Friday, July 31, 2009

Supplies - continued

I have decided to keep track of what I spend on supplies (and where I put them) for this school year. Just getting ready for this year I have spent $170 for my students. I am still looking for notebook paper, copy paper (at a price less than $30 a case), and copies of a few things (to make posters for my room).

And this is really cutting back for me.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Supplies - from the AJC

Who is responsible for school supplies?

8:43 am July 30, 2009, by Laura Diamond

Today begins the annual sales tax holiday. Families will hit the stores to purchase back-to-school clothing, computers and supplies.

Many schools and teachers mail letters or put on their Web sites the items they expect students to have. The lists include everything from specific types of notebooks and binders to requests for tissues, hand sanitizer, copy paper and other items.

Some families buy all the items. Some don’t. Often teachers use their own money to plug in the holes.

But I wonder what the school supply turnout will be like this year.

With the recession and many families facing tight budgets, I wonder how many parents will refuse to buy items they think the school should supply - like tissues or copy paper.

(Although the hand sanitizer would be pretty useful with all the worries about swine flu.)

At the same time I wonder how many teachers will stop using their own money to pay for these items. Between the furloughs, no raises and increased health care costs, money is tight for educators.

What supplies are you planning to buy? Is the economy forcing you to reconsider what you’re willing to contribute?

[the comments are interesting:]

How about you? By this point, I have usually spent over $100 of my own money on paper and stuff. I have been rethinking how I will teach, but I will not be providing paper and pencils for my students this year. By this point - and they have been in high school at least two years - they know this and know the consequences.

Monday, July 27, 2009

O would some power the giftie gie us to see ourselves as others see us.

I have spent the past month with family. It has been an education to listen to the complaints this one would have about that one - and then see the offending behavior in the complainer.

One sister spends a lot of time complaining about what awful guests the rest of the family is - don't help, don't offer to help, etc. I just spent considerable time picking up her dirty dishes, putting things away she's gotten out - and left (and this is not her house). My family provided dinner and breakfast - with no help. Made me spend some time reflecting on the things I complain about and whether I do them. What a shock, I have faults!!

I am looking forward to school starting, whenever that is!!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass, it's about learning to dance in the rain

If you want something you have never had, you have to do something you have never done. - Dr Shaun Marler,the Senior Pastor of World Harvest Ministries in Brisbane, Australia

If you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you’ve always gotten. - Anthony Robbins

Corollary 1: Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. - Albert Einstein

Corollary 2: If what you say is different from what you do, I will believe what you do. - Anon


The governor of our fair state has declared that all government employees - including teachers - will take a 3 day furlough. Toward that end, he has cut the state's payments to district's budgets by 3%. Some counties have said they will not furlough their teachers, but will make up the state's portion somehow. (The state pays a portion of teacher pay, districts pay some - so some districts pay more than others.)

We start school in less than a month but do not know - at this point - what day we'll start. I wonder when they will tell us when we are furloughed (what days)?

Friday, July 10, 2009


Do any of you ever give a first day questionnaire to your students? I am teaching new courses in the fall, one that will have repeaters, several that will have weaker math students, similar to those I've been teaching (but older).

I am thinking of asking them their strengths and weaknesses, what they do well, what they need help with, what their goals after high school are.

Does anyone have a questionnaire they want to share?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

MythBuster Adam Savage: 3 Ways to Fix U.S. Science Education

MythBuster Adam Savage: 3 Ways to Fix U.S. Science Education
By Adam Savage
Published in the September 2008 issue.

When Jamie Hyneman and I speak at teacher conventions, we always draw a grateful crowd. They tell us Thursday mornings are productive because students see us doing hands-on science Wednesday nights on our show MythBusters, and they want to talk about it. These teachers are so dedicated, but they have difficulty teaching for the standardized tests they’re given with the budgets they’re not given. It’s one reason the U.S. is falling behind other countries in science: By 2010, Asia will have 90 percent of the world’s Ph.D. scientists and engineers. We’re not teachers, but our show has taught us a lot about how to get people interested in science. Here are three humble suggestions that might help reinvigorate American science education.

