Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Here's my video for November.

That's all the time I have! More...later?

Monday, October 31, 2011



I apologize for the lack of content and updates, but this month has been quite overwhelming in work and in thought.

Before I continue, here’s tonight’s video:

I hit 500 hours total a week before quarter two, and 500 classroom hours the week after quarter two began, meaning I’m either just ahead or slightly behind my goal, depending if you personally count my continuing education through graduate school or professional conferences. It looks like I’m going to come close to 1,000 before winter break!

And speaking of, professional development and collaboration really proved its worth this month. As I speak to in the video meeting with hundreds of other Speech Coaches or English teachers does a lot of good for my classroom.

Speech Conference & Cloud Computing

The biggest thing I took away from this year’s IHSSA conference was the importance and potential of cloud computing in a classroom. In a breakout session that prepared schools to host contests the importance of a contest website was stressed, and several tools were shown to help the process.

In researching ways to share information online, such as blogs, QR codes, and google docs, I began to apply these to my students. I was familiar with all of these tools, but hadn’t thought of many ways to apply them to my classroom or coaching experience yet.

Through google docs I was able to write a form that allows students to apply for speech club online. Not only does it cut down on the paper load and does a lot of the work for us, but it reaches the students on a medium they’re familiar and comfortable with.

ICTE Conference and Skills Based Learning

Teaching, unfortunately, can be a very isolating career. Between blinders of grading and planning there can be little energy or time to collaborate professionally. Something as simple (yet important) as checking progress of a multi-section class can be draining and low on the priority list. One’s successes are their own, but so are their self-doubts and failures.  Collaboration, professional development, and conferences at their worst become a meeting where nothing is accomplished and grievances are aired just to be heard. At their best they rejuvenate the spirit and teachers are able to share the best of themselves, celebrating successes and new tools.

There were many great ideas and applications that I heard at the conference, from podcasting small group discussions to analysis of The Finland Phenomenon. The most important revelation came from Michael W. Smith’s keynote, which encouraged many of us to let go of the canon and seek out works that spoke to the same skills and content of the greats, but were more accessible and interesting to our students today.  When you spend 95% of your time and energy getting students to read and comprehend “Huck Finn,” then there is nothing left for analysis. Understand that I’m not arguing for easier texts, just a varied selection that are more modern, come from more backgrounds (.e.g. ethnicity, class, gender), and from different mediums. Students need to read the internet or video games just as critically as “Literature.”

In that vein I’m seeking to replace Huck with the works of the 20th century Mark Twain, Kurt Vonnegut. I’ve loved his works for years and I’m looking forward to being able to bring it to the students.

I also love zombie fiction, as I think its one of the best allegories to come out of the last few centuries. The strength comes in the flexibility of its application, whether being applied to consumerism, witch-hunts, or general conformity. Max Brooks wrote a brilliant “non-fiction” fiction piece years ago called World War Z. The book chronicles a zombie apocalypse in the style of Studs Terkel. The vignettes speak to issues brought up by Twain, such as race, class, and space. My copy of the book was stolen from my room, so I’m guessing it has high student interest.

In essence, what we’re trying to do is identify the skills that the students need in order to succeed, to be critical thinkers. If I had to choose between students remembering how much Jim sold for or to be able to analyze and compose satire it’s not even really a choice. Skills come first, content is second. As a man with literature and history degrees sacrificing the classics hurt!

Future Topics

I’ve taken a lot of time and energy here, but I’d like to briefly summarize some things I’d like to focus on soon.

Application of my graduate studies
Highlighting similar projects
New books and new reading
Critical reviews of Education Reform films (e.g. “Superman,” “Finland”

and lastly…

Brightening the curriculum! How I’m trying to avoid the doom and gloom of modern literature while maintaining a critical eye towards reality. I’ll be focusing on the Hunger Games trilogy amongst other works.

Shameless Plug

I was interviewed by the kind folks at Tightwad Teacher a few weeks ago. They’ve since posted the podcast, which can be found here Thanks for the support John & Shawn!

Enjoy the candy everyone!

Monday, September 19, 2011



I’m back for the first time in a couple of weeks. A cold took me out of commission for a while, and although I didn’t miss class I did scale back my out of school work & life. I unfortunately chose to miss the legendary Iowa State vs. Iowa football game in order to rest. The pitfalls of adulthood. I'd forgotten how tiring the job could be, and how the combined immune systems of 1,600 people could mix so dangerously.

