Thursday, April 30, 2009

Anyone Got Toothpicks?

Slowly drying out from Tuesday's dousing. Highway 6 is closed between Clay and I-10. As long as we have lived here (27+ years) that has only happened one other time. And that was when we had an extremely wet January (or was it February?) Anyway - it caused a huge traffic SNAFU, but it should resolve itself by Monday.

The day off just pushed the TAKS tests back one day. So yesterday we had our science blitz for the 8th graders while the 6th and 7th graders did their math TAKS. Today the 8th graders had the social studies blitz, while 6th and 7th graders did reading TAKS.

Lucky me today (said very sarcastically) I got to moderate a test. The kids complain about having to sit quietly after a test, sometimes for 2-3 hours while we wait for everyone to finish. When they do finish their test they can read a book, stare out the window, or put their heads down and sleep. I, on the other hand, have to sit there and watch them take a test. Nothing else, just watch them take the test. Can't read a book, can't grade papers, can't sit at the computer or anything else. Yeah time today just seemed to fly - NOT! I feel like a mental vegetable now.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Got Ark Plans Anyone?

Rain from 2:30 AM on this morning - straight. Up at the usual 4:45AM, finally at 5:50, the district announced that classes were cancelled. Everything on this side of town is flooding. We have had a bunch of rain lately, too, so the ground is already wet. The clay soil can not hold much more so it all runs off.

Sixth and seventh graders were supposed to take TAKS today and tomorrow, while the 8th graders have TAKS Thursday and Friday. I guess it just gets pushed back a day, but it does create a big headache.

Ah well, off to take a nap!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Who Hasn't Seen This Yet?

Wanted to post this yesterday, but I fell asleep. Hope it makes your day brighter! It does mine.

Click on the text above - YouTube disabled embedding. Almost 30 million hits just on this version alone.

And here is the rest of the story, as Paul Harvey would say. (Click on "the rest of the story")

Have a great day!

I Dreamed A Dream
There was a time when men were kind
When their voices were soft
And their words inviting
There was a time when love was blind
And the world was a song
And the song was exciting
There was a time
Then it all went wrong

I dreamed a dream in time gone by
When hope was high
And life worth living
I dreamed that love would never die
I dreamed that God would be forgiving
Then I was young and unafraid
And dreams were made and used and wasted
There was no ransom to be paid
No song unsung, no wine untasted

But the tigers come at night
With their voices soft as thunder
As they tear your hope apart
And they turn your dream to shame

He slept a summer by my side
He filled my days with endless wonder
He took my childhood in his stride
But he was gone when autumn came

And still I dream he'll come to me
That we will live the years together
But there are dreams that cannot be
And there are storms we cannot weather

I had a dream my life would be
So different from this hell I'm living
So different now from what it seemed
Now life has killed the dream I dreamed.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Testing Is Upon Us

Many years ago, Texas, in its infinite wisdom, voted to have state mandated testing. It was TABS first, Texas Assessment of Basic Skills. Then TEAMS came along, Texas Assessment of Minimal Skills. Not good enough, so they came up with TAKS, Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills. And still they change it, changing the grade levels that are tested, changing what is tested, changing how and how often things are tested.

March third was the official "start" of testing season, beginning with 8th grade reading and 7th grade writing. Testing continues for various grade levels on different days through the month of April. Not sure if the change is a good thing or not for the kids. In the past we just had the tests on consecutive days. For 8th graders that meant 4 consectuive days of tests, 2 all day and 2 half days. By the end they were ready to burst at the seams, but we got them all out of the way. Now the tests are spread out, less stress all at once, instead it is spread out over 2 months.

I had my summative conference this week, also. Overall my principal is very happy with the way the 8th grade science team is coming together and we both have high expectations for the science department as a whole. He asked me if I thought we were going to improve on our 8th grade science scores from last year. I hate those kind of questions! There is so much out of my control, I feel like it is a crap shoot right now. We (8th grade teachers) set a goal of 75% of the econ disadvantaged kids passing. I am not sure we will get there. The kids are tired of hearing about the test, and the fact that it covers 6th, 7th, and 8th grade science is stressing the teachers out! We can't teach all 3 years in one, and once again I feel like the concepts I taught were developed a mile wide and an inch deep instead of the other way around.

So I control what I can control - what I do in my classroom - and hope that the kids come through. Have I done enough? I don't ever think I have. I always find one more thing I could have done, or should have done differently. But I can say that, once again, I did give it 110% and if my students give just 100% on the test I think we can do it. We shall see. Test day is April 30, t minus 8 school days and counting.

I am looking forward though, and want to work more on making the whole science team a model PLC (professional learning community). We can't get the 8th grade students proficient at anything unless they have a solid foundation to start with. Right now they do not have that. I want the teams to be vertically aligned yesterday. We are still working on aligning just within our own teams (6th and 7th), so vertical alignment is a long term goal. Sigh. Well, it makes Jose happy - I am there for a few years more, since I now feel my work is not done there yet.

Oh and there are only six and a half weeks of school left. Where has the year gone! It seems like only last month we were recovering from Ike. Here we are looking at May!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

My Favorite Commercial Right Now

This has to be one of the best ones out right now! I love the happy dance about 20 seconds in.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Story Continues - Ruh Roh part 3 & Some Good News!

Seems one of our neighbors was walking their dog when he saw a young, black man run from the end of our cul-da-sac onto the greenbelt and into the drainage ditch that runs down the center of the greenbelt. The young man apparently ran back up, saw Sam, and then ran back down into the ditch again. Coming back to our street Sam then noticed the red car at the end of the cul-de-sac, door open, car still running. That certainly is suspicious around here. Said red car was also stolen. No huge surprise there.

The police officer at our school is also a trove of information! The family of the suspect that was hit by the car showed up at the scene of the accident within an hour of the accident. The police had not yet notified the family. The family said that "Little Ray" called them and told them their family member had been in a bad accident and gave them the address. He told them to come quickly. So I guess "Little Ray" is Suspect #1.

Also, the shooting at Mc Donald's - a kid named Brandon was the one who shot at the other kids. Brandon is a drop out, apparently, and went to Watkins early in his academic career.


The good news today, though, is tickets to the Astros Opening Day game vs the Cubbies! I can't wait!