Monday, December 29, 2008

Highschool Music Teacher Found Slain in NV

This is the time of the year when everyone should be together and with their loved ones. How sad and tragic this is not only for the family of Matthew Cox but also for his school and all of his former students. I do not know this person, but as a teacher I do feel for this story. It's hard work as a teacher, and no one deserves more respect than teachers. What makes this story even more tragic is that Mr. Cox is reportedly to have known his suspected murderes as former students. How sad.

Take a moment and just reflect on the good things on what being a teacher means to you. Even if you're not a teacher, you can still think about your former teachers and how they have meant to you.

Here is a link to this story and here's another one with video.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

NYTVF Teacher Movie....

This is a cool little flick about the life of new teacher and all the drama that goes along with it. Ofcourse there are a few things that are a bit over dramatic (the love scene and the whole race issue) but there are also some things that are dead on. (Like the gossip in the teachers lounge, the boring faculty meetings)

Anyways inspite of all that, this is an enjoyable little movie that is a good attempt to show what life is like for teachers. What changes would you like to see in this movie, or did you think it was dead on?

Here's the info on the clip:

*Winner: 2008 - People's Choice Award*
His whole life Tim Donnely has had one dream: to become a teacher. Fresh out of college, Tim is ready to realize that dream and revolutionize education. However, hes in for a rude awakening when he butts heads with jaded educators and a professional teacher-coach sent to retool the faculty. Throw in a celebrity music teacher and a search for a new principal, and youve got the first episode of Teachers. Everyone has been to school; everyone has had teachers. We are now proud to lift the veil and reveal the true colors of American academia from the teachers perspective.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

This is how we all should teach...

With the new year coming I thought this clip might help get the teaching juices flowing for the coming year. Watching teachers like this, really makes me enjoy want I do for living. I really don't think I would enjoy doing anything else.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Student's shared lunch costs $1,800

Maybe it's just me, but I always enjoy looking at what other people bring for lunch. I might even ask for a small portion if it really looks good. Nothing wrong in that right....hmmmm nothing unless ofcourse you're Alvin I.S.D.
A student from Manvel High School had shared a pizza with his friends during lunch while auditors from the health agency where at that school. Since this offense has already been stated in the guidlines, the state of Texas will with hold funds of $1,800 for Manvel High School. That's a hefty fine for something like this, but then again Texas is rated 6 in childhood obesity.

Here's the story.

More drama for Texas Public Education....

Cynthia Dunbar has been strongly advocating more Christianity in the public schools. Her new book, One Nation Under God, argues that the country's founding fathers created "an emphatically Christian government" and believed that government should be guided by a "biblical litmus test."

Ok right about now you're probably thinking..."so what, just another crazy extremist in our society. WRONG!!!! Cynthia Dunbar is a member of the State Board of Education in Texas.

I'm surprised that this has not been on many other people's radars....but this is a huge story. Imagine hiring a waiter at your steak restaurant who turns out later to be an extreme member of PETA. It's almost as a crazy, only the scary thing, is that Cynthis doesn't seem to be concered with how others feel about her stance.

"The fact that the Texas Freedom Network is diametrically opposed to my positions is not anything that is shocking to me, nor is it upsetting to me," she said.

I'm pretty much scared and nervous right now. If something is not done soon, she might start implimenting some of her beliefs into the public education. Hopefully more people will soon find out about this and try to do something about it. I hope sooner than later.

You can read more about her in this article from the houston chronicle.

Can you imagine working for a school district where one of your top administrators shares her same belief?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

In case you needed more reasons why teachers need a raise...

Ok so the first time I posted this story the video wasn't working too well. Here's for round 2. Here are 2 high school teachers who are trying to make a point in that if you had to live on just $30 a month for food, you find that it's really hard to eat healthy nutritious food. However in their blog they have been able to not only do this but also provide reciepes as well as updates on their upcoming book project.

The point being is that some of our students are also living on tight budgets and might not be abel to afford to eat healthy food. It's no wonder obseity is at a rapid rate now in school age kids. Parents are simply finding it difficult to afford foods that are not only affordable but also full of proper nutrients.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

3 things I believe...

This post is in response to linnic post on what she believes students can achieve. I found this post to be really thought I took the time to add it to my blog. Here's the general idea:

Marth Thornburgh of Opening Doors to Digital Learning was asked the question “Do you believe all students can meet standards?” Please read about her response on her blog. The “All Students Meme” came about as a result.
1. Share three things that you believe about all students.

2. Reflect on your thoughts in your blog. (If you do not have a blog, you can share your ideas in a comment from this post.)

3. Be sure to link to this post and to where you were first tagged.

4. Tag your response with AllStudentsMeme

5. Invite others to join the conversation by tagging them to be a part of the meme.

Here is what I believe:

1) All students need to be taught in safe and secure environment in order to maximize their learning. No student enjoys being bullied, and when we as teachers can create a peaceful climate the disruptions with decrease throughout the year.

2) I belive that all students need to be fluent in the language of technology by the time they finish. With so many jobs asking for applications online, we need to start teaching our students how to become familar with the tools in order to have a successful career.

3) All students have some kind of's our job as teachers to find it. Once we find out what drives them, the learning will eventually kick in full speed.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Drug testing teachers.....?????

Apparently, teens and the youth of america are not alone when it comes to the enjoyment of a little recreational mind stimulation of the narcotic sense. Within the last month, HISD has arrested 9 employees after a drug sting operation.

