Monday, June 30, 2008

Done with the fires

Someone e-mailed me early on and asked why I took the time to blog information about the fires. The answer was quite simple. No one else was giving out a single, solid lead for info. Our local paper is a joke, doing very little real reporting and only coping information from Cal-Fire when it was release. So, since I was home and doing very little productive anyway, I blogged info from the fire.

But I'm done now, and I'll give you a couple of links that should help.

Mendocino County now has a website that is totally dedicated to the local wildfires.

Here are a couple of local fire maps.

Here is an overall map of the Mendocino Complex Wildfires.

This blog is actually from a parent of a couple of students I had. He's keeping up to date with the Mendo fires.

Here is a local blogger in Greenfield Ranch.


Nice to see that local citizens really took an interest in getting accurate information out to the general public.

But I'm finished with it. We now join our regularly scheduled program, already in progress.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Mendocino County "Lightning Series" wildfires (updated 6/29 at 8 p.m.)

Updated Information is bolded.

Remember that thunderstorm Friday night? Well, it has touched off one hell of a wildfire problem in Mendocino County. I've been keeping an eye and ear on some of the news, so here is a little update for those that have been hearing about the fires.

-Fires are all over Mendocino County. Right now it looks like about 60 fires are still going within the county totaling 35,700 acres.

-The McCarvey Fire is 10 miles west of Ukiah. It is 620 acres.

-There is a precautionary evacuation issued by Cal Fire on Mountain View Road at Mile Post 9 East of Manchester. This is the Jacks Fire at 650 acres.

-There is a voluntary evacuation order for the Red Mountain-Bell Springs area north/northeast of Leggett. This is from the Red Mountain fire at 2,500 acres.

-The Sugarloaf Fire is between Manchester and Booneville. It is 5,000 acres.

-The Cliff Fire is just northeast of the Mallo Fire between Manchester and Philo. It is 4,600 acres.

-The Mallo Pass Fire is between Manchester and Philo. It is 2,300 acres.

-The evacuation order for Greenfield Ranch as been downgraded to voluntary.
This is from the Jack Smith fire at 1,500 acres.

-There is a voluntary evacuation order for the Orr Springs Road/Montgomery Woods area. This includes Running Springs Road and the Orr Springs Resort. The fire is around 3,037 acres. This one is called the Orr Fire.

-The Paradise Fire is near Shelter Cove at about 875 acres. It is 40% contained.

- There are 51 fires burning in the Mendocino National Forest. Expected to be fully contained by Tuesday.

-There is a fire between the southwest end of Lake Pillsbury and Potter Valley.
This is called the Back Fire and is 80% contained. It has burned 1,600 acres.

-There is fire west of Lake Pillsbury. This fire is called the Big Fire and is about 1,400 acres. It is 40% contained.

-The evacuation order for the Chicken Ridge area of Covelo has been lifted. This is in relation to the Butch Fire.

-There is a voluntary evacuation order for the town of Rockport.

-The evacuation order for Navarro and Flynn Creek has been lifted. The Navarro fire is at 3,000 acres.


-There is a voluntary evacuation for the town of Leggett.


-There is a voluntary evacuation for the town of Cummings, south of Leggett.

-There is a voluntary evacuation for the Howard Creek and De Haven Creek drainage, north of Westport.

-There is a voluntary evacuation recommended and issued by the Anderson Valley Fire Department for the following areas: Rancho Navarro, Nash Mill Road from Clough Ridge to the top of Nash Mill Subdivision, Mountain View Rd. near mile marker 17 in the vicinity of Hanes Ranch, Easterly portion of Signal Ridge Rd. in the vicinity of Rossi Ranch below Cold Springs Lookout.

-The Table Mountain Fire is near Albion and is about 1000 acres. It is 30% contained.

-There is a fire in Reeves Canyon about 10 miles north of Ukiah.

-A public health advisory has been issued for citizens of Anderson Valley, Hopland, and the Ukiah Valley. The air quality is considered hazardous and people should stay inside their homes.

