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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

And now we wait

My kids took the math test today. I really have no idea how they did. I can make a few guesses based on the sheet of paper where they signed their names and wrote down what time they handed the test in, though.

Let's just say I'm not too pleased with a few of my kids who turned their test in before lunch.

But anyway, moving on. This week's Mr. Teacher column on looks at the lighter side of state standardized testing. I had my kids write down some of their thoughts about the Texas test. There are a few humorous observations.

And, for those of you who are looking for reasons to continue drawing breath, please allow me to present reason number one to keep living:

Ed U Cater and Simply Sublime are finally blogging again!!!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Not so confidential info

A couple of weeks ago, I was tagged by our good friend Matthew K. Tabor to complete a meme. I say good friend of course, because a while back he wrote a very flattering review of my groundbreaking novel, Learn Me Good. That, and he just seems like a fun guy overall. Not to be confused with a fungi overall.

Anyway, rule number one of Fight Club, er, I mean this meme is to post the rules of this meme.


1. The rules of the game get posted at the beginning.
2. Each player answers the questions about themselves.
3. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5-6 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they've been tagged and asking them to read your blog.
4. Let the person who tagged you know when you've posted your answer.

So let the fun begin!!

1) What was I doing 10 years ago?

10 years ago would put us in 1998 (see, I like to establish my cred as a math teacher). In 1998, I had just started working for Marlow Industries here in Dallas. I was a project design engineer for a product called a thermoelectric cooler (or as my boss called them, little white things). Ironic how I've gone from TECs to TEKS. With Marlow, I would get to visit customers in Japan, various countries in Europe, and various states in New England. I'll never forget actually having to duck to walk through doorways in Tokyo.

2) What are 5 things on my to-do list for today (not in any particular order):

1. Finish this blog post.

2. Pray desperately for my students' success (and motivation) on tomorrow's test.

3. Watch How I Met Your Mother -- one of the funniest shows out there. It's Legen -- wait for it! Keep waiting! Almost there! -- dary!

4. At least think about writing next week's Mr. Teacher column for my gig.

5. Have my daily internal debate over who's cooler -- Spider Man or Han Solo.

3) Snacks I enjoy:

Cheez-Its Better Cheddars, Pringles, Nacho Cheese Flavored Doritos, Pudding, Ice Cream, Snickers, Reeses, and the list goes on.

4) Things I would do if I were a billionaire:

1. Stop worrying about money forever.

2. Buy a hotel in Paris and invite Evangeline Lilly, Shandi Finnessey, Stacy Keibler, Cameron Diaz, and Naomi Watts to visit. Hey, at least ONE of them would have to reply, right??

3. Pledge enough money to Wendy's to bring back the Superbar!!

5) Three of my bad habits:

1. Picking hangnails

2. Dripping sarcasm

3. Hanging gerunds

6) 5 places I have lived:

1. Springfield, Virginia

2. Durham, North Carolina

3. College Station, Texas

4. Dallas, Texas

5. Mesquite, Texas

7) 5 jobs I have had:

1. Looney Toons Land rides operator at Six Flags over Texas

2. Prior art researcher for a patent lawyer

3. Telephone directory delivery supervisor

4. Small appliance sales person at Best Buy

5. Credit card application telemarketer (worst three weeks of my life)

8) 6 peeps I wanna know more about:

Well, I haven't had any dates for awhile now, so I think I'll focus on the ladies...

1. Mrs. Bluebird -- she called me one of her favorite bloggers one time. I acknowledge the fact that she may have been drinking when she said that, but it still puts her pretty high in my book.

2. HappyChyck -- She lives in VEGAS, BABY!! And she seems pretty cool. Though she won my March Monday Madness contest and has yet to send me an address to receive a copy of Learn Me Good!!

3. Mrs. Longhorn -- Another Texas math teacher with a great sense of humor. Of course, you kind of HAVE to have a great sense of humor to be a Texas math teacher...

4. Mildly Melancholy -- Right now a NY teacher, but maybe soon a TX teacher??

5. Rookie Teacher -- Someone who hasn't blogged frequently for a while, but maybe just needs a good rousing!

6. Edna Lee -- Her site, Regurgitated Alphabits, is quite funny, and her posts are long and well-written! Like they say, Nobody Doesn't Like Edna Lee!

OK, now I'm off to comment on these people's pages to fulfill the requirements laid down in the prophecy of yore.

