Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Last Laugh: "Blue States" = worse economic trouble

I can't take credit for this story. I found it on Darren's blog, Right on the Left Coast (which is a daily stop for me). In a nutshell, Forbes reports that states that have a more liberal/democratic lean to them are in worse shape than those that are neutral or have a conservative lean ("red state").

I would enjoy this story even more if not for that fact I live in CA. We are such a backwards state it's not even funny.

The problem is that no major news media will pick up on this story and put 2 and 2 together.

Inside Four Walls: Special Ed and threats

Interesting topic for everyone to ponder.

We have a special ed student who has repeatedly threatened to blow himself, a specific teacher, and the school numerous times over the past year. Last weekend at Saturday school (detention) he threatened me. He went through the motions of detonating himself in front of me. Now I wasn't going to take this, even if he is special ed. After I said I was going forward to his counselor, the teacher told me about the last year of being told he was going to be blown up.

Long story short, the student was suspended for one day. I am unsure how to feel. I don't think it's enough, but I know his case carrier and counselor very well. They reassure me that he "doesn't understand" and wouldn't do that.

Do you think there should be different rules for special ed students and threats like these?

Right Now: Girls Waterpolo C.I.F. Title

Just a quick note about our school's girls waterpolo team which won it's first ever C.I.F. title. Big win for them. Congrats all around. Story HERE.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Thoughts Without Words: Standards Based Grading

So I have been reading more and more into this idea of Standards Based grading. Basically instead of giving a chapter test covering 4 to 5 standards with 20 some questions, you give a small one standard test with 5-6 questions. Sounds good. But the part I don't like is the idea of allowing students to re-test if they don't pass the test. In other words, all the students are moving at their own pace. In theory they can keep re-testing forever.

I had a long discussion on another blog a few weeks ago discussing this topic. I don't like re-testing because I feel like we should prepare students for life outside of school where mistakes aren't allowed in most cases. These teachers don't buy the "real world" argument and I honestly believe it's because they haven't had any real world experience. I worked at UPS for 5 years and mistakes weren't tolerated and if you couldn't do the job right you were let go as soon as a replacement was found. Sometimes you were let go before a replacement was found.

I also was wondering how this was accomplished in this day and age of state testing. How did test scores look compared to a regular classroom. I feel like students will be more apt to make careless mistakes because they are used to getting a second chance. But on state tests, there is no second chance. The person I talked to said his school doesn't have any state tests to worry about.

I also questioned him on how this would be possible with 180 students (thanks California) and he mentioned that he has very small class sizes of 20-25.

You can read more about the discussion I had on standards based grading HERE at Meta Musings.

Now playing: Shadows Fall - What Drives The Weak
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Thoughts Without Words: Two Teachers, One Chair

Ok so this will be the new Thoughts Without Words tag. What I hope to do here is mainly post either stories I find on the web or other blogs I have commented on and post them here.

This is a video of two teachers at a high school. The male teacher is doing his best at giving a lap dance to a female teacher. It was at a pep rally and both teachers have been suspended. You can read more about it here.

Now first off that is totally inappropriate. Especially when he shoves his head between her legs and then gets on top of her. I am sure it was meant to be a joke, but it went south (no pun intended). I think the teachers should be reprimanded, but I don't know if both should be suspended without pay. Here's why.

At most high school dances there is a "new" style of dancing called freak dancing. For those that haven't seen it let me do my best to describe it to you. Basically it is dry sex. That's it. The girls are bent over, the guys are grabbing hips, hair, you name it. The guys sometimes get chairs out on the dance floor and the girls give them lap dances...not joking. Face to face dancing is a thing of the past it seems. I even heard a new term this past week. When two guys have their girls bent over facing each other, and the guys high five each other; that's called the Eiffel Tower. Nice huh?

So if the parents are outraged maybe they should check out one of their kids own dances to see what kind of "dancing" goes on there. This is tame compared to that. So while I do think some punishment is needed, I think suspension without pay might be a little much.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Inside Four Walls: Book Check

Ok, so I have another new tag. This tag will be all about my classroom and things that happen at my school. Now this isn't replacing Thoughts Without Words, but it will change that tag obviously. I will explain the change for the next Thought Without Words post.

