Monday, April 11, 2016

Today's Reads, Views, and Links

So PEZ had to cancel its third annual Easter egg hunt.  It was those technology obsessed kids, right?  They were impolite and rushed the field without waiting for instructions, right?  All these kids are obese from their terrible eating habits, so they didn't want to exert the effort to actually find all of the 9,000 eggs, right?  Wait.  These kids hate to go outside, so no kids showed up, right?


Their Gen X and early generation Millennial parents ruined all the fun.

So if you want to criticize any generation, criticize their parents first.


Five Ways Leaders Promote Innovation

If anyone is thinking about using Twenty Percent Time or Genius Hour in their classes, this is something to keep in mind.  Or if you're a coach or building leader, I'd keep this things in mind too.


Coach Mumm shared this today.  Amazing.



You just never know the stuff that you'll end up talking about in class.  That's why I think teaching is more of an art than it is a science.  In my third block College Comp class, we are reading The Ghost Map about a cholera outbreak in 1854 London that killed close to a thousand people.

The man who solved the problem - that the people in Soho were drinking water from a contaminated water source - was John Snow and he basically helped usher in the modern world.

A student of mine asked a question regarding some of the research the author, Steven Johnson, referenced in regard to London in 1854.  It's hard for students to imagine what amounts to nearly three million people living in a 10 mile area, but that was London. One thing I love about the book, is that Johnson looks at the epidemic from a variety of perspectives: science, biology, history, cultures, literature, and so on.

In one passage Johnson talks about how European society had moved away from the "feudal" system.  This allowed for a city like London to grow to such an enormous size.

So I found myself explaining one of my favorite topics to the students - Feudalism of medieval Europe (it brought me back to my glorious Western Civ and Brit Lit days).  In explaining the caste system with the king on top and a hierarchy of lords and barons and knights and so on all the way down to the serfs, we began to talk about how the king kept everyone in his service.

"Why didn't the serfs rise up?  They had the royalty outnumbered didn't they?" a student asked.

"Yes, they did.  But . . ." and I went on to explain how kings and rulers often used brutality to keep the masses in check.  I first referenced A Bug's Life (look at how the grass hoppers keep the ants under their control) and then mentioned some of the brutal tactics by Assyrians and even Vlad the Impaler.

That led us into a conversation on whether or not we are living in a less violent world today (I don't think there is any question that we are).

This article, which I just came across, talks about some of the same issues we were talking about in class.

I love it when articles in the real world support what we cover in class!


I have become a leadership junkie.  Here is one of my favorite recent discoveries via Twitter: 5 Sure-Fire Ways to Improve Your Leadership Skills.

For the record, here they are

1.  Recognize leadership is a skill.

2.  Know your leadership style.

3.  Create a culture of leadership.

4.  Make time for leadership.

5.  Be humble.

What I wouldn't give to be able to go back to high school and improve my leadership abilities.  I had the opportunity as a team captain, but the problem was my coaches themselves weren't leaders.  I mean they were only a few years older than me!

They knew nothing about leadership.  Not even how to model it.  I recall one of my summer baseball coaches who - irate over us blowing a game late in the playoffs to EGF - had the bus driver drive him away from the game for awhile.  None of us knew what the hell was going on.  Luckily, his younger brother helped out with the team, and he was there to guide us into the next game.

Can you imagine?

As a captain, I was just expected to lead.  But no one knew anything about leadership.  It was kind of like how no one knew anything really about conditioning.  We used to have the piss run out of us at practice (in football anyway) - as if three weeks of conditioning in late August could make up for a summer of doing very little!  No wonder in my four years of high school football we won a whopping total of 10 games.

But I would love to have read this article and used it to hone my leadership all those years ago.

What I find so interesting was that when we finally got a coach who was established and knew what he was doing (coach Drex from Crookston), the football program blossomed.  I believe he totally embodied all of those five concepts in everything he did as a coach.

If this doesn't cause you to want to bring your A game every day . . .

Stephen Hawking on the Teacher that Changed his life.


Two of my all time favorite people in one link: Guy Kawasaki - The Big Dip: Ten Questions With Seth Godin.

It just doesn't get any better than these two.


Now this article - No Student is Unreachable - is one that I've struggled with over the years.  That's for sure.

The point of the article reminds me of one of my favorite quotes  - "The three most important words in education are 'relationships, relationships, and relationships.'"

In this article a teacher has a breakthrough with a student - he discovers they have an interest.  From that little epiphany he is able to breakthrough and reach the student.

What worries me about our own district's move to a more standardized curriculum - at least in the English department - is that often the adherence to the curriculum supersedes building relationships.  I just hope it doesn't compound the problem.  I guess I'll get a chance to find out first hand when I have my second (ever) class of Lit and Lang 12.


This is going to be a must read when we read The Dip by the previously mentioned Seth Godin: When Quitting is a Smart Job Move.

Sometimes (certainly more often than we are taught or think) quitting is the best option.


I saw this CNN story about an officer who slams a 12 year old girl to the ground as he was escorting her out of school and was shocked.

First, I was shocked by his reaction.  Yes, this is taken out of context, but that so is everything today.  Like life, we have to make a judgment on the evidence we have at hand.  Here is an officer - a public servant whose salary our taxes help pay (if I'm not mistaken) slamming a kid face first into the ground.  That's pretty barbaric in my book.  I just thought, What if that was KoKo?  

Now my father was as conservative and as staunch of a supporter of the government and police as you could ever get, but if that was his precious little Barbara getting slammed face first into the ground, I'd have to suspect he'd be irate.  Which, I think, is the appropriate response here.

Second, I was shocked by the comments (which I know I shouldn't have read) where a majority of the comments were supportive of the abuse!  "We don't know what events led up to this!" was one common theme.

I somehow wonder if the Boston marathon bomber was treated in such a harsh fashion!

Another one was "kid needs to learn respect.  None of my kids would act that way."  First, I'd counter, who do kids learn respect from?  Parents.  It's not like they're born with respect.  Second, I bet those who offer those comments don't even have kids!

It reminds me of this clip from last fall -

When Mr. Zutz, our principal, was visiting my UND class, a student asked about this clip.  Mr. Zutz had the best response - this officer is totally in the wrong.

Anyone who knows anything about discipline and teens, knows this is a no win situation.

Instead of violence, here is what should have occurred.

The teacher, in a stand off with the student apparently over her phone, should know they are in a no win situation.

Any teacher knows this.  Kids do not want to back down in front of their peers.  They would rather be slammed to the ground by an officer than back down.

Even I know that.  So what should be done?

Send the class to the library and call in a principal or assistant principal and let them talk to the kid to see what the real issue is.  I guarantee there was a larger issue at work here than just her stupid phone.

On a brighter note, here are some officers making a real difference in the lives of others.  I still believe these events occur 100 to 1 times more often than the video clip above.  We just don't see enough of them.  So, I'm doing my part.


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