Wednesday, May 30, 2007

SCHOOL'S OUT!



Well school is out for summer. I had a great year and anticipate another great year next year. I have been out of town for a few days so I thought I better get another post up and going. I want to challenge junior high and high school kids to better themselves this summer. I don't mean just "my" kids. I mean every kid that reads this blog. I challenge kids to read more, volunteer in your community, volunteer to help an elderly person in your neighborhood, teach a younger sibling. or younger friend, something useful, etc. There are many things out there that you can do to better yourself. You will find out how good you can feel when you do something that is not required or asked of you. This type of behavior is addicting and can lead to wonderful things. I am not telling you to not have fun this summer! I am telling you to make sure that you understand that other people may not be able to have the same fun, and exciting, summer that you have planned, but with your help, they could have an enjoyable summer. Who knows, maybe you may even make some new friends and develop some great characteristics that will help you later in life. There is nothing better than hearing "thank you", or seeing a big smile on someone's face, after you help them in a situation in which they thought there was going to be no help.

"Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little." - Edmund Burke

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Going to School Year-Round


It's the end of the school year so I think I am safe bringing this subject up. Ok, maybe not. The way I understand how year-round school works is that you are in class for 9 weeks and then you get 2-3 weeks off. Then you go another 9 weeks and get another 2-3 weeks off, and so on. The last few years or so my thoughts about year-round school have changed. When I was a "green" teacher I couldn't wait for summer and enjoyed every minute of it. Summer has always been a rejuvenating period for me. I usually come back to school very enthusiastic and ready to go. To be honest though, the last ten years or so, I am getting antsy to get back into a routine after about a month of summer. Don't get me wrong, I still love summer break, but I think year-round school would be better for everyone. When I say everyone I mean the kids, the teachers, and the parents. If you have ever taught before, or are teaching, you know how hard it is to get the kids, and yourself, back in the groove of things in the fall. For some kids it might take as long as the entire first quarter to get everything organized and moving smoothly. Year-round school would eliminate this "transition" period. Parents would also not have to go through this "nagging" period to get their kids back in a routine. I think all the teachers, and students, would stay fresher and more inspired if they knew they had a couple week break after working hard for one 9 week period.

There are some major problems with this change. First and foremost, keeping daycare for the kids when they are off for those 2-3 weeks during the year is a big concern. This would not be acceptable in most daycares. Most daycares don't allow you to come and go whenever. You must hold your spot. This is a major problem for parents. Second, in our area (the Midwest), schools would have to have air-conditioning for those unbearable summer months. Third, the entire sports and extra curricular activity schedules would have to be completely redone. And fourth, making a change like this would require some major open-mindedness from everyone!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Who Needs a Pacifier?



We have to do something about gun control in this state, and nation! "What do you mean?", you ask. Well check this out. A 10-month-old was issued a legal gun permit! How can this happen? His father filled out the gun permit but did not expect it to go through. He did not even lie on the application! He had a picture of his son with his correct height and weight. A spokesman for the state police said that their is no age restrictions for applicants. Please tell me this: If a 10-month-old can get a gun permit, who can't? To me, this is a scary situation. The father did say the gun, a 12-gauge Beretta shotgun, would probably be kept at his father's house until "Bubba" was at least 14. What do you think?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Death Penalty Argument



Today in Lewistown, Illinois Daniel Ramsey was sentenced to death for the fatal shootings of two Hancock County girls in 1996. He was convicted in 1997 and sentenced to death but the case was overturned on an insanity defense technicality. On April 25 he pleaded guilty to four counts of first degree murder, three counts of attempted murder, and one count each of aggravated criminal sexual assault and home invasion. He has never denied shooting the two girls. There has been no death sentences carried out in Illinois since 2003. At that time Governor Ryan imposed a moratorium on executions. Governor Blagojevich has continued the moratorium.

This all being said, I will tell you that I am for the death penalty but have heard several good arguments against it. I believe, roughly, "an eye for and eye". I also believe that the public should not have to pay for a convicted killer's meals, medications, medical treatment, etc. so that he/she may live out his/her life in prison. This individual is doing nothing for society! He/she has taken at least one life and is now, in a sense, living on a "free ticket". The individual doesn't have to work for a living. He or she doesn't have to worry about where their next meal is coming from.

