Sunday, December 31, 2006

Nothing Says Immaturity Like . . .

your very own potato cannon.

Happy New Year Everyone!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The Festivus Airing of Grievances

A tip of the hat to Ms. Cornelius over at A Shrewdness of Apes for the link to the Festivus Airing of Grievances page.

Here's my personal Festivus grievance:
People who drive in the left hand lane below the speed limit, even though they have clearly never passed anyone in their lives and never will. Do you think those "Slower Traffic Keeps Right" signs are there just to give you something to read?

I'm pushing for a constitutional amendment to allow you to bump them out of your way.

Feel free to add your own.

Monday, December 25, 2006

In Which I Discover I Need A Walker

No, not that kind of walker, at least not yet. The kind of walker I'm referring to is like the one in the picture to the left. Moody Gardens had these "walkers" to help people who were having difficulty ice skating. Unfortunately, I couldn't get any of the kids using them to let me have one. I did manage to skate a few times around the rink without falling down and breaking anything, so I consider myself as having come out ahead.

Merry Christmas to All!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Moody Gardens Here We Come

Last month I won 4 tickets for all the attractions at Moody Gardens in Galveston from a local radio station. The contest was one where you had to identify the title and the artist, and they usually make it very easy by playing a clip that has the title in it. The title, Electric Avenue, was very easy but no one seemed to know it was by Eddie Grant.

I haven't been to Moody Gardens in years, but their website boasts of a Festival of Lights, an Aquarium Pyramid and an ice skating rink (just the thing for a 43 year old with a sedentary lifestyle and bad knees).

Hopefully I won't bang my head on the ice.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Spinning Class . . .Am I Missing Something?

The local healthl club has converted one of its racquetball courts into a facility for "spinning" class. This particular club is the only one in town that has racquetball courts and the courts are often quite busy, so I'm at a loss as to why they would give up 25% of their courts.

I watched a class the other day, with all of two people in it, and determined you need the following items:

1. stationary bikes
2. a really loud sound system
3. some really crappy music
4. a "Bike Nazi" to yell at the class members.

If you've ever seen the movie Fever Pitch and you remember the scene were Drew Barrymore is in exercise class on stationary bikes while she talks about the new guy she met, then you have seen a spinning class in action.

Am I missing something here?

Friday, December 15, 2006

I Think I'm Gonna Hurl . . . Spew, Ralph, Upchuck, Praise The Porcelain God

Well the fall semester is over and what a whirlwind week it was, filled with field trips, parties, fun activities and mostly sweet things to eat. I would estimate in the last week I've consumed my body weight in sugar laden foods, leaving me to feel like it will all be coming up soon.

Please feel free to add your own euphemism for vomiting.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

The Queen Blogger of All Public Education Bashers is Promoting Reduced Class Sizes

I couldn't believe it, but Joanne Jacobs is actually using the Tennesee STAR Study results as a proof early education and class sizes are good for student achievement.

I couldn't believe it when I read:
Small classes in the early grades provided a lasting benefit to students, especially low-income black students, in the Tennessee STAR study.

Maybe us teachers, who have been saying reduce class sizes for years, really do know what we're talking about.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Things Are Getting Bad Out There

The Burger King Corporation has come up with a new promotion for its unusual "King" commercial character, video games where the King plays the main character and apparently injures himself frequently in his quest to serve Whoppers to other characters. The games are available for $3.99 with the purchase of a meal

In short, Burger King has come up with a new way to market its high fat, high calorie food to children and is getting parents to directly cover the costs. The kicker is hundreds of thousands of parents will oblige them by buying the games. Schools will continue to be blamed for the obesity epidemic among America's children.

I would ask, are parents really that stupid, but I'm afraid I already know the answer.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Oreo Balls, They Taste Great and They Sound a Little Naughty

I had to attend another baby shower today, the 3rd so far this year (with 4 more to go), but this time I really didn't mind because one of our special ed. teachers had made her infamous Oreo Balls. They are so good that I'd be willing to bet the folks who wrote the Lays Potato Chip commercial (Bet you can't eat just one) had traveled forward in time and sampled them. She was also kind enough to share her recipe, which follows:

3 bags of Oreos (2 reg. & 1 double stuffed)
4 boxes of cream cheese
Chocolate almond bark (for dipping)
Vanilla almond bark (for drizzling)

Crush the Oreos in a Ziploc bag and pour into a large bowl. Mix the cream cheese in with the crushed Oreos. The mixture will still have a crumbly texture. Put the mixture in the refrigerator and let it set overnight. Take the mixture out and form into balls. Dip the balls into the melted chocolate almond bark and place on wax paper. After the chocolate hardens, drizzle the melted vanilla almond bark over the Oreo balls. Store the Oreo balls in the refrigerator.

Go ahead, try it. You WON'T be able to eat just one.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Another Katrina T-shirt

This one is for NYC Educator, who liked the levee shirt but didn't think it was funny.

If this one doesn't make you laugh big guy I'll have to get out the dirty ones.

Friday, November 24, 2006

A Funny Shirt Being Sold in New Orleans

I spent 4 days in the New Orleans area last week. This is one of the funnier (and clean) t-shirts being sold, just in case you need a laugh.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Bush Family Ethics at Work

From Jim Hightower comes this story of how clueless Neil Bush is benefitting from legislation championed by his brother W. According to the story:

As honcho of an outfit called Ignite! Learning, he goes around to school districts hustling a computerized learning center dubbed COW, for Curriculum On Wheels. Made up to look like a purple cow, it's wheeled into classrooms where it uses jingles and cartoon videos to "teach" students. Each COW costs $3,800 and at least 13 school districts have used No Child Left Behind money to purchase them. That money is primarily intended to help disadvantaged kids learn reading and math – yet, Neil's COWs don't teach either of these subjects. Curious.

My favorite part of the story:

Ignite's ethics are also on display in a company video on its website. A Texas teacher named Lori gives a glowing testimonial about how COW did wonders for a young student named India. Only, Lori is really not India's teacher. She's Ignite's marketing director. Ignite says Lori was not lying... just role playing.

Hightower doesn't mention a few other ethically challenged players in the education "reform" movement including Junk Bond King and convicted felon Micahel Milken, the moneybags for K12 Inc. Or William "The Book of Virtues" Bennett, whose book shares stories of how we all should all be living our lives while he is racking up huge gambling losses.

On a side note:

Happy Thanksgiving to All!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Ahhh, vacation

Yesterday was a great day, nice weather, last Friday before a week off, a payday AND cinnamon rolls in the cafeteria for breakfast. It doesn't get any better than that.

Well, there was that fact that I forgot to finish my lesson plans. And I think I left some rechargeable batteries plugged in to the recharger. But other than that it was a pretty good day.

Now I'm off to spend the obligatory 3 days visiting relatives in Louisiana.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

A Dirty Little Cartoon

This comic is so delightfully dirty I had to post it. Of course, if you were never once an immature 14 year old male, or don't currently have the maturity of a 14 year old male, you may not get it or find it that dirty.


Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Texas Parent PAC scores big in the election

Via comes this press release from the Texas Parent Pac, a public education advocacy group who has been extremely successful in electing pro education candidates to the Texas Congress.

According to the group:
Children, parents, and neighborhood public schools were big winners in the Texas House of Representatives elections Tuesday, as many new legislators were elected who are committed to strengthening public education. This was partly due to the efforts of Texas Parent PAC, a statewide political committee formed in July 2005 with the goal of electing more state legislators who would stand up for children and high quality public education.

All of the candidates supported by the Texas Parent PAC were successful, many defeating pro voucher candidates whoring for San Antonio millionaire Dr. James Leinenger.

One mistake in their press release, Donna Howard is a Republican, not a Democrat. She defeated Republican lapdog and public school basher Kent Grusendorf in the Republican primaries earlier in the year.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Good News and Bad News

Today has been a mixed blessing, both good news and bad news.

Good News After a week of fruitless searching I have found my rechargeable flashlight. It was in the attic exactly where I left it.

Bad News I found 3 electrical wires that run to an area of the garage where there are no electrical outlets or devices. It is driving me crazy wondering what they go to.

As soon as my flashlight is recharged I'm finding out.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Go Bush Go!!!

