Monday, August 29, 2011

Frying in My Own Fat Week 2 Update

For those of you who are keeping up with my "I'm-Frying-In-My-Own-Fat" Weight Loss Challenge, my latest post  appeared on technorati as  Frying in My Own Fat Week Two: Why I hate the French. To read it, you can click on the article name or the scale above or you can go over to my fitness blog and read it there.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Week 1, Goals & Ninjas

Let's all do the dance of joy as we check off Week 1. Once again to my astonishment, I survived.

My Little Ninja Protector
OK, so maybe just maybe I wasn't so astonished, but now that Week 1 is done, I need to turn my attention to all those nagging things that need attending to before they become those kind of things none of us want. You know, like those things that will get you fired.

Somewhere I have sheet a paper that says I need to turn in some sort of department goal for this school year. Since I am a department of one, I asked myself, "Self, just what sort of goals should we have this year?"

If most of you are like me or my Self, you have goals that you turn in to the PBs. And by PBs,  I'm not talkin' about Peanut Butter here. No siree, Missy, we're talkin' about those Powers That Be.

Most of us write PB goals that sound something like this… "Students will learn blah blah blah that will provide them with blah blah blah to successfully integrate blah blah blah utilizing existing technology and resources blah blah blah…"

Given that formula, I can pretty much knock out my PB goals pretty speedy quick. Mine probably will go something like this: "Students will learn skills that will provide them with the tools to successfully integrate and expand their print journalism skills into a web-based journalism site."

We all know, though, that PB goals are not really real goals. While our PB goals are turned in and make their way to the bottom of someone's filing cabinet or in a box in Warehouse 13, our real goals don't get turned in anywhere. Hails bails, most of the time they don't even make it out of our brain.

So, shhhhhhh, I'll share mine with you. Drum roll, pah-leese… Richie's real goal for this school year is simply this…

I will become Ninja teacher. I will fly under the radar. I will not fly above the clouds. 

I even have a little Ninja guy my BFF Jennifer gave me. I wear him around my neck along with my ID badge and room keys. According to the little card that came with him, my little Ninja guy supposedly will hide me from my enemies.

Trust me, I need all the help I can get.

I even dressed in all black the other day. Stealth. That's me. I am Ninja teacher.

When I told some of my school teacher buddies about me flying under the radar, there was a tad bit of snickering.

And maybe just a bit of smirking.

Oh all right, yes there was some betting going on, too, on just how long this Ninja thing will last.

Well, I just have one thing to say to y'all Ninja Naysayers and Haters, "I am Ninja… you won't hear me roar."

Friday, August 26, 2011

Friday, Back to School & Rick Perry

It's Friday and somehow we all survived a week of school…my voice is raspy, my feet are screaming and my head is exploding (and not from the kids either). Raise your hand if you know what I'm talking about.

I don't know if it was the 100 plus degree record-breaking streak that got me feeling just a tad snarky or just the regular back-to-school stuff that just seemed to suck the life right out of me.

Here's something a teacher friend of mine sent to me. Funny way to end the week. I hope you can view it at school, but if you can't it's worth the watch at home.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Education Buzz–Life's a Carnival is up!

Woo-hoo! The Education Buzz–Life's a Carnival is up and running over at I Want To Teach Forever. There are lots of great posts for those of you who want to be in the know on what's buzzing about the EduSphere. So go on and really get back to school and see what's happening. You'll be glad you did.

Don't forget that the next Education Buzz will appear right here on Wednesday, September 7. You can submit your entries using this handy, dandy form. Just be sure that you do so by Saturday, September 3 before 5 p.m. CDT.

Oh, and if you would like to host a carnival, pah-leese let me know by emailing me at

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Frying In My Own Fat Week One: Happy Hour Proves Less Than Happy For Fitness Challenge

For those of you who are keeping up with my "I'm-Frying-In-My-Own-Fat" Weight Loss Challenge," my latest post first appears on technorati as Frying In My Own Fat Week One: Happy Hour Proves Less Than Happy For Fitness Challenge. To read it, you can click on the article name or the scale above.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Back to School & Howard the Shelter Cat

Monday marks the start of school for kids at my school.

