Audio Visual Foolery

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Wanna Mood Swing? I'll Push!

I have had that bile-in-the-back-of-my-throat feeling for a few days now. It's like the feeling you get when you have too much coffee but it's all the time---and I never have too much coffee. I have dreaded the end of this week coming for weeks now, and it's here.

I leave this Friday for the We The People finals in Washington DC. It's quite a deal for me, I am Oklahoma's Teacher Scholar. The Center that sponsors the competition pays the way for a teacher from a non winning (dare I say losing?) team to see Nationals. So I see the higher level of competition, share that with my students and grow the program for young Americans in our fine city. It's a fine consolation prize and an outstanding way to see the country. Seriously, it could be Turtle Wax.

But there's Dad...

My famous inattention to detail had be thinking that his knee replacement surgery was the day before I leave for DC. I was wrong. I board the plane at 8, he goes under the knife at 10. I loose every good daughter point I ever earned.

So it's a mood swing...

"Wow! I will finally get to hear
the judges I have heard about
give their thoughts on Constitutional issues!"

"Last time Dad had surgery,
I brought Mom the coffee she likes,
my sister doesn't drink coffee.
I need to do this."

"There are eight yarn stores
within a ten mile radius of my hotel"

"He gets so bored just lying there.
I could bring my laptop to watch movies"

"Network!! Network, I say!!!"

"My sister wasn't there when PaPa died.
I remember how she hurt and how she still hurts..."
(Improbable? Yes. I still think it sometimes)
All odds show that Dad will be fine. My care shift will be sometime after I return. We will watch movies and talk about his visitors. Just pray for us, internets.

While There Are Other People In My Life, No One Is Consistently This Funny...

LW comes to class late today with a pass from the clinic. It says to allow him back as needed if he feels bad again.

"Are you Ok, LW?"

He answers in total seriousness

"Yeah, I just had to go to the nurse because I got tired from all my jumping around. You know, as a rabbit."

Oh, ok, sure. Back when you were a rabbit.

Now, he is in Drama and I am sure that's it, but I just want it noted I didn't laugh out loud.

Community Involvement...

I think next time I teach English, I am going to team up with one of those African spammers and have them teach letter writing. I just got another one and it wasn't bad. Decent structure, good vocabulary.

...And How Was Your Day?

  • I asked the question "Where have you been?" three times today. It seemed to be a day of chickens coming home to roost. Children who had not been to class in weeks all materialized today. With every one I asked and with everyone I was told "I don't know". Did they take pictures? A map?? A compass??? How are you somewhere and not know???
  • LW wished today that he could take Australian for his Foreign Language credit. After he spent about 20 nonstop minutes imitating the worst of the Crocodile Hunter making an Outback Steakhouse commercial, I suggested he try to test out.
  • Errant young man and I are discussing his future. He wants to go to vo tech and I tell him it's a great idea. He can get a job he likes soon and college will always be there if he wants it.

"Yeah," he says, "my dad's in college and he's like 32.".

"Your dad is what!?"

"Heh heh, he's my step dad. But my real dad is 37!"

If It's Spring, It Must Be Castrati Singers

My life is marked by events at school every year. I know that certain events will reoccur every year. Examples--

  • Every year, there will be a prom
  • Every quarter, there will be the first day of school speech
  • Every year, the Youth and Government calendar will bring the same events
  • Every year, I will have to talk about castrati singers in Humanities, and something funny will happen.

Keaton enjoyed last year's castrati season so much, he drew a comic Posted by Hello

**Click the comic to enlarge.**

This year, I assigned parts of the text to specific students to report back. Buffy girl gets music.

In about five minutes, she approaches my desk in terror.

"Ms. Educat, looka this!! Just looka this!!! Does this say what I think it

"Well, yeah, Buffy. Remember that women didn't perform at this time and so
castrati males were valued for their high voices."

"So they, uh...cut it off!?"

"Buffy, please understand when I tell you that it wasn't as much it as

At this point Leg Wrestler chimes in.

"I can sing soprano (he then warbles a bit in a Michael Jackson-ish

"No, LW, this is a bit different. Your voice has changed. Buffy will explain
more when she presents on Monday."

Buffy turns a greenish white.

Stay tuned...

Ladies! Ladies! Do You Wanna Save People From Hades?

Here's a smoove rap video to ease you into weekend. I agree with the friend who sent this, this guy might be serious and that makes it even funnier.

It Would Be A Real Life Conversation...

...If Someone Else Would Talk!

First hour today was work. WORK, people!

It's the day to hear speeches for class elections. I require my class to take notes on the speeches; what they did well, what they can improve. After we write in journals, I remind them about ten times to take paper and pencil to the assembly, and off we go.