Not THAT Bush, or the title would have said, "Go Bush Go! And Stay There!"

I'm talking about Reggie Bush and the fact the NFL is returning to my hometown of New Orleans for some Monday Night Football.

There will be massive amounts of media coverage, probably including many parts of the city still devastated and yet to be rebuilt, if they ever are. My old neighborhood is showing signs of life, the bar on the corner has reopened although Benny's (a.k.a. The Butcher) Barbershop on the opposite corner hasn't. I once had to take shelter in that bar, as Benny was attempting to settle a domestic dispute with his wife by waving a pistol around and firing it into the air. At the time, it was a hangout for a much older crowd. If you've ever seen the scene from Animal House where they go into the bar to see Otis Day and the Knights, and all music and talking stops and everyone stares at them then you know what it was like when I stepped into the senior citizen's bar. However, they were kind enough to assure me that Benny often fired his pistol into the air during arguements with his wife and invited me to have a beer. But I digress. The home I grew up in has been remodeled from a double to single home and is for sale. I believe the asking price is $170,000 which rules out me buying it for sentimental reasons.

My last time in the Superdome was about two years ago. My nephew-in-law and myself bought two sideline tickets off a street scalper entrepeneur and watched a truly awful Saints game. The Bronos marched up and down on the Saints at will. How bad was it? The fans cheered when a Broncos back was held to only 6 yards on a carry! It was so bad the Saints cuckoo owner, Tom Benson, said afterwards they played like a bunch of high schoolers. It was so bad a diehard Saints fan intentionally started a fight with a Broncos fan so he could get thrown out and not have to watch the rest of the game. He did miss a really good booing and cursing session when time expired.

So hopefully New Orleans will be ready for some football. Hopefully the Saints revamped defense will put some major pressure on Michael Vick. I'll be in front of the TV in my Deuce McAllistar jersey.

Run Reggie run!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Another Late Friday Afternoon Report That Makes the Bushies Look Bad

In another late Friday afternoon release, a recent audit of Bush's reading panel has turned up significant evidence of ignored laws and violations of ethical standards.

According to this CNN story,
. . .the Reading First program has been beset by conflicts of interest and willful mismanagement. It suggests the department broke the law by trying to dictate which curriculum schools must use.

Other juicy tidbits include:
It also depicts a program in which review panels were stacked with people who shared the director's views, and in which only favored publishers of reading curricula could get money.

One Bush official, Chris Doherty, program director for Reading First, was found to have said of he didn't approve of:
They are trying to crash our party and we need to beat the (expletive deleted) out of them in front of all the other would-be party crashers who are standing on the front lawn waiting to see how we welcome these dirtbags

A typical, unqualified slimeball Bush appointee who doens't give a damn about children and who has never taught a day in his life. The "party" he is referring to is paid for by the taxpayers at the expense of children's educations.

Other findings from found the Ed. Dept.:

- Botched the way it picked a panel to review grant applications, raising questions over whether grants were approved as the law requires (Botched? No. Deliberately loaded up the panel giving out the grants? Yes.)

- Screened grant reviewers for conflicts of interest, but then failed to identify six who had a clear conflict based on their industry connections. (I wonder if those 6 had connections to McGraw-Hill?)

- Did not let states see the comments of experts who reviewed their applications (Why should they? They've been ignoring the comments of professional educators for years)

- Required states to meet conditions that weren't part of the law (why let a little thing like the LAW get in your way when your friends need to make some money?)

- It says he (Doherty) repeatedly used his influence to steer money toward states that used a reading approach he favored, called Direct Instruction, or DI (Wonder what kind of deals were made to make sure DI received that money?)

Spellings, of course, knows nothing about it all. I predict very shortly there will be editorials from Jay Mathews claiming the investigation is riddled with inaccuracies. Look for it by the end of the week.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

One for the techies

I found this in Lateshow archives, from this summer. It gave me a laugh, so for all you computer geeks out there:

Top Ten Signs You Bought A Bad Computer

10. Runs on 200 "D" batteries

9. In the morning you have to defrost it

8. Runs on Windows '78

7. Box reads "Pre-loaded with hundreds of viruses!"

6. Tech support number is a Silicon Valley Applebee's

5. For better internet reception, salesman includes pair of rabbit ears

4. You move the pointer around by licking the screen

3. It's made by IBN

2. The mouse bit you

1. When you tell it to print, it tells you to go screw yourself

My wife often complains that we don't have a "real computer" and that I should stop buying cheap stuff. She doesn't buy my arguement that all the parts are basically the same AND I built it myself. Somehow everytime she touches it it messes up.

Must be an I-D-10-T problem.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Rediscovering an old joy

While cleaning out my storage unit I came across my old collection of Calvin and Hobbes books and I rediscovered the joy of reading them. My daughter has also become a big fan.

If you liked Calvin and Hobbes then you will probably also enjoy Zits. I'm convinced that Bill Waterson, the creator of Calvin and Hobbes, must be one of the people producing Zits, or they were extremely heavily influenced by him.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Homer Simpson's Life Lessons

Found this list of Homer Simpson's life lessons and thought I'd pass my favorites along.

"Kids are like monkeys, only louder."

"When someone tells you your butt is on fire, you should take them at their word. "

"You can have many different jobs and still be lazy."

"You may think it's easier to de-ice your windshield with a flamethrower, but there are repercussions. Serious repercussions."

"There are some things that just aren't meant to be eaten. "

"The intelligent man wins his battles with pointed words. I'm sorry -- I meant sticks. Pointed sticks. "

"There are way too many numbers. The world would be a better place if we lost half of them -- starting with 8. I've always hated 8. "

"When you borrow something from your neighbor, always do it under the cover of darkness."

"My favorite color is chocolate."

I can't believe they left out, "Donuts, is there anything they can't do"

If you're really bored you can read life lessons from Pamela Anderson, Ozzy Osbourne, Tom Petty andHeather Locklear.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Talk Nerdy to Me, Baby

I've been giddy with excitement all week. Its been months since I've stuck my hand inside my computer to upgrade some piece of equipment but that long drought has officially come to an end. Last weekend I ordered this video card from Tiger Direct. At the time I ordered it there was a $15 mail in rebate, so my total price was only $35.

What did I get for my money? I upgraded from a 4X AGP 64MB card to an 8X 256MB card. I had been having some difficulties with my computer freezing up, and when I pulled the old card out it practically fell apart in my hand. My next purchase will be for more memory. While checking out the specs on my motherboard I happened to notice it could handle up to a gig of DDR 400MHZ. I'm currently running 512MB of 266 mhz DDR RAM.

If I only had a serious game to play to test out the new capabilities. The most intensive game I have is Combat Flight Sim 3, which is a buggy piece of garbage.

Hmmm, I wonder if TigerDirect sells software?

Thursday, August 24, 2006


The other night I watched a show on the Discovery Channel called the Stunt Junkies. An episode the other night featured someone trying to skate down a huge ramp, then jump onto a 30 ft. rail and "grind" himself over the edge of a cliff and into the Grand Canyon, where he would parachute to safety. Now I'm a big fan of The Darwin Awards and I'm all for stupid people removing themselves from the gene pool, but what irks me about this show is these people are promoted as "part scientist, part stuntman".

On the show I watched the big concern was that as the skateboarder transitioned from the ramp to the rail he might fall and not clear the rocky cliff on his way down, which is exactly what happened. Fortunately for him, he landed on his back on the rail and slid far enough down it to clear the rocks safely. Upon landing at the bottom of the cliff he had this conversation with the show's host:

Host: Dude!
Stunt Junkie: Dude!
Host: Dude!!
Stunt Junkie: Dude!!
Host: DUDE!
Stunt Junkie: DUDE!