People are going quite bonkers with the lack of available information online. I'm also quite surprised that the county sheriff is going from radio station to radio station trying to get out info. How about an overall conference call? The local newspaper is also useless. How about some real news of the fire? Anyway, I'm up so I'll update if I hear anything.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Taste of Downtown

A lot like quite a few "Taste of...." that take place in semi-small towns, Taste of Downtown is Ukiah's version of the Meet, Eat, and Drink theme.  Over 20 different wine makers and brewers take up temporary residence in some of the local downtown shops while people walk the streets (closed off to traffic) with a $25 wine glass that is used to grab the sips.  It was the first time that my wife and I had attended the event, and we were joined by our teaching friends and other good people. 

You can probably anticipate the potential problem that could come from a teacher walking around town with a glass of wine in his hand, and I was right there with you.  I had to limit the sipping and be very wary about speaking to students when I was feeling nice near the end of the tasting.  I saw a few students, and quite a few ex-students.  I enjoyed speaking with those I hadn't seen in awhile and we caught up on how their lives are progressing along.  Some are done with college and already heading off towards their careers.  Makes me smile.  I also saw other Ukiah Unified people, parents of students and players, and other people I've gotten to know in the 7 years I've lived here.

For those that are interested in the wine/beer tasting, here's a little report:

Best Red Wine:  None.  They were all pretty icky.

Best White Wine:  image   My wife and I really enjoy the Sauvignon Blanc with sushi, but last night we went for the Chardonnay.  It was just as nice and I highly recommend that you give it a whirl.  It is a little pricey, but worth it if you want to shell out.  I'll give an honorable mention to Bonterra's Sauvignon Blanc, which was nice and crisp, with a grapefruit finish. 

Best Sparkling:  image  They were tasting the standard stuff and it was, as usual, very yummy.  We will often take a pre-New Year's Day trip to the Anderson Valley for some Scharffenberger and Roederer Estate, that should tell you that Scharffenberger is held in pretty high regard. 

Best Beer:  image  Mendocino Brewing Company's Red Tail Ale was the best beer there, although that wasn't saying much.  It probably helped that they gave out keg cups of brew, not the splash in the wine glass.  One interesting thing that I found was that all the breweries were serving a Belgian style beer, ala Fat Tire.  None of them was worth a repeat. 

Best Other alcohol:  image  One of benefits of living in Mendocino County is that we are under an hour from some of the best wines in the world.  What many don't know is that Ukiah is also the location of Germain-Robin brandy, some of the best brandy on the planet.  You know those $100+ bottles of cognac that people rave about?  They are nothing compared to the basic $40 bottle of Germain-Robin brandy.  Drop the pretentious pricing on sub-par brandies and take in some Germain-Robin.

Probably the biggest surprise was the little rain shower that hit us at around 7 in the evening.  It was unusual weather for June.  Unfortunately, that shower had some 800 lightning strikes associated with it for Mendocino County.  That has created a serious fire problem for the area.  As of this moment, dozens of fires are going in the county, with 5 serious blazes within 20-30 miles of Ukiah.  The air quality is really bad in the valley with the constant smell of smoke inundating our nostrils.

Let's hope the morning brings a different fire situation. 

Friday, June 20, 2008

Mr. Silva-Brown's Report Card, Part Three "What were things that Mr. Silva-Brown did well?" 2008 edition

