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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Time for an update!

The in thing nowadays seems to be sending out a mass mailing with a personal update for the entire year, so I have officially jumped on the bandwagon and gotten with the program! Just in time for the year 2009, I present to you, friends, family, and random surfers:

The year 2008 in review -- Mister Teacher Style!

January -- The year 2008 began with a bang, as I watched a beaten, bloodied man single-handedly kill four criminals. Of course that's because we stopped Die Hard with a Vengeance at midnight to watch the ball drop and then finished the movie a few minutes later.

Texas's bizarre weather patterns held true to form in January as one morning saw us throwing snowballs at kids as they were dropped off at school, while the afternoon found us baking in 80° heat.

February -- On the 21st of this greatest of months, I turned the big 3-5. Par the course, I lost two toes, my waist increased 8 inches, and my kidneys fell out. That's normal, right?

On February 29 of this very special Leap Year, while using my Fisher-Price "My First Microscope," I discovered a new subatomic particle and named it the "Dude." Time to loosen up, Cal Tech nerds.

March -- As we bewore the Ides of March, my nephew Josh turned one and spoke his first word. We were all sitting around the TV, watching the March Madness tourney when Josh crawled over to the center of the room, pointed at the screen, and said, "Krzyzewski!" I love that kid.

March was the month I got rich, as I received e-mails informing me that I had won, in succession, the Irish National Lottery, the UK Lottery, AND pills to make part of me much larger! I have yet to actually see any money (or growth), but I remain an eternal optimist.

April -- During the first weekend of April, my dad and I drove down to San Antonio to attend the men's college basketball Final Four. Our seats were roughly a mile from the court; nevertheless, we were treated to the most beautiful sight of Kansas outrightly SPANKING the University of North Carolina. (Not to mention the beautiful sight of a certain redheaded cheerleader.) Kansas would go on to win the whole shebang -- in overtime no less -- so we really got the most for our ticket price.

Easter came, and with it the end of Lent. I had given up soft drinks, so after Mass on Easter Sunday, I drank approximately 10 gallons of Mountain Dew.

May -- On a particularly memorable Memorial Day, I wound up getting trapped in the bathroom at my parents' house! My nephew Ethan is the founding member of the local "Pee Pee Patrol," whose duties include waiting until someone is in the restroom and then banging on the door, rattling the doorknob, and shouting, "You Finished??" every three seconds.

On this special occasion, his efforts actually jammed the door shut, and I was locked in the bathroom for what seemed like six hours. I eventually wound up having to take the door off its hinges (with the aid of some tools passed to me under the door), but not before gnawing my elbows off from the hunger.

June -- In early June, a very long school year finally ended, and there was much rejoicing. As the final school bus rolled, some teachers were shooting off pistols into the air, while others loudly chanted, "NANANANA, NANANANA, HEYHEYHEY, GOODBYE!!"

A week later, I was a contestant on a brand new game show called Whatta Ya Think? a show combining memory skills, math reasoning, and logical deduction. Needless to say, I totally rocked the competition and won myself a year of free massages and vitamins. Unfortunately, this game show has yet to actually be televised, so no one can witness my mental domination.

My eyes remain on the ultimate goal. Jeopardy! You WILL be mine!!

July -- A very busy month! First, the family and I made a road trip to Destin, Florida to enjoy the sandy beaches, cool water, and orange Speedos. A few days after returning from Florida, I flew out to California with a buddy to attend San Diego's Comic-Con 2008. That was a lot of fun, as we got to see Stan Lee, the cast of Heroes, and about 25 Princess Leias in gold bikinis.

In the midst of all this chaos, I tried a new shampoo, and the right side tingled. That means it's working!

August -- In August, the unheard of was actually heard of! I met a good-looking girl my age at a staff development workshop! Well, the workshop was actually at the end of July, but we started dating in August. As I write this, it's almost January, and we're still going strong. I have yet to find the chance to sit her down and force her to watch any of the Star Wars movies, but the day will come. Watch them intently, she shall.

At the end of the month, the new school year began. I was pleasantly surprised to find myself with two classes of only 12 students each. Good thing, since my new classroom is roughly the size of an airport men's room (but smells slightly better).

September -- In August, fresh off my return from Comic-Con and facing an imminent return to academia, I decided to combine the two. The result was a YouTube video titled, "Darth Vader Explains the Pythagorean Theorem." In September, a writer at the online version of The London Times got a whiff of my project and began spreading the word around her tiny island. Almost overnight, the video went from 300 views to 30,000 views.

