Sunday, August 19, 2012

Inside Four Walls: 2011-2012 CST results

So a few months ago, but only two posts down :-( I predicted my scores for my Geometry class, but not my Algebra B. First I predicted my Geometry would be a 73%, which would be my highest scores ever. Well, I did better. It came out to be 75% of my students were proficient or advanced. And yeah, like I said in the post, if it was above a 70% it would be high for our school because we are usually in the high 50s. Well, the school average was in the mid 50%s. So yeah, really excited there.

But what about my Algebra scores? I didn't give a prediction because I forgot to update it, but I was looking at, hopefully, a 30% (based on their grade). Well, I guess I was a little too hard on them because they came back at 93%. That isn't a typo, 93% of my students were either advanced or proficient. School average was 57%. I got nothing to say.

So for those that stumble upon this and want to know how? In Geometry, I give a 15 minute weekly quiz over anything that we have done. So if it is March and I want to ask questions from Chapter 2, it's fair game. I think they have something to do with it. I started doing it during the second semester of the 2010-2011 school year and I ended up with the second highest scores. Or it could be I just had really motivated students.

In Algebra B, same thing. A 4 question daily quiz covering factoring, graphing, systems of equations, and whatever else (usually rational expressions). I barely covered word problems, like only two types. But if they can master those sections, they are almost guaranteed a proficient score. I also don't have any partial credit. It's all right or wrong. Plus multiple choice tests get them ready for the CSTs. In Algebra, they can just plug in their answers. In Geometry, they can eliminate some.

Finally, I don't allow calculators 2nd all. I don't want them to have their first test without a calculator being the CSTs. In Geometry, I make them solve right triangles with special angles or leaving answers with trig functions in the answers.

So do I think I am a good teacher? Actually, no. I think I have found a way to teach to a test. I put my students in the best position to pass. Kind of like a coach making adjustments at half time, that's all I have done.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Right Now: a little update

So where have I been the last 2 months? Just sitting around waiting for some good music to finally come out, but it never happened. I'm in the middle of summer school and realized it had been a long time since I posted, so here is a quick run
-down of things I want to talk about;
- albums of the year (of course)
- saw the Avengers & Thor
- new cartoons (some soon to be cancelled)
- new school year It's a lot on my mind and I am going to try and post one topic per day...I say try because I probably won't post again until Christmas.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Inside Four Walls: CSTs are here - 2012 edition

So here we go state testing is 2 weeks away and it is crunch time. Now I have been doing more work for my Geometry students this year than I have in years past, meaning trying new things. I started a weekly quiz that was 5 questions based on any material we covered until that day. My hope was that it would force the students to always be reviewing past material, in turn they wouldn't have to review as much before the CSTs.

So this week I took the state released questions, which is about 80+. However, the test is only 65, so I went old school and cut and pasted...literally a 65 question test for them. On top of that I selected the same number of questions they would have for each cluster. It took a long time to select them and get them all made so hopefully it will pay off.

So instead of doing the normal looking at grades to predict my CST scores, I am going to be looking at this test they took this week. Basically a proficient is about a 67% or so and that was the cut off I used. So for each period it broke down like this;
1st - 56%
2nd - 81%
4th - 72%
6th - 79%

Those are very good, unfortunately most of my students are in first so overall the average is just a 73%. If I could be above 70% I would be happy and would be looking at my highest scores ever, especially considering my 58% was high for our school last year.

Unfortunately, I don't know if the quizzes had any effect or not. What people don't understand about education is that we are simply a piece of the learning puzzle. Maybe I have great students? Maybe I had parents at home that valued a good education? Will I try it again next year? Yes.

Now comes the test and then the wait.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Music Non Stop: new Soul Cycle

I have talked about Soul Cycle before. They play instrumental thrash. It's very good music. Well out of nowhere I received an email saying they were releasing a new album in a couple of weeks. These guys are pretty good at what they do and with only 4-5 albums on my radar right now (including this one) who knows where this will end up at the end of the year.