I know, one of the arguments that I hear is that to take a life is not our decision. It is the decision of a higher power. Did the person that lost his/her life, to this violent and heartless person, get to choose when he/she died? Did a higher power decide it was time for that individual to die at the hands of this madman? I find this hard to believe. I am sure there are other arguments out there against the death penalty. Please inform me. I have an open mind, but as of now I am for it!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Manners (The Lack Thereof)


My first post ever was on the lack of positive thinking in this world. I was recently reminded that manners, and respect for other individuals, is also very hard to find in many places. My daughter was in a dance recital, and we (parents, family, friends, etc.), were instructed to stay quiet during the dance routines and to clear the aisles as soon as possible between dance routines. It was a total joke! You could sure tell when relatives and friends of certain dancers were not performing. Adults were talking, to each other and on cell phones, and moving about like nothing was going on. It was ridiculous! My family, and several others, were following directions but it did not matter. There were several times the instructor had to wait for the next performance because people were not doing what they were supposed to. We are talking about adults! My son was better behaved than many of the adults. Don't all young people that work hard on a routine for months deserve everyone's attention for a few minutes? I will be honest. I do not like dance recitals. I am a sports person. I am also a teacher. Even though I do not like dance recitals, I do know that all these young people worked extremely hard to be able to perform in front of this large audience. We, as a family, did what we were told so that everyone could enjoy the show and focus on the child they came to see. I can not even begin to count how many adults I have heard complain about children not listening or following directions. How can we expect children to follow directions when we, as adults, can't follow directions? For some reason many adults feel that they are immune to instruction because they are adults. Just remember, children do what they see!

By the way, the dancers were all wonderful! You could sure tell they worked hard. Congratulations to the teachers and dancers for putting on a wonderful program.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

A Dad With Class and Dignity


Derek Fisher has always had class and dignity but it was put to the test on Wednesday, May 9th. His daughter, Tatum, has a rare condition called retinoblastoma, which is a childhood cancer of the eye. She had surgery on Wednesday in New York. Derek does not have class and dignity because he was with his daughter during her surgery. I think any dad would do this for their child. Derek has class because, after he heard his daughter was cleared to go home with the family, he knew other people were also depending on him at his job in Salt Lake City. It would have been extremely easy for him to stay with his daughter and forget about basketball (his job) for who knows how long. He gave his team something to play for and he made a very important 3-pointer late in overtime against the Golden State Warriors. This gave the Jazz a 2-0 lead in the series. I know some of you are saying, "Yeah, but it was just a basketball game." Well, it wasn't! It was his job and that is what he does for a living. I would hope that all of us would take our job this serious and understand that other people do depend on us to do our job. Just because it was basketball doesn't make it any less of a tough decision on his part. In today's arrogance-infested sports arena this type of action should be applauded! GOOD JOB DEREK FISHER, AND I HOPE THIS STAYS IN THE NEWS LONGER THAN THE MANY HORRENDOUS THINGS THAT HAPPEN IN SPORTS DAILY!

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

GAS PRICES...Enough Said


Unbelieveable! I never thought I would see the day when gas was over three dollars a gallon constantly. Why is the price increasing? In a recent article, Gas Prices Blamed On Refineries, Demand, the price is blamed on refinery problems. The article said that one of the largest refineries in the nation, in Whiting, Indiana, won't be at full capacity for several months due to unexpected repairs. The average price of gas in the nation is at $3.07, which is .20 higher than two weeks ago! The previous record was $3.03 a gallon in August of 2006. In San Francisco the price of a gallon of gas is $3.49! I would say I am going to have to get another job to pay for my gas expenses but it would require more gas to get to the job. Will the price go down? Will it keep increasing? Could it reach $4 a gallon? The price of gas is scary. The sooner alternate power sources are put into effect, the better. How close are we to having solar powered cars, all electric cars, or other alternately powered cars, in mass use? We have to do something!

Monday, May 7, 2007

To Smoke Or Not To Smoke


Recently Illinois lawmakers passed a law that bans cigarette smoking in bars, restaurants, and other public workplaces. There is one important vote left, the Governor, Rod Blagojevich. He is in favor of the ban but has not signed the legislation yet. I am torn on this issue. First of all, I am not a smoker. I do not like going into a restaurant, or any other place, that is full of smoke. I do not like smelling like smoke when I leave these establishments. Does the smoke harm me? Yes, it does. Does it bother me while I am in the establishments? Not usually, unless it is extremely smokey. I would love to be able to go to any public place and not smell or see smoke. That being said, I do not think it is right for the state to tell businesses that patrons can't smoke in their place of business. I think it violates their rights as business owners. Many business owners are concerned that it will hurt business. I would guess that it will hurt business for awhile but I think in the long run it will not. In fact, I would venture to say that in restaurants it may help the turnover of patrons. What I mean by that is that the some people will come in and eat and leave a little quicker because they might want to smoke. The big question I have to ask is do the people that smoke have the right to smoke anywhere even though it has been proven to harm the people around them. I would say that most smokers do feel that they have this right. This opinion baffles me. Just because I could legally carry a gun does that mean I can shoot at anyone that annoys me? I don't care if you smoke as long as you don't harm my family, or other individuals, while you do it. So I have covered three very different sides. I have covered the opinion of one non-smoker (me), my opinion on the establishment owner side, and my opinion about the smokers. Let's see what the Governor does. What do you think? Technorati Profile Blogroll Me!

