Wednesday, July 09, 2008

The Carnival of Education, 179th Edition

Welcome to the 179th edition of the Carnival of Education. Our in-service will begin shortly.

Lalalalalalalala. . . . .

30 minutes later: still eating stale doughnuts, wishing somebody had a key to unlock the coke machine, and still waiting for the administrators, who arranged this in-service for us in the middle of our summer vacation, to show up and enlighten us. In the summertime, most teachers really don't like being required to hang around the ol' institution for nothing. When summertime meetings are called, teachers feel like the inmates and the administrators seem like our keepers. After all, we're not getting paid for this in-service, and the principals are. And did you hear how much our presenter is being paid? That's right. THAT'S how much.

Faint rumblings are heard in the distance.

Lalalalalalalala. . . . .

Distinct rumblings. . . .

Hmm, well, until the principal and his 47 assistants show up, we'll just play it by ear. After all, if all the boring presenters and administrators we've been subjected to were laid end to end, I wouldn't be a bit surprised. * What? Did I say that out loud? Oops. I'll try again. If all the programs and brochures from all the in-services all of us have endured attended over the years were laid end to end, we could walk to the moon and back on them.

. . . the inmates have now taken over the in-service. For once, we're going to have an in-service that's worth attending!!!!!

Let's start with "Ten Brain Tips To Teach. . . and Learn," by Laurie Bartels. Laurie is of the opinion that if our brains are meant for learning, then teachers need to know how to show students how to use those brains for that intended purpose.

Next up: "25 Teachers Who Drastically Changed the World," by Laura Milligan. We all have our favorite teachers, and I'm sure we all hope WE'RE somebody's favorite teacher. But wait, Laura's not finished with us quite yet: Here she is again with "100 Unbelievably Useful Reference Sites You've Never Heard Of." Guess again, though, Laura. I've actually used some of those sites!

I've been reading in many places about innovative teachers who are using the Wii in their classrooms as a teaching tool. Jessica Merritt gives us "50 Ways to Use Wii In Your Library."
According to Jessica, "Libraries are often looking for a way to get the community more involved in the library, and gaming is a great way to do that."

From Suzanne over at Adventures in Daily Living, we get a beautiful essay about how writing and gardening have so much in common, both in the choosing of our plants/words, and how we view a finished essay. Writing instructors (oops, occasionally guilty!) would all do well to heed her advice.

Arun has mixed emotions about what he calls a "safety net." Best of luck, Arun!

From Away We Go at "Where's The Sun," we are told about a threat called "The Axis of Evil in Education," and are reminded that "When you shoot for the moon, even if you miss, you land among the stars."

Bellringers is spending 5 days and 4 nights with 32 teenagers. Find out why by reading "Numbering 32, Summer Workshops, and Jack."

Are you ready for some genuine smiles? Master storyteller Laurie Kendrick has revved up an old chestnut to bring us an absolutely true comparison of modern schooldays to their former selves. The easily offended need not click. Everyone else, sit back and enjoy Laurie's post, "Education in 1958 vs. 2008."

"Tax Breaks for College Students"
gives us information that might be invaluable for those of us who have college-age kids, teach college or high school seniors, or are ourselves in need of some financial help in getting that degree.

John Tenny has put together a compilation of help to all teachers who have ever been or will be . . . "observed." Check out his post on "Self-Directed Professional Growth" at Data-Based Classroom Observations.

Whatever your personal views on diversifying classroom literature might be, we can all benefit from reading "Diversifying the Literary Canon" over at Onward and Upward.

From Education Notes Online comes a post called "Teach For America: The One That Got Away," and all of you should read it.

Seriously? I think all of us should read all of these posts. Whether we agree with everyone here or not, knowledge really is power.

Matthew Ladner, guest-posting on Jay P. Greene's blog, believes that robust reforms, rather than tinkering with the old ways, are what's best for our schools.

Heather Johnson
gives us 6 tips for motivating our students.

has a bone to pick with administrators who still practice social promotion, even when it's against the law.

Over at Horse Sense and Nonsense, Andy Hilbert wonders about whether or not teachers should follow directives they don't personally agree with. Just what constitutes "insubordination?"

Did you ever wonder ". . . How Long Does It Take To Get To Mars?"

Ryan, of I Thought A Think, was thrown out of his administration program, but decided to attend the AWSP/WASA meetings, anyway.

Just exactly what is multiplication, anyway? Is it really just repeated addition? Yes? No? Let's find out what Let's Play Math has to say about it!

Are we teachers who rock, or are we not? I think we are teachers who ROCK. That being the case, let's go visit It's Not All Flowers and Sausages, and get some Malibu rum. What's that? You've already been there? Well, that explains a lot!

