Why should teachers think about using Project-Based Learning right out of the gate during the 1st quarter of school? Here’s why.
Our whole idea of imagery is changing right before our eyes. Look at this new picture snapped by what is being called the new Hubble Telescope for the sun.
For some more amazing sun pics from NASA courtesy of their SDO (Solar Dynamics Observatory) click here. Just way cool
But pics of the sun aren’t the only images that are shifting under our eyelids as we speak. Fans of the movie Avatar can check themselves out (through an app) as if they were a character in the movie.
Of course, retouching images to eliminate the “average” and convert to “superstar” status has become so commonplace for magazines that virtually no real actor, actress, model and so on have their real shots published without a wee bit of photoshop. Britney Spears, remarkably, just agreed to allow her non-retouched images to be published right along side her retouched images.
Have you seen the latest book cover starring Abe Lincoln, Vampire Hunter lately?
Now messing with images is nothing new. Stalin routinely zapped people out of pics, as this shot from the 1930’s shows.
Mao did it, too…
As a writer, some days I am a machine. I mean words just pour right out of me. I’ve done stretches that begin early in the morning (cause I wake up EXCITED to write) and I’ve stayed up well into the evening with only the owls to keep me company as I hammer away at the keyboard.
Truly, I’ve had days (many, in fact) when I’ve been able to crank out well over 2,800 words. (BTW, that’s 11 or 12 pages of usable novel material… an output that, for me, is spectacular.)
However, on Saturday I just spent about 5 hours in a knife fight with my latest book with the grand word production total for the day being 340.
When I was a younger writer, days like this would really aggravate me. Truly, I’d get steamed at myself.
“You suck. You gotta do more. You are never going to hit your goals if this is all your able to produce.” Stuff like that. The critical voice which live(d) inside my head would just have a field day berating me.
But you’ll notice that I said live(d) instead of lives. The reason is that after years of doing this I’ve learned that some days are just gonna be that way. Some patches of my books are just going to pour right out of me and some are gonna be bare-knuckle, down-n-dirty back alley brawls.
It’s just the nature of the beast.
However, nowadays, instead of allowing my own inner critic to run roughshod all over my own inner world (btw, yes, I have voices in my head and they are in constant conversation — I have a feeling though that this is actually quite normal. And until they start telling to do things like “eat the neighbor’s door knocker then take off your pants”, I try to give them the latitude they need to express themselves.) I have learned to go with the flow.
The writing of each book is its own journey and to try and put preconceived notions about productivity and output on every day’s efforts, well… for me, it can prove detrimental.
In great part though, this is because I have already cultivated the muscle of self-discipline. See, some writers are, as they describe themselves, lazy. They’ll do anything they can to procrastinate. Me, I am the opposite. Give me a full day and I will seize it. This is why my own inner critic doesn’t crush me as much as it used to any more… because I know that even if today was tough sledding, I’ll be back at it tomorrow and the next day and the next and, like trekking in an adventure-filled country, I know that some days will be open road with sun and easy terrain and others will see me climbing uphill through mud in a downpour.
Obviously, the more days of sun the better — but without the tough days, I am not sure that my books will ever be any good. If they are too easy, it means I am taking on too much of the obvious — and I need to look deeper at character (i.e. making them richer), plot (i.e. crafting it in a more complex and emotionally fulfilling manner) and so on.
Okay, Saturday was tough and hardly what I would call “voluminous” (by my own standards). But I made it to safe harbor, I definitely “worked hard at my book” and even if I have to go back and re-write or toss all the work I just did, it’s all just part of the journey towards completing a novel.
And, best of all, I greatly enjoy the work. Even when writing is really hard and really frustrating and really aggravating — heck, TORTUOUS… it’s better than not writing.
Not writing is death.
BTW, this post took me about 20 minutes to write. Word count: 636 Oh, the irony. The Gods of Writing must be laughing their butts off.
And me, too.
As teachers, we only get but a few minutes to use the bathroom, right? I mean even though we are adults, our potty time is limited “by the man” and there are times when, let’s be honest, I am scared that, “Ain’t no way I am going to make it til the bell.”
Matter of fact, if Depends came out with a teacher diaper, being that I am on block schedule right now, I’d seriously consider it. (You know, with some little apple designs on it – maybe a Shakespearian quote or two line like, “To pee or not to pee, that is the question.”)
I betchya they’d sell a lot more than you think they would — we are not a proud bunch.
Okay, so maybe there are more sophisticated subjects about which to deliberate? And perhaps there are more elevated matters about which we should convene? And yes, there are a taxonomies and methodologies and cognitive psychologies about which we should talk.
But when you gotta pee, you gotta pee and sometimes the most well-equipped educator on campus is simply the one with the biggest bladder.
Schools are so understaffed on the admin front that sensible evaluations of teachers that are thoughtful, timely and fair to all parties involved seem almost like a pipe dream.
Take my school, for example. We have 4 admins on our campus: a P and 3 VP’s.
That’s for something like 150 teachers.