BTW, now that I'm tagging other people, does this meme become a youyou??

Who are the ad wizards that came up with THIS one??

Today is the day before the third and fourth graders at my school take the state standardized math exam. We had some review material to finish up, but overall, I tried to keep it light and easy and really tried to keep the kids' confidence up.

But then someone went and decided that today would be the day that report cards needed to go home.


I'm sure that there was absolutely no chance of any risk whatsoever regarding student confidence being lowered due to a less than desired grade. Hey, maybe tomorrow morning right before they put pencil to the test, we can tell them all they were adopted!!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

A classic (?) revisited

Kind of a slow Sunday, so I thought I'd repost something that still gets a ton of queries and hits. And it's still topical, since I have just as many "odd" names this year as I ever have.

So, please to enjoy, an old post titled, "Pimp My Name."

You don't have to be a teacher nowadays to realize that many people in this great world of ours just can't handle the responsibility of naming a child. So many parents have taken to "tricking up" their baby's name -- choosing something that strikes their fancy, or that they think is "totally wicked awesome!"

Exhibit A – Kal-el Cage

Exhibit B – Apple Paltrow (Or is it Apple Martin? Or is that too close to Apple Martini?)

Exhibits C-E -- Any of Bruce Willis's kids.

But of course celebrities are not the only guilty party here. We get our fair share of kids at school named after luxury cars or royalty, or those with very inventive uses for the apostrophe.

So it occurred to me that with this increasing trend of parents naming their kids after things they like with no thought whatsoever as to the fact that it is indeed their child who will be forced to bear the burden of that name for the rest of his or her life, or at least until the age of 18 (deep breath) -- I think I have some idea of what names we can expect to start showing up in kindergarten classes in just a few years.

"Kal-el Cage" is just one example of a child named after a popular movie character. I expect we'll soon have classes that include at least one Legolas, Gimli, or Frodo. Of course, at MY school, it would be La’Frodo.

Free elements will no doubt make a strong entrance. Zirconium -- Zirc to his friends -- will be a popular boy's name, while Moly (short for Molybdenum) will be the hot new girl's name.

Expect Mazda and Isuzu to overtake Lexus and Porscha in the race for “kewl” monikers.

In about three years, here's the typical class roll call I expect to see:

da Vinci

I can't wait!!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Are You More Cynical Than a 3rd Grade Teacher?

I auditioned for a game show here in Dallas last weekend called Whatta Ya Think? and I actually did quite well. If indeed they start filming in June as they said, I ought to be called back. Maybe that's why today I had game shows on my mind, and taking a cue from the one titled Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? I would like to humbly submit my own idea.

Are You More Cynical Than a 3rd Grade Teacher? would give everyone a realistic chance to experience the life of an elementary school educator.

Here are just a few sample questions that you might see on the show:

1) Last week, you reviewed clock reading skills, something introduced in first grade. Today, at five minutes till noon, you ask the kids to look at the wall clock and tell you what time it is. What answer will the majority of the kids give you?

A) 12:55

B) 11:12

C) 12:75

D) Hamburger

2) As a reward for participation, you've decided to hand out Jolly Ranchers candies. When you hand the first child his candy, what is the probability that he will say, "I don't want this color!"

A) 100%

B) 99.9%

C) 99.8%

D) 99.7%

3) A little girl in your class was sent to the principal's office for throwing rocks at a car during recess, and she has returned to the classroom in tears. What can you expect her to do at recess tomorrow?

A) Climb on the monkey bars

B) Play tag with the other children

C) Write an apology letter

D) Throw rocks at a car

4) A boy in your class is refusing to follow directions. You have decided to call his mother to report his actions. What is the most likely outcome of your phone call?

A) The boy is admonished by his mother

B) The mother refuses to believe that her son has done anything wrong

C) The mother threatens to sue you for suggesting that her son has done anything wrong

D) None -- the phone was long ago disconnected

5) You have just read the following word problem with the class: "Mr. Carter spent $4 for a hammer and $8 for a saw. How much did he spend in all?" If you call on someone randomly, and ask them what they would do to solve the problem, what will they most likely say?

A) Multiply

B) Subtract

C) Divide

D) Octagon

That's just a sampling of what we might see on Are You More Cynical Than a 3rd Grade Teacher?

I'm sure this show would do well on Fox.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

the Carneys are back...

