Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Same Old Teaching, Different Day

I was sitting in class today and we were discussing how to help students read. The instructor passed out a scenario about a little boy in 4th grade who was reading on a 2nd grade reading level. He struggled with everything: decoding, comprehension, fluency and speed. She split us into 10 groups of 4-6 students per group. We were to come up with strategies and interventions to help the child.

There were some great strategies presented, ways to help the boy learn to read and comprehend. The students suggested tests and evaluations, specialized instruction to teach him how to increase vocabulary.

Only one group suggested that the boy read things he was interested in reading! One. Out of 56 students, only 5 came up with or accepted the idea that an appropriate intervention to better reading is to … enjoy what you read. This included my group.

Oh I made the suggestion, mind you, but they completely disregarded me and focused on all the possible interventions they could cram down the poor boys gullet. I was furious at my group and the rest of the students.

All this training and theory and at the first opportunity they go back to the tried and true method of direct instruction. If a kid does not get it, then drill them to death till they do with never a thought about enjoy being equated with motivation and thus learning. Who gives a crap if the kid is engaged in the process of reading? So long as I can increase his score on any given evaluation, then I did my job.

Well I say it is garbage. The techniques are great and must be used. But first, we must help the child to discover the beauty of reading. Once established, the strategies and interventions will make sense to the child. If a kid hates reading, and the struggling ones usually do, all the interventions in the world will not create a life-long reader.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Does a Bible on a Teacher’s Desk Violate Church-and-State?

A Science teacher, of all things, is in a brouhaha over religion. According to Dayton Daily News, John Freshwater had the 10 Commandments displayed in his room and a Bible on his desk. He has also taught Intelligent Design in the past.

The district finally asked Freshwater to remove the 10 Commandments and stow his Bible out of view of the studetns. He agreed to the 10, but drew a line in the sand at hiding his Bible, apparently preferring to let his light shine.

Dayton Daily News: "Would our government ask a follower of Islam to remove her burqa in order to teach school?" Freshwater said in his written statement. "Would we ask a science teacher to remove The Origin of Species from his desk merely because the origin of man has never been proven?”

What role does religion play in the 21st century public school?

First of all, had that been the Koran and Freshwater a member of Islam, you can bet your red apple that the religious right would have an all out fit, demanding the Koran be taken away. However, it is my humble opinion that Freshwater having a Bible on his desk poses no harm to anyone and the district needs to be calm down.

Claiming, however, that Intelligent Design is science is nonsense. It is religion disguised as curriculum. The Origin of Species may be a theory, but it is based on science, which is what science teachers are supposed to teach. Religion teachers preach. If he feels so strongly that his views cannot jive with science, then he should not be a science teacher. He can maybe become another kind of teacher, but you can't teach a core subject you do not believe in.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Baltimore Art Teacher Attacked by Student

This video has been making the news. This time an actual attack was caught on tape.

An interesting tidbit caught my ear. The teacher claims she told the student that she would “defend” herself and that the principal chastised her for using a “trigger” word. Not long ago, I posted a link to video of a student attacking a school bus driver. In that case, the student told the bus driver that she was not allowed to touch the student. Yet, the student kept using her body to push, move and eventually strike the bus driver.

It occurs to me that students have a perception that under no circumstances can a teacher lay hands on a student. And in both cases, the student uses that information to her advantage, ultimately attacking the adult. I wonder, what society do we live in where children are allowed to attack an adult and yet the adult is not allowed to defend him or herself? Teachers should have the right to defend themselves against danger and attack. It’s a basic human right. I think schools have this wrong. And I think a teacher should explain to a student the consequences of the student’s actions (defense of self) if the student chooses to attempt bodily harm.

I make the case that our schools and society have taken the “hands off” mentality a tad too far. The bus driver is in the right to restrain a student from exiting the bus. The teacher has a right to pop a high school student if said student attacks. It should be rare, nearly nonexistent, but teachers have rights too, and the schools should stand up for teacher’s right to not be harmed by students.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Geeky Goodness for Moviegoers

Our comic book/action flick/kung fu blood is bubbling ever so excitedly, what with the anticipation of this summer’s movie line-up, both on the silver screen and on DVD. I can’t wait.

April 18
The Forbidden Kingdom

May 2
Iron Man

May 9
Speed Racer

May 16
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian

May 22
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

June 13
The Incredible Hulk (a new movie)

June 27

July 8
Batman: Gotham Knight (DVD)

July 17
The Dark Knight

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Kill a Commie for Mommy

I don't know about you, but when I hear the national anthem it does not make me want to murder those with whom I disagree. Greene County's illustrious Sheriff Jack Merritt, on the other hand, feels quite differently.