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Teaching Tech to Kids?



I think it is time to really stir the pot! The reason I am doing this whole blog thing is because of a really interesting, and I would even say controversial, technology seminar. The seminar was given by Will Richardson. He is a presenter, speaker, teacher, writer, and fellow blogger (although I would say my blogs should not be compared to his). What an interesting seminar it was! I do wish we could have explored his ideas and teachings another day. During the seminar he talked about RSS, blogging, and podcasts. He didn't have time to get to Wikis, which I am still in the dark about. He had some very interesting points about education. His one example that stands out in my mind was about memorization. He said, "Why would a teacher have students memorize the capitol's of the states in this day and age? Wouldn't it be much better to teach them how to find the information quickly and easily using technology that they already use?" This really hit home since I have had this feeling for quite awhile. I am not saying that technology can solve all problems and that some worksheets and memorization are not needed, but I think as educators in this day and age we need to seriously rethink how we are teaching. Since almost anything can be found on the web fairly quickly, shouldn't it be taught in schools? I don't mean "Look this up on the web." I mean, "Let's learn how to do research on the web. Let's also learn what are valid information sources on the web." Do I mean just students when I make these statements? Certainly not! I would venture to say that most students could actually teach most teachers a thing or two concerning the web, including searches. The one thing that was discussed in the seminar that worried many of the educators were standardized tests (ISAT, ITBS). Obviously these are not set up for technology savvy students. Something will have to change in the state of Illinois, and nationally, for this type of technology driven curriculum to take hold. Another obvious negative is the price tag. Most schools (especially my school's size - under 300 students 7-12) don't have the monies available to implement this type of technology driven curriculum. Will Richardson has written a book that I have to get my hands on. The name of it is Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms. What is your opinion on where technology is going in the classroom?

Friday, May 4, 2007

No One is Invincible




I am always saddened to hear when a young person dies but when a young person in the spotlight dies it becomes a reminder to all of us that we are not invincible. Josh made some poor choices on Sunday morning and he paid the ultimate price. His blood-alcohol level (0.157) was twice what the legal limit is in Missouri and he had 8.55 grams of marijuana in his car. Josh was also talking on the phone while he was driving. Let's all remember that he was human. We all make bad choices at one time or another. His just happened to be amplified due to his talent in baseball. Those of you that are Cardinal fans, and everyone else, should remember Josh for all the good things such as being part of the World Series Championship bullpen and being a good friend. I think we can all learn at least two things from this terrible accident. One, don't drink and drive, and two, we can all (at any time) be in harms way.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Ozzfest Tickets for Free!


The whole concept of free concert tickets during this day and age is definitely worth talking about. I do have several questions about this process though. Is anybody making money on this project (other than merchandise)? This would include, of course, the bands and the Osbornes. I know the tickets have something to do with sponsors but how is that going to work? Are the tickets going to be hard to get? What I mean by that is are you going to have to go to link after link or take a survey or two? If that is the case I would rather just buy the tickets. Are the merchandise prices going to go up? If you have ever been to a concert you know that this is almost inconceivable! Are food and drink going to be more expensive? Again, if you have ever been to a concert, this would be almost unbearable! I have been to nine Ozzfests and have had an unbelievable time. I do not want to see a good thing go bad with changes in all prices with the exception of getting the tickets for free. I am torn. I think this is a great marketing ploy and great for young, first time concert goers that might not ever get this chance again. For veteran concert goers that already have this budgeted, it might be an extremely big pain in the neck! I will be interested to see how this all pans out. Ozzfest

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Fixing Global Warming?

Is it really too late to stop, or at least slow down, global warming by just making adjustments in our life style? In the article, Fixing climate carries big costs, it sure sounds like it. Some of the fixes could cost the public big money when it comes to electric bills. I would say that "most" of us have not done much to help the environment until recently, say the last two years or so. With the press coverage of global warming, and of course "An Inconvenient Truth", I think that many Americans are trying to make some changes to challenge the global warming problem. I say let the studies of scientists over the next 1-2 years determine whether or not we need these drastic measures mentioned in the article.

Positive Thinking


Is positive thinking becoming extinct? It seems that fewer and fewer of us are understanding the value of a positive attitude and the affect it has on all the people we come in contact with. Smile, laugh, and be happy! Enjoy life and count your blessings, not the negative things in your life. Count how many times you laugh or smile in a day! Mr C
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