With results like that, I am almost forced to continue the streak with videos such as, "Han Solo Demonstrates a Fourier Transform" and, "Boba Fett Discusses Unified String Theory."

October -- October proved to be a crazy month as my employer, DISD, empirically showed the value of having a math education, or rather the consequences of NOT having one. Turns out, they had hired 700-some new teachers but neglected to include 700-some new salaries in the budget. Low and behold, they found themselves over $40 million in the hole! Their solution? Why, fire teachers, of course!

Thankfully, I survived the layoffs, but eight weeks into the school year, I found myself in a new class, with 41 new kids (including three who don't speak English), a new partner, and a new subject to teach. At least I didn't get moved to kindergarten! (It's not a tumor!)

This month also saw the one-year mile-marker for me as a columnist for As a special surprise honor to commemorate the event, I treated myself to a Slurpee. Cherry!

November -- In November, my nephew Ethan turned four, and we were all invited to his themed birthday party. Adding the honorific, "Indiana Jones" to his name now brings it to, "Ethan Steele Pearson Spiderman Indiana Jones." Good luck, future teachers.

We opted not to do the Turkey Trot 5K this year, instead preferring to participate in the Turkey Sleep-in of '08. It was an overwhelming success.

November was a very good month for my book, Learn Me Good, as it sold 30 copies online and 40 or so copies off-line! We're still not as successful as Everybody Poops, but we're getting there!

December -- After having just been there in September, Mom and Dad got the urge to go back to Disney World and take the whole family. So I took three days off from school on the week before Christmas break, claiming temporary leprosy, and I went to the Happiest Place on Earth!

My two nephews had a blast meeting the costumed characters, and we had a blast watching their reactions. But I think we all know who the Little Mermaid was REALLY winking at.

Later in the month, we followed the usual -- the wildly popular Christmas movie marathon, a rousing midnight Mass (still at midnight!), and waking up Christmas afternoon to greet the day.

And that brings us up to speed! 2009 is right around the corner, with new adventures and experiences awaiting all of us!

Happy New Year to everyone!

Remember Zork?

If you do remember Zork, check out this ebay page and pass it on to anyone else you think might have an interest.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Wanna write for me?

Can you believe 2008 is almost over? It seems like only yesterday that I was drinking champagne at midnight and changing the calendar. Oh yeah, that WAS yesterday.

But hey, in just a couple more days, we'll be doing it again, and this time with good reason!!

Since it will be January 2009 in just a few short days, I thought I'd lay out the invitation for an idea I'd like to try. I would like for January 2009 to be a month of guest blogging from FoLMeGs (Friends of Learn Me Good). I'm not trying to be lazy here, letting other people do the work for me. I'll still write my own posts from time to time. But I think it would be a neat way to let people read other writers' material as well as having other blogs link here to see the original author's posts.

Joel of So You Want to Teach? has already sent in a great post that I will be running during the first week of January, is anyone else interested? If so, please just drop me an email -- and let me know that you want to do it, pick a date if you have a specific one in mind, and if you already have a post in mind, sent it too. Otherwise, you can send it to me as your date approaches.

I hope that everyone who is a "regular" reader of Learn Me Good will take up the challenge, but I also hope that new readers or people who have stumbled onto this site will contribute as well. I look forward to the flood of emails starting...


Friday, December 26, 2008

Warm holiday wishes

After gorging myself with meats and sweets for the past 3 days, I have returned to my own home today, and believe it or not, it's 80 degrees outside! On the day after Christmas! This is of course after it was in the mid-twenties last Tuesday...

Nutty Texas weather.

This week's Mr. Teacher column on was again Christmas-themed, as it fell right on the holiday. It is titled, "New Holiday Classics." Enjoy my rewriting of a few favorite Christmas carols.

I hope everyone got what they wanted for Christmas.

Monday, December 22, 2008

It's the best Christmas gift EVER, Charlie Brown!!

On Friday, one of my kids presented me with a Christmas gift. It was very festively wrapped in green and red paper, with a sweet little note attached that wished me a happy holiday and thanked me for teaching.

I unwrapped the gift and found a blue and white box that said, "Albuterol Sulfate Inhalation Solution, 0.083% -- For oral inhalation only."

Wow, somebody got me an asthma inhaler! SCORE!!! :)

Of course, (thankfully) they had only used the box as a carrier for the true gift, which turned out to be a bottle of Guess cologne.

Merry Christmas, everyone!!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Reason 7 to learn how to spell

Last night, one of my friends called and said he had an extra ticket to see the Cowboys-Ravens game. Since I hadn't seen my friends in a while, AND since I hadn't been to a Cowboys game in forever, AND since this was the very last Cowboys game ever to be played in Texas Stadium, I jumped at the chance to go.

