Geography Lady

1 more day

One more day of freedom. I am not looking forward to the start of school - we got our roll sheets Friday - 31 kids in my 9th grade Honors Geography course, 26 desks in my room, and 22 computers in the lab. Ought to be interesting. The 8th grade US history teacher said he had recommended 20 kids for honors social studies class, so where the other 11 came from I am not sure. Our counselors tend to put kids wherever, so who knows what skills these kids will have.
That is my largest class. The others have from 25-28, and one class has 15. Several of the kids were in my classes last year and flunked. Now that they know what it takes to pass my class maybe they will do the work. Maybe not.
I must say our new principal is doing an excellent job so far. I could not get my window cleaned all last year. Friday morning I asked the janitor when that window was going to be cleaned, and within 5 minutes he was outside with a hose and squeegee. I hope everything else goes this well.

NCLB is a real joke out in the sticks where I teach. The personnel, for the most part, are caring and competent. OTOH, there are some who only pretend to work, and when they test, it is always true/false, and all the answers are true. The reduced/low expectations in some classes make it hard on those of us who demand actual thinking from students in order to pass. Somehow students have come to believe that school should be 'fun', and when it isn't they tune out and turn off. MTV and the cartoon network reinforce the 15 second attention span of these kids, so drill work is really difficult for them. Note-taking is impossible, so I spend several days teaching them how to do it. They also have no clue as to how to use the internet. Keywords are a mystery - how do you find them? where are they written? what do you mean I have to come up with them?
At least mine will have 2 more years of school before they have to pass the 11th grade TAKS test. Maybe between now and then we can raise them up to that level. Our kids don't have much trouble with the social studies test, but science is killing them. Math scores were pretty low, too.
The state claims that the test is hard enough that you can't 'teach' to it, that it is an analysis type test, but that is hogwash. We all teach to it. Fortunately there is not old-fashioned geography on it - no 'where is the Eiffel tower' question. It is reading maps and charts, and knowing the party line about the American revolution, all easy to teach. I have plenty of time to do fun stuff, where they actually learn things.
IPC will be another story. It is mainly math, which I can teach, but it is not particularly fun. It requires brain work, and the students really seem to believe their brains will explode if they use them.


back to school for teachers day, all in all not too bad. the 'Welcome back' program let out 5 minutes early - a first at PBTISD. then our new principal headed a staff meeting, and told us it would be short, and we could work in our rooms this afternoon, instead of whatever c**p was on the agenda. Not only helpful, but smart - he chose a good way of scoring points with the teachers.
Tomorrow morning more meetings, but then the remainder of tyhe day to get ready. My room is in order - i came in a couple weeks back to put up maps, etc, so I guess i can figure out what I'm supposed to teach in Integrated Physics and Chemistry (IPC), a class which I am totally unqualified to teach.
But I have 2 regular world geography classes, and an AP Human Geography class to make up for the IPC, so I am happy.

Tomorrow I will go to El Paso and Wed do an in-service training on GIS in the classroom for their social studies teachers.


One more free evening.
My mother-in-law is here, and we will cook a fish that I brought back from austin. My friend's husband caught it at the bay
(Matagorda) in May and froze it, so it is bound to be better than anything we could get out here in the desert.
I was going to do a "vera cruz" sauce and bake it, but it is way too hot, so it will go on the grill.

Wish me luck tomorrow.

Back to School

Almost time for me to go back to school It starts earlier every year. use to be that Labor Day was considered the last fee day. Now its the beginning fo August.
Still am not sure what I will be teaching. At least 2 classes of World Geography. Other than that, maybe 1 Advanced Geography class, and either 3 Integrated Physics and Chemistry or 1 IPC and 2 Biology. I would like 6 geography, but that will never happen.

This past week I was in Dallas helping with GIS training for teachers in Hurst and surrounding areas. Next Wednesday I go to El Paso to teach 2 short workshops. At least I will miss some of our own training workshops. They can get ssooooo boring (I will try to remember that when I do the training in EP).

Ready or not here I come.

Urban Myths

Sent several of my R friends a link to Rev. Alston's speech to the DNC yesterday. One wrote back:
"A far different telling of the story than I have heard from other veterans. Lets see if he has enought faith in USA to bring his companies jobs back here."

