Saturday, June 24, 2006

Wow, guess who has a blog.

Yes, it is truly party time because I'm going to have material to keep me entertained for the foreseeable future.

K.C. Meadows, the one who hates Title IX and The Americans with Disabilities Act, the one who thinks city money should go to communal pot gardens instead of schools, the one who pushes her crap agenda when Congressmen visit the classroom, and finally, the one who would like nothing more than to watch the Ukiah Athletic program go down in flames. Yes kiddies, the anti-Ukiah High School mascot has her own forum to rant and rave, and give us a little insight into the workings of local journalism (laff).

Why give it any run at all? Well, my hope is that she pops off enough to finally get people's attention that she really does have a grudge against the school. In the paper, we are constantly bludgeoned for the stupidest little transgressions , but many community members still think that because it is mainstream media, it doesn't have a bias. Um, sure. Neither does Fox News or the San Francisco Chronicle. Let Ms. Meadow's open her mouth a little more and hopefully the community will start realizing that the school needs more support and K.C. needs to be working at McDonald's.

A higher moral standard?

Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen, the temperature outside is currently 107 degrees. Ouch. Yes, we are currently in the middle of a little heat wave, where it is pretty nasty going outside after Noon. However, this isn't the nastiest it has been, since it is really cooling off in the evenings, leaving the mornings more than bearable.

During this little meltdown, I've been thinking about Education Wonks (check my fav bloggers) recent article about a teacher who posted "artsy" pictures of herself on the Internet, some topless. A colleague that she was feuding with showed the administration, who promptly escorted the pictured teacher out of her classroom and is trying to revoke her teaching credential. The argument then ensued on Ed Wonks comment section regarding the "higher moral standard" that teachers are supposed to set for students. Is this fair? Should teachers not have the rights of any other profession to do what they wish on their own time?

I'm on the fence with this question because it is really difficult to define what is and is not morally acceptable. Usually, those that try and direct you down the "moral path" (Ann Coulter or Amy Goodman) are simply trying to create an environment that helps their own political agenda, or are trying to sell books. In my opinion, the Texas Topless teacher set herself up when the pictures were posted online. Nobody said that taking topless pictures is bad, but allowing them to be seen in a public forum, especially by kids, is a recipe for a blowout by the parents of the school. While more artistic and educated people might see art, others might see soft core porn, and as we all know, not all parents out there are artistic, or very educated. Topless in Texas should have known that.

But again, where does the line get drawn? Heather Weathers was fired in New Orleans for having an art website that had very abstract work, but certainly not work that is overtly sexual. And what about the fact that Heather has two sets of warnings stating that some of the imagery is not for everybody? Shouldn't that account for something?

Now let's personalize it and toe that line again. Does this mean that if I use the word "fuck" in this blog that the school can attempt to revoke my credential because I'm not using a higher moral standard? This did become an issue back in September when an "offended party" came forward and stated that it was wrong for me to be using profanity when other students had the ability to read my blog. In the end, the reason they came forward had less to do with profanity, but the issue is still there. Is my language putting me at risk?

If were to come down to it, if the district asked me to watch my language, I probably would, after I investigated the 1st Amendment issue surrounding this site. I like my job a hell of a lot more than I like this blog. However the issue still remains in doubt in terms of a "moral standard". Where is the line?

Friday, June 23, 2006

I'm sorry Vincent, but I don't think we can do that.

I was once an America Online customer, long, long ago. After the shoddy customer service and lousy connections, I decided to take off to more local service. It wasn't very difficult to cancel service back then.

However, now-a-days it looks like AOL has a more aggressive customer service campaign. Thanks to MyMoneyBlog (check right) for a story that just makes you squirm.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

More problems with parents and coaches

Parents are after coaches here, again. I won't get into the details until I know more, but the incident is in the local Ukiah Daily Joke, so it's not like I'm releaseing something secret. If the problem is true, then it is wrong and will be dealth with. But if it is another selfish motive from a disgruntled parent.......enough already.

Here's why I think it could be a disgruntled parent:

Jane Doe claims that one of the reasons for this alleged misconduct is the fact that teachers are usually preferred when hiring is done for coaching positions.

"Teachers have first priority in coaching jobs," Doe said. "That system needs to change, because there are talented coaches that would love to do it."