I had a great time with my friends, we froze our butts off (high 30s outside), and the Cowboys let everyone down by losing miserably to the Ravens. But the real fun began afterwards.

We left a little early to avoid the rush, and we stopped at a restaraunt to get a bite to eat. We decided to sit in the bar area so we could see what was going on in the sporting world while we ate and talked.

Since it was the last game at Texas Stadium, there was a long ceremony going on after the game, with lots and lots of old Cowboys players and coaches and a lot of nostalgia. Well, the bar had close captioning turned on, and whoever was running the teletype machine was either drunk or Indian.

When the announcer talked about the great Mohammed Ali, it came up on the screen as "Mohammed Alley." The legendary coach Tom Landry was typed as "Tom Lan Dri." Emmitt Smith became "Em Met."

Some of the funniest were "Deks Ter Copely," "Jay Noef Chek," and "Rockyish Mel." (Dexter Coakley, Jay Novecek, and Rocket Ismail)

But the funniest of all was when the announcer started talking about the Cowboy's rusher of the 90s, Tony Dorsett, and he came up on the screen as "Tony Doorstep."

The Cowboys may have lost the game, but the evening sure had its entertainment.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Back and tired!

Home, home at last! Did anybody miss me?

Yes, I've been on vacation since Sunday; my family and I went to lovely Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. As you might expect, we had a complete blast, but getting up every morning at 7 and being in the parks from 9 to almost midnight makes me need a vacation from my vacation!!

Thankfully, I only had to come back and go to school two more days (tomorrow being the second) before a nice long two week break!!! YEAH!!!

This week's Mr. Teacher column on is titled, "Happy Holidays! Keep Studying!" It is a few tips for parents to keep their kids' brains from leaking information over the break. Check it out!!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Get your vote on!

Ladies and gentlemen, presented for your approval, I would like to direct your attention to the ongoing voting for the 2008 Edublog Awards, where a couple of FOLMeGs (Friends Of Learn Me Good, I just thought of that. Again, I'm a genius) are on the ballot and worthy of selection.

First up, in the category of Best Teacher Blog is Carol from Bellringers!! Carol is a journalism teacher in the great state of Texas, and her postings are always witty, zany, and well-delivered.

Carol also has been writing a book, which will be coming out sometime early next year. Please go and read her stuff, and then go and vote for her for Best Teacher Blog 2008!

The second person on our list today is also a journalism teacher -- The Scholastic Scribe! The Scribe is up for the Best Individual Blog award.

The Scribe is a Very Prolific Writer, and she Loves her Capitalization, I've Noticed! :) Check out her stuff, and then place your vote!!

Behold the human calculator

I am smart. I mean REALLY smart. We're talking Earth-shattering GENIUS here!

Well, at least according to my kids.

The other day, I had picked my class up from art where Anonymous Joe was waiting at the door. I reminded them that they should thank him for getting them all copies of a multiplication song CD.

The kids thanked him and then started saying their 3s, with AJ singing right along.

3,6,9,12,15,18,21,24,27, 30.

By then, I was walking the kids down the hallway, and I added, "And don't forget 33 and 36!" since we learn the tables through 12 times, even though the songs stop at 10 times the number.

One of the little boys in line said, "Mister Teacher, do you know 3 times one million?"

I said, "Yes, it's 3 million."

About 5 kids in the line gave an awed, "WHOAAAAA" -- the same sound uttered by a crowded stadium when Lebron James jumps from the 3-point line and delivers a tomahawk dunk.

Another child asked, "Do you know SIX times one million??"

I replied, "But of course -- 6 million!"

By now there were murmerings in the line that I might be the second coming.

Another boy tested me, "Mister Teacher, do you know what is four. . . plus. . . three?"

"Um, seven."

"Oh yeah!!" said the boy, with a beatific smile on his face, as if I had just told him the meaning of life.

Genius. I like the sound of that.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Sure enough, it's a full moon

Today was just one of those crazy days. One of those days where the kids got on my nerves, and where I wanted to throw my book across the room and scream, "ARE YOU KIDDING ME????" after every ridiculous answer. One of those days where I could actually count my blood pressure points rising, one by one, as I sat and stubbornly waited for a little girl to read the number 13,000 (took her about 5 minutes).

And that's not even counting the "groin" story!

After I had dropped my kids off at PE, I walked up to the office to check my box. As I passed the cafeteria, where all of the kindergarten kids were filing in to have their lunch, I heard a sudden wailing. In the space of one footstep, I held a mighty internal debate:

Do I stop and render assistance?

