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Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Crazies Rule!

My old roomie sent me this link today. It's an ESPN analyst named Beanie Cook talking about how clever the Duke Cameron Crazies are. Being a former Crazy myself, I greatly appreciate his viewpoint.

Take that, IMC Guy!! :)

No copies for old men

OK, so maybe you recognize my post title as a ripoff of an Oscar-nominated movie. I'm going to write about a topic that ticks me off a bit, so I was tempted to use the title There Will Be Blood...

You know, I'm pretty proud of myself because I can set up a computer system. I am able to operate a DVD player. I even know how to stop the constant flashing of 12:00 on a VCR.

However, I (and the rest of my fellow teachers) am unqualified to run a photocopier. At least, that is what has been decided at my school. What used to be the teachers workroom has now become the teacher's workroom. A subtle difference, I know, but a crucial one.

For the first three years that I taught, we were responsible for making our own copies. Once a week, after planning together, the third-grade math teachers would go to the workroom and copy whatever we were going to use for the next week. If, for some reason, we discovered on a Tuesday that we needed something for Wednesday (or even that very Tuesday!), we could dash into the copy room and get what we needed.

But then that power was taken out of our hands, and someone was brought in to make the copies for us. I have absolutely nothing against this person. She's a very nice lady, and we get along just fine, and there are usually very few problems with getting copies when we need them.

However, when she's out sick -- as she has been for most of this week -- we're pretty much screwed.

Not only is there no one else allowed to use that copier when she is gone, but we are not even allowed into the room. Which means that in addition to the copier, everything else in that room -- pencil sharpeners, letter punch blocks, butcher paper, the cutting block, etc. -- is inaccessible.

So tomorrow, we were going to give a test and a quiz, but we have no copies. I turned in the copy request on the test on Monday, but she went home sick before she could get to it. I can still give the quiz by writing the problems on the overhead and having the kids copy them on to looseleaf paper, but that's just not possible with the test.

I guess all I can say for now is Copy Lady, Please Get Well Soon!!!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Start speaking my language!

Today when I took my kids to the cafeteria for lunch, one of the teacher's aides was already in there screaming at the kids to be quiet. This is sadly the norm for our cafeteria, and for that teacher's aide in particular.

As I entered the cafeteria myself, I heard her yelling, "Estudiantes no hablando!!"

Right then I was walking past one of my students who has a voice that sort of sounds like Goofy from Walt Disney cartoons. As the teacher's aide continued to shout, I heard this student say very calmly, "I don't even speak Spanish."

Not frightened by the yelling, not instructed -- merely with a shrug of his shoulders, as if to say, "What's the deal lady? Have some fish sticks and stop shouting."

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

You mean I have to schedule?

This week's Mr. Teacher column over on education.com is all about lesson plans. You know what I'm talking about. If you work in my district, you can relate to the excess paperwork that we're dealing with here. If you work in another district, you might have very similar stories.

And of course, they keep telling us that next year, even MORE detail will be required...

Stop by, leave a comment, etc.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Can't get enough of the Oscars?

Not that I watch them or anything, but I did hear rumors that the Academy Awards were on Sunday night. As usual, I've hardly seen any of the movies up for Best Picture award, so the presentations really just don't mean that much to me.

But, I thought the topic might make for a fun edition of this week's

INTERACTIVE MONDAY!!!

Here's this week's suggestion: Pick a movie, any movie, that you have seen in the theaters this year and assign it your own made up award.

I'll go first. Last month, I saw The Dewey Cox Story: Walk Hard. I hereby bequeath this motion picture with the award Best Movie to Avoid on a First Date, Seeing As How It Contains Scenes of Full Frontal Male Nudity. (and the crowd goes wild)

Your turn!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

My birthday wishes

Hey everyone,
Tomorrow is my birthday, so I thought I might make a couple of birthday wishes.

1) That everyone who reads this might go to Amazon.com and order a copy (or 5) of my book, Learn Me Good!

2) Barring that, that everyone might at least go to Lulu.com and read the first couple of chapters of Learn Me Good and talk it up to their friends!

3) That Duke will make the Final Four, seeing as how I just procured tickets to San Antonio this year.

4) That all of my kids will pull their heads out and pass the TAKS!

5) That ABC will decide to prolong the television season so Lost can show their full 8 episodes for this season.