Here is the album sampler to get a feel for what I am talking about.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Music Non Stop: another batch of 2012 music

Been kind of a slow year for music, but two bands that I do like have some new songs out. First up is Dirge Within. Their debut was really impressive especially some of the guitar work. This sounds pretty good...nothing special, but hey its new.

Next up God Forbid. They are a hit and miss with me. Some of their stuff I love, other stuff is just meh. They have changed up their guitar tone on this album, can't tell if I like it or not yet. I think I will have to hear the whole thing before I pass judgement.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Inside Four Walls: Why do you want to be a teacher...

I feel like I have asked this before...

In Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love, an 8th grader attacked and beat his science teacher.
An 8th grade student confronted Williams, his science teacher, about a bad grade, when it turned ugly. 
"I saw him take a swing," one student told Fox 29. "I couldn't believe it."
I am really at a loss for words here...and if you know me, that's a surprise.

Venting the Anger: New Power Girl costume

I have talked a lot how DC has screwed up costumes over the years, well with the new DC Universe some more characters got some new looks. The latest is Power Girl. Now for those who don't know who Power Girl is (or whatever she is now), she is a clone of Supergirl, a more mature version...which is funny that she keeps the "girl" tag in her name.

Anyway, here is a look at her suits through the years.

There seems to be one constant of her suit...the hole right in front of her chest. I really don't know how this started, but as you can see it has been a staple from the beginning. Heck they even made fun of the blatant sexual nature of the suit.

So now they are bringing her back into the new universe and here is the new look

What the...? How do we go from this

to this?
Let's look past the obvious chest and focus on the looks like Black Canary's hair from the 80's.  By the way, if Power Girl's suit wasn't so bad I might focus some of this anger on The Huntress' new suit.  What is up with those freakin' ears?!?!

Now if DC was getting rid of all sexual costumes I would be fine with it...but here is the new Starfire look

Yeah...explain that DC.

Thoughts Without Words: Prop 209 challenged

Prop 209 basically got rid of race as a reason for admission into California colleges or as most know it as affirmative action. You can go read the story HERE, but I had to post the comment by a poster named mat3 who summed it up nicely;
I want to be treated as equal except for this, and this, and this, What a bunch of BS. You're either treated equally or not.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Video Killed the Radio Star: New Spider-Man Trailer

I could have turned this into a Venting the Anger post, but let's try and be positive here. Spider-Man does have web shooters again and he does appear to have some of the classic wise cracking humor going on here.

So I won't mention Peter creating the formula to turn Connors into the Lizard or the fact that once again we will have a super long scene in which Spider-Man runs around the city without his mask on. Or the fact that Peter's parents are somehow related to Connors, even though they are best remembered for a 90's storyline in which they were spies/traitors/SHIELD I am sure this movie can clear that up.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Video Killed the Radio Star: How Star Wars should have ended

I showed this video to a couple of friends a few weeks ago. No idea why it took so long for me to put it up here.

best part...Yoda's line, "awkward, this is."

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Inside Four Walls: Wonder if American students would do this... get to school

just goes to show how in some parts of the world education is more valuable than others. I can see not only the students saying school's not that important and also the parents. Interesting.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Video Killed the Radio Star: Is this what I sound like?

A short video of what comic book nerds say. I will admit to saying some of these. The one that sticks out is the whole "Galactus is a cloud?" because every time I talk about FF2 I always say that.

Inside Four Walls: Not surprised...

I haven't posted a school story in awhile and this one doesn't have to do with my job, but the results are more of the mind boggling "why would you want to get into education?"

I have talked about teacher's rights and free speech and all that good stuff plenty of times on here. But teacher's and educators in general seem to get screwed in that department. Take this story via Joanne Jacobs' blog.
A middle school principal in northeastern Pennsylvania was shocked to see his photo online along with a description of him as a “hairy sex addict” and a “pervert” who liked “hitting on students” in his office. 
A high school principal north of Pittsburgh saw a MySpace profile of himself that called him a “big fag,” a “whore” and a drug user. 
And in West Virginia, a school principal found out that a girl had created an online site to maliciously mock another girl as a “slut” with herpes. 
All three students were suspended and filed suit, claiming their free speech rights had been abridged. The two students who charged their principals with misconduct won in the lower courts. The girl who mocked a classmate lost.