I can't imagine anyone who works with children would even think about bringing in their drugs on campus. The thought really does baffle my mind. However, I wouldn't also be surprised if there was a student who might have been so upset at his/her teacher that they just decieded to call the cops as an aynmous tip. What a crazy world we live in, where both of these scenarios are very possible.
Now it would apprear that HISD is considering the plan of drug testing employees and also doing random parking lot searches with drug dogs. I hope that this whole mess works out for the best, and that the students will be able to weather this crazy storm and get some good teaching.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Weeding out the teachers...

Houston Independent School District has been under fire lately for many reasons with this latest one taking the cake. Houston Independent School District Trustee Natasha Kamrani supports the method of identifying "great" teachers and rewarding them, while also identifying "bad" teachers who, after training are still not improving, will be terminated. This theory is very similar to what Michelle Rhee is trying to pass in Washington D.C.

Gayle Fallon, the president of the Houston Federation of Teachers aims to fight this measure. Here are some points that she makes in an article in the houston chronicle:
The proposal to terminate teachers based on value-added scores ignores numerous glitches in the system that the district has yet to solve, including but not limited to:
• HISD only has value-added scores on 3,700-4,200 teachers, or about one-third of the instructional staff.• Many teachers are in non-tested subjects, such as pre-kindergarten through second grade, special education and non-core subjects.
• Middle- and high-school-content core courses in the sciences and social studies generally do not lend themselves to a growth measure. There is no accurate measure of what the student knew entering the class, so growth is almost impossible to measure.
• The HISD value-added scores are largely based on the TAKS test. TAKS is a criterion-referenced test and is not a growth measure. Consequently, if a child enters a class reading four levels below grade level and a teacher raises him two levels, he still fails the TAKS test and his score counts against the teacher in spite of the extraordinary growth in the student's learning.
• HISD, like many urban districts with a high level of poverty, has a very high student mobility rate, with students arriving and leaving throughout the year, often in large numbers. The value-added formulas do not account or control for student mobility.
The "best" teachers that HISD claims to want to keep and reward already resent the current narrowing of the curriculum and the de-emphasis on creativity and teaching students to think and apply knowledge. A move to evaluate them solely on their standardized test scores may have the unintended consequence of driving the strongest teachers into districts that allow them to teach children rather than simply teaching a test.
I agree that it is going to be extremely hard to create a justifiable formula that will evaluate all teachers on all grade levels. However, this should not stop us from trying. Teachers should be evaulated solely on their student's test scores however they should be included in a larger mix. Allow room for error as well as creating a working growth chart so that teachers can be effective with their teaching styles. Those are my two cents....
What do you think about this new measure? Do you think it's justifiable to terminate a teacher's contract if they are not effectively teaching to their students?

Friday, December 5, 2008

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree....

Today I had the most awkward situation that I have experienced yet as a teacher. I was working with a student with his reading when the school sectratary came in and asked if I had called this student's mom. When I told her no and she left, the student said "I want to slap that woman in the face". I was shocked and had him go and apologize to the sectratary. As I was walking him to the office to write an office referral as I see his mom sitting up in the front already. She was waiting to speak to the principal so I just simply explained what happened and I went in to finish my report. When I came out the mom asked me to explain to her again what happened. Then she asked if he went ahead and did hit her. When I told her that it was him just simply using words, she got upset and mad At ME....for "making a big deal out of nothing". She went on to say that students should be allowed to say what they need to say, as long as they don't go ahead and follow through with it. (I know....I was shocked too).

Really at this point, there was nothing I could say that would make any sense to her. Clearly she was stuck on her point, and made it clear that teachers are wasting their time with these little issues. Now what really made me a little upset, was during this whole speech, her son was right there listening to the whole thing. It's no wonder these kids are where they are today.

Let me just go ahead and whip out my magic wand from my back pocket and fix all of these problems in a single wave. I'm sure that would make everything allright. Well...seeing as how i don't have one of those handy...i do however have a clip that i found off of youtube of a parent yelling at what seems like a pta conference. The picture quality is not that great, but you get the jest of what's going on. Enjoy.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Is this the future of education???

Michelle Rhee is making a lot of big changes in the Washington D.C. area. In her short time she has already fired over 300 teachers, principals and administrators and is making waves amongst the teacher unions.
With hopes of paying teachers in the upwards of $100,000 a year she would expect to have a higher demand on teacher accountability and also to let go of the weaker teachers. The teacher unions, ofcourse are not crazy about this and are fighting her every inch of the way.
I am watching how she's going to handle this whole situation and I don't think I'm the only one. Can you imagine how your job might change if her philosphy becomes more widespread? Would you like to work for someone as radical as this?
I hope things turn out for the best for Michelle since she is one of the most forwarded persons yet in our education system. Very little attention has been brought to education and hopefully she'll be able to start more discussions about this.

Monday, November 24, 2008

How about this schedule for teachers....???

I'm not sure about everyone else, but right about now things are moving super fast. It's hard to stop and reflect on how things are going. Report cards, progress reports, writing samples, reports, running records, and these are just for starters. Don't even get me started with life outside of school (what's that). I have a new baby that's just about to be delivered, and that's a whole other job all by itself. Sooooooo my question is what sort of schedule would best fit a working teacher and the students as well?

How about working an hour earlier and an hour later 4 days a week which would leave friday off? Most companies that you really need to deal with are usually off during the weekends or off on sundays which would usually leave you moving around on Saturday. With having Friday off teachers are able to get an extra day to take care of errands which would leave more time for planning and getting the lessons prepared for the comming week.

Other districts are doing this with the aim of saving money. My primary concern would be to take care of the teachers....who are too often over worked and stressed out. I know other professions work on similar schedules and they seem to enjoy it. Do you think changing to this kind of schedule would be more or less productive?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Instant coffee, instant grits, and now instant blogging....

