Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Woo-hoo! The Carnival of Education is Up!

A big Woo-hoo to you! It’s Woo-hoo Wednesday, and I must say, you look marvelous. And speaking of marvelous, the Carnival of Education is up and running over at Jason’s Perspective.

As always, there’s lots of great posts, and you really should get over there to see what’s a happenin’ in the EduSphere. My post “Hissy Fits, Deletions & Being a Big Fat Baby" was included, but you don’t have to go there to read it here, but you should hop over there so you’re not a Know Nothing Nincompoop!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Hissy Fits, Deletions & Being a Big Fat Baby

After spending last weekend running around Austin with 10 little DIs, I got to spend more quality time with three DIs this weekend at the regional journalism academic writing competition at the University of North Texas in Denton.

Jeepers, creepers how blessed am I?

We almost didn’t go though because someone wasn’t acting her age and threw a big, fat hissy fit when she was told that the journalism crew would have to be ready to rock’n’roll at 5:50 a.m. on a Saturday morning even though the competition didn’t begin until 10:30 a.m.

Luckily my principal likes me and commanded that another gas guzzling suburban be procured so the journalism crew could leave at the more reasonable hour of 8 a.m. I think he also ordered another vehicle so that someone would start acting her age, stop throwing a big, fat hissy fit, and–for the love of all that is holy–leave him alone to do other, more important principal-type stuff.

Ya gotta love that guy.

So here we are in Denton with one more contest left to go. I found it rather amusing that the journalism competition was held in Room 411. Get it—4—1—1. My DIs just rolled their eyes. I guess stupid humor is lost on these young’uns. I suppose, though, if you really have to point out a pun, then it probably isn’t very funny to begin with.

All in all though, if I had to describe this past week, I suppose I would have to characterize it as a week where everyone had difficulty acting one’s age.

I think we can safely blame the sports guys for setting the tone for that. They started it, and the rest of the week just disintegrated from there.

Travis was working on page 20 when Zach discovered that Travis deleted Zach’s soccer story. Deleted as in gone forever, zapped, bleeped into computer oblivion.

Zach, of course, wrote the story on the page, so there’s not another computer file of his story.

Zach, of course, can no longer find his notebook with his interviews.

Zach, of course, immediately launched into the three Rs—Raging, Reviling and Ridiculing—his compadre. For the rest of the week, class went like this…

Zach…“I was fine until you erased my story.”
Travis… “I didn’t erase your story.”
Zach… “Did too”
Travis… “Did not”
Zach… “Did too”
Travis… “Did not.”

Do you see the pattern here?

That even spilled over into the back room where the DIs are not allowed to eat at the computers. Despite telling them that they are not allowed to eat A lunch and then eat B lunch, C lunch and D lunch, some of them still ignore me. Me. Yeah, I know.

Me… Put your lunch away.
Staffer… I’m not eating it.
Me… Quit eating your lunch.
Staffer… I’m not eating it. I’m just picking at it.
Me… You are too eating it…
Staffer… Am not
Me… Are too
Staffer… Am not
Me… Are too…

Do you see the pattern here?

So it should come as no surprise when I had that little meltdown in my principal’s office over the 5:50 a.m. thing, and it should come as no surprise that I later had a bit of a meltdown with my exercise instructor—make that my former exercise instructor. You can read more about that little incident by going here.

Let’s just say she had a bit of bad news and tried to rationalize it. Instead of acting my age, I rolled my eyes, stomped out of the room, drove home and threw a big, fat hissy fit.

Then I stopped answering my phone and emails. In general. For days. Because I didn’t wanna. It was all rather cathartic.

But go ahead, you can call me a big, fat baby.

Am not.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Loosey-Goosey Edition of the Carnival of Education

Welcome to the Carnival of Education. I was going to devise something really clever and semi-funny for a theme, but after spending a weekend in Austin with 10 of my Darling Inspirations, all of Monday frantically trying to get my six weeks grades in, and pretty much all of Tuesday sorting through submissions, I’m about tapped out in the creative, clever and guffawing category.