Ahhhhhhhhhhhh, so now we come to it. Let me explain something, we have openings every year for positions at the high school in all kinds of sports; diving, soccer, volleyball, tennis, and others. We barely scrape the barrel getting in qualified applicants to come coach sports at this school. Memo to Jane Doe; coaching your kid in little league does not qualify you to coach a varsity sport. Want to get into the game? Get into an assistant coach position or a Frosh or J.V. level and work your way up like everyone else. And hell yes an on-campus teacher gets priority on the job, and hell no they don't get to automatically stay if they do a horrible job. However, I know that I have a ton of interaction with students on campus while basketball is not in session. I work kids that are struggling in school, I talk to counselors, case carriers, administrators, other teachers, and I'm constantly trying to get borderline kids to remain in the academic/athletic game. The way I look at it, every varsity level coach should be on-campus, although realistically that won't work because not everyone wants to deal with issues of coaching.

I don't know what the hell has gone on in this town prior to my arrival in regards to school athletics, but I do know that it is damaging the athletic program. The community, especially our tabloid newspaper, does more damage than good because the vast majority of the kids want to play competitively, not listen to political garbage. A month ago, the Daily Joke ran an article that hinted at the "might have been", while the boys that did the actual work were given no credit to a season that better for the program, the school, and most importantly, the kids. This selfish crap that groups are engaging in needs to stop, it brings down the program.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

A-B-C-D-Education Carnival!

Cute format going on this week at the Education Carnival, take a look. And don't get too put off by the fact that it is a Home Schooling blog. It could be worse. It could be a blog by an organization that taxes its members and doles out money to groups that many of the members totally disagree with.

Lawsuit..........NEA............give me my money back you corporate whores.

Enjoy the Midway!

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Mr. Silva-Brown's Report Card, Part Three "What were things that Mr. Silva-Brown did well?"

And finally, we end on a good note. These are all the things, word for word, that the students thought that I did well.

-Communicate with the class
-Notes and lectures.
-Made sure we understood.
-Liked Stock Market Project
-Fun and entertaining.
-Good job explaining stuff
-Showed visuals that made me understand
-Organizing
-Listening to opinions
-Covered a lot of information
-The quizzes and notes were well put together.
-Notes, lectures, explaining.
-Slide shows
-Really well written notes
-Good job explaining stuff.
-Gave lots of time to study
-Bought us pizza (I lost a bet. I picked the Kings to have a better regular season than the Lakers. I lost, and the Lakers still suck)
-Going over what we learned about and helping me understand
-Well prepared with a lesson every day. I definately learned a lot.
-Made things fun
-Really organized and got your point across
-No surprises and down to business
-Detailed analysis of what was being taught
-Your notes were organized so that we knew exactly what to write.
-Kept bookwork to a minimum and more hands on projects.
-Explaining things and giving examples
-Organized and explained notes
-Making sure everyone understood
-Making sure the class was fun
-Detail of stuff he was teaching
-Dressed
-Went over things if you didn't understand
-Kept us updated with news
-Taught the class with organized notes and explained everything
-Love Jeopardy (our review for tests)
-Gave plenty of info
-listened to everyone
-talked to the class
-put things in terms that everyone could understand
-explaining everything
-explained everything well
-Never ignored a question, even if stupid ones
-Connected with students and made lectures tolarable
-always organized
-Knew what he was talking about
-made class fun with projects
-Explained things we were talking about clearly
