Friday, September 30, 2005
So I was driving home from work on the skinny city streets of my workplace. It was raining. The roads were grooved from construction. I was taking my time (I'm a disgustingly cautious driver). I was clearly taking too much time for the car behind me. Either that or they were trying to kiss my bumper.
I don't flip people off, but I did make a "what do you want from me?" gesture as I silently dared them to hit my car. People who drive like that really get to me. We got to a red light and I imagined myself getting out of the car to ask them if they really thought they were going to get there faster if they drove on top of me. There were two young men in the car.
Suddenly the doors of their car swung open and they both bolted out. I really thought I was going to turn into one of those newspaper stories. They passed behind my car.
The light turned green as they were approaching my car and I took off. They left the car in the middle of the road, doors wide open, and took off after three men walking up the street. Heated words were exchanged and a chase ensued.
I took deep breaths and then called the police to report a fight. My guess is that it was gang related, but I felt sort of silly reporting something that hadn't really turned into anything yet. Still, the air was thick with tension and people don't just hop out of running vehicles and take off unless trouble is brewing.
And no, I didn't get a license plate.
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
Today was rough. Our kids bombed the state test. By our kids, I mean the math students- the ones I teach.
It was really bad. And even though I don't think our state test is very valid or that it's reasonable to expect us to take every kid who failed in grade six and get them to pass a harder test in grade eight or that I'm the only teacher responsible for eight years of math learning, I'm still disappointed in myself.
This year is going better. For that, I'm grateful.
But honestly, when I look at the list of kids who failed the sixth grade test, I don't feel all that hopeful about them passing the eighth grade test. I've made up a lot of ground, but not that much.
Sunday, September 25, 2005
Friday, September 23, 2005
Thursday, September 22, 2005
road signs give the wrong mileage distances. One sign on
Interstate 93 north near Exit 45 in Andover says Manchester,
N.H., is 42 miles away, when it is really 28 miles away.
A sign in Needham says Wellesley is 7 miles away, when it
is more like 3 miles away, reported the Boston Globe
Saturday. State officials said they are still trying to
determine how many of the 164 road signs -- installed
throughout the state by an outside contractor as part of
a $1 million transportation project this summer -- are
incorrect. "We've redoubled our efforts to make sure
something like this doesn't happen again," said Jon
Carlisle, Massachusetts Highway Department spokesman.
Thanks to Coffee Break for the story.
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
My eighth graders are reviewing for a test on operations with integers. I've kept the problems to two terms right now just to make sure they can handle the rules. One of my classes was getting all of the questions right during the review (I use individual boards so that every kid participates in the review.) I decided to give them longer problems- four or five or six terms. They still got them right- all of them: the special ed students, the struggling students, the overachievers. I mixed up the operations- made the problem longer- put negative signs all over the place. Every kid got it right.
Those are the moments I live for. I believe that math is about building- that all the little steps build up to the ability to solve more complex problems. As a teacher, I am well aware that at least one student will miss a sign or treat multiplication like addition or whatever. None of them did.
It may not seem like much to you, but it made me want to cry tears of joy. I was so proud of them.
Sunday, September 18, 2005
I finally went through all my potato pictures from Salem.
There are 52 of them!
There goes my idea of posting them all at once.
Instead, I bring them to you one at a time. My first instinct is to do one a week (of course), but I'm afraid of how long it will take.
"It is really pathetic that the American people are naive
enough to sit and blame everything on Bush. The city of
New Orleans new what the potential would be. They new the
storm was coming. They new what would happen. If they
really wanted to get out bad enough, most of them could
have. The ones that didn't have the means to get out are
in God's hands. But not at the fault of George Bush.
American's have become such winers that they blame
everything on George Bush. If they only knew what is
really going on ... they wouldn't be able to say a word.
If everyone in America would support versus whine, we would
be the great nation that everyone thinks we are. As
everlasting words say: UNITED WE STAND ... DIVIDED WE
FALL. And we are truely divided. UNITE AMERICA AND LET'S
TAKE CARE OF BUSINESS VERSUS WHINE AT ALL THE
You almost convinced me. If only I could have figured out what New Orleans new was.