My video highlights what’s going well so far, hours, and a Minecraft extra credit assignment. A quick reminder about my hour count. My “true” grad school or grading hours are more numerous than what’s shown, but often fall within my hours during the day. If I'm at the office from 7 until 5, then I count it as ten teaching hours, although I may be grading after school. It'd be impossible to sort out every minute of the day into these four categories...

If you’re interested in Minecraft, or implementing it in your classroom, you can check out the following links.

I’ve also uploaded my assignment here, which contains more detail than what was mentioned in the video.

I’ll be spending most of this week revising my film assignments, and grading 150 papers. Ninety film critiques and sixty Fahrenheit 451 analysis papers. Look for some thoughts on grading papers later this week.

Be well and rest!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Labor Day


I had planned on shooting a video today, but the weather was so beautiful and my voice is so sore that I thought I'd push it off a few more days. However, here are some thoughts about life lately.

First, here are my hours as of tonight, September 5th. Remember that 'grading' is only grading done outside of school hours or the school day. I've lately stayed until 5 or 6 P.M. grading and planning. For my own convenience, I decided to count as such. Teaching includes lesson design, classroom time, grading during the day, staff meetings, etc.

Teaching: One hundred and ninety hours, five minutes
Grading: Two hours, ten minutes
Grad School: Thirty four hours, forty minutes

Total: Two hundred, twenty six hours and fifty five minutes.

Most of the grad school hours so far have been reading, GRE prep/exam, and application. I've had two weeks of class and am really enjoying it so far. I'm presenting on Sand County Almanac this Wednesday. I'll be focusing on the strength of his eco-narration, possible dangers of anthropomorphism, and how much agency is drawn from the text. I've also designed a Minecraft extra credit assignment for student volunteers. The idea was to apply land ethic to a virtual landscape by using only sustainable materials. The idea goes against everything the game is known for. Imagine playing Monopoly as a socialist and you'll get the gist.  I'll be uploading the assignment, some videos/images, and results later this week. I'll also be writing about how beneficial being in the classroom once more is to me in my professional and personal development.

This week has been challenging and fulfilling at once, which is often the case in education. My American Literature students have begun reading Fahrenheit 451 and our discussions of the text are going well. At the behest of a colleague we've begun using Socratic Seminars to discuss works. I'd say that two thirds of the class is fully participating in the discussions, which is amazing. New ideas and interpretations are flying around the room and the results can be very moving. My favorite discussion focused on why Guy would choose to share his books with his wife Clarisse. The consensus was that you share knowledge with the ones you love, and people love those who share knowledge with them.

My sophomores have finished introducing themselves and we've begun to introduce white privilege and white flight in order to set context for Raisin in the Sun. Watch an amazing slam piece that we used before we unpacked our knapsacks here...

Media studies focused on the news media last week. We examined clips from Bowling for Columbine, read from Culture of Fear, compared various stories of the Libyan Civil War, and deconstructed an episode of the Colbert Report to learn how satire can be used to combat media bias and spin. We focus on how the media perpetuates fear as a means to drive consumerism and shape belief about social issues like race, drug use, crime, and war.

Only a four day week, but I'm feeling it will be a long one. Welcome back to school for all those September starters! I'm trying to respond to e-mails and comments, know that I'll get to them in time.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Parent Trap


Some quick thoughts while I wait in class for the evening to start. There's nothing like the feeling of campus in Fall. It's good to be a student again.

The year is off to a strong start, and I'm feeling confident about how the classes are going and my ability to sustain the effort I'm putting into them. Last night was open house from 6:30 to 8:00. Rather than go home for a couple of hours I stuck around, worked on grading, and put in a long day. Parent night can be stressful if you let it, but there's no need to. Everyone is very friendly, and just wants to know how to help their kids succeed. I've often worn a suit in order to overcompensate for my youth, but this year I just gave up, and presented who I was. There were no questions about my amount of training, as there were several years ago, so I think the night was a victory.

Too busy right now to produce anything but text, so a quick hour update as of this evening...

166 hours & 55 minutes.

