Thursday, October 29, 2009

Carnivals, My Book & Nifty t-shirts

Woo-hoo! Two carnivals are running in the EduSphere this week, and I have posts on both.

I Want To Teach Forever hosts Issue 10 of the Educarnival v2. My post on “Witches, Warnings & Phone Calls” was included, but you don’t have to go there to read about it here.

Notes From A Homeschooling Mom unveiled her first carnival, the Carnival of Educators. Although hosted by a homeschooler, the carnival is open to all educators. Pop on over there to see what’s going on. My post “Thing 1, Thing 2 and Fish Clappers” was included, but you don’t have to go there to read about it here.

Still, you need to stroll on down the midways so you are in the know and not a ninnyhammer.

And speaking of ninnyhammers, I’m getting Big Fat Stupid Head t-shirts to help promote my book. I have to order more than two, so if you are interested in one, let me know. Cost will be about $12. Shoot me an email at

And speaking of my book, it is out. If you preordered at, your book should ship sometime next week. If you haven't ordered you book, well my dears, what in the Sam Hill is stopping you? Pop on over to Amazon or the JEA bookstore will also be taking orders soon. I’ll let you know when the book is available through the JEA site.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Witches, Warnings & Phone Calls

With Halloween just mere days away, I probably should rush out to buy a costume, but that’s really not necessary. You see, I’ve been feeling rather witchy lately, and I don’t think I need a little pointy hat to prove that point either. No siree, Missy.

Perhaps it’s this lingering cold courtesy of the high school cooties wafting through our halls.

Perhaps it’s because some idiot (that would be me) scheduled newspaper deadline and yearbook deadline for the same week.

But just as likely, though, this witchiness is simply because I’m old, tired and a tad cranky.

All of which explains why we had to institute Richie’s “Phone Home” plan this week. It went something like this…

I have this great kid on my newspaper staff, but he, along with a few other boys, will occasionally say or do something inappropriate. There’s a particular word that’s pretty popular with the teen crowd, but nonetheless remains inappropriate in my classroom. It’s not even a cuss word, and it’s not that I’m a prude about such thing, but I am, however, a stickler for using language not only correctly but in the correct place.

So, my newspaper staffer uses this word, but I’m feeling nice, so I issue a warning. Warning #1 goes something like this, “Please don’t say that word again, or we’re going to have to call your mom because I don’t think she would like you using that word in my classroom.”

Days later the offending staffer uses that same inappropriate word. Amazingly, I am still feeling a bit warm and fuzzy, so I issue Warning #2 with a sterner voice. It goes something like this, “I told you not to say that word again. If you say that word one more time, we are going to have to call your parental unit.”

Days later the offending staffer repeats that word. Unlike the mom in the grocery store who repeatedly threatens her tantrum throwing toddler, I don’t issue empty threats. We called the staffer’s Dad, and the staffer had to tell Dad why Richie was so upset.

I don’t think Mr. Staffer will use that word again in my classroom.

Maybe I should buy a broom.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Thing 1, Thing 2 & Fish Clappers

(Writers note: This post was featured first on Technorati this week. Please excuse my lateness and my laziness for not posting something different, but I’ve been battling high school germ cooties. Despite my Clorox wipes, Lysol spray and hand sanitizer, I still feel as if I’m living in a petri dish.)

In my little world, Friday brings two things. For fun, let’s call these things “Thing 1” and “Thing 2.”

Thing 1… Every Friday morning, I reward myself for surviving the week with my requisite nonfat, three raw sugar latte. If you’ve ever had the privilege of teaching in a high school, you’re probably saying, “Amen sister!” right about now. (A few of you may even be ordering a double shot of something.)

Thing 2… Somewhere along the way I thought it would be a fabulous idea to institute a weekly Current Events Day. (After all, I teach a journalism class.)

Friday’s class goes something like this… The kiddos bring in an article that interests them. Each kid talks about his article. Then other kids comment about the article. Then we all applaud with these nifty little fish clappers I purchased on line.

Sometimes, though, the comment portion makes me just want to whack myself in the head with those fish clappers. Last week I smacked myself twice. One kid tried to convince the rest of us that President Obama won two Nobel Peace Prizes, and another kid, like, used the word, like, oh, I don’t know, like, about 20 times in, like, 20, like, seconds. (I bet you’re, like, wanting to borrow those clappers, like, right about now.)

But besides those two minor incidents, most of the class brought in two articles that mirrored the buzz around the nation. For fun, we’ll call these things “Thing 1” and “Thing 2.”

Thing 1… The story of the 6-year-old Colorado boy who was thought to have been inside a wayward weather balloon, but was later found hiding in his family’s garage attic.

Thing 2… The story of a 6-year-old New York Cub Scout who was suspended from school for bringing his little Cub Scout camping utensil to eat his lunch.

