Sunday, September 30, 2007

You would think... by Vegas Art Guy

You would think that if someone wanted your vote for say, president, they'd put the addresses of the local offices someplace on their websites wouldn't you? After all if you wanted to get a sign for your candidate and put it in your yard to show support that local office would be the place to go right?

So I'm working on this lesson for my honors and regular history classes that I'm taking over tomorrow and I want to get some campaign materials to set the mood. The only candidate of the four that had office locations on their site happened to be John Edwards. Now while I'm not a big fan of his, I do appreciate the common sense his team had in listing office locations. Rudy, Barak and Mitt did not have locations listed anywhere and for once Google was no help. So I emailed the other three candidates and asked them for the location of their offices and hinted that displaying such information might not be a bad thing.

That lesson I'm referring to? I am going to have the students write an essay reacting to the foreign policy essays that they wrote earlier this year. The honors kids get to read 1 from each party and then compare and contrast them. I keep hoping Hillary will write an essay so I can dump John Edwards' essay but so far no luck.

Special Thanks to Dr. Douglass for posting the essays and giving me the idea for the lesson itself.

John Edwards' Essay
Barak Obama's Essay
Mitt Romney's Essay
Rudy Giuliani's Essay

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

For every action... By Vegas Art Guy

There is an opposite and equal reaction. Sound familiar? Maybe students should pay more attention to this maxim. Maybe it's the full moon, who knows. Yep, another class got to enjoy the wonders of essay writing, this time with a bonus, their parents get to sign it. (Don't worry Karlana, I didn't mention who gave me the idea) It's not like I told them more than once to be quiet, especially during a quiz, and it's not like I didn't flat out tell them what would happen if the continued to goof off. And yet, they played 'how dumb is the sub?' yet again, and yet again the sub wins. I'm now 5-0 this year. And the best part is the teacher I was filling in for knew that I kept that option open and had no problem with it. The sad part is that the first three classes were a joy to teach and the fourth, although chatty, did more work than anyone.

In addition, I was called off my prep period to sub for girls PE and about 6 of the girls I already had in my class, including the 5th period essay writers. Apparently my reputation preceded me because they gave me no problems and all I had them do was walk 1 lap around the field. They got to talk with their friends and get some exercise and I got an easy period. Everyone one. I made sure their PE teacher knew how well the behaved. I also made sure the science teacher I was filling in for knew who did what when.

One more note, how dumb to kids think we are? Do they really think they can wear an earring in the shape of a marijuana leaf and it goes unnoticed?One young man did and I made him take it off and told him if I saw it again, he goes to the dean. Boy did he lose it in a hurry... LOL

Friday, September 21, 2007

Much Better! By Vegas Art Guy

The last two days have been much better. After the RESPECT lesson from Wednesday, I was much better prepared for Thursday and Friday. I'd like to say that no other class got to write about respect, but I'd be lying.
Thursday went very well for the most part. The kids were respectful, eager to learn and seemed to enjoy themselves. There was however, one class that played "How dumb is the sub?", they lost. See, there are two bells for lunch. And this period leaves in the middle for lunch. Yes, that's how it works there. The thing is that this class has to wait for the second bell, but didn't. So I tell the kids still in the class that I am going to take roll and anyone not in the room is absent. Boy did kids re-enter the room in a hurry! Now I was not happy so I told them exactly how I wanted them to leave... or else.

Yea, they went 'or else'. So when they got back from lunch a new assignment was on the board. 5-6 sentences on respect. Then it went to 6-7 sentences and finally 7-8 sentences. Not to bright this bunch, that's for sure. What I find odd is that it's the 'regular kids' I have all the issues with. The honors kids are normally wonderful, and you'd think that the average group would be OK and the kids who are behind would the most trouble. But the kids who are in the 180 program have been very good for the most part. Can someone 'splain that one to me?

Today was only a half day, 3 periods with two classes. Yep, one class for two periods. The first class went great, surprise, they're the honors class. Good kids and good writers. The second class were harder but after telling them what I did to the last two classes, and that I'd be taking roll twice to make sure kids came back from the bathroom between periods everything was alright. I had to spend more time on managing the class that I would have liked but they did get real work done and they did use their brains, and I can sleep well knowing I did my best.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

R-E-S-P-E-C-T by Vegas Art Guy

I have a backup plan for every class that I am in. This plan isn't in case the regular teacher forgets a lesson plan and has nothing prepared. This one is just for the students who decide that listening to the teacher is not worth the effort. Like my 6th period Earth Science Class today at a local middle school. They were the perfect candidates for this lesson. Why? No respect. Here is how this lesson plan was executed today.