Ok, maybe i'm not breaking ground here with this post. But for those of you who are already planning on watching the final round of the presidential debates, you might want to consider checking out this site to watch and share others comments in real time. There is no fee, no software to download, and no passwords or registration. Just go in, and then you're in.

Real time blogging
is not anything new, but the concept is very cool to the education field. Imagine doing a class report on the elections, or any news related event and having your whole class on-line talking and sharing ideas in real time. Instant anaylizing of data which would simply lead you to answer who comprehends what's going on. Try this out and let me know how this works for you.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Update - Hair Today Gone Tomorrow!!!

Adriel Arocha, the Native american 5 year old, was told by Needville I.S.D. that he was not able to attend classes with his peers because of his long hair last Aug. Thanks to U.S. District Judge Keith Ellison, is now allowed to attend classes who ruled against the district's strict dress code policy. Let's hope that this ruling stands and that Adriel can finish the year with his classmates. After hearing this update, how does this make you feel now?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The future is now here.....

Technology has once again upgraded and outdated itself in a huge way. Last year Microsoft unvield it's new software/technology called microsoft surface. Imagine a coffee table with an interactive monitor that can transfer wireless files from one machine to another without the need of wires. Imagine also being able to simple touch the monitor and manipulate any photo or video as easily as you would a mouse. Sounds pretty cool, right?

Now imagine what you can do with that techonology in the class rooms? Active and smart boards are fairly new techonolgy for the classrooms, yet after watching this video I'm sure you'll want to wait in line with me when this becomes open to the public. How would you use this in your classroom?

Monday, September 29, 2008

What a surprise about homework!!!!

It turns out that acutally giving homework to kids is not that bad of a thing....that is, ofcourse if the parents can handle it. This article in the washington post, explains how students with an active afterschool life can still handle homework in a structred setting.

Not too much of a shocker, but I'm glad that someone actually went out and did the research on it. I for one would not like to tell any parent, that if they had a more structred household than their student might perform better. No thank you, I'll pass.

This is an interesting article that I found has a lot of valid points. A structred household and a structred classroom will increase the chances of any student being successful. So my only question is where do we go from here? Should there be more parenting classes offered to help with this area? What do you think?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

It's goal writing time...

It's that time of the year where I have to sit and go over with my principal about goals that I should have for the year. How many of you have spent hours pondering over this topic? The simple thing would be to look at test scores and reading levels and call it a day. However if anyone were to tell you that teaching is simple, they clearly have no idea what teaching is like. Soooooo I was racking my brain over how to clearly state that I would like to have some kind of positive effect on my kids with it being measurable and defined. But there's the can someone put a clearly defined and measureable label over something that is clearly not...learning?

We all know that students consume information at different rates and styles yet we are to measure them all in the same method and style. How fair and accurate is that? My point being is that if a student who might not learn how to comprehend a story but learns how to stay out of trouble and helps others around him, be ready for the real world of tomorrow? Clearly we would all love for them to be perfect students with A+ averages, but we all know that's far from the case. So, with that being said, which skill or trait would you want your student to leave your classroom and be successful with? We would all love for our students to be nice, and honest, and responsible, and dependable, so on and so forth. If a student who had history of being disruptive left your room with a desire to help others with positive comments, wouldn't that be just as important and vital to a career as anything else?

Teaching is such a demanding profession. Clearly you need to be everything at all times to everyone. Where would you rate job readiness skills in a student with test scores? How would you know if you were an effective teacher to a student?

Monday, September 22, 2008

What kind of teacher are you?

After watching this video I had to think about how I engage my students. It's easy to get stuck in a routine not using technology, but in the end the ones who suffer are the students. They need to be able to learn how to use the techonolgy around us in manner that will aid them in their learning. How many teachers do you know have no clue what a blog is, or what even a podcast is? We need to do a better job of educating and spreading the word out about technology, so that our students will be better prepared for tomorrow. After watching this video do you feel that you are engaging your students correctly?

This text will be replaced

Friday, September 12, 2008

Six steps for better schools...

Make no mistake about it, there needs to be a change in the education system in the United States. Teachers are unhappy with not only their pay, but also the lack of respect, materials, supplies, and the day to day stress that just comes along with the job. This editorial from Florida's Tresure Coast & Palm Beaches offers some suggestions on improvement:

District Officials -

Raise entry-level salaries

Provide real advancement opportunities

Pay bonuses for teaching in the toughest schools

Teacher Unions -

Negotiate new salaries pegged to performance

Loosen tenure rules

Remove certification barriers

What do you think of these ideas? I do feel that just because you are an experienced teacher doesn't always mean that you are an effective teacher. Do you feel that with these steps in place that more effective teachers are going to remain in the workforce?

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Why Work Sucks!!!

I was listening to the radio and I heard Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson talk about their innovative ideas of work culture. Can you imagine going to work and not have to go to meetings, can leave when you want, and show up when you want? Sounds weird, I know. But for some companies this has been just the thing to get morale and productivity up.

Here is a small part from their book, Why Work Sucks:

Do you hate cramming all your work into the weekend?

Do you resent having to beg permission to watch your kid's weekday soccer game?

Are you tired of seeing people who aren't very good get promoted because they arrive early and stay late?

This is a very interesting idea. Going to work, and focusing on making sure that my students are going to get the most out of this year. The purpose ofcourse is to move away from just those who get by just "going through the motions". Both the employer and the employee will look at what each can do to achieve the determined objectives laid out.

I do feel like the majority of staff meetings are well....not the most productive use of my time. Imagine being able to say, "Hmm, No I don't think I'll go to the meeting today, I have other things to do?"

