Wednesday, March 28, 2007
I'm not talking about your typical individually-wrapped slices of processed Velveeta. This is "cheese," the new designer drug that is sweeping the halls of Dallas-area schools.
Cheese is a combination of black tar heroin and crushed Tylenol PM. Two great tastes that taste great together, right? I can practically see the Colombian drug lords sitting around their compounds, going about their business, when suddenly --
"Hey! You got your Tylenol PM in my black tar heroin!"
"Hey! You got your black tar heroin in my Tylenol PM!"
Cheese follows in the footsteps of last year's scare -- Pepto Bismol and liquid ecstasy (codename: Pickles). Rumor has it that a new threat is on the horizon -- a hybrid mixture of flour, methamphetamines, and oatmeal termed "Sesame Seed Bun."
I can't for the life of me imagine why anyone would even want to go near a drug called "cheese," but then I could never understand the appeal of edible cheddar-flavored product you can spray from a can -- but look at the success of Cheez Whiz!
Apparently, cheese is sold in tiny increments called "bumps" which are then snorted, often with the ink straw from a ballpoint pen. Except in Plano, where they no doubt use rolled up hundred dollar bills. But we were also told that some kids hide a small amount in a Kleenex and then snort it while pretending to blow their nose. Often right at the front of the classroom! Since we were told that one of the symptoms of cheese is euphoria, I would advise everyone to be on guard against kids who get REALLY happy when they clear their sinuses.
So I've told you just about everything I know about the drug known as cheese. Yet we've been told that we teachers are responsible for leading presentations tomorrow to students about the drug's dangers. Logically, we would discuss this subject with our own home rooms, in our own classrooms so that we could ensure that everyone was listening, and so we could answer any questions.
Instead, we have to herd 2 classes at a time into the auditorium and do the talks there. So instead of 16-21 kids reasonably well behaved, we will have roughly 230 kids, closely spaced and much more interested in talking to kids they usually don't see. One teacher will read from the bulleted list that we received Monday (The Holy Grail) while the others try to maintain order.
And I can pretty much already predict that the result of all of this will be a few kids going home and telling their parents that they can't have macaroni and cheese anymore -- because it will kill them.
If only I knew a die-hard Green Bay Packers fan. I would be very tempted to wear the Cheese Head tomorrow...
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
So on Saturday I was finally able to do something about it. I may not be able to convince some of my kids that subtracting makes your answer go down, but by golly, I proved that mowing will make weeds go down.
If you look very closely at the following picture, you can actually see a troop of jungle-equipped Ewoks...
And now, the final results...
Tonight, I'll go out and fertilize it back to the Stone Age!
As some of you may have noticed, I have not been able to blog since last week. It is at this point that I must admit that I am still a member of the dial-up community, and therefore dependent on my household phone line to access the Internet. Therefore, when my phone line gets screwed up, I can no longer access the Internet.
When I came home Friday evening, my phone line was still audible but it was filled with static. I WAS able to get online, but the speed was ridiculously slow. However, by Saturday, I had no Internet access, and picking up the telephone produced a sound like an angry beehive.
So when I called the good folks at AT&T (early Saturday afternoon), they informed me that they would be able to send someone out on Tuesday, between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. What expeditious service!!!
Apparently, the guy came out around noon today. So once again, I am able to blog.
Priority 1 -- research DSL plans...
Thursday, March 22, 2007
So I asked my student if her mom had car problems in the morning a lot, since she is tardy so frequently. She replied, "The car wasn't broken, it's cuz my grandpa is really slow.”
She then added, "Also, it takes him a little while to start the car, because he has to blow into a straw before it will start.”
I have to admit that at this point, I was fighting to suppress a bout of the giggles. I knew exactly what she was talking about with the "straw." But apparently, so did she.
She continued, "It's to make sure that he isn't drinking?”
It's sad, I know I shouldn't be laughing internally. But it's just so unusual to hear thoughts and phrases like that coming from a third grader.