I suppose I should have spent my entire Sunday in preparation for this momentous occasion. Instead, I spent only two hours trying to plan my lessons. OK, OK, OK, so maybe not even two hours.

I didn't get very far.

What Howard really thinks
Blame Howard the Shelter cat.

I was in my planning rhythm and just getting into that teaching zone when Howard the Shelter cat launched himself full throttle onto my desk spilling my glass of water onto the wood floor.

Once I picked that mess up, I settled back to plan–this time with a bottle of water. (I may not be able to save the planet, but at least, I can save my wood floors.)

I was just getting my teacher planning groove back when Howie positioned himself beneath my desk and started playing with my feet. As if I needed a distraction. As if.

After I finally managed to shoo Howard away, I settled once again into that planning thing. Just as that teacher planning mojo was kicking it into high gear, Howard sauntered over to the litter box.

Is there any doubt amongst us as to how Howard the Shelter cat feels about school starting back up? 

If he's not careful, I'm sending him to cat school.


A few announcements… 

Mr. Teacher, my blogger friend over at Learn Me Good, is launching his new book, Learn Me Gooder, on Monday, August 22. If it's anything like his first book, I know you will love it. You can pick up a copy on Amazon and B&N in paperback and e-book formats. Check it out.

And don't forget that the Education Buzz–Life's a Carnival will appear Wednesday, August 24 and is being hosted over at I Want To Teach Forever.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Back-to-School, Top 5 Dream Killers & Educational Polyjuice

Somehow I wish the start of the school year resembled the train to Hogwarts–filled with real magic, owls and wizardry.

Instead, my train resembles an out-of-control freight train like the one in that movie Unstoppable or that barreling bus in Speed.

Harry Potter summons his Patronus to protect him.
Still, my back-to-school runaway train is filled with its own magic of sorts–stuffed with hopes and dreams. But it's also filled with all that invisible stuff, too, and I'm not talking about Harry Potter's cloak of invisibility either. I'm talking about all that scary invisible stuff, and I know you know what I mean.

Instead of dementors, we have dream killers. Unfortunately, I have no wands to distribute and no Patronus to protect us.

If you will pardon the continuing Harry Potter references, then let's take a peak at the Top 5 Dream Killers or Things That Suck the Life Right Out of Teachers across the country this time of year…

#5… The Dolores Umbridge Budget…
I have teacher friends who are lucky to get no more than $50 for school supplies for the entire school year. Maybe those teachers can find and dispense those quills like the one's Hogwarts professor Dolores Umbridge used on her students—the ones that used her student's blood instead of ink. As an added bonus, there's a going green factor involved, too. Since the quill writes on your skin, you save paper and trees at the same time, and all that goes a long way to stretching that paltry budget—a much needed necessity since surveys show teachers shell out an average of $356 out of their own pockets for classroom supplies.

#4… Copy That! Or, Just Try To Copy That–The Hedwig Solution…
Is there a school district on the planet that can copy material in a timely manner without a presidential order or the copy machine breaking down? Now, I know you all know what I'm talkin' about. (Can I get an AMEN, brothers and sisters?) 

How many of you planned to give an assignment or test one day, only to discover the stuff you needed wasn't/couldn't be copied? How many of you then decided to go to Plan "B" only to discover that Plan "B" needed three more copies of something you had stashed in your filing cabinet. And, of course, in order to get copies you had to either (1) dash a 100 yards like the school's star runningback to the nearest copy machine or (2) turn it in the requisite five days before you needed it with the proper form filled out in triplicate. It would be easier and quicker to kidnap Harry Potter's Owl, Hedwig, and have her fly that paper right over to the nearest office store to be copied.

Oh, and before all of you techie types start tsk-tsking that if teachers would just use  all that paperless technology, this wouldn't be an issue, let me point you to Item #3.

