Friday, December 31, 2010

A Very Happy New Year and Remember the Upcoming Education Buzz!

Wishing everyone a Happy New Year 
and blessings throughout the year!

Don't forget our next Education Buzz Carnival will be Wednesday, January 12. Please send your submissions using this handy dandy form. Deadline for submissions will be at 6 p.m. central time on Saturday, January 8

You can submit more than one post since we have had a nice little Christmas break, and we want to get everyone up to speed on what's been happening in the EduSphere. Post on New Year's resolutions would be fun. Why don't you make one of your resolutions to host an edition of the Carnival? If you would like to do so, email me at So get those submissions rolling in and let's get this party started!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Education Buzz--Life's a Carnival 12 Days of Christmas Edition

Welcome to the Education Buzz--an eclectic smattering of things buzzing about in the EduSphere. This week finds us smack dab in the holiday season. So here is the 12 Days of Christmas Edition of the Education Carnival…

On the Twelfth Day of Christmas, my true love sent to me 12 drummers drumming and a list of 50 top blogs on how to study…

On the Eleventh Day of Christmas, my true love sent to me eleven pipers piping and Mr. Teacher's lesson on probability.

On the Tenth Day of Christmas, my true love sent to me ten lords a-leaping and Darren from Right on the Left Coast providing a reason why December 17 is such a wonderful day as well as an interesting exchange with a foreign exchange student.

On the Ninth Day of Christmas, my true love sent to me, nine ladies dancing and Successful Teaching where there is always hope

On the Eighth Day of Christmas, my true love sent to me, eight maids a-milking and J.M. Holland's take on how the meaning of books has changed.

On the Seventh Day of Christmas, my true love sent to me seven swans a swimming and Mamacita's "rant" on Christmas.

On the Sixth Day of Christmas, my true love sent to me six geese a-laying and Joanne Jacobs and a little ditty about a teacher charged with discussing ham.

On the Fifth Day of Christmas, my true love sent to me five golden ring and Old Andrew and why this job never ends.

On the Fourth Day of Christmas, my true love sent to me four calling birds and Steve Spangler's "Shrink a Cup in a Pressure Cooker" experiment. What's not to love about that?

On the Third Day of Christmas, my true love sent to me three French hens and Assorted Stuff's musings over the direction we are headed.

On the Second Day of Christmas, my true love sent to me two turtle doves and my post about stinky yellow school buses, big fat stupid heads, and, of course, my timer.

On the First Day of Christmas, my true love sent to me a partridge in a pear tree and…everyone's heartfelt wish for a very Merry Christmas and hope for the future in the New Year!
Well, my friends, I think that wraps up this edition of the Education Buzz. If you are interested in hosting an edition, please let me know by emailing me at If you find any broken links or problems with this edition of the Ed Buzz, please let me know. 
As always…
“I’ve got this feeling that there’s something that I missed…”
–Snow Patrol

And, if I did, my apologies.

With the holidays upon us, our next Carnival will be Wednesday, January 12. Please send your submissions using this handy dandy form. Deadline for submissions will be at 6 p.m. central time on Saturday, January 8.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Stinky Yellow Schools Buses, Big Fat Stupid Heads & Stop the Timer!

I really thought I could make it to the new year without  calling anybody a Big Fat Stupid Head. 

I even debated whether shouting, "Big Fat Stupid Head" counts if you're all alone in your car, windows rolled up and no one there to hear you. It's kind of like that dumb philosophical question, "If a tree falls in a forest, and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" 

After some consideration, I decided that if I shouted, "You're a Big Fat Stupid Head" (which I did), but no one was around to hear it, it probably had to count. 

Chalk it all up to Stinky Yellow School Bus #666  (*the bus number has been changed to protect the BFSH.) 

Here's a ferret-on-crack version of the sordid incident:

I was driving down the road in my trusty mini-van when Stinky Yellow School Bus #666 pulled out in front of me. Now, I really don't care when a spiffy little red sports car pulls out in front of me because they tend to accelerate rather rapidly and don't slow me down. 

But a big yellow school bus? Pah-leese. 

Then, of course, after pulling out in front of me, Stinky Yellow School Bus #666  did what all big fat yellow school buses do. It spewed all sorts of toxic black smoke into the air that quickly circulated through my trusty little mini-van's vents. 

And, as if all of that wasn't bad enough (and don't ya think it outta be?), Stinky Yellow School Bus #666 stopped (as required by law) at the train track that had crossing arms to look for the imaginery train because we certainly wouldn't want to get hit by one of those now would we? 

Jeez Louise, it's not as if we're all running around in Mr. Roger's neighborhood with the trolley zipping us to the land of make believe. (Although at this point, I certainly wanted to be on Mr. Trolley speeding to the land of make believe.)

So that is how Stinky Yellow School Bus #666  made me shout, "Big Fat Stupid Head!" and why I had to make a special trip to Starbucks just to summon the energy to make it through another day--as if I needed an excuse to go there.

Since I seem to be a tad bit stressed with all this yearbook stuff due and the end of the semester looming, I decided that perhaps it would be best to start up the BFSH timer after New Year's Day. 

Somehow I think it will make me less snarky and somewhat cheerier if I'm able to sing…

"Dashing through the streets
In my trusty mini van
O'er the tracks we go
shouting big fat stupid head all the way.
Christmas break is close
Making spirits bright
What fun it is to laugh and sing
A Big Fat Stupid Head song tonight…"

I don't know about you, but I'm feeling better already.

