Sunday, September 11, 2011

Week One 2011

A strange beginning to the new school year...

No job offers, but encouraging news from a few districts relative to future prospects. Of course, can't write a mortgage check on that.

Back into last year's position, Elem PE Coach, which I do enjoy -- so cool to have all the kids welcome me back and say they can't wait for PE! -- but it's just as a day-to-day sub at sub pay, and it's not in a classroom.  I feel like the adage "Use It or Lose It" applies, the longer I stay out on the fields and courts the longer I go without classroom experience and I forget how to do what I need to know how to do. And others forget that I am a teacher (not that PE Coaches are not teachers, but...).

And to make the 1st week interesting they are tearing up the dirt field to put in turf (couldn't do that over the break?!?!?) so there are fences and tractors all over, a temporary teacher's lounge bungalow on top of the tetherball courts, and the county-wide power outage that closed all the schools Friday.  Oy vey!

We've Got To Be That Light

A little auto-tune Milli Vanilli weirdness, but great message.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Ken Robinson Creativity

Ken Robinson says schools kill creativity | Video on

I know this is a few years old, but the ideas couldn't be more timely -- love the phrase "Education takes us into this future which we cannot grasp... children entering school this year will be retiring in 20[75]"

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Hmmm..., thought that interview went well. Except for the part when I got a little choked up at the end, but that's because it seemed like it was going so well and it would be a great grade at a great school in a great district and I. Want. The. Job.  Otherwise I thought I was confident, spoke clearly, used relevant examples, had nothing stuck in my teeth... But the ol' lack of experience probably cost me. Someday.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

What I Bring to the Table

Another interview tomorrow.  5th grade. My friend/mentor suggested I write out answers to possible questions, including how to sum up who I am as an Educator and what talent/skill/attributes I would bring to a classroom...
  • Experience with children in many forms: parent of 3 boys, (5th/9th/12th, loud/quiet/goofy, GATE, ADHD); parent volunteer at school, sports, cub scouts; football and basketball coach Kinder through HS; Substitute Teacher K-9; P.E. Teacher K-8; English Learners to Gifted... so I've seen 'em all and from every angle, I understand how to communicate, how to listen, how to motivate, how to instruct, how to help them reach their full potential.
  • Communication skills -- the ability to listen well, to express thoughts and intentions clearly, to find a new and/or different way to say something if needed; customer service expert, parent liaison, project group presenter... 

One Word Descriptions -- Hyphenated Addition

Well-Read:  In an eclectic sense.  Last 10 books I've read, largely while waiting by the phone like a teenage girl, pouncing on it before the first ring has finished, trying to control my hyperventilation while sounding cool and teacher-like as I say "Sure, I'd love to stop by for an interview"...
  1. A Nation Rising -- American History
  2. Bigger Than the Game -- sports, culture, and marketing
  3. The Neverending Story -- classic children's fantasy lit
  4. Marooned -- music
  5. The Martian Child -- adoption of a troubled child
  6. Making the Grade -- 3rd and 4th grade editions
  7. Meanwhile Back at the Ranch and
  8. Baltimore Blues -- both mysteries 
  9. 101 Ways to Bug Your Friends and Enemies -- humorous children's
  10. Writing Sense -- writing for ELL

Friday, August 26, 2011

Education needs a soundtrack

Books with soundtracks -- love this idea. Historical novels with period music, character/mood/motivation expressed and enhanced with appropriate background music? Think of the possibilities for informational text: new terms and concepts can be introduced with a video, historical events accompanied by primary source images, etc, etc.

This is exactly what I think of when I envision not only text books in the future, but My Classroom tomorrow!  At the very least I want Google search constantly hooked up so no student ever has to say "what is that?" and not get immediate visual and/or aural support to the text explanation. And my ipod will be constantly present -- Civil War studies needs fifes and drums, Civil Rights Era needs Sam Cooke, Earth Science neeeeeds cool video of oozing lava and exploding volcanoes!

One Word Descriptions

Had my first Teacher Interview yesterday... first interview of any sort since hiring on at Robinson's-May back in 1998.  I'd like to think I was calm, collected, totally prepared, smelled nice, had my fly zipped, all the essentials in order for that overwhelmingly awesome first impression, but...

I know I stammered and bumbled through too many questions, gave vague answers instead of definitive, academic term filled answers. Probably showed myself the door by mentioning my lack of classroom experience.  I blanked on the "Do you have any questions for us?" -- and then of course thought of several before I was across the parking lot.

One question was the ol' standby "Describe yourself with one word" -- or was it 3 words? One word 3 different ways? No, it was 3 1-word descriptions. Anyway, not wanting to appear too self-centered with excessive contemplation, I blurted out the first three popping to mind:

Here. Tall. Trekkie.

So if they gave me a mulligan, possibly all 12 ears were momentarily ringing, and they asked me to kindly repeat my answer, I would probably go with completely different answers...