I wonder if she's ever looked for the straw in her Malibu Barbie Corvette.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
So it really got me to thinking what sorts of humorous things I could do to try to leave a lasting mark in my students’ memories. In other words, how many times can I make a complete fool of myself in the name of mathematic academics?
Let's start the ticker today at one.
In the interest of learning more about liquid capacity, we have been doing a brief exercise every day where we add 1 cup of water to our steadily growing supply. After four days, we have 1 quart, and then we dump that quart into our gallon jar and start filling the quart jar once again.
So far for the month, we're up to 9 cups (which also equals 72 ounces, which also equals 41/2 pints, which also equals 2 1/4 quarts).
Today, I decided to be a Jedi. I took a quick poll and verified that all of my kids were familiar with Star Wars, and then doing my best Alec Guinness impersonation, I informed the kids that our new motto was going to be, "May the quarts be with you."
After we passed that mantra around a few times, I told them we could also say, "May the fourths be with you.” Then we went over how there were 4 cups in a quart, and 4 quarts in a gallon, not to mention the fact that there are 4 letters in the words Jedi, Star, and Wars.
The kids in my morning class seemed to enjoy this, whereas most of the kids in my afternoon class looked at me as though I had lost my mind. Oh well, all it takes is that one connection.
And besides, "Which one is the more foolish -- the fool, or the one who follows the fool?"
Maybe tomorrow I'll introduce them to a Jedi's major tool… the Pint-Saber.
Saturday, March 17, 2007
Mother Buffy and Father Phin are doing fine as well. I expect Josh to be doing guest posts here on Learn Me Good within the year. He has really long fingers, so he will most likely be an excellent typist. And he'll also be able to grab the last pickle in the jar without fail.
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Also, today is the last day to get your March Mathness picks in before the tournament starts tomorrow. I just made my picks, and I am downright ashamed of whom I have picked to go all the way. But IMC Guy would be very happy. Actually, right now my biggest hope is that Duke doesn't lose in the first round to VCU.
And since I'm on Spring Break and basketball starts tomorrow, there will most likely be no more posts until next week. Enjoy the break!!
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
The only thing I’ve ever been mistakenly given was the finger, but then maybe I should go to work in Houston. But these Houston teachers have now been given a very valuable experience. They’ve been given a bonus that they haven’t earned. So now they know what it feels like to be a US Congressman or a professional athlete!
The district is already demanding the money back from the affected teachers, telling them that they can have their amount deducted from one paycheck or spread out over 10. It makes me wonder just how quickly someone like Enron’s ex-president or Tyco’s ex-chairman would have been expected to pay it back…
This is also a great time for them to showcase new and existing books with an educational bent. You would be doing me a HUGE favor if you would call your local Borders (s) and ask them to stock and display Learn Me Good (Borders ID: 8560467). I have been using my Spring Break to call as many as I can, but I am just one person after all (even if I DO have the strength of ten men).
Thank you in advance for anyone who chooses to help!
Sunday, March 11, 2007
*Look at the list of books below.
*Bold the ones you’ve read.
*Italicize the ones you want to read.
*Leave blank the ones that you aren’t interested in.
*If you are reading this, tag you’re it.
1. The Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown) -- read it, but I'm one of the few people I know who didn't like it.
2. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
3. To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
4. Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell)
5. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien)
6. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)
7. The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)
8. Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)
9. Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)
10. A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry)
11. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling)
12. Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)
13. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)
14. A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving) -- don't know about OWEN Meany, but I remember BUGS Meany from Encyclopedia Brown.
15. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
16. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Rowling)
17. Fall on Your Knees(Ann-Marie MacDonald)
18. The Stand (Stephen King) -- a fantastic novel; one of my favorites.
19. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban(Rowling)
20. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
21. The Hobbit (Tolkien)
22. The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)
23. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
24. The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)
25. Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
26. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams) -- the original trilogy is hilarious; again, one of my favorites. Don't panic!
27. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte) -- I know it was required reading in one of my high school classes, but I'm pretty sure I never read it.
28. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)
29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck)
30. Tuesdays with Morrie(Mitch Albom)
31. Dune (Frank Herbert)
32. The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)
33. Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand) -- it took me about four months, but I did finally make it through to the end.
34. 1984 (Orwell)
35. The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)
36. The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)
37. The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)
38. I Know This Much is True (Wally Lamb)
39. The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)
40. The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)
41. The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)
42. The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
43. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)
44. The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)
45. Bible -- not from cover to cover, sequentially, but I've read most of it at one time or another.
46. Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)
47. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
48. Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt)
49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)
50. She’s Come Undone (Wally Lamb)
51. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
52. A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens) -- I read this in the second grade, under the agreement that once done, my parents would buy me a new bike.
53. Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card) -- Why haven't they made a movie of this great novel yet??
54. Great Expectations (Dickens)
55. The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)
56. The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)
57. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)
58. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
59. The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)
60. The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrey Niffenegger) -- weird.
61. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky) -- again, required reading in Senior high school English. But I read the Cliff's notes instead of the novel.
62. The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)
63. War and Peace (Tolstoy)
64. Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice) -- started to read it one time, and got bored out of my skull.
65. Fifth Business (Robertson Davis)
66. One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
67. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (Ann Brashares)
68. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
69. Les Miserables (Hugo) -- LOVE the opera!
70. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
71. Bridget Jones’ Diary (Fielding)
72. Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez)
73. Shogun (James Clavell)
74. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)
75. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
76. The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay)
77. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
78. The World According To Garp (John Irving)
79. The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)
80. Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White)
81. Not Wanted On The Voyage (Timothy Findley)
82. Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck)
83. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)
84. Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind)
85. Emma (Jane Austen)
86. Watership Down(Richard Adams)
87. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley) -- finally, a book on the high school required list that I actually read!
88. The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)
89. Blindness (Jose Saramago)
90. Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)
91. In The Skin Of A Lion (Ondaatje)
92. Lord of the Flies (Golding)
93. The Good Earth(Pearl S. Buck)
94. The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
95. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)
96. The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)
97. White Oleander (Janet Fitch)
98. A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)
99. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)
100. Ulysses (James Joyce) -- I read A Portrait of the Young Man As an Artist, and was forever turned off to James Joyce.
101. Jurassic Park -- don't turn up your nose if you've only seen the movie. This book is outstanding.
102. Learn Me Good -- What can I say, I'm biased! But if you haven't read it, please put it on your list!
OK, so I guess I'm supposed to count the ones I've read now.
32. Only 10 less than The Answer-- to Life, the Universe, and Everything. (Which is another book I've read)
Saturday, March 10, 2007
No Dentist Left Behind
My dentist is great! He sends me reminders so I don't forget checkups He uses the latest techniques based on research. He never hurts me, and I've got all my teeth.
When I ran into him the other day, I was eager to see if he'd heard about the new state program. I knew he'd think it was great.
"Did you hear about the new state program to measure effectiveness of dentists with their young patients?" I said.
"No," he said. He didn't seem too thrilled. "How will they do that?"
"It's quite simple," I said. "They will just count the number of cavities each patient has at age 10, 14, and 18 and average that to determine a dentist's rating. Dentists will be rated as excellent, good, average, below average, and unsatisfactory. That way parents will know which are the best dentists. The plan will also encourage the less effective dentists to get better," I said. "Poor dentists who don't improve could lose their licenses to practice."
"That's terrible," he said.
"What? That's not a good attitude," I said. "Don't you think we should try to improve children's dental health in this state?"
"Sure I do," he said, "but that's not a fair way to determine who is practicing good dentistry." "Why not?" I said. "It makes perfect sense to me."