Instead, I give you…

The Loosey Goosey Carnival of Education
(thrown together more or less in Willy-Nilly Fashion)

•Andrew at Techno Lesson believes having students leave their core subject areas to go to another room for instruction on technology makes about as much sense as having a Pencil Lab. (Except I think I’d rather like that job. You know, the pencil lab one. I think I would rather like handing out those bright yellow #2 Ticonderoga pencils.)

•Pat at Successful Teaching discusses some words that probably would end up in my “Things That Will Get You Fired” folder. And to think, it all started with a love for tofu. Go figure.

•History is Elementary is worth taking a gander at and not just because she made me sing-a-long to the Brady Bunch theme song (although she got bonus points for that), but because she also reminds us that families come in all shapes and sizes..

•Scott McLeod at Dangerously Irrelevant reminds us that there is a lot of undiscovered potential out there.

Now I’ve got some Loosey Goosey categories here. First up…

In the Ugly, Sad & Cranky category…
•Mr. Teacher (the one from the UK) tells us about his classroom being vandalized and how senseless those acts really are. I know all of us are just horrified by it all and so very, very sorry for you.

•Uh-oh. Bill is a bit cranky over at the Tempered Radical. And rightly so. He’s tired of losing good teachers.

•On a personal note, I can’t tell you how great it is to have Old Andrew back after his hiatus. Otherwise, how would we get such posts as “Lessons Not Learned (Or Why Sir Alan Steer Should Still Stick his Report up…” Well, you get the general drift.

•And thank goodness someone else hates clip art as much as I do… Matt Needleman in Creating Life Long Learners has revamped his Comprehension Strategy Posters with some nifty new art. Check it out here.

•One Language posts some troublesome words for ESL students, but after reading the list, I can honestly tell you that some of these are problematic for some of our regular students as well. Besides, it was kind of fun to read things like… Poor John. He wanted to pour lemon juice on his skin to tighten his pores, but he was too poor to afford it. Jeez Louise, I can see how the kiddos can be confused.

In the this-one-really-really-made-me-sad-category…
•It wasn’t so much what he said as how he said it, but for some reason “How much is a field trip worth?” by J.M. Holland in Inside Pre-K really got to me. Here’s just a brief exerpt from an entire piece that is written exceptionally well…
“I believe it is these field trips that make the difference between passing a third grade test or failing life. Field trips are about possibility, knowing what is beyond that cracker box house and chain link fence.”

OK, so let’s perk up a bit now…

In the Quirky, Not So Serious Division, we have…
•My post CSI, Fireballs & Ben Franklin–Aw, come on now. Did you really think I wouldn’t include myself? It’s about a little incident that occurred--where else?--in the journalism room. Exhibit A is included for your perusal.

•And since I’m always up for a good list, Siobhan Curious brings us the Top 10 Student Excuses for Missing Class. What’s not to love about that?

For you Serious, Pedagogical-types, we have…
•My buddy from across the pond, Sarah Ebner over at School Gate talks about INSET days--England’s version of teacher inservice or professional development days. Sad to report, their inservice is about as helpful as ours are.

Larry Ferlazzo believes more time in school would help students from low income communities. And as if Larry’s not busy enough–and don’t ya think he outta be?--check out his best websites of the day for everything you ever wanted to know about pirates but were afraid to ask. It has everything, but Johnny Depp’s phone number. Ah well.

•Qrious provides two different resources for teachers--one about writing on grade level and the other for lesson plans.

•Detention Slip discusses school safety in our zero tolerance, post-Columbine world.

•School Psychologist Erin King deciphers what cognitive assessment scores mean.

•The DeHavilland Blog wonders what will happen to all the education programs once the stimulus money dries up.

•Mr. McGuire at the Reading Workshop gives us Martha, the Test Grader, Part 3.

•Teach Effectively discusses a pending Supreme Court Case regarding English Language Learners.

•Nancy Flanagan at Teacher in a Strange Land brings up one of my favorite topics––self esteem (or was one of my former students used to say self of steam).

In the Numbers & Sense (or nonsense) category…
•Jeepers Creepers, those wacky math teachers have their own carnival. Who knew?

