Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Confessions of an AP Comparative Government Reader. Part 1.

Kansas City is a nice city.  It was something that I wasn’t totally prepared for since I come from the San Francisco Bay Area and the image of the Midwest is, well, not entirely upgraded.  Ok, call it snobbery.  But the over two million people that live in Kansas City metro have a city they should be proud of.  Downtown has the feel of Portland, small and quaint, while having the architecture of a much bigger city.  The one thing the city is missing?  Light rail.  With all the railroad history of the city, it is sorely lacking an efficient method of getting from downtown to the ‘burbs.

Our hotel was a tad over a mile from the Kansas City Convention Center (another fantastic structure), and walking it wasn’t tough except for the fact that part of the area was a tad seedy, and it was often humid.  My day started at 6 a.m.  By 8 I was reading questions, and by 5 p.m. I was done.  We had two 15 minute breaks and one hour long lunch. 

The process started with a group of us, one table leader and eight readers, going over the rubric of the question.  We worked through language, potential stumbling blocks, and then we practiced on exams graded earlier by some of the higher ups.  Once that was taken care of we started grading the real things, but we would grade and then switch with people and they would grade the same work. We would compare grades and then work out dissimilar answers (which were rare).  By the second day we were in the full throes of grading, which were checked a variety of times by different people.  When we finished on Friday, we were then debriefed on the question and then went on our way. 

The Kansas City grading involved over two thousand graders attacking nearly 3/4 of a million tests.  No, that’s not a misprint. My AP Comparative Government group was one of the smaller groups.  Other subjects included Chinese, Japanese, Biology, and Calculus.  Each subject had other events including socials, a “professional day” where an expert would talk about a certain area of your subject (we had a woman talk about Russia), an AP subject day where changes within your overall subject would be discussed, and an AP test day where the test creators would field questions.

I highly recommend that  AP teachers attend at least one reading.  I’m going to keep going back because the more I can get into the head of the College Board and the test creators, the better opportunity I have to get my kids to succeed.  It is that very topic that I will address in the next post.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

New Gov/Econ Approach Brainstorm

Total brainstorm.  Read if interested. Otherwise move along.

-New idea for Gov/Econ:  Don’t break class into semesters.  Establish overall guiding question:  How to improve the community.

-Not nearly as easy as you might think to integrate the two.  Gov not focused at all on state/local gov.  Does it really matter? 

-I’m not tested at all.  No “accountability” to state testing.  Could go completely PBL and no one would care because I have the reputation of being rigorous and thorough.  Could I redefine what learning is and still have the support?

-How to deal with assessment?  How do I justify to parents if there are less grades.  Many want busy work/lots of little assignments.

-If I integrate the classes together, how do I deal with transfers to other teachers.  Traditional way of teaching is not leaving any time soon.  Standards based assessment really pushed…..except in Gov/Econ, which could be my savor.

-Gov points need to address: Foundation of Gov, Federalism, The Constitution, Separation of Powers, Checks and Balances, Political Parties, and deeper looks at each branch.  Some of that can easily be integrated locally.  Some will take a lot of work.  Incorporating the 7th Amendment?  Should I even bother?  (and don’t you dare say the amendment really matters)

-Guiding prompts are needed for each unit.  But they need to relate to the overall theme of the community.

-Resource issues.  Local field trips: City council, local businesses, the golf course (7th tee overlooks the entire valley), Skate Park.  Can’t require, but it will be really necessary for success.

-More resource issues: Tech, computer lab, access to online material that is free online but cost printed.

-What is the culminating assignment?  Present to??  Should I let the students make the call on the assignment?  Grading?  I can tell you that I can establish a grade, but it is the parental and administrative justification that’s the problem.

Your thoughts on my initial thoughts?

AP Conference: Day One

First of all, don’t even bother inquiring about the AP Readings themselves.  There is a serious Fight Club mantra towards any discussion, therefore I’m steering well clear of the whole conversation.

I’m sitting in the mezzanine of the Hyatt Regency in Kansas City, under a Tornado Watch that frankly scares me a bit.  It’s the usual adage that Californians are terrified of tornados and hurricanes, but we can easily deal with the concept of the earth shaking violently.  Oh well.  I’m only staying in a 25 story building that is covered in glass.

