Maps!

Maps!

I’m a map dork.  I’m also a trivial information dork. This obviously made my day.

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Year Round School? I’ll pass

I’m doing some reading for a grad class I’m taking right now and one of the topics is that of year-round school.  I’m never a big fan of using “It’s always the way we’ve done it” as a reason for continuing to do something, but that reason is good enough for me in this situation.

I think it would be one heck of a hard sell to have students come to school in July and August.  Even if we give them vacation spread throughout the year, I think it’d be awfully hard to get them to refocus and get back into the swing of things (it’s hard enough in September)!

Thanks, but no thanks to year-round school.

Thoughts on The Curious Incident…

I read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time in less than a day.  It was a very quick read, and I’d imagine that my students (who get to choose reading this of Lord of the Flies) would pick this one.

For whatever reason, I tend to enjoy reading novels told from the first-person perspective, and The Curious Incident falls into that category.

It was definitely an eye-opening novel which allows you to really get to walk (or ride the train) in the shoes of someone coping with Autism.

I think the lesson I take from the novel is that people are more than first impressions. I’d imagine if I was a passerby or someone on the train with Christopher, I’d probably not stick around long enough to learn about him and his talents.

Thoughts on Lord of the Flies

Since the students I’ll be teaching in the fall are given summer reading assignments, the least I could do is read them, too, right?

I had read Lord of the Flies wayyyyy back in middle school or high school, so it was good to get a refresher on it.  Lots of great themes in the story: Independence, Order in Society, Human Nature, and so on.

I think a lot of these are quite relevant to today’s teenagers.  If it wasn’t completely against the rules to do so, I think it would be great to one day pretend to not show up to class and surreptitiously have a video camera somewhere in the room (simulating the boys on the island emerging from the plane crash).Image

After a few moments without adult supervision, I’d imagine a few students would probably get up and leave.  Others would sit there quietly.  And I bet one or two students would try to maintain some semblance of order by making sure the class was doing what they were supposed to be doing.

I doubt that the “society” of that unsupervised classroom would escalate to the violence, schisms and general chaos that occurred in the novel, but it would be interesting to see how quickly a culture of order (or disorder) would take foot in that room.

Next up: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon.  I’ll let you know how it turns out!

Music Video Monday – Rainy Monday

As I sit down to do some work this morning it is absolutely pouring outside. And it’s Monday. Here’s “Rainy Monday” by Shiny Toy Guns

Teach With Your iPhone

Teach With Your iPhone

Here’s a great list of a few apps that are beneficial to the classroom.  I love the “Pick a Student” app!

A good motto…

This was long thought to be the only portrait ...

This was long thought to be the only portrait of William Shakespeare that had any claim to have been painted from life, until another possible life portrait, the Cobbe portrait, was revealed in 2009. The portrait is known as the ‘Chandos portrait’ after a previous owner, James Brydges, 1st Duke of Chandos. It was the first portrait to be acquired by the National Portrait Gallery in 1856. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Better three hours too soon than a minute too late.” – William Shakespeare

The British are Coming (or at least their literature is)…

Every year, each teacher in our building awaits receiving word of their teaching assignments for the upcoming school year.  As a teacher of mainly electives throughout my career (Television Production and Journalism), I’ve been pretty set with what I’ll be teaching the following year.

However, in the past few years, fewer students have chosen to take electives.  Our district has allowed students the “incentive” of not taking a class first period and/or eighth period (our last scheduled class).  Conceivably, students can take 5 classes and a lunch and spend less than 4 hours in the classroom each day.

(quick aside): While I understand the financial reasons for the district doing this, aren’t we doing a disservice to the students’ futures by giving them the option to not attend school?  When students are filling out their course selections for the following year, it’s hard for a teacher of electives (TV, FCS, Music) to compete with the snooze button.

So that’s why I’m teaching British Literature this upcoming school year in addition to my television classes.

I’ve actually embraced this as both (a) a challenge to me as a teacher and (b) as an opportunity to get a fresh start.  I’ve been teaching for 7 years now, and while that’s far from a long time, it’s nice to kick the tires on a curriculum you haven’t taught yet.  The biggest challenge I foresee will be making British Literature relevant to my students.

So that’s my job this summer – learn that curriculum, find those themes that connect with the 17-18 year old crowd, and modernize them the best way possible.  This blog will attempt to show how I’m doing it and share some practices that worked (and those that didn’t, even though I hope that’s not the case too often!)

Cheers.

Tom Brady

Tom Brady

Mind you, I’m not a Patriots fan (E-A-G-L-E-S!!!), but I admire his leadership and his ability to make those around him truly buy in to what he’s trying to accomplish together with them. That’s what my philosophy is in the classroom – It’s not “me vs. them,” but “us.”  I took this picture a few years ago at an Eagles/Pats game (I’m a photography dork, too).