Saturday, October 29, 2011

How do you battle a culture like this?

Two rivals faced each other on the football field 2 weeks ago. It was the home team's homecoming and the visitors beat them.

After the game, the visitors went to their locker room - but it was locked. At that point, about 30 of the home team jumped them and started beating up the visitors. At one point a home player had a visitor on the ground, took off his own helmet and started to beat the visitor with it.

The visiting coach jumped in, was set upon and beaten severely with a helmet in the face, breaking many facial bones.

The home team is Hancock County. The visitors are Warren County.

The Hancock County sheriff refused to arrest anyone or turn it over to the GBI - he finally did.

There have been no arrests. There have been no sanctions against the Hancock County football team.

You can read about it here or here or here or here or here or here or here .

Now, none of those stories were on the front page. And the question should be, why isn't this news? Why haven't there been arrests? Why haven't there been sanctions?

Six Word Saturday

There is life outside of school.

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And this week - if it accomplished nothing else - reminded me of that.

Some weeks are just meant to be endured - and forgotten.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Slick is schizo

Today being a new day, Slick acts like yesterday didn't happen and apparently he has the thing he lost - and now we have to discuss it to see about moving forward. (No, I am not in trouble - I am still pissed.) (I may be taking over for PO now that she has landed in the catbird seat and is dizzyling happy).

On a different note, one of my ex students made the front page of the paper. And not in a good way.

I am completely disenfranchised

The Hulk made me mad. He never made me cry or doubt myself, but he made me mad. I avoided him and wouldn't have lifted a finger to help or walk two extra steps to see him.

Slick made me cry.

I am of such little value to him that he lost something that will take me time to replace. Time that I do not have.

There are cracks appearing in his foundation. I do not care enough to point them out.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Another shift - not for the better - in Georgia's math curriculum

Maureen Downey, an AJC reporter, wrote this at her Get Schooled blog.

A math teacher sent me this informative e-mail, which I am sharing with the author’s permission. In essence, the teacher reports that state school chief John Barge has been telling groups that Georgia will follow “traditional” math in its Common Core Georgia Performance Standards — the merger of our state curriculum with the new Common Core State Standards.

But the teacher cautions that the “traditional” math path should not be viewed as “going back to” how math was taught in the past, and that integration remains.

And the teacher says the same problems with math remain.

(Here is an earlier Get Schooled blog on this issue.)

Here is the teacher’s note:

Dr. Barge has announced to various groups over the past two days that Georgia will follow the “traditional” path for the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards in High School Math. I am sure that the blog will light up yet again as word gets around.

Please, please, please do your best to write this (or talk with those that do) to accurately report that this is a re-ordering of the current GPS. About four total units are swapped around from the current “integrated” sequence, AND some topics are moved up from middle school GPS. There is even MORE content in the CCGPS.

Please do what you can to make sure that the phrase “go back to” is not a part of any blogs or articles from the AJC. The Common Core Georgia Performance Standards is not Algebra 1, Geometry, and Algebra 2 of days gone by.

Statistics content is integrated into every CCGPS high school math class. Here are the titles and sequences as released to math teachers via superintendents today:

CCGPS Coordinate Algebra

CCGPS Analytic Geometry

CCGPS Advanced Algebra

CCGPS Pre-Calculus

Accelerated CCGPS Coordinate Algebra/Analytic Geometry A

Accelerated CCGPS Analytic Geometry B/Advanced Algebra

Accelerated CCGPS Pre-Calculus

The use of the terminology “Analytic Geometry” should clearly indicate that the content of the second course is not the traditional “Euclidian Geometry,” which is now largely taught in 8th grade. Analytic Geometry used to be taught in the second half of the traditional Algebra 2.

I no longer have any emotional attachment to any of the delivery models. I am tired of fighting and of hearing others fight. There is so little difference between the two traditional and integrated sequences as presented by Common Core, it is not even worth discussing.

The courses are all integrated in some way, at least in terms of what the word integrated has come to mean. I really pity those that think that the sequence of courses will solve all of the problems with math curriculum. I mean, really? How does the sequence of courses fix the very real problem that there is too much content to master every year?

How does the sequence of courses fix the very real problem that there is not any “review” of content in any year? Students are expected to know 100 percent of the content of the previous years courses so they can master the current year. Last time I looked, 70 percent is passing for a class, and around 50 percent is passing for a state test.

Both of those numbers are waaaaaay below 100 percent. If a student makes a 70 in a math class four years in a row, they will be significantly behind going into the fifth year class. Does anyone really think that every student receiving a high school diploma should have to pass Pre-Calculus?

Looks like to me the questions are all still there. However, I am sure that many people will applaud this sequence because the terminology seems to be close to “the way it was.” Oh, and if any teachers were involved in this decision, I don’t know about it.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Six Word Saturday

ADHD leads to some great conversations!

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While I cooking breakfast this morning and my husband was enjoying his cup of morning tea, we discussed everything from redoing the kitchen cabinets, school, his work, and back to an original topic.