  • Competitive: I want to be the best. Yes, I want to beat you, but the focus is beating me, constantly getting better, setting high standards, not settling for "that's all I can do" -- I want my class to be the cleanest and best looking, my students the smartest, most eager, respectful, polite, my family the happiest and proudest. And I want you to be the best as well, I want to work with the best, play against the best, measure up against the best.
  • Excited:  I get excited when lessons go well, thrilled when kids "get it" and learning happens, electrified when students want to learn;  I get energized when I get to go to work, when I get to learn something, when I get to teach! 
  • Appreciative:  It's not a perfect world; in fact it can be a scary, hopeless place if we dwell on all that does or can go wrong.  But instead I appreciate each day I have with my sons, my wife, my friends and family.  I appreciate the physical miracles of my body and the world around me, and the amazing gifts of thought, art, music, creativity, compassion, love.
  • Right: not right as in the "I am always..." I repeatedly tell my sons, but the Right as in there is a right way to do things, to do everything.  The right way is doing your best, thinking of others first, learning something, improving something, doing it right the first time but if not finding the right way and doing it again.  The right way does not include shortcuts, cheating, or selfishness.
  • Studious: I like to be prepared, I like to get as much resource material as possible, look at all angles, research the right and best way to do something -- whether I get the job of Defensive Line Coach or 4th grade Teacher, no matter if the assignment is native California flora, jump roping, or 3-digit division, I'm going to read about it, google it, watch a video on it, scour the Library shelves for it, and make my lesson plan the best it can be. Then I'm going to make it better for the next time.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Teacher Discounts

save a little sumpin' for yourself... check out

First Interview

Ok, I don't think I was this bad, no visible drench marks, but I will confess to some nervousness -- what if they expose me as a fraud? Use all these technical and academic phrases that cause my face to go blank and a dreaded "Uuuhhh..." to slip from my lips? 

Monday, August 22, 2011


Check out Tech4Learning

They have it all covered -- blog, FB, apps, even cool usable images like this dude:



Room 21

An "Online Social Learning Platform" -- the District I'd really, really love to work for is starting to work with this -- has anybody tried it?

Go the "About" link for an introduction video.  I wonder if it;s used Sept through June or goes by the wayside 1/2 way through the year. What grades use it? Good intro to social networks for 3-5 grades?

no connection to Room 222?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Will Teach for Food

Will Teach for Food

I can update my eFolio...

One Step Up

After years of stressing whether there would ever be any jobs out there I could apply for, and years of stressing over those "you did not advance to the next level in the application process" automated do-not-reply emails, I can finally stress over the very real possibility I may get an interview -- now what am I gonna do?!?!?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Children's Book Review can be found HERE

Friday, July 22, 2011

And finally, Summer.

Year-round schools make for tough Julys... it's sunny, too hot, and the entire neighborhood is out of school except me and the boys. Until today!

Sunday, April 24, 2011


great ideas and calendar of historical events at Read Write Think

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Be A Heart Hero!

whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger...

So now I have to spend my Spring Break training so I can out-jump 2nd graders. I'm not working on any fancy tricks, just trying not to trip myself.

Help Me Be A Heart Hero!

Monday, April 4, 2011

and speaking of Math...

... I think I'll have some Pi!

"What Pi Sounds Like"

What Pi sounds like.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Math for Two Continents

...well, sort of.

Two sites to check out. One has me stressed out since I read that Math shortcuts are straight from the devil, but that's all I know and love about math -- shortcuts! tricks! ways to get out of actually doing the math!

Math for America

And the other is a great way to clear out extra books

Books For Africa

Monday, March 21, 2011

March Madness

By the time my SDSU Aztecs defeat those damn Dukies this weekend, I should have this figured out: a bracket/tournament of children's books to mirror the college basketball "March Madness" -- here are a few ideas so far...

  • kick it off with Dr Seuss birthday celebration and students presenting and talking about favorite books
  • need a simple, expedient voting process (higher grades could be online)
  • each round (sweet 16, elite 8, etc) can focus on a specific aspect, such as characters or theme
any ideas? seen it done anywhere?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Mouse Squad

Excellent idea, most middle schoolers probably have more experience and expertise than the entire  staff combined, plus the available time.  The next generation Auto Shop?

12 Year Old Tech Support

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

New Management

Went to a little seminar, an idea presentation I'd call it, by Rick Morris of  New Management .  Not a fan of the name, sounds too real estate or business, but definitely a fan of his philosophy and methods.  Maybe because mostly they fall right in line with how I want to run my classroom.  I remember one of my Master teachers used some of his ideas, but she ended up yelling often at her loud class, so I'm not sure...

I think a lot of my classroom management focus will fall under a few main tenets --

  • Teachers* waste waaaaaay too much time dealing with classroom behavior, especially waiting for a class or specific students to quiet/settle down.
  • A lot of time is wasted during every school day that could be better spent learning: too long to transition between subjects, classes, lunch & recess; behavior issues; Dairy Association** assemblies that last an hour attempting to teach 1st graders how a cow digests (4 chambered stomach!) when all they want to do is pet the calf and all they will remember is the cow pooping.  And the boy in the second row throwing up.
  • Learning and Teaching are one and the same and everyone in the class is part of the process -- we will all learn together and from each other, and we will have fun doing it. It will be hard, it will be a challenge, it will be a lot of work... but it will be worth it.