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

-Jeopardy, slide shows, the news. (Jeopardy is our test review)
-Powerpoints!
-He teased well.
-He was very good about making sure we understood and was open for questions
-Going over country material
-Lots of power points and notes
-Gave interesting notes. I don't have much else.
-Seemed to be organized and have a clear objective. It was easy to follow along and keep up with the class. Mock Congress was awesome and the class was interactive.
-Presentation of daily news, Socratic seminar, inspiration of analytical thinking with regards to politics and ideology, the presence of realpolitick in the classroom
-taught well and was very knowledgeable
-argue with students
-he stayed professional and did not let some of the students that harassed him affect him
-I learned a lot during Jeopardy and videos, but we didn't do enough of this
-not really anything
-teaching was excellent. I learned easily and the power points made it even easier
(Note: all the above was from my AP class. Quite varied, don't you think?)
-The notes
-He explained the notes very well
-Stayed on top of it and always had something for us to do. He also let us do most of our stuff in class so we wouldn't really have a lot of homework. I really appreciate that.
-Teaching and making it fun.
-Classroom environment
-made sure students understood
-Giving out attendance contracts
-Make me understand
-explains
-Made class fun, excellent teaching style, great integration of technology
-Communicated well with students. Clear and loud voice. Made notes simple.
-Lots of info
-Communicated and got through to me
-Jeopardy, covering test material
-In general, everything was great
-Explaining the material, conveyance was at an excellent standard
-power points
-Good teaching technology, high spirited, a little scary, learned how to treat the ladies (???)
-Organizing. I liked the grades and Moodle online.
-You kept me entertained and made the class fun
-Notes
-Annoyed me, haha, jk, You're a fun teacher dude!
-Taught the material well and tried to make everyone understand it
-Speak and teach and explain
-Projected his voice well. Some very good lessons.
-I like the way you teach. I learned a lot in this class. I think the biggest reason was your attitude. Please don't lose it!
-Speak and teach
-Get everyone's attention and under control
-The way you give out quizzes, that taught me a lot and was helpful
-Mac on the office ta's
-overall teaching
-the way he was organized
-the news
-actually taught me something, I feel I learned the most in this class than any other
-He taught the class with great personality and enthusiasm
-You're a great speaker and you get people to listen to you.
-Jeopardy and interacting with students
-Lectures and explanations
-Made it fun so we stayed awake in class. Different ways of teaching, it was nice that it wasn't all the same
-Spoke loudly
-Explained concepts. Good model of notes.
-Your sense of humor and all your stories. You teach good.
-Explained things well.
-Knows how to present and explain new things in a way that is fun
-explaining and teaching
-taught well, entertaining enough that I wanted to come to class.
-everything but his jump shot
-kept class interesting
-Explained difficult concepts well. Engaged students in discussion.
-Drove
-Well organized
-Made sure we learned our stuff by quizzing us every day
-He's a really good yeller
-Creative on the information you gave us, little homework, teaching us was really good
-Asked if there was questions and you helped on your own time
-Taught well, gave good lectures, told good stories
-Explaining things and looking classy every day. Winning his milkshake because he knew Zito wasn't going to win games.
-Good at getting picked on by students
-Explained everything thoroughly, making sure everyone understood everything completely.
-made sure that we understand the material being taught
-talked loud
-spoke loudly
-Good at explaining difficult concepts. When you were teaching and not messing around, you were really good.
-Joke around
-The notes were always clear and easy to understand
-Explained things well if you didn't understand the first time
-He got excited over stuff and maintained a good attitude
-Keeping students interested
-Kept the attention of the class
-Good notes
-The volume of voice and pictures helped me remember things
-Speaking and explaining the assignments. Plus he was always helping.
-Humor is muy bien. Jokes make the stuff funner to learn.
-Taught topics like terrorism very well
-News, making eye catching power points, picking out awesome ties every day, being a complete smart ass
-Explaining what he was talking about.

There you have it.

Mr. Silva-Brown's Report Card, Part Two "What recommendations would you give Mr. Silva-Brown" 2008 edition

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.

