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Monday, June 28, 2010

For the next 2 weeks...

Hey everyone,

As some of you may know, I am getting married on July 2nd, and so I thought that while I was occupied with everything surrounding that and while gone on my honeymoon, I would have a little promotion with Learn Me Good.

In true Velveta Cheese fashion, I'm calling it "Happily Wed (and Read) Ever After."

Starting June 28th, and going through July 12th, I am lowering the Kindle price of Learn Me Good to 99 cents. I would drop the price completely to zero, but Amazon won't let me do that.

In addition, a new publishing source has allowed me to reprice the paperback edition of Learn Me Good at $11.99 (down from $16), and that is officially in effect!

So during these 2 weeks, I am asking everyone who is willing, able, or just plain bored to please see if you can do one or more of the following things (consider it a wedding gift!):

Buy a copy of Learn Me Good – print OR Kindle
Post a review on Amazon
Go down to the Tags section at Amazon and click the boxes next to Humor, Teaching, and Education
Become a fan of Learn Me Good on Facebook
Tell at least one friend about Learn Me Good

If you have done any of these things already, I thank you immensely!!

And since I'll pretty much be out of pocket for those 2 weeks, I want to thank in advance everyone who takes part in the Happily Wed (and Read) Ever After celebration!!!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

You have made a difference

Got an email the other day from Brian Asselin, who pointed me at the Youtube video for his teacher-friendly song. I took a lesson and am happy to pass this on.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Always lesson planning

Lest anyone think that my summer time table has made me a useless bum of a layabout, I would like to, in my defense, offer up some small proof that educating our nation's youth IS still a top priority on my mind.

Here are a few cases in point, wherein I am mentally planning lessons already for next year.

Capacity -- As I float casually in my condo's swimming pool, I ponder how the pool itself is a container, holding gallons (or, if you prefer, Liters) of water. How can I get the kids to remember that a swimming pool would not best be measured in cups or pints?

Elapsed Time -- This is a simple morning bell ringer. Mister Teacher goes to bed at 1:30 and gets up at 12:15. How long did he sleep? Bonus: How long will Mister Teacher be out of bed until his nap at 2:20?

Multiplication -- Going to Happy Hour with friends and enjoying a few adult beverages is not ALL about having a good time. There is preparation going on there as well. Especially if each new drink that I order has the same number of ice cubes in it or costs the same amount of money. Upper grade teachers, you can use this example to have your kids calculate a tip for the server.

Making predictions -- A great example is "What time will the mailman come today?" And "How many bills vs magazines do I think will be in today's mail?"

So you see, it's not ALL play over summer vacation. We're keeping our minds fresh and the ideas flowing. Just like those adult beverages.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Living in the Land of Procrasti

That is, the sovereign state of Procrasti. Procrasti-Nation, even.

I have been so incredibly lazy over the past 2 weeks. Sure, I've attended a staff development, I've taken care of some wedding stuff, I've cleaned up around the house. However, I keep feeling that I should be doing some writing, if not on Learn Me Gooder, then at least on SOMETHING. But I don't...

At any rate, here's something completely different...

If anybody out there subcribes to the Dish Network for their tv channels, and if you get Veria, please check out a show called Whatta Ya Think? The guide shows this coming on at 4:00 on Sat, 5:00 on Sun, and 4:30 weekdays (EST). I was ON this show, once upon a time, and they are FINALLY airing it. Of course, since I don't actually get the Dish Network, I can't watch it.

But if you do, you can keep an eye out for me. I'll be the goofy guy who laughs too much, blinks too much, and is real good at math. Oh, and I win.

If you DO happen to see me, please let me know, especially if you've recorded it. I would love to get my hands on that!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Staff Development, the First

This year, we only have to do 14 hours of staff development (or as Ed U Cater calls it -- StD) for our professional traning requirement. This equates to 2 day long seminars. I took the first one today.

This was a class on the new curriculum for the English Language Arts/Spanish Language Arts content area in Dallas. As per usual, I was bored out of my skull. The highlight of the day was a Reader's Theater acted out by 3 of my classmates, in which one of the characters talked about being bored at the training and thinking about her impending vacation to Vegas.

BTW, that Reader's Theater was written by another employee of DISD, named Ray, and I wonder if it's the Ray that sometimes reads Learn Me Good?

Don't get me wrong, as trainings go, it was not bad, and the presenters were good at what they did (aside from the first one sounding annoyingly like Harvey Firestein). I just don't get up and excited about these things like many others do, though. Some people get a little TOO excited at these events, in my opinion.

The presenter started talking about the components of the new curriculum -- online tests, boxes of novels, access to lower grade levels -- and it sounded like Oprah Winfrey's Great Giveaway show. WOOOOOOOOOO!!! WHEEEEEEEE!!!!