1. Let students get their hands dirty.
It’s really difficult to absorb things just by being told about them—I know I don’t learn well that way. If students could get their hands dirty in science class they’d be more likely to internalize information. You can lecture about the surface tension of water, but it’s not as effective as conducting an experiment with a needle and a single beam balance. Jamie and I are in touch with a lot of teachers from industrial engineering programs, and one of them told us he thinks our show has helped shift the emphasis from the strictly theoretical to a more hands-on approach.

2. Yes, spend more money on science.
We like to do things on the cheap at MythBusters, and we often find the most elegant solution is also the least expensive. But we still need significant resources. It drives me crazy that one of the first things to go when educational budgets get slashed is science supplies for kids to play with, so students end up just listening to explanations of scientific concepts. MythBusters is not a show where two guys read about stuff—it’s two guys doing stuff. When we need a valve to fire a baseball at nearly the speed of sound, we get it. Most of my friends who are grade school teachers pay for their own supplies. People say, “You can’t just throw money at the problem.” By all means throw money at the problem! Learning science by experi­mentation yields innovation, inspiration, intuition and fascination.

3. Celebrate mistakes.
A good scientist will tell you that being wrong can be just as interesting as being right. The same holds for our show. We love hearing from fans who challenge our conclusions—especially kids. We gave a talk at the Uni­versity of Florida, and a 12-year-old girl asked us why, when we tested whether elephants are afraid of mice, we only used white mice. She was right; we should have tested different ­colored ones. For our fuel-efficiency myth, windows versus a/c, we drove two cars at 45 mph until they ran out of gas; our data showed that driving with the windows open was more efficient. But a fan pointed out that over a certain speed, open windows create so much drag that a/c is more efficient. We repeated the test at 55 mph—and the fan was right. Kids need to know that teachers and textbooks don’t have all the answers—and that’s okay. Sometimes, even a failed experiment can be a good learning experience.

mission statement

The mission statement of a local (successful) high school is: Inspiring students to achieve extraordinary success.

The mission statement my high school has more than 6 times the number of words in it, sort of this: Our High School will foster an environment, with a focus on excellence and achievement, which promotes learning and holds the students, teachers, and community accountable for achievement. Our goal is graduation and we will attain that goal through a standards-based education system built on rigor, literacy, and relevance in our curriculum.

Which do you think the children will remember and take to heart?

How important are mission statements?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

today is not a good day

My daughter is going through orientation for a new school in the fall. The other child is learning the joy of working in a right-to-work (read right to fire) state.

I just finished My Sister's Keeper and I understand what it is like to live in a family and be invisible. I feel that I have lost me completely and - while this has NOTHING to do with school it has everything to do with me.

I want to know where I went.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

where is education going?

I was looking into various things on the internet (OK, I was surfing rather than working) and found a couple of interesting things. Twenty-first century skill maps

And a wonderful discussion on the importance of creativity and whether education is killing it (it is funny, despite the description) [about 20 minutes but well worth it]

Saturday, July 4, 2009

What is the goal - the answer or the process?

I met with a friend yesterday and we got to talking about how things are done in her district. They use a computer based model but the kids keep toggling over to Wolfram to get the answer without having to work.

I know the students get the message that the answer is the goal (one of many reasons I don't like multiple choice tests). I tell them that we are teaching the process and, while we grade on the answer, the process is the key.

I had an opportunity to talk with a candidate for state school superintendent about standards based teaching. I hope I get another opportunity at some point. She was saying that parents are calling her to complain that it is too hard and takes too long to get an answer.

I told her that part of what I saw as the issue is the state wants everything done through investigation (student based instruction) but (particularly the students I had) they need teacher led lessons to explain the concepts before they can do the investigation.

We talked some about who took Algebra when we were coming through versus everyone getting it now. I think everyone can learn Algebra - but not the way the state is pushing it.

Friday, July 3, 2009


They have finished clearing the cars out of the parking lot in Atlanta. Part of the parking deck collapsed at 12:20 pm on Monday. While there were people in the garage, no one was in the section that collapsed.

45 cars were destroyed. Several others had cosmetic damage. But no people were hurt.

Firefighters from around the state shored up the deck, got the cars out, and weren't hurt.

A total of 700 cars were removed from the deck, most without damage.

I know that financially, this will hurt some people who will have to get a new car. And I hope that this works out for them. But I rejoice that the people involved are all ok.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

AP scores

There are students who excel.

My child got this spring's AP scores - three 4s!!

This means exempting English, Physics and Math in the fall!!