[Reminder: The next Education Buzz will be here on Wednesday, Dec. 22 for our Christmas edition.  Submission deadline will be 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 18. Please use this handy-dandy submission form. Then we will probably take a brief break until after the first of the year so that everyone can enjoy the their much-needed holiday break. If you are interested in hosting an edition of the Education Buzz, please let me know by emailing me at]

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Carnival is Up!

OK, so it's Woo-hoo Wednesday, and you now have something to really woo-hoo about. Education Buzz--Life's a Carnival is up and running over at Steve Spangler's site.  Lots of good stuff to read so get on over there if you want to know all that's a happenin' in the EduSphere. 

The next Education Buzz will be here on Wednesday, Dec. 22 for our Christmas edition.  Submission deadline will be 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 18. Please use this  handy-dandy submission form. Then we will probably take a brief break until after the first of the year so that everyone can enjoy the their much-needed holiday break.

If you are interested in hosting an edition of the Education Buzz, please let me know by emailing me at

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Can You Hear Me Now?

[This post was first published as Can You Hear Me Now? on Technorati.]
Every Friday we have current events day in my journalism class. Students bring in news stories and we discuss interesting things going on in the world.

Some of those discussions can be pretty interesting as we attempt to make sense of the world we live in.

Take for instance an article one student brought in about a North Texas man whose smartphone supposedly exploded injuring his ear. The man needed four stitches to fix his ear, and, according to news reports, he said he planned to contact the company for some "help"  and he planned to contact an attorney as well.  I'm pretty sure all of that talk was simply code for "Give me some money, honey, or I'm suing you." 

But the article wasn't nearly as interesting as the Q&A that followed the story summary.

"Any questions or comments?" I asked the class.

"Yeah," one student said. "Why did he put his phone in his beer?"

"What?" the entire class asked.

"Why was his phone in his beer?" the student persisted.

"Why in the world are we talking about beer?" I asked.

Finally another student came to the rescue and said, "She didn't say the phone fell in his beer. She said the phone exploded in his ear."

"Oh," the confused student said, "now that makes more sense."

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving Break, Yearbook & Letting It Be

In a few hours, Thanksgiving break will be gone. Sadly, the three bags of stuff I bought home won't be.

Some how, some way, some day I wish I could wave a magic wand or twitch my nose like Samantha in Bewitched and be done with it all--the bags of stuff that is.

At least I managed to sort through most of the disaster I refer to as "yearbook."  I even met with my yearbook rep over Thanksgiving Break to discuss yearbook-related stuff. I believe if the pilgrims had to do that, they would have skedaddled right on out of Plymouth Rock as speedy quick as the ol' Mayflower could sail. (No, silly, the pilgrims wouldn't have skedaddled because of my yearbook rep, who really is a rather nice guy, but because of yearbook stuff in general.)

I guess only a yearbook adviser would truly understand my angst.

In order to calm myself in these last few hours before the end of break, I thought I would (1) eat a little bit of chocolate and (2) drink some green tea. I buy the kind of tea that contains nifty little philosophical ditties. The one for this evening said, "The best way of life is to be, simply be."


Obviously, the writer of that little cleverness was never a journalism adviser.

Or a teacher.

Could be fun though. Maybe tomorrow when I go to class, I'll just let things "be."

Yeah, let's see how well that one works for me.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Carnival is Up!

OK, so it's Wednesday and you'll notice that I didn't post anything on Sunday or Monday. In my defense, it is Thanksgiving Week and instead of spending the time writing (as I would like to do), I am spending my time trying to make some sense of this mess they call "yearbook." I also have two pies in the oven, the turkey stock cooking and some coffee brewing. I hope to resume my regular blog postings next week.
In the meantime, though, I plan to head on over to Scheiss Weekly who graciously agreed to host the Education Buzz--Life's a Carnival. There's lots of good stuff to read, so why don't you join me and head on over there and get caught up on all the goings on in the EduSphere.

Our next edition of the carnival is scheduled for December 8. It will be hosted by the amazing Steve Spangler. Deadline for submissions is 7 p.m. December 7. Please use this this handy-dandy submission form.

If you are interested in hosting an edition of the Education Buzz, please let me know by emailing me at

Monday, November 15, 2010

Yellow Mellow Jello & Things I Learned Recently

My mind seems to be made of jello lately. 

Yellow, mellow Jello.

Yellow, mellow Jello roughly translates into "I've been so scattered lately I can't focus long enough on any one thing" to write something clever.

So instead, I spend my time doing things like laundry, or I decide to make a vat of chili, or I play with that cute little puppy we're babysitting, or I eat a nice chocolate custard cone from Sheridan.

Compound all of that with the fact that in the last two weeks, I've taken two days off. Now before you start turning green around the gills with jealousy, let me just tell you I'm using that term rather loosely because "off" meant spending my day away from work walking 20 miles as part of that little 3-day for the Cure 60 mile walk thing I did.  And, then, of course, my most recent day "off" meant spending my entire Monday grading all those projects I didn't get a chance to grade because, well, I was off walking and then recuperating.

As a result, my blog along with my feet has suffered from my neglect. It's rather difficult to feel clever when you're walking around with feet the size of Bozo the Clown (especially since I never really felt Bozo was all that funny to begin with.) 

See how this whole grading thing tends to make me rather cranky? Oh, and let's not forget whiny. Yeah, I've pretty whiny lately, too.

