Friday, December 31, 2010

Out with the old, in with the new

That is literally happening in my life.

I am doing some long overdue work on my house. Well, I am doing some, other people are doing more. As we tear off the siding we are finding a lot of rot. And other odd things (like old wasp nests and mold (not much) and a current ant colony) But we found it in time and it is being corrected.

So we have lots of OLD going out.

A close friend just got biopsy results (not good) and so we sit in limbo, waiting for doctors to come back from vacation and do the next tests so we can figure out what comes next. And that level of terror is new.

New isn't always good.

So, keep my friend in your prayers as I keep her in mine.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

It is cold.

We are doing something to the house which is way overdue: residing. And replacing the decks.

It is currently cold as there are holes in the wall. (temporary) It will be better - much - when it is fixed.

The decks were unsafe. This is something we have known for years - we are now able to fix them.

What is striking me the most is, as the decks and siding are removed, the crappy construction of the original builder is being revealed. It is a miracle things haven't fallen apart.

It is similar to teaching. As you start peeling away a student's misconceptions, the faulty foundation is revealed. The difference is that the student has an obligation to help lay the foundation down.

OK - the Interview questions

(For those of us who want to play fair and don't trust ourselves not to cheat. I speak of myself as well)

My background information is that I am in my ____ year of teaching in an _____ school in the ____. I teach _________


How was actually teaching different than what you expected it to be when you went into teaching?

What do people not know about schools or teaching that you wish they did?

What do you think is the biggest problem facing educators today?

What is the best thing about teaching?

Where do you see yourself ten years from now?

Then tell Teacher, I Don't Get It because it is her interview.


I read the topic of the day at Teacher, I Don't Get It and decided I would participate. I answered her questions before I read her answers - and I am glad I did. Her answers are awesome - probably better than mine.

She would like you to take these questions - answer them - and let her know you have done so. Here are mine (and I am proud of myself for not going back and "fixing" them after reading hers):

My background information is that I am in my sixth year of teaching in an suburban/rural school in the South. I teach math. I have 2 years in middle school, 2 years of freshmen in high school and am in my second year of teaching seniors.


How was actually teaching different than what you expected it to be when you went into teaching?
I was surprised about how little responsibility any of the groups of kids that I teach will take in their own education. Bringing a pencil to class (or not) is just symptomatic of the larger picture. They won't stop talking when you are reviewing for a test. They won't participate in state tests that determine their future, sometime to the point of not even coming to class. And then they want do-overs.

What do people not know about schools or teaching that you wish they did?
1) That when budgets are cut, SOMEONE still has to pay for supplies (paper and pencil at minimum). I am seeing more and more teachers declaring that the someone is no longer ME.
2) The emotional toll it takes on the teacher, trying to do the right thing by everybody: the student, the administration, the colleagues, the parents, the state, the teacher.
3) How difficult it is sometimes to teach the content dictated by people who do not adequately convey their intent.

What do you think is the biggest problem facing educators today?

Testing. There is too much of it and (at least in my state) the testing is not necessarily related to the material taught. My state says that the tests come from the standards as do the classroom instruction. Then why have they had to throw out several test scores statewide? (middle grades social studies, 9th grade math to name 2 over the past five years) If everyting were meaningful, there would be no reason to throw anything out.

What is the best thing about teaching?
That lightbulb moment - that moment when the student GETS IT - whether it is a concept in math or his/her worthiness as a human being.

Where do you see yourself ten years from now?
Same show, different day. I see myself teaching some sort of math.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


This article by JD2718 is so perfect - and will be so ignored by the people who just don't get it.


I had a dream last night.

I was teaching something important. The students seemed involved. I walked around and they were working.

When I wrapped it up I noticed that first one student and then another had some report on their desk made up of pages of red construction paper. And the kids were SOOO proud of this report they had done for their English class and they wanted to share it with me.

You would think I would notice the red pages, wouldn't you?

Anyway, none of them had any idea of what I had just spent an hour talking about. And I was mad.


School starts next week.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Couple of things I read today.

Bad college grades a tough record to shake or, why you need to do good all the time rather than at the last minute. The article is about someone in their late 30s, going back to school after failing out at 20, and having to overcome the bad grades. (The university I went to would do a one time do-over. In this case, it sounds like a good thing.)

Subject Matters: Science has an image problem seems to talk more about a resource issue than an image problem.

Back to my book.

Monday, December 27, 2010

For this I burned my bra?

OK, not really, but I put up with a lot of bovine soil enrichment in the fight for sort-of equality and then I read this.

