Tiptoe, through the tulips…


In the New York Times: Margaret Spellings thinks NCLB is just fine, thank you very much!

Rick Scheibner » Soccer education

Definitely worth reading. His powers of observation are awesome.
Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites Of The Day For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL » Blog Archive » Carnival of Education

A great idea, doing a carnival of posts on ELL/ESL/EFL topics. I’m going to pick through the archives, and maybe do a new one on what I’m planning in the new year?

dy/dan » Blog Archive » Geometry – Week 1 – 2007

As sometimes happens, Dan misses his own genius. Buried in his slideshow he uses a really witty, but effective way to define geometric terms. He defines a point as “It has location and nothing else. No size. No height. No depth. No friends.” This use of personification shows how using “storytelling” paradigms (metaphor) can make math instruction more effective. Keep it up!

Around the Corner v2 – MGuhlin.net – Bookmark Meme

Miguel catches me with my pants down (or my skirt in my knickers) by sharing the bookmark for the planning wiki used to start out In Practice, the fantastic new group blog I’m working on with a bunch of other great teachers at Title One schools (there, was that a shameless plug, or what?) Including my use of the word cr*p. He felt it added spice. I feared it looked unprofessional. I doubt it will hurt my employment (I’d have to use worse language than that). Well, at least his blog will no longer rate as G. As I tell the kids, I hope it was worth it Miguel.

Around the Corner v2 – MGuhlin.net – Taking Action

Okay, this subject string on the robodial is CURSED for me. First, Wes Fryer credits Maria with it (understandable in an audio only context), now Miguel compliments it, and calls me Liz Mercer.

I foresee two potential scenarios. One has Maria continuing to be credited, and eventually getting an award from the Gates Foundation. Since she’s a Mac user that would be ironic, but since she’s a damn good teacher, It’ll at least be well-deserved.

In the next scenario, the name corruption started by Miguel will continue with the credit going to Liz Purser, Larry Furser, etc. until CNN finally carries it as “Larry Flynt using school robodial system” At that point, my credential WILL get reviewed, and I’ll be reprimanded for using the word cr*p online, and chastised by my district for a non-authorized use of the robodial system.

Picture from today…


This was waiting at my door for my students and me:

First Day 1


Congratulations to Mr. Ferlazzo…


Larry Ferlazzo is a fellow teacher of mine in Sacramento, Ca. He has a great site for resources for ESL and ELL students: Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites Of The Day For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL » Blog Archive » Favorite Sites and has been doing a fantastic job using technology to help teach students at Burbank High School. The school has had a recent influx of Hmong students from refugee camps in Thailand.

His good works have not gone unnoticed. He won a Presidential Award for Reading and Technology from the International Reading Association. I’d link to the story in our district paper but, well they haven’t updated the archives for all of 2007. I’m impressed. He is a prolific blogger, posting new websites/blogs/etc. for ELD instruction almost daily.

He has also spearheaded a program to bring computers and internet access to 200 students/families at his school. I was a little abrupt when he shared this with me here. Let me say now, I’m impressed with what he has done, I just think we need a more comprehensive approach to home access. It should not rely on individuals with initiative and drive like Mr. Ferlazzo, to make this happen, but thank god they’re here in the absence of a real plan to deal with equity in access issues.

On commenting


While I have my own blog, much of what I do in the edublogosphere is commenting on other people’s blogs/posts. My indefatigable efforts to share my opinion (whether desired or not) has lead to an award as a fantastic commenter. Here is my badge, with pride:


Considering the source, I’m humbled, and the timing is great because the biggest breakthrough I’ve had lately with my class has been in commenting. I’ve planned and made commenting a goal with my students, and they’ve stepped up to the plate. Here is the weekly main blog post where you can see all the links to past and future comments for my kids. Here is how I’m doing it:

  1. Tell them to read prior week’s comments
  2. Leave messages to them in their comments so they have to or will want to respond
  3. Tell them they have to leave comments
  4. Give them links to find comments easily

My philosophy of blogging is that comments are a key ingredient in a good blog network. I think it’s better to start with commenting, rather than just writing posts of your own. It leads others to your blog, and it lets them see that what you say maybe worthwhile. Also, comments can be the difference between a blog becoming an exercise in monological narcissism and a community. I wanted my students to learn that first. They will have their own My Space pages, and hopefully, their own school blogs as they grow older, but they will also have the basis of good commenting to help make those richer experiences. Eventually, I will nail down the controls and security, and I will have students with their own blogs. I hope that they will still be good commenters even when they have their own blogs.

I have to run to my son’s Open House tonight, but I’ll be handing out my own awards in the next week. I had a wonderful evening yesterday at the pool, reading a tacky romance novel. A few more days of that and I think I’ll be back to normal.

Moment of enforced narcissism…


Okay, this week’s reflection is all orchids, and it’s not because everything went well, because it didn’t…
Scott McLeod on Dangerously Irrelevant asks about adult convenience vs. what’s best for the child. In my comments there I turned it into a cross tab, and talked about the combination of doing a lesson that is both inconvenient for you and not effective for the students. I opined that sometimes when you are trying something new, you take the risk of this occurring. That is what happened to me last week. I am doing a very ambitious unit project with my students that involves them planning a cross-country trip. I was trying to teach them how to research plane fares and rental vehicle rates. I did screencasts to show them how to do this. I made up a spreadsheet on Zoho, for them to add the pricing to. It was all for naught. Our school connections were to slow for the screencast, and the kids didn’t get it who did manage to see it.

I will have to sit one-by-one with the recorders for each of the groups and show them how to do this. It points up the limits of screencasts with elementary students, not to mention the need for more bandwidth in my district.  I’m not labeling this an onion though, because I have to try new and unique things, so it’s just back to the drawing board.

Behaviorally, the class is doing better, mostly because they are sitting silently for the first two hours of school doing state testing. The state in it’s infinite wisdom is poised to eliminate testing of second graders.  This is a good thing, but the post and article don’t mention that districts, at their expense, have the option of testing down to grade one. When I taught in Oakland, California, they did this. What was laughable was that because kindergarten is not mandatory, students would start first grade never having held a pencil and be expected to do a bubble test by the end of the year. I always thought the money would be better spent on making kinder mandatory myself.

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