But since I promised some amusing stories regarding the 3-day for the Cure extravaganza my team Pink Me Out participated in a week ago, I probably ought to write something before my short term memory fails me and my long term memory embellishes it. So here are the top three lessons I learned…

Lesson #1… If there ever was any doubt, there is none now. I am not a camping kind of gal. I do not like sleeping in a cold freezing tent with wet hair. Nor am I fond of bright, prison-type lights shining down into our little tent (so bright that you could actually read a book at 9 p.m. without a flashlight). And, no, I wasn't fond of those same flood lights coming back on at 5:15  in the morning. (And to think I was worried about oversleeping.)

Lesson #2… One should not bring hot chocolate into one's tent unless the hot chocolate has a lid on it because the law of averages pretty much guarantees that the offending beverage in question will somehow get knocked over and spill onto everything. On a positive note, everything smelled pretty good after that. It's like living in the Chocolate Hotel but without the spa treatments, towels, beds, running water, flushing toilets, room service etc.

Lesson #3… Self control skills. I must say it's easier to understand now how one can just snap and exhibit violent tendencies. You know, tendencies such as popping a perfect stranger upside her little pointy head especially when that stranger sneaks in a blow dryer to camp and dries her hair you're standing on a chair under a portable outdoor propane heater hoping your hair doesn't catch on fire. (They did say NO blow dryers.)

I could ramble on and on and on about other lessons I learned, but quite frankly, they were more confirmations of things I already knew and not particularly funny.

Most of the funny stuff doesn't translate well into a written rendition. This one doesn't fare too well, but it's just too good to not try, so if it loses its funny my apologies…

It was Day 2 and apparently the planets all lined up perfectly because something very funny happened. We had walked probably 18 miles. We were tired, sore and probably just a tad cranky. One of my teammates--Susie Sunshine-- was wanting to pass a slower walker. At that moment, Susie (who tends to be overly polite all the time) said to the other walker, "Excuse me, passing on the left." At that moment, the other woman said, "Kiss my…"

Susie Sunshine, of course, was mortified and asked in disbelief, "Pardon me?"

To which the other woman, who was equally mortified exclaimed, "Oh no, not you, it's written there on the side walk."

And sure enough there it was. 

Someone, when the concrete was new and wet had written the offending phrase. The walker just happened to read it out loud at the exact moment Susie Sunshine was trying to pass.

What are the odds of that? Probably a gajillion to one. 

If my feet hadn't been so tired, we probably would have dashed off to buy a lottery ticket.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The End of the Line

[Writer's note: This article first published as The End of the Line on Technorati. I have included it on my blog for those of you who wanted an update on my 3-day for the Cure Walk which was held in Dallas  Nov. 5-7.]

I returned home exhausted from the 3-day for the Cure 60 mile walk. I along with the other three members of my team--the Pink Me Out team--walked every inch of the course, and yes, we have the sore feet to prove it. 

According to The Dallas Morning News, there were more than 2,700 walkers who participated in the Susan G. Komen walk to battle cancer. Organizers told us Dallas alone raised  $7 million. All in all, I suppose you can put a big check mark in the win-win column.
In my 3-day journey, I discovered lots of things (including Thing 1 who posed for pictures at one of the pit stops). And while I found Thing 1 rather amusing, it's really the other things that were more interesting and/or surprising. Things like…

•How well an event like this runs… It's well-orchestrated, well-planned and well-done--except for whoever thought it was a good idea to throw in some steps on the last day.

•My teammates and I were surprised at the number of participants who don't actually walk the entire course instead opting for a ride in the sweep van to the next pit stop or a bus back to camp. No judgments here. I do understand why some cannot complete the course. It was difficult to do. We just figured our level of being uncomfortable didn't come close to what cancer patients face.

•I was amazed at the generosity of some people. The people who I least expected to donate for us to walk donated a lot. The people who I thought would donate or who I thought would donated substantially didn't. I'm still surprised that our team did not get one donation from anyone on the Internet as a result of this or any other blog posting made. (But then, I'm still waiting for Oprah to read my book and "discover" me. Ah, if only wishes were horses, beggars would ride…") 

•I learned I can technically "rough" it. I survived frigid  temperatures in a tent with wet hair (no electricity for blow dryers). I succumbed to three days of portable toilets (except for that one incident when I hobbled into a Starbucks for coffee and running water).
But most importantly, I learned firsthand that life as a participant beats life as a spectator. Hands--make that feet--down.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Woo-hoo Education Buzz #8 Is Up

If you came here looking for the fab-u-lous Life's A Carnival: The Education Buzz #8, you will have to bebop over to JM Holland's place at Emergent Learner. He so graciously agreed to host the carnival there this week because I didn't just talk the talk, I walked the walk and walked all 60 miles of the 3-day for the Cure in Dallas. My team--Pink Me Out--raised almost $10,000 in the fight against breast cancer. Overall, Dallas raised about $7 million.  (And, yes, my feet are tired and I am still recovering.)
But I'll write more about that later. In the meantime, head on over to the Carnival to find out what's buzzing about in the EduSphere.

Our next carnival will be graciously hosted by Mamacita over at Scheiss Weekly  and will appear November 24. Deadline for submissions is Saturday, November 20. Use this handy-dandy submission form.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Richie's Top 5 Things To Be Thankful For

Sadly, I've spent the better part of the week trying to come up with something to write about.