Sooooo.....Here's my question to you, what's your take on this idea? Would you be interested in working in a place that focuses on only the result?

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Do you believe???

I know that by know you're probably looking at the calendar and trying to count down till the next holiday. School can be rough, draining and sometimes very unforgiving. However after watching this 8min video of student Dalton Sherman, I'm sure you'll feel energized to get back at it again. Thanks to Wesley Fryer and Sandra Fivecoat. Enjoy!!!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Mother has problems with Bilingual Pre-K

I was going through my google reader when this story came up. At first I was taken back by the title, but after reading the story I realized that the issue of immigration and making english the official language, coming up again.
What's the point in having an english speaking pre-k if the majority of students are bilingual? It is a numbers game, and you can't please everyone, but you at least try to do the best that you can.
What this story doesn't bring up, is that having bilingual pre-k centers does help build the learners into developing their primary language, which, as they grow older, will help them ease into the english language. You can not simply put a native speaker into an esl program, unless they have developed a strong foundation to build on. Which is exactly what this district is doing. Hmmm....What are your thoughts on this story?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Are you a Great Teacher?

This was post was inspired by Patrick Higgins who earlier wrote about Ben Wilkoff’s Academy of Discovery Wiki, and he attributes it to the folks as Science Leadership Academy, and he belives it is something everyone involved in education should examine.

Let’s take a look at some of the words that are used to describe an “Educational Hero” in this picture:

Provocative: the first on the list, and for good reason. What is someone in education if not provocative. By nature, information is meant to incite in us something that lay dormant or underutilized. Giving our students access to such provocation is an act that we need to do often.

Risk-Takers: We teach our students to take compositional risks, to make cognitive leaps, and to attempt to connect several disparate ideas into one usable and coherent whole. Why should we as teachers not be doing the same? By nature, our approach should be daring, and variable based on “teachable moments.”

Balance-Freedom-Guidance: I like the inclusion of these words, and of “nurturing,” because if nothing else, our students need to feel valuable and safe before they can take the risks that they need to. These words, these actions are what makes it easier for learners to reach from the solid ground of what they know towards that which is shaky, unknown, yet incredibly valuable.

Humble: When I work with teachers who are trying to shift away from being the sole arbiters of information in the classroom, I always stress humility over the stress of trying to know everything. Being grounded, centered and comfortable with the idea that you do not have all the answers, and that these students can help you continue to learn, makes it all beautiful, doesn’t it?
Want to be like them: Perhaps the highest compliment anyone in education can receive. With the omnipresent stream of role models of ill-repute, being someone that learners want to be “when they grow up” is no small feat. I remember the moments that some of my past teachers did something amazing, showed us a door that we didn’t know existed, and then thinking back to it years later as I was doing the same thing to a group of students. It is high praise indeed.

As we are all going through our first part of school, I ask each and every one of you.....Do you see youself acting on all of these traits on a daily basis? School life is not easy, and anyone who says it is, is probably not doing it right. However, I challenge you to try to take this task on for one day a week. Then when you can, take it a step further and do 2 days a weeks. The goal ofcourse is being actively involved in each of these components on a daily basis. If you notice that you are simply "going through the motions" try to do your best to come up with a new way of getting your activity done that you haven't tried before. Let me know what your thoughts are on this topic......

Monday, August 25, 2008

To give or not to give.....

I know it's the timeless question. How much homework should be given out? As it stands, I do believe that homework should not be anything new, or difficult. It should be something that the student can do independently without taking up too much time. Yet I fear that there are teachers out there who feel uncomfortable in not giving loads of work to be done home. Old habits are hard to kill, and I do believe that with good first teaching, homework shouldn't be so taxing.
As a former second grade teacher, I used to make sure that one thing that they would always have to do is read and have their parents sign their reading log. As the year went on, I had them summarize and infer on what they were reading. Spelling and math worksheets were sent home every once in awhile. I made to sure to focus on getting what I wanted the students to learn in class which I saw made a huge improvement on their reading scores later on.

For anyone else out there who has been having similar problems with this dilema, here's a story from the houston chronicle telling how one school district is handling it. How much homework do you give your students? Do you feel that you are giving too much?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sad day...

Today my wife and I gave our black lab to a friend of ours. Even though we barely had him for a year, he was by far the best dog I have ever had. This wasn't an easy thing to do, and if anyone has ever lost someone they loved, than you understand what I'm going through now. You see my friend and her husband were going through some hard times before they got married and at the core of their problems was his black lab. She couldn't stand his dog because not only was he a large dog, but they wouldn't be able to move into an apartment together with the lab. Well, one night they had a phone conversation/argument and when she thought he hung up, she told her friend who was in the room "I wish that dog would die". Needless to say, he told her that he heard that and hung up. The very next day his dog died from being hit by a truck.

By giving them our dog I was able to heal their old wounds and bring some peace to their lives. I feel good knowing that Buddy is in a good home now. They said I can come over to visit, and maybe in time I just might.

Sooooooo...I since I'm feeling rather dogish right now, I thought it would be nice to share this link about dog friendly hotels. For dog owners, this site is a great tool when planning your vacation. It's hard to leave our loved ones behind, and with this great site, now you won't have to. Enjoy.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

What will happen next...?

It's a sad day when a school district does not have enough money to support their finances. It's hard on the school admin, teachers and most importantly the students. So when I came across this story I was really surprised by the way this district is trying to handle their problem. I like the outside the box thinking, and I hope that this solves their short term and long term problems. What do you think of this? How would you solve this problem?

A great book for every teacher...