-made sure people understood what you were talking about
-bashing Toby Keith
-Notes and activities
-how you presented things and doing assignments that were fun
-Dressed up with Barbie and Batman and explaned costs, thus explaining Economics in terms you could understand
-Talk, and give incentive to be in the class
-lectures and notes
-joke around
-explaining material
-Notes and explaining things
-Spoke loud and clear
-gave good examples
-Funny jokes and makes things understandable
-Jeopardy
-Explained things really well
-Kept class fun
-wanted us to learn the stuff
-emphasized what was important and got us involved with business
-Strict on homework and rules
-Class was enjoyable and the field trip was cool!
-You made the class fun, and if it was not fun at least it was interesting.
-lecture, amusement and your ability to stay on topic
-Motivate the class using other methods, the class was well balanced
-Made class interesting
-Taught concepts well
-You taught well and had a good time with us
-Talking and lecturing
-Got involved and found way to make it interesting
-Good attitude
-I like the way you could mess around and still teach well at the same time
-Made the topic interesting, kept my attention, made me understand
-Preparation and making things understandable
-Very relaxed atmosphere
-Easy to get along with, but strict when you need to be
-How to start and operate a business.
-Barbie and Batman!
-I felt like I learned a lot more than friends in other classes
-Gave good, clear directions
-Explained economics with passion
-great examples and good ideas
-helpful group projects
-argueing with me
-good lectures and presentations
-You really get invovled and make it hard to fall asleep
-explained assignments well and had some good jokes
-Talking about economics and explaining real good
-make the day go by really fast
-makes us laugh while we take notes
-explaining
-made the subject make sense and understandable
-made sure everyone was on the same page
-didn't give in to accepting late work
-talk
-communication with students
-Went over the text and explained if we didn't understand
-Power point and notes, explaining things, and getting along with students
-sense of humor, made learning fun
-good discussions
-explaining until we all understood
-Different ways of teaching to get our attention
-Did his job in a professional manner
-People in my past have said that you are a real asshole, but not really, I think you prepare us for the real world, you get back just as much as you put in the class.
-How he explained himself
-Teaching us
-speaking loudly
-Class was fun and very well organized at the same time. You level fun and learning pretty good and it is the most like a college level class since we really do learn stuff in class and not jerk around all day. It was also good how you kept your opinion and didn't tell us.
-explain when people didn't understand
-You are a good teacher. You know your stuff and I learned a lot.
-Great presentation skills
-fun and challenging projects
-Jeopardy, note taking, commercials, loud voice and news.
-Humor to the learning experience
-Notes were fun and interesting, entertaining while teaching, jeopardy was very helpful
-explaining economics
-making class fun
-Getting your attention
-Jeopardy is awesome
-Letting me make movies
-Great examples and explanations
-class was enjoyable
-good hands-on activities
-Notes on the projector
-teaching and lecture
-teaching the Stock Market, trade and business
-The field trip to the FED
-Different methods of understanding
-Jeopardy and the news
-made people laugh
-A set schedule and the agenda on the board
-Jeopardy and the power points
-The Stock market, jeopardy, the Senate/Congress stuff from Gov, Econ Expo
-explained things and made you understand
-made sure we understood what we learned
-explained things good
-make the class laugh
-did not rush through stuff and make us feel safe if we have a question
-loud and clear, explained until we understood
-explained himself good and put knowledge in our head
-Stayed on track and kept the class involved. Made it fun to be here.
-understanding and managing stocks
-power points
-discuss problems around the world