Sadly, it's not that I have been without topics. It's just that every time something flashes through my brain, I'm not even remotely near something (computer, pen, paper) to jot it down. Then, because my brain apparently is the size of a tee-tiny pea, by the time I finally do get to a computer, I can't remember anything. Nothing. Nadda. Zilch.

Such is the sadness of my life. 

I am, however, grateful that J.M. Holland agreed to host the next Education Buzz Carnival except for one little tee-tiny problem--he wants his theme centered on thankfulness. So now, I have to come up with something clever, and that something has to relate to thankFUL instead of thankLESS. You see, I have lots of thankLESS things I could write about, but then that would make me a Naysaying Nellie, and Jeepers Creepers, we certainly have enough of those floating about. So here it goes…

Richie's Top Five Things To Be Thankful For

#5… I am thankful that I haven't done anything where I would have to talk to my children through glass.

#4… I am thankful that I have my BFF Jennifer working with me at school now so that I don't say out loud the bubble above my head.

#3… I am thankful that somehow, some way I managed to train for the 3-day for the Cure, survive newspaper deadline Number 2 and turn in my six weeks grades without setting my hair on fire and running screaming from the building. (Although I do wonder if that little running bit would count as a training walk for the 3-day for the Cure.)

#2…I am so very, very, very thankful for Halloween chocolate. Because without Halloween chocolate, I seriously doubt I would have survived Item #3.

#1… I am thankful that almost 400 days have passed since I've audibly called someone a Big Fat Stupid Head. Although in all honesty, I must admit I  have probably mumbled the phrase, and I'm 100 percent certain I have said the phrase in the bubble above my head. Lately though, the phrase has lurked there, just waiting on the tip of my tongue. I'd tell you about all of that but I'm about 100 percent certain it's one of those things that probably belongs in "My things that will get you fired" folder. So then I'd have to write a list of Richie's Five ThankLESS Things. And that, of course, would then make me a Naysaying Nellie, and then JM Holland wouldn't put me in the Carnival.

So let's all be thankful about my progress here, and hopeful that I can make it to the end of the year without calling someone a Big Fat Stupid Head.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Life's a Carnival: The Education Buzz #7

Welcome to the Seventh Edition of the Education Buzz--an eclectic smattering of things buzzing about in the EduSphere. Last week found us touring Haunted Houses.  This week finds us getting ready for Halloween and Election Day. Both could be scary propositions. Early voting has already started. So let's get this bus rolling and start picking up folks to vote.
There's lots of issues out there to consider. The Dancing Crocodile considers it "grossly unfair" that teachers are evaluated by administrators while administrators are assessed by their superiors. Slide on over and let Joanne Jacobs in. Let's see what she has to say about charter schools retaining kids instead of socially promoting them. 

Don't forget to take all your stuff when you get off the bus. Who left that Superman costume on the back seat? J.M. Holland at Emergent Learner has some thoughts on "Waiting for Superman."

Hey, let's stop at Old Andrew's place and pick up some books to read while we're waiting in line to vote. While Old Andrew has some great picks on his list, did you really think I would let this opportunity slip by for a little bit of self-promotion? You should check out my book, How to Lose Your Self of Steam and Other Teaching Lessons I Never Learned From Professional Development. To be fair, you should also check out Mr. Teacher's book, Learn Me Good, and Joanne Jacob's book, Our School.

Would someone please tell Mr. Teacher to put away his football stickers and look for his voter registration card? We're almost at the voting site. He can tell us about the interesting connection he found between some football stickers and his students after he finds his card.

We'll have to come back for  Darren from Right on the Left Coast because he's off proctoring the PSAT test where he discovered something rather odd. Pat over at Successful Teaching wants to know how long until we get there. While we're waiting for Darren, why don't we all share something good that's happened to us today?

Isn't that Joel from So You Want To Teach walking down the street? Let's give him a ride. He's got a nifty cheat sheet for us on 50 Teaching Tips.

I don't think we should vote on an empty stomach. Let's check out 11 school lunches from around the world. While y'all are looking at the the Top 40 Video Websites for Teachers, I'm going to see if the bus driver can't pull in a little closer. I'm really tired of all that spinning around I've been doing lately.


JM Holland over at Emergent Learner has graciously agreed to host the next edition of the Education Buzz carnival of education as I will be busy walking the walk for the 3-day for the Cure. Please submit your thoughtful posts by November 6th using this  handy dandy form. According to JM, the theme will be thankfulness.

If you are interested in hosting an edition of the Education Buzz, please let me know by emailing me at

If you find any broken links or problems with this edition of the Ed Buzz, please let me know. As always…
“I’ve got this feeling that there’s something that I missed…”
–Snow Patrol

And, if I did, my apologies.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Hamsters, Starbucks & Blue Boxes

With less than two weeks to go before the big event known as the 3-day for the Cure--the one where I walk the walk all 60 miles in three days--it's easy to let my weekly blog post get tossed curbside in preparation for this extravaganza.

I'm not exactly sure what I was thinking when I decided to do the 60-mile walk. I'm fairly certain it must have had something to do with chocolate withdrawal, sleep deprivation or a combination thereof, and I'm fairly certain it had absolutely nothing to do with any shred of sanity I might still possess.