I absolutely love how the students that attacked their principals on line are protected by free speech, but the student on student isn't. Open season on online attacks.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Music Non Stop: 2012 new music

It's going to be tough to have another year like last year, but so far there seems to be a lot of promise that it won't be a crappy year.

First up is Into Eternity. Their last one was mediocre. I felt that they let Stu go a little to high too much. But by the sound of this clip he seems to be using his new found "mid-range" vocals from Iced Earth.

Another band that I have on my radar is The Resistance. It's a band made up of former members of In Flames and The Haunted. One of my favorite The Haunted album's is One Kill Wonder with Marco Aro on vocals and he is back for this album. Hopefully they throw in some nice guitar solos, but I am ready for this to drop.
COUP DE GRACE by The_Resistance
Also to note would be Lacuna Coil's Dark Adrenaline which sound better than their last album which was just ok...and that would be a positive spin. Add onto that I am also watching for some new Soulfly this year.

So even though this time last year, Times of Grace was already in my hands, I am optimistic it will be a fairly solid year.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Video Killed the Radio Star: Prometheus Trailer

Late to the party that's for sure, but this looks good. I am a fan of the first two Alien movies...the rest were so bad...just bad. So when rumors of a Ridley Scott movie based of the famed "space jockey" was announced I kind of perked up. But when the trailer was released last week...

...I am at full attention now. This is a must see for me. This thing screams Alien prequel down to the ship. How can this not be the same planet in Alien/Aliens?

Right Now: Howard Jones out of KsE

What a crappy way to start off the new year with the news of Howard Jones leaving/fired from Killswitch Engage. I am a huge Jesse Leach fan, but if you have to have another singer for KsE it was Howard. End of Heartache is a classic and easily is up there with Alive or Just Breathing. I have always said those two albums were so much like Metallica's Ride the Lightning and Master of Puppets. Meaning the songs were similar and how both albums were at the top of their game.

What sucks is that their last album was a "return to form" so to speak after the mediocre Daylight Dies. I was really excited to see what they were going to come up with, especially with everyone sort of doing their own thing. It would have been interesting to see what they could have produced after being apart for so long.

Now this opens the door for Jesse to return to KsE, but who knows if he will. He did the Times of Grace project with Adam D. and the touring version of the band features a couple of KsE members. I hope he does. Times of Grace was awesome and at times was reminiscent of KsE.

If I couldn't get Jesse back there is only one singer off the top of my head that could pull it off and that would be Jimmie Strimmell of Dead By April/Nightrage fame. I think he would be great in that role. He isn't allowed to do the clean vocals anymore for DbA so why not?

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Who Decides: 2011 Albums of the Year

What happened to the end of 2011? I was on track to have close to 300 posts and then...well nothing happened. I stopped posting. I will try to get back to posting on a regular basis, so let's see how that goes.

First things first, my top 10 albums of 2011. There was a lot of great music last year and in all my years of doing this list, this was the hardest hands down. In fact when I was making the list, I actually ended up with 20 albums that I really enjoyed, so since i already did the Spinal Tap Edition, I will simply do a top 20 for this year, nothing full detail with the 20-11, just list them.

By the way, here is the list of the mid year albums.  Most show up again with only a few not making it to the final 20.