Mr. Silva-Brown's Report Card, Part Two "What recommendations would you give Mr. Silva-Brown"

Here are all my recommendations, to the letter, from my Seniors. I'm leaving none out, however some students did not fill out every category, which is why the numbers will not be the same. My comments are in parentheses.
-When it comes to sarcasm, try a different approach. (Ok, I am pretty sarcastic when it comes to teaching Seniors. That is simply my little attempt at humor. To be honest, it works really well when you have build a group of students that have fun with it. One period was a blast because we all knew it was a big joke and had fun with it. However, that small 10% doesn't either get the humor, or actually takes offense to it. I'm still trying to find the balance, being nurturing on one hand, and being fun and sarcatic.)
-Quit picking on students that go on short term independent study. (I don't pick on them, I straight out let them know that most Seniors that go on second semester short term independent study usually get hammered with grades. Parents hate it, students hate it, but I don't beat around the bush.)
-We're not in collge yet, so accept late work for lower points.
-Don't be such a jerk about excused absences. (If I didn't have so many, I wouldn't)
-Give us advice on our grades, even if we don't ask.
-When you goof off, you set a bad example.
-Stop yelling.
-Don't make fun of people, it is a waste of time.
-You grade at an AP level, but this isn't an AP class. (Note to student, if I graded at an AP level, you would know it.)
-Don't be such a hard-ass, this isn't an honors class.
-Make sure that everyone understands.
-Nothing, keep doing what you are doing.
-Buy the class ear plugs. (I have a loud, booming voice. I get a little noisy)
-Don't avoid graphs when teaching Economics. (I tried to teach Economics this year with visually changing the Supply and Demand curves. For the most part, it worked. It worked real well with Intro. But other learn different and need the visual.)
-Make the class more intellectually stimulating.
-Give out Econ Expo earlier. (Next year, I will)
-Make it more clear to your classes that late work is not excepted. (You mean constant reminders, bold letters in the class policy, and the sign in the classroom aren't enough?)
-Less power points and more jokes
-Stop with the power trip
-Don't be a teacher simply in the 50 minute class time, if a students needs something, help them.
-No Power Point Notes
-Pass back more assignments. (I leave most in a class bin in the back of the classroom. 90% of the students never even look at it. I pass back graded notes, essays and tests.)
-Lay off country music. (No, it sucks)
-Spread out the Econ Expo.
-Give more notice for big projects.
-Give more days for big projects.
-Stop making your room smell like popcorn.
-Be more leinent about late work.
-Be a little more understanding about late work.
-None.
-Play more Wheat Market game.
-Nothing, your doing good.
-More trivia. (In my Intro classes, I do trivia for the last minute or two, 2-3 times a week. The person with the most correct answers at the end of the week got 2 extra credit points. You would not believe the number of Intro kids that often said that they showed up to school simply to play trivia!)
-Give more homework.
-Be nice.
-Ease up on your tardy policy. (Coming from a student that was tardy 2-3 times a week.)
-You're intimitating with your big, loud voice.
-Less notes and more homework.
-Say what you mean.
-Get a new laptop. (You buying?)
-Do more updates to the webpage (I lost patience with the techinical aspect of the page.)
-Bump Mac Dre (Hell no. New age rap sucks ass. Public Enemy baby!!!!)
-Slow down with notes.
-Less work at the end of the year.
-Keep telling students to remain on top of their work.
-No power points.
-More rough drafts for Econ Expo and a clearer timeline.
-Don't talk so fast.
-Make baskets.
-Ease up on grading.
-Organize Econ Expo better.
-This is a college prep class. Give more homework.
-A little less notes.
-More time on Econ Expo.
-Make tests harder.
-Demand more from students.
-Econ Expo is a waste.
-Make it less fun.
-You don't assign much homework.
-Don't ever show the Grandma investing video again!
-Keep having fun.
-Stay with overhead notes, not power point
-Don't make some assignments due the next day.
-Don't do power points.
-Grade make-up work quicker.
-Talk in a lower tone.
-Don't know
-Um, I think the class was fun.
-Make sure students are involved.
-I don't think there are any.
-?
-Don't have attendance quizzes.
-Have a nicer look on your face.
-More homework.
-Keep up the good work
-Don't give in like most teachers.
-I like the class.
-A new news guy (What??? I like Jim Leher) Throw in ESPN.
-No power points.
-Give work more time to be turned in.
-More excitment into the work.
-Don't let your guard down.
-Keep on Keepin on.
-Keep doing what you are doing.
-Do less quizzes.
-Keep doing what you are doing.
-Use Tinker Bell instead of Barbie (Opportunity Cost lesson)
-No
-Give more review so students don't complain.
-Relax
-You're too strict
-Get a better hair cut
-No last minute projects.
-Class was fine.
-Burn your Sacramento Kings poster.
-Give your opinion more so we can relate better.
-Everything was fine.
-Stop using German in class.
-Slower notes
-Homework should be worth more
-More opportunities for extra credit
-Clarify Econ Expo better
-Make notes bigger.
-Get a better wardrobe
-Better handwriting
-Be nice to the attendance people.
-Be more helpful with make-up work.
-Less quizzes.
-More stuff on actual investing.
-Make Econ Expo clearer.
-Smile more
-Don't be so harsh on tardies
-Keep the news
-Keep teaching!
-More field trips
-More hands on projects
-Less power points
-No Power Points as notes
-Use more videos
-Stop taking away points for being tardy
-Stop showing the news.
-No power points
-Don't talk so loud
-Do that field trip again
-Don't diss on country.
-Let people turn things in late, especially if it is the same day.
-More review for tests.
-Watch more movies
-Don't grade so hard.
-Go slower with notes
-Give more individual help
-None really
-Let us do more extra credit
-No
-Give more time for Econ Expo

And there were all my recommendations.

Mr. Silva-Brown's Report Card, Part One "Ratings Game."

I watched the little knotheads graduate yesterday at Ukiah High Stadium. The usual feelings struck me as I stood in the shade of a tiny tree, well away from most of the crowd; feelings of 'best of luck', immense pride, questions about how some could possible graduate, and finally a sense of ending as the year officially comes to a close. I enjoyed hearing the names of the kids, the songs, the emotional speeches, and happiness of the kids.
But as soon as those tassels changed position, I darted out the back fence and easily avoided the nasty traffic out of the school. Last year I parked up in the parking lot and it was over an hour to get all the way down the road from the school, about a mile and a half. Then I went home and did more drywall with some help from my father-in-law.