•With the upcoming state assessment tests in Texas, Mr. Teacher discusses reasonable and unreasonable answers, blue sweaters, and well… you’re just going to have to go there to find out.

•Joanne Jacobs hopped on the math bandwagon asking, “Calculators? Don’t Answer.”

In the Thumbs Up Category…

•With final exams around the corner, Mamacita talks about winners and losers.

•And speaking of winners, Steve Spangler gives a big thumbs up to grant money given to a Texas teacher who teaches workshops on how to combine physics concepts with children’s literature.

•Also in the Winner’s Circle is Darren from Right on the Left Coast who actually got a really, really nice email. If you haven’t gotten an email like this recently, read it and pretend. I particularly liked the part that said, “May the pain of beating your head against the wall of imbecilic oversight be alleviated…” Well, you’ll just have to go there to read the rest. It will make you smile.

And in the last but not least category…
I’ll leave you with this last tidbit. The Stock Mark Report uncovered a little ditty about a school district that is considering eliminating principals in a budget cutting move.

Well folks, that’s it. As I always say,

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

And, if I did, my apologies.

Please email me with any problems or broken links at I, of course, would appreciate any links back to the carnival. If you are interested in hosting a Carnival, please email

Until next time…

Sunday, April 19, 2009

CSI, Fireballs and Ben Franklin

My week ended in a CSI kind of way.

And no, I’m not talking about the Crime Scene Investigation variety, even though Carson, my newspaper editor, leaves her epithelials everywhere she goes “just in case.” And no, I’m not talking about scenes involving yellow crime tape or chalk figures either, even though the day did entail a bit of investigative work and a few threats thrown in here and there.

Nope. CSI, in my teacher terminology, stands for…

C for Crisis
S for Situation
I for Incident

The Crisis…
Yep, we had a crisis, situation and incident all wrapped into one. And to think the day had begun with such promise. It was the kind of day that started more or less as a “This-is-the-day-the-Lord-hath-made-let-us-rejoice-and-be-glad” kind of day. After all, it started with a Starbucks grande non-fat three raw sugar latte. What’s not to like about that?

But it quickly deteriorated into a “this-just-might-be-the-day-to- set-my-hair-on-fire- scream-yell-and-be-sad” kind of day.

Now I’d love to tell you about the “Crisis,” but, sorry, no can do. Super secret type stuff. Let’s just say it involved quite a bit of teen drama and angst and made me want to eat mass quantities of Emergency Chocolate and wonder what kind of crack I must have been smokin’ when years ago, I thought, “Gee, I think I’ll try that teaching thing.”

The Situation…
The “Situation” quickly followed the “Crisis.” Now, I’d really, really, really like to talk about that one too, but it involved a parental unit, and last time I checked, my husband told me I had to work, oh, another four years or so. (I swear sometimes he can be such a killjoy.) Suffice it to say that some people apparently aren’t fond of me and the teaching thing paired together. Who knew?

The Incident…
So now it’s about 5:15 p.m., and I’m just a tad bit grumpy. OK, so maybe more than just a tad and definitely much more than just a smidge grumpy. I’m still at school with the DIs (Darling Inspirations) on newspaper deadline and frantically trying to get things ready for our trip to Austin. The “Crisis” is about as resolved as it’s ever going to be, and the “Situation” will eventually fade away. I peered with some sadness into my empty Starbucks cup when I heard the words that pretty much will guarantee any adviser to catapult from her seat faster than the space shuttle on reentry.

It went something like this…

Whoa,” shouted Mikey the Extraordinaire, “Did you you see that fireball?”

“Wow! It barely missed Natalie’s leg,” said Travis, semi-impressed.

“What!” yelled Natalie, who apparently narrowly missed getting scorched.

“Oh my God, Mikey, what did you do?” cried Gabrielle. “Look at my computer! Look at my computer!”

Although I was less than 10 steps away, by the time I got into the room, the computers were blank, the server connection gone, and the electrical socket on the back wall scorched.

Mikey apparently had had a Ben Franklin moment, and not in a good way either.

