Friday, October 28, 2005

Prior Review

For any of you at the high school level who have a student newspaper, please let me know what your district's/school's policy is on prior review. It seems to be a mounting issue around here and I'd like to write a post on it eventually.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Only in poetry...

Students who don't turn in assignments, teachers who don't understand why; students who keep talking when the teacher needs your attention, teachers who just want to throw in the towel, listen to the words of Carl Sandburg:
The people will live on.
The learning and blundering people will live on.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Make it count.

My 9th grade students arrived in September fresh out of the challenging and rigorous world of middle school. That breeding ground of high intellectual growth and accountability. It happens every year, from districts in the great state of Washington to the the lovely state of Connecticut. Millions of former 8th grade students flutter into the classrooms of high schools ill-prepared for the realities ahead.
Much has been written in the past few years about how unprepared high school graduates are for college. Something in the area of 1/3 are not ready for basic 101 courses in English. With the ever increasing liability for academic progress being pushed by lawmakers onto high school teachers, it is time that we stop social promotion in our schools.
It is absurd to promote a student who is not capable of demonstrating the proper mastery of content because it might hurt their self-esteem. This make our kids feel good about themselves attitude has created an atmosphere in which students are not ready for the academic world of high school or subsequently college.
In the state of Washington, where students now must pass the WASL to graduate, it is time for lawmakers to step out of Olympia and into the classrooms to see what exactly we are dealing with. The suits want to suddenly hold these students accountable for their education after years of teaching them that grades don't matter.
This is simply demonstrated by looking at my gradebook this fall. Missing assignments after missing assignment has left some students struggling to maintain grades. Now, there are those who would say I need to accept late work--that it is the content learning that is most important.
Philosophically, I can't agree with that. Because I sure know that when I don't pay my credit card bill on time, the creditors don't accept my late payment without a consequence.
Here is what needs to happen, a total overhaul. If by the end of third grade a student is supposed to be able to read at a third grade level, then they should not move on to fourth grade. I don't care if it hurts their feelings. If parents would stop coddling their children and thereby teaching them that life has no hard knocks, children would learn to adapt. Isn't that what we teach in Biology class? Species adapt. Survival of the fittest.
Maybe I'm just being selfish. But for the sake of every educator who teaches at the next level, whatever level that might be, hold kids accountable.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

A Recipe

1. All Washington state sophomores.
2. No Child Left Behind
3. High Stakes Test: WASL
4. School districts with money to lose.
5. Superintendants with jobs to lose.

Place the sophomores on a platter, add some yeast, and allow them to grow.
In a large bowl, say a major Washington city, combine No Child Left Behind laws with the High Stakes Test (WASL). Stir repeatedly and often, allowing for all types of subtelties to rise to the surface. Let sit in the open air for all types of bacteria to potentially grow.
In a sepatarte bowl, smaller than the first, dice up school districts with money to lose and superintendants with jobs to lose. Place these two in ingredients into a high-pressure cooker for 2-3 years. Allow for these two ingredients to blend themselves nicely, creating an aroma of trickery and semantics.
Next, pour the school districts and superintendants into the bowl with the NCLB and WASL. Mix together and watch them separate out.
Finally, pour the sauce over the individual sophomores. If you have inadequately applied the yeast (instruction) your sophomores will not be ready to absorb the sauce.

The Final Product: Looks Like This

Tuesday, October 11, 2005


Recently, a colleague of mine said he had checked out my blog. He liked some of the posts but felt that lately I've been too esoteric. So, I thought to myself, does he know what esoteric means? Take that!
So today's post is going to be completely esoteric and focused on things that maybe none of you care about or have experienced--but if you've taught long enough, as the teacher from Ecclessiastes says, "there is nothing new under the sun."
I am teaching a book called Painting the Black. It is not a book I've chosen, but rather was chosen for me. It is not a bad book, but the average student, to whom we teach this book for, has trouble understanding the sports language and metaphors. So, today, as an anticipatory set, I chose to bring in the X-Box and play MVP Baseball 2005.
I demonstrated for them what a curveball and slider are. I even let them take turns playing one another if they chose. Anything to get them in the baseball mode as we read a book about a star high school baseball player.
Here's the interesting thing. My fourth period class was quite engaged. Encouraging each other on, rooting for one team over the other. The girls wanted to play, and the boys wanted to play, even those who are otherwise uniterested in sports wanted to play.
Then came sixth period. They couldn't have cared less about what we were doing. In fact, one kid even told me this was the dumbest thing ever. "Even dumber than listening to me lecture," I asked. "Pretty much," he replied.
It fascinated me, these two very different classes. It made me wonder about this one size fits all education thing we have going, what with NCLB and standardized tests.

Sunday, October 09, 2005


So, a second year of classroom blogging is beginning here at The Daily Grind's classroom. My early morning class was supposed to have their first official posts up on Friday, but because of certain decisions (see the cryptic post before this one) I was unable to demonstrate for them exactly how to do it.
But, should any of you, over the course of this year, want to know what my delightful 7:30 class has to say about literature and life, check them out at In Need of Coffee.
You most likely didn't notice, but I've replaced last year's link for this year's. I must say that my inaugural group did a fantastic job over at Pre-College, and it was very difficult to move on. I left it running for my former students to utilize, but I am almost certain it will become a wasteland in the realm of the internet.
I will say, though, that after running into a few graduates from last year, I feel much more confident about the amount of writing I make them do. In fact, one young lady said I should have given more! Even she was surprised to say that.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Once upon a time... an office far, far away, decisions were made by well intentioned and intelligent people. A gift they would give to teachers abroad. Shiny and fancy, the gift was a hit for some, save a few. And off the teachers went, playing with their shiny and fancy gift until once again decisions were made. Rules were created, intentions were high, but outcomes were different and teachers wanted to know why? Then a spell was cast on teachers who dared, to inquire of those decisions and show they cared. Now the gift is a burden for all, and teachers would rather work at the mall.
The End!