Now I present to you, part one of a three part series that graded Mr. Brown. At the end of each year I give out a report card with about 15 questions about my performance during the year. The questions are:
-One a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being excellent), rating Mr. Brown's teaching this semester.
-Was I well organized?
-Did you understand what was going on?
-Do you think I have improved since September?
-Did you feel safe?
-Were students treated equally with respect?
-Describe your overall experiance in the class
-What did I do well?
-What recommendations can you give?
-Give one piece of advice for next years students.

Today, I'll give you the numbers rating. The rating is first, followed by how many students rated me at that level. Here it is:

10- Twenty-two
9- Forty-two
8- Thirty-three
7- Thirteen
6- Six
5- Four
4- Three

My average is an 8.3, so about a B.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Done

Today I completed my fifth year of teaching, thus clearing the dreaded "50% in 5 Years" curse. I didn't have students today (or yesterday for that matter), as it was a day to congratulate retirees, clean out classrooms, and do the last minute stuff that teachers do. My last day went like this:

-Get to school at 8:30.
-Put away the television and vcr, which is basically the last items to put away.
-Go to the faculty breakfast. First I sit with the coaches and talk sports stuff. Then I sit by the younger teachers and talk fun stuff.
-The retirees are announced. I stay for one, then rush to his classroom to get his advice before he leaves. I actually leave in the middle of the retiree thingy, but his advice does what I hoped it would do; leave me excited for next year. The last month has been a pretty shitty experience. His words left me in a good frame of mind.
-After the function ends, I quickly take a few boxes out to my car and check-out. Then I return to the classroom.
-Go online and buy lots of fun stuff of next year's International Studies class. It's like Christmas!
-Have a fun conversation with the younger generation of teachers, some that are leaving us, and others that are staying.
-Finally, end the day with a 5 hour golf outing with other teachers. It was the perfect way to end the year.

What a bizarre year. What with two significant deaths in the family to start, a lame attack on this blog to follow, then the flood, and finally all the meetings at the end of the year. This year could be forgotten and I'd have no problems with that. That's not to say that the students weren't great, because I had some outstanding students. Two students failed my class, and the rest completely earned the Economics part of the diploma that they will receive. I set high standards and a vast majority of the students, regardless of the complaining, found that bar and passed it.

I know the many tasks that I need to work on for next year, but one is hands and feet above the rest. I need to spend less time focusing on the negative issues with students and invest my energy into the students that are prepared to go after my class with a vengeance. Example. Thursday was a day without Seniors since they were at graduation practice. I cleaned and prepared everything for the summer. While I did this, at least a dozen students came in to say that they loved the class, learned a lot, and have me lots of hand shakes and hugs. Then I had one meeting, over one student, and the entire day focused around that one situation, all other stuff left my mind. Today a man gave me a great piece of advice. "Always keep everything in perspective. I've listened to what students say about you. You are doing wonderful things in your classroom. And think about the fact that if we impact that one student that this is all worth it. You are doing more than that and it is just one student that, well, you know. Just always keep that perspective. When you are in that meeting, remember that there are classes full of kids that are getting a positive impact from your class."
I need to remember that, or I won't last very long in this job. I had a few very nasty conferences that left a lasting imprint on my year. I don't like dealing with unreasonable people that think that their children are perfect. Your children lie. They might be wonderful kids, but they make mistakes, lie, and don't always follow through with what needs to be done. They are kids. I drove to Willits last night to attend their graduation and I was considering the idea of teaching college classes, thus ending the parent involvement. It was not a happy thought.
But today I felt a little excited for next year, again. That means that I'm in the right job, and I need to be determined to not let a handful dictate the atmosphere of my teaching experience. So the fire and passion are still there. I'm determined, excited, and very looking forward to my three classes for next year. They will be; College Prep Economics, Introduction to Economics, and yes, International Studies! The class passed and is reality!
I'll post my student's teacher reviews later. I think you will find them interesting.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The ultimate guilty pleasure. Doctor Who.