No, it's kindergarten, let them handle it, don't get involved.

Well, you've already looked at the scene of the crime, you shouldn't just walk past.

Oh hey, it's the little kid who sneezed and blew himself down in the bathroom, I wonder why he continues to scream like someone's attached electrodes to his tongue?

In the end, I applied the "Good Samaritan" law (you can't witness an accident and drive on past without checking on the situation), and I went over to see what was going on. I asked what happened, and one little boy calmly told me that the boy on the ground had hit him.

Yeah, that's usually the response when you hit someone, you keel over and scream incessantly. After a few minutes of interrogation, I discovered that the boy on the ground had hit the other boy in the butt, so THAT boy turned around and kicked the little kid in the junk. Hard, judging by his screams.

So glad I don't teach kindergarten.

By the way, this week's Mr. Teacher column is up at, and it's titled, "Stay Away from the Nog!" Just a few tips to keep your reputation intact during the company Christmas party.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


A couple of weeks ago, I was looking for blogs that reviewed books, and I came across a site called Reading Adventures. Marg, the author, was promoting an Advent Blog Tour, sort of along the lines of the Carnival of Education (this week's edition is currently running at Mamacita's place, by the way).

Every day, Marg posts links to a blog where the author shares a Christmas memory or tradition. Well, I'm just full of it -- tradition, that is -- so I promptly signed up for December 11th.

And here we are. I've read a couple of other stops on the Advent Blog Tour, so I know I won't be the first to talk about Christmas movies, but that is my family's major Christmas tradition. Every year, on December 23rd (which I call Christmas Eve Eve, but my sister-in-law insists on calling Christmas Adam), we have our family Christmas movie marathon.

Beginning around 5, we screen movie after movie after movie, until everyone decides it's just time to crash and go home. This usually happens around 4 or 5 in the morning, though people doze throughout the evening.

It's a Wonderful Life is always run during dinner, because we all know it by heart and there's really no reason to have to SEE Zuzu's petals or Clarence jumping into the river.

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation and Bill Murray's Scrooged are ALWAYS shown, but the other movies rotate in and out from year to year. We've watched all the incarnations of A Christmas Carol, all 3 Santa Clauses, Jingle All the Way, The Preacher's Wife, Elf, Serendipity, A Christmas Story, Deck the Halls, Christmas with the Cranks, The Holiday, The Family Man, and many others I've forgotten over the years.

I think we put up Trading Places one year, but once we remembered that there is a lot of language and a few boobs (and there are several little kids at movie night), we decided to save that one for another evening.

As a tradition-within-a-tradition, my brother and I used to wait until most of the others had fallen asleep, usually around 3AM, and then put Die Hard into the VCR. After all, it IS a Christmas party at Nakatomi Tower!

I want to thank Marg for letting me part of the Advent Blog Tour, and thanks to everyone stopping by to read!

Monday, December 08, 2008

I hate it when that happens

Hey, I'm just brainstorming here, but I've come up with a list of things that you should try really really hard never to poke yourself in the eye with:
A pencil
Your elbow
A GI Joe action figure
A Slurpee straw
A lit cigarette
The top of a Christmas tree

Oh, and here's one... You know those pieces of wire that hold spiral notebooks together? You know how they can sometimes be manipulated by kids so that about 3 inches of the wire is protruding out the bottom hole of the spiral notebook? You know how you always tell the kids to be careful when that happens, and you usually loop it under another spiral or cut it off?

Well, I got a text from my girlfriend today that a kid at her school had gotten the wire from a spiral notebook stuck in his eye, and that the notebook was still attached!

I had visions of this wire going directly from the notebook to the center of some kids' pupil in the middle of his eyeball. YUCK!!

Later, she said that the wire had gotten stuck in the skin BELOW the eyeball, which is not quite as bad, but still pretty disgusting.

I'm still very curious as to how exactly something like this could happen. If the kid stooped over, peering into his desk, looking for the spiral, and it suddenly came to life and jumped out at him, protecting itself with the end of its spiral wire, then ok, I could see that. But otherwise, I got nothin.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Word Problem mania

Happy weekend, people! I don't know about everyone's schedule across the nation, but I think it's safe to say most of us only have TWO more weeks of school before a nice long Christmas break! And for yours truly, it's only ONE more week before I get to take a nice long trip to Disney World with the family, and then only TWO more DAYS when I get back!!! As Mickey Mouse would say, "YIPPPEEEE!"

In other news worth of a "YIPPPEEEE!!" Learn Me Good has passed the 100,000 mark! This happened sometime about 2 days ago, thanks to majorly increased traffic from the Christmas Carnival! What can I say, I'm a numbers guy, so this is exciting to me.