There is an interesting mix of teachers here.  I’m actually finding it hard to mix with people for two reasons.  First of all, I’m really not all that outgoing.  I sit down at a table and people watch or read the Twitter feeds.  It’s not that I won’t talk to people that come up and start a conversation.  I’m just not a very good instigator.  I’m a little shy at the start.  The second reason is the mix of teachers.  There are a lot of college teachers here and there seems to be a little disconnect between the attitudes of college staff and high school staff.  It’s not necessarily bad, but young Master’s and PHD college grads looking to go into academia or teachers that are already there have a very strong air of confidence about them.  It’s hard to relate to.  I love Comparative Politics and International Relations (both common majors here), but while the subject matter conversation is very stimulating, there is little I can take to my school.  So I try and gravitate to other high school teachers, even if they are other subjects.  This evening I had a very nice conversation with teachers from Colorado, Idaho, New Jersey, and New Mexico.  It was really nice because we relate much better.

Here are some common themes I can gather (having nothing to do with AP) from educators here:

-The college professor job market sucks just as bad as the high school one.  The International Relations and Comparative Politics market sucks even worse.

-How states are dealing with budget cuts is scary.  We furloughed in California.  But some states are basically cutting teachers and increasing class sizes to around 40, which in my mind is complete insanity. 

-And budgets are the main topic of conversation everywhere.  For some reason people look at California as one of those in the worse shape.  Interesting perception. 

-By the way, I’m constantly told how beautiful it must be where I live.  I do take it for granted.  I live where the Wine Country ends and the Redwoods begin.  How cool is that?

-Online classes seem to the answer to everyone’s educational dilemmas and a lot of teachers are frightened.  Some states are apparently asking to require online classes for some high school Social Studies classes instead of replacing teachers.  Is this true?  Here’s the deal; if you really believe that online classes are the answer to how to better educate our students then you are absolutely not serious about fixing the education issues within our country. 

Well, I’m off to a social and then I need to weight the cost/benefit of staying up to watch the Giants play.  Damn time difference. 

Live from 35,000 feet, or thereabout….

Jesus God.

I mean seriously.  I’m blogging from the plane and only because some yuppie chick has decided to piss off my 6’2” frame.  Before we were even in the air, this bratty little snot reclined her chair nearly straight into my lap.  I wasn’t nervous about take-off because I was trying to figure out if this beast had a 6’5” NBA boyfriend, because if she didn’t then I was very likely going to smack the headrest of her seat. 

She could have made it right by shutting up and falling asleep, pretty much the only reason you should recline.  But no.  The played on her iPad and stuffed her fat face with Oreos while smugly teasing her beau across the aisle; a Larry David look-a-like that was in dire need of a can of spray-on hair.  There is etiquette to flying, simple respect to other passengers.  You allow the middle passenger extra room.  You make sure you don’t slam people in the head.  And you at least turn around and see who is going to be the victim of a reclining drive-by. 

I hope her luggage ends up in Quaddfi’s palace in Libya, and her granny panties end up on one of his wives.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Dude, I so gotta pee……again

It’s funny what they don’t teach you in the Credential Program that is actually important in the classroom.  Take for instance, bathroom policy.  So what happens when a new teacher comes upon a collection of students that want a revolving door to the bathroom?  Believe it or not, I don’t think the situation was brought up one time in my tenure as a student teacher.

San Francisco Unified, the school district that is notorious for making stupid ass choices (banning the Junior ROTC), has found the solution.  Let the kids roam.  Yes, what better way to protect the rights of a 13 year old than to allow them to make one bathroom trip after another until all the satisfaction in the world is taken care of within a few school periods.  Oh forget the potential problems this could cause, as the author C.W. Nevius pointed out, just realize that if we simply treat kids like adults, they’ll act like adults……….and, you know, they’ll remember to use a condom when rocking a bathroom stall.  This policy has all kinds of problematic consequences that teachers will ultimately be blamed for.  It is, simply put, an idiot policy made by people that haven’t a damn clue about a classroom.

