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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Is his name Yao Ming?

Mrs. Educator passed along a good story today. Fed up with the zombie-like, rote, wooden nature of the kids’ Pledge of Allegiance recital in the mornings, she had them all write out the Pledge on paper. In addition to a myriad of misspellings, one thing really stood out to her.

One of our kids had written (and I guess has been saying), “One Asian, under God…”

And I’m proud to be an American…

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Denim Nazi


This was the imperative I was left with (I’m paraphrasing) after our staff meeting yesterday. We were told at the beginning of the year that if we had perfect attendance for the first 6 weeks, we would be allowed to wear blue jeans on Fridays for the next 6 week period. So when the first 6 weeks ended last Friday, I was very happy to see that none of the third grade teachers had missed a single day of school. Blue jean Fridays for us all!! Could Margerita Mondays be far behind?

Alas, then came the cold, cruel reality, like a slap in the face from a recently thawed caveman. At the meeting yesterday, our principal said she hoped that the blue jeans list would be out early this week. Mrs. Educator, sitting in front of me, yelled out, “Third grade was perfect!” To which our principal replied, “No, I know that Mister Teacher missed a day at the beginning of the year. You know, it doesn’t just include the school days.”

Yeah, the week before school started, during the pre-school teacher prep period, my grandmother passed away, and I went to the funeral that Friday. So I missed out on a few extra hours of decorating my classroom, an extra table being moved into my room, and apparently, 6 weeks of denim Fridays.

I just feel like such a fool. How ludicrously stupid of me to assume that “the first 6 weeks” meant 6 weeks’ worth of educational days!!

Here are some other foolish assumptions I have made recently:
The Sun will rise in the East each morning.
Oklahoma will remain land-locked.
7th Heaven will continue to defy cancellation.

I can already see the discussion I’ll be having with my students this Friday.
“Mister Teacher, how come you’re the only third grade teacher not wearing blue jeans?”
“Because I was absent one day.”
“But you’ve been here every day we were here!”
“Exactly, my children. Exactly.”

One of my students brought me a gift this morning. She said it was for being such a great teacher. It was an egg. A raw, unpackaged chicken egg.

I may not have been up to muster for perfect attendance, but by golly, I have the “juevos” to prove what a great teacher I am! Who’s the yolk on now???

Sunday, September 24, 2006

USA Yesterday

I just was surfing some other blogs, and came across this article from USA Today that featured several teacher blogs. Congratulations to History is Elementary, A Shrewdness of Apes, Get Lost Mr. Chips, and a few others that I enjoy reading.
A notable absence was Learn Me Good, but then I suppose it's my own fault for not replying to any of the 200 emails and phone callas I received asking for an interview. For some reason, I thought the dude kept saying "You must pay today," so I kept hanging up on him. Um, plus I never learned to read, so I thought "USA Today" meant "You must pay today." Yeah, that's the ticket.
Anyway, it's an interesting article. Check it out. Then go learn yourself to read betterer.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Tales of a 3rd grade hypochondriac

One of my kids this year, B, is always complaining about some mysterious malady. And as a result, I am always biting back (or letting out) some snide response to his complaints.
A month ago, I heard, “I have a little bump on my head.”
Two weeks ago, it was, “My knee is hurting.”
Last week, he told me, “My eyes are watering.”
Sometimes, I just reply with a quick, “Sorry.” Other times, I try to express solidarity with the lad, by telling him about my own pains. “Oooh yeah, and my hands are kind of hurting today, B.”
But today, he turned around to tell me, “I have cramps.”
Let me tell you, I had to fight SO hard the urge to respond, “Maybe you’re pregnant.”

Reminds me of a hilarious quote from the movie Raising Arizona. Click here to listen.

Of course, B could have worse things to complain about. I had a little girl last year, N, one of the few white kids at our school, who had the most smothering southern accent you can imagine. N came back from a doctor’s appointment with a new way to express her problems. She would tell me, “I’m having girl problems down there.” As she pointed not-so-subtly at her crotch.
Despite the “girl problems” and the fact that she fell asleep in class EVERY DAY, N’s most memorable moment was on Career Day, when she asked a guest speaker, a local supermarket manager, “Is cherries good for you?”

Well, my angina and my sciatica are starting to act up, and I think I feel a bit of the gout coming on. I had better wrap this up!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Break out those library cards!

Hey there,
I am going to put out this request to everybody who stops by my blog--it's a request for help that won't cost you a dime.

