Thursday, April 30, 2015

Illustrate Mr RobertsonI

I wanted to do a fun art lesson so after our blind contour drawing warm-up I told my kids, "I want you to draw your teacher as well as you can. Do your best, have fun. Ready, go." The assignment is cool because the kids get a chance to draw a real human they've seen a lot and I get to see how they see me.
This is some of what I got.
Had some trouble finding my nose. 

I like how many kids added the yardstick I carry around

Sporting my motorcycle gloves

I'm punk rock

Honest- this is the hardest this student has worked
 on something in a long time. So I like it a lot.

Yardstick. Also mini-fro?

"I gave you abs."

I am known for my "Sup!" shirts.

This one is pretty dead-on

If I were in an anime this would be pretty perfect

I love so very much about this one. I'd watch this cartoon.

I've never looked this badass in my entire life

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

#WeirdEd Week 54- Bruce Jenner


I'm not really sure how to approach this chat. To be honest I really didn't want to do a transgender-themed chat until I had a teacher, student, or community member who is transgender help me write it and lead it. This is one of those topics I don't know much about, and certainly don't have the kind of personal experience with that would make me qualified to ask a bunch of questions about it to other teachers.

But that thought got me thinking about how we can have this chat- With questions. I don't know a whole lot about the transgender experience. So little in fact that I'm kind of uneasy using the term "transgender experience" in the previous sentence. Your first reaction to that should be, "Well why don't you find someone to help you?" I've asked and looked, I promise. And I understand why I haven't heard back from anyone.

One- the community isn't very big. It's probably bigger than we think it is, but still not big.

Two- Responding to some rando on Twitter saying his chat's name is "#WeirdEd" to talk about being transgender doesn't sound terrible safe or friendly. I completely get that. "Weird" suddenly takes on a completely different context that we don't mean, but what we mean doesn't really matter in this case. Really, this should be an #LGBTeach chat, but Jess isn't around right now. She has written a beautiful piece on Bruce Jenner on her blog which you should read.

Three- The internet isn't the safest place, and it's a risk to put yourself out there. Again, completely understandable. #WeirdEd is about acceptance, but it's not about pushing people to do something they don't want.

So I've only written a few questions for tonight. And those are mostly to guide our own questioning. I'm hoping that conversations happen about transgender people and what they go through and what that experience must be like and who they are as students and as teachers.

For myself, I started thinking about this about a year and a half before the Bruce Jenner interview. Laura Jane Grace (@LauraJaneGrace), the frontwoman of the punk band Against Me! presented as a man but identified as a woman until a few years ago when she finally decided to be truly who she felt she was. In the process she wrote a concept album called Transgender Dysphoria Blues that is kick ass from a rock and roll perspective and incredible from a social commentary one. Buy it. Love it. Thank me later.

On top of those two things, spreading understanding and knowledge will avoid tragedies like Rachel Byrk. Rachel took her life after suffering months of cyberbullying at the hands of cowards and bastards. It's our job to educate ourselves and our kids and end that kind of ignorance and assholery. Rachel deserved better.We all deserve better. It's on us.

We are lucky enough to have a guest who goes by @RaisingRainbow on twitter coming to the chat tonight to share her experiences with her son. Please read her blog.

This chat will be a conversation more than normal I think. I hope it works. I hope everyone is brave and one and honest.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

#WeirdEd Week 53- Star Wars

I have the same relationship to Star Wars that a lot of nerds do. I love the original trilogy. Episode 4 is perfect, episode 5 is damn near perfect, and episode 6 is a pretty great movie. Episodes 1, 2, and 3 are worthless. Not just because Jar-Jar. They are ugly, dumb, CGI-drenched movies that take everything that was awesome about the originals and messes them up.

I was off the bus. Had been for years. When I heard about the new trilogy, being brought to us by JJ "I Don't Understand Star Trek" Abrams my feelings were mixed but negative. He ruined the best captain of my favorite franchise*. But maybe Star Wars is the place for JJ. After all, he doesn't understand science and SW isn't actually a science franchise. It's Science Fantasy more than Science Fiction. A character describes a unit of time using a unit of distance and no one cares. Not that that's a bad thing, that's what Star Wars is. Maybe, just maybe, JJ is the guy for that.

But I refused to be excited. Not going to happen. Screw you, JJ. And you too, George.

I watched the first teaser. I liked it, it looked nice. But I'm not excited. Nope.

Then the new one hit. The one posted above. And I turned into a quivering mass of nerd goo. I'm embarrassed by how excited I am for this movie now. In just under two minutes I went from jaded, "Meh, I might see it," to, "PUT THIS MOVIE IN MY FACEHOLES RIGHT NOW." I'm so lame. I have no excuses. I'm one of the mass of Star Wars fans yet again, completely in the bag. The whole trailer is perfect. The practical effects. That pan of the crashed X-Wing and then ohmygodisthatacrashedStarDestroyedholycrapholycrap! Luke's voice over. The suggested promise of Leia using the Force. The cool dogfighting shots. BB8 (see below mini gush on BB8). And then that ending. THAT ENDING, YOU GUYS! Not fair. Not fair. Not fair.
Shut up, my eyes are just sweating is all. Shut up.
 BB8 Gush- BB8 is the new droid that is going to live in my son's heart like R2 lives in mine. He looks CG because he's a ball droid with a head that swivels independently of the body. He looks like magic. No way that's live action. Except it is! Look, here is it on stage at the Star Wars Celebration meeting R2.

How cool is that? Answer- AMAZINGLY cool**. BB8 is going to be the Dancing Baby Groot for this Christmas. BB8 insures that Force Awakens is going to make more money than any movie in history faster than any movie in history. I tweeted recently that we don't have a word for how much money it's going to make. I suggested a Forceload and someone else came back with Sithton, which I also like.

