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Showing posts from July, 2010

Race to the Top

Our state was not a finalist in the second round of RTTT funding. Were we even in the running? I mean, seriously in the running? Honestly, I can’t remember. I do remember something about changing teacher evaluations… but really, state driven evaluations seems a bit odd for WA state. The east side using something handed down from the west side sounds more than a bit far fetched. There are still people running around trying to split off and form their own state.I’m sure the real killer for us was the lack of charter schools. Unfortunately for those in the other Washington, the citizenry here has rejected charter schools multiple times. And even worse, our state constitution allows the citizens to reject legislation passed by the state government, as they did in 2003-2004. Some would say that our “strong” teachers’ union is the reason it didn’t pass, but my personal opinion is that charter schools are a somewhat stupid idea for a state with a huge number of rural schools.According to a s…

AP Conference

starting tomorrow morning... I'll be up at 5 am to get there on-time.

Hopefully, I've learned something from observing all my students trying to sneak a peak at their cell phone and will be able to sneak my own peak to make sure the my brother survives the daycare drop off...

In the Beginning

I started planning out the coming school year – as soon as I saw the Staples back to school flier, I knew it was time.After spending an hour on the English Companion Ning, I found a pretty good technology skill survey to hand out to my classes. Juniors and Seniors produce fairly large research papers, so getting a jump on their technology skills will be helpful. Most of the survey was pretty basic, but it’s surprising how many of my students still do not know how to save a document as an appropriate file type, imbed graphics or tell the difference between G*00*gle and a content website. If I had a nickel for every student who told me that they found the photo on  g*00gle, I’d be planning a round-the-world cruise.Every year on the first day, I do a “info. bingo” activity. I’ve done it for the past six years and it’s become quite popular amongst other teachers. A lot of my students will be returners from the 09-10 year, so I need a new idea. Something fun, but informational. There is a …

The Fallacy of High Stakes Testing

Last year we started using a new screening test for Response to Intervention (RTI). It’s quick to implement, doesn’t require me to beg for EA to be pulled from other schools (because ours has NONE!), and gives results quickly without the use of spreadsheets. Plus the company provides lots of graphs and scientific looking data charts, which is the most important factor in RTI. Especially the graphs*.
We test all 9th and 10th grade students three times a year. Then we are supposed to sit around and discuss the findings of the testing; the growth of students, what each class looks like, what needs to be focused on and all that other jazz. Exciting stuff, let me tell you. Or at least it could be if we could ever get passed discussing classroom size. But I digress.
Last winter, the principal told me that after examining all the data, everyone (administratively) was very impressed with one of my sophomore classes. The over all score for the class had jumped up about 20 points. They wanted t…

Am I an English Teacher or What?

I really should be doing something productive with my day… but instead I spent it giggling while reading a trashy novel – the author makes some very interesting dialog choices that probably make most readers stop and go “huh"?” before starting to laugh. Ah, well… there’s always tomorrow to work on curriculum.

Leaderless

So far, my school has not found a new principal. At least, this is what I've deduced since no announcement has been made and the job ad is still posted. I assume that this is what those who were interviewed for the job also deduced. And how much would that suck? Knowing that you didn't loose out to a better person, but to the possibility that someone else will come along. Harsh.

Of course the gossips of school are all a flutter as to what this means and what is really going on... because a job posting or job interview does not mean that there actually is a job available or that some shenanigans aren't going on behind closed doors. Or it could just be summer and we don't want to talk about the weather any more.

Meanwhile, AP scores are out and I'm more than a little disappointed. I knew that some students hadn't taken the test very seriously and didn't even bother to complete the essays, but seeing it in black and white made me feel very sad. I guess I will …

Union Jobs

You hear a lot these days about how unions are ruining the country and we’re all going to die some horrible depression-era starvation type death because some teacher/auto line worker/grocery store clerk refused to give up his/her pension. Oddly, in this dire prediction no one ever dies because the CEO makes roughly 1000 times more than said teacher/auto line worker/grocery store clerk. They NEED that money because it’s the only way to get “a good CEO”. Apparently only CEO’s work ethic responds to monetary compensation.  Everyone else should just be grateful for a place to go every day.So what if union jobs did go the way of the dinosaur? Would our economy suddenly jump start? Products flying off the shelves, houses snatched up by prosperous buyers, new companies starting up by the thousands? I’m guessing that it would take awhile for things to settle down and I’m not so sure it would be a happy place to live. I’m also sure that insurance rates would be out of range for most people, es…

Done!

It only took two weeks, but I’m finally finished cleaning out my classroom. Three garbage sacks, two large boxes and one homemade tree with hollow knothole (and two soap children) are sitting on the floor waiting for August, when the building will be cleaned and waxed.Even though I won’t be teaching freshmen or sophomores next year, I couldn’t totally toss all of my units for the books. The mantra that I might need them again, kept repeating in my head. I did toss all the vocabulary stuff. As a department, we’ve been thinking of changing the way we do vocabulary for the past four years… which led to everyone doing their own thing and no one coming up with anything solid. Guess what one of my summer projects will be?It feels very good to know that I’ll be somewhat organized when waltzing in come August. Now comes a week’s vacation, followed by an AP conference, a camping trip and then the slide back into school. As usual, I’m sure it will go by extremely fast.