So I admit it, I've been watching Doctor Who on the Sci-Fi channel.
Now wait a minute. Before you go laughing your ass off, let's get a clear understanding of my psychosis.
For those of you that don't know it, Doctor Who is a very cheesy, British science fiction program that started in the late 1960's. The show revolves around a man only known as "The Doctor" who travels in a machine through time and space, having adventures with different companions. The show manages to keep running because The Doctor has the ability to regenerate, which means that you can continually bring fresh blood into the show. The picture below shows all the incarnations of The Doctor, starting in the upper left hand corner with the first and working counter-clockwise to the current Doctor on the middle left.



The show is one of the longest running in history, and also very well known for being corny and "b-movie" cheesy. Anyway, I grew up reading Doctor Who. In fact, my love of reading started with a television episode that I saw in the 4th grade about a man in a long scarf who went around having crazy fun adventures around space and time. The man was Tom Baker (upper right), and I started watching the show religiously at 5:30 every evening on PBS. Unfortunately, my family moved from San Jose to Paradise, California, where PBS hadn't quite nailed a signal yet (I lived 30 minutes out of Paradise). So I started reading Doctor Who novels. As a fourth grader I started buying every novel I could get my hands on, trying to put them in correct chronological order for the series so I could understand the whole enchilada. My parents both loved it, because I could read like a maniac. The only negative came from Ms. Horvath, my fifth grade teacher who refused to allow me to read the books during silent reading by the end of the year because she thought that I was limiting myself too much. I hated her for it. Eventually, PBS got a signal that we could reach and sure enough, Doctor Who became a part of very late Saturday nights (it started at 11 p.m.) from 5th grade to 9th grade. I had friends that liked the show and we would switch houses to stay up late and watch the most recent installment.
Things changed when I hit high school. It wasn't cool to watch Doctor Who, so I dropped it and watched a lot more Sportscenter. By 7th grade I had long outgrown the Doctor Who novels and moved into other genre's. I had become a History nut, so I read The Winds of War in the 7th grade. I knew more about World War 2 than most of my teachers at that point. I would occasionally check in with Doctor Who on television when I visited my mother in the Bay Area. But it was cheesy, and as a high school teenager, it felt nerdy just to watch it.
But some things never leave your soul. I always remembered the simple fun that the show provided. Although the sets could have been made in your garage, the scripts were often fantastic, especially an episode written by Douglas Adams which gets into the "which comes first, the chicken or the egg" issue. When I found out that Sci-Fi was broadcasting the new Doctor Who, I couldn't resist giving it a try. Yep, the massive wave of nostalgia is still ever present and I'm happy to watch the corny British humor yet again. And this time, I don't have to put it away in a box because I'm worried about some stupid ass high school image. Jesus those things were useless.
So onward with my guilty pleasure! It deserves a slot in my once-a-week rotation. Hell, it only helped me to read!

Monday, June 12, 2006

I'll take a Philly Cheese Steak, hold the English.

I'm probably supposed to be appalled by this, but something just rings really strong with me in regards to the immigration issue.
Geno's Steaks (Cheese steaks) in Philadelphia has a sign posted that states, "This is America - when ordering, speak English." You can probably see where this is going. Well, the city has a no discrimination policy regarding nationality or ethnicity, and Philly is demanding that Geno's takes down the sign, which they are refusing to do. Reuters has more details.

The owner if the restaurant says that it is a 1st Amendment issue. I'm the biggest proponent of the 1st Amendment, but I don't see it as a problem with Freedom of Speech. What I see it as is a test of how government actually handles the concept of discrimination. More over, it is a test to decide how much the control the government is going to have on the use of the English language in business. Is the sign discriminatory? Of course it is. It demands that you speak only one language when ordering. But is it wrong? Well, if the employees all know only English, does it do any good to say that it is acceptable to order in Spanish? Absolutely not. So what do we do?
Well, the first thing is that the country passes English as a the national language. I know, I know....it is so anti-cultural, so not diverse, blah, blah, blah...... Well, let's see.......
-Official language of over 2 dozen other countries.
-Official language of the United Nations
-Official language of the European Union
-Official language of the Olympic Committee
-Official language of business
-Official language of California
-Official language of international travel
-The most widely used language in the world (not population, variety)
-Hell, the official language of Hong Kong!

So let's end the argument over that and just get it passed. If Mexico protests, tell them to shut up and go figure out how to run a country before criticizing ours.

Then, if there is no discrimination based on nationality or ethnicity, you let Geno's post the sign because the business is ran by people that speak English. Although this sign might be on the border of perfect common sense, it stands on the good side of the argument. Politically correct? No. Tasteful? Probably not. But can you actually demand that other languages be spoke in a business and call that 'anti-discrimination'? Let's hope not, because the precedent that this sets could be ugly.