I do realize that in their own Facebook pages by students refer to girls as hos and bitches. And this is both the males and the females doing the referring. I remember objecting to being called a girl. And now, they want to be referred to this way?

What progress.

I watch the blacks refer to themselves as n****s - again, what progress! It is a pregorative - and they embrace it as what you call your friends.

Yep, I could walk up to MY friends and call them hos and bitches. Not if I want to retain their friendship and respect.

I have the kids complain that they have freedom of speech. And I inform them that they don't in a government building.

How do we turn the tide back?

Monday Meme

Stolen, this week, from Mrs. Chili, again.

Time: 10:56 am. I have been up to read the funnies on line, check our route, and decide I am not going to drive through North Carolina. I hate driving in that state on a good day.

In my mug: Coffee and Tia Maria. (Hey, it isn't a travel or a school day!)

Outside my window: Snow. Just hanging around because it is COLD. 34 degrees. (I am a wuss. I live in the South)

In my belly: Coffee and a stroopwaffel. (They are honest-to-God the world's most decadent cookie!! And I found you can buy them on Amazon and not be limited to visits from Dutch friends!)

Beside me: Mr. Ricochet, reading yesterday's paper.

In the fridge: Cold cuts, fruitcake, veggie tray, champagne.

In my ears: Extreme Machines on the Military channel, talking about Harriers. (I told you Mr. Ricochet was in here.

On me: A sweatshirt and flannel jammies. I am not planning on getting dressed.

Looking forward to: The Independence Bowl. (Go Jackets!)

Grateful for: My healthy family, my precious friends, and for feeling no want. (Yep, Mrs. Chili, stole that entirely) Also for a stack of books to read that I cannot get through this year. And all these lovely blogs to read!

Happy Monday and get ready for a new year!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

It's snowing!

Since I have lived in such places as Florida, Lower Alabama. Southern California - this is not normal in my experience.

In fact, this is a first.

Merry Christmas to all!!

Improving schools

I wonder how long it will the Hulk to come up with THIS idea?

It might save his job.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Six Word Saturday

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, to all!!

For more Six Word Saturday participants, click here.

It's Christmas!!

Mamacita writes that we should take Christmas out of our homes and into the community.

We went out today, not really needing to buy anything, as much as much as (my husband says) "we are knoshing."

And some of the coolest stuff happened. In Old Navy, a guy gave us a $15 off coupon because he wasn't spending that much (and we were) - so we gave him out $1 off coupon.

We went to Borders and ended up not buying anything because the line was awful - so gave out 33% off coupon to a guy in the line.

Merry Christmas to all!!

Only at Tech.

When UGA's players are suspended - it is for things like drunk driving. When it's Tech, it's academics.

Only at Tech.

The school is very rigorous.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

"I can't balance my checkbook"

As long as saying that is acceptable, it will be difficult to teach math.

No one would think of saying "I cannot understand what is in the newspaper" or "Here, read this menu to me - I can't understand it." And I realize people do grow up illiterate, but it usually comes with great embarrassment. When someone finally learns to read, sometimes they will discuss this.

But math? Naw, it's ok to say you never got it, you can't do it, when will you ever use it?

I was outside the office of one of the APs and her him telling another math teacher how much trouble she had had in high school math. Well, honey, we knew you didn't get it when we see how you schedule our department.

Stress Generator

That could be another name for the principal.

I met a friend for lunch this week = a friend who opted not to come back this year.

We were talking about The Hulk, and the friend started talking about the sheer number f people on various forms of stress reduction: tranqs, booze,whatever.

I have gained weight the past few years. (my response to stress).

Another friend is struggling with ulcerative colitis - it is wrecking havoc with her life.

I need to find another solution to the stress (something more positive than eating) because I want to continue to teach the students I teach.

I guess tar and feathering the Hulk is out of the question.

As I have said before, he has created an environment where no one has his back.

Justice lives.

Can't Wrap This

Too funny!! Thanks, Ms, Chili!

Permanent Marker causes student to be arrested

Actually, that should read possession of permanent marker causes student to be arrested.

Apparently it bothered the the teacher that the permanent marker bled through paper to the the desk so she had the middle schooler arrested.

What a jackwagon.

Step closer, grasshopper, and let me give you some VERY useful tips.

First, Fabuloso. This stuff is awesome at cleaning desks and walls. And it smells like oranges.