There's a great Carnival of Education but over at The Education Wonks this week. One of the articles that I really enjoyed was Coach Brown's take on people who think that teachers should stop complaining because they don't have it so bad compared to other professions. He writes:

"And by the way, firemen are never blamed for starting the fire, policemen are never blamed for committing the crime, and doctors aren't blamed for people getting fat. Teachers are most certainly a target of blame for the lack of education of children, even though they have no control over a multitude of variables. "

There's also a couple of pretty funny comic strips here.

Go on, check it out, what else have you got to do?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Common sense

This week's Mr. Teacher column on is all about the trials and tribulations of getting kids to check the reasoning on their math answers. No, 11-5 should NOT equal 14! Nor should it equal 115!!!

I started a Participation Posse today. Took pics of the kids last week, and I devoted a bulletin board to the pictures of the kids who participated in class. Most of them got their pictures up yesterday. Of the few who weren't up when they walked into my classroom this morning, almost all of them really did try harder today and got their picture up. I did have to take one down though, as he wasn't trying at all today.

We'll see how it goes for the next few weeks. I think I'll have little rewards or something for the people whose pictures stay up all week long. If it goes well, I may start this at the beginning of next year.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Break out the parkas

I got an e-mail today through my school server that was a memo from downtown about the summer dress code. In my district, for most of the year, men wear ties and women wear hose. Summer dress code relaxes that a bit. No more ties or hose, it's really more like business casual. Definitely much more comfortable when the temperature starts rising.

Normally, the summer dress code ends on the first of October and begins again around the first of May. The memo today informed us that the summer dress code would be in effect from June 2 to September 2.

This is brand new and utterly ridiculous. Let's forget for just a second that some of us already are working in a classroom that doesn't have functioning air conditioning. Even if my A/C was blasting away perfectly, I shouldn't have to wear a tie when it's over 90° outside!! And it's going to get there very soon!!

School ends this year on June 4, and it begins again on August 25. So according to today's memo, we will get to enjoy the relaxed summer dress code for three days at the end of this school year and a week at the beginning of next school year.

You'll forgive me if I don't order the champagne just yet...

*********** Update as of 4/25 *************

They sent out a NEW email today revising that June 2 date to April 28. YEAH!!! No more ties, baby!!! Now if they would just fix the A/C in my room and give my kids some deoderant for after recess, we'd be in business!!!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Visitors in the room

I am working on a theory for a new way for kids to learn more. Part of the problem right now is that many of my kids just don't listen to me. I'm imparting great wisdom to them, but they are too occupied with pencil shavings in their desk, microscopic bugs out in the hallway, etc.

However, any time another teacher walks into the room and has a quiet conversation with me at the back of the classroom, it's like the old E.F. Hutton commercial, where everybody listens. So I'm thinking that at the beginning of each week, I ought to get one of the other teachers to walk in, ask me if they can have a moment of my time, and then whisper things to me like, "To find the area of a rectangle, you need to multiply the top times the side," or "If you see the words, 'how many more' in a question, you should always subtract."

Maybe THEN the kids will actually learn these concepts!!!

Actually, I'm just incredibly tired of the way my kids completely forget about me any time somebody walks in or out of our room. Throughout the year, we have gone over the visitor procedure many many times. When a visitor walks into the room, they are supposed to completely ignore the visitor and continue doing whatever it was they were already doing. Only if that visitor specifically talks to them are they to pay any attention to that person.

In practice, the complete opposite happens. When somebody walks into the room, the kids all swivel around in their chairs and stare the person down. I have a lot of kids coming and going to and from various tutoring groups throughout the day, and when they leave my class or come back into my class, I never have the full attention of my kids. It is incredibly aggravating.

I think that next year, around the second or third week of school, I will run a visitor drill. I don't see why not -- we have to go through fire drills, evacuation drills, tornado drills, crisis drills, and so on. My visitor drill would go like this:

I would give the kids an assignment and tell them they had 10 minutes to complete it. I would make it very clear that at the end of 10 minutes, I would be giving them a grade based on how much of the assignment they had completed correctly. I would then tell them to begin. Three minutes later, I would have another teacher come into my classroom and talk to me for approximately 7 minutes. The teacher would then leave, and I would collect the papers.

I would expect that about 60% of my class would have roughly 3 minutes worth of work done, and that they would have spent the last seven minutes watching and/or listening to the teachers in the back of the room.

Perhaps receiving a failing grade for eavesdropping instead of working would set their mind right about that in the future.

Just an idea. What do you think?