I've got a three day weekend planned, so tomorrow's my last day with the kids, and with the internet for some time. Keep up the good work everyone!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

First Day of School


So, things went well today. Besides a sore throat (I'm not used to talking this much right now) and some sore feet I'm still excited for the year. First day introductions went well, some jokes were laughed at, and all three courses (six classes worth) have homework for tomorrow. I like giving everyone a chance to succeed early on in the classroom. It also sets high expectations, which is what I'm all about.

Last year I had freshmen and sophomores in my classroom for the first time ever, either in study hall or in Sophomore English. So, I actually knew some juniors and sophomores coming into class today, which is a first. It's always nice to see some familiar faces in the audience as the first few days are an awkward ritual of the class feeling itself out. By just the second week the classroom atmosphere is being established, and it can either be amazing or detrimental to your work. The removal or addition of even just one student can turn the tide in your favor or against it.

I've also moved mostly into my new room. It's smaller than my last one, which was seen briefly in my introduction video in a state of emptiness. However, it's carpeted, a bit dimmer colors, and forces me to purge what I don't need to have. Teachers can become hoarders very easily. It's hard to let go of something that worked once, even if you know it will never work again. A lesson needs to be adapted slightly year to year, and sometimes, from section to section. One class may crave lecture and quite reading while another can talk intelligently for days.

In any course, here are some photos of my room. Larger resolutions available on my Facebook group page, so stop there!

A quick sign for students to help them find my room.  Yes, that is a Safe House from the Left 4 Dead series.

Entering the room you see the back right corner with my desk, files, and bookshelf for British Literature. Dwight Schrute's vengeful gaze watches over all.

The back left corner of my room. Sort of a mess, but some posters are up and my film frame bulletin board shows famous characters or scenes from 45 classic films. Most students can name 90% of them.

Today's lessons for my three courses. Fairly standard stuff for day one. I'm toying with the notion of taking board photos daily.

So, that's day one. So far I'm 120 hours and 45 minutes in. Possible video this weekend. Enjoy your last days of freedom or your first days back everyone!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Day One


Not much to say right now, except today was really exciting and I'm really hopeful about the coming year. I did grind out a quick five hours yesterday working on my room, reading A Sand County Almanac, and working on my American Lit Anthology. So, I got 80 hours for the summer, and have already dropped 10.5 today. It's time to walk the dog and get ready for tomorrow. Look for more substance later. Hopefully.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Radio Silence


A quick update for everyone about hours and getting ready for the new school year.

I haven't been producing videos the past couple weeks because we're getting new laptops and I'm currently without mine. When I get the chance I'll post a video detailing the past few weeks, and reviewing the summer overall. Also, facebook and twitter should start seeing more updates soon as well.

Second, my hours over the past two weeks add up to 14.5, adding up to a grand total of 75 hours! That's not that much over the span of the summer, of course, but it's 75 more hours than most people would have assumed. I had a personal goal of 100 hours, but I've really enjoyed myself and relaxed this summer. I feel much more at peace and ready to tackle the challenges of my new students and classes.

The past two weeks have been a tough balancing act of preparing for the new school year while also trying to enjoy my last days of freedom for the next ten months. I feel guilty doing either, so my first day back is quite a relief!

I may be going in this afternoon to work on the classroom. Forty-odd teachers swapped rooms this summer, so it's time to arrange desks & tables, put up posters, and stack the bookshelves. Maybe I can bring my summer total to 80 hours, or two week's time.

Students are back on Thursday, I have meetings and conferences starting tomorrow. Time to enjoy one last day as a free man. Good luck everyone and have a great year once you begin!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A fortnight of polyster & lycra


It's been a couple of crazy weeks, so I'll do my best to summarize the most interesting parts.

San Diego Comic Con:

Highlights: Got to hear and see a plethora of artists and authors, including Grant Morrison, Jim Lee, Jonathan Hickman, Brian K. Vaughn, Robert Kirkman, and Bill Willingham. I also saw the Dr. Who panel, starring Matt Smith and Karen Gillan (Dr. & Amy Pond respectively). Everyone was kind and gracious!

Best Moment:  Questioning Jonathan Hickman about the difference between writing creator owned works and for hire, such as FF at Marvel. I got a really heartfelt and personal response, cool (and genius) guy!

