Monday, October 24, 2011

Evaluative Essays

My classes started writing their evaluative essays today.  We have spent two days learning the concept of evaluation, brainstorming, prewriting, and outlining our essay. I had hopes of getting most of our first drafts written, but quickly realized that the students were not ready to begin writing; after modeling and giving detailed instructions I let them start and was greeted with 20 hands for help.

 Contemplating the reason for this has left me with four thoughts…
1. I didn't prepare them well enough.
2. The students lack confidence in their own writing.
3. The students want to be hand fed the essay.
4. I do not let them work independently enough and they are scared to "fly out of the nest."

Do you ever feel this way? My classroom cannot be all that different.  Maybe it's that I have forgotten how hard writing used to be for me and how much of a chore it felt like.

How can I inspire them to write on their own?  I am tired of hand holding (especially when a student doesn't know the assignment after the directions were broken down and modeled).  How do I hold the students accountable for listening and following directions when they see no value in the work being done, but there is great value in the lesson?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Whoo Hoo!

Pulling into Sam's Club today, Bryson asked me what I learned in Church. I told him that one day those whom belong to Jesus will have new bodies and will be in Heaven with Jesus.  He yelled, "Whoo Hoo! That is so awesome.  Can I come too?" I told him that he could after I yelled Whoo Hoo to match his excitement.

Walking up to the store I told Bryson and Ashlyn that God will give us new bodies and that we will still know each other.

How exciting to hear a child's response to the Good News of the resurrection.  May we all be so blown away instead of thinking that it is just 'old hat.'

By the way, the passage from this morning was the end of 1 Corinthians 15.

Democratic, Constitutional Republic

So…I was struck when reading Liberty Defined by Ron Paul.  I read his chapter on Democracy and learned more than I did in both High School Civics/Free Enterprise and College Political Science.  I have always known that America is a Constitutional Republic (Constitution-based federal republic with a strong democratic tradition), but I didn’t know what that really was until now.  I will blame my ignorance and lacking political motivation for this one though.  The information was probably lectured to me or in the readings, but I didn’t really care to know.  Now I care.  Funny how that happens huh?

Democracy – Law is up for grabs based on political maneuvering and majority rule.
Republic – Appointment of leaders and the administration of laws.

We elect our representatives to advance the will of the people (Democracy) and we have officials in place to uphold the law and ensure the compliance of those laws with the constitution (Republic).  I think this is a fair definition.  The majority can be wrong and the officials are there to ensure liberty for all (not just for the majority – slavery for example).  However, if the majority wants something that would not infringe upon the rights of the other citizens, then majority rule is not a bad thing.

Ron Paul stated that, “governments have nothing to pass out, since they produce nothing.”  Therefore, when the majority wants to steal from the rich to support the poor, it is infringing upon the rights of the rich.  These sorts of policies are not part of a republic because the leaders are not protecting all of the people, just the majority.

Just a thought.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Imaginary Games, Frosties, and Swinging

The kids and I decided to go to the baseball field today.  We played on the field by hitting, throwing, and trying to tag each other out.  After a while of playing and working up an appetite, we went and ate lunch.  Then we took some Frosties back to the field for a little more fun.

You can kind of see Bryson in the third base dugout eating his Frosty.  He decided that he wanted to eat his alone in the dugout.  He is just like his daddy (wanting to be alone).  Ashlyn sat with me and we enjoyed our Frosties together.

After completing our dessert, Bryson played some imaginary baseball.  Do you remember doing that?  I do!  I used to stand on the mound and throw "strikes" to the imaginary batters.  The crowd would go wild and I would be the hero.  Or, I would come to bat in the bottom of the 9th and hit a walk off homerun.  It is neat to see him play the same games.  Today, he said he was the Texas Rangers and he was playing the St. Louis Cardinals.  I wonder where he got that idea?

Ashlyn just wanted to swing.  She loves to swing.  We have a swing set in the backyard (from her Mimi and Papi) that she swings on, but these swings were much bigger.  I was swinging next to her and watching Bryson play.  I forgot how peaceful it is to swing and just let the gravitational energy take you along.

It has been a fun day.  Tara is at a Women's Day at the church so we got to have a little daddy/kid fun.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Ron Paul's "Liberty Defined"

Lately, I have been listening to many of Lew Rockwell's Podcasts. I love listening to his show.

I started reading Ron Paul's Liberty Defined this afternoon.  It is such a wisp of fresh air to read this book.  I do not agree with everything he has to say but I do agree with the majority of it.  Ron Paul is able to break complicated ideas down so that it makes sense to me.  Liberty is the name of the game in his book and he walks through "50 essential issues that affect our freedom."  The issues are in alphabetical order and I am only to the CIA, but I am enjoying it immensely.

A couple of takeaways...
  1. Ron Paul is Pro-Life.  He says that life begins at conception.  I agree.  It is hard to disagree.  The only thing that can make a human is the zygote formed at conception, so by default, it is human
  2. Ron Paul say life begins at conception, but later in the same chapter says that the day-after pill is an acceptable form of birth control.  That seems to be a contradiction to me.
  3. Assassinations and the Death Penalty are used for evil by our government.  There are too many variables, the accuracy is almost never 100%, and it is difficult to trust anyone in politics.
  4. Death penalty and Abortion are both items to be addressed at the state level, NOT by the federal government.