But nonetheless, I didn't want for this to become an excuse for not writing something amusing, witty or enlightening. But when I reflected on my past week, very little came to mind. Most of last week was pretty much like the start of this week. I spent an inordinate amount  of time feeling like a hamster spinning round and round "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." But unlike our little furry rodent, I'm fairly certain my spinning round and round doesn't even result in weight loss.

My week was so pathetic I couldn't even manage to ignore my yearbook rep even though I have that nifty little Guns N' Roses "Welcome to the Jungle" ringer that signals his calls. Now before you feel all warm and fuzzy and sorry for him, I did attempt to return his phone calls. (Can I help it if he won't answer his phone at 7 a.m.?) He's such a nice guy, though, he showed up mid-week with a Starbucks grande non-fat, three raw sugar latte in hand because, as he put it, "I probably needed one."

Just when I started to feel a tad bit warm and fuzzy over his sensitivity, my yearbook rep told me and the kiddos about another wealthier school district where the yearbook students there brought their adviser gifts in one of those nifty little blue boxes.

You know the box. The one I'll never get in my lifetime. Yeah, that one. The Tiffany & Company one.

And that warm and fuzzy feeling?

Well, I'm pretty sure that came from the steamed milk from my latte.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Me, Miners & Mints

I try and post something new every Sunday evening or Monday morning, but time sort of ticked on by me this weekend.
I wish I could say that my weekend was filled with fun and frivolity, but sadly, most of it was spent with little fun involved but lots of frivolous stuff. You know, stuff like having to grade 95 photographs, stuff like having to finally wash socks, stuff like having to figure out how to squeeze 45 hours worth of work in a 24 hour day.

You know, that kind of stuff. And we all know that that kind of stuff makes me grumpy, and grumpy makes me less than funny, and less than funny makes it difficult to write. So for the past 24 hours, I've tried to get my funnyback, but that may take a little more time.

But while we're waiting for the funny to kick back in, let's talk about a recent classroom exchange. We were discussing current events in my journalism class when I mentioned the 33 Chilean miners who were trapped for more than two months. 

One of the kiddos raised his hand and asked, "Why are there so many miners underground?"

"Yeah,"  said another student.

Me: "Because that's what miners do. They mine stuff underground."

Student (still sounding a bit perplexed): "Oh…"

Me: You know, stuff like gold, coal… that sort of stuff."

Student: "Ohhhhh… I thought we were talking about minors…You know, underage people… minors."

Me: "Why would a group of teenagers be underground in a mine?"

Student: "Yeah, that's what I want to know…"

Me: "Miners… m-i-n-e-r-s…"

I won't even tell you about my discussion with my BFF Jennifer concerning her mother's 80th birthday and mint tins.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Life's a Carnival–the Education Buzz #6 Halloween Edition

[Before we get on with the carnival, I have a personal plea. Most of you know by now that I will be walking the Susan G. Komen 3-day for the Cure 60-mile walk November 5. Everyone on my team has raised their money for the walk except for my BFF Jennifer. (We recruited her late.) Once all her donations are in, we think she's just going to be just a few hundred dollars short of the required $2,300 to participate. If you would like to help us fight breast cancer, please consider making a donation to her. Any donation no matter how small will make a difference and will be greatly appreciated. Thanks!]


Welcome to the Sixth Edition of the Education Buzz--an eclectic smattering of things buzzing about in the EduSphere. 

Quit whining about that hay poking you in the… This will be fun. Who doesn't like a good scare now and then? Let's check and see if this haunted house is  offering any teacher discounts.

Hey is that Herman Munster over there? Oh wait, that's just 100 green lesson plans for the classroom. 

Did those kids just try and cut in front of us? Where's Clix? We need her to give 'em the ol' stink eye.

Jeepers Creepers! If that stink eye doesn't scare you, just check out Old Andrew and ponder just how low can your expectations go? And there's more ghastly stuff from my other friend across the pond Sarah Ebner who wants to know why parents and teachers are so adversarial. Of course, Curmudgeon has to bring up those scary vouchers again except this time, he raises some interesting questions and observations.

Yuk! Watch out for that blood trail. It's going right over there by Assorted Stuff who thinks it's time to kill computer labs. Now that's an interesting thought.

And while we're on interesting…since Halloween is just around the corner, I couldn't resist including this post about reforming the education system in our country from Zodiac Times written by a "professional astrologer, certified hypnotherapist and spiritual coach." I thought that would picque your interest.

Oh my, do you hear those witches over there?
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble.
It looks like an educational hodgepodge. Darren from Right on the Left Coast has something teachers like to hear and thinks the kids will be all right. J.M. Holland thinks that sometimes a picture tells a better story. Dancing Crocodile learns that a broken ruler brings out the best ruler.

Well, let's go trick-or-treating, but before we do make sure you check out me and Mr. Bones.

If your post was included you know the drill, please link back to the carnival. If you are interested in submitting a post, please check our guidelines first and then use this handy dandy form to submit. The carnival will appear back here in two weeks on Wednesday, Oct. 27. Submissions are due by 5 p.m. CST on Saturday, October 23.