Most of you are probably not aware that the word dude can be used to convey many different emotions, so for those of you who are not immature males here is a translation of the conversation above:

Host: Dude!! (That was quite spectacular, unfortunately I lack the vocabulary to express my feelings of excitement, even though I'm the host of a TV show)
Stunt Junkie: Dude! (That is quite alright my friend, as I am not capable of comprehending most polysyllabic words)
Host: Dude! (You must be relieved that your incredible good luck more than compensated for your lack of adequate planning, safety measures and overall good sense)
Stunt Junkie: Dude! (Yes, I am happy I did not bash my skull against the rocks)
Host: DUDE! (Will you be performing any future stunts that will result in a serious decline in your life expectancy?)
Stunt Junkie: DUDE! (Undoubtedly I'll be experiencing many future blows to my head that will result in a plethora of bad ideas on my part)

The hero of this episode took a helicopter ride back to the top of the cliff where he was greeted by the stunt coordinator who said, and I quote, "Dude"

Ever wonder why so many kids have such poor vocabularies?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Glurch, fun to make and fun to say

As classes make their first visits of the school year to my lab I try to give the kids something really exciting to work on to get them interested in Science. Last year I used Oobleck, which I couldn't use again due to the fact my 3rd graders had already seen it, so this year I went with something similar called glurch.

I had originally used this recipe, which called for either a mix of 50% water and 50% white glue OR water and boric acid, but I have found a combination of both works really well.

I let the kids mix the water and glue mix together, give them a discussion about the properties of matter and then have them mix the boric acid, which can be found in the laundry detergent aisle under the name "20 Mule Team Borax". You should have kids wear safety gear while creating the mix, as borax is an eye irritant. The mixture, when just right, will bounce like a superball and take permanent marker off of objects.

Monday, August 14, 2006

My 14th First Day

My 14th first day has come and gone and I have to admit it was a pleasant one.

Our school was absolutely immaculate, with floors polished till you could have eaten off of them. I didn't see even one student crying, which was a first for me. On the first day of school us teachers who don't have regular classrooms, called "the special pops" teachers, do foyer duty helping kids and parents find rooms and room assignments. We usually have a long line of parents who waited till the last minute to register their kids for school, but even that was absent this year.

I didn't have any Science lab classes, they will start tomorrow, and the 3 classes that came to computer lab were very well behaved.

The IT technician came by and made sure all the computers were working properly for the Read 180 teacher, and the even the head of the technology dept. stopped in and asked if all our computers were working.

My principal said everything went so well she was worried we'd have a really bad day to even things out. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

All in all, we couldn't have asked for a better first day.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Texas Accountability Ratings Are Out

You can begin your search for your Texas school rating here.

My school received a rating of "Recognized", which is the 2nd highest rating. For more information about how schools are rated you can read the 2006 Accountability Manual.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Light Blogging for Awhile

Sumer vacation! Then its back to work on August 7th

Thursday, July 20, 2006

I want one of these!

I'm going to have to put this on my Xmas list. The website that sells it is actually called I Want One of Those

I wonder if you can replace the foam missles with something else? Perhaps something that will cause more damage?

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The 76th Edition of the Carnival of Education

The Carnival of Education returns to Texas where its hot, hot, hot! It's soooo hot . . . well, I won't get started on that again. Here are this week's entries.

How big is the anti-public school alliance? Even Sandra Day O'Conner is dissing us.

Do you feel pretty? Well, Misterteacher does and he tells us about it, along with a whole list of other things, including the fact he can communicate with Grapenuts. Dude, that MIGHT be the kind of thing you don't want to go around telling people about. If you like his website and his sense of humor you will LOVE his book, Learn Me Good

Virginia Tech is home to nearly 500 students from India, and The Ronaoke Times Campus Watch has collected reactions to the terrible bombing in Mubai.

The parents among us know about sitting through long productions to see your kids perform, only to have the experience ruined by some thoughtless clod with ill-mannered kids. Mamacita at Scheiss Weekly weighs in on this issue.

Last week's carnival host School Me reports on a language school hosting students from several warring countries and asks Can Jews and Muslims get beyond gibberish?

Being born without legs would seriously hamper most of us, but Bobby Martin not only has overcome this obstacle but actually plays high school football! Get on the Bus has the inspiring story here.

Education Matters looks at the issue of Teacher Quality and questions why the Dept. of Education isn't enforcing the law on highly qualified teachers and why are the states skirting it?

Some teachers are absolute experts at integrating technology into their teaching and La Maestra is obviously one of them. La Maestra, one of several regulars who contributes to Livewire examines the question "Is the global technology revolution good or bad for American students?"

La Maestra has also written a handy guide to education jargon. Be sure to check out the definitions of Adequate Yearly Progress, Best Practices, Data-Driven, Research-Driven and Zone of Proximal Development.

Another website with multiple contributors is This week in Education. Authors Alexander Russo and Margaret Paynich have each contributed to this week's carnival. Alexander Russo has compiled a handy list of who, what and where of education writers and Margaret Paynich examines the boys vs girls issue from a unique perspective, the Edusphere

Margaret Paynich scores a two-fer this week, with her submission mentioned above AND this submission on student cellphone use in the classroom.

Is teacher isolation a pervasive force that prevents improvement of our schools? "The Rain" examines the issue as seen by the experts and relates some personal experiences.

There's been a lot written lately on the issue of girls vs boys and academic achievement and now some are beginning to look at ADHD in girls and record how it manifests itself differently in girls, courtesy of The BlogMeister, The Bloginator, The Blog-a-tello over at the copy machine Treat Me Online.

Awards and end of year evaluations are on Janet's mind over at The Art of Getting By. I really like her website and her humor but how can she think Napoleon Dynamite was a bad movie?? Perhaps her lips hurt really bad?

Right Wing Nation has some handy tips for writing good multiple choice tests. I wish the writers of the Texas TAKS tests would take one of his hints, Avoid all negative questions ("Which of the following is not an example of X?").

Everything you ever wanted to know about Arrian a.k.a. Flavius "Flavor Flav" Arrianus can be found over at Trivium Pursuit, the blog of a homeschooling family. I learned that Arrian wrote extensively about Alexander the Great and is considered his prime historian. I did not know that! Excellent!

Are you politically connected? Have no idea how to run a school or any education experience but want to take a swing at it? Want to earn a little dough on the side? Looking to save a few bucks on building construction and maintenance? NYC Educator describes how the conditions mentioned above came together to find a nice home, much better than the public schools get, for a new charter school.

Ever wonder what parents were thinking when they allowed their child to buy and wear a certain shirt or pants? Do you find it disturbing that young girls are walking around with the word "juicy" prominently displayed across their bottoms? Kauai Mark is and he writes about inappropriate children's clothing when companies place slogans at inappropriate places on children. I won't spoil the surprise on which company it is but I WILL confess to having eaten Blizzards with their product mixed in. For those of you not from Texas, a Blizzard is ice cream mixed with some other product served at a fast food restaurant chain called Dairy Queen.

A website new to me is Supreme Narcissism. Their submission to the carnival is called Miseducation: A Criticism of High School and Higher Education. I like the subtitle for this site, "Endless bitching about politics, media, and personal entrepreneurship..."

Despite what Chester Finn says, teachers are seldom to blame for the problems school districts have. Over at A Shrewdness of Apes Ms. Cornelius writes about the St. Louis Superintendent fired after just one year on the job. Be sure to visit her blog on Monday mornings, where she post lines from favorite movies and readers try to guess the movie and chime in with their own favorite lines. I don't want to ruin this week's contest for anyone who hasn't figure it out yet, but just remember, as you travel the information superhighway, the Force will be with you always.

Going to the Mat takes a look at a plan being floated about that would provide more equitable funding for schools but that would require teachers to submit to a merit pay plan. Whatever the pros and cons of this plan are I can't help feeling that anything the Fordham Foundation is involved in can't be good for public schools.

Pass-Ed wonders if textbooks for high schoolers are really necessary. As he points out Purchasing textbooks for large groups of students can cost tens of thousands of dollars.

Harry Potter and the No Child Left Behind Law. No, its not the title of the next book in the seris but The Hun Blog has the facts on how the two are related. He also accuses me of surreptitiously chiding him for being immature in his use of Monty Python snippets to organize his Carnival of Education. The truth is, Professor, I was jealous because I didn't think of it first! As you can see from this post, you have taught me well, Master!

Think money doesn't matter? Well then you haven't read this post from the good folks at Texas Ed, who catch Texas Secretary of Education Dr. Shirley Neeley , unintentionally admitting that money, GASP! does make a difference.