My policy is quite simple and didn’t take long to make.  Students are allowed to use the restroom one at a time.  They take a little piece of paper and put their name, the time, and “Bathroom Pass” at the top.  I tell them that regardless of what I’m doing, come up and I’ll sign it.  I don’t break the flow of the presentation, I simply glance at the time and their off.  Additionally, I don’t allow students to leave with ten minutes left in class.  Students that want to go within ten minutes of class starting have the option to wait or take a tardy.  99% of students follow this without a problem.  So a student texts between my room and the bathroom.  And?  That’s really going to impact the educational process?  Sure, I have chronic “users” of the potty, regularly going once a day.  But they get in and get out quick enough to have my trust.  Oh, one other thing to male teachers especially.  You have to be much more flexible to girls.  Want to create a really interesting situation?  Tell a menstruating girl that she can’t use the restroom.  Just about every female including the Alien Queen Mother will have you in a lack-of-compassion death match that you have no chance at winning.  Just sign the pass and let the chips fall where they may.  No, you don’t know if it is true or not.  Guess what, the question is not worth asking. 

Or go work in San Francisco and enjoy the possible parade to the potty.  Then you really won’t have to worry about it.     

Is college too EZ?

Joanne Jacobs and Darren from Right on the Left Coast (both daily reads of mine and on the blogroll) came across an article in the Los Angeles Times with an interesting thesis.  College is too easy.

Colleges have abandoned responsibility for shaping students' academic development and instead have come to embrace a service model that caters to satisfying students' expressed desires.

That’s a pretty scathing remark for an institution that seems to have gotten off light in the world of EduReform.  The authors of the article found that most students were not being academically challenged in reading, writing, and did not seem to have a real need to study for the classes they had.  In short, students were not being prepared for the “real world” and not being introduced to the concept of rigor. 

Eh, I don’t know.  I’ve seen both sides of the equation and I’ve watched a large population of students go to school and do wonderful things and I’ve seen plenty go to four-year institutions and waste vast amounts of money.  In fact, I think that it’s the money that allows many students to underachieve and still remain at an institute of “higher learning”.  Let’s face it, there are private schools that just about anyone can get into when you pony up tens-of-thousands a semester.  A student attends, you string them on while they underachieve, and eventually you might have to let them go or they transfer down to a “lower level” school because they weren’t prepared for the “rigor”. 

I say plenty of rigor while attending Chico State, and I keep trying to tell my students that it is a misconception that you need to go to a U.C. or Stanford to get a great education.  Most of my professors at Chico were rigorous and excellent.  Some sucked, but I figure that’s the same for every school.  I learned a ton while in college and I wasn’t allowed into the Teacher Credential program until I passed a verbal examination in front of two professors of the History Department and got a letter of recommendation from of advisor (also a history professor).  I wrote a ton.  I read a ton.  My final “Capstone” paper was explored the motivations of Constantine the Great in bringing Christianity to the Roman Empire.  Was it political or was did he honestly see a sign from God?  I ended up loving researching and writing the paper which ended up nearly sixty pages long. 

I think a lot of this revolves around society’s hypocrisy about what is perceived as important  (self-esteem, creativity) replacing things that are still vital (hard work, focus, follow through).  For some reason we shy away from discussing integrating all these things and insist that when everyone can tap their creative potential, all the world’s problems will be solved.  College seemed like the last bastion of rigor.  And while I think that it most colleges still try to push out the best, Darren is correct that if this lackadaisical attitude takes root in our upper echelon institutions, we are screwed.    

Sunday, June 05, 2011

One-upped on the Field Trip meter


Oh I get it.  THAT’S what they mean by a more “engaging” educational experience.  See, when I plan a field trip I look at places like the U.S.S. Hornet, the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank, and even the Chabot Planetarium.  Apparently I got it all wrong. 

In the end, what the kids really want is wings.

Apparently some of Berwick Middle School’s eighth graders had a parent who felt that the best dining experience in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor was the local Hooters.  Using the excuse that there were no other places that could handle 15 kids (ESPN Zone anyone?), the parent chose to expose the little tykes to a variety of wings, some of which might have been bolder in flavor or may have been a tad spicy.  Yummy.