Please let me know about any broken links or problems.  As always…
“I’ve got this feeling that there’s something that I missed…”
–Snow Patrol

And, if I did, my apologies.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Four Weeks To Go & Thinking About a Guy I Don't know

[This article was first published as Four Weeks To Go and Thinking About a Guy I Don't Know on Technorati.]
(Writer's note: I've been busy putting together the Education Buzz--Life's a Carnival which will appear here on Wednesday. So instead of posting my usual witty observations, I'm posting my update on my 3-day for the Cure training. Jeepers Creepers, it's in four weeks. If you haven't donated and want to still donate for the cure, my BFF Jennifer still needs a bit more in order to walk. Remember I need her for that whole camping thing. Otherwise, I'll be sleeping on the ground being eaten alive by bears. OK, so maybe bears is a teensy weensy bit of exaggeration.  How about eaten alive by coyotes? Armadillos? OK, chiggers then… So have a little pity and go here to donate to my BFF Jennifer, but before you do that, please read the post below…] 

Lately I've spent quite a bit of time thinking about a guy I don't know. On Oct. 8, he walked the walk--you know the one, the 3-day for the Cure. 
In April, I read a column by Leonard Pitts about his decision to participate in the Susan G. Komen 60-mile walk for the cure. Inspired by his words, I decided instead of donating money for his walk, I would walk the walk as well and signed up for the 3-day for the Cure in Dallas on Nov. 5.

Ever since I began this undertaking, Mr. Pitts has floated in and out of my thoughts. Admittedly, sometimes those thoughts weren't very warm and fuzzy especially when my walking buddies and I braved 100-plus degree heat to train.

Other times I wondered/worried whether Mr. Pitts had trouble getting his donations. I shouldn't have worried so much about him. While my team  struggled to raise our $2,300 each, his readers donated more than $27,000. I can only chalk it up to the difference between a well-known, professional syndicated columnist and team of high school teachers.

Still, I am just as proud of the quarters raised by our high school students as I am of the outpouring of generosity of Mr. Pitts' readers. In some ways, I am even more proud of the fledgling Pink Panther Club formed just a month ago to increase breast cancer awareness at our school--all a result of our upcoming walk which in an odd way traces the start of its journey back to Mr. Pitts.

I always tell my journalism students that we often don't know how our words touch others or even if they do.

I checked on Mr. Pitts' recent columns to see what sort of update he had related to the 3-day for the Cure.  Again, he had a particularly poignant piece writing that  "…life is an understanding: We're all going to the same destination. The only difference is in what you choose to see along the way."

But I would have to add something to that observation because it's not just what you choose to see along the way, it's also who you touch along the way.

So because Mr. Pitts unknowingly touched my life, I will spend this weekend wondering and worrying how this stranger fared on his 60-mile walk.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Rubber Chickens, Mr. Bones & the New Normal

I suppose you could blame it on the rubber chicken.

Or perhaps the sparkly tiara.

Or maybe even the pink fuzzy magic wand with its awesome magic wand sound.

Perhaps it was any of those things or maybe it was all of those things…But surely it was something that must have desensitized my students to my wackiness, and my wacky hall-monitoring, rubber-chicken, hand puppet-loving compadre Rhonda.

You see, my friend Rhonda borrowed a skeleton from the science department to teach some health-related something. (There's those darn tootin' things again.)

Well, she couldn't very well leave Mr. Slim Jim Bones in the classroom because experience has taught her that if one were to leave Mr. Slim Jim Bones alone in the classroom, well, bad things happen. Things like Mr. Slim Jim Bones would be missing some bones. Or worse, his bones would be detached and re-attached in places they most certainly don't belong.

So instead of leaving him unsupervised, Missy Rhonda wheels Mr. Slim Jim Bones out into the hall to assist with our hall monitoring. And there we stood with Mr. Slim Jim Bones with his left, bony arm around Missy Rhonda while I held Mr. Slim Jim's right hand.

We stood at our hall monitoring post before first period… and, well, the children walked right on by. Not a peep.

Between first and second period, I upped the ante a bit and donned my tiara since Mr. Slim Jim Bones was wearing a pink fuzzy one. All the children walked right on by. Not a peep except for one boy who said "awesome!"

When passing period was over, I went into my second period class with my sparkly tiara, and no one said a word. I was slightly disheartened.

When the bell for third period rang, all the children walked by apparently oblivious to Mr. Slim Jim Bones except one girl who merely pointed at us and smiled.

Fourth period… Not a peep. Not even one.

Fifth period? Nothing. Nadda, Zilch.

And so it pretty much went the rest of the day.

I finally turned to Rhonda and my other hall monitoring buddies and asked, "What part of this looks remotely like normal behavior to you?"

It took about three days, a pair of 3-D glasses and a pink 3-day for the Cure bracelet before the children acknowledged Mr. Slim Jim Bones.

Jeepers Creepers, how are we supposed to capture kid's hearts if it's this tough capturing their attention?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Life's a Carnival–-the Education Buzz Edition #5

Welcome to the Fifth Edition of the Education Buzz--an eclectic smattering of things buzzing about the EduSphere. 

Get your mindset right. Are you ready for some Friday Night Lights?

Make sure you have your ID card with you. If you're not classified as a highly qualified teacher, you're not going to get in. Nancy Flanagan from Teacher in a Strange Land asks if a test can determine who really is a qualified teacher.

Would someone pah-leese tell Mr. Teacher that while his orange tickets might improve his test scores, they are not going to get him into the game.

Where does everyone want to sit? Let's ask Darren from Right on the Left Coast. Although his Back to School night went well, there's always that one parent and I think he's sitting over there.

Pat over at Successful Teaching wants to sit over by the band so she become one with the tubas. It's that salamander-transformation-thing she's got going on. Jeez Louise, what some teachers will do to eke out better writing from their students.