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Career criminals

One of my extremely hyperactive, misbehaved, needy little boys asked me a very interesting question yesterday. So of course I gave him a very interesting answer right back.

He asked, "Mister Teacher, why do some people grow up to be bank robbers?"

I could hardly help but give the answer I did. "Well, A, those people just never learned to make good choices. It probably started with them making very bad choices in the third grade, like stealing pencils and lying to their teacher. Then they did things like that all the way through the rest of their school years. Which is why it's so important to start making good choices NOW, when you're still in the third grade."

He probably forgot that he had even asked me a question midway through my answer.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Lump, revisited

Well, as it was foretold, this was not an easy week with Lump. Here when I agreed to let him come to my classroom (yeah, like I actually had a choice in the matter), I figured it would just be a matter of overlooking the fact that he was doing absolutely nothing and maybe occasionally ignoring little things like ripping paper or muttering under his breath.

Nope, it's been much more of a roller coaster than that. After Monday, when he came to my room and sawed logs, I thought maybe he would be used to this new routine. But when Tuesday morning rolled around, he once again went down to Mrs. Math's room. I had to go down and get him again, though this time, he came without much resistance. He still didn't do any of the math work with us, but when we had our science time, he actually took the book out of his desk and opened it to the correct page. I saw that as a step in the right direction.

Tuesday after school, I was dropping my kids off at the bus (why does that sound like a euphemism?), and I passed Lump. He said, "Hi, Mister Teacher." I replied, "Hey, Lump!" I gave him a high five and asked, "Tomorrow, you're going to come to my room and do some work with us, right?" He nodded, so again I took that as a positive sign.

However, on Wednesday morning, he would not come to my room at all. I finally used breakfast as bait, telling him that he wouldn't get to eat unless he came to my room. That got him into my room quickly enough. He ate his breakfast, then he got up and walked back out of my room, taking up his usual sulking position in the hallway. I eventually had to call the assistant principal down, and when he wouldn't do what she asked him to, she sent him home.

Thursday, guess what happened??? If you guessed, Lump came into my room, sat down, and quietly participated in class -- you OBVIOUSLY haven't been paying attention, so go away! If, instead, you guessed, Lump refused to come into my classroom -- you're absolutely correct!

It's sort of like the movie Groundhog Day, only without any of the humor or snow.

The assistant principal was able to get Lump's mother on the phone, and when he talked to her, she was able to convince him to sit in my classroom.

Which brings us to today. This morning, Lump actually came into my room with the rest of my class and sat down at his desk!!!!! My jaw nearly hit the floor, but I picked it up quickly and greeted him warmly, trying to make the most of the moment.

Almost as soon as his butt touched the seat, he asked to use the bathroom. This is at roughly 7:50 in the morning. I told him kindly but firmly that he would need to wait until 8:50, which is our usual scheduled time. He didn't like that answer, so he got up, walked out of the room, and headed down towards the bathroom anyway. I followed him out into the hallway, pointed my wand at him, and yelled, "Petrificus Totalus!!"

Unfortunately, that had absolutely no effect. (Extreme fundamentalist Christians, take note -- Harry Potter does NOT in fact teach one how to cast spells.)

This time, I had phone numbers ready, and when Lump's mother didn't answer the phone, I was able to reach his grandmother. She didn't have quite the effect his mother had the day before though, and he would not come back to my room. At that point, I was faced with a decision. Spend my entire day trying to verbally coax one kid into my classroom so he can sit there and do nothing, or go back into my classroom and work with the 20 other kids who are doing what they're supposed to, more or less. I hope you'll forgive me if I seem callous or unteacherly, but I don't see that as a very difficult decision.

For the rest of the morning, Lump pretty much wandered up and down the hallway. Sometimes when I glanced out into the hallway, he was sitting in a chair across the hall from my room, and sometimes he wasn't. At some point, he pulled the borders off of one of my bulletin boards out in the hallway.

I'm such a glutton for punishment that I did go out in the hallway one other time this morning, when I saw him scooting himself down the hallway in his chair. I told him that he needed to stop and go back to the desk that was out there. He stared at the wall and said, "I'm not doing nothing!" I said, "You're scooting down the hall in a chair. You need to stop that and go back to the desk." Again, he said, "I'm not doing nothing!" Frustrated, I said, "You're not listening to what I'm saying to you." He replied, "It's because you're white."

Well. Isn't that special?

