Thursday, August 28, 2008

Another Pet Peeve

Sight = seeing stuff

Because of my lousy sight, I must wear glasses.

I could hardly believe the sight that greeted me when I opened the door.

Site = a place (physical or "web...")

Sacramento will be the site of the next National Down Syndrome Congress conference.

The webmaster completed his total redesign of the site in under three weeks.

Cite = refer to

The judges cited three precedents in the text of their ruling.

If you do not cite your references, you will be accused of plagiarism.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Knock on Wood

Well, all four new kids did well today.  In fact, the whole class did very well (hence the title).  Aside from the usual disruptions from Bulldozer (one medium sized and one very minor one), the class was very responsive and interactive.  We even had discussions.

Multiple ones.

Which was good, because one of the new people hired didn't show this morning.  (Turns out her paperwork isn't completely processed, but I guess the office didn't know that.)  So, independent, well-mannered workers was a plus.

Meanwhile, and totally unrelated except that I was on a Loreena McKennitt kick while getting my classroom ready, I have realized that somehow -- despite being quite a fan of European history -- I missed the extent to which the Vikings were involved in British history.

The notion was sparked while reading Stephen Baxter's Time's Tapestry series (awesome books, btw).

Ironically, very soon thereafter, I something clicked while listening to Loreena McKennitt's "Bonny Portmore" (which is on an earlier album -- The Visit, I think).  As she says in Nights From the Alhambra, the song is a lament about the fact that a beautiful tree has been cut down.
"For it stood on your shores for many's the long day
Till the longboats from Antrim came to float it away."
Yeah, somehow I missed the reference to "longboats" every one of the hundreds of times I've listened to the song.  D'oh.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Yay for Anonymity

You may have noticed that there are no references here to my last name, the town or school where I teach, other teachers' names (especially last names), kids' names....

Basically, there's no identifying information.  It allows me to share some of my funnier stories, as well as some of my dramas, without fear of compromising my kids' privacy.

And, today, it allows me to make a comment regarding last spring's CAPA testing.

Apparently, most kids in our district did well.  I saw a few of my kids' scores, and they all held even from prior years (which, given how much harder the test got, is a more impressive feat than it sounds like it should be), and a couple of kids improved.  Bulldozer improved from either Below Basic or Far Below Basic to Basic.


CAPA was really, really hard this year.  There were things like addition problems with calculators and manipulatives, identifying two-digit numbers, graphing, and identifying parts of a cube (face, vertex, etc.).

Bulldozer is lucky to count to three.

This is actually an improvement for him, as he came to me counting to two, lost that skill when he stopped having to bring two $1 bills to buy lunch, and regained it slowly and painfully.


I gave him that test.  I gave all the kids' their tests.  I talked to the other teachers who gave the test.

I have concluded that the whole thing was either curved (by state, district, school...who knows) or the threshold levels for each score were lowered from previous years.

(For the record, there is Far Below Basic, Below Basic, Basic, Proficient, and Advanced.  I'm fairly certain No Child Left Behind requires everyone to score proficient or advanced at some point, which means those are technically "passing" scores.)

There's just no other explanation.

I am pleased, on the one hand, and slightly boggled on the other.

However, this does not change the additions I have already added to the kids' journals heavily emphasizing certain skill sets on the CAPA.  I don't believe in teaching to the tests -- the rest of their day will be math, reading, etc., as usual -- but this daily practice should help.

Seriously.  Counts to three and scored Basic on the math section of the CAPA.  I frelling kid you not.

I will be very disappointed if The Boss, who came to me counting to three and ended the year counting to nine, scored anything less than proficient.

Also, very confused.

Happy Nerd

Okay, without getting into what filk is -- other than "music SpooWriter likes" (except that I seem to like "classic" stuff rather than current stuff) -- can I just say that this makes me happy?

(At one point, I could accurately -- as in, know the words -- sing along to all 13 minutes of the song...of course, I can't do it alone -- as in, sitting in my room and singing without "accompanying" somebody.)

Also, the fact that "The Dark is Rising" is being considered too is just icing on the cake.

And, the detail-oriented nerd in me is excited that they will probably make sure that Julia doesn't swiftly cover almost singing the regular chorus instead of the last verse chorus.

(In other words, the regular chorus is:

"I'll never wear red robes
I'll never wear a blue stone
The ruined tower stands abandoned and alone

The last chorus is:

"I'll never wear red robes
I'll never wear a blue stone
The ancient tower stands no longer quite alone

In the recording here, Julia starts to say "ruined" and switches quickly to "ancient," and it ends up sounding like "ru-ancient."

(Don't take this as criticism...if I sang a 13 minute song live to an audience, I'd get caught up in the repetitions of the chorus too and probably forget to switch it.  It'll just be nice to have it the right way.)

In short: happy nerd!