In the meantime, I heard some very interesting things last week related to birthdays and aging. On Friday, my kids were asking me how old I was going to be this week. When I told them I was going to turn 35 on Thursday, I heard three things almost simultaneously.

One of my kids said, "My mom is 23."

Another of my kids said, "My mom is 24."

And a third of my kids said, "My grandmother is older than you!"

My thoughts at the time were that I would certainly hope that their grandmother was older than me, and doing some quick math, that their moms must of been 15 and 16 when they gave birth to the kids in my class!

Yikes!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Any Lost fans out there?

During one of the recent episodes of Lost (like my favorite show in the history of ever), they flashed a promo up for going online and posting a video with your theory of what the heck is going on in the show. So of course I jumped at that, posted my video on Sunday, and it finally showed up online today.

It's called The True Oceanic 6 (I know, meaningless if you don't watch Lost), and it's a bit tongue-in-cheek, a bit legit. Check it out and see what you think! Even if you don't watch Lost, you can always boost my numbers of viewers. ;)

Why won't my seeds sprout??

This week's topic of the Mr. Teacher column over on education.com is related to one of our early science projects that we do every year. In studying plants and seeds, we try to observe how seeds sprout. Notice I say "try" because my seeds never seem to sprout as they're supposed to.

Please take a trip over to education.com and check out the full article here!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Stupid test

Good evening everyone, as you might gather from the title of this post, I am not too enamored with a test I took today after school. Actually, I am currently exhibiting extreme self-control not to express exactly how ticked off I am at this test.

Here in Texas, we call it the TELPAS. Don't ask me what it stands for -- I'm sure the T is for Texas, and the rest is a bunch of crap. It's a test that teachers have to take in order to be able to rate writing samples from kids of Limited English Proficiency (LEP). Teachers go online and view collections of four or five writing samples, and they have to rate them -- beginning, intermediate, advanced, or advanced high. The ratings are EXTREMELY subjective, and this is what upsets me so much.

I spent nearly 2 hours online today after school looking at example passages and then taking this stupid test. There were 15 collections to analyze. In order to pass the test, I had to rate 10 of them correctly. So of course, you can probably guess how many I got right. NINE.

So this leads me to this week's

INTERACTIVE MONDAY!!

Here's the question for the week:

Have you ever had to go through anything completely subjective like this, and what was it like? Please share your stories of frustration, triumphant, and heartbreak.

Meanwhile, I'll go take solace in some left over Valentine's Day candy.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Troubled children

Last week, there were some very interesting developments with some of my most difficult students.

First, one of the boys who has gotten under my skin since day one, I'll just call him A, withdrew on Friday, so he will not be back next week. I know this is extremely unprofessional and callous of me to say, but -- WOOOOOOHOOOOOOO!!!!! YIPPPEEEEEEEEE!!! YESSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!

OK, moving on... One of my other little boys who has been a behavior problem all year long in addition to doing just about nothing in class has made a little bit of progress. There have been several times this year when I have gotten on his case about not putting any effort forth whatsoever, and he has responded with a sad sack story about how he's not smart like everyone else, and his mom has told him he's not like the other kids. In other words, he's used his academic troubles in the past as a crutch in the present. I won't stand for that kind of thing, and without using profanity, I've told him how that's a bunch of BS.

Two weeks ago, I sat in on a failure ARD with this boy, his mother, the school principal, and a few others. He tried to pull this same bit again, and we all pretty much shot it down. But finally, he seems to have taken our attitude to heart. The day after the ARD, he scored an 80 on his test over number lines, which is one of his highest scores all year long. This past week, our topic was estimation and rounding, and he did the work with us -- and did it correctly -- all week long. Every time I saw him doing the work, I tried to make a big deal about praising him and complementing him on how awesome he was at rounding.

On Wednesday, I sent a note home with him to his mother, telling her how he had really been making an effort, and doing very well on the classwork, and how proud I was of him for that. Also how that proved that he was capable of doing the work when he put his mind to it. The next day, he brought me a note that HE had written saying that I was the best teacher, and how he loved math and (this is the funny part) how much better his behavior is now that he is taking his pills. On the test on Friday, he scored a 100. Now if we could just get him to put some effort into reading class.

Lastly, I heard something very interesting about one of my troubled girls, who has been a pain in my denominator all year long. This girl just enjoys pushing people's buttons. She makes bad decisions, cries when she gets in trouble, but smirks about it when she's being reprimanded. She's constantly being put in time out -- not just in my room or Miss Jenn Ed's room -- but also in art, PE, the lunchroom, the gym before school starts, etc.

