stirring the pot

Well, I had pushed aside the idea of writing some blogs about the Common Core Curriculum Standards, but more and more incidents continue to push it back to the forefront of my mind that I think it needs to be done. The amount of misinformation and misconceptions that continue to circulate around the CCCS is frustrating to no end. Therefore, be prepared for a series of several posts explaining why I support the adoption of the CCCS.

Now, before I begin, I will say that I cannot speak to the way individual school systems implement the CCCS in their schools. I know personally of some systems that are creating issues through awkward or badly structured implementation. This is not a reflection on the standards themselves, but rather on the legislators and administrators who are creating the implementation stages.

I am also very much against the continuation of high-stakes testing as a part of evaluation. This is not a criticism of the CCCS, though, as some popularly-circulating blog posts are trying to make it. High-stakes testing is a product of No Child Left Behind, first and foremost, and legislators who feel they can use a simplistic metric to evaluate the success of a complicated profession. That said, the PARCC test seems to be a significant improvement over the previous iterations of tests by being spaced out into several segments throughout the year rather than one high-stress week near the end, and by requiring skill application and writing rather than merely information recall and multiple-choice guessing. Nevertheless, there are far better and more accurate ways to evaluate both student skill-mastery and educator effectiveness than tying funding and employment to the results of testing.

My final disclaimer/criticism concerns ready-made booklets. Don’t get me wrong–I am not issuing a blanket criticism of CCCS-aligned curriculum and workbooks altogether. I am criticizing the plethora of booklets and worksheet collections that rush to publication simply to pander to administrative fears that their educators will be unable to apply the CCCS to whatever curricula they are already using. This causes confusion, it undermines the professional standing of educators, and it creates situations where educators are forced into using sub-par materials because administrators require them to do so. Yes, there are some curricula that will not work with the CCCS, but by and large, those are not strong curricula in the first place. I can think of one right now, very popular among home and Christian schools, that will not blend well with the CCCS. It has nothing to do with “worldview” or Science or religious stance, however, and everything to do with the fact that said curriculum espouses outdated pedagogical methods and avoids teaching any type of critical thinking skills or strong writing techniques.

Okay. Disclaimers and recognition of some faults out of the way, onward I shall go.

behind the doors

School is now well underway. I am the proud owner of an ActiveBoard [insert appropriate patent attributions]. My class is interesting and mostly has their brains in gear. haha. So overall, it’s a good start to the year. Which means, it’s time to share student thoughts.

Earlier in the week they had a penmanship page that looks like this:
all of the doors to your future

Part of the lesson was to write what they imagined was happening behind the door. Here are the ones that are my favorite.

**(for the blue door) I think behind this door is an elegant, peaceful, and jolly old lady. She and her husband want to die in the most exquisite and stunning home ever. When her kids come over she has the most pleasant smile ever. Even when she dies she is going to have a gracies [sic] smile.

**(for the orange door) I think there are knights behind the door. The knights are preparing for battle to the death in an awesome siege.

**(for the orange door) The door to the left interests me the most. It is orange with a lot of patterns on it. Also, it is an oval shape and is big. It looks old and weird. I think behind this door there are stairs going up to a lab.

**(I have no idea which door) I chose this door because it looks like it could be the door to…
a castle, a cottage, or even a home, a bakery, a store, or maybe a dome.
All doors are germy or clean, but some doors aren’t even seen.
Some doors aren’t clean, but that’s just how it seems.

So there you are. A little tidbit from our class so far this year.

PS. I will have a trip summary, with the most awesome pictures you’ve ever seen, sometime in the next week.

getting my feet under me

So I have landed and been here for two rather leisurely days. I don’t mind the leisure at all. Haha. Last time I didn’t really have time to recoup between overnight flight and adventure, so it’s a little bit if a change. I have had to remind myself a couple of times that I don’t have to pack something into every minute.

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a small summer adventure

Well. It has been far too long since I’ve written. I’ve had a lot of things bouncing around in my brain in the last couple of months, and my plan was to jump back into my blog with a series of pot-stirring posts ennumerating why I suppose the change to Common Core Curriculum Standards. (Oh hey look–I just stirred he lot a little by saying merely that. :-P) My plans changed when I was presented with the opportunity to spend two weeks in London. Oh yes. I was definitely going to do that. So now, you, my readers, must wait to mount your indignation until my two weeks of postin vacation posts is over. So sorry. (I’m not really sorry.)

And so, welcome back to the blog readers. Allons-y!

to the wonderful girls who are now A Legacy

I wrote this Wednesday, and I have kept coming back to it and editing it. I want so much for my words to be the right words. I think I’ve finally gotten there.

There has been much on my mind since I got the call Sunday night letting me know that the girls’ PE and cheerleading coach, Cookie Valentine, had died unexpectedly. I know that for so many around me that loss is far greater than it could ever be for me. More than anything else, my thoughts have been with the cheerleaders. I can’t even imagine how difficult this is for all of those girls who spent so much time learning from her. This post is for them.

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receiving and being beholden

I learned something about myself yesterday. I’m not exactly sure how I feel about it.

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Mondays that need mulligans

Some days in the classroom are amazing and filled with light bulb moments. Most days in the classroom are largely mundane, filled with small frustrations and triumphs, tiny quellings, and modest encouragements. And then there are the days when your carefully laid plans crumble around you and grasp at the straws of survival as you are painfully reminded of your own fallibility and fragility.

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the writing edge is dull and rusty

Well, it has been an age and day since I last wrote a blog entry. That must change. My writing is suffering for it, to be sure. The problem is largely that lately my motivations to write have been distinctly negative and more suited to long, rambling rants than reasoned discussion. The solution is probably to make time to write a few specific times a week. Therefore, those of you few souls who will be delighted to see an update from me, this is the plan, and you, few souls, may feel free to keep me accountable to it. :-) Here’s to some success.

With that said, I suppose I should start this renewed endeavor on a positive note: it is always a beautifully refreshing moment to speak with someone who recognizes that an educator is a skilled professional and understands that just because said person happened to go through 12 years of universal education does not mean they have the knowledge and skill to tell me how I need to run my classroom or grade papers. It’s nice to be seen for what I am rather than just a “teacher (aka glorified babysitter/aka doing a job anyone can do).”

Until next time.

first time for everything

Well, we’ve begun a new school year in Room 208. Of course, two week in we got a raucous little holiday thanks to Isaac. I’m currently writing this on the dregs on my laptop battery and hoping they can take care of those tree-downed lines sooner than I expect they will. I’m also mentally castigating my father for leaving town to stay with his mother without setting up the generator first. So far it’s been an interesting year.

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guest post to restart the writing

All right everyone–I am well aware that it has been far, far too long since I’ve posted here. I had already determined that the beginning of the school year was the best time to re-start my blogging, and this just providentially coincided with the opportunity to spread the word of my friend’s upcoming trip to Sri Lanka. But there, I’ll leave the honors of introducing the trip to him:

This guest post comes to you courtesy of Darrell Dow, who writes over at

The Ella Gap view towards the South Coast, Sri Lanka

Want to take a trip with me to an exotic place halfway around the world? On August 23rd I’ll be leaving for the exotic island nation of Sri Lanka with a group of World Vision Bloggers and I’d love for you to come with us! Each day this bunch of talented writers, bloggers, and storytellers will be telling the story of Sri Lanka and how sponsoring children through World Vision changes lives there.

The greatest part of this trip is that you don’t have to leave your desk. I’ll be happy to deal with all the shots, passports, airports, jet lag and language barriers — all you have to do is tag along by visiting my blog at In the meantime feel free to check out my World Vision page and learn all about how child sponsorship works.