Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Valentine's Day and First Timers

Valentine's day reminded me of something: I haven't done a blog in a while. I'm just kidding, what valentine's day really makes me think about is how much I value good teaching (OK........we do not celebrate v-day at our house. At least I don't. But I did give my wife a high five in the morning and shouted "love ya!" That's good enough......right?). I hate the way teachers are currently being depicted by some members of the media and some independent factions. Teachers make schools great, plain and simple. Like any other profession, some are good/great, some aren't; but make no mistake, teachers are what makes schools successful. There are some links about teaching and education in this country below. Also, some helpful links for first timers and Google.

  • Disturbing information about the United States. I still think it's the best country in the world, but we've got some work to do.
  • Really significant blog post here, 10 things about teaching I wished I never learned.
  • Class sizes are rising; 60 kids in a class in Detroit.
  • This blogger is tired of teacher-bashing.
  • Illinois has a proposed bill to link teacher tenure and evaluation to test results.
  • Why teachers are enraged.
  • The rhetoric towards teachers these days is mostly negative. We are walking down a dangerous path in the way we are speaking about teachers.
First Timers:
  • For Twitter, please view this quick tutorial and get signed up! If used properly, twitter can be a very useful tool in education.
  • For Diigo, read this and this. Diigo allows internet users to bookmark pages, highlight important passages, and add sticky notes. Also, this can be done collaboratively with a group. Great possibilities for the classroom.
  • Tired of juggling files between your school computer and your home computer? Dropbox is for you.
Tunes to consider: The Cave, by Mumford and Sons. Better Together, Jack Johnson. California Stars, Wilco.

The Bulls are holding very strong, especially considering Boozer, Rose and Noah have played together less than 10 times. The Melo trade to the Knicks just made the East a little more interesting. Still love the Bulls chances of a 2nd round match-up against Celts or Heat. The Red Sox begin spring training with a lot of hope. Need less injuries and the pitching to bounce back for a championship year.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Snow Day!

Let me just say this.......the snowblower was the single greatest invention in the history of civilization. Coming in just ahead of the George Forman Grill, the snowblower has created peace and harmony in the McPherson household. My two snow days were spent reading, hanging with the kiddies, and finding time to blog. Without the snowblower, I would have undoubtedly spent many hours shoveling, followed by a day of mental depression, followed by a day of being physically unable to move. It would've been just like the days following the New Kids on the Block reunion concert of 2008. (singing "hanging tough" to myself right now). A synopsis of my reading over the last few days:

From Catching Up or Leading the Way, by Yong Zhao:

"Some of us are mathematicians. Some of us aren't." (Jane Goodall)
  • schools should value diversity in talent
  • Diverse talents compliment each other
  • talent diversity leads to innovation and creativity
  • Talent diversity prepares society for change
  • (pgs. 50-53)
To create a diversity of talents, schools can adopt a more global mindset.
  • Examine local traditions and identify strengths.
  • Consider our kids are connected globally now, distance is no longer an issue
  • Take responsibility for cultivating more talents
  • Create a tolerance for multiple perspectives.
  • (pgs. 158-159).
What knowledge is of most worth? How should we teach it?
  • The knowledge of most worth is what each individual student is interested in; their strengths.
  • Creativity
  • The ability to adapt to change
  • A balance of left brain and right brain thinking
  • empathy
  • (pgs. 150-156)
  • Smart phones will be in the hands of all students within 5 years.
  • Tired of emailing documents and trying to work off more than one computer? Try dropbox. Save documents on the web, you can retrieve them anywhere with internet access.
  • Take a tour of Diigo. Amazing web tool, so many possibilities for collaborative work on articles, blogs and websites. Also great for on-line bookmarking.
  • A California school did a pilot study using ipads for students. Interesting survey results.
  • Great Google Docs tutorials.
  • President Obama is on board for encouraging innovation in schools.
  • More Google Docs suggestions, and an all around great blog.
Tunes to consider: Things We Said Today, the Beatles. Toes, Zac Brown Band. Give Up the Funk, Parliament.

Despite the disappointment of losing to the Packers, the Bears had a great season. Who would've thought 11-5 and an NFC Conference Championship game? Good year. Bulls are looking great, who is more exciting than D Rose? The Red Sox made some huge offseason acquisitions, I think it's gonna be a great summer.