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December 2007
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February 2008

January 2008

Goofiest School Year ever

We've had one other school year since I've been teaching, when we had finals after Christmas, however, I don't remember the schedule being this odd.  We just returned back from finals, MLK, AND a teacher workday, meaning we haven't had a full day of class since last Monday. Yesterday was our first full day. 

The good news is that my students did fairly well on the district finals.  A lot of kids passed their finals who were not passing with me -- my policy is to make sure you pass the entire semester if you can pass the district final because they ARE hard.

That's other thing my district does well by the way. Our students are mobile, especially when apartment complexes are offering free rent, and can you blame their families?  We've also tried to have a standard curriculum, but we didn't really have the funding for it.  However, we had had the district finals. By the way, one of my projects right now is to create a standard curriculum, which is going well, but seems like a daunting task.  I'm on week 6 of 36 weeks!

The worse part of our schedule, is that the work ethic of my students is terrible.  Even before this week, they were waiting until the last minute.  Though I do think I've always had a group that does this, this year seems worse.  However, I also have to remember I haven't had a student load this high in years, especially when it comes to webmastering.  I do not believe I've ever had this many webmastering students, and I just got 5 more.  Two had me first semester in previous years, the others all failed the other webmastering teacher at some point.

More good news, I"ve managed to convince administration to drop Webmasteirng as an option on the choice sheet, though I bet we have to keep a section open next year for those who failed it.  They really can't come into the second semester of CS.


More on Charity Coding

I'm really glad I went and I participated.  I wish I had more knowledge going in, and had better expectations on what we were doing etc. but now I do.  I'll definately participate again next year.

I hope other people besides Microsoft start doing this type of event.  For example Adobe/Macromedia.  While I think that Microsoft has good tools, hosting their sites tends to be a bit more expensive.  However, Verio did provide hosting free for two years.

All in all, it was a good weekend.


Another fire

One of the things I really like about my district is how we handle fires.

We put them out.

Seriously.  We had a fire at a middle school at a gym, and it shoulds like day went on as scheduled.  Luckily we weren't keeping them long, so didn't really have much to deal with.

So we don't evaculate the entire building.  Most of the time, no one knows what happened until the next day, and learning goes on as much as possible. 


Charity Coding

I've been spending the weekend at the "We are Microsoft Charity Coding" event. They believe it is the first of this kind of event.

One of my classes asked me why and my best response, and the one that was gotten was:  "well, you don't see me running a race or building a house do you?  Seems like sitting around and writing code would be the best way to 'give back'."  Not that I don't do that on a regular basis.  (Let's see, I have phone number for a runaway's phone on my cell, and the district currently owes me $1,800.)

It would be best to look at their website to see what it was about.  It's wearemicrosoft.com.  I've spent the day transferring lots of content from an old website to a new one. 

Some things learned: I did learn how to use some newer technologies -- and how not to use one.  BUT, this isn't for someone who isn't confident in their abilities.  You start on the project on Friday night, and the deadline is 3:00 pm on Sunday. 

They've done things really well -- the work area is fairly comfortable, the caffeine is plentiful and in lots of varieties -- it was really nice to be able to get Diet Cokes and not have to worry about refilling the refrigator, the food is plentiful, but they don't follow the schedule well, I've figured out that the schedule means they are going to order the food and it will take an hour after that to get there.  That's okay, but hard on diabetics.

I think I would do it again.  The charity I ended up on was the right one for my current skill level, and I was able to produce some good websites.  However, I need to work up to what is really needed.


Teacher absences hurt learning

This is REALLY true in the computer science classroom. I am not out often, and try to keep it to one day at a time. I went to TCEA for a week once, and found my classroom in complete chaos when I came back.

I can't find anyone who can instruct the students at all. My criteria for a sub: there hasn't been a fight when she's been in the room, there hasn't been major equipment missing -- this year, whenever I'm out a mouse disappears. It's happened twice. Weird, but I think it is a student punishing me.

