Friday, April 25, 2008

Disparity in the District

Last night there was a vote on the new boundaries.
The plan that creates the most economic disparity between the school was approved.

For a school that has already been looked down upon... this is just another kick in the teeth... and one that will go on for decades because this was the chance for them to "make things equitable"... and they didn't take that opportunity.

I'm having a hard time seeing it in the extremely positive light that one other person is.

I feel like we are consistently being told to "buck up" and "be proud"... but when you know that they are telling you that in one breath, you also know that in the very next breath they will be berating you for the situation they put you in.

It's like a lose-lose situation... when clearly all we wanted was win-win-win (thank you michael scott).

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Moodle: A step in the "right" direction?

Reading today from "THE Journal", an article about Moodle. I already use Moodle in my classes and I agree that the ease of use is fantastic. Another benefit is that Moodle has that "heavenly ceiling" that keeps me interested... always knowing that there is (and always will be) more that I can understand, learn and use.

However there is a quote that struck me. A teacher is discussing the benefits of Moodle and the ease of use... as well as the fact that it often makes one's job easier. "Moodle scores the quizzes, which I can enter into my gradebook without having to deal with mounds of paperwork." Sounds fantastic, doesn't it?? A self-scoring quiz that gives students immediate feedback and gives you the ability to just enter that number in the gradebook.

It is glorious.

But how does that affect formative assessment? Is this really a step in the right direction? Making those quizzes (that aren't really best practice in the first place) easier?

Don't get me wrong. Use Moodle. Definitely. It definitely makes life easier. Take it from me.

But as a challenge for myself with the lens of formative assessment, I will just be looking into other uses of the software for my purposes.

Saturday, April 19, 2008


On my birthday I got to turn someone in who I thought was drinking.

It broke my heart.

I hate seeing kids turn to a place where they need alcohol to even get through a day (whether they think it's fun or cool or whatever is irrelevant). It hurts me to see them there, so I turn them in with the hope that they can get help.

The SRO came to his teacher's door, had him take a breathalyzer and he tested negative.

It was kind of a relief... but then immediately followed by a tinge of guilt for thinking that it might be true (even though I know it could have been true). So I went to his room so we could chat after lunch. I wanted him to know that it was me who had put the process in motion. I think that open-communication relationships are the way to go... and most often I have had the courage to keep it that way. (It's not always easy... but it's healthier...)

I told him it was because of me and that I did it out of a concern place. He was cool and almost cold at the same time. I guess I didn't expect much different. But I was concerned that this would be the end of that connection. Ah well, I knew that, in the end, I did what I needed to for his benefit... and maybe someday he would see that, but I was willing to lose a connection to get him help.

I got a supportive e-mail from his mother that day. I wrote back saying that it was hard because I do think he's so fantastic, but I (like she) want what is best for him.

Then, hurray... the next day he stopped by! The connection isn't lost... and I was still able to show him that I am concerned and do what I think is right.

Kids need connections and it's terrible when their actions that prove that they need those connections even more (i.e. drinking in school) are ones that can (in their perception anyway) burn those connections for good. And then they fall into that vicious cycle.

I'm glad that, thus far, this one isn't lost that way.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Showcase et. al.

Last night we had our speech showcase. Students were put into different "rounds" (with verschiedene types in every round so parents could "taste" a bit of everything). It was great. The kids did a fantastic job and the parents were, #1: proud and #2: thankful to be able to see the great talent that our kids have.
Our principal was even there and ended up staying past just the introduction because a student asked her to watch. She liked it so much that she stayed for the second round! She thought our kids did such fantastic work and really was impressed. That is awesome. Of course they dofantastic work and everyone should be impressed, but it's great to have people notice. I'm so proud... and so glad we did it.

We did it!

On another quick note, today I got a little verklempt as I looked up at the kids in my room after school and realized it would be the last Wednesday I get to spend with them "talking politics" and really just enjoying that thing we call speech. They are such fantastic kids and I am really, really going to miss them. Really.


Today in German 2 the directions lesson went really well. Yesterday we started the vocabulary from the chapter (using photos with the German words so there is less translation happening) and I had signs that I kept the translation of the sign in original German (not L2 learning German). I was surprised today at how many students remembered some of the words that I didn't even go over with them... for instance, I had spoken about the bike paths in Germany and how some are separated and some are together. Then after speaking about it, I quickly went past the slides that said how to say that in German (not having the students do the normal "repeat after me" thing). Today they even remembered that it was a "getrennter Rad- und Fussweg"... wow.

The second "wow" from this class (perhaps an "a ha"?) was when I (instead of going through a bunch of easy left-right sort of things) put the "nach links" and "nach rechts" on the board and then started giving directions. Students followed and then after three times, they tried it with their partner! Some students tried it for me in front of the class and they did a great job! They needed a bit more practice using the words that were there for them, but they had no practiceup until that point and had felt wonderful enough to give it a shot and really do it! Very cool.

So my question is this: is it because the directions are easy? (once you know about 4-5 words you can do so much) Is it because the directions are obviously useful? (but that's the thing about language... it all is used and is useful...) Or is there something else?