I had been warned that the 6th period class was rowdy, not just mine but the school in general, so I knew that I had to be meaner quicker. That was not a problem, because 5th period missed this lesson by about
that much and I was in a bad mood to start with. Being the honest person that I am, I flat out warn the class that I'm in a bad mood and unless they want misery the rest of the class they need to behave. I then offer the carrot of free time at the end if we can get the worksheet done early. Warning & offer fall on deaf ears, not surprised, just disappointed.

However, I decide that we need to get on with the lesson on convection, and begin the lecture, which after about 5 minutes was a train wreck. I then switch to nasty mode, which when you're 6'5" and 250+ can get nasty. I silence the mob for about 5 minutes and warn them that if they do not get on with work that I have another lesson they won't like that will last the end of the period. Now most kids when faced with choices like this would go the easy route, after all why add more work to your day right?

These were not most kids, after about 5 minutes of relative peace, they revert to form. I swing the trap shut. And they spend the next 30 minutes writing about respect, three kids get to sign the honor roll of kids who didn't listen and one brain sturgeon got to do the reflection sheet. They turned in incomplete worksheets (their problem not mine) and the essays.

My mistake as usual was that I was too nice for too long. I should have kicked out kids earlier and even sent a couple to the dean, but I am getting faster on the draw.

Here is the definition of Respect.

1.a particular, detail, or point (usually prec. by in): to differ in some respect.
2.relation or reference: inquiries with respect to a route.
3.esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability, or something considered as a manifestation of a personal quality or ability: I have great respect for her judgment.
4.deference to a right, privilege, privileged position, or someone or something considered to have certain rights or privileges; proper acceptance or courtesy; acknowledgment: respect for a suspect's right to counsel; to show respect for the flag; respect for the elderly.
5.the condition of being esteemed or honored: to be held in respect.
6.respects, a formal expression or gesture of greeting, esteem, or friendship: Give my respects to your parents.
7.favor or partiality.
8.Archaic. a consideration.
–verb (used with object) hold in esteem or honor: I cannot respect a cheat. show regard or consideration for: to respect someone's rights. refrain from intruding upon or interfering with: to respect a person's privacy. relate or have reference to.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

I now know by Vegas Art Guy

I now know why I chose not to teach elementary school, because kids would die. Seriously. Today I subbed at an elementary school in the library. I had grades K-3 in the library today and while I would sub there again, I'll never teach long term at an elementary school.

Now the 3rd graders were the best of the bunch, they struggled with geography but listened pretty well and gave the work a good effort and that's what I want from students, their best shot. The kindergarten kids were also not bad, considering how young they are and that they are just learning how to read. The second grade kids did well with looking through a newspaper to find information and all of those groups had no trouble checking books in or out.

I also helped out a second grade class for a period with a writing sample about Las Vegas. I was impressed with their thought process and their willingness to write for someone they'd never seen before.

That leaves the first graders. Think of every stereotype of a school-aged kid and that was them, loud, obnoxious, deaf, etc... I made sure that the librarian who I covered for knew they were terrors. She had day long meetings so I met with her a couple of times to keep her abreast of things. The only good part was when I led the discussion about fiction vs. non-fiction books, but aside from that 10 minutes the rest was a train wreck.

I teach science tomorrow wish me and the students luck!

Friday, September 14, 2007

A complete 180 By Vegas Art Guy

Well, after yesterday's adventure in subbing, I figured that today's gig was going to be at least a bit smoother. In fact, it was the complete opposite of the behavior school and all the issues contained therein.
Today I got to sub a a local magnet middle school. My assignment was to go to three different rooms and help the kids there with their reading. Many of the kids I got the honor of helping today were reading at least 2 years behind where they should be and some of them were literally reading at the first grade level.

Now a few of them were on the cusp of getting back into a regular English classroom and one of the teachers pointed out a young man who came into 6th grade reading at the first grade level and is now at the 4th grade level. Yes, I know that he's still behind but look at how far this kid came. He basically jumped three grades in reading in one school year. My guess is that at the end of the year he'll be in a regular English class.

Now get this, and keep in mind I got paid to do this. My main job was to have the kids read to me and then I would have them tell me what they just read and what they thought about it. Now is that cool or what? Sure they stumbled over words, and a couple of them couldn't get the words out fast enough. One gal didn't think much of the main character's method's of getting the guy she had the hots for attention, she thought it was sneaky and underhanded. But they were getting it, and they were thrilled to read out loud to someone. I told several students to read about things that interested them and I gave book suggestions to one of the girls who is just about at grade level and gave the teacher some ideas for books to get that my daughter has read in the passed and really liked.