I loved Rick's line "Teaching is like a crock pot" or something like that -- it builds, simmering and getting richer as the school year goes. Can't expect the perfect class by Sept 15th, right? And I firmly believe that we are not just teaching our students for our year but for the teacher next year (isn't it embarrassing to pass along poorly behaved students?) and for their future bosses, spouses, and children.

Now my challenge is to see how any of this stuff works out on a crowded noisy playground...

Anyway, check out the site, a bunch of instantly usable FREE stuff there, and the iPhone app is just plain cool -- get rid of those popsicle sticks!  I don't even have a class yet but I want one, I can instantly assess my sons for practice...

* I absolutely 100% include myself in this. Sigh...
** I love milk.

Monday, March 14, 2011

My student she wrote me a letter...

Great idea here -- Sup Teach? -- for getting to know students and their perception of your class/subject.  I strongly believe in a lot of student feedback, and parent input too, especially since what they say usually reveals more about the student then about the teacher, and can help tailor instruction and intervention.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Millionaire Mind

I found this scrap of newspaper (yes, some of us still do read the newspaper) on the desk, and I remember discussing it with my middle school PE classes back in September --

"...the importance of social and emotional skills in the workplace...a polling of 5,000 millionaires reveals that crucial to their success was integrity, discipline, social skills, and hard work."

Looks like it's from a book "The Millionaire Mind" by Thomas Stanley, guess I'll check it out.

I would rather my students (and children) learned and practiced those four traits over anything and everything else.  Of course, once you get going with those four, even algebra is a piece of cake, right? Anything is possible!

Drowning in Scraps and Doodles

Funny thing is, I've started this post/project umpteen times lately and never quite finished. And so the pile grows...

Love post it notes. I go into panic attack mode if there is not one near by when needed.  Even without a pen handy, I can carry around several blank sticky notes just to remind me of what I'll forget as soon as I find that pen. Let's see what I can uncover and decipher this morning...

"Kurt SAT" -- oh lordy, is my oldest really that old? No, 16 is not really old, but next comes 18, then 21, then 28, it just doesn't stop, does it? Dang, another hair just went gray.

"Hula hops w/ strings" -- probably "hoops" for a lesson on planetary orbits; tie strings to hoops to demonstrate orbits, earth hoop connects to sun hoop, moon hoop to earth hoop, student holds/stands in center of hoop... hmm, might be one I need to try out w/ my lab rats (sons).  Also, strings/cords of varying thicknesses to show level of gravitational pull? I love doing the moon rotation lessons, and props plus student movement seems to help.

"Crawdaddy Simone" -- song title?

"sardonic" -- word of the day/week up on a poster with room for students to write what they think is the definition/use it in a sentence, points or prizes given at end of week, extra credit for defining root words, etc.

 "show me 5" -- heard a teacher say this when getting class attention; I think the five were eyes, ears, smile, hands in lap and legs criss cross.

"Time Line" -- I love time lines, and I know students have issues conceptualizing the When of events, eras, etc. My son lumps the Revolutionary War, King Arthur, Ancient Egypt all into "way back when" so I want him to raw out his own timeline and fill in what he is interested in at the appropriate space on a long roll of paper (calculator/receipt paper?). Could be done as whole class project and add people/events as the year goes on. Works with across all subjects -- fractions/measurement, science, literature...

"Connections" -- I'm all about the connections, I want students to be able to access as much different information in that computer on their shoulders as possible. Just like the word bat (it's a noun! a verb! a creature with fangs!) I want them to see all the possibilities in a lesson -- how can this Math be used in Science, the "real world", and what is the who and when behind it? How does this book connect to our Social Studies lesson? I think even younger grades can learn how to take notes, writing down everything they think of when I say a certain word or phrase so they expand the "search" and bring more connections, more background knowledge/prior experience, more opportunities for new information to stick.  Isn't there a board game where you list everything related to a word or phrase?

"46 across, 5 letters, Submarine" -- I like crossword puzzles.  I want to use them in my class, and not as time filler for students who finish early. They're connected to making connections -- could "submarine" be a noun, a verb, a...?

"boys (swords, wool) girls (emot, love triangle)"  -- not sure what this one means

"Reading First" --

Cool, that was a good sized stack reviewed, sorted, crumpled and tossed!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Monday, March 7, 2011

Cover Me!

I hate cover letters. Almost as much as I hated classifieds when I was searching for work in the real world -- I wanted to place my own ad touting my features and benefits, and encourage prospective employers to send me their offers so I could consider who would deserve my talents. Ok, a little on the ego-driven side I admit, but the traditional resume seemed such a weak way to present who I am and what I could bring to a company.

So now I'm composing cover letters and fighting my creative urges again... I may gather quotes from my students: "He's my favorite coach." "He's funny!" "He ties my shoes."

Monday, February 21, 2011

Amazing Technology

EVERY student should have one!

...or 2 or 10 or 1000 !

Friday, February 18, 2011

I'm So Out Of Shape...

that racing 1st graders every day exhausts me? That's lame, but the best excuse I can think of for not posting in... 6 months?