I look forward to having my mind stretched by reading about these issues.  Thank you Ron Paul and Lew Rockwell for teaching me about our freedoms and liberty.

Reading Levels

While sitting in a reading program conference, I realized how behind our students are.  It is no wonder our kids are not performing at grade level.  They can't read and we don't know how to teach them to read. There needs to be a better intervention and Lexia looks like a good program to use.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Odds & Ends

1. I love my son and his imagination.  However, he likes to have his toys, “hoods” (imaginary kids), or imaginary friends do things that he would get in trouble for.  Bryson has a great imagination, but it can get tiring when we have to continue to talk to him about how what his imaginary friends do is what he is doing.
 2. It has been at least three years since I have looked for clothes for myself somewhere other than Wal-Mart or Sam’s Club.  I looked for corduroy pants at the mall, Ross, and Old Navy today.  Here are a few observations: clothes are expensive, no one sells much corduroy, and I have to shop in the big&tall section.
 3. I would love to coach and teach at the high school level as quickly as possible (preferably close to my house).

4. I have a great wife and mother of my children.

5. I want to want to exercise more and to eat better.  I just don’t want it enough right now.

6. Trying to motivate students to want to read is one of the hardest things I have ever done.

7. I don’t like programs.  Whether they are church programs or school initiatives, I hate programs and the meetings that come with them.

8.  I want to get a masters to improve my teaching career, but I don’t quite know what to study.

9. I am short with Ashlyn sometimes and I don’t like it.

10.  I have been having many (I don’t want to say regrets because I don’t really regret them but) thoughts about how I could have done things differently in my life up to this point.  My thoughts have been really selfish and I don’t want to focus on the past without striving to navigate the present well.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

I Failed This Week!

The curriculum for my class this past week was about 20% vocabulary words (word stems), 40% Hatchet (our novel), and 40% author’s purpose.  To teach author’s purpose, I used a Prezi with videos and student interaction.  We watched videos, listened to podcasts, read passages, looked at real-world brochures, and examined the author’s purpose in each.  After observing and working with the students for the week, I thought they had it down (there are only three options).

I assessed the students with a four passage and four question formative quiz.  After running the numbers, the students averaged a 38% (A THIRTY-EIGHT PERCENT)!  Oh, I tell you it makes me feel like a failure.  I know that I need to re-teach author’s purpose now because I can’t do irony and predicting (this week’s lessons) without it.  Unfortunately, if I take more time to re-teach, something in my last unit will suffer by not having enough time.

What do other teachers do?  Do they continue with their pacing guide?  I will re-teach, but I’m not sure how to make it more attractive to the learners.  Student motivation is lacking and I feel like I have used all of my motivational influence.  They should have mastered the concept in forth grade but they still struggle with it in seventh.  Does it make sense to you?

Coffee with Two Creamers and a Pride

Our church has a rotation for serving the body in necessary, but thankless, ways.  It is great to be a part of a body of believers that wants the body to grow evenly, both in spiritual awareness of scripture/theology and in service to the body.  For the past six months, Tara and I have been in a class that explored “Tough Questions” that come with following Christ.  Last week we began serving the body of Christ by keeping the coffee supplies stocked, washing all of the coffee hardware, cleaning the coffee area, taking out all of the coffee trash, and setting up/breaking down the communion tables.

I have noticed a few things about humans throughout the service these last two weeks.  Coffee seems to be a tacked on luxury that North Wake Church supplies for itself.  Money is taken from the budget to supply cups, lids, coffee, creamers, sugar, alternative sweeteners, napkins, stir straws, etc.  So, in effect, the supplies being used belong to the body because the body pays for it through giving.  There are those that seem to think that the coffee area in the foyer is the one place that 1 Corinthians 14 does not apply.  We are called to be selfless and to build up the body.

When you are getting your coffee, be considerate of the others around you.  Once you have gotten your coffee, be considerate of those around you.  If you are not getting coffee, be considerate of those around you.  It seems that people do not care about anyone but themselves when it comes to coffee.  My wife said, “It’s probably because they haven’t had their fix yet.”  I tend to agree with her, but we are not coffee drinkers, so we don’t know.
Pride simply comes out easier when we are not being intentional about humbling ourselves and our cravings.  When there is no creamer, donate some.  If the cups are running low, do something about it.  If the little creamer cups are gone, instead of rolling your eyes and pouting, be content and show love by compromising a little.  There is no little situation when it comes to building up the body.  Boast in the cross and humble yourself to service, not selfish pride.

I don’t want to finish this post without writing that I have seen a handful of people humble themselves and serve, but the bad taste that the selfish pride leaves in my mouth seems too pungent to ignore.  I can only write this because I tend to be boastful in other areas of my life; I am slowly becoming aware of those selfish areas where I need to petition God to change my heart.