When we come back, I am ready for some teachable moments. Students settle down, I am sure they are ready for their heads to expand with knowledge.

"Ok, tell me who opened their speech with something interesting?"

I see this...

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"How about an ending? Did anyone conclude their speech particularly well?"

...again with the slack jawed look.

I move on.

"Let's talk about your speeches. How close to finished are we?"

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So I launch into a game.

"Ok, hands up!! Everyone raise your hands! Come on!"

All nine ESL students stare at me while half of the American born kids do the same.

"Yep, I am crazy!! Ca-razy! I am a loud, crazy, American woman! I am loud, blonde and overweight. I'm American. It's my job. Hands up!!"

Now they comply. They are frightened. I go through a progression of ideas, asking them to lower their hands when they hear a step they haven't completed.

"I have chosen a topic.
I have three main points.
I have supported my points with some kind of evidence.
I have an introduction.
I have a conclusion."

I now officially dread the teaching of introductions and conclusions because they wear me out.

"Let's all grab a speech book and turn to page 333."

There is no movement, a tumbleweed blows across my classroom.

I start to sing. I sing a hastily composed version of "If I had a Speech Book". I finish the fake verse and get all the way back to the hammer before they move.

I think I need summer too.

Nerd, Heal Thyself

I play a character when I teach. It's not a dishonest character. Real person is pretty much Ms. Educat, just with less concern for self and more filters. Ms. Educat is also a lot more high energy. I have to sell this stuff I am pushing, so I hype it up.

One of my favorite facets of Ms. Educat is that she is a nerd. She loves technology, she loves to think big thoughts. She wears her keys around her neck!! She knits, for crap's sake!!!

Today, a wee crack broke through in Ms. Educat.

I was a nerd in full bloom. It's the Baroque period in Humanities and we discussed Descartes along with Social Contract theory while I knitted on a lace scarf. I waxed on about the beauty of a society who has the time to think of how best to solve problems and think. It was, as Karina says, some good civics lovin'.

At the end of the talk, we watched a part of a video that highlighted some stuff from our conversation. The film began with "Rondeau" by Jean-Joseph Moret--the Masterpiece Theatre theme. As is started up, I commented that I had played this in Jr. High band. Hang tight, here comes the crack in my armor.

"Gawl, you were in band too?? Geez, you are a nerd! Did you go to band camp?? Do you have any stories from that??"

That's right, the girl who I pulled out from behind her Buffy The Vampire Slayer book called me a nerd.

Thankfully, both Princess Grace and the Leg Wrestler gave her a look.

Does that mean I have a posse?

Ten Years

I spent the drive home tonight thinking of how to talk about April 19th.

It's strange--almost impossible--to think that the Murrah Building bombing was 10 years ago. It was my first year of teaching and so I remember the day in terms of the students I had at the time.

  • Thomas was a freshman. It was his birthday and he was in my first hour class that left the room for locker clean out. The noise of slamming lockers and chattering kids masked the noise of the explosion less than 5 miles away but not the ground shake.
  • Justin had a fight with his mother the night before and spent the night at the 24 hour grocery where he worked. His mother worked downtown and it was 2pm before he knew she was ok. He stayed with us in the Drama room for a good part of the day. He was a Junior.
  • Christina fell into a kind of depression after the bombing that I had never seen before. She missed a couple of weeks of school and lost a lot of weight.
  • Crystal and Jennifer threw themselves into the second performance of our school's first-in-4-year's Spring Play. We packed the house the weekend before and decided to run one more show on Friday April 21st. No one wanted to leave their homes and we had about 15 audience members that night.
  • We all watched out the window of the drama room at the normally busy street. The street my school was on was a major thoroughfare into downtown OKC. Cars crammed the street heading south out of downtown. No cars traveled north.

What seems so odd to me is that it's ten years later. I have held Cristina and Crystal's babies and attended Thomas' wedding. People their ages are my peers now but somehow kids still look the same. My students now might not remember the event ten years ago.

No ending came to mind as I drove home today. I wonder where some of these kids are today and I thought about the kids who were in my class when we heard of the 9/11 tragedy. I thought of my Algebra teacher whose class I was in when the Space Shuttle exploded. I am tied to them all in some strange way.

I Refuse To Apologize For Y'all

Your Linguistic Profile:

60% General American English
20% Dixie
15% Yankee
5% Upper Midwestern
0% Midwestern

What Kind of American English Do You Speak?

One of the few "blogthings" I have found worthwhile. I would love to hear your results.

This Was The Week That...

