Saturday, May 30, 2015


End of the year tests are over, text books are all turned in and lockers have been cleaned out.  We are in the final days.
When one of the science teachers begged out of the watermelon squish and I was asked if I wanted to take her place, I figured why not.
So my classes spent Friday out on the lawn wrapping rubber bands around watermelons until the exploded.  Messy fun.  And science, logic and planning involved.
Only one of my 6 classes won the race and exploded their watermelon before any of the science classes.  But even the losers had fun spiking their rubber band wrapped watermelons on the ground and watching them explode.  Plus, they got to eat whatever parts were still edible.
The end of the school year may be stressful at times, but they also have their fun times.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Just when you thought they couldn’t make the SAGE test worse…

Thank you Sen. Osmond and Rep. Cunningham.

Utah S.B. 204, attractively named “Parental Rights in Public Education”*, among a lot of other things, states:

“(f) providing that scores on the tests and assessments required under Subsection (2)(a) and Subsection (3) [shall] may not be considered in determining:
      (i) a student's academic grade for the appropriate course [and]; or
      (ii) whether a student [shall] may advance to the next grade level.”

Simply put, I will no longer be able to count my student’s SAGE test scores on their grades.  That includes the 8 benchmark tests and the year end test that I am required to give.

Consider these things:

  1. I’m supposed to use the data from the benchmark tests to accurately influence my upcoming instruction, filling in gaps that show up in the test data.
  2. The data from the end of the year SAGE test is supposed to be used to accurately rate schools and teachers.
  3. Students hate tests.
  4. Most students only work out difficult problems on tests because it counts on their grade.  (How many times did you ask your teacher “is this on the test?”)
  5. Some students will purposely fail a test to spite the teacher that pushes them if they know they will not be held accountable for it.
  6. Students hate tests. (Oh, did I say that already?)
  7. Most students, if they are not held responsible for it, DO NOT CARE about test scores.

In case you don’t believe #3 & #6, here is what one of my students drew on his notes today (5/18)

We finished our SAGE tests over a week ago, so this sentiment is a bit removed from his having to take the test.

I can guarantee my scores will go down next year.  But even worse is that I will be making instructional decisions on faulty data; test results on tests that students have absolutely no investment in.

And finally, I ask you Mr. Osmond and Mr. Cunningham; If it’s not fair to grade a student on their SAGE test scores, how can it possible be fair to grade teachers and schools on them?

*After all, who could argue that parents should have rights when it comes to their child’s education.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

For my English Teacher friends.

Say that 10 times fast.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Easy as pie.

It's amazing how fast things dry out here in Utah. Went back to get the Jeep today (yeah, couldn't get it out yesterday - too muddy) and we decided to hike out to it to see if the Armada would make it. We get there and my little brother says "You got the keys?" He suggests we try it before heading to get all the equipment*. I hand him the keys and tell him to go for it, expecting it to go nowhere. He puts it into 4-lo, rocks it about 3 times and it comes right out of the holes. It was like pudding yesterday and after only 14 rain-free hours it was solid. Go figure.

*Figuring we'd be fighting to get it out, we brought:
- 2 hi-boy jacks
- tow chain
- come-along
- winch
- 6 bags of lava rocks to put under the tires
- 3 2x6s and 4 2x4s of varying length
- a big, flat rock
- gloves and spare shoes.
We could have walked out in shorts and flip-flops and got it out.

Saturday, May 09, 2015

My new mantra.

“No more dirt roads in the rain.”

That’s what I said to myself for the hour or so I was waiting for my little brother to help me out of this mess.  that and “stoopid” about a million times.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Ain’t been done in over a decade.

They announced who will be the new principal at my school for next year.  There were several possibilities, a few of which I had worked with before.  The one they chose is not.

Thinking back I realized the last time I started a school year with a principal I had never worked with before was back in 2001.  Heck, when I came to this school I had already worked with the principal, vice-principal and one of the counselors.  I knew what to expect.

The good news is that they didn’t assign the one person I would not work with, so I won’t be putting in for summer transfer this year.  Figure I might as well give it at least a year and see how things go.

Well, c’est la vie.  And at least I do have the schedule I wanted next year – all 7th grade.

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Bombshell Friday

Yesterday I found out my principal was re-retiring (she already retired once and came back). I've worked with her at 3 different schools for 11 of the 22 years I've been teaching (that's 50% of my career). I really can't blame her, but it's going to be weird getting used to a new principal. For the last 10 years, every principal I've worked with has been someone I'd worked with before and knew what to expect. Depending on who they assign to my school, I may be moving again.

On the positive side, lately I’ve been thinking about taking a 1 year leave-of-absence from my district and teaching in one of the many small towns in Utah.   I’ve got a friend that lives in Salt Lake but works in Price.  She’s got a 2 bedroom apartment there (they are cheap in Price) and she is willing to rent me the second bedroom if I decide to teach there.

It might be fun, and if nothing else, it’ll be an experience.