-Don't be mean
-Nothing
-Too much busy work (I found this interesting coming from International Studies, where you almost had no homework period. However, some students found weekly news journals a little tedious.)
-Don't always assume that I'm text messaging. Sometimes I space out or get chap stick out of my purse. (Don't text and I won't assume. If I nail you more than once, I'll hover forever.)
-Spend more time on elasticity and do more activities and assignments. It's more work but I'd get it better.
-Make view grades easier. I never knew what I had in class. (As if the Internet or simply asking me was tough)
-Don't be so loud
-Be more lenient
-Be more understanding, and have better questions that people can understand
-Your too loud, tone it down
-The slideshows worked better than the Word document lists
-Tone it down on quizzes or be more lenient
-Don't get off topic so much
-Don't give people seizures with your power points. (Note to self, too much animation takes away from good presentations. Lesson learned.)
-Have a nice life.
-Less movement on slideshow notes
-Be nicer to people delivering stuff. (Over the years I got tired of attendance kids annoying my classes by coming in waving at students or actually talking to them while I'm talking. So I became the mean guy that lights up the people delivering passes or picking up sheets if they don't "get in and get out". )
-When giving homework assignments, please remind those of us who are forgetful.
-More activities
-Ease up on the parted hairdo and bands nobody knows
-Don't be so hard on us
-If someone is going to fail and not graduate, tell them ahead of time.
-Update the Moodle more often (I'm debating if the Moodle was actually worth it. It took an enormous amount of time outside of class to do, and I would like some life on the weekend.)
-Don't give so many quizzes
-More in-class activities
-Can't really think of any
-Take it easy on students and look at things from both points of view. Be cooperative and wise.
-Pass back papers.
-Give the sub lesson plans (bah)
-Don't scare freshmen or anyone else. Actually, you have a fairly bad public image. (I've found that I'm known as the teacher that is intimidating and tough. I'll take it)
-You make us wanna learn when you do fun activities and we're having a good time with it.
-I think you should have more quizzes because I don't think 3 times a week is enough. I loved coming to your class whenever we had quizzes and seeing how horrible I did on them!
-Keep classroom warmer and the girls won't nag you. It will make the learning experience better. (I keep the room at around 70 degrees. I get hot easily and often the girls that think that this is a beach have a problem with the temp)
-Reduce quizzes a considerable percentage
-Don't make the room so cold, other than that, great job.
-Warn classes about quizzes!
-Less notes
-Update Moodle more
-Don't be so harsh on grading the stock projects
-I still don't understand the graphs all the way, especially Supply
-hand out ear-muffs and jackets
-don't be so grumpy
-stop being so picky
-Tone down the stock project, the slideshow is enough (they also had a written portion)
-Your grading is a bit too tough, but keep doing quizzes, they make students study
-People should form study groups before finals. (Funny they should mention that. Two periods did not form a study group and averaged around 72% on the Final. One period did a study group and averaged an 83% on the Final.)
-I really, really liked the activities that were more hands on, like the buy/sell stuff and the stocks. Maybe a little more of that.
-Don't smack students that sleep.
-Let us use a sheet of notes for the final. Too much to remember!
-Hand back our assignments more.
-Don't beat up students
-Try to analyze more events and governments.
-Get new jokes
-Don't tell stuff to one class and forget that you didn't tell the other
-You need to keep notes either power point or on Word. It's hard to take notes when you use them both.
-Don't be such a hard ass
-less quizzes
-Get a better laptop
-More cartoons and commercials
-Lakers rock
-Play better defense if you don't want 3's raining down on your head
-smile more
-Change your tardy policy. It's kinda ridiculous.
-Update grades online more often
-finance.google.com instead of yahoo finance
-don't be specific on quizzes
-get a hair cut
-nope
-keep doing it the same
-stay away from notes for a little bit, it gets kinda dull
-keep it up, your doing good
-don't insult people
-not so many quizzes
-High school students can't be expected to learn like college students do; the environment is too different, even AP students.
-Assign the reading after doing the power point, it's easier to learn that way. And post the power points online.
-Be more leient and give students a break sometime
-Give tests back sooner so we can make improvements.
-You are stubborn beyond reason. Even if this is a "college" class, you cannot abide by school policy and make the class just like college. (This was one of my bad ratings. I take a grain of salt as well becuase this is one of the entitlement issues. How do you complain about being treated like an adult when you are tardy two-three times a week?)
-Sometimes give the kids a break
-Take your time teaching this course. It's complete crap that it is only a semester. (Another AP complaint, and I totally agree)
-Less quizzes, and warn students multiple times
-You cannot, even though I'm aware you'd like to, run this class like a college course. Seniors, and high school students in general, need to be reminded of reading and assignments more than once. (Another AP issue. Am I wrong or is an Advanced Placement class supposed to be a college level course?)
-Update the Moodle more.
-Return multiple choice tests quicker so we can study. More FRQ's to practice with. Divide up reading in smaller chunks. 15 pages over two days is too much.
-Put notes online. Don't take questions from one place, then give AP questions without covering the material. (I seems to me like my AP students really wanted info fed to them. Many seemed irritated that answers were right out of the text, but we didn't have time to cover everything.)
-Don't be such an asshole about grading assignments without telling why the assignment recieved the score. (Ask and ye shall recieve)
-Spend less time on the UK
-Add "political socialization" and "welfare state"
-Start the country process in the first semester and carry it over to the second for more time.
-Organization and make sure students understand the text more.
-Actually and promptly call on people who raise their hand. Many times I have sat patiently languishing for hours waiting for Mr. Brown to call on me. (Wow, that's a first)
-Better power points. Curve tests.
-I didn't like the country presenations, but I think he is a good teacher.

