Tuesday, November 25, 2008

P.S. Start selling...

Assuming you took my earlier advice... take your profits now... dead cat bouncing.

Cuz I'm smart like that...

I totally kicked ass on this Americans Civics quiz.

Supposedly, college educators averaged 55%.

While I scored a totally rocking 87.88% (29 out of 33), and I don't even have a degree.

Via Kevin Drum

Friday, November 21, 2008

Told you so...

Dow Jones falls 444 points to 7552.

Like I said...
False bounce.  The DJI isn't finished diving.  I predict a low of 7500 +/- 200.
Got cash... start buying.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Experts: Lack of playtime is hurting children - Kids and parenting- msnbc.com

Experts: Lack of playtime is hurting children - Kids and parenting- msnbc.com:

Without ample opportunity for forms of play that foster innovation and creative thinking, she argues, America’s children will be at a disadvantage in the global economy.

“Play equals learning,” she said. “For too long we have divorced the two.”

Some of the factors behind diminished play time have been evolving for decades, others are more recent. Added together, they have resulted in eight to 12 fewer hours of free play time per week for the average American child since the 1980s, experts say.

Among the key factors, according to Thompson:
  • Parents’ reluctance to let their kids play outside on their own, for fear of abduction or injury, and the companion trend of scheduling lessons, supervised sports and other structured activities that consume a large chunk of a child’s non-school hours.
  • More hours per week spent by kids watching TV, playing video games, using the Internet, communicating on cell phones.
  • Shortening or eliminating recess at many schools — a trend so pronounced that the National PTA has launched a “Rescuing Recess” campaign.
  • More emphasis on formal learning in preschool, more homework for elementary school students and more pressure from parents on young children to quickly acquire academic skills.

    TFT gets it right

    The Frustrated Teacher get's it right in the comments...

    "I mentioned in another post here that I have zero expectations when it comes to how I teach. I assume the kids in my class have unconcerned, uneducated, too busy, drug addicted parents. That way I am sure to cover all that needs to be covered, aside from reading writing and arithmetic.
    He is wrong about everything else (wink), so I figured I'd give him props for this.

    Strange traffic

    I checked my stats today and noticed a strange spike in traffic last week.  This usually means someone linked to me, but I have no idea who, and my poor mans counter only has the last 100 visit history.


    Monday, November 17, 2008

    Inappropriate story

    My 3rd grader has a sleepover this weekend, where they told ghost stories.

    At school today her assignment she had to write a story.

    She chose to write a story called "Bloody Mary".

    Wednesday, November 12, 2008

    "we practice math and language arts"

    According to The Frustrated Teacher, charter schools do better because they are selective.
    Ben Chavis, who took over American Indian Public Charter in 2001, when it was struggling academically and in danger of losing its charter, said there was no mystery to his schools' success. It begins, he said, with at least 90 minutes a day of math and English, and a no-nonsense approach.
    "These poor kids are doing well because we practice math and language arts," he said. "That's it. It's simple."

    Tuesday, November 11, 2008

    Anchorage School District Hits the Hump

    Anchorage Daily News: Test scores decline in Anchorage schools by MEGAN HOLLAND
    ANNUAL REPORT: Poor test results in 'three R's' come after four years of gains.
    I guess the good news is that all of my kids schools did much better than the district, but I suspect that it's only a matter of time before they start showing declining scores.

    Unfortunately, the Anchorage School District seems to have put itself on the path to less effectiveness.  

    Recently, the school board formally adopted Everyday Math after a flawed evaluation process.  Of course, many schools in the district were already using Everyday Math.

    In reading, the school district uses Houghton Mifflin Reading, which is just a repackaged whole language program with just enough phonics thrown in to meet the Reading First guidelines.  It's effectiveness has yet to be determined according to the What Works Clearinghouse.

    If the School Board had any common sense at all, they would take a look at what's happening over at Eagle Academy Charter School.  According to their Profile of Performance, they are kicking ass.  73% advanced in Reading, 69% advanced in writing, and 75% advanced in math.  Compare this to district percentages of 40%, 35%, and 40% respectively.

    I tried to get my kids into Eagle Academy when I first arrived here, but unfortunately they didn't have enough slots for all my kids, and the logistics of getting them there was going to be to difficult.  I would like to think that we provide an equivalent educational experience by supplementing our kids instruction at home, but it sure would be nice if the school district used charters schools like they should, and adopted the more successful instructional practices.

    Teacher Quality

    I was just reading Kevin Carey's latest post about teacher quality, or more specifically alternate certification programs vs. traditional certification programs.  He brings up an interesting point about the possibility of there being some sort of mystery innate factor that heavily influences student outcomes and teacher effectiveness.

