The First Full Week Down

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The first week is over.  Impressions have been made.  I can’t hang a banner saying “Mission Accomplished”, but there has been some progress. 

I am having trouble with the timing in my classes.  It seems like the clock rings early in two classes…periods 4 and 6.  It is driving me crazy.  I have always struggled with this as I become more comfortable as I go along and my shtick gets more polished.   The image based country review for my classes on Friday was good, but I kept adding details and as a result the Mylar-7 maps for those periods are still a mystery.

I’m going to end this entry with a rip-off of Mike Reiss’ 3 Up/3 Down for the first 8 days:


  1. Students.  The kids seem like a really nice bunch.  There will be some challenges, but nothing we cannot work with.
  2. Focus.  I have a really clear focus on this year.  My curriculum is set and I fell comfortable, for the first time, on the balance between what I want to teach and what I have to teach.
  3. Inspiration.  The hook is in the mouth.  I just need to be patient on setting the hook deep.


  1. The Bell.  Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.
  2. Back to School night being on the same night as my oldest daughter’s B2S.  This is the first time I have not been able to attend for my own children.  Double Grrrrr.
  3. Humidity in my classroom.  The rotund one is too warm.

Day 3 – Building Classroom Identity

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I attacked the notion that History is Boring by using my Cleopatra meets TMZ PowerPoint.  The “real” story is one of betrayal, incest, and politics of a major kind.  It hooked the kids.   Win for me.

It was cookie (80), icing (80-10), and sprinkles (80-10-10) time.  Many years ago either Baney, Sturgeon, or I came up with 80, 80-10, and 80-10-10.  First off for the non-Globetrotters, 80 means what 80% of the people do in a project, life, whatever.  80-10 means what the 10% do above the norm.  They are the ones that try to separate themselves by taking the extra step.  The rare air is breathed by the 80-10-10 kids.  They are the ones who are special.   

I love the square watermelon.  It gives me a place to teach students to push beyond what they think is a limitation.  Beautiful to watch their faces after I have set them up so bad. 

Remember Me.  I did not do this justice.  I plan on revisiting this on Monday as I introduce vocabulary.

A Case for making Prom Points a National Campaign

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Boyfriend Lets Foul Ball Hit Girlfriend There is always the moment of truth in a young knights journey…the moment when they meet their first dragon…the moment when they find out whether they will walk into the fire to save the damsel in distress…this guy failed…epic failure…

One of the parts of my class is the concept of prom points.  I stole this from Brad Jackson, my early inspiration.  Prom points in a cosmic plus and MINUS system where every act of kindness adds one point to man’s prom points.  However, one act of unkindness wipes out the entire bank of points.  Of course, since women are psychic about prom points this information is available to every women in the world. 

Of course, the couple went on national television to announce they have broken up.  So sad.  Another male victim of negative prom points.

Day 2 – Plans Change

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I began the day with the ShiftHappens PowerPoint (updated).  The goal was for my students to understand why I emphasize thinking, problem solving, and cultural literacy.   I also wanted to set the hook a little on why it is important for them to be globally aware.  The PowerPoint went well and I think the kids understood some of the basic ideas. 

The second part of the class was an explanation of the my only class rule…don’t interrupt my groove; of course, this allowed me to show a clip from Emperor’s New Groove…the kids liked it.

The last part of class was to set up the interactive notebook.  This is one of the necessary evils, but my new clicker (which I LOVE) made it a bit more fun.

My master plan included getting to my “Is History Boring” slide show on Cleopatra, but I ran out of time.  So now I have transferred it until tomorrow and will delay starting my geography review until late next week.

Day 1 – First Day of School

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Ahh..the first day is nearly here….Wednesday…the most crucial day of the school year…Day 1.    I have already set the hook a little at last Thursday’s schedule pickup.  Many a future student walked over meet me which resulted in the “spin the pencil” trick (someday I’ll post a video) which led to some of the kids getting a first day of school assignment of finding the definition of my favorite vocabulary word, “Akrasia”. 

The Greek word ‘akrasia’ is usually said to translate literally as ‘lack of self-control,’ but it has come to be used as a general term for the phenomenon known as weakness of the will; the disposition to act contrary to one’s own considered judgment about what it is best to do.