2 down, 3 to go

I graded projects all weekend. Blah.

But with Finals Week in full swing, I can safely say that the really hard part is now finished. All of my finals are made up, all the grades are imputed, and everyone as a good idea of where they stand. Now it is a matter of slamming in the test grades and saying a few last words to the kiddies as they head off into the "real world".
Not a whole lot has happened lately that is unusual. At our school, Final's Week is more of relaxed week for most classes, which totally ignores the point of the week, which is to give a final. I don't know about you, but my finals week in college always had finals, and they were totally stressful. I have plenty of students who had a final at the beginning of last week, and have managed an early vacation since. Wow, doing these students a lot of good, aren't we. So my finals are this week, which leaves me with lots of house cleaning to do. I clean up my classroom and prepare the most important items for the trip to my garage, since summer school is in my classroom. I'm taking the usual electronic items (computer, T.V., DVD), book books, sentimental stuff, and my International Studies supplies (gotta get ready for next year!). I also need to clear off the shelves, take down a little student work, and do the general end of the year check-out with admin.
Currently, my only serious issues are dealing with students with IEP's, which is a problem that I have addressed in the past. Once again we are dealing with the idea that missing school is acceptable if it is excused, that an IEP allows for make-up work to be turned in at any time, and that working hard is 'good enough'. My hope is that the student does the current required work, passes the class, and this issue goes away.
However, the issue of 'the work is enough' has come up many times this year. I recently read an article in Newsweek about "15 Ideas to Recharge America". One of the authors, Esther Dyson, stated that one thing we could do is to place the emphasis on not only hard work, but actual functionality. She is calling for a change in the culture of the country, something that is starting to come out in the mainstream press as a necessity if we are going to remain at the top of the economic game in 50 years. No, we are not talking about a change in the political culture, though that may be a part of it. We are talking about a focus on putting more responsibility on parents to raise their kids. Parents should realize that hard work and having high standards are important, and not leave it entirely up to the schools.

Friday, June 09, 2006

The Big Project

This week was the culminating activity in Economics for my students. In March, the students got into groups of 3-5 to create a business model that incorporated different aspects of business and economics. I'm tired of grading for tonight, so I'll list the requirements, which will make clearer the reasons why my Seniors have spent the last 48 hours cursing my name.

Business Model Requirements
-Develop a Statement of Purpose
-List the Factors of Production
-Interview a local business owner or manager. Transcribe the interview and list the interviewee's background.
-Create a hypothetical entrepreneur
-Develop a floor plan
-Create a demand survey, a demand schedule, a demand curve, and establish what the best price for revenue would be if we simply based on demand.
-List three changes in supply related to your company.
-List three changes in demand related to your company.
-Explain the type of business organization you are. Advantage/disadvantage.
-Explain your businesses attitudes towards globalization with a focus on NAFTA and China.
-List your start-up costs
-List the cost to create a single unit.
-Determine the amount and time needed to recoup your start-up.
-Describe how you will finance your business.
-Give your business a name.
-Create a logo.
-Create a slogan.
-Create business cards.
-Create a coupon.
-Describe your competition.
-Explain your marketing strategy
-Create a print or video ad
-Analyze 5 similar product websites
-Give a target market analysis
-List your employees
-Give a detailed job description of four employee positions
-Create an employee manuel
-List local, state, federal unemployment figures and give an outlook.
-State governemnt regulations on your business.
-Analyze the effect of minimum wage on your business.
-Put in professional item and organize.
-Cite everything.
-Create a display.
-Create a promotional item to give away at your display.
-Be detailed, creative, and professional.

There you have. Now I'm grading those bad boys!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

I'm here.