For our little CSI scenario, let’s just introduce Exhibit A…

Here’s the short version of how “The Incident” occurred…

Mikey spied a wayward staple resting on the face of the electrical socket. With pen in hand, he attempted to brush the wayward staple off the face of the electrical socket. Instead, somehow the tip of the pen got caught in the tiny crevice of the socket which, of course, sent a fireball out the plug, soldering the pen tip to the face of the socket and shorting out the entire electrical system––all within a nano second.

And you just thought CSI was exciting.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Woo-hoo Wednesday & the Carnival of Education

It’s Woo-hoo Wednesday and that can only mean two things:

#1…It’s time to find one nice thing to say to somebody and preface your compliment with a woo-hoo. For example, “Woo-hoo! Joanne Jacobs did a marvelously fine job of hosting this week’s carnival!”

And, #2…Yep, you guessed it. It’s Wednesday and the Carnival of Education is out. There’s lots of great things to read. My post “Melancholy, Journalism Day & A Few of My Favorite Things” was included, but you don’t have to go there to read it here.

But you know the drill. If you want to know what’s buzzing around the EduSphere, you really need to go there and see what everyone else is saying.

Next week’s carnival is being hosted here. You can use this handy dandy form or email me at Deadline is 7 p.m. CST on Tuesday. Don’t be late! You know how us journalism types feel about deadlines.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Melancholy, Journalism Day & A Few of My Favorite Things

I’d like to say my brief blogging hiatus was the result of some fun-filled extravaganza involving sandy beaches, shopping and sunshine. (Don’t ya just love alliterations?)

Instead, it was more like a melancholy malaise brought about by a wide collection of things…my father’s illness and death, the impending doom we call yearbook, and let’s not forget that smorgasbord of angst dished out by this thing we call life.

You see, I was waiting to see if all this melancholy would disapparate and my FunnyBack would return. Then, I realized if I waited for that to happen, why that could possibly take, like, forever. Some things you just have to work at to make happen. (And we all know how I feel about things.) So as I was saying, some things you just have to work at to make happen–kind of like those 150 or so yearbook page proofs (which btw got mailed Friday).

So-o-o-o let’s all do the dance of joy for that–and hope none of those pages contain anything that should have been in the “Things That Will Get You Fired Folder.” Yes siree, Missy, there’s no telling what is lurking out there. I did catch the Sports Studs headline. (Jeez Louise, what were they thinking?)

In addition to slogging through all those page proofs last week, we also attended the Dallas Morning News High School Journalism Day. I must say my kids looked fab-u-lous… so fab-u-lous, in fact, that I told them it didn’t matter if we didn’t win anything, at least we were the best looking bunch. I also got to embarrass all of them by bringing the chicken, sitting him at our table and making our photo editor take pictures of him. Hails bails, it doesn’t get much better than that.

All in all, it was a great day filled with some of my most favorite things. Here’s my list of…

A few of Richie’s favorite things…

#5…An unending supply of free Starbucks coffee
#4…A free tasty little continental breakfast and a free tasty three-course lunch
#3…Time to actually eat said tasty free breakfast and lunch
#2…No bells. None. Zero. Zippo. Crack fire, I get goose bumps just thinking about it.

And, drum roll pah-leese… Richie’s No. 1 favorite thing…My kiddos winning some awards.

Yep… as politically incorrect as that sounds, I love it when the kids win. Remember, this isn’t the YMCA. Winning matters. Competition matters. Success matters. And yeah, I know I told them that they looked so fab-u-lous winning didn’t matter, but Jeez Louise, we’re not in cosmetology.

Next weekend is the big state journalism convention in Austin. I get to spend three days with 13 teenagers. (Can’t you just feel the excitement oozing?)

Let’s hope we come back with some more awards (the newspaper is up for a state Star. Woo-hoo!)

If not, I’m teaching a session on blogging. Maybe I can finally hand out some of those cards I never got to give out in New York City. And, of course, the chicken is coming along.

Who needs sand and sunshine when I’ve got kids, Austin and the chicken?

OK, OK OK, so maybe I did book a trip to Barbados with my BFF Jennifer. After all, the chicken can only take you so far.

He Is Risen!

Happy Easter!

image courtesy of