I got nothin'.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Que lastima!!

This week's Mr. Teacher column on may make you want to say Hey, watch your language! Since I work at a school with a very large percentage of Spanish-speakers, I have done a few things over the years to try to pick up a little bit of the ol' espanol.

Check it out, and I hope that those of you who speak Spanish much more fluently than I do don't hold anything against me!

Monday, April 14, 2008

His name is Lump

There is a kid in the third grade who is not new to my school but who came to my class for the first time today. He had been in another section, but things weren't working out for him so well over there. Perhaps it had to do with the fact that he would suddenly start screaming at the teacher for no reason, or that he would channel his inner Bobby Knight and throw chairs across the room. Whatever the reason, my colleague Mrs. Math (who just so happens to be petite AND pregnant) no longer felt safe with this kid in the room, so it was decreed that he would join my lovable group of misfits and ruffians.

I'm going go ahead and call him Lump, for reasons that will soon be obvious if they aren't already. Lump was supposed to be in my class last Friday morning, but he never came. It wasn't until much later in the day that I heard the whole story about what had been going on that morning.

Lump showed up in Mrs. Math's room on Friday morning, and she immediately told him that he needed to come to my room. He refused, instead deciding to loiter around the bulletin board in the hallway just outside of her classroom. Her partner, Lump's other teacher, also told him that he needed to get his butt over to my room, and he refused her as well.

In due course, Lump outright refused our behavior specialist, our head of special education, our assistant principal, our principal, and a DISD police officer. I think at one point, Chuck E. Cheese and Santa Claus even wandered through the hallway and asked him to go to my room, and he flipped them off as well.

The amazing part to me, though, is that this kid absolutely would not do what the school principal was telling him to do, and there were no consequences for him. He was allowed to just sit out in the hallway and pout. This really makes me wonder about what kind of recourse I have if he ever does anything nutty in my room.

Because he DID finally come to my room -- this morning. A little before eight, I stuck my head out into the hallway and saw him standing down by Mrs. Math's bulletin board again. He was pulling the border off of it. I went down to talk to him.

"Aren't you supposed to be in my room?" I asked him. He shook his head no. "Yeah, you are. You were supposed to be on Friday, also. You're certainly not supposed to be down here pulling apart this bulletin board that your teacher put so much effort into."

He kept pulling the bulletin board apart. I continued, "I really couldn't believe it when I heard that you wouldn't even do what the principal told you to do on Friday. You DO know that if you don't come to my room, you're going to alternative school, right? Is that really what you want?"

After hearing the story about last Friday, I highly doubt that he's on the fast track to alternative school (though that boggles my mind why he wouldn't be) -- but I figured it couldn't hurt to put the scare into him. Turns out, it worked. After talking to Lump, I left him and went to talk for a minute to another teacher. When I came back out of that classroom, Lump had thrown four more papers from the bulletin board onto the hallway floor, but he was making his way towards my classroom.

I thanked him for making a very good choice, I shook his hand, and I got him set up at his desk with a breakfast, milk, and juice. And for the rest of the day, I pretty much ignored him, as I had been instructed to do. He, in turn, lived up to his name of Lump. He did absolutely nothing. I made sure that he had his Problem of the Day spiral notebook and a brand-new pencil, but he certainly did not work on the problem. He just sat there like a lump, except for the 30 minutes or so when he fell asleep and snored loudly.

This is going to be a really fun final six weeks!!!!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Egads, I've been tagged!

Elementary History Teacher, over at History is Elementary (sounds redundant, but roll with me here folks) has tagged me for a book meme. Per her site, here are the rules:

1. Pick up the nearest book
2. Open to page 123
3. Find the fifth sentence
4. Post the next three sentences
5. Tag five people and acknowledge who tagged you.

I know it's going to seem like blatant self-promotion -- especially to Mike in Texas, who is always going nuts about how I am blatantly self-promoting myself -- but the book that I have sitting here closest to my computer is my own book, Learn Me Good!

So, turning to page 123 and reading the sixth, seventh, and eighth sentences, we have this:

I'm not really sure how the selections were made, though. Pinar, Rafael, and Xander are in TAG, and deservedly so. But Tereelia, Guadelupe, and Kari are not, and they most definitely should be.

Wow, taken out of context like that, those are some incredibly boring sentences! For the next couple of weeks, I'm still offering to send an e-mail copy of Learn Me Good to anyone who e-mails me requesting a copy. Trust me, it's much funnier than these three sentences would show!