With the begining of school right around the corner, I thought it would be nice to sit back and relax for a moment. I just read 32 Third Graders and One Class Bunny by Phillip Done and I feel more energized to get back in class than I ever was. His stories are honest and funny, and very easy to relate. I found myself having a hard time putting the book done, and if you get a chance to find it, you'll understand why. Here is a short excerpt from his book...

I Am a Teacher
I read Charlotte's Web and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory every year, and every year when Charlie finds the golden ticket and Charlotte dies, I cry.

I take slivers out of fingers and bad sports out of steal the bacon. I know when a child has gum in his mouth even when he is not chewing. I have sung "Happy Birthday" 657 times.

I hand over scissors with the handles up. My copies of The Velveteen Rabbit and Treasure Island are falling apart. I can listen to one child talk about his birthday party and another talk about her sleepover and another talk about getting his stomach pumped last night--all at the same time.

I fix staplers that won't staple and zippers that won't zip, and I poke pins in the orange caps of glue bottles that will not pour. I hand out papers and pencils and stickers and envelopes for newly pulled teeth. I know the difference between Austria and Australia.

I plan lessons while shaving, showering, driving, eating, and sleeping. I plan lessons five minutes before the bell rings. I know what time it is when the big hand is on the twelve and the little hand is on the nine. I say the r in library. I do not say the w in sword.

I put on Band-Aids and winter coats and school plays. I know they will not understand the difference between your and you're. I know they will write to when it should be too. I say "Cover your mouth," after they have coughed on me.

I am a teacher.

I examine new braces and new blisters and holes in mouths where teeth have just fallen out. I can spell vacuum. I know the magic word.

I wear four-leaf clovers and dandelions in my shirt pocket that have just been picked with love at recess. I pray for snow days. I pray for Stephen to be absent.

I spend Thanksgiving vacation writing report cards, Christmas vacation cleaning my classroom, and summer vacation taking classes on how to relax. I know the difference between a comma and an apostrophe. I can say "apostrophe."

I buy books about cats and dogs and sharks and volcanoes and horses and dinosaurs. I turn jump ropes and am base in tag. I am glad you can only get chicken pox once.

I correct pencil grips and spelling mistakes and bad manners. I push in chairs all the way, push swings higher, and push sleeves up while children are painting. I can touch the paper cutter.
I own one suit, two pairs of shoes, and eight boxes of graham crackers. I have every teacher mug that Hallmark ever made and every Save the Children tie too. I say, "Use two hands!" when they carry their lunch trays. I say, "Accidents happen," after they did not use two hands.

I wear green on Saint Patrick's Day, red on Valentine's Day, and my bathrobe on Pajama Day. I poke straws into juice boxes and untwist thermos lids that are too tight. I unpeel oranges that are too tight too.

I sign library passes and yearbooks and new casts. I attend soccer games and Little League championships and funerals for guinea pigs. I answer to both "Mom" and "Dad."

I am a teacher.

I hope April Fool's Day is on a Saturday. I blow up balloons that will not blow up. I always blow the whistle too early at recess.

I can borrow and carry very fast. I give them more time to answer six times eight than two times three. I never end a sentence with a preposition. I know what a preposition is.
I draw stars and smiley faces. I say, "Take over," in four square games when I was not looking.

Once I forgot eight plus seven.

I know when to say "can" and when to say "may." I have worn green marker, red paint, yellow chalk dust, glue stick, and glitter all on the same day. I hate glitter.

I always begin a sentence with a capital and end it with a period. I always walk in line. I always lose at arm wrestling.

I leave "shuger" and "vilets" misspelled on their valentines. I know all my continents and all my oceans. I tape pages back into books. I can find the end of the new roll of Scotch tape. I call on children whose hands are not raised.

I know that colonel is a really hard word to read, and so is doubt and so is gauge. I know that kids will read started, when it says stared. I have spelled out because and beautiful and friend six million times.

I am a teacher.

I look both ways before crossing the street. I save balls stuck in basketball hoops. I have given 842 spelling tests and have written "Have a Good Summer!" that many times too.

I collect milk boxes and coffee cans and egg cartons. I know all my times tables. I can type without looking. I know that two pretzels do not equal one Hershey kiss.

I can make a telescope out of a toilet paper roll and a totem pole out of oatmeal boxes. I can make snowflakes out of coffee filters and a space shuttle out of a Pringles can too.

I know my notes because "Every Good Boy Does Fine." I know my directions because I "Never Eat Slimy Worms." I know all my planets because "My Very Elegant Mother Just Sat Upon Nine Pickles." And I can only say my ABCs if I sing them.

I fix watchbands, repair eyeglasses, and search for lost milk money after freeze tag. I know when their fists will make a rock and when they will make scissors.

I know when a child does not understand. I know when a child is not telling the truth. I know when a child was up too late last night. I know when a child needs help finding a friend.

I am a teacher.
Copyright 2005 by Phillip Done

Sunday, July 27, 2008

This is a great link....

I know that many of you have already found and played around with cool image generators. Well here's one more to add to your favorites. Says-It is a great site that has a ton of funny images. Enjoy....

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Learning without walls.....

How many times have you gone past a university and cringed at the thought of paying the high tution. In a perfect world wouldn't you love to learn new and cool things without having to pile on a new debt? One of the cool websites that I stumbled upon the other day does just that. Palbea is a place where you can go and learn a new language with others who can help you. There are lots of cool languages and the best part of it all.....IT'S FREE!!! I know, I couldn't belive it myself. Enjoy.