Serious Thoughts: This was the second time at SDCC for me and I noticed dozens of handicapped attendees, whether in wheel chairs, deaf, or blind. I wondered both about escapism and wish fulfillment, but also about diversity in handicapped heroes such as Charles Xavier (paralyzed) or Daredevil (blind).

Now: Reading Pax Romana and The Nightly News, as well as Supergods.


Highlights: Biking 175 miles over three days, a giant slip & slide outside of Baxter, brisket and pulled pork sandwiches, not giving up on any hill.

Best Moment: Getting hosed by kids. Each kid with a hose is a godsend.

Serious Thought: (kind of). It was fun to compare the costuming of skin-tight ill-fitting bike jerseys and skin-tight ill-fitting Superhero costumes in San Diego. Why is one utilitarian and the other odd?

Now: Sleeping past 5 a.m. for the first time in two weeks. Also, my shoulders don't hurt anymore.

So, with less than two weeks to go I'm back and working. Put in four hours yesterday reading and readying myself for the grad school application process. Looking to do more classroom work in the upcoming days.

A few other things before signing off. First, as posted on my twitter and Facebook, I was interviewed by the kind people at education portal. You can see the interview here.

Lastly, I caught this interesting video from ReasonTV via reddit this morning. It's a fun exercise in loaded questions and quick cutting/editing.

I'll let the video speak mainly for itself, but I quickly want to comment on Matt Damon's insight on incentive. He's right, and has said it more clearly than maybe I've heard before. This notion that teachers need punitive incentive in order to teach effectively is insulting and scary. If we're really serious about putting incentives and punishment as a means to privatize and reform schools than perhaps the effects should be felt throughout the community. Should we raise taxes in a district if their student's don't perform well?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

What to learn from Finland


I am on vacation in San Diego at Comic-Con and loving it. The weather is beautiful, and currently thirty degrees cooler than home. Just last night  I saw a Tardis and a Delorian within ten feet of each other. I think there was some crazy 4th dimension time whirlpool action going on there.

However fun things are, my sleep schedule is attuned to Central, and I'm up at 5 a.m. local. To the internet! I found this really interesting article about Finland's education reform of the past thirty years and how it compares to America's. Find it here.

Also, Nicole had a great point about the man-dominated dystopic novels. The women in those books aren't necessarily portrayed in the most positive light, disastrously in Brave New World. I picked up The Hunger Games and will give it a read before the year. I'm also thinking about excerpts from Mary Shelley's The Last Man, critical of her own husband's Romantic movement. Collaboration folks!

Thanks and stay out of the heat!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Week Six Hours & Consequences of Reading


Well, that took some time. This week flew by with work on the house and other projects, and then it was Sunday. So I just took the liberty of reviewing the last two weeks and looking ahead to the rest of July.

It didn't surprise me, but I had a major lack of motivation this week towards anything school related. In the few hours I did have off from painting or mowing I sat and watched movies or went biking. July is usually my month off. I enter the summer with lots of momentum, slug through July, and pick up my steam again in August. It's my cycle, but I think it mirrors that of most other teachers...

Something I've been meaning to do for a while is to respond to some comments, so here are three for this week.

1) Ms. Howard asked me to speak on money spent by teachers on their own classrooms. I just recently purchased six copies of a Fahrenheit 451 graphic novel which were on fire sale at Borders. Our principal is very supportive of purchasing new texts, and has helped our department out immensely the past year. However, there are always more books to be had. My goal for the next year is to grow a classroom library full of some of my favorite works, or ones that are popular with the students. 

As a secondary teacher most of my purchases are tertiary to the classroom. I know elementary teachers often buy consumables like paper, glue, crayons etc. I get off much easier, as most of my supplies come down to tissues or candy. Last year we had a "Gatsby funeral," on the last day before winter break with sparkling cider, fruit, cheese, and the like. It was not a cheap trip to the store, but it was a fun way to end the year and the book.

Also, I believe the public is ignorant of the fact of continuing education for teachers, and that it's necessary for re-licensure. Graduate credits often run hundreds of dollars, and while some districts compensate the expense, not all do. I know my graduate degree will be $15,000 out of my pocket.