"Well, it's so obvious," he said. "Don't you see that dentists don't all work with the same clientele, and that much depends on things we can't control? For example, I work in a rural area with a high percentage of patients from deprived homes, while some of my colleagues work in upper middle-class neighborhoods. Many of the parents I work with don't bring their children to see me until there is some kind of problem, and I don't get to do much preventive work. Also, many of the parents I serve let their kids eat way too much candy from an early age, unlike more educated parents who understand the relationship between sugar and decay. To top it all off, so many of my clients have well waterwhich is untreated and has no fluoride in it. Do you have any idea how much difference early use of fluoride can make?"
"It sounds like you're making excuses," I said. "I can't believe that you, my dentist, would be so defensive. After all, you do a great job, and you needn't fear a little accountability."
"I am not being defensive!" he said. "My best patients are as good as anyone's, my work is as good as anyone's, but my average cavity count is going to be higher than a lot of other dentists because I chose to work where I am needed most."
"Don't' get touchy," I said.
"Touchy?" he said. His face had turned red, and from the way he was clenching and unclenching his jaws, I was afraid he was going to damage his teeth.
"Try furious! In a system like this, I will end up being rated average, below average, or worse. The few educated patients I have who see these ratings may believe this so-called rating is an actual measure of my ability and proficiency as a dentist. They may leave me, and I'll be left with only the most needy patients. And my cavity average score will get even worse. On top of that, how will I attract good dental hygienists and other excellent dentists to my practice if it is labeled below average?"
"I think you are overreacting," I said. "'Complaining, excuse-making and stonewalling won't improve dental health'... I am quoting from a leading member of the DOC," I noted.
"What's the DOC?" he asked.
"It's the Dental Oversight Committee," I said, "a group made up of mostly lay persons to make sure dentistry in this state gets improved"
"Spare me," he said, "I can't believe this. Reasonable people won't buy it," he said hopefully. The program sounded reasonable to me, so I asked, "How else would you measure good dentistry?"
"Come watch me work," he said. "Observe my processes."
"That's too complicated, expensive and time-consuming," I said. "Cavities are the bottom line, and you can't argue with the bottom line. It's an absolute measure."
"That's what I'm afraid my parents and prospective patients will think This can't be happening," he said despairingly.
"Now, now," I said, "don't despair. The state will help you some."
"How?" he asked. "If you receive a poor rating, they'll send a dentist who is rated excellent to help straighten you out," I said brightly.
"You mean," he said, "they'll send a dentist with a wealthy clientele to show me how to work on severe juvenile dental problems with which I have probably had much more experience? BIG HELP!"
"There you go again," I said. "You aren't acting professionally at all."
"You don't get it," he said. "Doing this would be like grading schools and teachers on an average score made on a test of children's progress with no regard to influences outside the school, the home, the community served and stuff like that. Why would they do something so unfair to dentists? No one would ever think of doing that to schools."
I just shook my head sadly, but he had brightened.
"I'm going to write my representatives and senators," he said. "I'll use the school analogy. Surely they will see the point."
He walked off with that look of hope mixed with fear and suppressed anger that I, a teacher, see in the mirror so often lately.
Friday, March 09, 2007
All week long the kids have been asking me if I would race against them on Field Day. So I obliged today and made my yearly sprint. And I am proud to say that I'm still reigning champion. Of course, I learned my lessons from last year. Do NOT go in the Bouncy House before running a race. Do not give the kids a 20 foot head start. That might have worked when I was 32, but now that I'm 34, I need that edge. And most importantly, run ONE race. Last year, I ran several races and was dead tired by the end. So today, I waited till the very end and then said I would race against anyone from my two classes who so desired. I think I wound up running against about 25 kids.
Mrs. Educator (who by the way, did NOT race against the kids) brought her class over so they could run against me too and suggested that we run the 75 yards down to the end of the field and then back. I stopped her right there.
“Whoa, whoa whoa! We are running DOWN to the end, but we're NOT running back!”
And even though I actually waited until Mr. Van Gogh said “GO!” And even though I beat one of the kids by less than 2 yards -- the fact remains, my legacy is safe for at least one more year.