Or maybe we could blame the victims:
"Here is something you won't see on CNN: Approximately
70% of the residents got their stuff together and left
New Orleans in the four days prior to Katrina. These
were working people, those who know that they bear some
responsibility for their own safety. They all of a sudden
didn't care about that new patio or the new lawn mower.
They wanted out. The remaining 30% were those poor
helpless souls who can't do anything for themselves,
those who have learned to depend on the government, local,
state and federal, to feed and clothe, house, and keep
them warm and happy. Then, to make matters worse, the
idiot they have for a mayor turn loose all the criminals.
He turned them loose on the people who live in the very
areas these criminals came from.... the projects. Thats
where the looting and raping and pillaging came from.
President Bush is responsible for making NATIONAL policy,
Making sure that the mayor of any particular city is
competent, and honest, is the responsibility of the voters
of that city."
Jim P, the true compassionate conservative.
Saturday, September 17, 2005
Blaming the Victims
What the Rest of the World is Saying
The Media Wakes Up?
What Fema Did(n't do)
In the mix:
Television has shown all of us that the Convention Center is, by any standard, an atrocity, and seeing it up close is even worse. A police car sits across the street, it's windows smashed, it's tires stolen, while mattresses are piled up outside a hotel down the block. The multiple mounds of garbage are astounding, and continue to fester, with no attempt to clean them up in sight. Across from this wreckage sits a small evacuee center, where the military brings in people that they have rescued or had to coax out of their dens. As soon as we're out of the car, the TP reporters begin interviewing dazed survivors, who look unsure as to where they are, or even who they are.
Tribes Washed Out
Thursday, September 15, 2005
A Swedish bank thought its ads showing masked robbers sitting behind bank counters was a humorous comment on high service charges. But Skandiabanken agreed to drop the campaign when its employees complain that the ads make them look like crooks. The Copenhagen Post reports that unions representing the workers made formal representations about the issue. The union also said that the ad, in addition to being demeaning, reminded bank employees of a traumatic situation that any one of them might face at any time -- a robbery. 'I don't agree with the criticism, but our campaign should not be overshadowed by such a discussion," said a bank executive.
Thanks to Coffee Break for the story.
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
It's time to learn the national anthem
The National Anthem Project may have a small problem with
its plan to get all U.S. residents to sing "The Star
Spangled Banner" in unison this week. A Harris poll says
two out of every three people in the "land of the free and
the home of the brave" don't know the words to Francis
Scott Key's complicated composition. Nonetheless, the
National Association for Music Education is urging
everyone to sing the song in unison at 9 a.m. Eastern
time Wednesday -- the 191st anniversary of the day Key
penned the lyrics to what would become the national anthem
in 1931. "Our goal is to have millions of patriotic voices
rising in unison around the country," organization
executive director John Mahlmann said in a news release.
He said music teachers across the country have been asked
to participate with their students, which would mean at
least 50 million voices warbling "Oh say can you see..."
about three hours after the dawn's early light. "We want
people to stop whatever they're doing -- whether they're
at the office, at home or at school -- and join this
effort," he said. "We hope this program reminds people of the importance of learning our national anthem."
Stacy made me do this. I'll gladly oblige.
Seven things I plan to do before I die:
- Get my Master's.
- Learn piano.
- Take my sweetie to Japan.
- Sing with my daughter.
- Run a 5K.
- Write a book.
- Speak at an NCTM conference.
Seven things I can do:
- Bend my thumb back so it touches my wrist.
- Find derivatives.
- Create awesome schedules.
- Make a meatloaf from scratch without a recipe. (Yes, that's a big deal for me.)
- Type really fast with one finger.
- Count to ten in five languages.
- Set a good example.
Seven things I cannot do:
- Remember birthdays.
- Beat Super Mario Brothers.
- Pick up my tomatoes. (sorry, FIL)
- Use my left hand for more keyboard activities than pressing the shift key.
- Remember song lyrics.
- Speak up when I'm upset (I'm working on it.)
Seven things that attract me to the same/opposite sex:
- Touchable hair.
- Sense of humor.
- Deep eyes.
- Kindness toward others.
- Great hugs.
Seven things I say most often:
- What operation would you use?
- Line up.
- Have a wonderful rest of the day!
- Turn off your volume.
- Good call.
- What? (I'm hard of hearing.)