In all seriousness, this is one of the risks of parent drivers in an era of budget cuts.  I’ve been lucky in dealing with basketball drivers since I know most of them personally, and those that I don’t know have reputations for being pretty upstanding people.  Nobody will be making a pit stop in Cloverdale to grab a couple of forties to drown a loss to Cardinal Newman.  But I’ve had some parents on class field trips that can be a little difficult to handle.  One of the last things a teacher needs is another kid to baby sit, especially if that kid makes decisions that you are responsible for.  And what makes it more interesting, almost none of the parent volunteers are vetted for issues that could concern a teacher.  Add on to that the fact that I live in Mendocino County, a place where many people can get into drug and alcohol problems, and the cost/benefit of a field trip becomes a serious issue.

I love giving the kids an experience of a good field trip.  But most educators need to realize that it is often little fun for the instructor during the trip because you are responsible for those in your care. 

That includes side trips to Hooters.

Mr. Silva-Brown's Report Card, Part Four "Analyzing the data" 2011 edition

What should I take from the data that the students presented me?

-First thing that comes to mind is the issue of quizzes and homework.  My interpretation of what students, and parents, want regarding “homework” is essentially “busy work”.  It is work that is fairly mind-numbing to do, easy to grade, and presents little or no opportunity to learn a damn thing.  It is why so many kids are now entering the Independent Study program.  It’s packet work.  I don’t do busy work, though many parents call and complain that too much of the student’s grade is based on tests and quizzes.  Well, a good 80% of a student’s grade is in fact based on assessment, and I have no problem with that.  The argument could be made that it favors those that don’t have test anxiety.  I’ll argue that test anxiety is more often than not a very convenient excuse for lazy asses who don’t want to do the work.  A teacher can look at trends of a student and see obvious test anxiety.  But what 2-3 quizzes a week show is that the student is learning, and retaining, information.  Many questions on quizzes are reused from previous quizzes.  I did some homework that was engaging and most of it was turned in half-assed or not turned in at all.  I’m not about to engage in busy work now or in the foreseeable future.

-AP U.S. History has every right to want more hands on activities and less lecture.  However, until the College Board figures out how to have more depth and less breadth, than I need to make decisions that get info across quick.  If any other APUSH teachers have ideas, I’m all ears.

-As you can see, the issue of hands-on activities varies from response to response.  Some say I don’t do enough, others say I do plenty.  I’m not about to get rid of Direct Instruction (using Power Point mixed with multimedia), and I loath the argument that it doesn’t have a place in Education.  Many students want lecture, just good lectures.  Not those that last an entire class period and bring forth nothing engaging.  Still, I want to find a more meaningful question for each section.  I’m lucky to teach a very relevant topic, and a good quest for an answer is missing from each unit.

-The ego question is interesting.  I think I could come off as having an ego in my classroom because I’m very clear and consistent with how I want things done within that class.  The class is not closed to thought and debate by any means, and those that say so (a couple of evals did) either were not in class enough to really care or are lying.  The line between a totally open environment and one with boundaries is interesting.  There are some teachers that have so few boundaries that the kids basically rule the class, essentially dictating policy that often is counter to the best practices of educating young adults.  I think this creates an interesting dynamic when those types of students come into my classroom with the “I’m the boss” attitude and all of the sudden realize that they aren’t.  Yes, I’m the boss.  Yes, I expect that you prove to me that you can get the job done.  And yes, it won’t be the last time someone will tell you to do something.

-I care for my students.  But sometimes caring for Seniors means that if they want to dig, you ask nicely why their digging and then step back and let them go.  Most will figure it out.  Others won’t.  That’s part of growing up, even if it means they might not graduate high school.  This year I had many students that wanted to dig.  While many parent conversations were good, some hinted that I didn’t care for students because I didn’t allow them to do what they wanted.  “My kid wants to play sports, give blood, be the student body president, take three AP’s, party on the weekends, be in a half-dozen clubs, cut class, and have all those rights beholden to Seniors.  Why don’t you just let them get an A and enjoy their last year in high school?”  Well, the answer is that I don’t have any control over the rest of it so I don’t prevent them from doing anything.  The thing is, very few students can engage in all those activities and do well in my class.  However, the best do figure it out.  They make good choices.  Most don’t, and they make bad choices.  Giving blood or coming to my class, which is the better choice?  I never say one is better than the other, I tell the student to make the choice.  They might not like the fact that they have a B because they didn’t get all the instruction they could, but that’s part of the consequence.  It is something that we as a society need to take a closer look at. 