We got her mother some paperwork for a counseling group, and the mother enrolled her. So for the past couple of weeks, a counselor comes by the school every once in awhile to see her and to talk to us. She came by my room on Friday and asked about the little girl's behavior in class. So I unloaded, telling her everything that she liked to do. The counselor told me that she thought it was very interesting that despite all of the negative things the girl does in my class, when asked who her favorite teacher was, she answered with Mister Teacher.

Some people have a very strange way of showing favoritism, I suppose.

I'm hoping this week is a stellar week. My birthday is on Thursday, one of the terrors is gone from my school, another seems to have turned a new leaf, and yet another thinks of me as her favorite teacher. Hey, if the cafeteria would just serve chopped barbecue beef sandwiches for lunch, I'd be in heaven!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day

A few observations from the Valentine's Day party at school today:

A couple of kids who did not bring ANYTHING for anybody else sat at their desks and shouted, "I didn't get one of those yet!" at the kids who DID bring things for everybody.

A couple of kids brought a box of Valentines that had no names on them, despite me handing out a list of class names on Tuesday. They then expected to be able to fill out the information on each card within 10 minutes.

My visually impaired student kept coming up to me and asking, "Mister Teacher, who is this one for? Who is THIS one for?" because he couldn't read the names his mom had printed on the cards.

A couple of kids brought ginormous bags of Hot Cheetos, and shared them by dumping a handful on each desk.

The little girl with pink eye was handing out cupcakes and frosted cookies. And I do mean HANDING them out. (My class tomorrow might look like a bad Kodak photograph.)

I now have enough candy to last until Halloween.

Sleep now.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Boo-Yah!!

This week's Mr. Teacher column on education.com is all about integrating sports into the classroom. I'm not talking about handing out hockey equipment and asking the kids to high stick each other, but rather attempts to tailor lesson plans to fit sports interests.

Of course, I reference Placeball and March Mathness. There are even a few new suggestions in there. And if I've missed something, please feel free to leave me a comment there on the education.com web site!

Phineus left a hilarious comment already:

"How about an American Gladiator style, you answered wrong to 8 times 8 -- get in the gauntlet, Jimmy. Go."

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Bring the funny

Monday, Monday -- can't trust that day. But now there is something you can trust...

INTERACTIVE MONDAY!!!

Thanks to everyone who has been participating. And unlike the television show Lost, you can jump right into this one even if you're new!

Here's this week's question:

What is the funniest thing a student has said to you this year?

If this were funniest thing EVER, I'd probably go with the kid who informed me, "My bowels be runnin'!"

However, since I did specify THIS year, I think I'll go with a quote that was directed towards me out on the playground. I was walking out of the cafeteria with my class after lunch, and one of my boys asked me,

"Mister Teacher, what's wrong with your balls?"

"Excuse me?" I replied.

He continued, "How come we haven't been able to take your basketballs outside for recess in a long time?"

Good thing I asked him to clarify, huh?

OK let's hear from you now!!

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Hands-free? Try brain-free!

A story in the Dallas Morning News warns that it may very soon be illegal and fineable to use a cell phone for calls or texting in a DISD school zone.

Yeah, that's all well and good to make that announcement, but what I really want to know is -- who exactly are they expecting to enforce this law?

As you know, I work out in the school zone every morning before classes. And I consistently see people speeding -- parents, teachers, and bus drivers -- which I'm pretty certain is illegal as well. But what is happening to these people? Absolutely nothing. I think there was ONE day, last year, when a police officer was near the school and wrote a couple of tickets.

But otherwise, the speed limit is not enforced. Anonymous Joe and I tell people to slow down, but we have no real authority over them (and usually the people just tell us that they were going 20 anyway, even when it's obvious they were going over 30). If they pass this law that makes cell phones illegal in the school zone, that will just serve as another annoyance to Anonymous Joe and me. Because WE'LL be the ones that have to tell people, "You know, it's illegal now to use your cell phone in the school zone." To which people will undoubtedly reply, "I was just holding my phone, I wasn't using it," or, "I know, but this is a really important call!"

My suggestion to the city of Dallas is don't worry about proposing new laws until you put a system in place to enforce the existing ones. Assign a police officer to park his car in the street right behind my school, and I guarantee you he'll be busy for an hour writing tickets.