Anyway, to continue the book meme, I'm going to tag some people that haven't written in a while but need to! Ed U Cator, Simply Sublime, Ms. Longhorn, Rookie Teacher, and The Smithie.

It's Gettin' Hot in Herrrrre

Ever since spring break, the air-conditioning in the third and fourth grade wings has not worked at my school. On some days, this has not been too much of a problem, if it's been relatively cool outside. But there have been a few days that have been downright sweltering, and we haven't even had a day above 90° yet. We all know they're coming though.

I have a thermometer in my classroom, and on a few occasions, it has read 78°. When I complained about it, I was told that I could roll up my sleeves and loosen my tie. Yeah, great advice! That's kind of like suggesting to someone who has chewed food in their mouth that they could swallow it.

Several times now over the past few weeks, maintenance men have been out to take a look, and they usually leave saying that nothing is wrong with the system. Clearly, these people are products of No Child Left Behind. If it's almost 80° inside a classroom, but the thermostat is set to 60°, it really doesn't take a mathematical genius to understand that something IS wrong with the system.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Call me Ishmael?

I've had an influx of new students over the past couple of weeks, but so far the best story to tell has to do with the one who showed up today.

Normally, when I post about kids here, I replace any and all names with the letter A. That just won't work for the purposes of this story, so I'll call this new boy Kevin. Kevin comes to us from a nearby school, and his arrival has been foretold for over a month. My partner, Miss Jenn Ed, had an ARD involving him last week, just so we could be prepared for his situation.

Several times, I've heard Kevin referred to as Kev by the teachers discussing him, so today, when I saw him in my line in the morning, I said, "Hi! You must be Kev!"

One of my other kids, A, immediately corrected me -- "Kevin!" So I asked the new kid, "What do you prefer to be called, Kevin or Kev?"

He mulled it over and told me, "Well, sometimes people call me Kevin, and some people call me Kev. But my real name is Bartholomew. My mom just likes how Kevin sounds."

Not once had I heard the name "Bartholomew" mentioned in any discussions about this kid, so I had my suspicions. I asked him, "What should I call you -- Kevin or Kev?"

He replied, "Bartholomew."

OK, we have a winner. For the next 10 minutes, I called him Bartholomew. "Bartholomew, do you have a pencil?" "Bartholomew, come and get a breakfast." "Did you do division at your old school, Bartholomew?"

At about quarter after eight, one of the special ed teachers dropped by to see how the new kid was doing. When I told her about the name change, her mouth dropped, and she took him out into the hallway to talk with him. A couple of minutes later, they came back into my classroom, and the little boy said to me with a sheepish grin, "You can call me Kev now."


If this happens again tomorrow, I might just make my own executive decision and start calling him the Hamburger.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Filled to capacity

This week's Mr. Teacher column on is all about my experiences with teaching liquid capacity to my kids a few weeks ago. Liters, milliliters, pints, quarts, etc, etc. I gave them assignment and got some pretty interesting results. Go check it out!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

March Monday Madness Winners!!

Ladies and gentlemen, kids of all ages!! The time has come to announce the winners of the March Monday Madness Contest!!!

So, without any further ado... let me pull some names out of the hat.

And the first winner is...

Ms. Longhorn!!!

And the second winner is...


Congratulations to both of you! Just send me an e-mail ( and let me know if you'd like a copy of my book, Learn Me Good, or a T-shirt from the Mr. Teacher Store.

Thank you to everyone else who participated. As a token of appreciation for your continued support, I'd like to make you an offer. Anyone who is interested in getting a copy of Learn Me Good E-MAILED to them, please just send me an e-mail saying that you'd like a copy and I'll e-mail you one.

A REALLY long post that has absolutely nothing to do with education

I'm back! Did you miss me?

For my dad's birthday last June (yes, June), I gave him a calendar with a couple of specific dates circled in the instructions to keep those dates clear. Ever since they announced that the Final Four would be in San Antonio this year, I had been trying to get tickets for us to go. One NCAA rejection and 2 eBay scam attempts later, I finally had tickets and we were set.

Saturday morning, my dad and I took off from his house and made the roughly 5-hour drive down to San Antonio. Once there, we wasted little time in dropping our stuff off at the hotel and making our way down to the Alamodome. If you've ever been to the Alamodome, then you know it's roughly the size of Arkansas. There is a curtain that cuts the floor of the dome in half, and the basketball court and most of the seats are on one side of that curtain. OUR seats, were on the OTHER side of the curtain.