I had planned to add my post about the private vs public study released by the DOE late on a Friday afternoon, but someone else has done a much better job of writing it up. That someone else is John over at the NCLBlog.

Take a stroll down memory lane and re-discover those favorite Science books from your childhood. I don't remember "Between Play and Physics" in my childhood library but then again, I didn't grow up in Yugoslavia.

California Teacher Dude er, Guy is on a Science kick also. In his submission he discusses how forging connections with critters can help a child develop a sense of self worth.

The Education Wonks, living the high life in South Carolina, examines the disappearing middle school and wonders if having 8th graders and 1st graders on the same campus is a good idea. If the type of school he discusses becomes prevalent we could have students in Pre-K, 4 years old, mixed in with those 8th graders.

3σ Left, (remember, its a math term) discusses a faux paux another teacher made when teaching standard deviations to a class where the total number of fingers didn't add up to a number divisible by ten.

Would you let your kids attend a virtual school? David at The Good Human discusses why he and his wife want more for their children than sitting in front of a computer screen all day.

The internet has been a great source of ideas for both teachers and homeschooling parents alike, so why not borrow these nifty ideas from Creative Homeschooling? The author was kind enough to include a materials list for each project.

Another homeschooling parent, Spittibee, shares some handy tips for unit planning in a post she calls Konos Planning for Dummies

For a neat Math trick visit Mr. Person over at Text Savvy and learn about The Magic Gopher, a neat internet based Math trick. Mr. Person is a fellow Texan so I won't be sending him a nasty email about the #@& Math trick I can't figure out.

And finally I submit my own whining observations about the heat wave currently evaporating Texas.

Next week's carnival is being hosted by fellow Texan Mr. Person of Text Savvy. Submissions should be sent to mr(dot)obelus(at) no later than 10 P.M> CST on Tuesday night.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Man it's HOT!

I know the whole country is in a heat wave but these last few days have been the worst I can ever remember. Here in Texas they give both the temperature and the "heat index". The heat index is a combination of the heat and humidity that yields what is called a "feels like" temperature. Here in Texas the heat index will be 111 degree this afternoon.

How hot is that?

Its so hot the local college is thinking of changing it's team names to the Humidity.

Its so hot cows have been giving powdered milk and hens have been laying hard boiled eggs.

Its so hot we go to McDonalds and pour hot coffee in our laps, to cool off.

Its so hot we argue over who gets to sit in the other person's shadow.

Its so hot my daughter got her tongue sunburned by talking too much outside.

Its so hot a Speedo is now considered formal attire.

Sorry, the heat got to me for a minute.

But here's some weather sites for kids that may come in handy when school starts up again:

Weather Whiz Kids


Scholastic Kids WeatherMaker

Web Weather For Kids

Miami Museum of Science - Make a Weather Station Project

Dan Wild's Weather Page

The Weather Dude

The Big Page of Weather Experiments

Its sooo hot the temperature on my house thermostat says "Damn" . .

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Carnival entries are due . . .and the dumbest thing a "reformer" has ever said to me

Yours truly is hosting the 76th edition of the Carnival of Education. Please submit all entries to by Tuesday, 9 P.M. central.

And now for the dumbest thing a "reformer" has ever said to me.

He wouldn't shut down a public school that killed kids and served their flesh in the cafeteria.

I've been called many things by some of the anti-public school crowd over at Joanne Jacobs but this is my favorite. It is actually the 2nd time this person has made this claim.

I wish I knew where he lived and worked. I would LOVE to burst into his place of employment and scream "It's people! Soylent Green is people!"

I've also been called a flaming liberal which I find funny too. My son, who really is a flaming liberals, thinks I'm a step below Nazi b/c whenever there's a chase on Cops I sit there screaming, "Shoot 'em, shoot 'em"

Hmm, just exactly how would you serve kids' flesh? I like kids breaded and fried. Maybe some of you guys could share your favorite kid recipes.

The truth comes out

Kudos to the folks over at the AFT blogNCLBlog for predicting exactly how the DOE was going to release its charter vs public school comparison data, late on a slow newsday without any comments.

The New York Times is reporting:

4th graders attending public school were nearly half a year ahead of comparable students in private school, according to the report.

I've searched some of the big news websites, CNN, Fox News, Reuters and MSNBC and not one has peep about the story, continuing their practice of kissing Bush ass.

Since it won't be said anywhere else, kudos to you my education colleagues. I always KNEW we were better than the corporate hacks the "reformers" have been championing.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

More Summer Reading

My daughter and I visited the local library and I added some more books to my summer reading list.

In the young adults section I found Red Sky at Morning by Richard Bradford. I had read this book in high school, enjoyed it, so I decided to read it again. I could not put it down. By early afternoon I had read the entire book.

I also got the new Stephen Coonts book, The Traitor. Coonts, a former naval aviator is best known for The Flight of the Intruder which was made into a movie. For my money his best book is a non-fiction piece called The Cannibal Queen. The book describes a summer spent flying a 1930s era biplane around the continental US.

I also received in the mail two new Ron Luciano books, The Umpire Strikes Back and The Decline and Fall of the Roman Umpire. Luciano is hilarious (and a former teacher) who tragically took his own life some years after his books were published. I also noticed one of his former colleagues, Ken Kaiser, has a book out called Planet of the Umps. In addition to being a major league umpire Kaiser also worked as a professional wrestler. The book is co-authored with Luciano's co-author, David Fisher.

I'm STILL waiting to hear about my grant proposal. I've accepted the fact that even if I were to get approved tomorrow we would not be able to receive our new computers in time for the start of the new school year on August 14.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

My (almost) teenaged daughter

My daughter is at an awkward stage in her upbringing. She is too old to go to "summer camp" at one of the local daycares and too young to be left home alone for anything more than short errands. Therefore, her and I have spent a great deal of time together this summer and she seems to have developed some errant beliefs about her Dad:

Errant Belief #1 - My father has an unlimited supply of money. I get paid once a month, typically on the 25th. However, if the 25th is on a weekend we are paid the Friday before unless it is summer when our administration staff is on a 4 day work week. Last month the 25th fell on a Sunday, so we were actually paid on the 22nd. While it was nice, it now means I have to go 33 days without being paid. All of this is completely lost on my daughter, whose summer essentials list now includes a $30 pair of plastic shoes!

Errant Belief #2 - No matter how much fun it appears my father is having, be it playing on the computer, riding the jetski all by himself or playing StarWars Battlefronts on the Playstation, he is actually dreadfully miserable. My job is to find something to do that will a) make him happy by giving him something to do and b)more importantly, make ME happy.

Errant Belief #3 - My father's purpose in life is to drive myself and my friends to various places where I can spend his money.

Have I mentioned its been a LONG time since I've been paid and I still have 13 days to go? Not to mention I've had to pay a small fortune (by teacher standards) to the dentist so he could increase my pathological fear of dentists repair a cracked tooth.

When do I get to have fun? I'd write more but the Playstation is warmed up and my daughter is finally asleep.

Monday, July 10, 2006

I HATE Joe Rogan

As my daughter watches the decline and fall of modern civilization, or as she calls it Fear Factor, I am reminded, as always, how much I hate Joe Rogan.

First of all, it is incredibly sad what people will do just to get their 15 minutes of fame. Sadly, the show even included a Parents and Children special, so its sad what people will do to their children for 15 minutes of fame.

But the biggest reason I hate Joe Rogan is I blame him for the downfall of The Man Show. Yes it was sophomoric, yes it was sexist and yes it was stupid. But it was also funny, at least that is until Joe Rogan and co-host Doug Stanhope took over.

Luckily G4TV is showing reruns of The Man Show, sans Rogan and Stanhope and have billed it, "the way Jimmy and Adam made it."

And now, girls jumping on trampolines!

Who Grows Up Wanting to be a Dentist?

From Little Shop of Horrors

When I was younger, just barely a kid,
My Momma noticed funny things I did,
Like shooting puppies with a BB gun,
I'd poison guppies, and when I was done,
I'd find a pussycat and bash its head,
That's when my Momma said,

(Chorus) What did she say?

She said my boy I think some day,
You'll find a way,
To make your natural tendencies pay,

You'll be a dentist,
You have a talent for causing things pain,
Son, be a dentist, people will pay you to be inhumane.