This week's Mr. Teacher column on is titled, "No More Field Trips," and it is a bit of a lament, seeing as how we were told at the beginning of the year that there was no money to pay for buses to take us anywhere. We're going to have a few people come to us, though, so all is not as Dickensian as it may seem...

A question for everyone reading this: Have you ever read Joel's blog -- So You Want to Teach? If so, you know what an incredibly insightful look at the teaching profession it is. Joel is a music teacher in South Texas, and (unlike SOME people attached to my head) his posts are not just feeble attempts to garner laughter, but rather deeply thoughtful musings about ways teachers can improve themselves, things to destress, and strategies to be more effective with kids and colleagues.

Currently, Joel seems to be concerned that his blog has shown up on some "marketing" searches, but I think that anybody who reads it on a regular basis (which I certainly do) knows where the meat of the matter is. The guy's really good. If you have NOT ever read So You Want to Teach? for whatever reason, stop what you are doing and go peruse the archives! You'll enjoy it, I guarantee!

Another great blogger, the Educat (she's ramblin! and quite possibly gamblin!) has tagged me with a meme she made up herself. I don't particularly enjoy memes (especially having to tag other people, as I always feel like I'm passing on a chain letter), but since the Educat broke her own rule not to meme I feel I can do the same for her.

Her meme is called Seven Posts about the Same Topic. Her directions are as follows:

Find old entries on your blog that center around the same topic and give us the links to them. We'll get to know your back catalog and your hits will shoot up (even if it's false inflation and only for a short time).

She chose the topic of State Testing. I probably have at least 7 posts about that topic as well (including one of my favorites, with the Six Flags height stick analogy here), but I think I'll choose a different topic.

My topic will be WORD PROBLEMS!! (I am, after all, a math teacher)

We'll start with the most recent example, which was relayed to me by another teacher at the school. That of a word problem which showed up written on the inside of a playground slide. When she first told me there was some grafitti I was a bit worried, but as long as all the computation is shown, I'm ok.

Next is a selection from last year, where I was big into suggesting the my students make the problems relative to their own lives. Who cares if Larry bought 14 cupcakes! Let's say YOU bought 14 cupcakes! Or someone you KNOW bought 14 cupcakes! My kids worked one of my teaching buddies into a problem with great results.

A short post here, where one of our math tutors came and told me about a rather frugal comment made to her by one of my kids.

Here's a post about some creative thinking from one of my new kids when it came to a word problem where the answer seemed mathematically obvious. Way to think outside the box!

Almost 2 years ago, I thought I had discovered that the 4 Gospel writers might very well have been poor math students.

Here's one from way back when, from a time I had my kids write their own word problems and share them with the class. Some were good, some not so much.

And to wrap things up, here's an idea I had for a brand new game show called Are You More Cynical Than a 3rd Grade Teacher? Word problems of a different sort.

OK, I think that's 7! Now comes the crappy part of memes, when I need to tag other people to continue the wave. I think I'll start with my "ghosts" from the recent Scrooge Carnival and tag:

Elementary History Teacher
Mrs. Bluebird

PS Don't forget to sign my guestbook at the bottom of the page!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

A Christmas Carnival

Hello everyone, and welcome to the 200th edition of the Carnival of Education! I am very honored to be hosting this round number of honored tradition, so I thought I would add a bit of holiday tradition to the festivities.

So without any further ado, I present A Blogger Carol:

It was a cold, bleak day in the classroom. The kids had gone home for Christmas vacation; Mister Teacher was, as usual, in a crotchety mood.

Suddenly, Mathew Needleman poked his head in through the door.

Mathew: “Merry Christmas, Mister Teacher!”

Mister Teacher: “What’s so merry about it? Merry for the kids, sure, they get to sleep and eat for two weeks, leaving us with papers to grade, lessons to plan, and – yuck – used Kleenex to fish out of their desks!”

Mathew: “Aw, don’t be such a scrooge. You know what would cheer you up? For one thing, how about adding some spice to your math class by using fantasy basketball stats like Mr. D does? And here’s an idea -- come have Christmas dinner with us this year! We’ll be celebrating Clix’s proposal which has qualified for a match by the Gates Foundation! We’ll even put ketchup on the table, just for you! It’ll be good for you! You can’t just sit at home on the internet again like last year. The Therapy Doc has a very interesting point of view about the vulnerability of bloggers.”

Mister Teacher: “Hmmm… Let me think about it. I’ll send you a text.”