2) Gretchen mentioned The Hunger Games series which I'm aware of, but have not yet read. I love dystopic literature Gretchen! 1984 was the reason I studied literature. I base the last month of my British Literature course on dystopia, reading 1984 and Brave New World. I may add Lord of the Flies and A Clockwork Orange, but I'm not sure yet. We're opening this year's American Literature with Fahrenheit 451 to get their attention.

One of my favorite dystopic series is Y: The Last Man by Brian K. Vaughn. It's a graphic novel series that's mature, and probably not appropriate for a majority of high schoolers. However, it is an excellent examination of gender relations and a thought exercise of what the last man alive may experience.

Here's a list of works from Wikipedia:

3) Gus wrote from Saskatchewan detailed all of the attacks and reforms on the profession in Canada. It's saddened me to learn that the "reform" here in America is being seen globally. While I can understand the need for budget cuts, the amount of cuts directed at education and not other areas seem perplexing and frustrating. I don't remember teachers starting any wars they couldn't finish, or any teachers bundling bad loans and packaging them into retirement funds. 

In any case, thanks for spreading the word Gus!

That's it for this week. Look for photos and updates sporadically the rest of the month. Take some time off and relax everyone!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Technical Difficulties


Well, the fantastic quality of this week's video seems to be blowing up my Macbook, so there won't be a video tonight. I hope to post it tomorrow, but it is doing an excellent job of freezing the software. So, this week's hours are as follows in the meantime.

Classroom Hours: 8 - Reading In Cold Blood, American Literature Source book work.
Grad School Hours: 4 - GRE Test.

Total Hours: 60.5

I passed with room to spare and am moving on to preparing my CV and letters of recommendation.

Have a good week, and look for the update soon.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Google Document Fix


One last thought for tonight. I've opened the google spreadsheet wide open. It seems everyone was having difficulty altering the document, which is my fault. I'm still new to using google docs, but can see just how powerful "cloud" computing is.

Anyhow, it should be much easier to access and alter. Let me know if it's not!

Week Five Hours, Summer Reading, and the Founding Fathers


I wasn't sure if I was going to post this tonight, but I have just enough time and energy. I spent the weekend in Minneapolis with some good friends. We enjoyed downtown, a Twins game, and some great food. If I was ever to live in a major U.S. city, Minneapolis is a major contender!

This week was pretty sad as far as hours go. I read for four hours, and that's it. I took this week off by focusing on relaxing and working around the house. I finished Confederacy of Dunces, which was excellent, and began In Cold Blood, which is really stirring and disturbing all at the same time. Here's my video...

Once more, tried to keep it short, but have some fun with it as well.

As I inserted the RotK footage, I realized it didn't work so well without ten minutes of context, which is how working with Tolkien is. In short, this is what I meant to use his words to say:

We spend too much time & effort worrying about what the founding fathers wanted, rather than what we need right now.

That being said, however, have an excellent and safe 4th!

Also, what books are you reading this summer?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Some random mid-week thoughts...

Hello. Here are some random thoughts.

1) I had my first "back to school" nightmare the other night. I went into the classroom imagining I was teaching one class and my students informed me they were there for another class, one I had never heard of before. Terrifying.

2) Tonight I was reminded about the power of science fiction/popular culture. I was watching Dr. Who. The Doctor & Amy took Vincent Van Gogh to the Musee d'Orsay in order to see his works in a museum, and to hear himself be praised by the curator. At this point in his life Van Gogh had thought himself a failure, worthless. It was brilliant, sorrowful, and ecstatic all at once. Two thoughts. It's not only artists, musicians, or authors whose works are appreciated much later in their life, perhaps after they're gone. How wonderful it'd be to the spirit to have a time machine and see your work realized after you were gone.

Secondly, I'm always disappointed with the marginalization of "pulp" fiction in the Literature context. There seems to be two ways it's presented in a classroom, either as a gateway to other more important texts, or as a means to practice rhetorical/literary theorems before tackling the big stuff.

3) My cobbled together reading summer list as of now. I've just finished #2.

1. The Book Thief
2. A Confederacy of Dunces
3. In Cold Blood
4. The Grapes of Wrath
5. A Clockwork Orange
6. Stranger in a Strange Land
7. One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest

There's several libraries full of things I've never read or even heard of.