This is pretty much my view of dentists. For the 2nd time in 3 weeks I've had to pay a visit to the dentist. I went in the Spring and naturally he found something that would require extensive dental work, which he always seems to find.

Let me stress, my teeth were not bothering me in the least. But here I sit, in pain and minus $1000.


Saturday, July 08, 2006

My Nerd Score

I am nerdier than 62% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out! I took the Nerd test so many of the bloggers seem to have taken and I'm dissappointed. I lost valuable nerd points b/c I had to take some bad RAM out of my computer and I quit using Firefox and Opera and went back to IE. Since my last name starts with an early letter of the alphabet and I had to sit up front all my life, I lost more valuable NERD points for answering that I sit in the back. Finally, should my nerdiness stature be degraded because my room doesn't look like this?

Like Ms. Cornelius I'm disappointed, although I suspect its for very different reasons.

Friday, July 07, 2006


I just finished reading John Pearson's Learn Me Good and I highly recommend it. I received it yesterday in the mail and finished it last night. The book is the story of John's first year of teaching, told through emails to a friend at his former place of employment. John's descriptions of his kids and their behaviors are hilarious. My favorite was Estaban, the child who yells out different answers constantly in the hope that one of them is right. I think I've taught some of his kin. (relatives, for you people not from Texas)

I don't want to sound like a big shot or anything but I got an autographed copy! John, a.k.a. Mr. Teacher, has a blog, Learn Me Good, which is becoming one of my daily reads. I've also written to this professor and suggested this book would be much more enlightening for his students than public school basher Joanne Jacobs' book.


Other books I'm reading or have read this summer include:

"I Had the Right to Remain Silent, But Not the Ability" by Ron White

"Strike Two" and "Remembrances of Swings Gone Past" by Ron Luciano

"Skinny Dip" by Carl Hiassan

"Farenheit 451" by Ray Bradbury - I read this one years ago but it was interesting to re visit it.

"Imposter" by Bruce Bartlett. I didn't finish this one though. After a hundred pages of Bush is bad, Bush is a crook, etc etc I just wanted to scream, "Ok, I get it!" Unfortunately, the book is over 300 pages long so I gave up. At one point I fully expected him to say "Bush turned me into a newt!"

My favorite book? "The Unoriginal Sinner and the Ice-Cream God" by John R. Powers. You may have to had grown up Catholic to fully appreciate this book but let me throw out this teaser: God is a mechanic in a local gas station.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The Size of our World

I found this picture depicting the relative sizes of objects in our solar system from a website called The Size of Our World. I think it is one of the best depictions of the relative sizes of the Sun and the planets. I plan on using ALL of the pictures from this website when we discuss planets and stars.

When I attend the Space Science Educator's Conference in February of this year I also learned of a unique way to present the sizes of the Earth and the Sun. The Earth is easy, you use a hole punched out of a piece of paper. The Sun will be a yellow cirlce 114cms in diameter.

The world seems out of balance

I always check my blogrolling links to see who has updated their site and there is ALWAYS a little "NEW" sign next to the The Education Wonks. For the first time I can remember they had no new post for this morning. Perhaps EdWonk is suffering from the summer do-nothings like I am, or is it something else?

Monday, July 03, 2006

Bad ideas aren't just from education reformers

I'm not sure what to say about this one so I'll just post the link.

Looks like someone has some 'splaining to do.

Somehow this doesn't seem like a bright idea

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Wal-Mart is greedy

A good friend of mine has worked for the last 17 years for Wal-Mart as the Express Lube and Tire manager. Three weeks ago he was called in and told all Lube and Express manager jobs were being eliminated. The reason? Pure greed. By making him a regular asst. manager of the store, instead of a specialized dept. manager he will no longer be eligible for incentive bonuses for doing a good job. My friend, who has been wanting to quit for a long time, has decided to take a severance package instead and is now loudly proclaiming, "My give a damn is busted". The picture on the left is for him.

Friday, June 30, 2006

An embarrassing problem for the Bush Administration

In this piece of fluff about Jenna Bush leaving teaching to go to South America, Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts gush all themselves describing the new and mature Jenna Bush, and to my total disgust referring to her as "America's most famous public school teacher".

Puuuleaz! She taught in a charter school that had absolutely no requirements for teachers and if you think the local administrator's or coach's wife gets special treatment can you imagine what the president's daughter got?

Apparently her job wasn't too taxing. According to the article:

. . .Jenna and a fellow instructor oversaw a class of third-graders being taught in both English and Spanish.

In other words, there was an experienced teacher doing the REAL work while Jenna played at being "teacher".

Of course, one only need search the internet a bit to find the REAL reason for Jenna's departure from the DC public school scene, her school has been rated in need of improvement for the past school year. Since her school was not required to provide any specifics about its test scores and state standards, you'll have to scroll WAAAAAY down to find out the federal govt. is on its case.

Of course, the mainstream media is totally ignoring this story. It would probably be too much of an embarrassment for the Feds.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Another gas station, another beautiful woman

Last week I wrote about a beautiful young lady who convinced herself I was a Jaguar owner and who was deeply disappointed to discover I drove a 1985 Toyota Tercel. Writing about her reminded me of another beautiful woman I encountered in a gas station, and since there's not much education news for me to write about I'll share this story.

In the late 80s/early 90s I was attending a branch of the University of South Florida, at Ft. Myers, Florida. It was a junior/senior college that shared space with Edison Junior College (although I believe that name has changed). The branch of USF only offered two degree programs at the time, business or education. The education program was outstanding, so much so that I'm having a difficult time believing so much of the press being written about colleges of education and what a poor job they are doing. Sadly, this branch of USF does not seem to exist anymore or was absorbed when Edison junior College became Edison College.

Besides classes we also had to do 3 levels of student teaching. Only it was NEVER called student teaching, it was ALWAYS referred to as internships. Level I was for the first semester you were officially in the program and it required you to spend 6 hours a week at an elementary school to make sure you knew exactly what you were getting into. Level II internship was for the semester you graduated and it required 12 hours a week teaching under the supervision of an experienced teacher. We were required to teach whole class, small group and individual lessons. Level III was for your final semester but it was more than what most people get in a typical program. For starters, we were required to begin work when our supervising teachers did. For those taking it in the fall semester that meant beginning the week before school started, an incredible opportunity for a future teacher to see. I took it in the Spring semester, so I was required to report on January 2nd, even though the university's semester didn't start till two weeks later. We were also required to spend two months running the class completely, while most student teachers are lucky to get 3 weeks of doing so.

In the fall of 1989 I was a Level II intern at an elementary school in Punta Gorda, Fl, about a 30 minute drive from the university. One afternoon, on my way to class, I happened to stop at a gas station for some snackage to hold me over to dinner. We were required to wear ties and a nametag that declared us as USF interns, so I was dressed nicely. Actually, we had been told we were expected to be the best dressed people in the building.

While waiting in line to pay, a gorgeous young lady in Daisy Dukes (an old pair of jeans cut EXTREMELY short) came in, squinted at my nametag and asked, "Intern? That's like a doctor, isn't it?" Now let me just say that I'm a very ordinary looking guy, most gorgeous women don't pay the slightest bit of attention to me, so when this beautiful young lady asked me if an intern was like a doctor I did the honorable thing.

I stood up straight, straightened my tie, sucked in my stomach as far as it would go, and told her the God's honest truth. Yes, an intern IS like a doctor.

And NO, I didn't have to blow it by getting into a 1985 Toyota Tercel to drive off. This was my pre-Tercel days. I drove a 1975 Plymouth Gran Fury. It had a 318 cubic inch V8 and could go from zero to thirty in a few seconds and still get 24 mpg on the highway.

Hopefully, she didn't see me drive off in it.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Are things really THAT bad?

That this sign would really be necessary?

Thursday, June 22, 2006

She didn't want me once she found out I was a teacher

Over at Learn Me Good Mister Teacher is not missing the dress code at his school, which requires ties for teachers. Here in Texas the temperature can often hit the 90s even before the month of May, and since he and I agree a tie with a short sleeve shirt looks too Dilbert-ish, it can make for a pretty hot day, especially if your school has a computer controlled air conditioning system that "averages" 74 degrees throughout the school. All the talk of ties reminded me of an incident that occured awhile back and a young lady I met at a local gas station.