That's a job I could get used to in a hurry. Next week I have jobs 4 days next week and I think I'll get enough work to get me to October 8 when I get my own (sorta) class for the rest of the semester.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Well, THAT was interesting! By Vegas Art Guy

So, I just finished, or survived my first subbing assignment. I could have picked something easy, but no, I took the alternative school, you know the one where kids go when they get kicked out of their school and have to earn their way back in? Yea, THAT one. Jeffrey Behavioral School, and these kids were there for good reason, truancy, drugs, fighting, talking back to the teachers, that sort of thing.

Now the day started out pretty well, I had two English classes and they went pretty well. They read the short story Seventh Grade by Gary Soto, whose a great writer. They did not get all the way through it but they were catching on pretty good. Then the second period had to write down ten sentences according to the lesson plan left by the teacher. Third period was great, since it was my prep and I could relax and hope the second half went like the first. Not a chance in hell. Fifth period was OK but starting to really push my buttons. It was at that point I should have started the exodus to the dean's office, which would earn them an extra two weeks at the school. It was 6th period that was totally out of control. I sent one brat er girl down to the dean and should have sent 6 or 7 more right after that, stupid me. That class was totally out of control and it was my fault. I threatened and did not back it up. I learned my lesson for 7th period and after brat #2 got sent down for his 2 week extension things started to calm down. 8th period was just 4 boys and that went well because we talked about careers and they got into the discussion and had some good things to say.

Tomorrow I help out at a middle school so that should go better than this one did. I'd probably go back because I don't want to be the one that the kids run out of there. I'll start by stepping on necks and referring people to the dean until they get the picture. I'll let them know ahead of time to expect multiple kids from my class.

The good news in this, aside from me actually not committing a felony, is that the rate of pay is higher. Instead of $12.50/hr I get $15.28/hr, enough to buy some extra beer.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Life and More by Vegas Art Guy

I got to spend the day observing the class that I will be taking over in October for a teacher who is expecting her first child. (Thanks again Karlana) She is an excellent teacher and I hope that I can be half the teacher she is now. I'll be teaching US History to 9th graders for the remainder of the semester. Three of the classes are regular ones and three are honors classes. Mrs Fogila is also going to allow me to teach a couple of my own lessons in addition to the ones that she has already set up. She also gave me a copy of the power point presentations that I'll be able to use (and fix up) while I am in her class. Needless to say, I am very excited about this chance. I decided by that much to teach English instead of History so I won't be flying blind with this subject like I would with science or math classes.

Now on to other matters...
While perusing my emails, I ran across an interesting breakpoint commentary by Chuck Colson dealing with the sub-prime crisis and the forgotten third leg of the economic stool. It's a fairly short read and well worth the time. There is a line in the Bible that goes along the lines of man's inability to serve two masters.

It's also worth noting the passing of Dr. D. James Kennedy, of complications following a heart attack late last year. Alan Seers writes a nice obituary here. He did his best to live his life by the beliefs that he preached from the pulpit. I was lucky enough to hear many of them on the radio, and even when I did not totally agree with him or his guests (I'm not a young earth creationist), I was always impressed with how he backed up his statements and the amount of time he took to prepare his lessons for his congregation. He will be missed by many around the world, including this desert rat.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

She said what? By Vegas Art Guy

Whoppi Goldberg has decided to defend the indefensible. Yes, she actually had the gall to defend Mike Vick (now a convicted felon) and dog fighting. What, exactly, is she on? I don't care if it's part of the 'culture', dog fighting is brutal, and a felony is still a felony.

Let me ask you something Whoppi. The Jim Crow laws were part of Southern Culture for 100 years or so, why don't we bring those back too? Oh, wait those were wrong too!

Why do people continue to defend the indefensible? Why do people continue to make excuses for Mike Vick and his role in the dog fighting ring?


Sunday, September 02, 2007

Freedom Writers by Vegas Art Guy

Saturday night my wife and I watched the movie Freedom Writers based on the work done by Erin Gruwell at Woodrow Wilson HS in Long Beach CA. Ms. Gruwell took a bunch of unteachable at risk kids and allowed them to discover the human buried deep within. She had to convince not just her kids that they were worth a damn but the administrators and fellow teachers as well, many of whom had written off these kids long ago.

What really struck me, besides her dedication and pure will was the asinine attitude of the administration and her fellow teachers. More than once, my jaw hit the sofa as I listened to these so called educators tell Erin what reality really was.

I just hope that I can be half the teacher she is.

Click here for more information on the book and the movie.