Would you please scoot over and let Old Andrew in.  He wants to know if you're one of those people who question special education needs and then are accused of thinking that A Christmas Carol "should have ended with Scrooge going over to Bob Cratchit’s house and giving Tiny Tim a good kicking…"

And if all of that doesn't get you yakking, scoot over some more and make way for the Dancing Crocodile and find out why rote learning doesn't stink. 

Are y'all watching the field? What in the world is the drill team doing down there? Put your left brain in, take your right brain out, put your left brain in and then shake it all about, let's do the hokey pokey and… Sharper Brains gives us the latest in learning styles or rather the lack there of. 

At halftime, you might want to head up to the press box and see TeachTechTopia about some apps for iPads.
Well the Education Optimists have finally decided to join our fun-filled extravaganza. I'm including both of their posts because (Shameless Self-Promotion Warning: like me they were named one of the best education blogs of 2010 by the Washington Post). One deals with a new initiative called VIVA which will make you happy, and other other deals with value added scores of individual teachers that made me all rather very sad and wondered what part of all that was optimistic.

I hate to leave everyone on a sad note, so make sure you check out my post on "Picture Day, Math Humor & Bad Hares." It's guaranteed to make you smile.

If your post was included, please link back to the carnival. Otherwise, I'll get snarky and may not include you next time. If you are interested in submitting a post, please check our guidelines first and then use this handy dandy form to submit. The carnival will appear back here in two weeks on Wednesday, Oct. 13. Submissions are due by 5 p.m. CST on Saturday, October 9.

Please let me know about any broken links or problems.  As always…
“I’ve got this feeling that there’s something that I missed…” 
–Snow Patrol

And, if I did, my apologies.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

IEPS, ROTS & Counting Crows

I was going to skip my blog post this week and whine about how I just ran out of time after completing our first newspaper deadline, turning in my first six weeks grades, training for the 3-day for the Cure, getting the upcoming Education Buzz Carnival ready and so forth and so on.

But then I remembered--a bit sadly--that this is a no-whining blog, so I won't do that. 

Of course, if I did, I would have to add a few other things. Things like instead of writing my post, I sort of decided to spend 90 minutes of my time watching the premiere of the Amazing Race (Did tatoo girl, really say she was in the "country of London?")

So instead, all that grading made me think that what I need is my very own IEP (Individual Education Plan) where one of my accommodations is that I don't have to turn in grades. I came to this realization while I was at hot yoga (and yes, it is hot in there). While sweating out all those toxins and high school cooties, I decided I do really rather like this teaching gig, but I'm not terribly fond of this grading thing. 

So maybe I can say that I have ROTS (Running Out of Time Syndrome) that causes panic/anxiety attacks directly traceable to grading, grade books and all things related to numbers.

Hmmmmmm, I wonder what the wonderful Dr. Al (my principal) would think of that?

As I pondered that very thing in hot yoga, Missy Chrissy Pretzel Yoga Instructor (one of my former yearbook editors) wanted us to bend ourselves into a sideways crow pose. (Sometimes I wonder if all those twisted poses are payback for all those yearbook deadlines.)

I didn't have the heart to tell her that the only crow I ever liked was Adam Duritz of the Counting Crows, and then that counting reminded me of numbers again which, of course, reminded me of all that grading again, which reminded me of asking Dr. Al for my very own IEP.

But something tells me I probably shouldn't count on that.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Picture Day, Math Humor & Bad Hares

A rather pleasant young math teacher asked me how Underclassmen Picture Day went. You know the day. The day that makes all yearbook advisers shudder, cringe and make them want to set their hair on fire. Yep, the day we have to photograph 1,800 plus children in one day. That day.

"I think I'd rather poke my eye out with a pencil than do Picture Day," I said.

"That would only last two years," he said.

I stared at him blankly.

"You know," he said pointing to his eyes, "you only have two eyes, so two years…so you'll have to find something else…" 

"Ahhh," I said finally getting the math humor.

I'd love to tell you about Picture Day, and why some things made me think of pikes and heads on pikes, but all of that belongs in my "Things That Will Get You Fired" Folder. So let's just say that I survived, and I've decided against poking my eye out because, as my young math teacher pointed out, I would eventually run out of body parts and still have to do Picture Day. Arrgggg.

I'm still undecided, though, about the heads and pike thing.

On a more amusing note, one of my new yearbook staffers came to me asking for an extension on an assignment. For this assignment, staffers had to call a list of senior parents to tell them about our senior ads.  I normally don't grant extensions, but this staffer is one of those really responsible kids.

"Why?" I asked.

"My rabbit ate it," she said, whipping out her half-eaten list.

Talk about a bad hare day. 

I granted the extension.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Life's a Carnival–-the Education Buzz Edition #4

Yippee! Finally the lunch bell. Oh, hurry up will you? We only have 25 minutes to dash down to the teacher lunchroom, inhale our lunch and find out what's the buzz. 

The buzz? Yes, siree missy. 

Welcome to the Fourth Edition of the Education Buzz--an eclectic smattering of things buzzing about the EduSphere. So come on in and sit a spell? Or at least sit until your allotted 25 minute lunch is over.

Table 1 is already crowded with the controversial lunch bunch stirring up the educational cauldron with J.M Holland comparing unions to guns and teachers to … Ahhh, my dears, you'll have to jump on down to Emergent Learner to hear what he has to say about all of that. Interesting post. Wow, things are really sizzling here …Curmudgeon disagrees with a post by Joanne Jacobs that paying science and math teachers more than other teachers will keep more math and science teachers in the classroom. 