I was only about a month into my first year at the district I currently teach in and since I was the only male teacher I hadn't quite caught on to the fact that males were not required to wear ties. At the time I had a nice collection of ties with matching suspenders. I also had a 1985 Toyota Tercel hatchback (this will be important later).

One morning on the way to school, wearing my tie and matching suspenders, I stopped at a local gas station to gas up. As I waited in line to pay an elderly gentleman, wearing a Mr. T starter kit of necklaces and the biggest gold and diamond ring I've eer seen, drove up in a jaguar, parked up front and came in to use the restroom. 30 seconds later a quite attractive lady, let's call her Daisy, comes in with her head on a swivel. After surveying the crowd (did I mention this gas station is also a truck stop?) she settles on me, saunters over and coos, "That just HAS to be your Jaguar out front". I laughed and explained to her that if it was I would sell it and pay off my house.

Daisy clearly didnt' believe. At least that is until she saw me go out and get in my 1985 Toyota Tercel (windows down b/c the A/C was broken). I do not possess the vocabulary to adequately describe the look of disgust that came upon her face.

HOWEVER, it did add to my basic fact of life's list, which now currently stands at 3.

BASIC FACT #1 - Clowns don't like it when you're funnier than they are.

BASIC FACT #2 - you can't look cool driving around in a 1985 Toyota Tercel (see story above)

BASIC FACT #3 - you can't tell people what they don't want to hear

So thank you Mister Teacher, for reminding me of one of my favorite stories. Next time I'll tell the story of a gorgeous young lady in cutoffs I met at another gas station.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The alphabet edition of the carnival

Week 72 of the carnival of education is up and running over at Why Homeschool. Be sure to check out the unique way Henry chose to organize this week's carnival.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Things Go Better with Mike

Via Joanne Jacobs I came across a website called The Advertising Slogan Generator. Of course, Joanne Jacobs used it to take a jab at public schools but I managed to have some fun with it.

Slogans it returned for my name include: The Best Mike a Man Can Get, Things Go Better with Mike, Snap! Crackle! Mike!, Go On, Get Your Mike Out, Come See the Softer Side of Mike (no man wants to have his named mentioned in the same sentence as soft so I'll pass on that one), Only Mike Has The Answer (when will the rest of the world wake up and realize this!) and my favorite, Uh-oh, Better Get Mike.

Some of the bizarre ones included, You'll Never Put A Better Bit Of Mike On Your Knife, Oh Hungry? Oh Mike, Life's Pretty Straight Without Mike (depends on how you interpret the word "straight"), Don't be an Amber Mike, and the oddest of all, There's no Wrong Way to Eat a Mike (insert your dirty comment here).

In short, this website is a complete and addictive waste of time. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 18, 2006

A cool website for teachers

In a recent email from Susan O'Hanian there was a link to a story about a teacher dismissed for refusing to follow the step by step programmed curriculum mandated by his school. Instead the teacher had brought in exciting and stimulating lessons from the web, including one from a really neat website.

The website is called Instructables. It is a free site that contains many lessons and quick projects for teachers. Be sure to check out the Howtoons and learn how to make such cool things as tin can stilts and a vacuum cleaner cannon.

Hmm, I wonder if Lowe's is still open? I'm going to need some 3/4" PVC pipe for the cannon. I'm also going to try the Pop-Up 3D Words.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

FairTest examines recent studies on NCLB

Over at FairTest they've come up with a new newsletter called FairTest E-Examiner.

A recent issue of the E-Examiner included brief reviews of some recent studies of NCLB. One study from The United Church of Christ's (UCC) Public Education Task Force:
criticizes the law for relying on testing and punishment without acknowledging that many schools still lack the resources they need to succeed.

The report emphasizes that NCLB ignores many realities that affect schools and students: segregation; race; poverty; school finance; civil rights; rural isolation; a child's language, culture and identity; good teaching; and respect for educators. Of course, this is nothing new, teachers have known it all along, but now someone else who studied the problem for 4 years has reached the same conclusion.

Another report, this time from a special issue on NCLB from the journal Equity and Excellence in Education reaches the conclusion:
the expense of enabling all students to reach one hundred percent proficiency will approach infinity, while the consequences of the effort will ultimately damage the quality of education as schools over-emphasize raising test scores.

In other words, people have concluded that academically and financially the goals of NCLB are impossible to reach.

Monday, June 12, 2006

The Think Twice Review Project

The education "reform" crowd is notorious for dumping dubious research about education onto the masses by duping the media into printing their findings as gospel. Often these reports are "leaked" to the press as working papers, with the statements of "Gosh, we never intended for anyone to see this version" reverberating throughout the press. A brief amount of reading the fine lines will tell you most of these "studies" come from the Hoover Institute, the Fordham Foundation or the Korat Task Force. Further investigation into these think tanks reveal no education experience or background of any of their researchers.

The Great Lakes Center for Education Reseach and Practice has decided to start monitoring
think tank research on public education issues and policies, ensuring that published work meets the quality and standards of university scholarship.

Entitled the Think Twice Review Project, it also provides links to the homepages of some of the more popular think tank homepages.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

A different kind of interview hell

Last year I described myself as being in interview hell because I was constantly having to suppress my desire to jump over the table and slap some sense into some of the applicants over their poor grammar, dress and answers. This year we are having the exact problem. We have interviewed 5 people so far for 4 positions. Two of them have absolutely blown us away and the other 3 were also very good. We have 2 others coming in who are also supposed to be experienced, outstanding teachers. The problem for us is the 2 outstanding ones, and the two to come, all want the only 4th grade position available. One has even stated she wasn't interested in anything else but the 4th grade job. Usually people will only take a 4th grade job to get their foot in the door, now we make have to ask people to take something else so that they can eventually get a 4th grade job.

The 70 edition of the Carnival of Education is up and running over at the EdWonks. It seems this week I've been busier than ever and haven't had a chance to blog or read the carnival but it's on my to do list.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Probably fake but funny as heck

Watch this video and be sure to check out the action in the background. It's probably fake but it sure is funny.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

My 10, 000th visitor

On June 4 I hit a milestone when I had my 10, 000th visitor, from a place called Energis in the United Kingdom.

Sitemeter has many unique features, including information about the countries of your visitors. I learned this about England by following the links.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Reading can make you smarter

I can across an article
summarizing an article called What Reading Does to Your Mind. Not surprisingly, the author makes the claim that reading:

increases vocabulary more than talking or direct teaching;

substantially boosts general knowledge while decreasing the likelihood that misinformation will be absorbed; and

helps keep our memory and reasoning abilities intact as we age.

This led me to think about the effects of reading to your child. I've seen so self-declared "experts" claim parental involvement does not have that great of an effect on school achievement. I say bullsnort. No surprise that many of the people who make that claim, and the others who pass it on as gospel, are not actually teachers.

Monday, May 29, 2006

I Speak Engrish good

I’ve been way too serious lately which isn’t like me at all, so here’s something a little fun.In the past I have taught both junior high and high school Japanese students in a summer program at a local university.  One of my favorite activities was reading their shirts that have English on them, as the words are usually combined for appearance and little regard for meaning.  

Awhile back I stumbled upon this website,  I visited their store and ordered the “Just It Do” shirt (Buy them before they get sued by that overpriced shoe company!)

Carnival submissions are due by 9 P.M. central tomorrow. Please look just above the moon phase for the email address.    

Monday, May 22, 2006

Stargazers in the Hauwse!

I just got back from our annual 3rd Grade stargazing party. This year mother nature provided us with great views of Jupiter and Saturn and a tiny Mars, which is nearly across the solar system from us. We had 2 of the school telescopes and our librarian brought her reflector from home.

Our school is very fortunate to have use of a fantastic 8" Schmidt-Cassegrain Celestron reflector. Some kind soul donated to the high school several years ago, and since they don't teach any astronomy they were kind enough to lend it to me. It is always the star attraction of our star parties. It features setting circles (which I do not know how to use) and a clock drive for tracking stars with the earth's rotation. An astronomy professor at a local university was kind enough to set it up so that the only thing I need to do is make sure a certain axis it rotates on is pointed due north. Any drifting of the object in view is easily corrected.