And there you have the student recommendations.

Mr. Silva-Brown's Report Card, Part One "Ratings Game", 2008 edition

Like last year, it is time to check out the reviews of Mr. Silva-Brown, live and uncut.

I present to you, part one of a three part series that looks at the "graded" Mr. Silva-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), rate Mr. Silva-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 experience 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:

Ten- 14
Nine- 27
Eight- 32
Seven- 12
Six- 2
Five- 2
Four-1
Three-1

My average is an 8.3, a B. Down from an 8.9 a year ago, and tied with an 8.3 from two years ago. Note, the fives, the four and the three all came from one class.

Missing X-Files? How about "Fringe".


It looks really good.

Update 6/20:

I found a new copy of the trailer and I'm still really looking forward to it. With Battlestar Galactica ending in 2009, I need a new and fresh sci-fi hit to sink my teeth into.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Warping the 1st.

image

Shasta High published its last issue of the Volcano, the student newspaper, before the end of classes last week with an image on the front page of a student burning the American flag and an editorial inside defending the practice.

We could get into arguments from now until eternity regarding the right to burn the American flag. For the record, I'm a pretty staunch supporter of the 1st Amendment, including the results from Texas vs. Johnson. However when comes to public education, especially at the high school level, the 1st Amendment becomes more constricted. Anything that consistently disrupts the educational process can be, in theory, tossed out the Constitutional window (unless you wear Tigger socks).

The picture above is the front page of the Volcano, Shasta High School's student newspaper. Apparently a student that wanted to get noticed decided to get the offending picture of the flag burning put on the front page, around the editor and faculty advisor. The result was another slamming of the First Amendment, the elimination of the newspaper as a whole.

"The paper's done," said Milan Woollard, Shasta High principal. "There is not going to be a school newspaper next year."

Now wait a minute. It is obvious that the offensive picture was a ploy by a bitter Senior to get some attention thrown his way. Basically, it was a very immature choice. The principal then tears down the school newspaper, in essence a reaction that is on the same level as the student that got the image on the front of the paper in the first place. Am I missing something? I seems very obvious that a more adult consequence is in order. It looks like many students on the paper are just as disgusted as the administration, so how about we encourage good reporting by keeping the paper going with a closer eye by the school.

A school has plenty of students making immature choices. The adults don't need to follow along.

Here's a little more info.

Update 6/20:

Looks like the district super reversed the principal's decision on closing down the newspaper after the incoming editor-in-chief, student Amanda Cope, promised more responsiblity and newsworthy items. In the end, the real winner is Cope, who had the guts to respectfully fight for the newspaper. Best of luck to her and the Volcano.