In Thing 1, my journalism kids pretty much agreed with the buzz across the nation that a family who appears on a reality show like “Wife Swap,” claims to have flown alien spaceships in a previous life, and then makes the media circuit (even though their kid throws up twice) is probably just a tad to the left of crazy. Even the kids questioned whether the ordeal was a publicity stunt before the sheriff’s department announced that charges would be filed in the incident.

In Thing 2… Some in the class argued in favor of leaving cute little Zachary alone and putting him back in school. Others favored punishing the 6 year old. It’s the old Zero Tolerance faction pitted against the Use Discretion and Common Sense faction.

Just like in the national arena, we didn’t resolve the Zero Tolerance issue either, but at least, we got to use the fish clappers and dispel the two Nobel Peace Prize rumor.

Now about that “like” thing. Well, that’s going to take, like, more then, like, my clapping fish and one Friday to handle. Let me, like, get back to you on that one.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Serious Side of Richie

FYI… If you’re interested in a more serious side of Richie, you can hop on over to technorati and read an article of mine called “Taking Trouble Out of the Classroom.” It was on the front page of technorati for a bit, now it’s on the right hand side of the front page of the lifestyles section. I’m not sure how long it will remain up there. Or, you can simply go here to access it.

Let me know what you think. Post a comment there if you feel so inclined.

EduCarnival V2 Issue 9--State Fair of Texas Edition

Well, howdy pard-ners. Did ya really think we could have a carnival in October without Big Tex? Seriously folks, even Oprah showed up at the great State Fair of Texas and tried some of that fried butter and what she called “corn doggies.”

So here we are meetin’ and greetin’ under the 52-foot-tall Big Tex. Our post pickins’ was a bit slim this go-around. I guess all the rain here kept some of you away. Either that or those pesky grades being due kept you from exchanging your red pen for a corn dog.

Now, before all ya hatas out there start, please note that the Fair Committee (ahem, that would be me) decided not to include posts that solely appeared to aim at sellin’ stuff. This is not to say I don’t indulge in shameless self-promotion from time to time myself--(Have you pre-ordered my book?)--but let’s rent a booth along the midway and hawk our wares that way.

So, here we go…

Oh, there’s Joanne Jacobs by the corn dog stand talking about that dangerous little boy, Zach, who brought his little cub scout thing to school. Horrors. Thank goodness he didn’t bring a spork!

Mr. Teacher is getting warmed up for the ring toss. He could use a little fun after spending four days administering benchmark tests and watching the kiddos getting stumped.

Hey y’all, forget about that 1,100 pound pig. Just when you thought it was safe, well, here we have the 20 Weirdest Courses Online & Offline… I can learn about YouTube, how to walk, study zombies and so much more. Zombies, you say? Oh, Jeez Louise, why not? It’s not any weirder than my bout with shape shifters.

And speaking of weird, I’m A Dreamer has a short little post on How Not To Behave During Parent/Teacher Conferences.

Anyone care to guess the average IQ of people along the midway? No? OK. Teacher Food asks if we really care about the average SAT scores of our neighbors or are there more important things we need to be teaching in our classrooms.

Old Andrew from Scenes from the Battlefield ponders hard work and the tendency for folks to think that learning requires little effort.

Over at bloomin’ minds… oh wait, make that Minds in Bloom, we have eight nifty ways to put creativity and critical thinking into your busy day. And then let’s go over or I suppose I should say down under, to Footsteps of Aristotle who wants to know why we denigrate our colleagues instead of learning from them.

Let’s give a big cheer and a shout out to Pat over at Successful Teaching who reminds us about the important role parents play in their children’s education.

DetentionSlip brings us up-to-date on a New York kid who wanted to start a Bible club and Michelle Hogan wonders if it’s time to stand up and bully the bully.

Watch out for Nancy Flanagan over at Teacher in a Strange Land. She was feeling a bit snarky, but now wonders if name calling is never right.

And, while we’re running willy-nilly down the midway, you might want to check out this odd assortment of stuff… twitter feeds for med students, 100 free tools to tutor yourself in anything and 100 awesome iTune feeds for teachers. Spangler has some Halloween stuff for sale, but he also has some free science experiments for stuff like blowing up pumpkins and such.

Oh my… it’s getting late. We better head on back. As if we didn’t eat enough at the fair, my friend the Scholastic Scribe offers this nifty little pie recipe.

OK, OK, OK so that nifty pie recipe has absolutely nothing to do with life in the EduSphere.

OK OK OK so she didn’t even submit a post, but I say the world would be a much better place if perhaps we ate a little bit more pie. Think about that while you’re thinking about this… Submit your next posts for Education Carnival using this handy dandy form. I think the carnival moves back over to Epic Adventures Are Often Uncomfortable next week.

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.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Get your FunnyBack!

