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.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Homecoming Week, Dress Up Days & Steve Urkel

Last week seems more like a fuzzy blur and it was only Week 2 of school. I wish there was something funny, clever or insightful that happened, but a quick check of my memory banks shows nothing.

Alas, I fear my memory banks are overdrawn, and, of course, I don't have overdraft protection. Unfortunately, the upcoming week doesn't hold much promise either. It's Homecoming Week, and it's Texas, so let's just say let the madness begin.

On the positive side, at least I don't have to delve into my photo bank to figure out what to wear since Homecoming Week brings Dress Up days.Tuesday is "Twin Day," Wednesday is "Western Day," Thursday is "Jersey Day" and Friday is "Spirit Day." So you see, I'm pretty well set for my going-to-school attire.

Oh, I guess I forgot to tell you about my photo bank. 

Sad, but true, at 53 years old, I still don't know how to dress myself. Since my BFF (the one who lived in a necklace) moved back to Texas after a five year absence, my life--and my clothing attire--has improved immensely. Jennifer's better than me at just about everything. She's a girly, girly who can mix and match clothes with impeccable taste and ease.   She knows what shoe to wear with what, and that's not all. She can fix hair and pitch a tent, too--all things I can't do. 

In short, she's amazing. 

In short, I could be a poster child for "What Not To Wear."

She's an extraordinarily strong woman, but I swear her eyes teared up when she took a peek into my closet. You see, sometime during her absence, I decided to simplify my life and live in a black and white world, you know, like Jamie Lee Curtis. (OK, so it sounded like a good idea at the time.)

When she called me before school started and told me she had at least 20 different outfits planned for the start of the school year,  I ran into my closet and got more than a little teary eyed when I had trouble putting together one outfit.

But like a true BFF, Jennifer ran over speedy quick, and in the span of just a few hours, she mixed and matched 86 outfits complete with my "shoe options"--all duly recorded with the camera on my phone. (Did you really think I could remember this stuff on my own?)

And yes, I do stand in my closet in the morning with my cell phone scrolling through my wardrobe choices (and shoe options).

And yes, my BFF comes by my classroom every morning to check out what camera slide I'm wearing that day.

And yes, she did point out to me what a good friend she really is.

After all, she could have dressed me like Steve Urkel, and sadly, I never would have known the difference.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Life's a Carnival–the Education Buzz #3

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

Many of us started school last week, so in addition to sore feet, raspy voices and challenges, there's lots of stuff buzzing about.  

But before we get started, there's something free buzzing around the EduSphere. Quit playing those midway games, find your best writing utensil and go for a chance to win free--yep, that's right FREE--copies of the Wall Street Journal Classroom Edition. (I've used it before, and it's great!) Deadline is Sept. 20 and you can get all the info here. Now, let's get this carnival going!

Wow… a lot new folks decided to hop on the midway this go-around, so a very Big Tex welcome to y'all. Check out all the new guys meeting over there by Big Tex…
  • Funny about Money writes about a workshop she went to that tells how to identify students who are high or drunk in class. Interesting statistic tossed about: At any given time, about 50 percent of the students in community college classrooms are probably abusing some kind of drug. Jeepers Creepers. 
  • "I am a charter school co-founder and principal. Please don't shoot." That line alone should make you want to hop speedy quick over to Stories From School.
In the Oldies but Goodies category, here are some folks we haven't heard from in awhile. Apparently, they were stuck on the Merry-Go-Round. So glad they found the Education Buzz.
  • Science guy Steve Spangler introduces us to his high school chemistry teacher and presents a great little video about a singing pipe.  
  • Joanne Jacobs talks about KED coming soon to an American classroom near you. And, we ain't talkin' no sneakers here either.
  • Darren from Right on the Left Coast questions the wisdom of throwing out stricter state standards for weaker national standards.
And look over there, coming back around to us on the ferris wheel are a few of our new and/or regular contributors…
  • Curmudgeon talks about why embedded curriculum doesn't work.
  • Dancing Crocodile has us holding hands, making paper airplanes and learning math. What's not to like about that?
  • Nancy Flanagan over at Teacher in a Strange Land looks at the Power Elite and whether elitist credentials can make a person a better teacher.
    And finally, over by the fun house…

    • Mr. Teacher (recently married) over at Learn Me Good gives us his list of his Top 10 Memorable Moments for his first day of school. 

    OK folks, that's it. 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. 15. Submissions are due by 5 p.m. CST on Saturday, Sept. 11.

    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.