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.