Sunday, January 17, 2010

When I was in High School

When I was a Senior in High School, in 1997, it cost about $600 for a clunky old cell phone that couldn't even fit in your pocket.  Computers sold for twice as much as they do now, and they were a small fraction as powerful.  Digital cameras -- did they even exist back then?  And TI-83 graphing calculators, which we were all required to buy, cost around $99.  As far as I know, these things haven't become more powerful. And they definitely haven't gotten cheaper. What gives? No competition, not a big enough market for it?  These things should cost $20 by now, like the MP3 player I bought 3 years ago for over $100.  You can't tell me that their production costs haven't declined substantially, nor that Texas Instruments' bottom line depends on their profits from these things.  There are substitutes that actually offer more, available for free download all over the internet.  There's even an I-phone app for one.  Writing a grant for these things now seems like a waste of my time and money. I guess my to-do list just got shorter.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Teaching like a deer trapped in headlights

The 20% problem scares the living begeezins (sp?) out of me. It definitely hits him, and I was on the fortunate tail of the distribution. And yet, when I plan a lesson on...say...polynomials, for example, I feel like I have no idea how to counter tradition.  Sure, my organization and scaffolding gets better with each go round.  And my bag of tricks grows incrementally each time I check my google reader (i.e. polydoku). And each year my class goes a little faster and a whole lot deeper, but it still scares me.
I start out by giving notes, and follow it up with practice.  I show my students what a polynomial is and what it isn't. I show them standard form, leading coefficient, degree, and graphical implications.  We look at factored form and we add subtract, multiply, divide  and blah blah blah polynomials.  I'm doing the only thing I can think of to get them ready for the questions they'll see on the standardized test.  But it's all very traditional. And when they show up to Thursday morning's class with memories of Tuesday's class, almost as blurry as mine of my 1st or 21st birthdays, I know I didn't reach them. And I don't know what to do, so I do it all over again the following week.

Friday, January 1, 2010


It's Y2KX. On New Year's Eve, lodged up in the Rocky Mountains, some of my siblings, their significant others and I sat around and stated goals for the new year. I had 2.

1.) Finish my teaching credential. And do it soon. I have a student teacher for hell's sake, I'm in my 3rd year teaching, and I am still working with an 'intern' credential. I've wasted enough money on this thing, now I just need to waste a little more time.

2.) Start blogging. I believe I said, in an effort to make my goal specific and measurable, I want 15 posts by the end of the school year. That's not much, less than one per week.

Why is that important? Blogs have shaped my professional development, more than anything, namely my teacher credential program and my school's efforts. I started by reading Dan's precious resource, and I've also added Kate's and Dan(2)'s to my regular reading list. There are others too, that regularly offer resources for my class and push me to be a better teacher, but the bottom line is that it's time I started doing one of my own...It's not that I feel like I have much to contribute, but I keep having this feeling like (pardon my sports cliche) I'm standing on the sidelines of this edublogosphere game. So here I go.