I googled to find out what he meant and came up with this from Urban Legends. I can't believe grown American's fall for this c**p. The guy's a US Senator, for gosh sakes, not some nutball Repub who runs a company into the ground (Actually, that should be 3 companies) or overseas.

Anyway, I sent my friend the link to the Urban Legends site, and maybe he will read it.

Scary to think there are lots of people out there without the sense to question the c**p floating around the Internet.

Clinton's Awesome Speech

Clinton's speech was awesome! He defined the differences between the candidates in plain language and made clear the choices we face as a nation.
I hope my Republican family was listening. I grew up in Hunters Creek Village, which has the distinction of being the place that gave the most per capita to the Bush 1 Prez campaign (can't find a link). Also the home of Bill Archer, the second Texas Repub elected to Congress since reconstruction. (Bush 1 was first) My parents can't understand how they raised a yellow-dog Democrat. I' m not sure either, except maybe it had to do with what I learned at First Presbyterian Church, Houston. I think the focus of the church has changed since I grew up there in the 60s and early 70s. We talked about service to the world, and now it seems more focused on'saving souls.' But I haven't lived in Houston for years, so I really don't know.
Back to the speech - I hope the message gets plenty of play: here's what we want to do, here's what they have done. The choice is yours.

Belated Happy Birthday

Read Meteor Blade's eloquent post at DailyKos about patriotism and flag waving.
Kevin Drum has a post on Gettysburg and his great-grandfather.

A Great Day for America!

Finally, the Supreme Court has ruled that 'enemy combatants' are entitled to have their day in court, and cannot be held incomunicado indefinitely.
Conservatives,neocons, etc., are upset, but I can't see why - the rule of law is what separates us (the good guys) from them (al-Quaida, etc.). If we abandon the Rule of Law in favor of expediency and claims that we will lose 'intelligence data', what separates us from Stalin, who locked people up in Siberia and murdered them with no attempt to prove their guilt, or court to find them guilty. For Bush to issue executive orders to keep people locked up with no trial puts him on par the bad guys.
I am surprised and pleased such a conservative court would rule the way it did; it's time to uphold the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Bush in Foreignland

The protests against Bush in Ireland and Turkey have been incredible, but our fearless leader has not been exposed to them, as he 'takes the back exits,' so to speak.
His interview with Irish journalist Carole Coleman is here. The man has unbelievable gall - and obviously has no grasp of European history or politics.
Bush says "There have been great ties between Ireland and America, and we've got a lot of Irish Americans here that are very proud of their heritage and their country. But, you know, they must not understand if they're angry over Abu Ghraib..we don't represent that. We are a compassionate country. We're a strong country, and we'll defend ourselves -- but we help people."
Q But, Mr. President, the world is a more dangerous place today. I don't know whether you can see that or not.
THE PRESIDENT: Why do you say that?
Q There are terrorist bombings every single day. It's now a daily event. It wasn't like that two years ago.

But Bush won't admit that there are more bombings now than 2 years ago. Even reports put out by his staff show that terrorism has increased, but you'll never get the man to say it. The editorial in this month's Texas Observer, long the liberal voice in this greatest of states, is an insightful look at the lies this administration has tried to foist on us. Unfortunately, the editorial is not available online, but you can visit the website and subscribe to the magazine, and support 'opening the eyes of Texas.'

Post on Norwegianity quoting Ron Reagan's interview in Sunday's New York Times Magazine (The Son Also Rises, June 27).

BTW, my daughter's eye is still very inflamed, but her sight is better. Back to the doctor tomorrow.

Monday all over again

My daughter is home from camp-counseloring. She developed an eye infection the end of last week, and had to go to the Alamogordo emergency room Sat evening. The pain got worse Sunday, and her brother drove up and picked her up. I took her to the eye doctor yesterday- she can barely see out of one eye -says it is 'foggy.' Doc says it is a terrible corneal infection, and she had antibiotic drops every 15 minutes all yesterday evening. We went back today, and it seems to be responding. More antibiotics have been prescribed, so now we alternate them on an hourly basis. Her eye has been dilated to reduce pain and inflammation (I'm not sure why it helps, but it does) so she can't go outside or drive, but otherwise seems OK. We go back Thursday morning. Needless to say, I have not been doing much else.

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