More here.

Tim Russert

image

I didn't know who Tim Russert was until I listened to him on Imus in the Morning on the radio back in the mid-1990's.  I realized very quickly that I was listening to a man who not only really knew politics, but also knew a thing or two about not taking himself so seriously.  His visits to the program were funny.  Really funny.  The package that Tim Russert brought to the table was even better on Meet the Press, which I started watching more seriously in my later years of college.  It was great to watch politicians squirm when he put old quotes on the screen.  He was very respectful, but direct and consistent.  I've been hearing some bloggers and journalists calling Russert a "liberal", a part of media elite that is only concerned about going after Republicans.  I didn't see that.  I saw one of the most astute people in regards to politics to ever step in front of a camera.  He will really be missed. 

Musing on the end of the year

I'll be honest. I've been avoiding this blog because I have been angry.

The whole Gov/Econ thing had been boiling in my blood for a good long while, and it was better that I not say something foolish and create a bad situation. In the end, I'm not going to get it back unless I create an enormous scene, and I still have to work here so I decided against it. One thing that stuck in my mind was a comment that was made by two separate people. "It's probably not best for students, but it's a department decision". Fine. I guess that means that I'll have to create a kick ass U.S. History class for a year. Then I'm coming back to my passion, Gov/Econ.

That whole issue was part of why this year was not as good as it could have been. When I left school last Friday, I was much more subdued than in the past because I don't that it was a very good year. Kid evaluations are fairly good, with the only exception being AP Comp Gov, which actually had some seriously low grades for me. More on that later. The evaluation was my own in how I handled the adversity of the year. The health issues were miserable. A constant pain in my chest existed from November to May. It made life difficult to say the least. The classroom move was a nightmare. I moved to the farthest classroom on campus, and the art room during 5th, and I did not do well with the move. Besides the bitter feeling of having no input, the Internet was sporadic at best, and the technology has now reached the point of not being able to handle the functions that I want. My frustration level by the end of the year was pretty maxed out, and it impacted my teaching, unfortunately.

But the year is gone and I have my classroom back in newly remodeled fashion. I love the remodel and I've been spending four hours a day this week moving stuff back into my room and prepping for next year.

And I'm back to blogging.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Almost there

Sorry for the lack of response this week.  It was the week of Senior panic and my move back into the newly remodeled classrooms.  Needless to say, it has been a very busy week.

"Senior Panic" is an actual phenomenon that begins in mid-May and runs through the end of the school year.  Symptoms vary, but can include tears, anger, reservation, angst, and a massive urge to blame everyone under the stars.  My approach to Senior Panic is generally straight-forward, although it is often misconstrued for not caring.  I don't give extra credit.  No, I'm not going out of my way to make sure your child walks the stage.  I know.  I just stoked the ire of parents around the country that think that I've given up on their children.  Here's my rational.  I've been there for your child for the last eight months, before school, breaks, after school, online, by phone, by personal visits, and I've made myself constantly at the need of the student.  I'm not going to go through eight months of effort in a couple of weeks because the realization that I've been serious since September has just set in.  That's not to say that I'm not available for help.  I've been in my classroom from the end of my teaching day (1:30 p.m.) to about 5 p.m. almost every evening this week and I could count the number of students who have come in on one hand.  Others often engage in the following conversation.  Tell me if I'm being unreasonable.

"Mr. Silva-Brown, what's on the Final?"

"Everything we've gone over since January."

"What's that?"

"It's on the board", at this moment I point my finger at the white board that has the topics that should be studied for the Final.  They've been up for three days.

"I need more details than that."

"You have all you need in the notes."

"Can you give me a copy of the notes."

"No."

"Why not?"

"Because they were to be copied when we went over them."

"But I didn't copy them."

"I know."

"What am I supposed to do?  This is my only class I'm failing in."

I used to get angry at that response.  Now I'm pretty matter-of-fact about it because I've programmed every chance for a student to pass into my course.  I student that fails has worked at failing, and trying to tug on the heart strings doesn't work any more.  I don't think I'm being unreasonable.