Second, your handy dandy dry erase marker. (I know you all will try this - it is ok. I promise it works) Color the permanent marker with dry erase. And wipe. Sometimes you have to do it a couple of times.

Having used a permanent marker on a white board before, this is useful to know.

So, wish I could have told the jackwagon teacher before she decided to be a dipwad.

Merry Christmas!!!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I don't know how good a friend I am

I try to be there for my friends when they need me but the jobs I pick, including teaching currently, seem to get in the way of being there.

A friend will have a biopsy on the day school starts back.

I know before I even ask that I will not be allowed to miss it, even though there are no students.

This sucks.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Cell phones in the classroom

I just read a comment from one of our Board members that, since the policy on cell phones will change in January, the teachers should use the cell phones as learning devices.

One more thing they expect us to incorporate on the fly with no resources.

But, being game I found an article that discussed cell phones as a learning tool.

It turns out there is an app called Math4Mobile, which has a lot of math tools built in.

I also found a program used in North Carolina, also discussed here.

So, do any of you in Blog land use phones as learning tools?

Latest Stupidity

A student sent me a link of a YouTube video he had made. From there it was possible for me to find 3 other students - and listen to some of their profound thoughts.

I assume they have never been told - or do not believe - that what goes onto the internet never really goes away.

Some of this is going to come back to haunt them.

Monday, December 20, 2010

If you knew the content of the state mandated test, would you share?

If you had seen the test, would you share the kinds of questions with other teachers?

In a lot of states, the tests are released so I guess you could teach to the test. I know New York and Virginia do.

It always seemed more difficult to teach to the test than to teach the material - what do you do? "The answer to this question is C"?

But I digress.

In Georgia, we cannot see the test. We see the released questions - these are the ones that were too hard, too easy, or poorly written. In any case, they are the questions that everyone got - or no one got, so they are no longer used.

Real useful.

I know percentages. But they are not useful. "30% of this test will be Algebra."

I want to know what they think these tests are testing. Do they think they test our ability to teach? The students ability to think? The teachers ability to forecast what is on the test?

If you knew something that could help other teachers in your school so they could help their students, would you? Or would you hold it close to the vest so you look like a better teacher?

Discovering math

I know what works.

I know how to teach.

I can't teach to the test (that is a blog coming soon) even if I wanted to.


I am going to be judged on how I teach math as a discovery lesson. Refusing to answer their questions, doing student discovery groups with minimal teacher direction EVEN THOUGH WE KNOW THAT THE GROUP WITH THE MOST DIFFICULTY IN THE SUBJECT (black males) LEARN BEST IN A TRADITIONAL WAY.

Really soon, I will be replaced by a parapro.

Why do you need a certified math teacher to teach a math class when you want them to teach it to themselves without books?

John Spencer writes that if you teach the students the material, they can pass the test.

I watch the students I have struggle with this whole concept. Not of my teaching - but of my requiring them to "find" it. They want direction.


As a teacher I am balancing what they want against what the administration wants.

I know the importance of a good education.

I know how to behave in class - even if I think the teacher is a moron.

I am struggling with teaching students who do not want to be there.

I agree that discovery math works if the students want to discover.

How can it work if they use the "discovery" time to socialize? If they think they can fix a semester of not doing anything with a week or a day at the end?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Six Word Saturday

I hate when kids fail me.

For more Six Word Saturday participants, click here.

I realize they are the ones failing - that I didn't fail them. I wish sometimes that I was Mr. Chips, or Dumbledore, or Jean Brodie or someone special who could inspire them - or that I could find the special button for each one.

I was cussed out yesterday for failing someone who doesn't come to school, doesn't stop talking when she is here and thinks she can pay attention to math while talking about this ho or that.

But I made the only decision possible.

I had others not come the last possible day to pass. And two that I had to fill out their failure cards before the realized I wasn't kidding.


Two weeks and we start again.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Evaluate the teacher

I was told today that a kid understands math better than he ever has and he likes me the way I am because I answer questions when he asks.

I was told by a parent that I am the best thing that has happened to her son.

I was also told what I could do with myself, but I think it is physically impossible.

So, a nice balance and I am happy.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Remember they are kids. . .

Several people have posted lately that the kids we teach are, well, kids.

I watch them make incredible decisions as if they are unable to link cause and effect and yet they see that same cause and effect in other situations.

A boy puts off til the fifth month any effort in class where, if it were a football game, he understands that he cannot wait til the fourth quarter to play.

Another is out at least one day every week. I realized when he asked me a question on the final that he has trouble reading. (Sorry, he hasn't been here enough for me to pick it up before). He had trouble with a problem because he read CHANGE as CHARGE.