This picture gives you a pretty good idea of what our "distant view" was like:

We slid over a few sections and tried to claim squatters' rights on some of the seats over there. That didn't work out so well for us. We kept getting bumped, over a few seats, then down a row, then down another. Pretty soon, there was no place for us to go, and people were giving us evil looks. So we went back over to our section where there were LOTS of seats available (go figure!), moved up a few rows so we could get a better view over the curtain, and settled in to watch the two games of the evening. Thankfully, I have a very powerful set of binoculars that made it seem like I was on the floor. (And the binoculars WERE trained on the action when the clock was running -- during all timeouts, they were trained on a certain redheaded Kansas cheerleader with very nice abs...).

First up was Memphis vs. UCLA. I had thought that Memphis was a poser all season long, but they handled UCLA pretty well. I was surprised to see UCLA go down so easily. Even bringing out their secret weapon, Lorenzo Mata (aka Seth Green) didn't seem to help much.

Separated at birth?

But then it was time for the game of the weekend. Kansas vs. North Carolina. As a Duke alum, I always root for ANYONE who's playing against Carolina. So I had my recently-purchased Kansas shirt on, and I was cheering full force for the Jayhawks.

Something I noticed -- there seems to be a little bit of bad blood between Kansas and Roy Williams. Maybe they're still bitter that he left Kansas to go coach at North Carolina. Maybe they felt like they had something to prove. Maybe they were hyped up on Red Bull. Whatever the reason, they came out and DEMOLISHED the Tar Heels in the first half. Can you say 40 to 12??? Of course, I think everyone knew that Carolina was going to come back, much like the sociopathic killer in a slasher flick. They actually did close it to four points once, but then Kansas ran away again.

When the Final Four was played in San Antonio in 1998, my dad and I went, and we got to see North Carolina get beaten by Stanford. So it occurs to me, I can take total credit for their demise. Any time the University of North Carolina plays in the Final Four in San Antonio, Texas -- if I am present, they will lose!

Monday night, championship game, Memphis vs. Kansas. At this point, I'm feeling like I did my undergraduate studies in Lawrence, as I have totally jumped on the Kansas bandwagon. Rock, Chalk, Jaywalk indeed!

I won't go into the game play-by-play, but I'm not exaggerating when I say that it was the greatest championship game in NCAA tournament history. Sure, I'm partial to the three championship games that my beloved Duke Blue Devils won, but none of them had a buzzer beater and five minutes of overtime. We really got more bang for our buck last night. Down three, with 4 seconds left in the game, Mario Chalmers of Kansas hit a shot that tied the game and sent it into OT. I was high fiving my dad, high fiving random stranger, high fiving empty seats behind me. It was AWESOME, baby!!

Today, I returned home, and tomorrow I have to report back to the school. March Madness is officially over for another year. Which means that the March Monday Madness Contest is officially over as well. Thank you to everyone who participated. I will draw the names of two winners later this evening and post them here.

In other totally random news, I have a bit of a Scooby Doo mystery on my hands. For the past couple of weeks, someone has been stealing my newspaper. If I go outside and bring it in before I leave my house at 6:30 in the morning, all is well. But if I DON'T get it in the morning, it's often not there in the evening when I get home. I've even done a little test where I looked out my window in the morning, saw it was there, and then found it missing that evening.
Today, when I got home, I should have had four papers (Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday). There were two out there. But the really strange part is this. Lying right in the middle of my yard, just a bit wet from a recent rain, was a twenty dollar bill. How freaking odd is that???

Maybe I should leave a sign out in my yard says, "GO BUY YOUR OWN PAPER!!!"

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Advice from 3rd graders -- stay away from conspiracy plots

This week's Mr. Teacher column on pretty much wrote itself. Last year, I gave my kids some creative writing prompts during the last week of school. One of them was asking for what advice they would give to next year's third graders. The column this week is a compilation of some of the best bits of advice that were gleaned.

Thankfully, none of the kids advised their successors to plot murder against me, or any other teacher for that matter. Unlike THESE third-graders, obviously. I read this and first thought that perhaps it was an April fools joke, but since it's showing up on CNN and Yahoo and other various sources, I'm going to take it at face value.

Just one more sign that our society is going to the University of North Carolina, err, I mean hell, in a hand basket. [That was for you, Chad] :)