A few quick hits:

  • Early on, the presenter made the comment, "This program is like you just bought a new horse." This made me wonder if we the teachers were going to be cleaning up a lot of shit as a result.
  • One of the guided reading books on display was about Helper Monkeys. I will go on record now that this particular book will be read, aloud, every single day in my classroom.
  • The word "slit" was used during the presentation, but there was no use of the word "moist." Not that these 2 words need to go together, they just generally seem to be 2 of the most hated words in the English language.
  • As I flipped through the Teacher's Edition, I was accosted by multiple misspellings. I would just like to throw my hat into the ring as a potential spell-checker for new curriculums (curricula?) in the future. I would only charge a modest $5,000.
  • Exactly when did "conversate" become a real word?
  • Want to go online and browse through a jumbled curriculum guide? There's an app for that! Yes, there was a little pitch for using the iphone to access the CPG.
At least I don't have to go to another training until after I've been married, had a couple of honeymoons, and possibly a few kids.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Top 6 reasons I don't teach summer school

It's the middle of June, and I am SOO enjoying my time off. People ask me all the time if I am doing/have done/ will do summer school, and my answer is always the same. Heck no!

Here are my top 6 reasons why not:

6) I was scarred for life by Summer School, the movie, starring Marc Harmon and Kirstie Alley.

5) Summer school begins before 12:30, my daily summer wake-up time.

4) I would hate to take away the opportunity for a teacher who has worked all his/her life to get a coveted summer school position.

3) If I taught summer school, I wouldn't be able to do my yearly Australian walkabout in July.

2) I once heard that you had to wear a shirt and tie to teach summer school and that there are 35 kids per class, and there are no lunch or bathroom breaks. I made my decision based on that, and my mind can never ever be changed.

1) It just doesn't pay enough. And by "enough" I mean $3.4 million and a private jet.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Links, links, LINKS!!

It's the weekend, and it's time to catch up on a few links that people have sent me.

First up, is a game called The Wild Ride to the Heart. No, this is not like Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. It looks a little more like Candyland, but with some more meaningful lessons on how to better handle emotional difficulties. This game comes from an organization called the Institute of Heartmath.

Next is a site called Teacher Voice. Teacher Voice can be viewed as either the Consumer Reports or the Girl, Don't Date Him site for schools and principals. Here, people can anonymously post their opinions about their school, their principal, or their superintendent. So far, it looks like no one has rated DISD or its superintendent, but I look forward to reading THOSE posts when they happen.

I also got a link to a fee-based math program called "Virtual Nerd." For the price of one month (roughly 50 bucks), your child received THREE months of online math tutoring to prevent the dreaded "brain drain" of summer. The downside to this program is that it appears to only be valid for grades 7-12, whereas I know my 3rd graders always come back from summer vacation and act as if their brain was a beach ball with a slow leak.

Last is a request from Brennan at who is trying to collect all of the best student discounts in one place. He wants your help in pointing towards any discounts and deals that you are aware of.

Monday, June 07, 2010

9 things to do over the summer

Today is officially the first day of summer vacation! Sure, we had Saturday and Sunday off, but today is the first WORK day that is not a WORK day...

Pretty much all I've done today is visit the doctor to get my twisted knee x-rayed, and played Facebook poker. But here is a handy little list of things to do if you get bored over the next few months.

1) Alphabetize something -- your comic book collection, your DVDs, your credit cards, whatever. Sing the ABC song at the top of your lungs as you do it. Bonus: Leave the windows open.

2) Try out for a reality show. When is So You Want to Be a Superhero coming back on again, anyway??

3) Try out an unusual job. If you live here in the states, hire yourself out as a rickshaw driver or a mountain guide. If you live in another country, seek employment as a naked cowboy.

4) Walk a mile in another man's shoes. I would recommend a man whose foot size is very close to your own.

5) Improve your artistic skills. Start by perfecting the circle, then replicate Guernica.

6) Prepare for the next school year. You can do this by laying out the pair of socks you plan to wear on the first day of school. Consider yourself prepared.

7) Travel. I hear Butte, Montana is lovely this time of year.

8) Every time you receive change at a restaurant, ask if they would like to donate a dollar to the ITF, or Individual Teacher Fund.

9) Get married. Well, at least that's something that I plan on doing this summer. Might not work for everyone with such short notice.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

It finally arrived!!!

The last day of this seemingly-interminable year has at last arrived and passed. There were plenty of kids that I enjoyed this year, but man, am I glad it's over.

Today, the kids pretty much just played games and had fun all day. Towards the end of each class, we made a little autograph paper, and I got the kids to sign one for me as well.

It's always fun to see what the kids write. There were plenty of "Your cool" and "Best teacher ever" (ticher, techer, teachr).

One boy wrote, "Have a great wedding," which was very nice.

One boy wrote his name and then "Your best student," which was highly wishful thinking on his part.

One girl wrote, "You're the teacher I never had." Huh??

For the most part, I wrote variations of "Have a great summer!" on the kids' papers. Except for the most annoying girl in the 3rd grade. RIGHT before she handed me her paper, she told me that some boy had written something nasty on someone else's paper. So I took her paper and wrote, "Please work on tattling less this summer!"

Teacher wrap-up day is tomorrow, and then the long summer break begins! YESSSSS!!