Back to the story. I moved into a new classroom this year, totally brand new first teacher in the room. So I have a ton of storage. I have told students from day 1 that my room is not a locker. They need to take their books and stuff with them. Now I understand once in awhile a student will forget and I tell them to be more careful. Then I have students that deliberately hide their books from me. For example, I had one freshman hide is book in my actual cabinet. Another was using an old desk of mine with the storage underneath. So I took the book that was in the desk and decided to have a teachable moment with this freshman.

I started teaching like normal, on a block day (80 minutes), and then assigned an in class assignment. The freshman couldn't do it because she didn't have a book. So I was watching her and then announced we would be having a book check in a few minutes. Well the student asked to use the bathroom, so they wouldn't be there for the book check. Now before I get too far, I tell my students that if everyone has their book, then everyone gets extra points. So she comes back with another book...her music book. I barely saw the label on the side. So I start having the students raise their books up. The great part is that the student is the last student, so the class is getting excited. The student holds up the book, with the music label facing away. I ask them if that is their math book or their music book?

Now right then, the students were shocked that I knew it. The freshman is on the other side of the room and some were like "how did he know?" So the freshman said they grabbed the wrong book and would go get the right one. Now this is funny to me because I have the book under my desk! So the freshman is gone for 20 minutes. I know they are frantically searching for a book asking friends and what not. So the freshman comes back in and gives some story about the locker getting jammed and how they needed to get help. Here is the conversation that took place;
Me: Let me make sure that is your book.
Freshman: ok, it's mine you can check.
Me: Is your name in it?
Freshman: no, I don't write my name in my we have to?
(Funny part, the freshman's name is in their book under my desk)
Me: no but you should. (I check it and hand it back. As the student is walking away) Are you sure it's yours?
Freshman: yes, I told you.
Me: you aren't lying? You were gone a long time.
Freshman: Yes, it's my book what else do I need to do to prove to you it's my book?
Me: (dramatically) If that's your book then why do I have your book right here (I swing it out from my desk dramatically of course)...WITH YOUR NAME IN IT?!?!

The class let out the loudest gasp I had ever heard. Like I just caught a serial killer or something. Then the gasp turned to laughter and then they started to chant my name. Definitely a first for me. I looked at the freshman gave the book back and told them never to lie to me again.

Teachable moment right? Well here's why I don't feel too bad. Because after all of this, the freshman was at their desk saying, I don't know who's book this is because this one was in my locker. They actually continued to lie. *sigh*

Monday, February 22, 2010

Thoughts Without Words: Fainting Student

So this past Friday I had a student "faint" in class. I was lecturing and this student kept coughing. I suggested that they get some water. The student said they were fine. Then all of a sudden they start looking like a cat coughing up a hair ball. I try to give the student some water and once again was told no. Then the student starts to "cry" about not being able to breathe. So I decided to call the office/nurse just to cover my butt, even though I thought the student was faking for attention. So I go back to lecturing as the student is hacking away. All of a sudden I hear a "thud" and turn around and the student is laying on the ground "passed out". I go over to the student and tell the other kids to clear the desks away and move the student's bag and items. At this point the students sits straight up and says "don't touch my stuff!" and lays back down in the classic fainted pose.

So then I move a desk over to elevate the feet and they sit up and tell me not to do that because they are fine. I look at the student and tell him/her to lay back down and not to get up again until the office comes. The office came picked up the student and everything was fine.

So that was Friday. Today, the rest of the class was kind of cruel. When class started some students started to cough and say they felt faint. I told them to stop because knowing my luck I will get a complaint. BTW, this student gave us some drama earlier on in the year...I might get to that one next time.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Sun Always Shines on T.V.: Phineas and Ferb

Ok so this is probably one of my favorite shows on TV right now. I know I say that a lot, but in this case it is a no brainer. Phineas and Ferb is a kids show on Disney Channel. Now I know what you are thinking...a kids show forget it. No, it is more than that. It is a smart kids show. There are tons of references to movies, pop culture, and other shows built into. No kid can pick them out, they are made for the adults who are watching. The show itself is about these two genius kids who try and find something to do for everyday they are on summer vacation. I knew there was something special about this show when I heard Phineas proclaim "Ferb, I know what we are going to do today..." It had a certain ring to it like Pinky and the Brain, another smart kids show.