So You Want To Teach tells us of his reaction when a comment on this post really got under his skin. Part-time job, indeed! Oh, and then someone made the mistake of telling Mr.Teacher at Learn Me Good that teaching was a part-time job.

This made Mr. Teacher wonder about something else: if David Grey's music is used to torture terrorists, what music should schools use for students in after-school detention?

Oh, and shouldn't your four-year-old be knowledgeable about condoms and lifestyles and the sex act by now? After all, she's almost five!

Mr. Teacher was really on a role today. He wants to know if we've heard the one about the student who was rewarded for using a lot #$%^&*)(*& language on an exam.

Are we ready for a break yet? No? You're taking notes and learning great things? Really? Hmm, maybe teachers need to run their own in-services ALL the time! Order pizza? Sure, why not? Everybody chip in a couple of bucks and we'll have it delivered. We should have thought of this long ago!

Moving right along, then. . . Becky, at Life Without School, wonders what the big deal is about labels. I've often wondered, myself.

NYC Educator reminisces about a student teacher who went a bit too far in promoting his own religious agenda in a classroom. I especially love the Swaggart poster.

Joanne Jacobs is wondering how "meaningful" a required community service project would be. Isn't "required volunteerism" an oxymoron?

At Scenes from the Battleground, Old Andrew deals with a Catch-22 with administrators and email. We've all been there!!!

Knowing how to talk to small children will not merely enrich your life and theirs, it will also give the children a genuine head start in life. Read what Elbows, Knees, Dreams has to say about talking and reading to small children.

Nancy Flanagan
, of Teacher in a Strange Land, wonders what kind of colleges have undergraduate education departments. . . .

Jo Scott-Coe doesn't have time to eat. She also wants to eat all the time. What's a person at the mercy of a bell, to do? Her post "Half-Hour Lunch" at Teaching at Point Blank is a good one.

at The Golden Apple wonders, "What should be the federal government's role in public education?" We've all wondered that, haven't we!

Bathroom break, anyone? More pizza? Coffee? Three Musketeers? Fritos? No?

Really? Keep moving along? And LOOK at all those notes everyone is taking!

Larry Ferlazzo gives us a list of good teacher resources for social justice issues. You never know when you might need something like that.

Over at The English Teacher, Scott Walker continues to dazzle us with his original cartoons. I really hope he puts them in a book soon; they're fabulous!

The Hall Monitor wants to know, who was YOUR favorite teacher, and why?

Melissa B. at The Scholastic Scribe finds more than a little humor when looking closely at an American flag, and advises us to ask Alanis Morissette about the irony of it all.

Bill Ferriter at The Tempered Radical wonders if you find great meaning in your school's mission statement? Because, HE does!

Christine, over at The Thinking Mother, has reviewed the book From Crayons to Condoms.

TweenTeacher.com's Heather Wolpert-Gawron can refute any reason you can try to give her about why schools need to clamp down tightly on students' access to the internet. Some of you might not like her reasons, but I love them.

Wendy Kopp, founder and president of Teach for America, gets a lot of media attention: some good, some not so good. Here is one more opinion about her, and her program.

At What It's Like on the Inside, the Science Goddess asks people to consider three questions: What happens? What matters? What matters most? And then she talks about pencils, pens, and the beauty of paper. I love it.

Ric Murray of Why Do You Ask posts about the qualities that make a person a good teacher. He's got some really good points.

Over at Successful Teaching, Pat reminds us that the journey really is more important than the destination.

Meanwhile, over at Steve Spangler's Blog, Steve is busy blasting the faces out of watermelons and stacking liquids on top of each other.

Now, to interrupt our in-service for the required scolding: This is, of course, NOT directed towards anybody at this meeting, but as it's traditional to scold the entire group for the doings of a handful, here we go.

I received a LOT of entries from people who were merely selling things. I did not include those posts. This surprised me, and frankly, it made me a little angry. You know, kind of like a salesman interrupting your class to try to get you to look at and sign up for a product? The kind who get past the office by giving samples and food to all the secretaries down there? I hate those guys. What nerve.

However, it was the repeated entries with links to places where a student might purchase essays, term papers, and the like, that really made me mad. I think I got almost a dozen entries, all under a different name, for a UK-based pre-written- paper mill. These are disgusting businesses, and they encourage our students to become thieves, because plagiarism is stealing, just as taking money out of the till is stealing. Shame on this business.

I'm not sure which makes me madder: that this business tried to con me into putting it on a list of genuine educational links, or that it thought I would fall for it!

Guess again, ya crooks.

Ahem. I think I hear footsteps coming down the hall, and they sound like they're being made by expensive shoes, so I think the administration is finally going to show up.

In thinking back on all the worthless in-services I've been forced to attend over the years, it sure would have been nice to have had even some of these wonderful teachers, parents, and concerned citizens in charge of them.