While in Jefferson City to promote a law allowing psychologists to legally dispense prescriptions, Merritt was quoted by the News-Leader with a doosy. After hearing former American Idol contestant, Jason Yeager, sing the national anthem Merritt stated:

"The way I hear Jason sing the national anthem makes you want to go out and kill a communist. If that doesn't make you patriotic, nothing will."

Isn't he the guy who was embroiled in a scandal involving the fondling and photography of a dead woman's tits during an autopsy? A great guy, Sheriff Merritt. A real man's man and a dandy role model for children everywhere. What an idiot. And yet he was elected as Sheriff.

On his way back to Springfield, Merritt took a detour to Springfield's well known gay bar, Martha's Vineyard, where he promptly raped some homosexuals with his military bowie while singing the Star Spangled Banner.

When questioned, he simply laughed and said: "This ain't nothing. You should have seen me stomp the guts out of that fresh litter of puppies last summer. Nothing like the smell of new puppy-guts on a hot asphalt pavement."

(The last two paragraphs aren't true, but they might as well be.)

Someone else was Thinking and noticed this article first, thank goodness.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Some Fun Reading to Lighten the Mood

I was flipping through my copy of Previews ¬(the monthly guide to upcoming comics, books, movies, and toys) and I just had to share some titles with you. Not for children that’s for sure, these comics will make for a fun and adventurous summer.

I like super heroes well enough, but the comics I enjoy the most do not typically involve the heroes of the masked-and-caped variety. Unfortunately, most people think of Superman, Spiderman, Batman and Wonder Woman when they think of comics.

On that note, here is a small list of titles that I found particularly interesting for one reason or another. These titles will come out in June, so if you are interested, then you need to hop down to your local comic book store and order your copy. If you need help finding a good comic store, then drop me a line and I will help you out.

I Was Kidnapped by Lesbian Pirates from Outer Space
Written and illustrated by Megan Rose Gedris
Platinum Studios

The lesbian pirates set off for the Phlebon-6 Intergalactic Bank, hoping to fill the ship’s brig with big stacks of cash. But mild-mannered bank employee Andrew Manly isn’t going to take this lying down! If only he could find a phone booth to change in.

For those who enjoy: Mars Attacks and Kissing Jessica Stein.

The Metamorphosis
Originally written by Franz Kafka
Adapted by Peter Kuper
Random House

As Gregor Samsa awakes one morning from uneasy dreams, he finds himself transformed into a gigantic insect. This graphic treatment draws out the subtle psychological and emotional shifts of the story, while capturing Kafka’s often-unrecognizable humor.

Stephen Colbert’s Tek Jansen
Written by John Layman, Tom Peyer & Jim Massey
Illustrated by Scott Chantler & Robbie Rodriguez
Omni Press
Coming in June

Solar plexus! Bursting out from the hit Comedy Central show, The Colbert Report, this sci-fi hero must stand against the enemies of freedome no matter what dark plenty they crawl from. Galaxy-her-super-awesome-spectacular-ultra-spy Tek Janson takes it back to school. When a misunderstanding ends with a demotion for Tek, the spaceman is busted down and forced to return to the academy that shaped ihim into the man he is today.

For those who enjoy: Young Frankenstein, Space Balls and The Tick.

Written by Sam Sarkar
Illustrated by Garrie Gastonny
Radical Books
Coming in May

The Arthurian legend is retold in the American Old West, with all of its great symbolism, magic and spirit of adventure. The Knights of the Round Table are all gunslingers bound by a code of honor to protect the weak and defend the innocent until they are undone from within by their own moral corruption. In this tale, Caliber itself is a tattooed six-gun, given to Arthur by the Indians and imbued with supernatural power. The secret of the gun is that it is never loaded with bullets, but when a man with Justice on his side is holding it, it can fire. When it does, it fires Thunder itself and never misses.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Run Hillary Run

I simply do not understand the rush to determine a democratic presidential nominee. Sure, John McCain is on the trail, raising money and talking about his platform, but the dems could be doing the same, rather than sniping. It seems they are getting more press because of the race than McCain.

We don’t stop March Madness after half time even when the game is a blow out. We don’t even stop that godforsaken “sport” of nonsensical ice skating when a skater falls and we know its over. Judas Priest! They run those worthless races for weeks. I am an Obama supporter, but I do not think that we should prematurely end the race. Clinton has a right to run until the end, and I think we should support her in doing so.