Another student who loudly proclaims that any 'disrespect' on the teacher's part is racially based. Disrepect would include failing a student who earns it.

He will make no effort to do anything that will raise his grade.

Remember the boy who told me that the grade he had earned was unacceptable? He slept during the last opportunity to raise his grade. Oh, well.

I kept telling them that they needed to DO work if they wanted to pass. "Take it seriously or take it again"

Some will be taking it again because they would come - sometimes - but sleeping isn't doing.

The ones that worked passed. The ones that didn't, didn't.


Worse than icky. No school.

Ah, what to do with a "free" day. I am current on grading - except for about 3 papers left at school.

I guess, clean house.

Icky weather

We open late today since it is exam week - and the roads are treacherous.

Monday, December 13, 2010


I have been hammering at the state test since Thanksgiving. I haven't had any tests or quizzes but I have given all kinds of grade-raising stuff - including several that could have been done over the Thanksgiving break.

1) No one did anything over break
2) One person has done all of the stuff
3) Only about a third have done something.

Tomorrow is their final and the day I should maybe see their state scores.

Today I handed out progress reports to REMIND them where their grade is sitting.

One darling said "This grade is unacceptable."

I almost told him I could live with it - because I can. I have offered so many different options. I have even worked out most of this stuff in class. I am not the one who slept in the class. I am not the one who let a month's worth of opportunity slip through my fingers.

I told him find and do some of the stuff I put out there.

Take it seriously or take it again.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sitting duck

Here is an amazing story told with photographs of 2 eagles attacking a duck.

(It's ok, the duck survives)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Free tool to enhance PowerPoints

Teachers, here is a great free resources to add to your PowerPoint presentations. A simple way to make things interactive and did I mention, it is FREE too.

Merry Christmas!! God Bless us everyone!

We bought gifts for 2 kids for Clark's Christmas Kids. Here is a related article.

Could not find a telescope, but we did buy a bike for one boy and a Vtech laptop of educational games for a little girl. I hope they have a Merry Christmas!

Neal's article points out that Clark's Christmas Kids accounts for 1/2 the toys that Georgia's foster kids get for Christmas. If you choose to donate on Clark's website (first link) the money will be sent to the DFACS nearest you. (Whatever you call your Department of Family Services)

I challenge you to think of a child in foster care for this Christmas or Chanukkah (yes, we just missed it) or Kwanzaa.

Six word Saturday

The Yuletide season is upon us!

For more Six Word Saturday participants, click here.

I meet a friend for breakfast, another for lunch and there is a party tonight with old friends! You have to love this time of year.

And we might get snow tomorrow or Monday!!

And only 5 more days before the semester is over!

I do not know what makes me happier.

Friday, December 10, 2010

What extrinsic methods can you use to increase intrinsic motivation?

Wow, doesn't that sound educated?

Finals are next week.

I have kids who are repeating classes.

I have shown them the grades they have and told them how to raise their grade.

I have made them write down what they have to do to raise their grade. Basically, sit down, shut up, do your work and turn it in.

So, today, as I am working through the review (because they will not work it on their own), 6 people out of 25 are listening. Two were legitimately not there. Six others didn't come. Eleven are talking.

One tore up another student's review sheet.

I guess they can repeat it again.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Worst Professional Development - EVER

Let's see, first I was told to go and the only useful information I got was a URL.

She read the powerpoint. When someone asked a question, she would pull up the IMPORTANT SLIDE - the one with the BOLD and HIGHLIGHTED words, point to them, and READ THEM AGAIN.


Did I mention that she read the powerpoint?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Teach the ones ya got

A wise teacher (I will call him Side Squared because his name is too close)once told me that we are given, not the ones we want. Unless we are THOSE teachers at Pissed Off's school who dump the ones who don't preform, we deal with the kids we are given until they pass or leave.

I dislike some of mine, but I teach them math and try to also teach them things like pulling up their pants or taking their hats off (or listening instead of talking).

I heard a teacher say today that a student was an idiot and couldn't even solve an equation. This after the kid's mom had been complaining to me that the same teacher wouldn't talk to the mom or answer questions.

I didn't put myself in the middle but found myself there.

Well, it inspired me to teach harder and do more.....

Monday, December 6, 2010

Monday Meme

I have never done a meme before but stole this one from Mrs. Chili because of the fruitcake question. She got it from Kwizgiver.