This doesn't mean that I'm not disappointed.  Students fail my class that I really like.  Some that I see tremendous potential emanating from don't walk either.  A few even bring me to a near tear because I see the "total package" vibing off their aura minus one thing, the drive to work. And that's why I don't bail them out here.  Because "out there", the consequences of not following through can be much worse.

There are other Senior Panics.  The "my student has never had anything below an A" is always entertaining.  Usually there is a little nativity regarding the power Senioritis.  They will gladly tell each other that they all got into college and have stopped working, but they'll tell their parents that the teacher is unfair.  Some shocked Senior Panics are from students that have looked at their grade for the first time in months, and have watched a C+ drift downward significantly.  That leads to the extra credit question, which I decline.  But believe it or not, most Seniors actually don't panic, and most are satisfied with their grades.  I don't have many A's this year at all, but I also have very few F's, actually half of what I usually have.  However my list of D's is mammoth, and for the most part, students don't seem to care.  A vast majority are perfectly content with going to High School Deux, otherwise known as Mendocino Junior College. 

Last week of Year Seven is about to start.  I'll blog when I get the chance.            

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Another trip to the FED

image

Thursday was Field Trip day for Mr. Silva-Brown's classes.  I took my AP Comparative Government class, plus another 12 students from other classes on my yearly trip to the San Francisco Federal Reserve and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.  As usual, the result was a lot of satisfied students in terms of a worthwhile experience. 

For those that haven't figured it out yet (I've blogged about it a half-dozen times), the San Francisco Federal Reserve is a great trip for high school aged students.  Thanks to my School Site Council, I was able to fund a school bus for the  3 hour trip to 101 Market Street, the location of banking capital of the West Coast.  Fine, the 6:15 a.m. departure time did not create smiles in the early morning, but you can't really beat crossing the Golden Gate Bridge at 9 a.m. to a cloudless sky and views of the City By the Bay.  We arrived right on time (9:30) and Maggie Glanowska, the Coordinator of Economic Education for the FED, gave us a personal tour of the country's largest currency collection, the vault, and the shredding room.  The kids were fully engaged, asked great questions, and were completely depressed as they witnessed the counting of 46 million dollars in one of many cash counting rooms.  Plenty of "can't we just have one bundle" was said as we toured the well guarded FED vault.  It causes a stir with kids, a good one that they remember.

We then walked about 6 blocks up Market Street to the Downtown Mall food court, an experience that many enjoyed simply because few actually get out of the car and walk the city when they visit.  Some ask questions about the street cars, the banks, the Financial District, and just soak in the city atmosphere.  After a nice lunch, we headed the three short blocks to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.  In February I attended a workshop for teachers in which we were trained how to be certified tour guides.  After completing the workshop, I was able to schedule self-guided tours for groups of students at no cost.  Entry fee for 30 students into the SF MOMA?  $0.  After a short tour from the top-down I gave the students an assignment that had them go around and list works that they would consider art, and works they did not consider art.  The picture above was one of the usual suspects of being considered something other than art.  The name of the piece is called "The Fountain", and it is on display in the same room as Diego Rivera, Salvador Dali, and Jackson Pollock.  It caused quite a stir as most students found the piece to be, well, a urinal, but one student was able to whip out some serious artistic knowledge that left dozens of students absolutely floored.  The conversation lasted well into the bus trip back and even found its way into Senior English classes the next day. 

We arrived back at around 6 p.m. and it plenty of time for students to head off to a band concert, and others to go home at hit the last bit of work before year's end.  I'll end up doing it again next year, even though I'm not teaching Gov/Econ (which I'm getting more and more bitter about).  One student recommended the FED in the morning, then a Giants game in the afternoon.  In fact, do it on April 15 to celebrate Jackie Robinson's first day in the Majors.  It might be hard to connect baseball with Gov/Econ, but it sure can be easily tied to U.S. History.