Another site Revoluminary, continues with the education, only goes a step further than just languages. Want to know science, math, social sciences, arts & leisure? It's all there and more. There is a small fee for each course you would like to sign up. I think it's a cool idea and the classes are bound to only get bigger.

The last site is called verbal planet. It's another place to lean languages with others and it uses the skype. You choose the tutor, the language and then you pay that tutor's fee. It's easy to use, and fun to look around.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Hair today....gone tomorrow

I hope this story has come across your eyes by now. I can't believe that there is actually a school out there that would continue with this fight. I can understand a school for wanting some kind of order or consistency amongst the students, but is fighting this battle in public the best option? In order for the school to reconsider they will need to have proof that Native Americans practice this as their religious belief. Just allow the student to continue with the families belief. How can this disrupt classroom behavior? A good teacher should be able to control and handle students of all types, long or short hair.

Do you feel that the student should cut his hair?

Friday, July 11, 2008

What makes a good teacher?

I have been raking my brain over this for last couple of weeks. What exactly makes a great teacher? If you're an administrator the first thing you're going to look at is the test results. But how effectively does that measure a teacher's performance? Test results are important but so is classroom management, leadership, lesson planning, motivation, communication, inspiration, and ofcourse dedication. So the real question remains....How exactly do you measure all of these points?

I think the best idea would be to do a broad evaulation that would include:

a) parents

b) students

c) co-workers

d) administators

Ofcourse it's not going to be a perfect system, but I believe it's a start and given the recent news of school closures, it would be great to know exactly which teachers need more support and resources that would keep the schools open.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

What happened to the good ol' days?

I'm sure that this is not a surprise to anyone but I just came across this story and I had to stop and ponder about it. Meals today at many fast food establishments have tried to include healthy food, but as you can see there are too many unhealthy choices. Students now are growing up in a culture where it's not only ok to be lazy, but with the facebook, and myspace, and everything else, why would a teenager want to leave their home this summer? As role models we also have to make smarter choices, and we can also try to incorporate some health fitness into the classroom.

I know that many of us are not P.E. teachers, but that doesn't mean we can't bring a little of that into the classroom. As teachers we can have the students discuss what makes a healthy food choice and an unhealthy food choice. Have them sort ads from a Sunday paper and discuss what they have experienced. Another way is to graph their heartbeat. Have them start cold, and find their pulse and record their rate. Then turn on some music have do some light aerobics for a few min and again record their pulse. You can increase the level of difficulty a few more times, and then do a warm down and take a pulse.

Activities such as these will not only have your students engaged in the lesson, but also aware of good healthy choices. Which is exactly what we as educators should all strive for. We need to encourage more activites just like we had when we were kids.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Big Brother is least in OH and WV

Sure we all know that there are a few teachers who just aren't up to par as everyone else. This article describes how in Toledo, teachers peer review each other behind close doors and go over in detail how effective that teacher is. Wow!!! I would love to have everyone teach at a high level of excellence, but is this corrrect way to go about it? Teaching is a very stressful job, why make it even more stressful? dos this sound to everyone?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Gas Money for HISD???

Has anyone else heard about the current news going on with HISD? I just read this story and I still can't believe it. It's sad that there are workers who are in those conditions, but I don't believe $250 is actually going to help anyone with gas. At least not for the whole school year. Anyone else have any thoughts on this?

Monday, June 23, 2008

Where I got my name from...

So now that I'm all done with my things, I think it's only fair that I shed some light on where I got my name from.'s not because I'm some great and ego minded teacher, (far from it)'s actually because I really love playing ultimate frisbee. Imagine football and soccer mashed together with a very high intensity level. I'm looking forward to teaching to 4-5th graders next year after school. For more info about the sport click here.
If you're still not sure what I'm talking about, check out my youtube clips on the side bar of my blog. You'll find some highlight clips there. Enjoy.

Thing 23...

1) What were your favorite discoveries or exercises on this learning journey? - I enjoyed the ability to pace myself as I discover new (and old) tools. I really liked all of the google tools, podcasting, flickr, wikis, sandbox, comments, and youtube. There were sooooo many fun things that I'm kinda sad that it's over with.
2) How has this program assisted or affected your lifelong learning goals? - Now I'm no longer have the fear of attacking or discovering new tools as I might have had. I also have more confidence in my discovering abilities.
3) Were there any take-a-ways or unexpected outcomes from this program that surprised you? - I think I'm going to take away just about everything from this program. All of these tools are able to help me, and I'm looking forward to applying them in the fall.
4) What could we do differently to improve upon this program’s format or concept? - The only thing is just add more things!!!
5) If we offered another discovery program like this in the future, would you choose to participate? - You bet!!!
6) How would you describe your learning experience in ONE WORD or in ONE SENTENCE, so we could use your words to promote 23 Things learning activities? Illuminating

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Thing 22...

I like teacher social sites, I just didn't care too much for teacher lingo. I found it to be a bit empty, and not exactly easy to navigate around. I prefer pro teacher because as you can see, has several pages listed by either grade level or subject, or even a place where you can vent and socialize. I do like to check out these boards to find out what's going on at other schools, and if I'm the only one who feels little worn out from time to time.

Thing 21...

I really like using podcasts. I had won a podcasting grant, but I had a lot of problems with the audio. I do enjoy listening to a lot of podcasts, from many different teachers and education programs. I often find myself listening to them while I'm stuck in Houston traffic (which happens all the time). I would like to smooth out the edges around my podcast, so that I can have it up and running for the comming year.

Here's a link to a podcast that I just published about my experience. I used my ipod and a recorder and just uploaded it to audacity so I could convert it to an mp3, and then uploaded it to switchpod.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Thing 20...(again)

Since I am a male Elementary Teacher, I thought this was true. We do need more male teachers, but in the mean time, I'm happy with where I'm at.