#3… Technology & the Vanishing Cabinets
It's not that teachers don't love technology, they love working technology and access to technology, but those of you who read teacher blogs know the following:

(1) Teachers complain that most nifty educational sites they learn about and want to use tend to be blocked by their school districts so they can't use them. 
(2) Many school districts tend to buy programs that create more work, not less work.
(3) Technology never consistently works when it's raining outside.
(4) And finally, anytime a teacher plans a whiz-bang, over-the-top lesson using technology, that technology will invariably fail, and, it is at that point, that the teacher desperately searches for that vanishing closet. 

Now, I suppose we could go to our low tech filing cabinet and pull out that Plan "B" lesson. But, oh wait, remember? We're three copies short, and Hedwig is still cooling her wings and waiting over there at Kinko's.

#2…PowerPoints are Dementors…
Nothing sucks the life out of teachers more than attending a professional development session where the presenter shows a PowerPoint, gives them a hand out of that very PowerPoint and then reads the entire PowerPoint to the group. Just like a dementor, it sucks all the happiness and life right out of you. Given the choice between sitting through such a "presentation" and going face-to-face with a dementor, all of us would rather take our chances with a dementor because at least there's the hope of a Patronus saving us.

And the Number 1 Dream Killer, the thing that sucks the life right out of teachers… drum roll pah-leese…

#1…Polyjuice Hocus Pocus Professional Development

Before school districts across the country open their doors to students, they first subject their teachers to professional development days, and you know from the intro to this blog and from my book, how I feel about that.

I always marvel how teachers from coast-to-coast are forced to attend meetings instead of working in their classrooms and getting ready for their students, or how they are subjected to speakers who try to sell them some alleged newfangled educational panacea that's sure to cure all the educational woes of the day. Sadly, most times these newfangled things are just the same old thing re-tooled, re-fashioned and re-named into something else.

It's all just…Polyjuice!  That's what it is.

Just like in Harry Potter where the Polyjuice potion temporarily allows the drinker of the potion to assume the form of another person, this educational Polyjuice allows these questionable theories to masquade as something new and successful.

Educational Polyjuice.

You might as well as hand out the snake oil.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Get Ready For the 'I'm-Frying-In-My-Own-Fat' Weight Loss Challenge

[Let's start the school year off right toward a healthier, leaner year. This article (still written by me) was first published as Get Ready for the 'I'm-Frying-In-My-Own-Fat' Weight Loss Challenge on Technorati.]

The 40 days of consecutive 100 plus degree temperatures ended just two days shy of matching the 1980 record of 42 consecutive 100-degree days.
I must admit it was somewhat of a disappointment for me as well as for others.  One meteorologist told The Dallas Morning News, "It's the ultimate slap in the face. It's like your horse was in first place, and before crossing the finish line, it decided to stop running."

After all, if you have to survive 40 days of walking on the face of the sun, you might as well have bragging rights to breaking the record and surviving.

Of course, this wasn't the only numeric recording that failed dismally. It just wasn't marked with much fanfare. Now into my (cough cough) something year of attempting to lose weight, I have once again allowed my summer to pass with only one less pound to not show for it.

Sad I know.

All this hot air got me to thinking that perhaps it's time to launch the "I'm-Frying-In-My-Own-Fat" Weight Loss Challenge. Anyone else up to it?

It's not that I'm stupid when it comes to this. It's not that I don't exercise. I do. Even the training for the 3-day 60 mile walk for the Cure last year wasn't enough to shed the baggage.

And it's not that I don't eat well. I do. I don't eat fast food. I avoid fried foods. I don't drink sodas.  I know it's all about portion control, and therein lies the problem. No self control, I suppose.

I know that there are programs out there to help people like me. My BFF has lost close to 30 pounds on one such program.

But I'm not much of a joiner in that regard, and I certainly don't have the money after my beach house in Denton renovation. I'm stubborn enough to believe if I set my mind to it, I can do it.