What do you think about the student responses?  Your thoughts….   

Mr. Silva-Brown's Report Card, Part Three "What were things that Mr. Silva-Brown did well?" 2011 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.

-Good examples

-power points and news

-kept class moving

-Made sure that students fully understood before going to next task


-Was always able to understand what was covered when I left class

-Straight up about life will be after high school, how we needed a plan.  Loved Barbie and Elmo. (Used Barbie’s Prom Date to discuss Opportunity Cost, and Elmo to discuss scarcity.  Remember the late 1990’s Elmo craze? Thanks CCEE!)


-Speech and getting everyone involved

-Multiple learning tools (video, slide shows, pictures, etc)

-Lectures were enjoyable, power points were entertaining, Jeopardy was crucial to knowing what to study for tests.

-Making it fun with all the knowledge we had to learn.

-Made us laugh while staying on topic.

-Stayed on the focus of the AP Test and provided us with the materials needed to pass the test.

-Makes every class fun and interesting.

-Well organized and treated everyone equally.

-Gave us the information needed to succeed in class and answered questions completely.

-Power-points and Jeopardy

-Good at teaching in class

-Lectures were fun and taught class well

-Made learning amusing

-Power points, videos, facts, humor

-Hit the major points and taught the class to be successful

-Kept History interesting, clear understanding, multiple examples to visualize history, not just read it.

-Sarcasm, power points

-Helping everyone understand, especially hands on

-Teaches very well

-Fair to all students when it comes to the rules.

-Didn’t lecture all period which made it easy to stay awake.

-Kept things fun while not letting it get out of hand and distracting.

-Made sure people understood what he was teaching.

-Had strict policies so that there was no room for confusion.

-Answered all their questions and had good notes.

-Explained things in a way we understood.

-Good lectures and slideshows

-Gave straightforward facts/info

-Organized plans with very good examples and understandable tasks

-Kept our interest/attention and kept us from falling asleep

-Most things went well

-Kept class motivated and excited to learn.

-Always had cool facts about modern stuff.

-I liked the lectures

-Made learning fun.  It was a no-brainer to show up to class.

-Presented information smoothly and interestingly

-Made good power points and would answer all our questions

-Answering questions and going over material

-Made class funner

-Getting your attention and making things memorable

-Pretty funny and well prepared.  You knew a lot about what you were teaching.

-Managed to make lectures interesting with colorful power points and video.

-Class activities helped make the class enjoyable while being educated.

-Very loud.  Made be pay attention.  Power points very well done and very organized.

-Planned ahead and had us prepared for the AP exam.

-Got info across and clearly described stuff.

-Power points.  Fucking smart.

-Gave good examples while teaching the lesson

-Talking in front of class with notes.


-Power points were really good and helped me learn the material.

-The lectures were were really good.

-Told us when assignments and quizzes were before hand.  Lectured well and was well organized.

-Power points, explained things well while not being one-sided.

-Use good analysis, sometimes we took longer to go over subjects so we good understand better.

-Explained things well and made it fun.

-The Internet clips

-Power points, getting the students attention and teaching.

-Helping us make our own decisions and always staying moderate

-Lecture and videos

-Made the class fun

-Prepared slides for notes




-Note taking and studying for the tests which were easy

-Made me laugh. I liked having all the power points for notes.

-Taught well with a good sense of humor

-Your lecturing would explain some things well.  Using different activities so we wouldn’t be bored.

-Horrified looks

-Very interested and well put together for learning.  Power points were great. Students were interested in learning.  Lots of stuff online.

-Did a great job at explaining things and making them more understandable

-Give students a choice

-Explaining presentations with great notes

-Got information out there to a point where it was easy to understand

-Made class enjoyable with humor

-Teach, sarcasm, showing news

-Gave whitty responses quickly, but upheld a standard with rules that helped the class

-Finishing notes and making sure everyone understood them

-Giving Econ examples that allowed people to get a better view of the subject.

-Showing the news and actually letting us talk about it afterwards.

-Very good speaker.  Great job explaining things.  And made us laugh!

-Spoke well to the class and made things easy to understand

-Electrified the class environment.

-Great speaker.  Outspoken, but kept class moving and busy.  Great power points and news.