Seven celebrity crushes:
- Brittany Spears
- Ralph Macchio
- Natalie Portman
- James Earl Jones
- Hugh Laurie (the guy who plays House)
- Jon Stewart
- Davy Jones
Seven people I want to do this:
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
You see, I read this article twice- in two different publications. The first time the article ended after saying they collected thirty signatures. It's all about context folks (how much is one? one what?):
RAMAH, Colo. - There wouldn't seem to be anything more down
home than a fundraiser for a children's hospital held at the
American Legion hall in a tiny Colorado town. But this event,
scheduled for the Saturday before Halloween, is sponsored by
the Secret Garden Coven, a pagan group. "They think we're
Satanists. We're not. We're about nature," Jerusha Doucette-
Johnson told the Rocky Mountain News. Doucette-Johnson
explained her religious beliefs at a council meeting in
Ramah last month. She says some of the people who attended
were "so close-minded." Annette Manchego -- presumably one
of the people Doucette-Johnson was referring to -- has
collected only 30 signatures on a petition opposing the
fundraiser. But Ramah, named after the Biblical city where
the prophet Samuel was born, only has 135 residents. So far,
Ramah officials are remaining neutral.
When I looked at the cover, I didn't think I'd like anything else on it- his cover is really lame.
I haven't gotten all the way through yet, but it's good. It's jazzy. It's a bit like the stuff that red-headed 16-year old sang on American Idol (help me out here folks!). I think my fiance might even like it.
Friday, September 09, 2005
called his kids together to ask which one should have the
"Who is the most obedient?" he asked. "Who never talks back to
mother? Who does everything she says?"
Five small voices answered in unison. "Okay, dad, you get the
Thursday, September 08, 2005
I didn't believe it. I figured that even if she really did say it that it must have been taken out of context.
I mean, how can someone be so heartless?
I've been checking snopes daily. It's true. She really did say that the hurricane worked out well for the victims. Not only that, she said it's "scary" that many of them want to stay in Texas.
Tuesday, September 06, 2005
Sunday, September 04, 2005
I hope this takes care of it.
Saturday, September 03, 2005
So I went to check out Kirb.net (the best toy blog) and lo and behold, he had pictures from the local Ren Faire. Turns out today was actually the first day of our Ren Faire season (I work there.)
(Oh, and that's potato buying beer at the Arizona Ren Faire which doesn't open until February.)
Many apologies for not posting any of the museum pictures yet. The first week of school kept me busy and then I felt awful about posting potato pictures when the folks in New Orleans are suffering so much. My fiance has assured me that it's okay to post them so I'll get them up soon.
Many thanks for being such a good sport. You were an amazing tour guide.
Everyone else: That's my niece. Isn't she gorgeous?!
Friday, September 02, 2005
Last year, I spoke to the mother of one of my new students right at the beginning of the school year. The mother was extremely frustrated. Her daughter struggled in math and the mother was fed up. She felt helpless when her daughter would cry through her math homework and the mother was at the point where she wasn't going to have her daughter do any homework at all. I spent more than half an hour on the phone with her that day and most of it I spent just letting the mother vent. I was really glad that I called.
As for the daughter, her frustration was visible and it was obvious that she dreaded math. She had difficulty getting through even simple problems because math made her so anxious.
I didn't do anything special for her. I treated her the same as all of my students and I held the same expectations for her. At times, I assured her that she would get through a particular unit. Mostly, I just tried to let her know that I believed in her.
She walked into my classroom today with a big smile on her face, put her things down, turned to me and said: "You made me like math."
It's moments like that which give me reason to get up every day, to put aside whatever is bothering me, to offer a smile even to the kid that drives me crazy, and it's absolutely what drives my teaching.
And for the record, that girl was a star. We did a review of reducing fractions and she did awesome. She didn't suddenly become a so-called math person, she isn't doing extra studying, I didn't give her any extra help today. The thing is: she isn't afraid anymore. She feels like she can and she knows that if she gets it wrong, the world isn't going to come crumbling down and it doesn't mean she's dumb and there's going to be another problem to solve.
It was a joy to watch her work with confidence today. It was a joy to see her do as well as all the "smart" kids. But mostly it was a joy to see her smile as she told me she liked math now.
Book recommendation: I just got a book called "What Great Teachers Do Differently" by Todd Whitaker. I've just started it, but it's awesome. Very inspiring- just what I need for a new school year.