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Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Mathemagician...

I know you're still on vacation from school, but let's review shall we?

This guy is amazing...
(Thanks to Darren for the find...)

Thursday, December 27, 2007

A H.S. Diploma Isn't Good Enough...

I don't think kids, in general, are any less intelligent than those 40yrs ago. I don't think teachers are any less qualified than any in the past. I DO believe that the intrusion of politics, politicians and government mandates interfere with the "old school" goals of teaching basic foundation information and problem solving skills.

While the idea of programs like NCLB and CASHEE are noble in concept, the implementation has had the unintended consequence of forcing teachers accept school administrator overrides to a "retention" recommendation, to what amounts to student "social promotion" through the school system.

It's the kind of direct observation about the current state of education or should I say "the politics of education" that seems to be driving more and more parents to seek out private schools or choosing home schooling options for their kids.

Now there may be some data to back it up.
From: Carpe Diem
"...Degrees and diplomas may not translate to on-the-job success"

From the study: More Grads, But Cognitive Ability Declines
The study suggests that because the ability level of the average high school graduate has changed over time, finding job candidates with the same level of ability as 1970 high school graduates requires employers seek out applicants with two or more years of college training.

MP: Hey, but aren't grades (and self-esteem) at an all-time high in both high school and college?

Friday, December 21, 2007

It’s the Last DAY…


It’s the last day before Christmas break.

I picked up a 2nd grade class assignment for today. The only assignment this week. The last assignment for 2007. Minimum work on a minimum, 4 ½ hr day.

A piece of cake.
…or so I thought.

Lesson Plan:

  1. Take roll
  2. Busy work
  3. Recess
  4. Busy work
  5. Lunch
  6. Play the video: The Muppet Movie
  7. Dismiss

Everything was proceeding along as “planned” until they came back from lunch. All I had left to do was play the movie and then send them on their way home.

Well is seems that this one girl had already seen The Muppet Movie and has declared it boring.

But because SHE’S bored she assumes that everyone should also be bored. She starts acting up by pushing her chair around the room until she can start loud conversations to the distraction of the other kids trying to follow the story line.

I’m not gonna force any kid to watch a Disney movie in class. It’s the last day!

My efforts to limit her mobility by having her sit next to me in the back of the room only last for a few minutes until she starts scooting away from me an inch or two at a time. I notice but I let it slide. It’s the last day!!

As long as she isn’t too disruptive and to the other kids aren’t complaining, I’ll let it go just for today because it’s the last day!!!

Big mistake. This movie lasts an hour and twenty minutes. That’s too much time to tempt little Miss Bored to act “civil”. Four return trips to the back of the room next to me is my limit.

The ultimate 2nd grader punishment of “turning her card to yellow”, writing her name on my report for her teacher or asking “What would Santa think?” had negligible effect. By negligible, I mean absolutely none.

Finally it’s time to go home. I’m sooo glad that it’s the last day!!!!

Off topic note. Today’s odd kid name for today: Malaysia (girl)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas Lights Selection...

The original that started it a couple years ago:

Even an airliner inadvertently adds to this show:

The display is silent to neighbors. The music is broadcast over a low power FM signal and a sign is placed in the yard to tell you what station to tune in to to hear the music:

Vote for your favorite in a comment!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Second Favorite…

This must be Bizzaro week.

While the anticipated disaster with yesterdays 6th graders turned out pretty good, today’s 4th grade class, from which I expected good behavior, got just the opposite.

I intercepted one note passed from a girl to the guy sitting in front of her asking the question/statement: "Do you now you is sexy?"

I looked at my little 4th grade “Lolita” wannabe and with a straight face said: “You spelled ‘know’ wrong” and watched her turn a couple different shades of red as I stapled the note to my daily report.

No more notes were passed today.

All they accomplished today was one practice spelling test, a lot of goofing off and getting the floor clean before I let them out the door to go home.

On the way out, one kid blurted:
“You’re our 2nd most favorite sub!”

Me: “Oh? Who’s #1?”
Kid: “Mr. A-------! He sings songs and let’s us play games!”

No additional comment needed.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Beatles 2nd Tour…


I’m back in the 6th grade “Beatles” class today.

The call came late Sunday night. I DIDN’T really want to take this class.

After checking for an alternate assignment (…there was none), I accepted the assignment. With this being a short month before the schools close for the holidays, I figured maybe I could survive at least one more day of abuse.

I was silently hoping that this class might have improved since my last visit but the first comments at the top of the lesson plan didn’t bode well.

“…This class is difficult…“All the boys except for the following four are benched for behavior last week…”

At roll call, I noted that the worst of the Beatles was absent. He’s the one who wrote and begged his teacher to:

“Please, please, please, never, never, never, never, (repeat another 10-15 nevers) have Mr. Homework subseetoot for us agan!”

Since the automated substitute line stated “You have been requested for this assignment”, I see he didn’t get his wish.

What transpired, instead, was a pleasant surprise. THEY WERE PRETTY GOOD!!

Even “sassy girl” didn’t give me too much attitude today. And only half the boys ditched recess bench duty figuring that I wouldn’t notice.

“Ditching bench duty” duly noted in my substitute report for their teacher to deal with…tomorrow.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Surprising Talent…

I’ve had only three assignments these last two weeks in grades 3, 4 and 5. All at the same school.

The following note (front & back) was done on a folded index card with fine line pens and a lot of talent. Even with the spelling goof, I think it is better than excellent work…for a 5th grader.

Whattya think?

(Click on the image for larger view)

Saturday, December 01, 2007

No Experience Necessary…

How many employment opportunities require minimal or absolutely no experience required? I certainly didn’t expect that teaching would be one of them when I first looked into substitute teaching.

There are some areas in the U.S. where substitute teaching requires an actual teaching degree. These jobs are filled by newly graduated or retired teachers. There are other areas in this country where “some” college or simply a H.S. diploma is the requirement.

In California, the minimal requirement is a four year college degree and passing California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST) on the three R’s at a 10th grade level.

The difference comes down to supply and demand economics. If you have an excess of talent in a small market, you will almost certainly need a master’s degree to step into a teacher’s role for the day.

I just finished reading “The Emergency Teacher” that relates the first hand account of Christina Asquith’s first year as a full time teacher at one of the worst schools in Philadelphia, despite being untrained and uncertified.


School District of Philadelphia, in desperate need of 1,500 new teachers, instituted a policy of hiring “emergency certified” instructors. Asquith, then a 25-year-old reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer, joined their untrained ranks. More challenging than her classroom in the crime-infested neighborhood known as “the Badlands” are the trials she faced outside, including a corrupt principal, the politics that prevented a million-dollar grant from reaching her students, and the administration’s shocking insistence that teachers maintain the appearance of success in the face of utter defeat…”

She lasted a full 180 day school year and didn’t result in the typical Hollywood ending.

That’s 179 more days than I would have attempted had I been crazy enough to try. I guess that’s the difference between being young, idealistic and full of energy .vs. mature (re: much older), realistic and pooped. I think I'll stick to my part time substitute teaching gig.

It's an eye opening story and a fast read. See the "Substitutes Book List" at left for more info...

Update 12/4/2007:

For anyone curious about the content of the CBEST , check the comments section on this post for a message from "Learning Tree" about their
CBEST Study Guide and Practice Tests.

I'm not sure if the the codes to try it out is only one time deal or not, so I'll leave it unused for anyone on a "first come, first served" status. If you use it, please post a comment here and let me know what you think of the program.

(I got my CBEST card in 1994 but didn't use it until I started subbing in 2003)