So if each educator were to get 8 classroom visits (two per quarter; that doesn’t seem unreasonable, right? I mean not if you are to reasonably try to gain insight into a situation — I mean that’s only once every 4 and 1/2 weeks) that would mean that a total of 1,200 classroom visits would need to be made.
This means that each admin would have to do about 300 visits per school year.
This means that each admin would have to do something like 75 visits per quarter.
This means that each admin would have to do about 8 visits per week.
That’s two classroom visit a day with Fridays off from classroom visiting.
Seems reasonable for all right? (I can already hear the chuckles.) At least if you are going to be able to draw and fair, verifiable and rational conclusions.
And then, instead of using silly check sheet rubrics, they might actually be able to provide some support and guidance to better steer the direction of the campus ship.
I know, more pipe dream.
(BTW, this is assuming that the admins actually know how to be an effective teacher themselves — a great leap of faith in and of itself. And by so much of the verbiage they use, I often doubt whether some of the people who oversee teachers actually could do the job of a classroom educator.)
Anyway, how far are we away from those numbers?
I am reminded of Frost: “Miles to go before we sleep.”
All right — let’s go in from a different angle. The P.E., the arts, the R.O.P. classes and such — do they even get/need a visit? I mean come on, if it ain’t gonna be tested, why should an admin waste their time, right?
Ya think they are walking though the cooking class asking where the “Daily Objective” is written on the front board?
And the “core” classes? Aren’t we merely getting cursory walk-throughs that seem as if they are merely judgement based fly-bys? After all, my first was this January — and school started in late August.
Also, are we really hopeful to get more of them? It’s like a little game. Admins come in and do their thing. We do our thing. And then, when that thing is done we both look forward to going back to doing our original thing hoping not to cross paths again over this matter — cause there are other things to do.
Note to self: new book title idea.
Sensible Evaluations of Teachers… and More Farces from the Front Lines
Has anyone ever noticed that for a non-profit ETS sure seems to be making a lot of money? I mean look at that line-up they offer.
They “sell” (that’s right, they “sell” these tests… we rarely think of them that way though, do we?)…
They sell the SAT. They sell the PSAT.
I could stop right there. Does that sound to anyone else like a pretty good business to be in? I mean if people don’t want to buy your product, they can always… not apply for college.
Yet, the hits continue.
They sell the AP exams.
They sell the Praxis. (And boy don’t I feel that paying for and suffering through the Praxis really proved to be a critical part of my teacher preparation. I mean where would I be without it?)
They sell the CAHSEE. (For those of you not in my state, that’s alphabet soup for the California High School Exit Examination.)
ETS sells other stuff too but I am not really sure why. I mean it’s time to cry “Mercy!” ETS, you win. You are the best at what you do and you are doing it better than anyone else has ever done it before.
We give. Please respect our cries for “Uncle!”
In education, financial times have never been more dire. Yet in the testing industry, times seem to have never been more robust. And no one sees a relationship?
Call off the dogs, dudes… we’re dying on the vine out here. And if your mission really is to advance learning, then please recognize the stranglehold you have over us right now. We’re flailing out here. Flailing quite badly.
BTW, if a poison blowdart hits me in the neck next week — or suddenly you start to hear some mudslinging impugning my character, like how I was caught sleeping with Tiger Woods (hey, there’s gotta be another twist to the story, doesn’t there?) don’t say I didn’t warn you.
So Roman Polanski was snagged in Swiss territory and now there’s a whole lotta hullabaloo over the nerve to extradite him to face charges.
And why, because he is an “artist”? As an artist myself — a term that I never, ever apply, btw, but hey, if he can hide under the umbrella, then I can take some shelter as well — I call HOGWASH!
I mean would we see international film superstars lobbying for Burger King fry cook in a similar situation? I doubt it. Of course, we all know justice is supposed to be blind, and we all know that though it purports to be blind but much, much data is out there to suggest that it isn’t — yet at the end of the day, why do “celebrities” think that the law doesn’t apply to them? That’s what irls me about all of this.
I mean why do the likes of Scorcese, Woody Allen, Harvey Weinstein and the such think that just because the Mr. Polanski is a irrefutable cinematic giant feel that he should get a free pass on the accusation of “drugging and raping a 13-year-old child”?
(For those of you that do not know, Roman Polanski is accused of feeding a 13 year old girl a qualude and some champagne then filming himself having lewd sex acts with her while she’s in a stupor? Owch, right?)
And how does going on the lam for a few decades lessen the crime/guilt? I mean why don’t these filmakers encourage all people accused of like crimes to become fugitives? Especially if they can win an Academy Award. Then they should get off on little stuff like this, right? (Note: last sentence = dripping with sarcasm).
I mean I don’t even see the other side of the coin. It’s not like anyone is making the argument he was railroaded. It’s not like anyone is claiming he didn’t, as an adult, get a 13 girl drunk and have sex with her. And he did flee as oppose to face the courts in this country, regardless of the supposedly spotlight seeking actions of the judge.
