and I hang out at, too

November 29, 2007

I am a word-nerd. The kids have learned this. It’s gotten to the point where I can say things like “If you don’t all be quiet, I won’t tell you where the word ‘assassin’ comes from!” and they will hush each other to listen. We spent a bunch of time last week on the -cides, suicide, fratricide, infanticide. They were fascinated. Today was ‘decimate ‘(which I compared to decimal and decade). Sure, some of the kids’ eyes glaze over, but more and more of them are coming over to the dark side. It’s never occurred to them before that words mean something and sometimes you can figure out what they mean by breaking them down! I’m here to help.


even better than a magic eye poster

October 17, 2007

This is how the teachers at my school spent their day: arguing over which way this woman is spinning. It didn’t quite come to blows, but there was a lot of gesticulating and pontificating and several science/math people felt the need to draw diagrams.

Personally, I see her spinning counter-clockwise, and nothing I do makes her change directions, but I seem to be in the minority.


June 14, 2007

Hey! So a lot more people than usual came to look at my little ol’ blog and learn about the Global Regents. Kids, I’ll tell you what I tell my students; complain complain complain complain. No, really! Let Klein know you think the Regents are unfair, and exactly why. Even better, get your parents to complain. The state board doesn’t listen much to students, and they don’t listen at all to teachers, but they love parents (especially parents who vote). You can send all your letters right here:

State Education Department, Education Building, Albany, New York 12234

Or, if you’d prefer, you can probably find a way to email or call them here.

Meanwhile, we are one day done with grading, and here’s what I’ve learned about the test; lots of it was hard, but there were some easy questions, too. One of our students has been trying for a 65 on this test for 3 years — this time, his 7th time through, he finally got it. The grading rubric is a little bit mean, and the DBQ’s were certainly pretty hard, but they weren’t impossible. The thematic essay was challenging — but just like 9 years out of 10 you could write about Hitler and be totally right.

Maybe next time I’ll post more Helpful Hints before the test.

As for the test yesterday, here’s what the Regents Board wants kids to know:

The Glorious Revolution limited the power of the monarchy.

Mansa Musa and Suleiman both presided over golden ages.

The Inca lived in Peru (and you had to find it on a blank map).

Kim Jong Il was most influenced by Karl Marx. (If you say so.)

Confucianists believe in filial piety.

Bismarck unified Germany (this was nasty, because they put Wilhelm II as a second option).

India and Pakistan have been fighting over Kashmir (this question was so loaded with cultural literacy problems that I can’t even get into it. The other one that really got my goat asked what happened to Hong Kong in 1997, which I never even considered teaching).

I left out the question about Constantinople because I can’t for the life of me remember what the right answer is supposed to be.

Sometime in the next couple of days I’ll put up some of our “better” answers and essay comments. We got some doozies this year.

eliminate world poverty

March 8, 2007

I’m going to find a way to work this website into my unit on “modern problems and solutions” next month. I just don’t know how yet.

Me? Teaching with an agenda? Don’t be ridiculous.


February 21, 2007

Vacation is wonderful. It’s really awesomely great and amazing and fabulous. So far I’ve watched a lot of TV and shopped, and then I took some naps and lost my keys for a while, and then I napped some more and called people I haven’t talked to in weeks. Vacation rules.

When people say things like “Teachers have it so easy. You get so much vacation!” I want to scream and break things. I’m a second-year teacher, and until two weeks ago I had two preps and every class was 34 kids. Things are a little better now, but that just means I get to leave school around 5 instead of 7, and I get half of my weekend back because I’ve finally worked out a system for grading that seems to function. (I am not by nature an organized person. My first semester of teaching I lost homeworks that students had handed in over and over again. My second semester I stole a system that a friend had adapted; that worked pretty well, but it let me be lazy and only grade every few weeks, which kept the kids from panicking properly. Last semester I was just too overwhelmed with all my classes to do anything but grade every night, and my 9th grade classes really suffered because of it. This semester — cross your fingers — I’m doing okay so far; we’ve had two weeks of classes and I’ve handed out progress reports. The kids who have me 1st period and have never shown up were awfully suprised when I tracked them down in the hallway and handed them a paper with a big fat F on it.)

What was I talking about? Oh, yes; free time. I don’t have any. Luckily all my friends are also teachers, so when I don’t call for two weeks and then leave an exhausted voicemail that says “Sorry… Melt down at school… Two preps and midterm essays… See you next month?” they are sympathetic. And that’s why vacation is so wonderfully awesomely amazing. Yes, tomorrow I’m going to start lesson planning for my next unit. (I’ve said that every day of vacation so far.) But right now I’m thinking about how glorious naps are, and how much I miss them the rest of the year.


JD2718 (I typed that wrong three times; I am totally numerically dyslexic) mentioned me as a blogger who thinks! I am flattered. Most of my thinking during the school year devolves in to “Grrr! Arrrrrgh!” I’m glad to know it doesn’t all sound like that to other people. If you haven’t given yourself a headache yet trying to figure out his math challenges, go check it out now.

d&d for professors

January 30, 2007

A handy list of spells for professors.

Sure, it’s for college, but do you know what I would do to be able to cast this spell?

CANCEL MEETINGS. Professors at Level One may cancel department meetings only. This spell may be countered by another Professor’s Spell of Urgency, and will always be blocked by a Department Chair’s Reminder of Contractual Obligations.

Rubber Room

December 28, 2006

One of my good (teaching) friends got in trouble his first year and had to spend a couple of weeks in what we here in the city call “The Rubber Room.” That’s where they send teachers while their cases are pending. My friend spent his time there writing a book of really kick-ass poetry. This guy is writing a blog about it.

I can not imagine sitting there for 70+ days. It’s especially horrifying to realize he didn’t have charges brought against him until around day 50. That is a blog from teacher hell, right there. It begs all kinds of questions about policies, both in the Board of Ed and the union, and among principals, none of which I am qualified to answer.

(Link spotted at NYC Educator originally.)