Oh my, and if that wasn't enough to boil the pot over, Joanne asks the question, "Success without whites: Is this a problem?"  Old Andrew from across the pond had to attend an INSET day (teacher inservice, professional development, or what  I like to refer to as a WOT Day (Waste of Time Day). Sadly, after reading Old Andrew's post, I'm ready to whip out my card, too. Check out  "What I Didn't Say During the INSET Day on Special Educational Needs."

Uh-oh. Wait a minute. Mamacita just sat down. Let's hear her take on group work and those pesky, lazy grasshoppers.

Table 2…Ah…here's the fun bunch. While you're checking out that lid on the salt shaker, check out Super Teacher McGuire on his first day of school. A hilarious post. Not so hilarious was Mr. Teacher's struggle through Friday. He writes: "By 8:20, I had already put one kid in time out in another classroom, ripped up one kid's homework and thrown it across the room, and taken two kids down the hallway to the phone to call their parents." See how the rest of Mr. Teacher's day went. Oh, and would someone pah-leese put on a pot of coffee. I'm draggin' after that concert. Jeepers Creepers, don't tell me you don't know who Leon Russell is?!

Table 3…The technology gurus…Check out Pat over at Successful Learning and see how she stays connected with others. Oh come on now, get out of your technology comfort zone and make some friends. Mathew Needleman over at Creating Lifelong Learners offers some excellent tips on the right way to show movies in class.

Hey, see if Table 4 will stop sharing classroom tips for a minute. Oh, now that's an interesting way to look at things. I Want To Teach Forever believes teachers are masters of inception. Would someone please tell Dancing Crocodile to stop it with the Woo-hoos! Oh, it's Wu-Wei. Wu-Wei? Go see what that means.

Sitting over in the corner at Table 5 are the Listers & Critique-ers. You know, the ones who make lists and talk about other stuff.  Find out why Barry Garelick hurled this book across the room. Then check out  Paper Tiger's review of Frontline: College Inc.--an apparently not-so-flattering video about for-profit colleges. TeachTechTopia has 50 Special Ed teachers on twitter.

Is that really the bell? Hey, it's time to go. Don't forget to pick up your trash. I am not your mother. 

If your post was included, please link back to the carnival. Otherwise, I'll get snarky and may not include you next time. If you are interested in submitting a post, please check our guidelines first and then use this handy dandy form to submit. The carnival will appear back here in two weeks on Wednesday, Sept. 29. Submissions are due by 5 p.m. CST on Saturday, Sept. 25.

Please let me know about any broken links or problems.  As always…

And, if I did, my apologies.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Mini Vans, Mercedes & Leon Russell

It's hard to be cool toodling down the freeway in a blue minivan

…or down a windy road

…in even in a parking lot at an old folks home.

Let's face it, it's hard to be cool at anything when you're part of the over 50 set.

But even if I drove one of those nifty Z cars (a candy apple red one, of course), or  streaked my hair (perhaps purple or blue) or knew all the words to any song sung by the Black Eyed Peas,  (Tonight's Gonna Be A Good Night or Boom Boom Pow), whatever cool card I may or may not have had would have been unceremoniously snatched up and revoked last week.

Last Thursday, my BFF and former college roommate and I ventured out to see  Leon Russell  at the Granada Theater, a small venue in Dallas. Even though  none (as in zero) of my students knew who our beloved Leon was, even though only one co-worker and my principal knew who our beloved Leon was and even though no one at school could name a song or even hum a few bars of a Leon Russell song, my excitement was undeterred.

So what if Leon is 68 years old? As a member of the Leon Russell mailing list, this lack of Leon knowledge was a  travesty that ranked right up there with the entire Neil Young debacle from last year.

My friend Karen drove to the show. She drives a Mercedes (which makes her infinitely cooler than me). She doesn't teach (which makes her infinitely wealthier than me). She has a nice job that doesn't involve cooties, grades or rubber chickens (which probably makes her smarter than me).

Shortly after 7:30 p.m. we arrived in the parking lot in her cool, shiny Mercedes and started to pull into a space by the fence line where an elderly gentleman dressed in a Hawaiian shirt, Bermuda shorts and double knee braces was standing alone. Although slightly balding, the man had hair like Leon and a beard like Leon.

"Oh, look there's Leon," my friend joked.

"Don't hit him," I said, "that would be bad."

Since the parking spot was too tight, she backed out and maneuvered into another space. While walking through the parking lot, we saw the elderly gentleman alone again.

"Oh look, there's Leon again," my friend teased.

"It can't be. Why would Leon be walking around here by himself in shorts?" I said remembering my image of Leon from the 70s with his signature suit and hat. "Do you think it's him?"

No, couldn't be, we decided.

For a brief moment, I thought about going up to him and talking to him, but I dismissed the idea. I suppose I didn't want to appear foolish since we had already dismissed him as a Leon Russell wanna-be. 

Instead, I did exactly what I tell my students never to do. I did nothing.

"Never be afraid to ask someone something," I always say.

"Never assume anything," I always tell them.

Several hours later, just before Leon was scheduled to take the stage, my friend leaned over and whispered, "I'm going to laugh if Leon comes out in a Hawaiian shirt."

 "No way," I said.

But he did.

Lesson learned.