I leave you now with two special treats. Two wonderful posts were submitted tonight by people who forgot to send them as attachments and, instead, put them in the body of their e-mail.

However, they were both so good, I'm going to post them here so you can read them, too. They're too good to miss!

This first post is by the lovely Bonnie, who isn't blogging at present but we can always hope!!

My Experience with Home Education in a Nutshell - Pun Intended

Myriad philosophies and approaches surround homeschooling. I speak only from my personal experience of having educated 11 children at home. Although I consider myself a homeschool instructor, my children consider themselves self-taught; this makes me ecstatic. Our eldest is 27 and and our youngest is 9, so our experiment is still ongoing. My beloved husband and I decided to educate our children at home before they were born. He is a mathematician, engineer, and violinist. I am a professional cellist and certified yoga teacher.

Homeschooling a large family has many built-in advantages for parents/teachers and children/students. The family can enjoy studying many subjects together at different levels. Older children can teach their younger siblings, cementing knowledge more firmly into their own noggins while learning the art of patience. We appreciate our children's quirks and try to encourage them to use their gifts and to be disciplined. We like rituals. We dine together. We have tea together. We read together. We hike together. We sail together. We play together. Much learning takes place in our daily interactions.

I believe that less is more for children and that simplicity in a home makes for a better learning environment. Great books, lots of fresh air and exercise, important family responsibilities, the opportunity to help old folks and the needy, and close relationships with family and friends of all ages make for happy scholars. Chess, cribbage and other educational games teach important mathematical principles and good sportsmanship. Less is more regarding toys and screen time. We have no television and spend little time in front of the computer. We read the Bible as a family and think that Bible history is an important subject for any well-rounded scholar. We also think it is important to study other religions and to show respect toward people of other faiths.

I try to emulate my husband's organic, subtle teaching style. Basically, he does what he loves (sailing, hiking, golfing, gardening) or has to do (fixing our old Mercedes-Benzes, designing a sauna, building a fence, making biodiesel fuel) alongside the kiddos, sharing bits of information in a warm, conversational manner.

My place in the scheme of things is to make sure the little ones learn how to read well and know their basic math facts. I believe in letting them learn at their own pace. I read classic literature to them early and often. I include them in cooking, sewing, and cleaning. Even the little ones know how to sweep, wash dishes, make soups and sandwiches, and do laundry. Things move at a slower pace sometimes, but children eventually become competent and confident in these activities.

A well-kept secret among many homeschooling families is that children who read well and understand basic math concepts can teach themselves almost anything. We have a home library of great literature and nonfiction books and our children use self-teaching textbooks for 5th grade math through Pre-Calculus. We are regular visitors at our public library. We take advantage of whatever outside support is edifying and affordable. Presently, because all of my babies are grown, we attend a homeschool center for many wonderful supplementary classes, including Latin, Hands-on-Physics, Musical Theater, Wonderful Whales, and Chautauqua History (a class where the scholars study a famous person in history for an entire year and then dress up and give a presentation as that person). I teach Art History, Music History, Shakespeare for Children, Penmanship, Learning to Read with Tintin Comics, and Yoga at the center, so, when we go in, it is a fun day of learning for all of us! Private lessons are obtained for music study. My husband and I met in our high school string quartet so we try to manage music lessons for everyone.

Many people have concerns about homeschoolers and socialization. It is my opinion that children learn better social skills when they are around all ages and not limited to spending time with only their agemates. Our homeschool center allows different ages in classes. A student can take any math class into which he tests, for instance. Between classes, all ages play together. There are chess matches going on continually during breaks.

Proof in the Pudding:

Our eldest daughter works for a major consulting firm in NYC after a few years of serving as director of a non-profit French organization. She has degrees in French and International Business. She has traveled broadly and her company has sent her to NYU and Harvard Business School for graduate classes. She taught herself French and math until she attended university. She had a full scholarship to ballet school during her high school years and played the part of Clara in the Nutcracker Ballet with a professional company in a major city. She is a great diplomat. She adores her brothers and sisters and they savor her tenderhearted advice.

Our 2nd eldest daughter married an engineer and inventor. They are restoring an old farmhouse on a lake nearby. She didn't read until she was 9 years old. Her first books were
Tale of Two Cities and Little Women. She has a degree in Philosophy. She makes her own clothes and curtains and built her own chimney! She, like me, had her baby at home and is active in trying to keep homebirth a legal option for families.

Our eldest son just received his degree in Sports Management and is already managing a farm league baseball team in a thriving, Western city. This, in spite of the fact that we have never actively participated in organized sports. (We had our own teams covered and I refuse to live my life around a child's athletic pursuits!) Our son is very athletic and had great fun playing intramural sports in college.