And we could track the conversation!!

Gotta love mutual ADHD - but you have to stay awake to track the conversation!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Does easy mean useless?

I talked earlier about a teacher who kept saying how easy his/her master's program is. He/she was at it again in a meeting. I am drowning between the school I teach in and the one I learn in.

Why would I say it was easy?

Wouldn't it imply that it was useless?

His/her program is online and isn't giving me a warm fuzzy feeling about the value of an online degree.

(My current program feels useless a lot of the time, but it isn't easy. Mrs. Chili, writing does not come easy to me and I know that procrastination limits the feedback I could get to make the writings better - but it doesn't come easy. I suspect that it is the same thing I tell my students: practice and it gets easier.)

Did a review today. A difficult student balks every time I do a review because 1) I am not teaching and 2) I am going too fast and 3) she doesn't understand ANYTHING.

1) it is a review not a lesson and 2) if you can't tell me where I lost you, how far am I supposed to go back to reteach the material we have been going over for two weeks? That you have refused to do?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

And today's math requirements are

Back in the day, you needed two years of math (not necessarily as high as algebra) to graduate from high school. Prior to 1950, most people didn't even graduate from high school, so I am talking about more recent times.

Ten years ago, you could graduate from high school with Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2 - just Algebra 1 and Geometry and an arithmetic class if you weren't going to college. Note: Virginia, who is opting out of Common Core, has added a personal finance and economics requirement to graduation requirements.

Georgia insists that every student take math through trigonometry in order to graduate. No, wait, we will allow them to use a support class that isn't given its own grade to count as a math class but we will only do this for special ed students who cannot master the math. No, wait, let's let anyone who cannot otherwise graduate do this.

Kate Nowak quoted in her blog a software engineer saying too many people are giving up on math before they even know what it is. I do not know of another subject where you have to learn how-to do things before you can really see what it does. If you are stuck in the I-have-to-use-a-calculator-to-do-simple-arithmetic how can you appreciate the sheer fun of factoring?

I use sports analogies with the students all the time - that you have to practice to get better - but they want to play football, softball, basketball, whatever - they have been convinced by their peers, their parents, their former teachers - whoever - that math is meaningless. I struggle every day with simple things that should not be a struggle because the education we offer has no continuity, no links, no book and I am losing any hope of teaching those who do not want to learn.

The game plan is shifting almost every day - it's like playing football and not know if I get 4 downs or 5 today - and I am smart enough to know it is going to get worse with Common Core.

It is a time of Nightmares

I am not the only blogger whose school is being turned around. And I know I am not the only blogger having nightmares - really weird, really scary nightmares - that are related to this whole process.

OK, so last night's nightmare was this. I was teaching older students (they were actually adults, which I do not teach) and I had given some assignment. One student (there were about a dozen) objected to the assignment and said it wasn't "real enough" so he had modified it. If the other students didn't do - whatever - well enough (and he would judge) he would blow them up.

For some reason I didn't report him and every one came back for the second meeting.

He was haranguing us all about something. (we were in a atrium and he was on the railing of a sphere above us, yelling at us.) I was calm. The others were freaking out - but not as much as you would if someone was really going to blow you up. About like you would if you felt you couldn't do the assignment and would fail.

I convinced the majority that they had accomplished what they were asked to and they left. Then I talked him down by convincing him he had accomplished what he had set out to do - which was not blowing up people or a building, but by increasing rigor.

1) poor communication (so much of what he said I cannot remember)
2) all or nothing
3) ineffective way to increase rigor (don't know how you get THERE by terrifying everyone)

Yep, sounds like my life right now.

I was calm - but the first half, I wasn't sure how to accomplish anything except get the class out of the building. By the second class, it all clicked.

(click on this - you will want to see the whole thing)

Note: Got curious about the origin of the word nightmare. The scientific word is disambiguation - won't go there. Nightmare comes from the idea of a German demon or goblin who sat on your chest and made you have bad dreams.

Saturday, October 15, 2011


there must be bacon

Six Word Saturday

Art is good, free is better!!

For more Six Word Saturday participants, click here.

Maria Miller, over at Homeschool Math, listed a free geometry art book. Thanks, Maria!

Did I mention I love free?

The download button is at the bottom of the page.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Me defined

(PO, feel free to steal. LOL)

I told you so

I recommended several of my students last year for a slower more remedial course. I was very explicit in my list to the counselors why these students needed the other course if they are to graduate.

I have several of them again this year. I like the kids, this is the wrong math for them.

When my average grade on a gift test to raise their grade is a 95 and these 3 get in the 40s - you are in the wrong math. When you cannot see that + means add and - means subtract so you multiply - you are in the wrong math.

I will help them the best that I can because this is not their fault - but they are in the wrong math class.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Then I am a pretty funny whore

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Absolutely useless piece of information

The "Hi, my name is Peggy" actor from the Discover ads is (drum roll) an Algebra teacher in his spare time.

