Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Billary Effect

Now don't get me wrong, I won't be upset if Hillary Clinton is the next president of the United States. As this ridiculously long primary season drags on, however, I'm becoming a bigger and bigger supporter of Barack Obama. This editorial by the New York Times' Frank Rich sums up a lot of my reasoning for this. I'm not normally a big fan of Rich's columns, but this one hits the nail on the head.

Published: January 27, 2008
Any Democrat who seriously thinks that Bill Clinton will fade away if Hillary wins the party nomination is a Democrat who, as the man said, believes in fairy tales. ...

Tuxedo Man

Our current unit is on heroes, and we read a story about superheroes. After the story, my students had to use what they'd learned about superheroes to create their own. They had to tell his/her name, superpower, and weakness.

Cinnamon and Kayle had the most creative superheroes.

My superhero's name is Tuxedo Man. His superpower is that he cleans all of the world's tuxedos. His weakness is stains.

My superhero's name is Mr. Landry. His superpower is that he teaches kids lots of things like how to read. His weakness is when his students don't do their homework. (hilarious if you can imagine how mad I get when my students don't do their homework)

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Computers for All!

$12,000 per student per year is how much Hawaii taxpayers are paying for public education. Our schools see about $9,000 of that. And yet we have one modern computer in every classroom, plus 3-4 antiquated Imacs. Hmm. What year is it again?

Last year I made the most of what I had - I used my three Imacs, then "borrowed" three more from other teachers who weren't using them. With these six computers I introduced my students to typing and to the Internet. I thought, however, that as we close on the first decade of the third millennium, my students needed and deserved a whole lot more than this. In their lifetime, these kids are going to be using technology at every turn. Typing today is much more valuable than cursive, and encyclopedias are yesterday's game. There's absolutely no excuse for a 10-year-old to be computer-illiterate.

Given all of this, I asked (or, sort of begged) people for computers. Finally, I discovered a gold mine. A colleague teaching at a nearby high school said his school had recently updated all of their computers and had a mountain of old Imacs (the same model that my school is still using) that they'd like to get rid of. Over the course of a couple of months last semester, I rounded up enough computers to ensure that ALL of my students would have their own! I now have 19 computers in my classroom. Each day my students spend about 15 minutes on a typing tutor, and we are just now venturing into other aspects of the Internet. Hopefully we'll soon start utilizing the class blog that I set up at We'll have to just figure out a way to get around the DOE's ridiculous content filter (way too restrictive).

Thanks to my father-in-law for coming through with some Ethernet cables. I asked my school for some at the beginning of the school year, and by the end of the first semester I still hadn't received them.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Life is Sweet

Courtney and I often reflect on the the path our lives have taken us. We certainly realize how charmed our lives have been, and we are constantly trying to live it to the fullest. A friend introduced me to this poem by Kenneth Koch a couple of years ago, and I instantly saw it as an anthem for the completeness I feel at this point in life.

To My Twenties

by Keneth Koch

How lucky that I ran into you
When everything was possible
For my legs and arms, and with hope in my heart
And so happy to see any woman
O woman! O my twentieth year!
Basking in you, you
Oasis from both growing and decay
Fantastic unheard of nine- or ten-year oasis
A palm tree, hey! And then another
And another and water!
I'm still very impressed by you. Whither,
Midst falling decades, have you gone? Oh in what lucky fellow,
Unsure of himself, upset, and unemployable
For the moment in any case, do you live now?
From my window I drop a nickel
By mistake. With
You I race down to get it
But I find there on
The street instead, a good friend,
X---- N------, who says to me
Kenneth do you have a minute?
And I say yes! I am in my twenties!
I have plenty of time! In you I marry,
In you I first go to France; I make my best friends
In you, and a few enemies. I
Write a lot and am living all the time
And thinking about living. I loved to frequent you
After my teens and before my thirties.
You three together in a bar
I always preferred you because you were midmost
Most lustrous apparently strongest
Although now that I look back on you
What part have you played?
You never, ever, were stingy.
What you gave me you gave whole
But as for telling
Me how best to use it
You weren't a genius at that.
Twenties, my soul
Is yours for the asking
You know that, if you ever come back.