Dumb, I know.

I even got on that Oprah-Doctor-Oz Bandwagon and purchased that You on a Diet book last summer. I got to page 95.

Pathetic, I know.

But maybe, just maybe, if I have to publicly document my success and failure, I will finally lose some weight. So Monday, August 15 begins my official start of my "I'm-Frying-In-My-Own-Fat" Weight Loss Challenge. At the very least, it'll be an amusing distraction.

Here's the challenge: Let's try and lose some weight. Weigh in every Monday. You don't have to tell how much you actually weigh, just how much you lose or gain each week. Everyone says it's a good idea to log that sort of thing and keep track of what you eat and what you did.

Perhaps some public humiliation will work.

Or maybe not.

But what do we have to lose?

Except that fat.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Is It Really THAT Time of Year Again?! Edition of the Education Buzz–Life's a Carnival

I spent the last few weeks pretending I didn't own a calendar and squinting my eyes like sliver's of almonds when I passed by anything that remotely resembled a calendar so as not to see the day, the week or month. I do that every year until that dreaded little email lands in my inbox.

You know the one. That nifty little email that outlines that fun-filled extravaganza awaiting me next week called teacher back-to-school professional development.

I don't know if that (the professional development week) makes me nuts and crazy or if it's this record streak of 100-plus days or if it was the Denton Beach House shelves that fell and whacked me on my back or a combination of all the above.

So now it's time to rummage through our closets to see what we have to wear and what school supplies we still need. Oh yeah, don't forget to look through that Summer Stack O Stuff we brought home ostensibly to work on over the summer…if only, if only.

Let's get things off to a great start with a survey. The National Council on Teacher Quality and U.S. News & World Report are reviewing teacher preparation programs around the country and want to hear from teachers (even veteran teachers) about what they think about the training they received. Go here to take it and get a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card. What's not to like about that?

Still in the contest/free stuff category, Let's Do Math has a contest for a chance to win a free paperback book, but you have to solve a Fibonacci puzzle, and I suppose if you don't know what in the fibonacci a Fibonacci Puzzle is then you probably should just cut your losses and move along. Now if don't give a fibonacci, you can still go there, and if you leave a comment, you get entered into the e-book contest. What's not to like about that?

I see Dead Class Pets is right there with me rummaging through that Summer Stack O Stuff looking for those overdue library books.

Teaching My Baby To Read provides some advice and cheap alternative solutions for parents who need to help their kids who struggle in school.

Jeepers Creepers, I wasn't going to include Michaele Sommerville's submission because she makes me look pathetic with my Summer Stack O Stuff, but you have to see this. Michaele over at Kindergarten's 3 R's: Respect, Resources & Rants already has a photo tour of her classroom up and running.

If you are looking for some free lessons because you can't find your old ones in that Summer Stack O Stuff sitting on the floor, then you might want to go here for 30 sites for free lessons.

I Want To Teach Forever gives us a list of must-have magazines for your classroom.

Why not welcome back your co-workers with this little science prank from our science buddy Steve Spangler?

Other posts worthy of note…
•Ah yes, say hello to Mamacita and her caffeine molecule over at Scheiss Weekly.
•Joanne Jacobs talks about those nationalized chickens coming home to roost.
•Tim over at Assorted Stuff once again tells us it really, really is time to kill the computer lab.
Old Andrew from Scenes From The Battlefield re-visits why he blogs–the behavior crisis, the dumbing down of education  and poor management within our educational institutions.

Well, that's it for this edition of the Education Buzz–Life's a Carnival. I Want To Teach Forever will be hosting the next edition of Education Buzz over at his site on Wednesday, August 24. Submission deadline will be 5 p.m. Central Standard Time on August 21. You can send your submissions there by using this handy, dandy form.

If you would like to host an edition of the carnival, please let me know by emailing me at  Also, don't forget to let me know if you find any broken links or problems with this edition of the Ed Buzz. 

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

And, if I did, my apologies.