Anyway, I'm going to nerd all over you about Star Wars during #WeirdEd. You don't have to be deeply familiar with the series to participate.

*Yeah, the new Kirk isn't Kirk at all, he's the Kirk that we joke about. Watch the original series or any of the movies. Kirk wasn't a prick. He was a leader who earned his leadership and /rants for days and days/


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Student- Choreographed Dance to "Eat It"

If you remember from my Post of Many Updates recently my students are doing Dance for PE. Last week and the week before we learned a version of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" dance. This week I wanted to continue dancing but I wanted my kids to create on their own.

After warming-up by teaching them to Time Warp (you're damn right I'm serious) we rocked out to "Weird Al" Yankovic's "Eat It". The kids are familiar with this because I play it every day as we get ready for lunch. (Note: This isn't my idea, I stole it from someone on Twitter. I don't remember who because I suck.) Then we started talking about ways to move and coming up with repeatable dance moves. I lead only in the sense that I wrote down the moves they came up with and vetoed not clear ideas, ie, "We could just shake our arms a whole bunch."

Once we had a good list of moves we ran them a few times while I counted One Two Three Four out loud. Then we played the song again and I realized I had been counting too slow and our last step was on a six count, not a four, which was really confusing for the kids* so we had to troubleshoot.

But after a little practice we ended up with a good dance to "Weird Al". Yes, I realize I'm The Weird Teacher and we're dancing to "Weird Al" and I don't care. Al rocks. It was more fun than dancing to "Beat It."

I'm proud to present my class and I (minus my ELD kids who got pulled literally right before we started filming) dancing to "Eat It" by "Weird Al" Yankovic, choreographed by them!

*read: the teacher

#WeirdEd Week 52- Being Yourself Redux

The #WeirdEd Anniversary Band

This week is week 52 of #WeirdEd! Some say they can't believe it lasted this long. Some don't know why it lasted this long. Some still don't know it exists. We hate them the most.

We have had some excellent, important, serious, ridiculous conversations over the last year. I thought about doing a Look Back/Reflection #WeirdEd and we still might at some point but I thought it would be fun instead to go back to the very first #WeirdEd. We've branched into two chats and the number of Weird Teachers who come play has exploded. So here's the very first blog post, I'll be running the same questions with little to no editing (depending on how my ego can take looking back at something I wrote a week ago).

We're going to be talking about how you're yourself in your classroom. Being a Weird Teacher doesn't and has never meant teaching Like Me. That's what THE Teaching Text (You're Welcome) is for.

Look forward to seeing you. Please speak up if you're celebrating your one year with us. I think a few people have been on the ride the whole time.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

So Many Updates! OR CUE, A Book, and Dancing

I like to write posts that are specific to one thing but in this case I have three things I want to hit all at once.

FIRST- CUE Blog Editor

CUE is looking for a new editor for their blog and I made the short-list of candidates to take the helm this summer. They have decided to let me and two other people guest edit the blog for a month, then they'll choose based on those posts, how easy we are to work with (I assume), and how handsome we are (I hope).

I have two posts up so far. One by me, Teachers Vs Technology, a look at how the computer savvy amongst us should help the less so, and one by the talented Jessica Lifshitz called What We Want For Ourselves We Should Want For Our Students, which is about student empowerment.

I'm proud of the work I've posted so far and I'd appreciate you reading, commenting, and sharing them. Getting a side job editing an education blog is one of those things that I'd love to be able to do. Someone paying me to write has been a fantasy for forever.

SECOND- THE Teaching Text (You're Welcome)

Speaking of being paid to write, did you know I've got a new book out? I do. It's called THE Teaching Text (You're Welcome) and it's a satirical look at the teaching books we all know and love-hate. It's everywhere books are sold online (amazon, iTunes, Nook, etc) and those links are up to the side on this blog. You can get it in paperback for $5.99 and as an ebook for the bargain price of $0.99. It's not terribly long so I priced it to move and priced it for broke teachers. If you do pick up THE Teaching Text (You're Welcome) I'd appreciate a review on amazon, goodreads, iTunes, or wherever. Those stars help. Tell your friends.

THIRD- Thiller in PE

So many thanks to everyone who helped me over Spring Break find a dance unit for my students to do in PE. I'd been dying to teach dance but had no idea where to begin looking. I threw the question to twitter and got a million responses. I looked at them and went with this tutorial on a version of Thriller posted by Deep Creek Elementary. Ever wanted to watch me do the Thriller dance? Now you can.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

#WeirdEd Week 51- Bullying

**Ed. Note: #WeirdEdE moderator Shawna Briseno (@nolagirlfromtx) wrote both this blog and the questions for this week's chat. This topic is very close to the heart of everyone at #WeirdEd and I'm thrilled Shawna felt so passionately about it she pursued making it a topic.**

by Shawna Briseno

It’s time to talk about the “B” word. It seems as if it’s always in the news but whatever we’re doing isn't working because it’s still a gigantic problem. Kids are still being bullied for any number of reasons.  

Sometimes those kids who are being bullied do very bad things. Like this:

Or this:

Sometimes they go even farther. We've all heard the stories of kids who commit suicide because the bullying is just too bad. And it’s still happening.

Social media can exacerbate the problem. Instagram, Twitter, name it and kids have used it to spread maliciousness. Oh, and just in case you haven’t heard, there’s now an app for that:

Why, in anyone’s mind, is this possibly a good idea? What responsibility do adults, especially teachers, have to step in when a line is crossed?

So yes, we’re going to talk about bullying. We’re going to decide for ourselves just what bullying is. We’ll talk about how bad it can get and what we can & should do to stop it.