Tuesday, September 29, 2009


I get giddy when my books arrive from Barnes and Noble or Amazon. Today, four books arrived: Sports in Literature, Shakespeare Set Free, Inside Out: Strategies for Teaching Writing, and A Whole Other Ball Game: Women's Literature on Women's Sport
The two sports related books are in response to not having any books for the Sports Literature class I teach. The Shakespeare book will help me teach my 9th graders Romeo and Juliet, and the writing book is simply to stimulate thought for the year.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

More time

So, the Big O wants a longer school year? Let's clarify. President Obama (not Oprah), thinks that a today's society demands a longer school year. Apparently, we need to be more educated if we are to become socialapitalists (can I trademark that term?).
Here's my plan:
Quarter One--10 weeks
Support One--3 weeks
Quarter Two--10 weeks
Support Two--3 weeks
Quarter Three--10 weeks
Support Three--3 weeks
Quarter Four--10 weeks
Support Four--3 weeks
TOTAL: 52 Weeks

Students who don't master the material in a subject during the quarter must remain for 3 additional support weeks. Studens who master the material get three weeks off.
Heck, we could still keep many of the current days off and make this work.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Czar or Tsar?

Man, it is getting more difficult every day to defend my vote for President Obama. Another Czar, in this case an education czar, has fallen prey to the attack on previously held beliefs/statements.

Simmer Down...

I shouldn't jump to conclusions, but I am annoyed. Last year, our first school-wide, massive scale food drive collected 5,500 food items. So, we're getting a head-start on securing locations. Except, one of the two locations we used last year changed their policy to only allow one group at a time. The Salvation Army has already secured it. A second, and new location, same thing.

Without those two locations (there aren't many to choose from), we won't be able to collect the new goal of 10,000 items--and it would be unlikely that we collect 5,500 items.

I'm working on it though.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Because I am yet to receive the various novels I will use for the Sports Literature class, I have been asking my students to explore the broader topics: What is a sport? Why do we love sports?
But I'm getting antsy and need to actually have some real student work produced. So this morning, I introduced sports journalism. We examined the "Feature Column" by looking at three basic types: the News related, the Informative, and the Human Interest (taken from BlueNose Edutainment).
After our Do Now journal entry on whether sports build character or reveal character, I introduced the concept of the "Feature Column." With ten minutes remaing, I asked my students to begin reading the three articles I provided so that they could put them into a category.
Two students read diligently. One student went to the nurse. One student tried to read, but found the side-conversations intriguing. Two students worked on AP Statistics--an assignment likely due the following period.
I don't know whether to feel put off, upset, accepting, or indifference. Had we started the year together (the class is only a week or so old due to scheduling issues), these behaviours wouldn't exist, so soon.

Monday, September 21, 2009


Data, data, data. It really doesn't matter exactly how accurate or useful the data might be, it only matters that we collect it and analyze it. Perhaps I should be careful here; this blog continues to be open review.
Don't get me wrong, I am a strong advocate for personal reflection on classroom practices, but when the process is nothing more than a show, my rebellious nature comes out. We have two data teams we belong to--our grade-level team and our department data team. The grade level team focuses on instruction; the department data team focuses on behavior improvement: Positive Behavioral Support.
I wish I were more into the PBS system. It is just hard to remember to hand out coupons or rewards for behaviors that every high school student should have mastered 5-10 years earlier in their career. But again, I digress.
Two areas of focus for my department is improving student behavior through classroom arrangement and classroom systems. Even though the data won't have much validity (how does one measure the effect of teacher desk placement on student action?), I find great value in these two areas.
First, classrooms can have a great impact on student perceptions. A dingy room makes students feel neglected and put off. A vibrant room makes students feel accepted and welcomed.
Second, classroom set up can effect the success of systems. For me, my desk has to be in the back of the room. This way, I can watch students without being watched myself, and it also eliminates clutter at the focal point of the room.
Third, I have incorporated the Steppingstone system (others certainly do it as well, but I learned it this summer) of Do Now, Homework, Agenda, and Objectives posted for students each day. I continue to struggle with following my own systems, but I feel like I've improved in some ways as a result of the system.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Literary Analysis

This morning I crafted my morning latte, sat down to the laptop in order to peruse my favorite web-reads. After finishing Steven Brill's "The Rubber Room," an irritiating look at the UFT's protection of incompetent and unsafe teachers, I found Malcom Gladwell's "The Courthouse Ring," an analysis of Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird.
From a teacher's perspective, I will use this essay if I ever get the chance to teach the novel. From a reader's perspective, I hated everything about it. Gladwell has shed doubt on the goodness of the novel, something I was not ready for at the time--nor will I be able to forget. Dang it.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Fear the technology

It's the night before my classes discuss Sherman Alexie's "This is What it Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona," and I found a clip of him appearing on the Colbert Report. The problem? That is a blocked site, as is Youtube.com. Why do schools fear technology? It would benefit my students to see video clips of Alexie.