Month: April 2007

Total 21 Posts

Back On My Grind

Thanks for all the commisseration on my recent crisis post. That was helpful.

After last week’s pummeling I came in today with fists figuratively flying. I took some time this weekend to reconnect with what I love most about this linear unit which has been hitting me so hard. Namely, I dig that you can draw a mathematical picture of any situation in life and that sometimes — oftentimes — that picture can predict beyond the picture itself.

Armed with that enthusiasm, my usual workaholicism, and a righteous indignation over my lousiness last week, I banged out — no joke — the single greatest lesson of my career. By a long shot. The silver medalist is gasping for air a few miles down the road.

I beg your pardon but words and modesty both fail me right now. I wish I knew a better way to pull off lessons like these than through copious man-hours (18 over this weekend for a 45-minute lesson) but, at this point, that’s my only tried-and-true technique for not sucking at this job.

So encompassing was the idea and so onerous its demands I have no doubt its execution would’ve taken me a commited week last year at this time if it didn’t break me first. This math lesson was a planning marathon run at a sprinter’s pace. It sucked graphic design, video production, and creative writing into its orbit, which was about as exhilarating for me as you can imagine.

Naturally I want to show it off, inviting suggestions for improvement and accusations of overhype. I need a week to tweak some things (can’t bring anything less than the best to the blogosphere), format the supplementals correctly, and (teaser!) figure out how to properly seed a torrent file. ‘Til then, hope teaching’s been treating you as well.


Just because the shine’s off blogging/teaching right now doesn’t mean I haven’t been reading. Here’s some of the best writing I’ve read over the past few weeks.


On not blogging.

I’m not blogging because I’m not teaching. Not well anyway, which is enough shame to keep me from poking my head up around here. It’s not burnout and it isn’t laziness. Spring break was good to me and I’ve jumped back in with the same workaholic, 07h00-to-00h30 schedule.

My efforts at good planning are going wasted though. I’m making rookie mistakes like overestimating time-on-task, finishing lessons early, and spinning my wheels lamely until the bell rings. I’m under-scaffolding, under-engaging, just plain under-teaching my students. It’s embarrassing, that’s what it is. I’m not sure what’s up or how I’m going to get my mojo back, but I don’t think it’s gonna happen while blogging about it.

Carnival of Education 115

Hi. First time host, longtime carnivalgoer. I’ve got a long history with carnivals, a childhood pockmarked by backwoodsy affairs, rickety rollercoasters held aloft by nothing more than the diligence of a ten-year-old in a polo shirt, caramel apples staining t-shirts and claiming baby bicuspids for their own. There are stories. All of them end with a somber, tear-streaked car ride home. None of them are worth our time.

It is worth our time to mention that for all of these reasons my therapist suggested I host a blog carnival. Baby steps.

(Further ado: if you’d like to know more of what I’m about here, please check out the Most Read sidebar at stage right. I also post pretty Geometry lessons of dubious instructional value and have become more than a little design obsessed lately.)

Without further ado:

On technology:

Without a firm stance on personal technology now, a school positions itself for even more trouble in just a few years.

Matthew K. Tabor writes in opposition to cell phone use in class, drawing conclusions from both personal experience and a St. Petersburg high school survey. All available evidence suggests that Tabor was picked on as a child by a fire-breathing anthropomorphic cell phone. No stranger to childhood trauma myself, I wish him a speedy recovery.

Todd Seal, on the other hand, offers his steeliest glare to any camera-phone-having student looking to catch him compromised and advises her to “bring it.”

Mike Curtin reviews four online tools for making comic strips and cites some valuable classroom uses for that which some have called the most expendable art form.

Textbook Evaluator (née Mark Montgomery) takes lesson-plan repository Curriki apart piece by piece in an excellent post subtitled How Long Will It Last.

From the homefront:

… how long will it be until all under 18 persons are swarthed in bubble wrap 24/7?

The Science Goddess wonders how we survived to adulthood and pitches a case against car seats, safety belts, bicycle helmets, and rubberized mats. Thankfully, she gives roller coaster safety cages a pass.

Guest expert Maurice Arthur discusses student motivation in the home and ties it all to the “trouble threshold,” which sounds a lot like a carnival ride I wouldn’t have enjoyed as a boy. Moving along.

Little Mummy rejects education’s “all or nothing” approach to homeschooling and public schooling and proposes a partnership.

Ms. Q’s child complains that all they do in class is party and eat junk food. I mean I went to those parties in college and can vouch for the fact that they never stop at junk food. So, good for Ms. Q’s kid. And good for Ms. Q for pursuing the question: when do you know the education system is not doing enough for your child?

Cindy, over at Life Without School, pens an ode to homeschooling and offers several choice resources.

From the faculty lounge:

This group of kids, the non-Losers so to speak, are starting to get absolutely, totally, irrevocably pissed off at the Losers. They are ready to revolt.

On class management, Mrs. Bluebird’s an absolute pro. If the complex social interactions of middle schoolers pique your interest even slightly, you’ve got to check out her concise transcription and deft analysis of a particularly trying week.

Kauai Mark is subbing with his eyes open, taking $100 cash bets from teachers on class behavior, and reporting some inventive classroom accounting back to the carnival.

Dana Huff on the joy of notebook checks; OKP on the agony of screening honors candidates.