4) I've so far forgotten to thank all the great support staff who work ALL summer long, including the custodians, secretaries, administration, and IT techs. Thank you!

5) I've been awful about responding to comments on the blog so far. Perhaps I'll change that this week...

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Week Four Hours & International Invitation


This week's video may be my shortest & most to the point yet. Partly because I didn't work very much this week, and partly to counteract last week's soapbox. Regardless, here it is...

Once more, I'd really like to hear thoughts from those abroad. Here in America we're constantly bombarded by politicians and the media about how we're falling behind on the global scene. I'm not a very competitive person, and I don't put much stock into the notion that we're somehow in competition with other nations. I've never thought the only purpose of education was to get a job...

Secondly, I'd like to give a shout out to David Sabine of Canada and Alicia Pashby of Ukraine! They've joined the google spreadsheet document that can be found here: Google Doc Spreadsheet If you're feeling courageous, or just frustrated, please join! If you have problems adding yourself to the document please e-mail me and I will give you access rights.

For those who use Facebook - I'm not really sure how to utilize it to the best of its abilities. I just thought it was a good idea to snatch up all the "2,000 Hour" sites I could. So far all I've been posting is videos, but now I've also added "Facebook Exclusives!" That's a fancy way of saying I divulge some behind the scenes information on the web series. If you have Facebook search for 2,000 Hours and like it! Also, if you have thoughts on how I could use the site more effectively I'm all ears.

Thanks everyone, have a great week!

Monday, June 20, 2011

An open letter to Prometric

To Whom it may Concern...

I was scheduled to take the G.R.E. at your testing center this morning. I was more than a little frustrated at the sign on the door announcing the test had been cancelled due to technical difficulties. My bigger question, though, is why the e-mail & phone call announcing the cancellation came fifteen minutes after I was to have begun the exam, forty-five minutes after I was to have shown up in the first place. It seems like this is something you could have done yesterday afternoon before I made a two hour round trip for nothing. I look forward to giving you my business and finger prints in the future.


Charles Ripley

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Week Three Hours & Thoughts on the Private Sector


It's been a busy week, but not necessarily as a teacher. Work around the house and time with friends dominated this week, which is good. It's what summer should be. So, here's the video for this week. Be warned that my thoughts on business are more political than I normally care to be. However, I'm happy with how it turned out.

It does run a bit long though, so in case you get tired of watching me talk I've included the script.


First off, I want to wish everyone a happy Father’s Day. Dad, if you’re watching, I love you. There. It’s on the internet…can’t take it back.

Secondly, my hour count for the week. It was a little slower this week as I visited with friends and worked around the house. The hours breakdown as seen here.

I spent some time in the building moving books, shelves, and discussing text options. I also spent some time reading The Book Thief, which was excellent. It gave me a few ideas about both reading comprehension and writing techniques, such as mixing first person and third omniscient.

Lastly, I wanted to spend some time this week discussing the private sector. This year especially saw a chasm grow between public and private employees, with fights in Wisconsin, Ohio, and Rhode Island to name a few. During the height of state budget seasons teachers were portrayed by select politicians and media outlets as lazy, greedy, and unsympathetic to the plight of American workers everywhere.

There are so many responses I could have to that it’s hard to begin. Let me first allude to one of my favorite comedians Conan O’Brian. As he left the Tonight Show he asked those watching to be kind, to work hard, and to avoid being cynical. That’s the philosophy behind this project, and behind myself, and so let me say the following in all honesty and without a hint of postulating.

I get it. America is in the worst economic state since our Great Depression, a state that is mirrored throughout many nations worldwide. Jobs are disappearing, what money we have is worth less than it used to be, and staples for life are rising. As a nation we’re scared and we’re angry.

Teachers are not unaware of this. Our family, our friends work amongst you. We fear for the sustainability of their jobs as much as our own. While we may not find fulfillment in sales, insurance, or producing widgets we understand that these are necessary for society, and are thus noble as well. Quality lies within the person, not the position they hold.

Our positions are not so different right now. I don’t mean to compare the minutia of our careers, but rather where we find ourselves in the public forum.

Because we have put off regulating ourselves we now find ourselves at the hands of the American public, who are angry that we’ve tacitly protected those who have performed their jobs poorly and reflected that upon our profession.

