Friday, July 30, 2010


Out of curiosity, I threw my blog URL into If you've never used this time-consuming site, take a look! It creates tag clouds in which the most frequently-used words are larger.

The result irritated me, because one of the largest words turned out to be "just," hereafter referred to as ______.

I hate that word. Do I really use it that often? Yuck!

It's one of the Evangelical Protestant catch-phrases (I love the E-Ps I grew up with, but their insipid vocabulary drives me nutso!). "I _____ Wanna Be Where You Are," "We ____ Worship You," "You're ____ So Goooooood," "I'm ______ So Blessed," on and on and on. In this context, the word has no meaning. It's a filler word that contributes to the watering down of religion's mysteries.

I often refer to myself sarcastically as "_____ a teacher," so perhaps I could just pull back on the dry humor. Problem: That less-than-witty usage wasn't the most common in my "find on this page" search.

No, I'm using it as a filler word, and it's not the only one. Is there any benefit to these banal vocabulary choices? Does the rhythm they contribute outweigh the fluff that detracts from the post? Do I express myself this way? Do people consider me uneducated, head full of fluff, unable to compose an original creative thought? Instead of encouraging my students to expand their vocabularies, have I dumbed mine down so I sound like a teenager? Like, OMG, dat would be hella bad!

Are my thoughts as vapid as my vocabulary?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


I've been spoiled rotten this summer.

2 weeks of class.

Content was worthwhile and presented in ways that enabled real learning, even though it was probably frustrating for the presenters/facilitators/teachers because we were typing and texting and playing with our video cameras.

Yeah, you heard me, our video cameras. We each got one. And learned tons of ways to use them. When we went to iFly, the leader laughed and took a picture of all of us filming the wind tunnel demo.

We went to iFly to learn how to use the wind tunnel in our science classes. And then we all got to fly in it. Twice. I learned a lot about learning, about pushing myself (the slightly re-dislocated shoulder was SO worth it!), and about using the resources in our area even though they're incredibly expensive.

Presenters (I'm calling them "presenters " and "participants" because we're all teachers and students) didn't take themselves too seriously. People just stood up and talked about what they knew. Yes, I'm sure they prepared, but it wasn't about them imparting knowledge, it was about putting information out there for all of us. Participants were asked to present on areas of expertise so that everyone could learn even more.

We get college credits for this (that will push me to the next salary step!). We get paid for this!

And, according to an email I received today, they're giving us tickets to the celebrity forum! I, with a guest, will be hobnobbing and rubbing elbows and whatever else you call it as we go to listen to such interesting and inspiring people as Resa Azlan, Yo Yo Ma, Captain "Sully," Tony Blair, and a couple other people whose names I don't remember right now.

All this makes me feel like somebody actually cares about my profession. The fancy schmancy businessy-type folks don't look down on me because I'm "just" a teacher, they support me so that I can become a better teacher. They don't see my clearance-sale clothes and the hair I cut myself, they see a hard-working professional with good ideas and an important job.

In a few short weeks, I'll be back at school, battling the IT director and being snubbed by middle-management types at the District Office. I'll be packing students into my run-down classroom with the nasty carpet and broken closet doors, fighting off the cockroaches, taping together books, and hoping against hope that there will be both toilet paper and paper towel in the restroom.

I spent two weeks in an environment where I was treated like something special, and it's not hyperbole when I say that I'll never be the same.

How do I provide the same experience for my students?

Thievery and Plagiarism

It's tempting to delete this post right now, because it proves just how lazy I am.

Yesterday, when I was linking to one of my blog posts, I didn't want to go through the two or three steps to type in my blog address and search for the post. Instead, I googled a unique phrase so that I could go directly to the page.

Most of the search results were variations on my blog page: cached versions, the blog index, etc. However, there was one other page that included the same statistically improbable phrase. I looked at the preview.

And looked again.

That was my blog post.

I clicked the link and found someone else's blog. They had copied and pasted my entire post, and now it was just sitting there next to some...less-than-quality pictures. Oh, and the entire rest of the page was in Chinese. Thanks, Google Translate. It looks like the rest of the blog is just copy-paste of other posts - news articles, commentaries, and other blogs, without giving any credit to the original author.

So, what do you think? What's the deal with pages like this?

I'd link to it, but I really don't want to be associated with those pics!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Being a Student

I spent the last 2 weeks in some fairly intense classes. Aside from content, here's what I liked about them:
  • Grades weren't a big deal.
  • No homework. Well, there were assignments and presentations, but it didn't feel like homework.
  • We were allowed, even encouraged to multi-task. Laptops and cell phones weren't forbidden, and they set up chat boards and forums for us to use.
  • The entire building was designed for learning and collaboration. One classroom had rows just for the old-school people, but the rest of the rooms were set up with various configurations of chairs, tables, and pods.
  • "Students" who were experts in the teachers' weaker areas were given class time to present on their specialty. I got 30 minutes to teach a session on Interactive White Boards :)
So, how much of this was possible simply because we are adults? What could I transfer to my 6th grade classroom?