Thing 20...

This video pretty much sums up what I think about teachers. Teachers do make a difference, no matter what.

As far as youtube goes, I think it's a great place for teachers, since our students are very visual now. I'm going to post a few more videos of things that I really liked.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Thing 19,,,

There are sooooo many web tools that I had to take a few days and process them in. I really liked how all the research has already been done, which just allows me to take a few moments and explore. It's so easy for us to just get in a routine, that we don't get a chance to explore the other thousand webpages out there. Here are a few of that thousand that I really liked:

One sentence is a great tool for writers to tell a story with just one sentence. I love it.
Docstoc is a great place for teachers and others to share files. I saw lots of great ideas for the fall from this place.
ifoods is like watching the food channel only without the commercials. I love to cook, and this just makes it even easier.

There are a ton more that I'm still checking out, but these are my top three. If you get a chance to check them out, let me know what you think.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Thing 18... that my computer is now working, I can get back to some blogging. I really liked google docs, and I think just the idea of being able to post a document where multiple people can see it is very cool. I was thinking that this would be a great way to post daily schedules, or any other routines that I would like to share with.

The whole world has just gotten smaller, and now with these tools, we can actually work with others around the world. Ok, so maybe we can already do that, but the convenience and the effectiveness has and, is constantly improving everyday. I can't wait to see what the tools of tomorrow will be like.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Thing 17....

I'm not sure why it took me so long to figure out Rollyo....maybe from lack of sleep or it could be because I'm just a little slow, but what a really neat idea. Building your own customized search engine allows you to filter out what your students don't need to focus on, and let's them get results that you want them to get. It's such a great idea...why didn't I think of that?
I can see this a big plus for research teachers who are having problems getting their students to focus on the task at hand. This site, allows teachers to actually go in, and create their own sites of where the search should take place. Very cool.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Thing 16...

Wiki's are very cool. It seems to be very easy to use and for teachers that's a big plus. I like the fact that it anyone can add new content, which only encourages students to be life long learners. However, I can't help but have a bit of an uneasy feeling as well....All you need is one goofball to ruin it for everyone. So if it can be tightly monitored, or secured in some way that will make it safe for everyone, then I'm all in favor of it.

I would like to have a wiki page for grade level teachers. Maybe one page per grade level, where as teachers we can share, and post new activities and experiences. It's so hard for me to keep up with all the new changes, that I'm sure that I'm not the only one. So maybe a Wiki page for teachers would be awesome place to ease teachers in.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Thing 15...

It won't be long, till we start telling our kids how libraries actually used to have a huge amount of books for people to check out. The information age is slowly changing the way we live our lives and it's only a matter of time before the libraries will be affected as well. With that being said, I do believe that schools need to start to make the right choices about where to go to for the future. If you can have a book on-line and read it whenever you want, or drive 2 blocks away in your car during a certain time window during the week for a book that may or may not be there, is an argument that won't be too hard to answer. Having a virtual libary where you can chat with your libarian and get all the information you need when you need it, is exactly where we are heading to.
Especially now, given the price of gas is almost $4 a gallon, people are really watchful about where and how they spend their money and time. There won't be a huge demand for libraries to maintane new books, when they could easily be avaible on-line for a cheaper price. The same argument is also true for the consumer who might have to drive out and waste a bit of gas and time, when they might be able to find their books home and on-line. I don't have any problems with change, but for those of you do might, you should try adjusting now because the tide is coming.

Thing 14...

I just finished reading a blog about weblins from technorati. Think of it as another avatar only you can only see others when you have one. It's kinda cool, and I would never have know about this had I not been surfing around the teched blogs there. Earlier I was also reading about Google Earth Girl and how she is going to a conference, learning how to use more of the tools of google earth. Clearly there is sooooo much information there, that I can just spend the rest of the summer and still not get past the first page. I want to know if anyone else is interested in downloading a weblin. If you do, you can see my new avatar. I'm wondering how I'm going to use this for an education setting.....There'll be a meeting later on where others will be discusing this very topic. I'm looking forward to hopefully seeing more weblins around these pages.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Thing 13... is an awesome site. I love being able to find something specific and just tag it, without having to worry about which folder to place it in my favorites (which now has so many pages, that it's hard to keep up with it all). This site manages all the pages that I found interesting, and then I can go and categorize it however I feel. I often find myself stuck to my home computer, mainly because of all the sites that I have saved to my favorites....Well those days are soon going to be gone, thanks to this.

By searching around through other peoples tags, I found was a very cool feature. It's like being able to search through someone's personal computer and find exactly what they like. This really brings in those hard to find sites to a much wider audience.

As far as instruction wise goes, I think this can be a great researching aid. Google and Yahoo, can only do so much, but when you start seaching through tags, and specific tags, then you'll find exactly what you're looking for.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Thing 12...

I always enjoy reading what everyone has to say. Even if we disagree, I still enjoy reading where that person is coming from. This time around, I discovered how important leaving comments are. I feel like a student who has just turned in a paper, and waiting to find out what my teacher has to say about it. Therefore, it does help to bring in others who don't normally leave comments (a.k.a YOU) by inviting them in.
I'm also going to start responding more to those who have left comments. I feel that's just like sending thank-you notes to those who have given you gifts at a party. It can be a bit of drag, but for those who gave the gifts, might find it very warming and welcoming. Those who leave comments like to also know that what they wrote has actually been read. So that's going to be keeping me busy now for the duration of the summer. Which reminds me, I need to send those thank you cards out from my wedding......5 years ago.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Thing 11....