    Well I am here to tell you Kevin, that the factor isn't such a mystery.  Four school age kids, twenty or so teachers in their lives, and I can spot an effective teacher in the first week of school.  I haven't been wrong yet.

    An effective teacher:
    1. Reinforces the basics/building blocks continually
    2. Is organized i.e. plans out assignments and and doesn't lose homework
    3. Expects students to be behaved and responsible
    4. Uses students work to evaluate how well they taught, not just how well the student learned
    As far as the alternate certification vs traditional certification argument goes, I think the whole debate is putting the cart in front of the horse.

    In my several years of being an education junkie, I have yet to read about a single study that compares the effectiveness of education teachers programs.

    The value added effectiveness of all education program graduates should be measure and tied back to their school.  Nursing schools are graded based on their NCLEX pass rates.  Why couldn't we track education majors for a few years after they enter the teaching profession and publish which schools do a good job of preparing teachers.

    I would wager that once the rankings came out, education schools would quickly abandon all the pseudo science they try and pass of as pedagogy and start providing effective instruction on how to prepare lessons, maintain discipline, and teach math/reading.

    Is that to much to ask?

    Monday, November 10, 2008

    "calling your kids ugly"

    MSNBC: Homeowner denial: My home is gaining value

    To a homeowner, a low, but realistic, listing price is "like someone calling your kids ugly," Ariely said with a laugh.
    There are three homeowners I know who are trying to sell their house.  All three are in denial.  All three must move (military).  All of them think they will just rent out their house and wait it out.


    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

    (Sorry, just testing)

    Facebook for education

    I've been playing around with facebook and twitter the last few days.

    Got me to wondering how come educational software is so far behind the power curve.

    Only one of my kids teachers bothers to use the district homework page, and even that is a pain to get to.  I can check grades online, much to my kids chagrin, but having something a little more interactive would sure be nice.

    Saturday, November 08, 2008


    According to Fox News, Obama is considering "former Bush Secretary of State Colin Powell as possible education secretary".  How many jobs is Colin Powell going to have in his lifetime?

    What's with the meme of hiring high ranking military officers to run education organizations?  Can't they find any qualified education people?

    BTW, I notice Teach For America wasn't mentioned anywhere in Obama's education initiatives on change.gov.  Oh well, maybe all those bright young things can join the New Energy Corps, the Veterans Corps, or the Health Corps.

    For a guy who ran on change, he isn't very original.

    Wednesday, November 05, 2008

    If I hear "Yes we can" one more time...

    So I am watching the Obama victory speech, and I am feeling it.  Seriously, I'm telling my wife, who isn't so accepting, that his speech is pretty decent, he is saying all the right thing, then... he starts with the "Yes we can" thing.  

    I know he has to placate his base, and give his supporters some of what they expect, but the "Yes we can" mantra, creeps me out.  Then again, I have the feeling that it will be the last time he uses it in a major speech.  I should be safe as long as I avoid youtube.

    Tuesday, November 04, 2008


    First, I would like to thank everyone who voted... thank you for exercising your right, no matter who you voted for.

    Second: Today, three of my Airman volunteered to go to the Middle East for four months.  None of them had to go.  All three of them were 20 years old.  Two of them were Obama supporters.  One of them recently got married.  All of them represent the best of this country.

    Finally:  Congratulations to Obama, our first African-American President.

    p.s. props to my wife Shannon for going out to vote after a long day, even though the election was effectively over already.

    Monday, November 03, 2008

    Rory's Alaskan King Crab Taco Recipe

    Corn tortilla (heated on a frying pan -- DO NOT USE store bought hard shells)
    Steamed Alaskan King Crab Meat (Seasoned with Old Bay or Celery Salt if desired)
    Cilantro (There is cilantro in the pico de gallo, but I love Cilantro)
    A slice of avocado
    Home made pico de gallo (3 tomatoes, 1 red onion, garlic, cilantro, pepper, celery salt, squeeze of lemon, touch of vinegar)


    I'd take pictures, but they were so delicious we ate them too quickly.

    Sunday, November 02, 2008

    Sick kid...

    My two and a half year old has a stomach bug.  I was up all night cleaning up after her.

    You hate it when your kids are sick, but you have to admit... you get the best hugs when they are.

    p.s. she wants to type a message while she is on my lap.

     yibyu yuzzzz dnfddr

    Saturday, November 01, 2008

    He is running for President, not Messiah

    If Obama wins, promise me that there wont be any more youtube videos like this:

    and this

    and this

    What teachers really think...


    "pompous, uneducated parents"

    The Frustrated Teacher... keeping it real