So not only do you have these two genius kids building/doing impossible things, you have their sister who is constantly trying to catch them, think Ferris Bueller's Day Off. And why not throw in their pet platypus who is also a secret agent. Sounds silly I know, but it works. Perry the Platypus is always stopping Dr. Doofenshmirtz, and evil scientist who always tells his plot before he tries to kill Perry.

With Better Off Ted looking like its days are numbered, Phineas and Ferb is a solid replacement for a smart tv show with tons of sci-fi references. You can watch this episode and literally count the number of Star Wars references, even down to the RotJ reference when Luke said he was endangering the mission. Great show. They just started their second season and Disney shows usually last a good 5 years.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Tags Explained: part 2 (with videos)

ok so I noticed my traffic is going up, so I figured I would explain my tags again. All of my tags are from songs, since I wanted this to be a music blog. But it has turned into literally my world, so I talk about everything, but all of my tags are still songs. So here are my "bigger" tags and the videos that go with them.

Venting the Anger: for when I have something to get off of my chest and complain. the song is from Susperia's EP Devil May Care.

Music Non Stop: this is a new tag, replacing the Spotlight tag. I use it to talk about bands that I am listening to at the moment. The song is a cover from Mercenary's 11 Dream

Thoughts Without Words: just me talking about things. Not really angry just questions and comments. The song is from Shadows Fall's third album The Art of Balance. Side note, this is the song that really started my journey into heavier music after Metallica and Megadeth.

The Sun Always Shines on T.V.: my favorite tv shows and some movie information. If you know me you know I love my tv. One of my favorite tags. The song is a cover of an A-Ha song by Susperia on the same EP as Venting the Anger. It was a sequel to Take On Me. Great cover

Who Decides: my tag for my top 10 lists or any list of mine. The song is from Nevermore off of their highly underrated Enemies of Reality.

Tirades of Truth: for my reviews. Anything I review; movies, TV, and music. You name it if I review it's here. Song is from Devildriver's classic album The Last King Words.

Right Now: for my quick hitting updates. Just mainly bullets of what is going on. From Van Halen's last good album For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge.

The Last Laugh: new tag, just for funny or ironic news stories. Song is from Iced Earth's album The Dark Saga. Great song and solid album based upon Spawn. Check out that cover...nice. But Iced Earth always has great artwork.

Futureal: for my prediction threads, usually pop up at the end of the year. Song is from Iron Maiden's Virtual XI. Great album despite Bruce Dickinson not singing on the album.

Last but not least,
What can brown do for you?: Turning out to be my favorite posts actually. These will focus on my 5 years at UPS. I am trying to go in order, but I won't be able to stay linear forever. No song, but from their ad campaign a few years back.

Venting the Anger: IEP's

Ok this is going to be a quick hitter. For those of you in education you know about special education and those wonderful IEPs. Well, for those of you fortunate not to know what an IEP is, basically it is a personalized plan for a student. Not like a plan of take math & english this not that plan. This is plan as to how we can make sure the student succeeds. So things like, student can use notes on the test, can use homework on the test, can have the test modified. Test modification is like if you have a 10 question multiple choice test (with 4 answers per question), they can modify it to be less questions with less choices. Isn't that they way life is?

Now in our district we have parents lining up to get their kids to be designated special ed so they will get all of these special modifications so they can get good grades. Our district doesn't put anything on the transcripts saying someone is special ed.

So today I found out that we have a student on campus whose IEP says we can not search his backpack unless the school calls his mom first to see if it is ok. That's right, we can't search his backpack by law no matter what we think he might have; drugs, weapons...doesn't matter. The reasoning is that he is forgetful and might not realize what he puts in his bag. Nice huh?