Mathew: “OK, I’ll get… oh, you’re texting me now. All right, ok, I got it, let’s see here… 1 new message from Mister Teacher: ‘Bah Humbug.’ Very clever. See you in January, then. One more thing, though. You really should think about changing your classroom rules. They’re all so negative!”

Mister Teacher locked the classroom door and drove home, muttering all the way. Upon entering his house, he promptly sat down in front of his computer and logged in to As always, he was the only user online.

Suddenly, a loud wailing began emanating from the computer speakers. “EBENEACHER!! EBENEACHER!!!”

Slowly removing his hands from his ears and prying open his eyes, Mister Teacher beheld a wonderous sight. Poking out of his computer monitor was the entire head of Joel from So You Want to Teach?

Mister Teacher: “Joel!! My old partner!! But, but, you’re…”

Joel: “Dead?”

Mister Teacher: “Archived. How are you doing this? And why are you wearing that ridiculous scarf around your head?”

Joel: “Oh, that’s just my spooky avatar. Would you prefer it if I looked like Heather Locklear?”

Mister Teacher: “ Well, duh!”

Joel: “Get used to disappointment. And speaking of, I’m very disappointed in you, Ebeneacher!”

Mister Teacher: “Why do you keep calling me ‘Ebeneacher?’”

Joel: “Ebeneezer, Mister Teacher… Roll with me here. I’m working on a theme. Anyway, have you learned nothing from what happened to me??”

Mister Teacher: “What are you talking about? You were a legend in the teaching field! You made thousands from all the books on differentiated learning! You charged schools loads of money for public speaking appearances! You went unchallenged on everything you said, much like NYCEducator’s girl, DC Chancellor Michelle Rhee! You had the greatest business going!”

Joel: “MANKIND should have been my business!!”

Mister Teacher: “Um, ooooo-kay… I don’t even know what that means.”

Joel: “Me neither. (And by the way, over at the Core Knowledge Blog, they’re a little scared of Michelle Rhee, also.) But I don’t want you to go down the same path and wind up trapped in cyberspace, like me. Good will takes practice and repetition, much like learning a new musical instrument, according to Thomas J West!”

Mister Teacher: “Practice and repetition, eh? As I recall, you were never much on homework, even though you always said you agreed with Bogusia of Nucleus Learning on the purpose of homework!

Joel: “Only one of MANY mistakes before my untimely demise! I should have read rambunctiously, like Mr. McGuire suggests! I should have made a 2 year commitment! But enough about my missteps. I’m doing you a favor here, Ebeneacher. I’ve arranged for you to be visited by three Bloggers.”

Mister Teacher: “3 bloggers? I dunno, I’m kind of busy. Can’t they just add me as Facebook buddies?”

Joel: “Heed their words, Ebeneacher!! Or be forever DOOMED!!”

With that, the 3-D avatar faded from the screen and Mister Teacher found himself staring at a screen full of headlines.

Mister Teacher: “What a drama queen. OK, I’ll bite. Let’s see here, Joel hasn’t lost his predilection for lists. Here’s a link to Larry Ferlazzo’s choice for the 5 “Best” articles about education from this year, and One Family Blog presents a list of elementary school guides, workbooks, and assessment resources.

Lauren from Life Without School wonders if children are becoming too compliant in school.

Rightwingprof gives proof that it doesn’t really matter whether you are a syntax guy or a phonology gal, you’ll arrive at the same answer through analysis.”

Exhausted from the first semester of school and the events of the evening, Mister Teacher fell asleep in front of his computer. He awoke to a persistent ‘ding’ coming from the speakers. Rubbing his eyes, he noticed an urgent message on the screen:

“The Blogger of Christmas Past would like to chat. Do you accept?”

Feeling a bit uneasy, Mister Teacher clicked, “No,” and the message box disappeared.
Mister Teacher: “Blogger of Christmas Past, my a—“

ElementaryHistoryTeacher: “I really think we SHOULD chat, Ebeneacher.”

Mister Teacher: “Holy crap!! How did you get in here??”

EHT: “Not important, silly. And I suppose you know that I am the Blogger of Christmas Past?”

Mister Teacher: “Well, I suppose that’s fitting, and it would explain the A-Team T-shirt and the afro-mullet. What’s with the old Atari joystick?”

EHT: “This icon of the past will be our guide on the information superhighway. You look doubtful, but you of all people should know that stories of historical fact and stories of fiction sometimes complement each other quite well.”

ElementaryHistoryTeacher began to work the joystick, and suddenly a new page appeared on the monitor.

EHT: “Ah, here’s dear old Toni from Wifely Steps. Poor girl.”

