Sunday, September 19, 2010

Social Engineering?

from Joanne JacobsU-Minn backs down on teacher ed plan:

The College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) is redesigning admissions and the curriculum to focus on “cultural competence.”...In response to a letter from FIRE, General Counsel Mark B. Rotenberg promised that “[n]o University policy or practice ever will mandate any particular beliefs, or screen out people with ‘wrong beliefs’ from the University.”
This has got to be the harbinger (great word, no?) of the country's swing to the right....Since when is cultural competence a bad thing for teachers?  That said, I don't know all the details about the requirements the U planned to use.  I did check out the document provided on the Foundation for Individual Rights (FIRE) article about their "sustained pressure"on the U. From that U document:
Teachers will complete and receive feedback on TWO Self-Assessment measures: The Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) and the Cultural Intelligence Instrument (CQ). 

Self-assessment seems like a positive chance for self-reflection, no?  I didn't find evidence in the U's report of what FIRE called "plans to enforce a political litmus test for future teachers."

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Digging in

We're on Day 3 (don't get me started on the law that won't let us begin before Labor Day).  I have about 20% of names down (naughties and cuties and needies, mostly), there were five new kids in one class, and yesterday I apparently completely missed that a student added into one of my classes, because he came in and sat down in the seat of a kid who dropped the class before I changed my seating chart.  Gah.

We're starting things off with the start of the American dream.  My awesome partner-in-crime focused on figuring out how to make Of Plymouth Plantation seem relevant and meaningful through some read/think aloud action that gets the kids thinking about the Puritans' traits and what we can still see of those traits in the way Americans live today.

Before we got down to OPP (Yeah, you know me!), I gave the kids the quick and dirty run down of why and how the Puritans wound up here.  I start with Henry VIII and his devout Catholic Spaniard princess of a wife, the hussy Anne Boleyn and the king's throw-down with the pope, the quick succession of wives following Anne's execution, including Catherine Howard (an even bigger hussy) saying she would rather be another man's wife than a queen before her execution.  [BTW, have you seen The Tudors?  Holy man is it hot!  Netflix on demand rules!]
All of this to prepare them for the Anglican-->Roman Catholic (Bloody Mary)-->Anglican-->Anglican progression that sent the Puritans out of England and into...the Netherlands!  That part always surprises the kids, but they can relate with the idea of being totally out of their element if they were in the same place, unable to to speak Dutch.

Today was also ruin Pocahontas day: Sorry, kids, but P. was just a wee girl when John Smith was in the area.  Trees don't talk.  Later, girlfriend married some other English dude, and  pictures of her from later in her life make her seem like any other old white lady.  :(

I love the history, and I think that makes the kids dig it.

Oh, also, today my team teacher said that one of our kids asked her yesterday, "Is Miss MIKD a genius?  She seems like she might be a genius."  I still got it!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Chat Pack

Today, after our theme-related warm-up and collecting signed syllabi, each kid got a card from the Chat Pack.  I got the idea from another teacher in speech coaching community, and it's really a nice ice-breaker.  Each kid gets a questions, and as they take turns, each one stands up, gives their full name, reads their question and then answers it.  If they don't like their question, they can use someone else's but only if they can use the person's name to reference it--no "I wanna use that guy's question."

From the website:
"Some samples:
* If you could have any book instantly memorized cover to cover, which book would you choose?
* Of all the movie characters you have seen, which one do you believe is most like you?
* Which of the 12 months do you think would best describe your personality?"

Fun stuff.

To paraphrase the Pioneer Woman, I don't know the Chat Pack people, they don't know me, and I am not being paid for this endorsement of their product.  I just like it.

P.S. I like Ree's latest post about blogging well.  A lot.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The first day of school


Feet are swollen.

Lesson plans for tomorrow are ready.

Classroom is still clean.

Spicy kiddos.

Curriculum begun.

Idiotic new lunch bell system withstood.

Website updated.

Some student introduction emails already received (Thanks, Epiphany!)

Still working my way through Teach Like a Champion.  Used "Technique #1: No Opt Out. How to move students from the blank stare or stubborn shrug to giving the right answer every time" in class today.