-Get your attention and argue

-Didn’t drag class on.  Showed us video clips to keep us focused instead of huge lectures and we wouldn’t pay attention to.


-Gave good examples and did good activities

-Spoke in a loud and clear voice. Power points were organized and easy to follow.

-Took charge of the class and we reviewed well for tests.

-Power points and the way he explained things. 

-Being able to make fun of people and himself

-Loved Econ simulations and the slideshows were extremely helpful.

-Explained information well and answered questions thoroughly and clearly.

-Showed interesting videos that related to the class and gave us a better understanding of the material. Kept students engaged with humor.

-Lecturing, slide shows

-Tests that came from AP’s, FRQ/DBQ practice, extra resources, Lectures and power points, connecting with students, made history enjoyable

-Explained how history impacts American even to this day and keeps class interesting while being unbiased towards politics

-Lecturing while keeping student attention

-Made it easy to remember with little sayings and funny stories.  I always left laughing and wanting to come back.

-Teaching.  If everyone paid attention and attended class every day then there was no reason not to do well.

-Interacted with the class well and hammered facts into you with weekly quizzes.


-Notes were well prepared and easy to follow, serious but when it mattered and comical when it was appropriate.

-The way he taught.  Power points were great.

-Did everything well overall

-Made things interesting which caused me to pay attention in class.  I learned more.

-Kept everyone interested and awake in class.

-Well, basically everything was done well.  I really liked the videos that we watched that backed up notes and the textbook.

And there you have it.

Mr. Silva-Brown's Report Card, Part Two "What recommendations would you give Mr. Silva-Brown" 2011 edition

Here are all my recommendations, live and uncut, from my students. 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 italics.

-Don’t try and be a college professor, give us high school.

-Don’t put people down, tone down your ego, get new jokes.

-Don’t always try and be better than everyone else and be more understanding.

-Give all students an equal voice and GIANTS SUCK.

-No quizzes and more homework.

-More movie quotes and references to Pulp Fiction.


-Keep up the sarcasm. Everyone has fun with it.

-Be a little light on the sensitive ones…..but keep being Brown.

-Don’t be mean to the people delivering passes. (I’m a noted pass hassler.  People that come into class blasting music or that interrupt what I’m doing do so at their own peril.)

-More interactive games.

-I liked the debates and wish we did more of them.

-Cut down a little on the jokes and bantering.

-Textbook is terrible.

-More projects and less lectures.

-Better website.  Edmodo sucked.

-More Per-Say Courts (Small APUSH debate sessions. As the year went on, time became an issue and the Court sessions vanished)

-Not that they’re bad, but a little less lecture.

-Put the test questions on Edmodo.

-Better jokes

-Better commercials

-Keep up the sarcasm, it’s fun!

-Add a category to Jeopardy that is not about the subject matter.  That way all students can answer it. (Jeopardy is the review for the tests.  It is wildly popular.  Interesting thing that someone is basically telling me to review for something useless because some people don’t bother to study)

-I don’t know

-Don’t talk so damn loud

-Point out the work due and coming up. (This annoys me to no end.  I have the work on a white board in class and online. Apparently Seniors in high school need their little hands held to do everything.  This is who we are creating for society?)

-Make sure and tell students about quizzes and don’t rely on them to look at the board or online. (see?)

-More hands on for stocks (I eliminated my stock project this year and focused more on economic choice, cost/benefit analysis, and personal finance. We were very brief about stocks while other classes did the project).

-I got nothing.

-Pick on people more equally.


-Easier quizzes and more homework

-Do supply before demand.  I think that would have helped me more.

-Don’t do credit stuff.  It’s not that interesting.

-Go a little slower on power-points so I can take better notes.


-Make quizzes less tricky

-Less lecture, more interaction, and announce quizzes

-Don’t lecture so much.

-More APUSH Saturday review sessions.

-Less lecture and more hands on stuff like Jeopardy

-Aren’t many, maybe a better textbook

-A variety in teaching styles would be nice.

-Less notes

-Less hard on grading

-Try and get things back quicker

-Less power-points and more hands on

-Less quizzes, more homework, and allow extra credit.

-Let us eat in class

-Make sure you wear matching shoes to class.


-Make clear when tests and quizzes are.