We both face stiff competition from overseas. There seems to be a never ending supply of cheap foreign labor ready to take your job, or dramatically alter your position in the company. While teachers are not often outsourced we are now being constantly compared to teachers who work in very different cultures, have different expectations, and are compensated differently.

Lastly, there’s just not enough money right now. If we had more, we could do more. Be more productive, produce a higher quality product, and in turn invest our money into each other. Critics blame unions, regulations, or pay structures. They point out (in truth) that we’re working with more money than we have in the past, but they don’t know or care where that money has gone.  We know the kernel of truth in their arguments can not possibly sow true and lasting reform.

And yet, we’ve let ourselves turn against each other. Your tax dollars fund our jobs, and in turn we educate your children. We provide a public service that we believe is valuable, whether or not you have children yourself.

We hope to provide a high quality service that is egalitarian in nature. We know that’s not the truth, be we hope that through public education the poor and rich, white and black, or any other dichotomy you can name will be given an equal shot for success.

Our service creates citizens who not only purchase your products and services, but will work for you in time. The private sector has the most to gain from a highly educated and motivated populace. Think of it as long term investing in human capitol.

I believe in public education. I believe in private enterprise. And while our work is more alike than we may realize they should stay separate. While private, parochial, or home schooling are options that should exist we should dedicate ourselves to rejuvenating, reforming, and refunding public schools.

You want a “world class education” for your kids. You get what you pay for. Taxes need to be raised. We need more teachers and we need to be paid more. Yes, we get into teaching for the children, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have a living wage. If we work as many hours as those with similar education and experience levels why should it matter if we do it twelve months or in ten?

I want corporations that protect American jobs. Corporations that act ethically, environmentally friendly, and have much less disparity in wages. Corporations that pay their taxes. Corporations that are able to work with unions and government regulation. Yes, they slow progress and profit, but they protect us from our own avarice and haste.  Corporations to create jobs through the strength of their products and services, not by the strength of their political connections.

I know that corporations and small businesses like that may require tax incentives on a local, state, and national level. I’m o.k. with that. I view it as a long term investment in National capitol.

Next week I’ll be back with more hours and more thoughts on public education. Have a good week everyone! 

So, what do you think? What is the current relationship of private & public sectors in America? How can they work together towards the common goals we should both have? Comment away, and enjoy your week!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Week Two Hours & Google Document


I'm a little ahead of schedule this week and thought I may as well post this today.

I actually worked this week! Three days in the office and then a few hours at home. I got a lot of great work done on my American Literature calendar for next year.  This upcoming week I'm looking to devote time to creating my Moodle sites and more prep work for the G.R.E.

I set up a Google Document for us this morning, feel free to access at the following.

Google Doc 2,000 Hours Spreadsheet

Remember, keep a hard copy near and private.

Also, remember to enjoy yourself and relax! If you love classic Spielberg films do yourself a favor and check out Super 8 this weekend. I haven't been awed by a film like that since District 9.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Time Card & E3


As promised, here's the time card that I'll be using for my project. It's a simple spreadsheet I'm doing through excel, but I'm looking at creating a google document for those wanting to join.

In other news it's an exciting time to be a nerd. E3, the annual electronic entertainment expo is currently being held. I can't help but feel a little excitement at Halo 4 or how painful it may be to play Minecraft using a Kinect.

This got me thinking about gaming and teaching. I've only really used video games in the classroom as a way to build relationships with students. It's a privilege of the young, I realize, so I may as well use it while I can. I've previously served as staff advisor to both Guitar Hero and Pokemon' club.

Here are two resources you may be interested in should you also be a part time gamer. 

First, this blog from Joel Levin out of New York. He uses Minecraft in his computer class to some great results. 

I also had some time to read Reality is Broken by Jane McGonigal this Spring. It's not necessarily a pedagogical text, but is a very interesting read about the power of gaming to empower oneself. Her website is located at

More and more schools are getting out this week. Welcome to summer, and take some time for yourself!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Week One Hour Count & Rules


I've had quite a busy four days, but, as promised, here's video two. Look for my timecard on Tuesday at the latest. Between revising curriculum, writing several moodle sites, studying for my G.R.E.'s, and Dr. Who on Netflix it's a little low on my priority list right now. Be well everyone!