And yet people still can't understand why most teachers leave within 5 years...

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Last Laugh: "Green Technology" = Fail at Winter Olympics

New tag. Just stories that I think are funny, they may not be politically correct or whatever, but they are stories that need to be laughed at.

I don't believe in global warming and don't see a big need to go green with everything. Some things, yes, but not all. Enter the Zamboni, the great invention that resurfaces hockey rinks everywhere. Well to show how great Canada is they had a green Zamboni. It broke down. Classic.

More here with video:

I would also like to add I didn't see this anywhere, until I saw it on PTI.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Music Non Stop: Iced Earth

So I have a new tag, but not too new. I think this one will replace the old Spotlight tag. This will do the same thing and highlight some of my favorite bands.

Now I have talked about Iced Earth before. I really highlighted the artwork and some of their music. Now I left off with their Something Wicked part 1 album. A lot has changed since then. Gone is The Ripper Tim Owens and back is Matt Barlow. Now I listened to Something Wicked Part 1, Framing Armageddon and I really wanted to like this album. I mean I waited years to hear the continuation from Something Wicked This Way Comes. It just wasn't working for me. The original trilogy had such a sound. The guitars going from thrash to some acoustic to an eastern feel and then throw in some piano for good measure. This felt like a mid tempo, sludgy, mess. Or on the other songs that had some speed, it felt like The Glorious Burden all over again. Plus there were so many 1 minute songs, for dramatic effect. It didn't work. On top of it Tim Owens killed it for me. I liked the Ripper on The Glorious Burden and still don't think that Matt could do the Gettysburg trilogy, but for this album it needed Matt.

So for whatever reason, after part 2 was done being recorded out goes the Ripper and back comes Barlow. I picked up the EP with one new song and 3 re-recorded songs from part 1, with Matt's vocals over the Ripper's. While the music was still whatever, hearing Matt's vocals made the songs so much better.

They then released Part 2, The Crucible of Man. It didn't make my top 10 that year, but it was better for me that part 1. Matt's vocals are Iced Earth. There were rumors of them re-recording all of part 1 with Matt and releasing a box set, but that was put on hold when the recession hit.

I am excited to hear some new Iced Earth. I doubt it will happen anytime soon though. Matt is a police officer and Jon has a new side project call Sons of Liberty. Which takes his love of the country to new heights. It's good, but it's not Iced Earth.

I will probably talk about some of thier "epic" songs later, like The Phantom of the Opera, Dante's Inferno, or Gettysburg. Some excellent writing.

Now playing: Iced Earth - Travel In Stygian
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Thoughts Without Words: Really???

So I haven't really talked much about my classes this year because after the crappy year I had last year, I couldn't find much to complain about. In fact after reading some fellow bloggers, I really can't complain at all.

So I will share an amusing story from today's 5th period class. Now 5th period is after lunch, so my TA is stamping homework while I am starting my lesson. I walk over to her to ask her how many people didn't do it or what not. She tells me about this kid, I will call him Copier, who actually tells her that he is copying someone's homework, I'll call that kid Freshman. She tells me and I send them both up to the office for cheating. Ok, so my TA makes the comment we were all thinking..."how stupid can you be? why didn't you just copy at lunch?" I have mentioned on other blogs how out of control copying is at our school which is why I have cut my homework to only 10% of their overall grade.

So Copier gets a Saturday detention and is all sad. Freshman comes back and I read his referral. It has his conversation with Cheater on it. I quote;
Copier: "Hey can I copy your homework?"
Freshman: "Sure", but I didn't know he would actually copy it. Classic Freshman moment.

So that brought a smile to my face, but then with 15 minutes left I catch Copier with his cell phone out between his legs. I ask if he was texting, he said no. So I said, well your phone isn't supposed to be out. Let me check to see if you sent anything, if you didn't I won't do anything. He tells me that he was texting (duh), but it was 5 minutes ago so it doesn't count. So I sent him up again.


Now playing: As I Lay Dying - Nothing Left
via FoxyTunes