The Flash lives.
Upon reentering the classroom after Field Day, one of my kids asked me, "When we come back from Spring Break, will we be in the 4th grade?”
Sure, and I will have ascended to Ruler of the Seven Kingdoms.
No, I was nice. And I think he was asking because he had just learned that he had passed the TAKS Reading test. We got our results back on Wednesday, and almost 84% of our third-graders passed! This is really spectacular for our school and our area in general. So we're very proud of the kids. But they do still have to take the Math TAKS before they can go to the next grade.
Although there's certainly some that I would love to promote (or demote) over Spring Break.
Thursday, March 08, 2007
So you're probably thinking -- man, I know what HE'LL be doing during spring break!!
On Monday, I taught the boys how to play Knockout. This is a fast-moving game involving two basketballs and its fair share of coordination. I noticed that whenever someone would make a shot (or often, just when someone would TAKE a shot), several of the boys would shout, "SWAGGER!”
Don't ask me why, I had certainly never heard this before. But it made me want to see if I could get them to start saying something nonsensical.
So on Tuesday, every time I made a shot, I shouted, "Picante!!” With the emphasis in the middle.
Pretty soon, I started getting some strange looks. So I followed it up with, "That's what we used to say in the old days."
By the end of recess, a couple of the boys were tentatively proclaiming, "Khan-tay!”
In fact, someone even said Picante during math class today.
I tell you, it's a good thing I use my powers for the forces of good…
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
1) We would basically be stuck all day long in a big room with screaming children and rude adults (not so different) -- but we would have the luxury of closing a door between us and them.
2) If we didn't like the way a parent conference was going, we could feel secure in knowing that parachutes were available to bail out at any time.
3) We could deal with bad altitudes, rather than bad attitudes.
4) We would pass out peanuts and work on an airplane, as opposed to taking away airplanes and working for peanuts.
As always, further suggestions are welcome.
Sunday, March 04, 2007
Hello boys and girls! Today was the last day of the regular season for college basketball (as was unfortunately witnessed in the Duke-Carolina debacle), which means March Madness is just around the corner!
I have set up a group in ESPN's Men's Tournament Challenge called March Mathness. If you would like to join my group and pit your bracket picks against mine, just click the link and create an entry. You won't be able to actually make selections until March 11, but you can go ahead and join my group in the meantime.
Hope to see you there! It's Awesome with a capital A, bay-bee!!
Saturday, March 03, 2007
Just in case anyone was wondering, yesterday for Dress As a Character from a Book Day(TM), I decided to forgo the lazy route of wearing a white T-shirt with the words "Sam-I-Am" scribbled on it. Instead, I decided on a character from a COMIC book.
Can you guess who I am? And despite several comments from the kids of, "Why is Mister Teacher dressed up like a dork?" it should be easy to tell who i am...
Thursday, March 01, 2007
That last little bit of course throws out all of the “adult” novels. Goodbye Tom Clancy. So long Charles Dickens. Nice to know ya, Victor Hugo. And saddest of all, no Stephen King. Here I thought I could come as Johnny Smith from the Dead Zone. I wouldn't have a very distinctive style of dress, but I COULD have fun going around shaking the kids’ hands and making eerie and creepy prophecies.
“You are going to have a flat hamburger for lunch. You're going to get put in time out at 1:24. You're going to fidget.”
Then I looked through my collection and found a wonderful book by a noted author, Patricia Polacco. I thought how fun it would be to dress as the title character. Of course, I would be putting my job in jeopardy every time I told the kids who I was dressed as. But I could just wear a shirt and tie, with a blazer. And the only modification would be a big name tag that read, "Hello, my name is Mr. Falker.”
So I asked him, "And do you know whose big head that is?"
A replied, "Um, Abraham Lincoln?”
I told him, "No, I'll give you a hint. He was our third president."
A responded excitedly, "OH!! George Bush!”