  • father discovered blogs. He not only told me a few comments he "would have made" (what stopped him, I do not know), but actually made his first comment on Jill's blog (this post and the following one, by the way, offer some lovely kids pictures).
  • I vowed to use the phase "making out like a meteor was headed their way". Expect to hear it soon, am just waiting for the proper context. As long as there are assemblies at school for kids to ditch, it should happen.
  • It was the week of the saveobu petition. Questions and criticism of OBU has been all the buzz in my blogring. I sent my sister (also an alum) the link and I was suprised how quickly she signed and sent the link to friends. It was strange for my blogs and my sister to be abuzz about the same issue. I would encourage you to read the site when it reopens (it has been shut down, I assume, to deal with some ugliness on the message board and abuse of the petiton). My response to the petition is not kneejerk liberal rage.
  • Sinead O'Connor's "The Last Day Of Our Acquaintance" ran through my head all week. Early this week, I opened up some grape tomatoes and thought to myself "This is the last day of these tomatoes" and have all week tried to write lyrics for the rest of the song about veggies gone bad.
  • The Leg Wrestler began his series of time travel jokes. They aren't funny, really. I will mention historical figures and he references imaginary conversations he has had with them.
  • My parents have announced that they are planning to sell their home and downsize. I have started to compose applications for reality TV shows. "While my parents have given me their passive-aggressive tendencies, penchant for procrastination and weight gain disposition; they have also taught me about humor, patience, and generosity. Please Ty, help them get the crap out of that house."
  • After telling my high school Sunday school teacher/mentor that I have started knitting, she declared me "The Ideal Woman"! That's right, the woman who nursed my teen angst, allowed me to ask "the unaskable" about church, and the coolest dresser I have known called me ideal. I shall remind myself of this status when I fall up the stairs of my classroom.

Here, my friends, is to a new week.

Grunewald Made Nothing From The DVD Sales

Wednesday in Humanities, we were looking at the art of the Reformation. Toothpick boy, a beefy young man who somehow requires a toothpick in his mouth after a cafeteria lunch (soy can kill when lodged between your teeth), is visibly perturbed by Grunewald's Crucifixion.

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"Ms. Educat, why would anyone ever put a picture that gory and violent in a church!? It's just wrong!"

"Well. Toothpick Boy, why would anyone make a film as gory and violent as The Passion of The Christ?"

"Because people need to know what...oh, I get it."

Fear Re-Enactments And A Plea For Help

Today the leg wrestler was in particularly high spirits. He surveyed the room, asking everyone what they were afraid of. Then he would enact their fears in his own style, hoping to frighten them.

"I am afraid of the sun, I get sunburned"
"Wooo" (says LW, mystically
waving his arms) "I am the sun!! I will burn
you!! Wear some
"I'm afraid of heights"
"Woooooooo!!! It's so very
high! I am 50 million feet in the air"
"There is nothing to fear but
fear itself"
"Woooooo!!! I am fear itself! Do you fear me!?!?

I fear for young man in another of my classes if he does this again...

For the first time I remember, I have sisters in a class. I have had to separate them a couple of times as they argue incessantly. I have a sister, it's familiar to me. Today after a little spat, a foolish boy made the cat fight noise, "Raaar!". I stopped and asked what he meant, he had no answer save a misogynistic grin.

Fear for him.

So seriously, I need you here. What is the male equivalent of such a sound? What one noise indicates the same level of sexism but in reverse? This is an all-skate, people. I need your answers.

Overheard In A Dressing Room

God gave me a sister so she could put the clothes back on the hanger when I try them on.

I know there are greater reasons and benefits and although we are very very different, we are close.

Hear the conversation today from the dressing room...

Educat tries on a pink ruffly blouse. Sort of like the "puffy shirt".
She's not serious about it, just investigating...

Sister: Do you remember that one part in the Great Muppet Caper where Miss
Piggy is a model and she's in a fashion show and wears that pink dress with the
really high ruffly collar?

Educat (who stops buttoning the puffy shirt and looks pointedly at sister):
No, is there a reason that you are thinking of that right now?

Sister: Oh no, I've been meaning to ask you that for days. I actually just
now got around to it.

I didn't get the puffy shirt.

A Principled Principal

My friend Ed introduces himself as "The teaching principal of XYZ High School". XYZ is a teeney high school in rural Oklahoma and I would work for Ed in a second. He speaks of teaching the way a teacher does, mixing the ideal of good curriculum and practices with the reality of children in a way I seldom hear from his Urban/Suburban counterparts. He seems to balance those worlds masterfully (I was going to say effortlessly, but that's what I love about him, it's not at all effortless and he knows and appreciates that!).

A couple of years ago when my district had to cut a coupla million from their budget, we were asked to email our recommendations for cuts to the superintendent. My friend made the suggestion that perhaps district administrators ought to spend at least one day a week subbing in the schools. Her answer (this is as direct a quote as my memory will allow) was "Certainly you don't think that is really a valid use of my time.". Um, yeah, we do.

