. No longer can kids work on anything together or present their projects to the class because then everyone would know who did a good job and who didn’t, who were the slackers and who were the workers, who deserved an “A” and who deserved a big, fat zero. Kind of like in the work place, don’t ya know, but no siree, we can’t have that now, can we?

#3… Discipline referral forms… Gone. Sorry. No can do. I’d tell you why I wrote that referral form out, but then I’d have to…Oops, I better not finish that statement… Oh, wait, I guess I could finish that statement because aren’t we protecting felons now? No one would ever know. Shhhhhhhh.

#2…Fitness tests… We’re actually conducting fitness tests at my school, but I guess I better sound the alarm and make everyone stop. (I know my out-of-shape newspaper staff would be thrilled.) Yep, I guess we better stop because we wouldn’t want for anyone to know who came in first or last in that dash around the track. Nope, those times better be top secret stuff locked away along with those Push Up Test results. We wouldn’t want for anyone to get a hold of those dangerous stats.

#1…Grades… Yep, I’m going to have to take a stand here and tell my principal that I’m sorry, but I just don’t think I can turn in any grades of any kind any more. No siree. Just in case someone might know or divine who got an “A” or a “B” or a “C” or a whatever. Hey, perhaps FERPA-izing everything wouldn’t be so bad after all. Accountability? Who cares?

Maybe we should just rename the DOE to the DOBFSH––Department of Big Fat Stupid Heads.

But then I’d have to stop my Big Fat Stupid Head Counter.

Consider it done at 111 days, 16 hours, 19 minutes and 28 seconds.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Envelope Please…

A big woo-hoo and congratulations to all the 2008 winners of the EduBlog awards. You can go here for the results. Again, congratulations to the 2008 winners! I was thrilled just to be nominated and included in such a wonderful list of bloggers.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The 202nd Carnival of Education

Woo-hoo it’s Wednesday and the 202nd Carnival of Education is up and running hosted by Steve Spangler. As usual, there’s great stuff posted if you want to be one of those in the know in the EduSphere (and you don’t need any of Santa’s reindeer to get you on your way there either).

My post “High Fives, Hand Shakes & Gloves” was included, but you don’t have to go there to read it here.

But get on over there and do a little dashing and prancing about the EduSphere. You’ll be glad you did.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

High Fives, Hand Shakes & Gloves

Initially I planned to blog about our most recent newspaper deadline as well as my yearbook disaster that now requires re-PhotoShopping some 80-plus pages. But all those fun-filled stories will have to wait--all because of a recent post from my across-the-pond buddy Sarah Ebner over at the London Times entitled, “High-five your pupils everyday, teachers told.”

I must say that little ditty sent me into quite a tizzy. This little post talks about how greeting children with high-fives or handshakes will motivate students and improve test scores. I feel semi-qualified to screech about this having been victimized more than once from professional development sessions telling me to shake kids’ hands, capture their hearts, and, if I remember correctly, do something with their minds. Oh yeah, teach.

This handshaking notion started a number of years ago. I believe the folks that started it must have had stock in Bath & Body Works because I’m convinced sales from hand sanitizers soared once this handshaking business got underway. (Come now, surely you thought of all those germs floating about. Show me a school that has hot running water, soap in their dispensers and children who actually wash their hands, and I’ll show you Nirvana--and no, I’m not talking about the band either.)

I just marvel how these Greeting Guys have parlayed this handshaking, high-five business into a profitable enterprise (with individual registration fees at almost $500 a pop) and how they managed to convince school administrators--not just here in the good ole U.S. of A, but apparently globally--that the shake of a hand or some variation thereof somehow translates into better test scores. If I had known making a small fortune was that easy, I would have joined the handshaking circuit years ago or sold the Brooklyn Bridge.

But wait a darn tootin’ minute, Missy, I think there still might be time. My BFF Jennifer and I have always said that the demise of civilization and learning can be traced to when people quit wearing hats and gloves.

So forget that handshaking business. (Hails Bails! I think we can even forget about those pesky lesson plans.) Instead, let’s just slap on those cute little hats and whip out those white gloves. There’s no time to waste! We’ve got self-of-steam and test scores to raise.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

201st Carnival of Education

Sorry for the delay (I’ve been a tad busy with my newspaper deadline and those yearbook pages) in reminding you that the 201st Carnival of Education is up and running over at Mamacita’s site, Scheiss Weekly

My post “Mood Swings, Dodgeball and Gift Giving” was included, but you don’t have to go there to read it here. But hey, you know the drill, if you want to know everything that’s going on in the EduSphere, then you really need to pop on over there and read some of the other good stuff that’s out there.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Mood Swings, Dodgeball & Gift Giving

Even if you don’t teach, you know the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas can be crazy. Please excuse the paraphrasing, but these are, indeed, times that can try our souls.