Math rocks!

Oh, and the USA Prime Credit website is, surprisingly, always down.

Dumb it down 2

I'd say this couldn't happen but I have been told that the numbers don't lie.


Friends come and go - enemies accumulate (2)

Seems stupid to go out of your way to make enemies.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Six Word Saturday

Dumb it down, dumb it down

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Can you increase rigor without pain?

Tried to increase rigor (which does not mean making it harder but it does mean more work for the student) because we were told to. All of the teachers explained that when we step it up, the grades will (short term) go down. We stepped it up. Grades went down. Parents screamed. Adminstrators caved. We are cleaning up the mess.

Somehow test scores are supposed to go up when the rigor isn't there.

Called parents last night. How do you increase rigor when parents say (their child is failing): "You're too strict. They have lives outside of school and you need to make it easier for them to pass."

How do I get their child to pass my class when the child will not turn things in? Asked the mother that. Response? "She lost it."

I asked every day for 2 weeks.

I left three messages for the mother to call me back.

I explained (in each message I left) that the window to fix the grade was set by someone other than me. And was closing.

Now that I finally reached the parent - and I cannot change the grade in the system - it is somehow my fault.

Someone will be calling Les Nessman - the new AP - to complain that I am too mean.

Someone needs to grow a pair and tell the parents that we are doing their children a serious disservice if we do dumb it down.

Now the researchers are saying it is a brain problem. That's probably my fault too.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Injured in the line of duty

Lakota is a 5 year old police dog. He was injured in the line of duty and the county's response was to retire him so they don't have to pay the bills.

His partner is planning on paying.

Lakota is not in good shape, will lose one leg, and has another broken leg and broken hip. Keep both the dog and his partner in your prayers.

I don't believe you understand what you are saying.

A teacher who has one of those certifications you have to take a series of classes for (specifically, it took 18 weeks of classes, 3 hours per class, one class per week) says, repeatedly, that the certification was more work than his/her Masters degree.

It wasn't more work than mine.

If it was, I do not think I would repeatedly advertise that.

And everyone deserves a chance to fly

Monday, October 3, 2011

Today's email

Our 14-year-old dog Abbey died last month. The day after she passed away my 4-year-old daughter Meredith was crying and talking about how much she missed Abbey. She asked if we could write a letter to God so that when Abbey got to heaven, God would recognize her. I told her that I thought we could so, and she dictated these words:

Dear God,
Will you please take care of my dog? She died yesterday and is with you in heaven. I miss her very much. I am happy that you let me have her as my dog even though she got sick.

I hope you will play with her. She likes to swim and play with balls. I am sending a picture of her so when you see her you will know that she is my dog. I really miss her.

Love, Meredith

We put the letter in an envelope with a picture of Abbey and Meredith and addressed it to God/Heaven. We put our return address on it. Then Meredith pasted several stamps on the front of the envelope because she said it would take lots of stamps to get the letter all the way to heaven. That afternoon she dropped it into the letter box at the post office. A few days later, she asked if God had gotten the letter yet. I told her that I thought He had.

Yesterday, there was a package wrapped in gold paper on our front porch addressed, 'To Meredith' in an unfamiliar hand. Meredith opened it. Inside was a book by Mr. Rogers called, 'When a Pet Dies.' Taped to the inside front cover was the letter we had written to God in its opened envelope. On the opposite page was the picture of Abbey & Meredith and this note:

Dear Meredith,
Abbey arrived safely in heaven. Having the picture was a big help and I recognized her right away.

Abbey isn't sick anymore. Her spirit is here with me just like it stays in your heart. Abbey loved being your dog. Since we don't need our bodies in heaven, I don't have any pockets to keep your picture in so I am sending it back to you in this little book for you to keep and have something to remember Abbey by.

Thank you for the beautiful letter and thank your mother for helping you write it and sending it to me. What a wonderful mother you have. I picked her especially for you. I send my blessings every day and remember that I love you very much. By the way, I'm easy to find. I am wherever there is love.

Love, God

Don't say you're too busy to forward this. Just go ahead and do it.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Saturday, October 1, 2011


Thank Crafty This and That and County Clip Art for the laugh.

And yes, I know who I pictured.

And no, I'm not telling.

Six Word Saturday times 2

Can you increase rigor without pain?

Who is preparing for Common Core?

For more Six Word Saturday participants, click here.


We keep getting told to increase rigor. But, we have dumbed down the academics in order for the kids to pass and no administrator wants to be the one in charge when the grades go down.

I cannot see a way to increase rigor, hold the kids to a higher standard, for a group of students who have not had to work hard without having that painful moment of their grades dropping.

We have taken a baby step - changing how much they can fix a failed test grade. I am struck by the number of students who earned lower than a 50 on a test and still insist "but I need an A in this class."

Well, you have to do better on the tests.

Common Core.

Is anyone in a state planing on doing this? I want to know what preparation they are giving you.

We roll it out next year.