Otherwise we run the risk of disenfranchising her supporters and we don’t need or want to do that. They are disenfranchised enough with all that “sniper fire” brouhaha that came about. There is a reason we have a convention. Leave the poor woman alone and let her run her campaign, despite the fact that I really think she has no chance. You never know.

Leave it to the Dems to run a perfect opportunity into the ground.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Teen Faces Charges for Fighting Bus Driver on Bus

I missed this story a month ago, but tonight, KPHO had a story that the girl in this video is being charged for assaulting a bus driver. Could not embed the video, but you can see it here. Thank goodness. For some reason, I am choosing to go into debt just for the privilege of working with out-of-control, over-indulged children for the fancy price of $30K a year.

Notice how the teen uses a “no-touch” policy against the bus driver and accuses the driver of punching her. Funny how perception works. Seems to me the child is the one who is standing at the front of the bus, trying to get off, and keeps trying to bully her way past the driver.

Personally, I think the teen should be charged.

A Mattress for a King

Fat Jack needs a new mattress. The one we have, a tradition inner-spring mattress, is just not getting it. I tend to sleep in a hole and every time I move, the wife moves. We are really considering a different type of mattress. Something besides the same old tradition spring board. We would love to hear from our beloved and intelligent readers about the mattresses you prefer or recommend. We are interested in:

We have decided to move to a King. That way the poor skinny kitty has more room as Jack tends to spread out, or so I am told. Our lovely wifey-poo is all but beside herself with glee. She cannot wait to be "Sleeping Beauty". I found it curious that Consumer Reports does not rate mattresses. I read somewhere that the reason is because the evaluators cannot agree. So there must really be a lot of personal taste in a mattress.

Third Graders Plot Revenge Against Teacher

From First Coast News and the Today Show:

The children hatched a careful plan, each with a specific job. Their tools included handcuffs, tape, a kitchen knife and a paperweight. According to the Today Show, the goal was to distract her, tie her up, then hurt her. Why all of the anger and hubbub? The Today Show reported that the catalyst came when the teacher disciplined one of the nine for standing on his or her chair.

The plot involved nine children in all. Three of which have been identified as the ringleaders.

All nine were suspended
The three leaders face charges in juvee

It’s hard to say what is really going on here without knowing the children, the families, and the school culture. Did the children craft a plan after one isolated incident, or is there a history? Do the children have problems with violence? How is it that nine children can be involved in such an incident? That is a large number of children to be that angry. There must be more to the story.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

The More He Treats Me Like Sh!&, The More I Love Him

If you regularly follow the tales of Jack, then you will recall that we put a stop to a man beating up his girlfriend/wife near the side of the road. The police were called. Charges filed. Today was the court date. I had to leave my practicum with the fifth graders to testify, which I was glad to do, if it meant stopping the madness.

Low and behold beloved readers, the two lovebirds walked into court hand-in-hand. This time she had no bruises from previous beatings. Normally, the prosecutor would do nothing because the female was uncooperative, but this time there was a witness and so they went ahead without her cooperation. Good for them, says I.

The prosecutor was prepared to go to trail. The man finally plead guilty to what I assume is a lesser charge. Actually, he had several charges and is wanted in other states. That’s a head scratcher. I sat outside the courtroom and read. I didn’t really want to hear the horrible ins and outs of anyone’s lives. I get that enough working with school children. Ultimately, I didn’t have to testify after all.

In the end, this scrawny little shit of a man will continue to beat up on his baby’s momma. (I don’t know if they have kids, but I like the term.) It confounds my heart and head, but I know that it happens everyday. I just accept that fact that I cannot understand why people stay in abusive relationships. (As a side note, boys can be the victims of domestic abuse too.)

I worked with a lady once. She was really a lot of fun to work with. She was involved in a bad relationship. He didn’t beat her, but he cheated on her a lot and I suspect there were a lot of head games on both parts. We sat outside one day, taking a break, and she told me as she sucked down her grit, that she loved him.

“Why do you stay with someone like that,” I asked.
“I don’t know, Jack. I’ve always been like that. The more they treat me like shit, the more I love them.”

Well, screw me running. What do you say to that? That-there needs some serious counseling to fix, and it may never be fixed. There is something you can do, if you or someone you love is being abused.

The National Domestic Abuse Hotline:
1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
1-800-787-3224 (TTY)