Our 3rd eldest daughter works for the National Parks. She is presently in Alaska and loves restoring old lodges, building trails, and hiking. She is especially proud of her flood recovery work at Mt. Rainier. She is a professional singer and recorded Bible school songs and commercial jingles as a young child. When she visits, she regales us in the evenings with songs that my great-grandmother might have sung.

Our 4th eldest daughter entered college at 14 and earned a double degree in Piano Performance and Scandinavian Studies. She has visited Finland twice. Her paternal grandmother is Finnish and she is keen on knowing all she can about her heritage. She paid her way through school by playing the carillon bells, private teaching, and holding a teaching fellowship at a college preparatory music conservatory. She teaches music theory to young musicians in a winsome, engaging manner without patronizing them. You should hear her play Chopin!

Our 2nd eldes son is attending an art institute in the fall. He plays the bass guitar in a mellow and beautiful style. When we interviewed at the college, he was asked what he pictured himself doing in 20 years. He said, "I see myself sitting at a desk, doing work that I love and providing for my family, just like my dad."

Our 3rd eldest son is a scholar/athlete and hopes to play sports in college. He is the wrestling team captain and also letters in football on our local high school teams. He is a student government leader and has many close friends.

Homeschoolers in our area can participate in certain activities at their local public schools without being part of what I consider to be an unhealthy culture. (prison-like, adult-led learning, surrounded by negative peer pressure and involving poor curriculum)

Snapshots of our younger children at this moment: Our teenage daughter is practicing her jazz fiddle and independently making her way through a jazz theory book. She is patiently teaching me to improvise. She is attending college as an early entrance student in the fall. Our state pays for two years of community college to those that test into this program.

Our teenage son is mowing the neighbor's lawn. He is working through Algebra 2 this summer on his own. He reads every history book he can get his hands on and is a Greek and Roman scholar. His favorite artists are from the Hudson River School.

Our 11 year old wants to be a veterinarian. He has his own neighborhood pet-sitting business. Grownups love to talk with him and he enjoys visiting with old folks. He likes to study the periodic table and enjoys calling things by their main element. For instance, he calls bananas "K" because that is the symbol for potassium.

Our youngest daughter is illustrating her own book on Greek mythology this summer. She writes about the gods and goddesses and then draws beautiful pictures to accompany her words.

We think that vibrant learning can take place outside of a classroom setting. We are happy to always be learning new things. For instance, I learned how to hold a yoga headstand
in the middle of a room at the same time my grandson was learning to walk a few months ago.

Homeschooling is a great way to enjoy one's family and it is not as difficult as one might imagine. Take joy! Be open to learning your whole life long!

This last post is by Gene Maudlin - the wonderful and hilarious Hoss, who makes us laugh while he makes us think.

Where Does '(this) Go?

Once upon a time, somebody invented these things known as !@#$%^&*'()_+. Also: \|]}[{+__))(*&^%$#@! All very useful, if one could understand with which and what to do them with. Most spurious of the lot is the ', and where to put it.

("Where the sun don’t' shine!" I can hear you all, and your effort is appreciated.)

For instance: Banana's for Sale or Rent. One could assume that the purveyor has one (1) banana for sale. Or, one could assume that the apostrophe is unnecessary, in the event that there are more that one banana' for sale. In that case, the phrase "bananas" might work. Or not.

Naturally, there is always theirs'. Or maybe it is their's. It doesn't matter much, for it (') does not take much space.

The important thing is that it is understood to be singular and/or plural. Theirs', that is. Or their's. Or mine.

Is it "For Heavens sake, for Heavens' sake, or for heaven's sake"? Perhaps it is just sake (sah'-key)?

Eggs for Sale. Or maybe egg's ON sale. And/or egg's available.

Talk about your baby, or babies: Little ones. Little one's. Little ones' onesies.

Its a fright. Its a banana. Wronged on both cheeks.

Its a bad reading on the breathalyzer. Isn't its?'

An ' can be used as a warning that an "s" is about to show up, as in "I have hand grips'es for sale." "I like mayonnai'se."

Use the ' frequently. You are a's apt to get it right as' to get it wrong.


Next week's Carnival of Education will be hosted by Steve Spangler Science, which is one of my very favorite websites! You may send your posts directly to his office at jane@stevespangler.com, or via the handy Carnival of Education form. Oh, and by the way? Steve Spangler will be on "Ellen" this coming Thursday!

I think the principals are here now. Would someone please bolt the door? We're working in here!

Thank you for allowing me to host the esteemed Carnival of Education. It's been an honor. I hope I have included everyone who submitted an educational article. If I have left you out, please contact me at once and I'll make it right. I've been left out many times, and it hurts!

* Thank you, Dorothy Parker

Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 12:25 AM | |


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