Now that my novel, Learn Me Good, is available through retail, for example, online at, this means that stores and libraries can order it directly, if they so choose. This means that if you are someone who has wanted to buy a copy, but you don't feel safe ordering things over the Internet, you can call up your local Borders or Barnes and Noble and ask if they can stock the item. In fact, you could help me out a great deal by making this request of your local stores even if you do NOT plan on buying a copy. Usually, the store will purchase a copy and put it on hold for you to come in and check it out, with no obligation to buy. This way, you get to check Learn Me Good out, risk-free!

The other way to help out would be to request that your local library order a copy or two. I have already had some friends have success with this, as I have been informed that the Fairfax County Library (Virginia) as well as the George Mason University library have copies on hand.

I really do appreciate any and all help you folks can give me, and as a self-published author, I rely heavily on word-of-mouth. So the more exposure I can get, the better results I will see!
Thanks again!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Gutten tag, mon frere

I have signed up for a Spanish as a Second Language at my church, and it starts tomorrow night. I took Spanish in school when I was a kid (1st grade through 8th grade), but that was eons ago, and I have forgotten most of it. I do remember several food items and articles of clothing (corbatta, camisa, jelado, leche, etc), but I am hoping to learn and/or refresh my memory on verbs, conventions, etc.
Pretty soon I will be watching Sabado Gigante on Univision and translating as homework!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


Do you like the My Space?

My former teaching partner suggested that I check out My Space earlier this year, as a way of having yet another link to this blog. To be honest, I don't really go there much, but I did set up an account, and I have even connected with an old high school friend or two. But I constantly get these requests for friends from random people that I don't even know. I'll check out their profile and it says something like, "Check me out on my webcam, and we can have some fun!"

This is especially disturbing when it's a dude...

Anyway, if anyone else out there needs another My Space friend, and you're not just a "pornbot," feel free to swing by
Tell them Spanky McFartnuts sent you.

Wednesday update:
Seriously, if you do want to make a friend request, send me a note saying Spanky sent you. Otherwise, I might just dismiss you as another random webcam, get-rich-quick, increase my twig and berries, scammer...

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Weird Science

Several years ago, I realized that my little third graders just can’t handle free response questions on a science test. So I decided to write my own tests for them, with multiple choice answers—similar to what they would be seeing on benchmarks and TAKS.

In the style of Who Wants to be a Millionaire? there are often a few “silly” answers; choices that I thought nobody would possibly pick. I have used these tests for three years now, and I am continually amazed at my initial cluelessness.

I gave the first such test to my kids this past Friday. The topic was plants and photosynthesis, and the second question was:

Where do plants get the energy to make their own food?
A) Fruit
B) The Sun
C) Gasoline
D) Mister Teacher

Many of the kids, when they saw my name up there, snickered and pointed. But four kids (out of 37) CHOSE ME!!!! And one of them is in the Talented and Gifted program!! Yeah, like I go around the world endowing plants with life force, gently whispering, “Grow…Grow little seedlings!!”

One boy did choose gasoline. Maybe he was thinking of those new John Deere roses…

There are only 5 questions on the test, so some kids finish quickly, while others are more ponderous. So in order not to have a bunch of kids getting into trouble while their classmates finished, I told them that when they finished the test, they could write on the back. Write something they had learned, or write a little story about the topic we had studied. Only a few kids did this, but they were very interesting submissions.

One little girl wrote this:
“Dear piece of paper,
Today we took a sience test and a math test to. This test is very important to me and I do not want to fail so Lord plese help me pass.”

Another girl wove all of the silly answers into a story:
“Ther was a monkey calld Mr. Teacher that like lime juice that he eat a kind of seed then he got sik.”

They blinded me! With… well, whatever the opposite of Science is….

Friday, September 08, 2006

E Pluribus Unum -- Latin for "Don't drop the soap??"

Our topic for the week has been counting and adding money. The kids have to identify a coin and its value from a picture, and then give a total amount.
Today, we were going over the homework, and I noticed that one of the problems had coins that were all showing a tail side. There was a quarter, a dime, and a nickel. I pointed this out to the kids, and advised that they would need to be able to recognize the tail images as well as the heads to get money questions right. We agreed that the quarter has an image of an eagle, and the dime shows a picture of a torch. Then I asked what the image on the back of the nickel was. Most of the kids shouted out, “The White House!” but in my afternoon class, a little boy named H shouted out, “That’s the big jail house!”

Sadly, no. A nickel might be hourly wage for someone living in the big jail house, but it does not display such an image.

H had another hilarious insight today in a comment he made to my partner, Mrs. Educator. Mrs. E was wearing a horizontally striped black and white long-sleeve shirt. H told her, “You look like one of those guys who goes…” And here he proceeded to pretend he was pushing on an invisible wall.