Everytime I enter a bookstore I feel like I could stay there all day. Just picking up a good book and learning something new, is such a great feeling. Sooooo...I had a great time creating my list of books from LibraryThing. I didn't care too much for the groups. I couldn't find a group that I would be interested in, and it was a little overwhelming to have so many groups listed on one page.

What I enjoyed was finding books that I had already read, by searching through tags. This might help students understand keywords when searching for books. I also like the idea of having them create their favorite books, and also books they would like to read. They can share their reviews on what they liked or didn't like about it.

Thing 10.....

Working with these pict tools was really cool. I liked how I was able to play around and get what I wanted. However, I would like to know how to find a way to save a comic strip that I really liked ( and play around with that. Regardless, I enjoyed finding new ways to play with the tons of picts that I have. It's like having a whole new set of picts all over again.

For the inspirational picts I used I thought this was a very easy and friendly site. I didn't need to sign up, which I really like, (too many steps and I'm outta here). I recommend this site, if you enjoy these kinds of things.

The other site I used I thought it was a bit of a hassel. One too many steps, and when I tried to upload a photo to use a comic bubble, I spent almost all afternoon trying to figure out how to place the bubble. I do like the calvin & hobbes comic, but there wasn't a big pool of stuff that I liked in their library.

I think I can use this to show the kids what makes sense in their writing. It's easy to just write about anything, but when you have to relate it to a topic or a picture, then you have to do some thinking.

Make your own free clipart like this @ with free web based tools (hundreds of image generators that run through a web broswer, no software to buy or install).

Made with free image tools @

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Thing 9....

Now that I've taken a break from exploring all the cool blogs out there, I think I can share some of my thoughts. First, I think the only problem that I have is just having to sort and explore all the cool stuff out there. There is sooooo many cool blogs that I have to share a few that I really liked: - This talks about a lot of cool issues that revolve around education. I really enjoyed this blog because there are lot of new education technology ideas that I know I need to know.

As far as how I got these feeds. I just copied and pasted the address bar onto the google reader. I know that there's the RSS button, but I need to install that and I'm going to have to go back and find out how to do that again.

I used a lot of the links that was provided in the playground and also just searched around websites that I visit that have blogs.

Thing 8....

The way I surf the internet has now officially changed due to the RSS feeds. I kinda knew what they were about, but I didn't know exactly where and how to get the feeds. Now all the sites that I always check up on, will all be updated on my google reader. That's pretty cool. I think this will save me a lot of time of having to go back and forth through all the pages. Now I might have time to mow the lawn......hey wait a minute!!!
I'm thinking of using this for sorts of things. The first thing that comes to mind is tracking the weather. When we study weather, we can use the rss feeds and focus on the updates and focus on real time learning. Sounds like fun already.

Thing 7...

Google has always been a page that I knew had a lot of cool tools, but just never actually gone in and used any of them. I found the photos to be a little bit of a hassle. Mainly because my photos are on another computer and I was trying to transfer the ones I have on Flickr over, without it being a big hassle. I think there's still a way, I just haven't given up yet. I do however like the google documents, and I plan on using that with my grade level team next year. I think just posting our notes or agendas on there will be helpful. Not to mention, very easy to retrieve, which for me has not been my strongest suite.

Update - Since my link to my igoogle page didn't work out that well, I took a pict of it. Here it is....

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Thing 6....

What a fun site. I enjoyed playing around with my photos and seeing them mashed up and arranged into a mosiac. I think this can be good to show different picture covers of books by the same author or books about similar themes. I think the students will enjoy seeing books in this type of mosiac just as much I did.

Thing 5...

As you can probably tell....I really liked going around flickr. I have an account and just saved and used some of mine own picts. I found that when I first uploaded my picts. I left out the tags, now I realize what a huge mistake that was. I've also joined a lot of groups that I can share picts with as well. Here are a few of the picts that I took...

This is what you would call a Venezuelan HotDog....only this was awesome. Believe me, it's a lot better than how it looks. Only make sure to not wear a white shirt when eating....somehow I missed that memo.

The students at my school voted me to dress up as a leprechan. I actually had no idea that this was the costume that I was suppose to wear. It was incredible hot in that outfit, and hard to breathe. Going around the rooms, the kids were actually scared...and I even had one little girl cry. To this day, I'm not sure if I won or lost...but it was a lot of fun.

Thing 4

Now I'm Officially here....and hopefully if there's nothing else missing, I'm here to stay. Now let the good times roll.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Thing 3...

I have had an avatar before, so that wasn't so hard. I thought the instructions were really clear, and easy to follow. Once I found out how I needed to place my avatar on my blog, it was really a piece of cake. Thanks for making it easy for us.
I'm looking forward to reading what others have wrote about their progress throughout the year. I'm looking forward to maintaining this blog.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


For some reason I have some problems with Habitat 4. I know that when I find myself in a difficult situation, it's very easy for me to back down and change into something that I'm used to. I guess growing up, hearing everyone say "I'm not this, or I can't do that" has had an impact on my way of thinking. Now, I strongly believe in the power of positive reinforcement. It's going to be hard to change this part of me, but it'll help for the future.
My strength would be Habitat 3. I can 3 easily view problems as a way of how I can improve myself and others around me. For some reason I don't get stressed out, which helps me to think clearly and reflect on how to improve for the future.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Thing 1...

What an awesome concept.....learning about blogging at your own pace. I like this idea a lot. How many times have I been in one of those trainings that have just dragged on forever.....This is not only very fun, but also informative as well. I'm looking forward to this crazy adventure.