20. Protest the Hero - Scurrilous
19. Deadlock - Bizarro World
18. Anthrax - Worship Music
17. Megadeth - Th1rt3en
16. Nightrage - Insidious
15. Unearth - Darkness in the Light
14. Revocation - Chaos of Forms
13. The Haunted - Unseen
12. Sylosis - Edge of the Earth
11. The Human Abstract - Digital Veil

Some really good albums in there. On any given day those 10 could have made the top 10 list...maybe not the top 4 or 5, but easily 10-6. Now onto the rest;

10. Lazarus A.D. - Black River Flows: This was a surprise for me, not because I'm not a fan, but because how much growth transpired between their debut and this one. This is the kind of maturity that you see between albums like Kill Em All and Ride the Lightning or KIMB and Peace Sells. Lazarus A.D. easily put themselves out there as one of the top new "thrash revival" acts. Before they were just an Exodus clone, but not anymore.

9. Cavalera Conspiracy - Blunt Force Trauma: This was another surprise, but for a different reason, their debut was meh. It wasn't great, it wasn't bad, it was just there. Their follow up really brings back the days of Arise. The guitar work, mainly solos, is awesome. Killing Inside and I Speak Hate are two great songs that just grab you and don't let go of you.

8. Evile - Five Serpent's Teeth: Another "thrash revival" band. I had heard of this band, but never paid much attention to them. I will never make that mistake again. The best way I can sum up this band is by repeating what i read about them; This is Metallica after AJFA. The vocal delivery is similar and the music is also in the same style as the classic thrash we all know and love.

7. Iced Earth - Dystopia: I already talked about this album HERE. All I will say is that it's nice to see Iced Earth back making classic heavy metal/thrash again.

6. In Flames - Sounds of a Playground Fading: People said In Flames were dead after their guitarist, Jesper, left the band. And I will be honest I was worried. Come Clarity was awesome, but The Mirror's Truth was bad. This one is back on track. Ander's vocals remind me of Reroute to Remain and the music is closer in style to Come Clarity than The Mirror's Truth. I was very glad to see that In Flames could rise up and make a stellar album without one of their key members.

5. Anterior - Echoes of the Fallen: Of all the "new" bands releasing sophomore albums (Anterior, Lazarus A.D., Sylosis) I wasn't too interested in Anterior's, until I heard the samples. This is easily the best of the other 2 bands. The guitar work is top notch and even thought there is no real change in vocal delivery, it works and I never find myself wishing something would change.  Reviewed HERE.

4. Times of Grace - Times of Grace: This album was my choice for album of the year in January. As you can see it didn't quiet make it, but it didn't fall off the radar either. I have reviewed already and have nothing to add. It stands up through continuous listens and it is a nice change of pace when compared to other albums here.  Reviewed HERE.

3. Mercenary - Metamorphosis: There was a time when I thought this might be number one because it really came out of nowhere. I was a fan of Mercenary's 11 Dreams, but when they lost their bass player/scream vocals I was worried. But when they released Architect of Lies all those fears were gone the new vocalist was great. But then short after their tour ended the band imploded and 2 members, including the vocalist, left. So I was nervous, but this album is everything that is great about Mercenary, heavy guitars, great vocals, and some excellent head banging moments.  Review HERE.

2. Machine Head - Unto the Locust: Now if you remember in 2007, Machine Head's The Blackening was my number one album. Looking back and what I have listened to since, I sometimes think maybe DevilDriver's The Last Kind Words should have been number one. But fast word to 2011 and Machine Head's latest is good...really good. There are times when I think this is a lot better than The Blackening. With The Blackening, some of the songs were too long. Now these songs are long again, but for some reason they fly by. The songs are a lot easier to digest if you will. I have read the opposite from some reviewers, but this was an album that was very easy for me to get into and enjoy. But unfortunately it couldn't top the number one album...who knows maybe in a few years I'll say how Machine Head should have been number one.

1. Trivium - In Waves: Well let's hit the time machine again, in 2008 Trivium's Shogun ended up number two behind Metallica's Death Magnetic...mainly because I am such a Metallica fan. And there were some times towards the end of the year that I was thinking that Trivium could drop to number two again, but it didn't happen. Trivium's songs are so catchy it's amazing. There is only one other band that makes songs grab you on the first listen and that would be Bullet For My Valentine. While this wasn't as good as Shogun, it was still the best thing from start to finish I heard all year.  Reviewed HERE.