Mister Teacher: “What is she doing, Spirit?”

EHT: “Why hiding, of course. In her childhood awkwardness, she used to take solace among books instead of friends.”

Mister Teacher: “Well maybe she could hook up with Amy from Kids Love Learning who seems to be embracing books about ancient Egypt.”

EHT: “We have a lot to cover, Ebeneacher, and not a lot of time. Moving on, we find Greg Laden, who says that using race to classify people belongs in the past and that some new means of description is called for.

Here’s Tracy from Leading from the Heart sharing some stories from one typical day as a teacher in her past.

Mister Teacher: “Well, this is all interesting, but I don’t think – hey! Where did you go?”

The blogger had indeed disappeared, leaving Mister Teacher to wonder if it had all been a dream. His thoughts were interrupted by a voice declaring, “You’ve got mail!” Thinking it a very odd thing to hear, since he was not an AOL subscriber, nevertheless, Mister Teacher opened his inbox and clicked on the new message.

Mrs. Bluebird: “Hello, Ebeneacher!”

Mister Teacher: “Oh, you didn’t scare me as much this time. Who are you supposed to be?”

Mrs. Bluebird: “Why, the Blogger of Christmas Present, of course. And have I got some presents for you! Starting with this anecdote from my own site about a teacher at my school who really is making a difference with our basketball team!

Mister Teacher: “Two points for him. Now I see you’ve called up ESN’s comparison of CSI – real life vs television drama. I’ve often wondered how a real life Counter Terrorism Unit would compare to the wrecking ball that is Jack Bauer.”

Mrs. Bluebird: “Ebeneacher, just think of all the good you could do in your classroom if you knew more about Powerpoint. Take a few tips from Cliotech. And if you want to find great ideas for lessons, try a few of these semantic apps from Alisa Miller!”

Mister Teacher: “What’s this one here? Paul at Scripted Spontaneity is talking about the perfect substitute teacher? I can’t afford to take time off and let a sub have my pay check!!”

Mrs. Bluebird: “Here we are with Travis from Stories from School. He’s looking into how to take down a school system – tongue in cheek, of course.”

Mister Teacher: “Oh great blogger, I am glad I am not working in New York, forced to deal with the situation some tenured educators find themselves in, according to Woodlass!”

Mrs. Bluebird: “Many teachers and education folk across the land are gravely concerned about the situation they find themselves in. Norm Scott argues that teachers are not professionals, as professionals have some control over their professions.”

Mister Teacher: “Well that’s why they need unions, though, like Matt Johnston points out, unions don’t always speak in the best interest of the children.

Mamacita: “Well, that’s just common sense. Something that seems to be lacking in many of our institutions of finer learning.”

Mister Teacher: “Ms. Cornelius brings up something that doesn’t seem to be lacking – cheating. Hey wait a minute, Mrs. Bluebird, why do you look different?”

Mamacita: “Blogger is experiencing technical difficulties. Please pardon our progress. I’m still the Blogger of Christmas Present.”

Mister Teacher: “Ah, life’s a glitch, and then you die. OK, but look here. Surely there aren’t so many online students nowadays making so many critical mistakes!”

Mamacita: “There ARE, Ebeneacher. According to Darren, though, someone who is NOT making a mistake is the Obamas, in sending their children to private school.

Mister Teacher: “Hey, why is Penny talking about the end of the school year already??”

Mamacita: “Because she’s in Australia, where Christmas time IS the end of the school year! Heed her words about Christmas activities in the classroom!”

Mister Teacher: “Spirit, I almost feel my heart beginning to relent. But how could an old miser like myself ever learn to do something fun like Christina’s Teach In?”

Mamacita: “Ebeneacher, you are indeed making progress this eve. Uh-oh. Being spammed! I’m outta here!”

Suddenly pop-up windows filled the monitor and a low, ominous chuckle issued from the speakers. Mister Teacher’s blood ran cold with dread of this last and final spirit.

Mister Teacher: “I feel so depressed all of a sudden! Is this the Blogger of Christmas Future? Spamming and pop-ups? Here’s one for penny stocks and one for growing my… ok, here’s one of interest:

This doesn’t sound so bad. iPhones in every classroom? Educators better take note of all of the apps available to them, thanks to the Online Education Database!

Matthew Ladner guest posts on Jay Greene’s blog about the cost differential per student between UT Austin and a DC school with poor scores. This stands only to get worse as time goes by!

Dave wonders if some working teachers in Texas will just continue to take (and fail) their certification tests over, and over, and over, and over.

