Archive for March, 2012


March 25, 2012

Scantrons are a familiar sight in schools.  I cannot remember the first time I used one, but I know it was in elementary school.  This year, I have had two students who had never used or seen one before and both of them had gone to private school until this year.

Earlier in the year when I was giving a test and I passed out the tests and scantrons.  This one boy came up to me and asked, “What do I do with this?”  I was a little surprised and explained it to him.  I have a new student who started just before spring break.  Her mom works at our school and she told me that her daughter had never seen one and was clueless, but she was too embarrassed to ask me because she could tell that everyone else knew what they were.

As I was talking to her, my principal walked by.  Her daughter is an 8th grader and has always gone to private school.  I asked if her daughter was familiar with scantrons and she said yes, because she has taken standardized tests.

It is interesting because I assume that all of my students have used them before.  I know that students in private schools do not have to take TAKS (or now STAAR), but they do have other standardized tests, such as SAT, ACT and AP tests.  I wonder why some private schools do not use them.  Multiple choice tests are not inherently bad and scantrons are not only used by lazy teachers.  Plus they provide practice for standardized tests.  My only guess is that those public schools do not own a scantron grader.




George Washington…

March 24, 2012

I have a lot of teacher friends out there and you may be interested in this.

Mt. Vernon is giving away a portrait of George Washington to every school in the country.  It is free and all you have to do is get your principal to fill out a form and mail it in.  We received ours last week and we were very impressed with it.  It is a nice canvas print and comes framed.

For those of you who are interested, you can check it out here:


Fencing, or sword fighting…

March 21, 2012

Today in one of my classes, we started talking about how in college, everyone must take certain core classes.  Some of my students were astounded that, even though I was a history major, I had to take math and science classes.  I told them that I even had to take P.E. classes, which they did not believe.

I told them that in college, there are a wide variety of P.E. classes, including soccer, swimming, bowling, etc.  They asked me what I took and I told them that I took fencing.  Many of them did not know what fencing was, and I told them that it is basically sword fighting.  At that point, everyone started paying attention to what I was saying and someone said, “You took sword fighting in college?”  I said, “Yes, I did.”  “That is so cool.”

My street cred went up a lot today.



March 19, 2012

Yes, I know it has been a while.  I haven’t really had any good stories to share recently.  My students are so much better behaved this year.  I think it stems from two things: 1) this year’s group is a really good group and 2) I am becoming a better teacher every year.

Last week was spring break and it was great.  It was the first time in a while that I have had nothing planned.  I got a lot of work done around the house and a lot of school work done too.  I actually prefer to do some of my work at home because I am not distracted by others and I do a lot while watching tv.

Coming back today was not too bad.  It also gave me a good story to share.  During class, one of my students received a text message.  If a student’s phone goes off in class, I just tell them to turn it off, I do not confiscate it.  It generally works better because knowing this, the kids will actually turn it off, instead of pretending it isn’t their phone.

When the boy got his text, I happened to be standing right next to him.  I told him to turn it off and as he did, I looked over and said, “Who did you get a text from?” He replied, “My mom,” which is the standard excuse.  I, however, saw who it was and it was not his mom, but a different student in my class.  I asked her about it and she said she sent it earlier, but the reception in the school is bad and he was just receiving it.  I didn’t feel like messing with it right then and it was near the end of class, so I told them to stay after.

My school’s policy is that phones cannot be used during school hours, except with permission from the teacher (i.e., they need to call mom or they are using it for class, such as a calculator or other app).  I told the girl to give me her cell phone since she was texting during school.  She said that he had texted her first.  I asked him and he said that he did, but it was earlier and was in the bathroom.  By the way, he is a bad liar; I love the kid, but he cannot lie to save his life.  He either tells the truth or his lies it is apparent he is lying.  Either way, what he did was against school policy and I confiscated both phones.  Success!