-Don’t grade the quizzes so high.

-Don’t pick on people.

-Can’t name any because he is tough, but for the right reasons.

-Don’t assume people are sleeping.

-None, very good.

-More homework, less quizzes

-Help Seniors that are struggling and actually try and care if we graduate (Note to Seniors: You must care more than I do that YOU graduate.)

-Less quizzes and more Jeopardy

-Do other things so grades are not so based on quizzes

-Let us eat in class

-Put extra credit in the grades sooner

-little less notes and little more activities


-New jokes

-Less slideshows and more interaction.

-Teach a little slower

-Make questions on quizzes and tests clearer

-More homework

-Less quizzes

-Less quizzes


-Stay in touch

-Keep teaching how you do


-None, it is run well

-Keep up the sarcasm and keep showing video clips.

-Grow a beard

-Read then power point then test

-Comment more on FRQ’s and DBQ’s.  Don’t just comment at the end of the paper.  And grade them more quickly.

-Sing less.  Please.

-Teaching wise?  Nothing.

-More 1-1 debates

-Nothing.  Good as is.

-Don’t change.

-Stress the importance of good grades and keep reminding kids about your make-up work policy.

-Make stocks more interesting.

-Stay your funny, sarcastic self.

-More class activities revolving around subject.

-Get a better baseball team.

-Really nothing.  Well done.


-None that I can think of.

-Keep teasing people.  Hassle your TA.

-None.  You are wonderfully unique and fun.

-Small stuff

-Right on the bulls-eye

And there you have it.

Mr. Silva-Brown's Report Card, Part One "Ratings Game", 2011 edition

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?

-Was Mr. Silva-Brown’s sarcasm detrimental to learning?

-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.  One note, my AP Comp Gov class did not have the opportunity to fill out the surveys because the Finals schedule was too tight.  I asked them to come in and pick up an evaluation to fill it out.  Only a few did.

Here are the results:

Ten- 30   

Nine- 33   

Eight- 24  

Seven- 11  

Six- 2  



My average is an 8.5, a straight B. Up from an 8.2 (my lowest) a year ago, and not my highest from three years ago (8.9).

The 2 was all about wanting busy work and banning the use of quizzes.  One of the 4’s was from a Dodger fan that insisted on giving me a 4 because I liked the Giants.  The other two 4’s mentioned that my ego was too big and the class was too dictatorial.  And one of those mentioned that the reason why she was absent for many days was to stick it to me and my ego. 

Saturday, June 04, 2011

The Graduation Conundrum

This is why I will never able to be an administrator.

June in Ukiah has failed to arrive.  I don’t know what exactly California did to deserve this kind of weather, but it can’t be good.  I realize that Maria Shriver comes from a powerful family, but daaaaaammmn.  Not that I don’t mind this February style climate that permeates the Ukiah Valley.  I’m big into listening to the rain and reading a good book, sipping on a coffee and waiting for the first pitch of a Giants game.  But in June? 

The climate plays hell on graduation.  We knew the weather was set to be miserable earlier during the week, and the preliminary plan was to hold it in the gym.  Because the gym can only hold a set amount, each student would be given three tickets to give to family members.  The reaction was very similar to Lebron James telling Cleveland to screw off.  It was visceral, and a tad bit amusing.  I did see a couple of “I REFUSE TO GO TO MY GRADUATION IF IT IS INSIDE” tantrums.  So the decision was made that, barring lightning, it was going to be held outside on the UHS football field, a muddy pit that might contain some kind of creature that probably swallows annoying graduates.  That’s going to go over real well with the people in attendance.  Either way the administration is probably going to catch hell.  I think they made the better choice though.  You give people the choice to sit through the weather.  If people came across the country to watch Joe Bob, they will be satisfied with the outcome or they won’t, but it will be their decision.

Me?  I woke up this morning to the sound of a falling branch hitting my fence.  Luckily the small tree that toppled fell the other way, but a sizable limb ended up on my lawn, a good 15 feet from the tree.  I’m not going to graduation either.  The wind is howling and it’s raining, and standing in this weather for ninety minutes is a great way for me to get sick, something I don’t need when I’m three days from leaving to grade AP tests.  They’ll just get my best wishes from the comfort of my living room.