Marcel Marceau, the third grader…

Thursday, September 07, 2006

The Google Gourmet

If you use a stat counter site like, as I do, then you are able to see who is visiting your blog, as well as where they came from.
I don't mean that you get a report that says "Richard Fredrick from 123 Evergreen Terrace visited today at 3:45!"
But you do get a city, country, and ISP address, as well as the link that the person clicked to get there. For instance, if someone followed the link to this blog from the page where my book is being sold, it lists the referring link as If they clicked on a link from Mike in Texas' blog, it gets listed as
If someone surfs over to Learn Me Good as a result of a Google search, or a search from any directory, I get to see the search parameters that led them to me. And here's where my interest (concern?) is piqued.

I have noticed a LOT of hits that relate to two posts I have put up in the past few months. The first one dealt with the email that I received advising me that I could receive millions of dollars if I jus sent this guy a few pieces of personal information. The name of the guy who supposedly made me this offer is Dr. Nicholas Chile (go ahead, look back in the archives and confirm). There have been an unusual number of hits made from a search of "Nicholas Chile," and most of them are outside of the US! I guess this guy is wanted in Vietnam, Bangladesh, Bengal, etc, because they're all searching for him!

The other query of interest is more disturbing. I put up a post over the summer about kids abusing their bathroom privileges, and I titled it "Doing the pee-pee dance." There have been an alarming number of visitors to my site that have arrived there by way of search strings like "students cannot hold their bladder," or "students go pee pee." Sounds like a fetish, if you ask me.

One thing this definitey proves though is that the search engines ARE crawling my blog. So, in the interest of attracting a few more random visitors, I'm going to just throw out a few hot key words and sit back and watch the traffic roll in:

Pinch hitter
Atkins diet
Suri Cruise
The Lost Continent of Atlantis
Oprah's Book Club
Basalmic vinegar
Intercourse, Pennsylvania

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The Man Show?

There was an editorial in The Dallas Morning News last week titled “Men in the Classroom.” Despite the way it sounds, this was NOT just some poorly imagined sequel to Men in Black, or a spin-off from rock super sensation Men without Hats.

The editorial cites the National Education Association as saying that the prototypical male in the public school classroom has become “a dwindling breed,” and that in some schools, “all the male teachers on staff could car pool in a Corvette.”

First of all, when I hear the phrase “dwindling breed,” I think of screech owls or sea manatees, NOT the hairier side of homo erectus. And at MY school, there are quite a few male teachers, so we cannot in fact all pile into a Corvette – trust me, we’ve tried. We decided we would need to car pool in a stretch Hummer, and even then, we would need to be accompanied by some clown music to really feel the moment.

Some nitwit wrote a letter to the editor a few days ago on the subject, where he suggested that a whole generation of men entered the teaching profession almost 40 years ago in order to escape the US military draft. He stated that this group is now reaching retirement age, and THAT is why there are so few men in the classroom. He even went so far as to say that the US should reinstitute a draft, and THAT would drive men back into teaching.

Did I call this guy a nitwit? I was being far too generous. I try to keep this blog family-friendly, so I won’t write any other names for him here, but here’s a hint. It rhymes with plum-guts.

Yeah, that’s certainly the reason that I personally became a teacher. To avoid being drafted into the military. Actually, I did it to avoid being drafted into the local Applebee’s dish-washing staff. THAT was a close call!!

In closing, I am going to post a couple of groan-inspiring wordplay one-liners that I received from my sister-in-law today.

When a clock is hungry it goes back four seconds.
If you don't pay your exorcist you can get repossessed.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Pimp My Blog

You may or may not have noticed, but I have received my first endorsement deal! Check out the top of the sidebar on the right hand side, and you will see a link to Hotel Ninja, my new primary sponsor! (And on the topic--please continue to click those Google ads and use that Google search bar!)
The guy who runs Hotel Ninja (a site that allows web-users to find inexpensive and accomodating hotel arrangements--not just in Dallas) sent me an email saying he'd pay me in exchange for a link up on the site. I said, Mmmm, OK! So go and check it out, especially if you are doing any travelling.
And this opens the door for more corporate sponsors! So feel free to contact me with your best offers, Coca-Cola, Nike, and Pizza Hut! Heck, I'd even throw up a link for K-Swiss if you greased my palm enough! But no ads for Red Bull. I mean, I DO have standards, you know.

On a graver note, Steve Irwin, The Crocodile Hunter died this weekend. The guy was nuts, but he was a lot of fun to watch, and he will be missed. Let's all raise a glass and have a solemn "Crikey" in his honor...