Friday, June 3, 2011

First Reactions & Quick Preview of Sunday Night


I've been out of town the past 36 hours without an internet connection, so I apologize about the radio silence.  It's been welcoming, but a little overwhelming to see the response so far. I hope I'm up for the challenge!

Here's a few quick responses to the general comments that have been made so far.

1) I will be posting my rules and justification of them on Sunday.
2) Along with my rules will be an official time card, if you will.
3) I'd love to be able to create a website or cloud document to organize hundreds or thousands of teacher's logs. I'd welcome suggestions on that topic.
4) Hello to all my international colleagues! As American schools are currently being negatively favored to schools abroad I am very curious to hear international opinions of American schools and students!
5) I really like the tone of the discourse so far. Opinionated, but respectful. Please keep that up!

I did some filming tonight for my rules video coming on Sunday night. I hope to post videos on Sunday nights for the next year, and intermittent writings. I'm sure they will ebb and flow as the year progresses.

Thanks to everyone for the kind and encouraging words! Keep spreading the idea and stay strong!


Wednesday, June 1, 2011


The following is a rough transcript from my introduction video, which you can find below.  In the coming weeks and month I am planning on logging every hour I work as a teacher. I do so in the hopes of demonstrating that a ten week break this summer does not mean I work or am worth less than any private sector job. If you're a teacher I'd like not only your attention, but also for you to join me. Years ago I tried this, but did so anonymously and alone. I figure adding some accountability and the attention of others will force me to follow through this time. Thanks for your time, and come back for updates!

My name is Charles Ripley and it’s the first day of summer. I just finished my fifth year as a High School English teacher.  I work with amazing, dedicated colleagues.  My students are intelligent and hard working.  I live in a community that values education. This is my dream job. But, despite all that, I have a confession to make.

I don’t know if I can go another five.

Don’t get me wrong.  I know I’m lucky to be employed and that there’s hundreds who would take my job. 

So ask yourself…why would he be considering turning his back on the past ten years of his life to settle down to an entry level business job?

I’m not alone.

According to the NEA, half of new teachers quit by the time they’re in the profession for five years or less. Half.  Imagine if half of doctors or lawyers or engineers quit after five years.  Reasons for this are various.  Low pay, long hours, and burn out.

This year has been especially perplexing.  Nationwide I’ve seen a harsh attack on my profession.  We’ve become solely responsible for budget shortfalls or failing students.  Teacher’s unions have become targets for politicians and documentaries.

Some of what they say is true.

There are bad teachers. There are students who we fail to teach.  There is corruption in education, from the highest administrators to the newest employees.  Teachers are part of the problem.  But we are not wholly to blame.

For me, the time to speak up has come. I can only speak for myself, but I believe what I’m willing to say is on the minds of most teachers.

We are not over paid.
Tenure needs reform, not removal.
We want to be held accountable, but not by test scores.
We do not work fewer hours than you.

It’s that last point I’m most bitter about, to be honest. Yes, it’s summer, and I’m excited for the chance to rest.  But I’m also anxious, and a little resentful. I know that most arguments, debates, or conversations about teachers boil down to “summers off.”

It’s the invincible defense.  How am I, or you to respond?  “No, I don’t have ten weeks off?”  I want to end the misconceptions about the quality and quantity of a teacher’s work. 

For the next year I invite you to follow me.  I’ll be on youtube, facebook, twitter, and blogspot.  I will log every single hour I spend teaching, coaching, grading, and furthering my own education.  I believe it will reach, and probably surpass 2,000 hours.

I believe that over the span of a year, despite weekends, despite holidays or summer break, I put in as many hours as any private sector job.  And I’d like to invite my fellow teachers in logging our time.

So, starting on your first day of summer vacation, log one year’s time of work, whether it’s continuing education, classroom hours, grading, or coaching.  In the meantime I’ll be working on how to collect and present this data in the most effective way possible.

I know this idea may seem petty, cynical, or even childish. I can only assure you that that’s not my intention. I’m not a great teacher, and I know there are many people who work harder than I do.  I just want to share my story and hopefully change your mind about the nation’s teachers.

Thank you for your time and consideration. You can also e-mail me at Please like, follow, retweet, and share this message with every teacher in your life.  We’ll need all of their help.

Thank you, and enjoy your summer.