Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Remember when the family got out the board games and set up the table? We did that at my house when I was growing up, but it was the kids really that played. My parents went to Grandpa's house to play dominoes with my aunt and uncle, and I remember playing with my siblings around the standing floor furnace on a cold winter's snowy night. If I remember correctly, the adults drank coffee and we kids had cocoa with marshmallows; the tiny ones, leaving foamy residue and dark chocolate rings around the top of the cups. Family night was important then as it built up great rapport within the family dynamics. I think it's still very important today, too. Times have changed a bit, that's for sure. No longer are we going to the top of the broom closet to pull out an old box with duct taped corners and missing pieces to SORRY. (We used blue erases to make up for the missing blue pieces and a red jax to make up for a missing red piece). No longer do we have to gather up the cards and turn them all the right way before shuffling them, passing them out, and hoping no one realizes that the five of clubs isn't in the deck anymore. NOPE..we don't have to do that because now we play our family night games online! That's right, there's an app for that! There's an app for Monopoly, Sorry, Yahtzee, and anything else you can think of. We use to play Scrabble but now we play WORDS with Friends. It's the same thing only different, right? Any given night you'll find my family all crammed into the living room, slouching over couches, leaning over the recliner, or me -- worst of the bunch -- sitting in my computer chair with one hand on the phone keypad and the other on Facebook where I try to keep up with a few horse-loving friends in at least two horse-related chat rooms! It's so different, but not really, not when you consider that my mom was on the phone a great deal of the time when she was playing dominoes and we kids were running back and forth from Grandpa's to my aunt's (they lived next door) playing chess with Cousin Gene, Hi-Ho-Cherry-O with each other in one house and checkers with my Uncle Marvin while he played dominoes with my parents. Brandon, Caity, Laura, and I will spend the better part of three hours on our smartphones, trying to slam each other with as many odd combinations, letters placed in just the right place, or letters that really shouldn't have been considered words in the first place; but because WORDS with Friends says they're words then by-golly they're words! I know I used "kart" and "ee" as words but couldn't use "kew" or "iran". Caity used "moneys" but couldn't use "tex". Laura couldn't use "tac" but she was able to place something in Japanese that no one had a clue was legal. It is what it is!! POINTS! Family night is family night, or in our house, nearly every night is family night. Caity holds the record so far of pulling out the highest score; 120 points for the best placement of the word "jump". I think I'm next with 74 points, but hey, I'll take a good steady even flowing game of 12's, 15's, and 18's anytime. The worst thing is when you have a Q but you can't use it. DANG, I hate that!
In 2004 I worked for a public school system in Oklahoma. Let's just say they were the largest, and therefore this means they are often the LAST to make changes. Money is one thing, and schools just never seem to find it...not when they need it. So there I was teaching, using the affordable means of technology which was given to us, our personal cell phones, but the schools were adamantly against the students having their cells in class. GROW SOME administrators. Realize that there is NOTHING, and I do mean NOTHING that you can do to separate a teenager and his or her phones. This being the case, you may as well use them, this at least keeps up the global pace with our European and Asian friends who have been texting their teachers for eons. (Or as long as there have been cell phones) * * I instructed the students to text me when they had a question during tests. They could text their friends, but texting me would be more beneficial as I actually knew the correct answers. This practice of course led to me texting constantly during the test so I could help out this or that student, and then it became a game to see who could stump the teacher. This activity served to build a HUGE rapport between myself and my class, but you guessed it -- the administration found out and I was called into the office to be reprimanded. TOO DAMN BAD. I didn't stop, and to this day the 18-20 students that I routinely texted actually ALL graduated, they ALL went to college, and 2 of them have become teachers; BOOYAH! Why do I mention this? Oh, because NOW...yes NOW, that same district is using MY technique to build rapport with their difficult students. Texting them to keep their eyes on their own papers - or to stop talking when someone is at the front of the room. YOU'RE WELCOME NORTHWEST CLASSEN HIGH SCHOOL!! * * The next school, also an Oklahoma City public school charter, Santa Fe South, was a challenge from the first day. I had about 110 students in the 9th grade ranging from age 13-17, as many of my kids were Hispanic and came from Mexico directly. Some were not quite ready for actual high school level classes even though they were older. I got the GREAT and I mean GREAT idea to allow these kids to use their natural given tagging talents to TAG UP my room - using magic markers. I had all white walls and there were rules. They couldn't use gang or gang-related symbols or language. They could tag if they got their work done, and they couldn't tag over someone else's work. This was done (on my part) for two reasons: I wanted to teach responsibility and respect. First they had to get their work done before they could tag and second, they had to learn to respect their own areas and/or territories on the wall. WOW..it was a MAJOR success....in the classroom. The administration - - didn't like it. I was fired for inciting violence. EVEN THOUGH there was NOTHING violent on the walls. * * Flash forward. ALL of the students missed me; wanted me back, and continued to be my friend on Facebook and at that time MySpace. They reported to me that the very next y year the principal put up white boards and brought in dry-erase markers to do the VERY SAME thing I was doing in my room. He didn't let me finish my project, but he was certainly happy enough to use my techniques and my ideas. He used dry-erase and claimed to me later that I was fired for destroying or allowing property to be destroyed. NO...idiot, that's why God made PAINT! I can say that now, I'm no longer working for the man. * * I just find it sad that I come up with great teaching ideas and others steal them but before they do they reprimand me rather than praise me, or encourage me for my progressive thinking. Please, believe me when I say I can come up with some really fun ways to learn - - and I have. Some of which may never be found out! I like it that way because that separates me from the dull and uncaring, or dull teacher. I am the FUN one....and that makes me happy. Of course now I'm not even teaching, and that makes me sad, but I will never ever ever forget my "babies", not one of them; and there have been thousands! My heart is blessed for this.
Thursday, November 1, 2012
I've lived in Indianapolis for 3 Halloweens now. The first one was 2010. I had barely settled into the neighborhood, however I knew enough to know that it was NOT conducive to having kids romping and stomping toward my door to get candy because my door was not exactly easy to find. I moved to a condo which had all of the garage doors facing out onto the 10th hole of a very nice, quiet, plush, private golf course. At first, because I typically assume too