On the first day of class these students will be asked to “stand and deliver” the fruits of their research.  This is the tip of the sword that I hope will result in them engaging into my class.  I have tried to make sure there are more than one kid in every class. 

I took and modified an activity from a science teacher from Penn High School that she demonstrated at the Armstrong Retreat.   The idea is for my students move around the classroom and complete some of MY unique classroom tasks (e.g., longitude/latitude ceiling coordinates, filling out their Lamb cards, thinking about the first paragraph of Winnie-the-Pooh, and introducing them to my right-handed rock. Day 1 – Opening Project – Lamb, Rock, Seat, Pooh

This is the plan along with passing out our team’s supply list.

Reality: Okay the supply list never made the conversation.  The lambs got carded, the rock became a tool, they have no idea why Winnie goes “bump, bump, bump”, and a few began to show some thought.  One of the things that make this day tough is all “things” that have to be said in one class, but necessary in all classes.  They are valid things that have to done, but it is hard to have the classes to get the same experience.  I liked the theme music “Hakuna Matata” entrance and the class moving thing worked pretty well.


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I want to matter.  I want to leave something behind that matters.  As a father, I want to leave behind children that contribute to the world.  I want them to raise good children, be a faithful wife, be a pillar in the community, and serve God in a way that brings honor to Him. 

As a teacher, I want to help mold students that contribute.  I want them to understand that what they do should matter.  I want them to become productive as parents, spouses, community leaders, business innovators, and to have a heart for life. 

I’m putting the sign on the top of the door.  I stole this from The Emperor’s Club, but the message is solid and worth sharing with my students.

Remembering Those I’ve Lost

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Jared Sweitzer

Bryce Mitchell

Mike Green

Chasity Bradford

John Ice

Alex Grusak

Jake Brown

Meet Them Where They Are

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I renewed my ASCD membership today which gave me a chance to browse some articles.  I found an article by Robyn Jackson called Meet Them Where They Are.  I loved the opening story:

Good grades. A quiet classroom. These are often what teachers value. But what if students come to class looking for something else?

Cynthia quickly moved through the classroom, collecting the previous evening’s homework assignment. While her back was to the door, Jason hurried in and slid into his seat. Without turning around, Cynthia said, “I saw that, Jason.”  The class erupted in laughter as Jason blushed. “Take out your homework, and I’ll be around in a second to deal with you,” Cynthia instructed.  When Cynthia reached his chair and noticed that Jason did not have any work out, she moved past and finished collecting the other papers. She got the class started on a warm-up exercise and called Jason to her desk.

“Where’s your homework?” she asked.  “I forgot to do it,” Jason muttered.

“So you’re not only late to class, but you also don’t have your homework? Hmm, this is serious,” Cynthia said. “Do you know what you owe me?”   “Detention?” Jason guessed.

Cynthia shook her head. “No indeed. You need to make things right with me. Tomorrow when you come to class, you need to be here early with your homework—and a Snickers bar. And it better be fresh!”  Jason looked up, startled, then smiled widely. He went back to his seat and got to work. The next morning, he arrived at Cynthia’s class with not one but two Snickers bars and cheerfully handed in his missing homework assignment.

When Cynthia first told me this story, I have to admit that I was shocked. It seemed that she was letting Jason off the hook. “Cynthia, please tell me you aren’t shaking kids down for candy,” I mocked.  She laughed and then explained that too often, we make too big a deal of it when students make mistakes. We treat their mistakes as personal affronts and, as a result, kids are afraid to mess up—afraid that if they do, there is no road back. Over the years, Jason had adopted a cavalier attitude because he believed that once he made a mistake—and he made them all the time—he had ruined the entire school year. By having him give her a Snickers bar, Cynthia showed him a pathway to redemption.

“It isn’t about the Snickers bar,” she explained. “It’s about giving kids a tangible way of redeeming themselves and recovering from their mistakes.”

Cynthia is starting where her students are.

Good story.  Better message.  The use of humor and avoiding painting kids into a corner is good classroom management.   I love the idea that redemption can be found…not just crime and punishment.  Now don’t get me wrong.  I can punish with the best of them, but to quote Gandhi, “Do you act to punish or do you act to change things?  We are all such sinners that I leave punishment to God.”