Lately, I’ve been using my Desktop Dodgeball Kids to track and signify my mood of the minute, not my mood of the day. Yes, that’s right, I said minute. And lately, I’ve been posting this one:

so I probably ought not to delve into the shenanigans of the week.

OK, so I know shenanigans isn’t really the most accurate word to use here, but I love that word. I love the way it sounds, the way it flows, the way it encompasses so many things. And, that of course, got me to thinking (and we all know what happens when that happens).

But I got to thinking that perhaps now would be a good time to write about some things that I love like my little dodgeball kids which were a gift from my BFF Jennifer.

Well that gift-giving thing got me to thinking about teacher gifts (after all it is the Christmas season), so I thought perhaps I should share a few ideas for gifts that should top everyone’s holiday list this year. Now, I’d like to say that my book should be at the top of everyone’s gift giving list, but since I am still several months away from publication, you’ll just have to wait for the memo on that one and save a few bucks for later. (Don’t you just love shameless self-promotion?). So here’s my list sans my book (And don’t you just love the fact that my four years of college French has finally come in handy?)

Richie’s Top Five Holiday Gift Giving Ideas

#5…Anyone who’s anybody in the EduSphere has to know Mr. Teacher. In fact, he recently hosted the 200th Carnival of Education. If you went to his site for the carnival, you probably noticed the book he has for sale, “Learn Me Good.” I’ve read the book and it’s a quick and funny read. But if reading isn’t your thing, you can always snap up one of his hilarious t-shirts here for any teacher in your life. From “Darth Grader” to “I teach therefore I am… poor” t-shirts, I giggled just reading the choices.

#4…The Desktop Dodgeball Kids mentioned earlier. My BFF Jennifer originally gave them to me to relieve deadline stress. “I know you can’t hit the children,” she said, “but you can whack these little guys with this nifty little ball. It’ll make you feel better.” She was right, of course, about whacking children and the dodgeball kids. But like I said before, these little guys are also nifty to track and illustrate mood shifts. Don’t you just love multi-purpose toys?

#3…A tiara. How you managed to exist without one for this long I will never know. Even if you aren’t a girly girl (because I certainly am not), you need one. Life just seems exponentially better with one. I keep one at the ready in the classroom for kids to wear when they need a pick-me-up or it’s their birthday or because sometimes you just need a tiara. So buy one for yourself and for another teacher in your life. I keep mine handy for when I need to remind the kiddos that I am Queen of my classroom or if I’m having a bad hair day. And, then of course, there are just those days when I need to feel better, and a tiara, as well as a handful of Emergency Chocolate, does the trick.

Which, of course, brings us to Gift Idea #2…

#2…Emergency Chocolate. Who doesn’t adore chocolate? You can never have enough. I still like my personalized Dove Chocolate messages from last year. Remember for a mere $59.99, you can get 50 Dove chocolates with your own “four unique” messages. I think, though, I might substitute “Hails Bails!” and “Don’t Be A Big Fat Stupidhead!” for two of my messages from last year.

And, drum roll pah-leeseRichie’s Number 1 gift idea…A rubber chicken, of course! Jeez Louise, I can’t believe you haven’t purchased a rubber chicken for the teacher in your life. What in the Sam Hill are you waiting for? If you are new to my blog, you’ll need to go here and perhaps here to read all the reasons why no teacher should live another minute without his or her very own rubber chicken. You’ll have to trust me on this one.

And besides, see how perfectly a rubber chicken fits into a Christmas stocking. It just doesn’t get much better than that.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A Christimas Carnival…the 200th Carnival of Education

Mr. Teacher certainly out did himself as host of the 200th Carnival of Education. With his theme “A Blogger Christmas” and his role as Ebeneacher, I chuckled all the way through. It’s worth a read even if you don’t want to go to the links to read the posts (although you know you should if you want to know what’s going on in the EduSphere).

My post “Black Friday, Hand Clappers & Paint Balls” was included, but you don’t have to go there, to read it here.

But you really should hop over there. What a fun read!