1. Real tree or Artificial? Artificial(the family has allergies to the real thing)

2. Do you like decorating the tree? Absolutely!! (I love the stories with each ornament)

3. When do you put up the tree? Thanksgiving weekend.

4. When do you take the tree down? New Year's day with the football games.

5. Do you like eggnog? Not really. But I have some every year. Mr. Ricochet loves it - and peppermint ice cream. (not together)

6. Ever broken a present right after opening it? No.

7 . Hardest person to buy for? Mr. Ricochet. And my mother.

8. Easiest person to buy for? My children. They want it all.

9. Do you have a nativity scene? Several. My favorite is German. From my honeymoon.

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Mail. Late. (We call them Epiphany cards to cover our bases).

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? A set of measuring cups from my mother in law the first year I was married. I came to understand later.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? It's a Good Life.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? When I see the RIGHT thing (so all year)

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Duh.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Fruit cake, rum balls, cookies, turkey, pigs in blanket Christmas morning, everything.

16. Have you ever actually eaten fruit cake? We figure there is one every year, circling the globe. When it hits our house, we eat it. Seriously, we all love it. So did our parents. I love that James Beard had one in his cookbook - or the New York Times cookbook does - with my real name, spelled right. And it is delicious also.

17. Favorite Christmas song? All of them.

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? We stay home for Christmas Day and travel home the next day.

19. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer? Dasher, Dancer, Fido - no.

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? An angel I made.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Morning. When the kids were younger they were allowed to open one after the Christmas Eve service.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? The commercials.

23. Favorite ornament theme or color? All of them.

24. Favorite Christmas dinner? Looks like Thanksgiving dinner.

25. What do you want for Christmas this year? My new computer!!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

New Computer

I got a new computer for Christmas (yes, that isn't for 3 weeks, yes I am using it now, yes I will wrap something to put under the tree). And, yes, it is a pain in the butt moving everything, remembering passwords, etc.

Hubby is trolling the old machine to see if I got everything off so I can gift it to someone. It is still good - just too slow and too small and too old. (Except for the small, that describes me as well).

I am finding things still on this machine (like where did they put the delete key).


Saturday, December 4, 2010

Dear Customer Service Rep:

"No Problem" is not the same thing as "Thank You."


Georgia is ranked 24th in size in the US (about median for the states). It is about 59.5 thousand square miles and has 159 counties, 159 seperate governments (plus several cities with their own governments like Atlanta). And more than 159 school systems.

California is ranked 3rd in size in the US (Alaska and Texas are first) and has 58 counties in the 163.5 thousand square miles.

Does that not seem strange to you?


Read this and this.

Holland Reynolds, 16 years old, struggled to finish the race but finally crawled the last 2 feet. This allowed her team to win even though she herself came in dead last. She was determined to finish for her coach.

Coaches, teachers: would your students do this for you?

Would you do this for the people you work with?

And Mrs. Claus gets it done!

This is hilarious!

I want Mrs. Claus to take over my room!

Six Word Saturday

It is all up to them.

For more Six Word Saturday participants, click here.

Our state test is next week.

For three classes, whether they pass the course or not depends on whether they can pass a 2 hour test. I wonder if some of them will wish they had put in more of an effort.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Internal Motivation

I should not care more than my students do about their grade.

I should not care more than my students do about the state test coming up - the one they have already failed once.

And yet . . . .

* I had one student come in for 1 day of review (he was home alone the rest of the week). He talked, joked, hit his friends the entire time he was in my class. He did not even copy information.

* I had one come into class on the last day for the last 5 minutes. (Again, absent the rest of the time). Math was not on his radar.

* One girl came in half the time. She entered late every day (apparently she is unwilling to ride the bus). One day she entered late, walked over to a girl, and stuck her breasts in the girl's face. I do not know why.

* They take the papers I put out to raise their grade - and (I don't know) eat them? In any case they never have them, never do them, but continually ask what they can do to raise their grade.

* One girl comes to another of my classes from study hall in order to raise her grade. She does no work, asks no questions, accepts no help - then sleeps. WTF? Why bother to come?

But I have been assured it is all because I do not inspire them.

They are already repeating the course. They and their parents have been told by 2 teachers in a row that attendance and effort play a part in the grade they get.

I look forward to this class being over.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

I actually feel sorry for Funsucker.

The principal told her today that if she would offer her resignation, he would accept it. How completely unprofessional. She has issues, but he is an ass.

This was when she went to him because another teacher will not explain things to the kids who respond by saying "that's why everyone is failing."