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?