Week 28 in Class: The YouTubes


Stage 28

This week’s share will be YouTube videos. YouTube videos can be a great source of short videos on topics that can help illuminate a larger topic you’re teaching. Here’s how I used them:

Right now we’re finishing up a unit on music (Beyond the Notes in the Open Court reading series). YouTube is a great source of music from almost every style and time period. We’ve studied Beethoven, and Ray Charles as part of this. Here are some videos I’ve used:

two cellos thunderstruck – YouTube  This is an anachronism that works. Two guys on a cello in front of a baroque era audience (Vienna, maybe?) playing…AC/DC’s” Thunderstruck”. I works for a couple reasons. It gives a fresh view of “classical” instruments and also how music may changes but some things stay the same.

ray charles – YouTube
boogie woogie – YouTube Students read a story about Ray Charles, playing boogie-woogie, but few know what that means even though they go to piano lab in school once a week, and many take piano lessons after school. These two videos give a good example of Charles’ early sound, and what boogie woogie sounds like in general.

How I Feel About Logarithms – YouTube I’m trying to introduce more general ideas of mathematics and more visual representations of the same. These videos are too fast moving to take in one setting, but we’ll go back to look at it, and pause to discuss. They need a lot more of just exploring ideas, and less “solving” problems with a single answer.

vsauce – YouTube A student asked me to show this, and it was  a winner.

For the second year, I played RadioLab’s Speedy Beet episode. This discusses time notations Beethoven added to his symphonies later in life with the advent of the metronome, and as deafness to hold. Since students are doing a weekly keyboard lab class they had some familiarity with the basics of this (time notation, metronomes, etc.). Combining this with two-cellos video was  a way to make an old topic (classical music) a little fresher for the kids.

Image Credit: Stage 28 by Kevin Dooley, on Flickr

The Downside of Grit


This should be subtitled, why social media will never replace a good bookmarking program/site. I came across this intriguing article listing some of the long-term health problems that increase in people who experience upward mobility due to their personal effort. Read the rest of this entry »

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Common Core Mathematics


This is in response to Mercedes Deutsch’s call for input from teachers on our experience with Common Core Mathematics

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A rose by another name…


Name Calling Has Gotten To Be A Nasty Habit
Sherman Dorn, unlike some of us, is a classy blogger. He had a recent post on the overuse of certain terms and created an Education Noise index. I was on the road at the time, but shot off a comment asking given the egregious excesses, what would you use to describe the behavior of Michelle Rhee.

Dr. Dorn challenged me to think of a new term, so I’ve decided that for folks who are clearly sucking at the teat of public and private philanthropic dollars (I’m looking at you Michelle Rhee and Wendy Kopp) deserve the term edu-kleptocrats. For those spreading their largess and influence (Bill Gates, Rep. George Miller, New Venture Funds, the Walton Family — the ones in Arkansas) the term edu-oligarchs fits, since they have undo influence and are in no way creating a “free” or “open” market for ideas, students, or anyone but themselves and their favored kleptocratic allies. I think this fits well with the political zeitgeist of the time with the when folks will cry victim at the same time they impose Soviet-style strong-arm tactics (I’ll leave it to you to decide if that refers to Eva Moskowitz or Putin in the Ukraine).

Obviously these terms are too strong a term for folks who are just in love with the idea and “promise” of so-called “reform” in public education. For them, I’ll reserve the term edu-weenie because, it just fits.

Image credit: Name Calling Has Gotten To Be A Nasty Habit by outtacontext, on Flickr

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Human Rights lesson done right…


So way back, in the dim mist of time (before winter break), I finished a unit on human rights loosely based on an idea from a really poorly executed unit that I first heard about here. The unit had students reading the novel Esperanza Rising, while looking at her life through the lens of a legal document, the UN Declaration of the Rights of the Child. On the whole, the unit worked very well, and the students enjoyed it a lot. Some observations: Read the rest of this entry »

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All of Ms. Mercer's work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Howdy! I teach sixth grade at an elementary school in Sacramento, CA. I started my career in Oakland, Ca, and moved here to Sacramento in 2001.

My goals are:

  1. To reflect on how I am teaching, and how effective my practices are;
  2. To reflect on my profession, and how effective various practices are;
  3. To understand the political and cultural context that we teach in; and,
  4. To network with other like-minded educators.

To help me reach my goals, I use this blog as a place for me to reflect on best practices, and the practices I’m (trying to) putting in place in my classroom.

I can be contacted here.


The views expressed here are those of the writer and do not those of Sacramento City Unified School District.