I don’t need hair growth therapy, thank you very much, but here’s one where Lori-Giovinco-Harte wonders if children are losing their empathy the more they use the internet?

This one has Joanne Jacobs’ name on it – is Thanksgiving no longer to be celebrated in the future?

OH NO!! Is this an omen of the future, or something I have time to change?? Carol of MyBellringers has been fired and incarcerated after putting into practice her new methods of hall clearing and discipline!!

Mister Teacher awakened to find himself frantically pounding on the keyboard and shouting, “I want to teach! I want to teach!!”

Mister Teacher: “HALLELUJAH!! It’s Christmas Day and I’m back in the real world! And, what’s this? Step by step instructions for making beautiful learning centers tags?? Thank you, Michaele, and God bless us everyone!!!”

As Mister Teacher reveled in his newfound compassion, Old Andrew’s voice slowly floated from the speakers:

Old Andrew: “Congratulations, Ebeneacher, you have avoided the consequences awaiting you, though just to be clear, here are the purposes of punishment. Also just to be clear – I KNEW Charles Dickens, and you, sir, are no Charles Dickens.”

Next week's Carnival will be hosted by the one, the only, Mamacita! Do you know her? Send her an email or use this handy submission form. And links to this week's carnival and Learn Me Good are greatly appreciated!!

Does dark have a short a?

What a crazy day! First, our otherwise sublime morning duty was marred by a former customer who, when Anonymous Joe told her NOT to walk out into the middle of traffic and gum up the works, told him to, "Shut up and go back to your job."

When I came back inside, I was informed that my colleague was out and so I would have to split up her class among the other 3rd grade teachers. Once again, I had 25 kids in a room with 21 desks-- always fun!

Then, around 11:30, the school lost power. I was right in the middle of a (very interesting) sentence about pictographs when the lights flickered, there was a strange alien sound outside, and the room was plunged into darkness. Thankfully, it was a relatively sunny day outside, so opening a few blinds provided us with enough light to continue our learning experiences.

As a result of the power outage, we had to go to lunch about 15 minutes earlier than usual or run the risk of the food being cold.

The power finally came back on around 2:40, but only to half of the school. I don't mean that half the rooms had light while the other half did not. Half of the lights in EACH room came back on, while the other half in EACH room stayed dark. Curiouser and curiouser.

Nevertheless, it was a pretty fun day. The kids enjoyed making their pictographs, but the most fun came when we started a language activity. I gave them each a piece of paper, which they then folded into a booklet. This was the "short a" book. Over the course of the week, they are to write down any word that they see, hear, or think of that has a short a.

To get them started, we talked about the sound a short a makes. It's basically the same sound I would make if I stepped on a hot coal. I introduced several short words, stretching the phonetics out each time.

"Cat -- Kuhh-aaaaaaa-tuhh"

"Man -- Muhh-aaaaaaa-nuhh"

The kids picked up and this and started stretching words out with me. And for the rest of the day, I couldn't help myself from stretching out words as they came to me, like a sheep turned teacher.

"OK, cl-aaaaaaaa-ss, take out your pl-aaaaaaaa-nner for your m-aaaaaaaa-th homework."

During my morning class, one of my sweet little girls called me over and asked, "What about ass?"

"Excuse me?"

"Ass!" (while the other 4 kids at the table looked on expectantly)

She continued, "You know, like cool AS ice?"


Monday, December 01, 2008

If you don't know Mamacita, where you been?

As you may have come to expect from me by now, I am shamelessly plugging something again today, but this time it's not myself or my book! Mamacita, who writes Scheiss Weekly, and is virtually the "Godmother" of blogging -- without the mumbling or the family-revenge-related mob hits -- has agreed to do a sort of December crossover with me where we talk each other up like there was no tomorrow.

So, without further ado...

When you hear someone called Mamacita, you instantly think wow, that person must be really cool, really laid back, and really stylish. (At least, that's what I think when I hear that.) Madam Scheiss certainly lives up to that. Her blog is a riot to read, she's personable (heck, she's even on my Facebook friends list!), and she knows what she's talking about when it comes to teaching! On top of that, she is what you would call a professional blogger as she writes for EcoSmart Plastics, One by One Media, and Steve Spangler Science, among others!

In addition to all of that sweet, chewy, bloggy goodness, she also is an online entrepreneur! If you're looking for something homemade to get your loved ones this Christmas, just check out the fireplace stocking at Mamacita's Etsy store!

I know that many people who happen by Learn Me Good are probably already readers of Scheiss Weekly, but if you've never checked it out, or if you haven't stopped by in a while, I hope that you will do yourself a favor and take a look.

You can thank me later.