Math coaches, the union reps who love them, and the teachers who don’t, all at I Thought A Think.

Peter Stinson is like the prettiest girl at the ball, simultaneously courting Saint Swithins-in-the-Berkshires and Saint Swithins-Along-the-Big-River and blogging all about it at Chronicle-of-a-Search-on-Blogger.

The Median Sib offers a playground anecdote which culminates in a corny punchline. And by corny, I mean, Children of the Corn-y.

Miss Profe offers a complicated disciplinary knot and then her own befuddlement at the task of untangling it.

Dana suffers a “minor jangling of the nervous system” when handed some new-fangled curriculum without any data attesting to its success — only anecdotes. Soul searching ensues.

If the little ones have been getting ya down and givin’ ya the blues what with how hard it is for them to sit still and just identify a verb, NYC Educator’s got the remedy: a harrowing recap of a student’s assault and battery, with a bonus question just for spine-tingling’s sake: when do you call the police?

Chanman’s question, What does a guy have to do to get suspended around here?, echoes a post I’ve read recently. Yep, reeeal recently; just can’t put my finger on it, though.

On policy:

The less accurate information given in a sex education class, the better, because what kids don’t know about sex can’t hurt them.

Jon Swift and Mark Barnes both strap in for a ride on the Tilt-A-Whirl and a debate of abstinence education. Barnes applauds seven state administrations that have rejected abstinence funding while Swift constructs a modest proposal involving storks, lies, cybersexually transmitted diseases, and damn lies.

The NCLBlog tracks two points in NCLB history: its origin in Texas’ Senate and Bill Ratliff’s recent rebuke of the same law he helped promote while serving as that Senate’s education chair.

Matt Johnston claims the basic measure of teacher quality is student achievement and then takes on the tricky task of quantifying it.

Bill Ferriter believes in Rewarding the Right Knowledge and Skills rather than granting higher pay to teachers who take courses of middling value to their teaching, a sentiment which, heck, I’m all for, so long as “Right Knowledge and Skills” is a one-unit quickie Internet course. It is, right?

From the university:

He’s also about as white as one could be. And I don’t just mean in skin color.

White students marking “Hispanic” on college applications? Blond Venezuelans claiming ethnic heritage despite a loose ethnic connection? Up is down and black is white says Right on the Left Coast.

Super Saver, a Princeton interviewer, delineates his three criteria for evaluating candidates. Strangely, bribery is nowhere among them.

From the muckracking and miscellaneous files:

I’ve been trying for over a year to resign from the New York City Department of Education.

Just when Miss Dennis thought she was out, they (tried to) pull her back in. Someone at the DoEd obvious likes what they’re reading at Your Mama’s Mad Tedious.

Gillian Polack wishes you wouldn’t take historical fiction so seriously.

The Reflective Teacher posts the inaugural Meet a Teacher interview, sitting down this time for tea and interrogation with Graycie of Today’s Homework.

The Education Wonks post a sobering exposé of the complex, real-world issues facing hardworking administrators nowadays with Principal Pornstar Meets Ms. Horndog the Teacher.

Mr. Lawrence hosts an impromptu survey of substitute teacher pay across the country. The results seem more or less in, with the median pay hovering somewhere around $Not.Enough, but the commentary isn’t any less fascinating.

Parentalcation hosts a cagefight between Teach for America and Troops to Teachers using Googled surveys to referee the carnage. He’s edited this one down to suit the discriminating and sensitive constitutions of our carnivalgoers.

IB a Math Teacher compiles a list of education lingo bingo useful to stay alert during staff meetings, national conferences, and long drives in the family station wagon. That last one’s probably a dumb idea.

So long:
That’s everything. Been a pleasure, folks. For a good time hit up the carnival archives.

Next week the Carnival comes home to The Education Wonks. The deadline for submissions is: 9:00 PM (Eastern) / 6:00 PM (Pacific) Tuesday, April 24th. Submissions may be sent to: owlshome [at] earthlink [dot] net. Contributors may also use Blog Carnival’s handy submission form.

Greg Farr has been reading my diary.

Like it says. Awhile back I posted a deconstruction of your garden variety great teacher, which included among its parts “the pop culture scholar.” From his most recent LeaderTalk post, I can only assume that Greg has been obsessed by my post ever since he read it.

Summarized brusquely, he talks of iPod ownership as a way to stay relevant to his kids and concludes with a Scarlett O’Hara-esque cry that he will never go obsolete again.

I’m convinced there’s an RSS feed to inform every slice of a great teacher and on the off chance the tragically unhip teachers among us (oh no, not you) would like to bolster their pop cultural I.Q., here they are:

The iTunes Music Store Feeds: Including the top ten songs/abums purchased for the week.’s Music Feeds: Less flash-in-the-pan-y than the iTunes feeds. It’s what people are actually listening to, rather than what they’ve just bought.

Just toss those in and hold on tight.

[The author here almost posts his screen i.d. but, recalling his brief, regrettable, and totally chart-altering dance with Fall Out Boy earlier this year, thinks better of it.]

Hey! Anyone have a screen i.d. to share? I mean, I don’t, but I’m always curious (for example) if TMAO supplements his strict diet of obscure Floridian punk with a little power pop, or if Mr. C is getting in as much hyphy as a Yay Area teacher oughtta.