But now that he is finally in custody — like over 30 years after the incident — the industry of Hollywood wants him to be set free. Why? Part of their statement/petition about this matter says, “The arrest of Roman Polanski in a neutral country, where he assumed he could travel without hindrance … opens the way for actions of which no one can know the effects,” said the signatories, who also included actresses Monica Bellucci and Tilda Swinton and directors David Lynch, Jonathan Demme, John Landis, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and Wim Wenders.
What kind of actions? And are they worse actions than feeding a 13 year old a qualude and champagne then filming lewd sex acts with her while she’s in a stupor? (Allegedly.)
I just don’t get it. If Polanski washed cars for a living and it was one the 13 old daughters of one of these Hollywood establishment people, they’d be the first to sign a petition saying a man like this should be extradited regardless of our international agreements.
And if it was a teacher, forget it.
Being that I work in a place that the ad world absolutely covets — I mean my campus is Madison Avenue’s dream turf, right? — and I am in a place that most definitely needs an influx of cash, well, why not take advantage of my own unique ability to reach young consumers.
That’s right… PIMP ME OUT!!!
I am talking about full frontal teacher marketing here. Really, why not turn me into an English teacher that looks like a NASCAR driver?
I could sport the Pepsi logo, put Nike posters up all over the front of my class, and encourage kids to buy Wrangler jeans as opposed to Levi Strauss… from WalMart!
Matter of fact, I could even sell product placement in my lesson plans. Like I could pause while teaching Huck Finn and talk about how Tide detergent would really help get Jim’s clothes sparkly clean before his next jaunt down the river. Or maybe I could do a compare and contrast essay between Verizon and Sprint to help illuminate the benefits of joining America’s largest network.
Heck, I could design lesson plans that culminate in purchases. Like I know it was a well written composition but unfortunately, you did not print it on Mead paper so the highest score you could get was a B.
Sure, some teachers have already taken to selling ad space on their tests to help offset the costs of school, but I am talking about taking it to a whole new level.
Our students are victims waiting to be exploited. Really, am I the only one ready to recognize this?
And being that merit pay is coming, why not tie my salary to my ability to whore myself out as well? I mean, forget bubble tests… measuring me by ability to convert naifs into blindly loyal consumers seems much more logical and quantifiable anyway. Besides, ain’t that what America is all about anyway nowadays? The more rapacious I can make our kids the better it will be for the long term health of big business, right?
And for those who refuse to mandate that 5 paragraphs essays are first outlined with Bic pens and then typed on Dell computers only to later be printed on HP laserjets, I say, think about the kids, baybee.
Think about the kids.
The City of Philadelphia is closing all — that’s right ALL — of its public libraries. Click here and GULP!
Actually, it seems the city got a stay of execution… click here to read about the reprieve.
–Is this not a metaphor for what plagues our nation’s literacy ills?
–Is it not entirely ironic that they are considering this a month before the largest convention of English teachers in the country convenes in their city?
–What does it say about a city that finds libraries to be a luxury?
–What does it say about the city’s leaders that they allow this to occur?
–Are other cities now going to “jump on the sad bandwagon” and start closing libraries in the shortsighted attempt to save money by expanding ignorance?
Being a big Ben Franklin fan, I am quite confident that this past decade has seen him roll over in his grave a few times over. Well, right about now, I am sure he’s taking another spin.
So the Marxists didn’t take over, the commies didn’t infiltrate, the youth of this nation weren’t indoctrinated unwittingly into an irreversible cult of personality and North Korea’s heinous government regime didn’t supplant our own now that Obama has addressed the kids of this nation with a “you should to do well in school” speech.
But ooh, we were so close to imperialistic calamity, were we not?
Obama talked about hard work. Obama talked about personal responsibility. Obama celebrated the benefits of being well-educated. Matter of fact, with all the hoopla from the far, far right, I am surprised they didn’t send out Sarah Palin or Bobby Jindal to offer a rebuttal to El Presidente’ from the minority party.
Could you imagine…
Fair people of this fair country, while on one hand your Marxist Chief believes you should devotedly apply yourselves in school, we in the “real America” know that attentiveness to your own education is a right… and you have the right to refuse to apply that right because it is your right to do so! You do not have to become learned. You do not have to become skilled. You do not have to become part of the well-educated, “elitist” crowd. (Pause for big gasp from audience.) Why let them take away your constitutionally guaranteed ability to be ill-equipped to succeed? Who are they to brainwash you into believing that school is going to help? Who are they to cast aspersions against things like dropping out? Come, be one, unite and fight against this liberal tyranny!
Don’t let them violate your rights because you know that if we give in on this one, soon they’ll do away with the 2nd amendment, mandate abortion, create death panels and convince you that a soccer mom doesn’t have the skill set to be Commander and Chief of the Armed Forces simply because she isn’t all “erudite” about both national and international matters that carry significant geo-political implications for the entire planet.
Say it with me, People: You have the right to refuse to apply your rights because it is your right to do so!