For education to solve its problems from within, the answer is some combination of curriculum, discipline, and management. State Senator Bob Beers of Las Vegas is proposing a law that would require school administrators teach one semester every five years. Wouldn't it be great to see school districts adopt such a policy? It would seem that the best principal would be experienced in all of the areas that contribute to school sucess. We know they handle discipline and management, they ought to keep in the practice of delivering the curriculum they advocate.

Via Edwonk, via Education Intelligence Agency.

Princess Grace Again

You know what? I really like Princess Grace. She has started putting on deodorant before class and she risks death by holding her farts in (as far as I know). She is playing along with me and allowing me to like her.

My entirely Protestant Humanities class has been awash with questions about the Pope. I used my classroom set of USA Today's special Papal edition and today we just read and asked questions.

  • What does the Pope do? Does he preach every Sunday? (they had zero knowledge of the liturgical calendar)
  • Does he tell Catholics what to believe?
  • What do you mean "low church"?
  • You mean no birth control???

It's the first time I had one of these conversations without a Catholic student to defer to, it was a fascinating conversation. I told them to take their papers and offered them the extras if they'd read them. Princess Grace takes her own and an extra.

"I mo give one to my daddy. He cain't answer my questions and he a preacher!"

Princess Grace is a PK. How do I keep liking her more?

Scholar/Cattle, Scholar/Cattle

Here is where I realize I have the best job in the world.

Summer is coming. During this time of year I feel more and more like I do so much "working for the man". I don't know if there is actually more silly work to be done or if the view of summer looks so tasty from here that my job looks more mundane. A fellow teacher caught me in the hall last spring and said "I feel like we're on a cattle drive, and they keep moving California.".

It's not the late nights and late mornings I am most looking forward to, it's the change in my role. In the summer, I get to stop being one of the herd with paperwork and hoops to jump through. I can become a leisurely scholar and think about the idea of teaching.

This summer, it's Chattanooga for a workshop on Project Citizen, then sponsoring the Okla Youth and Govt officers at the Conference on National Affairs in Black Mountain, NC. The coolest trip of the summer will prove to be the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. I just found out I was accepted today. Let's pretend that the application process was highly competitive, I don't know that it was, but I am in.

The trick for me the rest of the year is to find ways to bring more of the scholar mentality to my life. The stories I tell about my job are real but I don't usually report them if they enrage me. It's usually about how I get the best of both worlds. I teach the big ideas of the world to kids who...well...think you will die if you hold in your farts (I know that's gross and I hate to restate it, but it's the best summary I have of my life).

So now I am looking forward. I leave you with the image in my head right now. I use it to practice photo hosting without Hello and to give you an idea of what it is to read a book in a rocker looking at this view and then leave the book to see some of the Nation's smartest kids in debate.

Good, good times.
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A Post That Sounds More Morbid Than It Is

This blog and I are having an identity crisis.

I love it for friendships I have made and remade. I sat in church last night listening to a friend I have spoken with in person three times, yet I knew something of most of the personal anecdotes he shared. Why? I read his blog. When I gather with this group of friends we usually don't have to ask, "So, how are you?" because we are reading each other every day.

I love hearing about other teachers. My after school job prevents me from attending faculty meetings and as a result I miss some staff development. I feel like I more than make up for that loss as I read news and best practices on the edu-blogs.

My blog is a place for me to be the stand up comic I never was. I tried stand up once. Once. Blogging allows me that silliness on a much more controlled level. You also aren't expecting a comic tour de force with every entry.

So here's the identity crisis: this blog isn't an edu-blog that shares once in a lifetime best practices or cutting edge news. I just tell goofy stories and reflect. Now that I know students are reading this blog, I wonder if I should stop the stories. I'm not sure that I will but I do know that the stories pass through more filters now than before. When I take the school stories away, I begin to wonder what the blog is.

That said, I don't find myself writing for the sake of writing anymore. I have about five ideas stashed here and there that I plan to dust off and use but the task of polishing those ideas is somehow more labored than before.

I don't know if this is a declaration of change or just a clearing of my head. Either way, internets, I will keep you posted.

A Word of Advice From The Leg Wrestler

Leg Wrestler: "Ms. Educat, you better look out for the lions at the Shrine Circus."

Educat: "Yeah? Did you see them? What happened?"

LW: "They lick you to death! They're poodles and their hair is shaved like a mane!"

I dunno either, but you've been warned.

My Dad--Middle Aged Rebel

My dad is facinated with the wall to wall Papal coverage. He really wants to change the sign at the Baptist church where he works to match this one. Posted by Hello