I'm worried about the Game workshop, I'll be out three days, at the end of the six weeks.

Teacher absences are hurting learning - Education- msnbc.com
Duke University economist Charles Clotfelter, among a handful of researchers who have closely studied the issue, says the image of spitballs flying past a daily substitute often reflects reality. "Many times substitutes don't have the plan in front of them," Clotfelter said. "They don't have all the behavioral expectations that the regular teachers have established, so it's basically a holding pattern."



Teacher absences are hurting learning - Education- msnbc.com

This is REALLY true in the computer science classroom. I am not out often, and try to keep it to one day at a time. I went to TCEA for a week once, and found my classroom in complete chaos when I came back.

 

I can't find anyone who can instruct the students at all.  My criteria for a sub:  there hasn't been a fight when she's been in the room, there hasn't been major equipment missing -- this year, whenever I'm out a mouse disappears.  It's happened twice.   Weird, but I think it is a student punishing me.

 

I'm worried about the Game workshop, I'll be out three days, at the end of the six weeks.

 

 

Teacher absences are hurting learning - Education- msnbc.com

Duke University economist Charles Clotfelter, among a handful of researchers who have closely studied the issue, says the image of spitballs flying past a daily substitute often reflects reality. "Many times substitutes don't have the plan in front of them," Clotfelter said. "They don't have all the behavioral expectations that the regular teachers have established, so it's basically a holding pattern."

Fire damages Lincoln High campus in Dallas, classes to be held | Dallas Morning News | News for Dallas, Texas | Latest News

This is one of the many reasons I love my district.  I've actually helped to put out two different fires in the past 16 years -- and each time, business went on as usual. One was in the kitchen, and was a toast fire, I pulled the kids out of that room and into mine while their teacher called for help and then put out the fire.

The other one was a restroom fire.

 

Fire damages Lincoln High campus in Dallas, classes to be held | Dallas Morning News | News for Dallas, Texas | Latest News

WFAA-TV reported that firefighters had knocked down the flames by about 7 a.m. Lincoln High School's main building next door appeared undamaged.

Jon Dahlander, a Dallas school district spokesman, said school was to open today and that final exams were expected to take place as scheduled. Today was the last study day before exams.


Finally - MSDN Subscription

I first applied for the subscription in October, and through lots of paperwork screwups on the Dallas ISD side and the Microsoft side, I've finally got a subscription.  Am downloading some of the software now, and it IS a really good program.  It's been expanded quite a bit since I was a member before -- I'd gotten a year's subscription from a grant, and didn't have the money to renew.  I think in the future, I'm going to go ahead and pay out of my own pocket, and not worry about getting reimbursed.  It's worth the approximately $300.00 for the software itself.


AP Scholars Recognition

For the first time, I went to our annual AP Scholars recognition program.  I went because the principal said to, and because I had not been to the Meyerson Symphony center.  Free food wasn't bad either.

It was a SUPER program.  They had great speakers that kept it short and simple.  The best was the keynote speaker who had graduated as valedictorian of Pinkston High School in 1991.  She went through her history, how she got there and hints from other people. 

I'm really glad the district does this.  I hope the students appreciated being recognized.

Oh, and why I didn't I go in the past. When I left industry I swore I wasn't going to work at a job that took up 24 hours a day of my time.  Funny,I reflect on this week, and I only spent about 3 hours doing MY STUFF. It's Thursday, and Tuesday night I graded and last night I was at the ceremony.


Synergy

I love this program, I've been using it for a week now!  It gives me a reason to bring my laptop to school.  I've got my main computer controlling it, and doing "side" projects on the laptop, in between helping the kids, etc.  It's actually better than doing the side project in a window.

 

It's greater than sliced bread, and a lot of my kids agree!

 

Synergy

Synergy lets you easily share a single mouse and keyboard between multiple computers with different operating systems, each with its own display, without special hardware. It's intended for users with multiple computers on their desk since each system uses its own monitor(s).