Sunday, December 14, 2014

Today's Reads, Views, and Links

22 Pictures that Prove 2014 is the Future

#5 is one of my favorites.

#9 is pretty amazing too.  I wonder how long it will be until we have a terabyte flash drive or iPhone.

#16 and #17 give me hope for helping those who have given so much for our country and deserve to have their lives returned to as normal as possible.

#22 is pretty amazing too.


This is a link every English geek will love.

My favorite, which isn't on this list, is from a Li Young Lee poem: "Everything is punished by your absence."

Although this one from the list is pretty spectacular.

“She wasn’t doing a thing that I could see, except standing there leaning on the balcony railing, holding the universe together.”
—J. D. Salinger, “A Girl I Knew”


A great blog post, The Courage of Creativity.  This reminds me of what a lot of my students struggle with when writing their themes.


And we say this generation of kids is nuts


I could watch/listen to Gary Vaynerchuk all day.  I don't always like what he says, but you can't deny the guy is a maverick who tells it like it is (well, like he thinks it is).  I like to think that I teach a bit like Gary V.

Here he offers 7 Times He Went Against the Grain.

Here are the embeds of my favorite parts --

Here is his response to "I have a great idea, but . . ." In great Gary V style he offers his take on that


And on the question, "Is it better to be a big fish in a little pond or a little fish in a big pond?" Here is Gary V's take.


3 Ways to Create More Teacher Time

I love this.

And if you're too lazy to click on the link, here they are

1.  Reorganize school schedules to prioritize learning for students and teachers.

Love this.  Why?  Several reasons.

First, I like how it states "prioritize learning for students and teachers."

If you're a teacher and you're not learning anymore, you suck and you should be terminated.  Period.

Second, and I just learned this from our lead negotiator last week on our way back from TIES.  Guess what month has the most student to teacher contact days?

I guessed February (we never get a break in February).


May.  What sense does that make?

All the state tests are done.  Furthermore, all the spring activities are kicking in so we might have the most student to teacher contact days but that is the month that students miss the most school!  And it's not even close.

School should be reorganized to either go all year round, or school should start at the beginning of August and end the first week of May.

2.  Promote teacher-driven learning communities.

I'm blessed to work in a district where this is a reality.  We have common prep in place which allows for other teachers to share best practices to other teachers.  We also have a large technology training session on MLK where many of the presenters (dare I say a majority?) are teachers from around the area.

3.  Rethink classroom structure and needs.

Interesting.  This isn't for all classes (at least that's my take), but for those that can pull this off, it's effective.

Here is how I try to tackle this.  I try and flip my classroom, not just in the typical homework in class and lecture/classwork at home.  I do a lot of that, but I mean "flip" as in "flip" the teacher and student role.

I try to do that by giving students (most commonly my College Comp 2 classes) the chance to teach the class.  And these turn out amazingly well.

I also try to give students - again usually in College Comp 2 - work time to design their lessons.  This week I have given students time to meet with another faculty member to help them craft and design their lessons, which they will begin presenting this Wednesday.

Often that mean I had no kids in class.  They were off working on their lesson plan.  To some that looks like non-teaching.  I disagree.  I think that is what we need to do more of.  Now, that has to come with a grain of salt. I can't turn my Lit and Lang 9R class loose like that or I'd never see some of them again, but that doesn't mean I can't put them in charge of teaching small sections to the rest of the class. I know several of our teachers who do this already, and it's very effective.


I sure could have used this last week when I was prepping for my two presentations at TIES: 9 Ways to Dramatically Improve Your Presentations and Speeches.

Now what would our lectures be like in class if we truly took these suggestions to heart?

Our principal said something interesting in common prep last week.  Without calling this teacher out - or even indicating who it was - he said that in his last round of observations he noticed that a teacher was giving a lecture, not because it was warranted or that it was effective, but this teacher was just giving the lecture because he or she wasn't prepared.

You see lecturing on something you know like the back of your hand is something that can make up for not preparing for class.  And I'm not going to say that I am not guilty of this.

But when Mr. Zutz said that, a lightbulb went off.

I felt guilty because I never realized I had been doing this (I was).  But it also drove home a great point for me - this is how many of my teachers got through their careers.

And that sucks.

Take two examples - American history and grammar.  Two subjects that are near and dear to my heart.

However, we teach them in the most unengaging and boring ways imaginable.  We lecture on and on and on and then we reinforce what we want them to know with worksheets.

Well, that sucks.  It suck badly.

Don't believe me.

Try this - stop a kid in our school or in the mall or wherever and ask them these questions -

Who fought in the American Civil War?

What is a gerund?

Who were the Axis powers in World War II?

What is a compound sentence?

I could go on, but I don't need to.

The results will prove my point, which is this - we teach those history and grammar - two of my favorite subjects - in the most mind-numbing ways. No wonder we have generations of kids who know nothing about our own history and the English language!


Take this Baby Boomers and Gen Xers!


I don't know how this alligator will ever show it's face in social circles again after this smack-down!

That is almost as awesome as this old one


One of my all-time favorite digital essays.  This drives home one point: the lengths parents will go to for their children.

I wish all kids could have just one experience like this.  What would the world be like if we all - not just teachers and parents - but everyone - went out of our way to make one kid have a Christmas (or a birthday or a Fourth of July) memory like this?

ERRRRRR . . . How to Kill Learner Curiosity in 12 Easy Steps.


And how cool is this? A young boy creates his own prosthetic limb. From Legos!!! Amazing!

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