But I'm extremely busy. Finals next week, major projects this week.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Drywall weekend

I spent much of the weekend repairing the water damaged wall from the Janurary flood. I had already torn down the wet drywall (no problem), sprayed a moldicide on the wood (again, no problem), and decided to drywall the 25' long by 3' high section that needed replacing. Just a note, the old drywall did not mold, thank God. However, the space between the baseboard and the drywall did have slight indications of mold, so I'm glad I was proactive.
I decided to do the drywall myself, since I didn't want to spend the massive amount of money that some asked for (around $300-400) to repair this small section. The supplies only cost about $60 for three sheets of 8' drywall, compound, tape, drywall knife, a tape measure, and one of those taping knives that you spread the compound with.
The work was not difficult as much as it was time consuming. Remember, I was never a very good handyman, and this was my first drywall. I worked about 3 hrs on both Saturday and Sunday, as I had a function to go to on Saturday (which was not fun) and 5 classes of essays to grade on Sunday (which might have been more fun). I ended up getting the entire section drywalled, and only about half taped. My worst feature in the process was simple measurement, which I have very little patience with and end up doing more guessing than actual measuring. This means that I have sections of drywall with 1" sections missing from it. More mud for the wall.
Not a whole lot of other things happened this weekend, except for a massive amount of relief that summer is almost upon us. I fired up the BBQ a couple of times this weekend for both steak and chicken.
Yummy!

Friday, June 02, 2006

Stretch run

Signs that the year is coming to an end:
-"Mr. Brown, what can I do to get my grade up? Do you have extra credit? Do you know that other teachers accept late work?"

-The yearly faculty function is this Saturday. This year we are paying $12 per person for a beef, chicken, or fish dinner. We have to bring our own drink and our own snackables. I poked fun about the price to the teacher in our building that is setting up the whole function. I commented about the price vs. the value of the function, and that the lower paid teachers had to pay the burden of the price. I was half kidding. The way I look at it, a nice function is a huge BBQ at a park some afternoon. Cheap, easy, fun. Of course, the reaction I would get is, "Hey, why don't you plan it?". My response, "Um, no." I have a couple of other things to focus on, like 150 Seniors.

-Checking in books. Believe it or not, it has taken me this long to figure out that you should turn in your books quite a bit early. In the past, I've almost forgotten about the books, which becomes a problem because those that don't get books in are fined and can't receive their yearbooks. I've finally got a reasonable system down. New teachers out there might be going, "God, why is that a big deal?". Like a lot of things in teaching, you don't usually have a big deal, you have a massive amount of little deals. All those little deals have a habit if interfering with good teaching if left unchecked.

-"Any idea if Jane is going to pass?"
"I don't know. She's borderline and her final is Wednesday, 6/14."
"Well, Senior failures are due on Wednesday, 6/14. Any way I can find out before that?"
"Her final is on that day. I'll know after the final."
"I know, but can I give the parent any hint on progress?."
"Sure. She needs to be here every day, do all the work better than a 'D' average, and do well on the final."
"But nothing more concrete I can tell the parents?"
I have this conversation at least twice a day. Of course my answer to the last question is usually, "No". What I want the last answer to be is, "More concrete? Tell them that if I was her boss, I would have fired her back in Janurary."

-Which brings us to the attendance issue, which is still a joke. I still have borderline kids coming in late, or missing days of class. I still think the minimum number of required days should be instituted for students to pass the class. It is a royal pain in the ass to constantly deal with make up work because Mom and Dad can't rouse Jim or Jane out of bed in the morning to go to school. If we were setting a 15 day absence limit, about 40% of my zero period class would fail. But once again, we enable the little kiddies, especially the Seniors, and don't prepare them for college. Eighteen year old students sign themselves out and then expect teachers to do the extra work in preparing the missed assignments, and grading them later. I think I might make my make up work a freaking nightmare next year. Think about it. They are missing an hours worth of a college prep class. In my college classes, I could write a few page essay in that time. Sounds like a plan, summarize a certain chapter as make-up work. Either that or parents can start being parents and kick their kids ass out of bed. "I overslept." with two weeks to go is a bad sign.

-Why do I love my Seniors? Two weeks left and I watch some instructors already done with the year. These are the questions I'm getting:
"Can we turn the x-axis of Excel's graph into currency?"
"Can we make a few employee handbooks for the judges?"
"How do you compute the rate of return for my portfolio?"
"Do I need to add my dividend to the final bank account balance?"
"Can I find statistics on the unemployment outlook?"
"I e-mailed the owner of the drive-in. Can I do my interview by e-mail?"
"How can I calculate the cost of one unit if that unit is a video game rental or a set time playing at a computer terminal?"
"Should utilities be considered start-up costs?"
"Should my demand survey answers be whole numbers or percentages?"
"Disney bought out Pixar. How do I look up Pixar's old stock price?"

Intro doing Stock Projects. College Prep doing Econ Expo. I love it when a plan comes together.