I am constantly amazed at how many adults have never seen a planet through a telescope. About half of those who attend seem to comment that this was their first time actually seeing Jupiter/Saturn or what have you.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

It's all in the family

I'm very proud to say that my niece, Ms. Deemer, has been selected as Teacher of the Year for her elementary school. Unfortunately, her school's website doesn't publish such silly things but I did manage to find this picture of her. She's the one with her back to the camera writing down information.

Needless to say I'm very proud of her. She and her husband were refugees from Hurricane Katrina, fled to Houston, nearly took jobs with Houston ISD but decided to return home and work to rebuild their schools.

Incidentally, I'm her favorite uncle, although she has repeatedly told me there's not that much competition so I shouldn't be too proud of that fact.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Exploding Science Project

From the WHAT WERE THEY THINKING??? files comes this story, courtesy of the Tyler Morning Telegraph, about a student whose science project, a homemade cannon, exploded Wednesday morning at school, causing the loss of the student's hand.

I have seen several conflicting versions of what actually happened. One local TV station, KETK 56 aired this story that claimed the project was school sanctioned and the gunpowder had been provided by the school, presumably by the Physics teacher.

One ATF officer was quoted as saying:
"From an ATF standpoint, I would personally like to see students not making gunpowder or cannons for class projects,

And to think we were worried at our district about students taking the alcohol based hand sanitizer and setting it on fire.

I once sat through a presentation by a high school science teacher from another district who went to great lengths to show off his ability to make explosions. While it was certainly entertaining, most of them were far too easily constructed and I found his admonishment, "There are some things I do but you don't" to his students would probably have done little to discourage them from trying it themselves.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Week 67 of the Carnival is up!

Week 67 of the Carnival is up and running over at the EdWonks.

Next week's carnival will be hosted over at NYC Educator.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Teachers consume alcohol during school dance!

In another shocking display of "What were they thinking?", two teachers consumed a flask of alcohol on school property and another encouraged students to raise their bottles in a toast to their teachers.

The only thing keeping this story from making the rounds of the "reform" crowd is the fact that it happened on NBC's Teachers sitcom, which has already raised the ire of The EdWonks and I have to say is one of the dumbest portrayal of teachers I've ever seen. Tuesday night's show was actually the second time in this short lived series teachers have been shown drinking on school property.

I can't decide if it was dumber than the Boston Public episode where a teacher fired a gun in class and got a stern lecture.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Baby Bush spanked

Little brother Jeb got a serious spanking today from the Florida legislature, and educators won a big victory. Baby Bush had tried to circumvent the Florida Supreme Court by trying to have an amendment put before the voters to allow charters. Not gonna happen.

Compounding the spanking Bush recieved is the fact the legislature also voted down his attempt to defy the will of the people and weaken the voter approved amendment for lower class sizes.

Suck it up and take it, or as Maggie Spellings says, "Put on your big girl panties and deal with it"

Read all about it at the St. Petersburg Times.

Monday, May 01, 2006

When did the folks at Education become such right-wing hacks?

It used to be Education was the internet site for education news. Lately it seems all they print is the usual anti-public school garbage the "reform" crowd spouts.

Check out the stories in favor of The 65% Solution (delusion), or how about The Customer Is Always right (pro-charter rantings from a school board member no less, whatever happened to representing the people who voted you in?)and watch them bend over backwards to kiss some KIPP ass.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

At last a political science professor I agree with

Have you ever noticed how many of the "reformers" the media pays so much attention to are political science professors, history professors or economists? I have the same beef with all of their opinions, they haven't taught one day in a K-12 public school.

I've finally found a poltical science professor I can agree with. His name is Ted Reuter and he refers to the No Child Left Behind act as "Disastrous". Reuter's beefs with NCLB are:

It focuses on punishment, negative labels, and threats. It places too little emphasis on the social causes of poor school performance. It does nothing to improve the curriculum, reduce class size, decrease school size, increase parental involvement, create after-school programs, diminish school violence, lessen absenteeism, or increase funding.


Even Bill O'Reilly agrees with me, we're getting screwed

In a post entitled "You Are Being Gouged by U.S. Oil Companies: O'Reilly says:

It has nothing to do with supply and demand. It's all about exploiting fears about Iran, terrorism, what might happen down the road.

I agree the oil companies are gouging us and said so last week. I disagree with O'Reilly's assertion though that he has been pointing it out for a year. However, he is correct in saying oil and gasoline stockpiles are the highest they have been in years.

Is it a coincidence that just as prices started to stabilize and drop some last week the Bush govt. "leaks" that it is considering a military strike against Iran? Suddenly prices go through the roof again.

O'Reilly has a poll where you can indicate if you agree the oil companies are gouging us.

As for the rest of us we get to bend over and take it.

Monday, April 17, 2006

A Great Source for PowerPoints

With thanks to a fellow teacher, here is a link to a large collection of PowerPoint presentations, mostly for the elementary and primary levels. These presentations are hosted by Jefferson County Schools of Dandridge, TN. They also have an excellent section on Tech Tutorials.

Friday, April 14, 2006

A Cost Analysis For Texas Public Schools

Hosted at Round Rock ISD this cost analysis of Texas public school spending outlines how Texas schools spend their money. Some of the items over very interesting, considering Gov. Goodhair is trying to push through the 65% delusion.

Purchases that are not counted as
“instructional” are critical to the educational
process. Non-instructional purchases
include many items that directly
impact students. Some of these purchases
involve transporting students to and
from school, providing meals in school
cafeterias, maintaining school buildings,
heating and cooling classrooms, and paying
the salaries and benefits of nurses,
counselors, and school principals.

Not factored in to Gov. Goodhair's plan is the skyrocketing cost of transporting students. For myself alone the cost of traveling to school has gone up $13 a week in the last month. I can't imagine what it costs to fill a school bus.

Another interesting tidbit:

Per student spending over the past three
years has been slightly below the rate of
inflation. . .On average, basic educational spending
fell $53 per student short of keeping
pace with inflation.

In short, a classroom with 20 students has lost the equivalent of $1,060 of funding in the last 3 years, due to legislative negligence of school funding.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Jeb Bush and GOP ignoring a mandate from the people

Four years ago the voters of Florida passed an amendment to the state constitution calling for class size reductions, but Jeb and the GOP have refused to fully fund the program, claiming the state couldn't afford it. Now that the state of Florida is awash with billions of extra dollars the GOP is trying a new tactic; claiming the amendment should be changed b/c the state doesn't have enough time to comply.

Funny, the state seems to have plenty of money to fund high stakes tests but here we have a mandate from the people of the state being ignored. Specifically it states in the amendment:

"Payment of the costs associated with reducing class size to meet these requirements is the responsibility of the state and not of local school districts."

I'm not surprised the GOP wants to ignore one reform actually proven to improve student achievement and instead want to push their own agenda, forced failure of the public schools in the name of privatization.

The complete story is available from The Palm Beach Post.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Just Plain Funny

I especially like the recipe for "heckuva job brownies"

Via Susan Ohanian

Monday, April 03, 2006

Bend over and take it

Since I routinely drive at least 50 miles a day round trip to work, I pay very close attention to the price of oil and gasoline. The cost of gasoline has skyrocketed, going up nearly 40 cents a gallon in the last month while the cost of oil has risen, but not as much.

I REFUSE to believe the oil companies are not price gouging. I believe completely the oil companies are sticking it to us because they know their good ole oil buddies Cheney and Dubya are not going to do a damn thing about it.

I'm tired of listening to the oil company defenders claiming supply and demand. The US govt. has been stockpiling oil like crazy for years, a practice that just happens to keep the price high. Oil stockpiles in the US are at a 10 year high, while gasoline stockpiles are well above average. But as the oil companies reap huge profits (Exxon made more last year than any company in history and is now at the top of the Fortune 500 list, with profits up a staggering 42%), Dubya refuses to hear any talk of releasing some of the stockpiled gasoline to help ease prices for us everyday folks.

Too bad education doesn't have friends in high places like the oil companies.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Can you believe . . .

. . .there's a logical explanation for this?