I'm not even suggesting that we need a police officer for every school for every day. But how about rotating them randomly through a set of schools so that they're at my school one day every two weeks. And no one will know when that day is going to be. THEN maybe people will have the fear in them enough to actually drive the speed limit.

And only then will people have the fear in them not to use a cell phone when dropping their kids off.

Belated Carnival

Howdy folks,

It's been a REALLY long week, so I'm finally getting around to some housecleaning. Of course, I don't mean that in the literal sense, as my house looks like a wild pack of warthogs has been using it as a base camp.

But seeing as how I completely lost my voice on Monday, had an afterschool doctor's appointment on Tuesday, then went to a gathering to see a friend who's been out of the country for six months, then had afterschool tutoring, another doctor's appointment, and Ash Wednesday services the next day, THEN was the guest speaker at my old high school's National Honor Society induction on Thursday night -- it's been a busy week! Not to mention the fact that my partner was out for the first three days, so I was doing a lot during the day to help her class out as well. The really big part of all that was the honor society talk. I am SO relieved that that is over, as I really do not like public speaking. It went really well, and it was a great experience, but leading up to it, I was a nervous wreck.

Anyway, this week's Carnival of Education looks like it was a super fabulous one. It's up and running over at The Colossus of Rhodey. Kauai Mark (substitute extraordinairre) offers some advice on getting a classroom clean (and dealing with fourth-graders who shout "POOP!" randomly), Oldandrew touches on the subject of a common nightmare, shared by many teachers (including yours truly), and Bellringers shares her Top Five list of overall dumb things done by students.

Check it out, and enjoy wandering the aisles!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

The most important meal of the day

This week's Mr. Teacher column over on education.com is all about my school's recent decision to move breakfast from the cafeteria to the classroom. We've been doing it for a couple of months now, and overall, I'd say the response has been tepid at best.

Read all about it over at education.com!

In other news, my partner officially has the flu (strain B), and I went to the doc's today and got prescriptions for flu medication (just in case) and pills that will hopefully give me my voice back before my honor society talk on Thursday night! Fingers crossed, please!

Monday, February 04, 2008

Who's on first

I have a boy in my class whose mother is deaf. Lately, he's been uncharacteristically mischevious (to put it nicely), so we've been trying to set up a conference with his mother. Of course, we need to have an interpreter to help us communicate with her. I had a similar situation last year, so I dug out a business card for a district interpreter that helped us back then.

Last Friday, I sent home a note with this boy, A, saying that I had spoken with the interpreter, and she was free to conference this week, either on Tuesday at 3:00 or on Wednesday or Thursday at 1:25. I asked her to choose one of those three options that was best for her.

This morning, I asked A if his mother had written back to me, and he pulled out the note. She had written, "I will come on Thursday at 3:00."

Uhhhh, I hope you don't. This reminds me of the old Sesame Street skit where Grover would say, "I would like a hamburger and a Coke!" And the waiter would reply, "I'm sorry, sir, we don't have any hamburgers." To which Grover would respond, "OK then, I'll have a hamburger and a Pepsi!"


In related news, my partner, Ms. Jenn Ed, has been out with a fever for the past couple of days, and I have completely lost my voice. If one of us were to turn green, I think we could combine for a clinical case worthy of House.

Happy Belated Blogoversary

Just shows ya how freakin' busy I've been...

Last Wednesday, Learn Me Good the blog turned two years old. I can't believe I've been doing this for 730 days and change now...

:)

The cake is a little stale, but have a piece!

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Superbowl Wrapup

Greetings everyone! I'm getting an early start on Monday's post, which is the second in my

INTERACTIVE MONDAY

series. Thanks to everyone who participated last week. We all learned a lot about what our fellow teachers really enjoy teaching.

This week, the question is:

What was your favorite Superbowl commercial?

This is of course assuming that you actually watched the game (and watched the commercials), but even if you didn't, you can always watch them online.

I wasn't overly impressed with a lot of them, but I did find the Bud Light commercial with the cavemen pretty funny. "WHEEL SUCK!!" "BOTTLE OPENER SUCK!!"

And the E*Trade commercial with the talking baby buying stock and then spitting up was frankly disturbing. Though, truth be told, the one time I tried to buy stock online, I spit up afterwards.

OK, your turn! Share your thoughts!!

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