I know you don’t want to be a Big Fat Stupid Head
so go now and pre-order…

How to Lose
Your Self of Steam

& Other Teaching Lessons I Never Learned
From Professional Development

Get it

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Fair Day, Iguanas & Shape Shifters

In the great Lone Star State, we have Fair Day. We give the kids a day off from school, a free fair ticket, and either give teachers the day off too or make them come to school for some sort of professional development.

My school district’s Fair Day falls on Columbus Day, but I won’t be strolling along the midway, eating cotton candy, noshing on corny dogs or trying that new fried butter concoction.

No siree, Missy. I’ll be at school. But that’s OK because from the professional development schedule, each department gets to meet on its own. Since I am a “department” of one, you know how much I just love meeting with myself. You may recall, my meetings go something like this…

Me… “Self, what do you think we should do?”
Me too… “I make a motion that we should suspend with all this paperwork and get some grading done and some planning done, and hey, let’s take that new school district issued squirt bottle and wipe down all the desks to kill off all those nasty little H1N1 cooties.”
Me… “OMG, what a great idea! You’re so-o-o-o fab-u-lous!”
Me too… “Gee, why thanks! You’re great, too! Let’s get cracking here…”

Frankly, I need a bit of a break from the kiddos. I’m hoping that while I’m killing off the H1N1 cooties perhaps I can make a dent in the apparent proliferation of BFSH cooties (as in Big Fat Stupid Head cooties, and no, that doesn’t count toward stopping my timer either).

I think I’ll need an industrial strength bottle for that, but you be the judge. Here’s a little exchange that occurred in one of my photography classes while we were discussing the composition elements in a photograph of an iguana.

Me… “Do you see how by blurring the background, the dominant element stands out…”
Student #1… “Mrs. Richtsmeier, do iguanas change color?”
Me… “No dear, those are chameleons…”
Student #2… “Yeah, iguanas don’t change color. They change shape…”
Me & the rest of the class… “What?!”
Student #1… “I think I need to go home now. We’re just getting dumber…”
Me… “I think we’ll just stop here for now and call it a day…”

Yep, toss me that squirt bottle. I think it’s going to be a rather long day.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Education Carnival #8 is up

The Education Carnival is up and running over at Epic Adventures Are Often Uncomfortable. My post, “Challenges, More Espresso & Peons” was included, but you don’t have to go there to read it here. Still, if you want to be in the know on what’s happenin’ in the EduSphere, you really need to check out all the posts there.

Next week I’ll be hosting the Carnival, so make sure you submit your stuff. You can use this handy, dandy form to do so.

Big Fat Stupid Head Challenge #4

My Big Fat Stupid Head remarks have morphed out of control.

Without my timer, I seem to mumble or shout those words on a regular basis. Even making my nifty little stickers did little to abate my penchant for the phrase. Obviously, the only way to stop it is to reinstate the BFSH timer.

So-o-o-o-o, my friends, let’s give it a shout one more time, “Quit being a BIG FAT STUPID HEAD!”

And with that, let’s see how long it will take us before someone somewhere does something incredibly stupid, forcing us to shout, “What a Big Fat Stupid Head!”

Let the timer begin!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Challenges, More Espresso & Peons

Sometimes every hour of every day of every week brings challenges.

But lately in my vocabulary, the word “challenges” is becoming more and more synonymous with a full-fledged, 5-alarm nuclear-setting-your-hair-on-fire-meltdown-kind-of-disaster.

I know. I know. I know. I should probably cut back on the espresso or take a vacation. Of course, a vacation would be nice, but the last time I took a peek at my airline miles, I didn’t even have enough to skipdedoo down the jet bridge much less taxi down a runway. No siree, Missy. So that only leaves cutting back on the espresso, and that, my dears, just makes me cranky. (OK, so make that crankier.)

With one six weeks grading period down and five more to go, I spent this weekend mulling over which of my “challenges” were blog worthy. Trust me, it was a tough choice, but you know there had to be a winner. (After all, this is the not the YMCA.)

About a week ago, we were working on our writing skills in my journalism class by reading and critiquing everyone’s work. One student’s paper said something about not becoming “a pee-on.”

The conversation went something like this…

Me… “The correct spelling should be p-e-o-n…”
Someone… “That’s a real word?”
Me… “Why yes…”
About half the class… “Really?”
Me… “Yes.”
About half the class… unintelligible muttering
Me… “Oh my, don’t tell me you really thought people were actually saying to pee on somebody.”
About half the class…Murmurs of yes.
Someone… “So what does it mean?”
Me… “A peon is a person who is at the bottom of the food chain. The lowest person…”
Someone else… “Well, isn’t that kind of like being peed on?”
Me… “Well, I never quite looked at it like that…”

The next morning to face the challenges of another day, I took a little detour on the way to work through the nearest Starbucks drive-through.