Anyone care to take a guess?

Monday, March 27, 2006

Would you?

Jenny D has a couple of discussions going about teaching and the nature of teaching. Jenny usually provides thoughtful posts for her readers. Unfortunately, the same can not be said of some of the commentors. Below is some of the typical, emotion charged, factless beliefs of some members of the "reform" crowd:

Let's be honest, Ed Schools primarily appeal to those with low opportunity costs (i.e., the not very bright) in other professions.

Ed schools are necessary to help foster the illusion that K-12 teachers are professionals on par with engineers, doctors and lawyers.

Teachers are the low performers on the totem pole of college graduates. They have the worst test scores and the least competence.

It's purely and simply a lie for you to act as if teaching quality matters when the education program is an excuse to shovel illiterates through the system and pretend they graduated with some sort of ability.

Most of the kids in the LA school districts are stuck with teachers who couldn't reach 500 on an individual SAT section and almost certainly didn't pass the CBEST

experienced educators by and large are only skilled at teaching smart kids and some kids who are perhaps less smart but who get help outside of school.

All this had led me to think about my own two children and their future careers. I will not encourage them to become teachers. There is too much disrespect and downright lies about teachers being circulated by politicians and the general public to make it an attractive career choice.

Would you encourage your children to become teachers?

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Dancing Administrators

From Joe Thomas over at Shut Up and Teach comes this hilarious video spoof of the cell phone commercial (can't remember which company).

Click here

As Joe Thomas said, trust me. Those of you who have administrators who seemingly have no purpose other than to annoy or keep you from actually teaching will find it especially funny. And for those of you who know what a "walkthrough" is, you have my sympathy.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Wrath of the Soccer Moms

Via the Texas Observer comes the story about the Soccer Moms, a.k.a. the Texas Parent PAC, that took down supreme public school hater Kent Grusendorf. Grusendorf was the number one target of the Texas Parent PAC, as he had treated

school superintendents and PTA members as if they were trifling little annoyances, going so far as to introduce a group of PTA members about to testify at a committee hearing as “a look behind the Iron Curtain.”

The article also contains an absolutely great cartoon, showing soccer moms and kids pulling down a statue of the grand exalted dictator the honorable Kent Grusendorf , ala Saddam.<

Grusendorf is a typical lying sack of #@$$, claiming he wants to give parents a choice when what he really wants is to line the pockets of his friends at the expense of Texas schoolchildren. Parents who disagree with him are labeled as left wing nut jobs.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Ahhhh, Spring Break

Spring Break is over and it was a very relaxing time. We spent two days at Self Creek Marina on Lake Greeson in Arkansas. We also spent two days on Lake Quachita near Hot Springs. I took a great deal of pictures, mostly of family members, but I am especially proud of the picture shown below.

I took this picture on the dock of the NorthShore Marina at Lake Quachita. I waited patiently for the fisherman and his boat to drift towards the center of the area in the background. Unfortunately, just as he reached the center the bow of his boat had drifted so that it pointed away from me. When I downloaded the pictures to my computer I found I really liked this one.

Friday, March 10, 2006


In the last month or so I've had my writing snubbed a couple of times. First, I noticed that Education News was looking for technology writers so I submitted a couple of samples of my work, my post on readability scores using MS Word and another on a very strange technical problem and how to solve it. I have not heard one word back. The professional thing to do was at least let someone know you weren't interested.

Just this past week I submitted a post for the 57th edition of the Carnival of Education and was snubbed for that too.

Good thing I have a Y chromosome and I think I'm the world's greatest teacher/writer/lover/rc pilot etc. etc. etc.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Grusendorf goes down!!!!

Kent Grusendorf, the anti-public school/charter crusader who is the head of the Texas House Committee on Education has lost in the Republican primary for his district. Grusendorf is almost singlehandedly responsible for making sure Texas schools are perpetually underfunded . Stories will follow later.

Over at Joanne Jacobs I managed to get in another pissing match, but this time I didn't even know I was involved! In a post entitle, "Out of Control" a group of "reformers" started hurling insults my way when I hand't even commented on the story. Ah, gotta love that "compassionate conservative" crowd!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Whatever happened to "slower traffic keep right"??

Ok, this is not an educated related topic, except for the fact it effects my morning drive, but what happened to the old traffic rule of slower traffic stays to the right?

Almost my entire trip is on a 4 lane highway and it ALWAYS seems to work out that some idiot in the left hand lane, generally doing about 5 miles per hour less than the speed limit, manages to keep perfect pace with someone in the right lane. These "obliviots" (not my term but wish I had thought of it) do not respond to flashing headlights or riding nearly up on their bumpers.

Sure, I may suffer from mild bouts of road rage, but I think most other drivers are to blame for it. If they just get their cell-phone talking, driving right next to someone, putt-putting selves out of the way I wouldn't have to get so mad about it.

Here's my solution: a constitutional amendment that allows your to ram from behind anyone doing less than the speed limit in the left hand lane. Who's with me on this one???

Whew, I feel a little better.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Presenting at a conference

Last Saturday I had to present at a regional science teacher's conference. It was the first time presenting for me, and besides being extremely nervous and having one of the wife's cats throw up on part of my presentation, everything went Ok.

I decided I would do a presentation on how to make a hovercraft. Riding around on the hovercraft, and experiencing Newton's laws firsthand, is something the kids at my school ask to do all the time.

I built a new one, taking pictures of every step along the way and I created a Powerpoint presentation on how to do it. Many of the teachers present looked at me like I was crazy when I tried to get them to ride it, but a few were brave, I gave away all my CDs with my presentation on it, and I have to email it to a few more people.

I did have one weird moment. It reminded me of when I was a first year teacher and I looked around at my classroom and realized I was the adult in the room. Presenting for the first time is very much like that.

I've posted the presentation on one of the free file hosting sites. I don't know if this will actually work or not, but if you'd like to see it you can view it here

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Phases of the Moon

I found a link to the really neat Moon phase indicator on the right over at The Tech Savvy Educator's website. I followed the link he provided to Calculator Cat's Moon Phase Page, completed the free registration, and received html code to copy and paste into my template.

I don't know if I'll keep it or not, but it sure is cool.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

More insults, less facts

I've gotten into quite the pissing contest with several people over this post over at Joanne Jacobs. She posted about a story where a charter school principal, Terrance Moore, claims:

Almost always, certified teachers have earned straight A's in education courses and multiple C's, D's, F's and W's (withdrawn) in academic content courses

a claim neither he nor Joanne Jacobs can back up with facts but it probably makes for a nice sound bite.

The story goes on to brag about how this person's charter school is rated the #1 high school in Colorado, so I decided to take a look at the demographics of the school. I zipped on over to Great Schools and examined the student demographics.

Luckily for Terrance Moore he's head of a pretty whitebread school, where 83% of his students are white, versus 65% for the rest of the state. The Hispanic population at his school is only 6% versus 26% for the rest of the state and the black population is 3% versus 6% for the rest of the state. Lest you think its all about race he's also lucky to only have 8% of his students on free or reduced lunch, versus 32% for the rest of the state. You can view the student demographics here. He also has the good fortune to have 23 teachers available for 123 high school students.

Checking the student demographics for nearby schools, I found this information which I summarized at Joanne Jacobs:

Schools with higher percentages of whites than the state average and a lower percentage of low SES children do better on the state's testing based accountability system. Schools with lower percentages of whites, and higher percentages of low SES kids than the state average tend to score lower, with the exception of schools that lower their teacher to student ratios below 15 (a real research based solution, not being instituted because it won't make any business cronies of powerful politicians any money).

Conclusion? The high stakes test based accountability system in Colorado most accurately measures ethnicity and socio economic status

To see how foolish accountability ratings based solely on high stakes tests are, you can view this story from

Colorado's #1 rate elementary school, Jamestown Elementary School, had one student take the test. The #3 elementary school had 8 students take the test.

The state's worst rated high school? Arapahoe Ridge High School, doesn't technically exist. According to the article, "The rating listed for the school reflects the scores of three eighth-graders who attend a program overseen by juvenile court Judge T.J. Cole."

Poor Judge Cole, one more year of low test scores and he's going to be out of a principal's job.