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?