Monday, December 31, 2012

Why Common Core Standards Concern Me: A Weather Analogy

For those who skipped the post's title, what follows is an analogy.

The Common Core emphasizes non-fiction, so students should be able to read nonfiction like the following tidbits from the Weather Channel.

The Core's strongest advocates might want students to understand classic literary references to weather or seasons like the following song. They'd probably love this Sinatra version has the benefit of a spelling lesson, but they might bemoan the fact that it's too romantic.

The Core's proponents seemingly don't understand that facts, classics and spelling lessons may not make the point as well as a simple regional story told well. What follows may be hyperbolic, but it combines the realism of a weather report with the literary elements of the more popular song. If it were literature being taught in an English class, it's the type of work that the Core would force teachers to cut so that the teacher could have students read the weather report.

Quotation Of The Day: Republican Party Devoid Of Soul

From former Republican presidential candidate John Huntsman in this Daily Telegraph interview:
"The party right now is a holding company that's devoid of a soul and it will be filled up with ideas over time and leaders will take their proper place,"

Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Minor Musing: Will A Student Who Graduates Under Common Core Standards Be Able To Understand Dave Barry's Recent Column?

Dave Barry does an excellent job of reviewing 2012. In the process, he probably gives Common Core advocates a bit of hope when he references Hamlet.
It was a cruel, cruel year — a year that kept raising our hopes, only to squash them flatter than a dead possum on the interstate.
Example: This year the “reality” show Jersey Shore, which for six hideous seasons has been a compelling argument in favor of a major earth-asteroid collision, finally got canceled, and we dared to wonder if maybe, just maybe, we, as a society, were becoming slightly less stupid.
But then, WHAP, we were slapped in our national face by the cold hard frozen mackerel of reality in the form of the hugely popular new “reality” show Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, which, in terms of intellectual content, makes Jersey Shore look like Hamlet.
The fine folks who are reassuring English teachers throughout the nation that "classic literature will not be lost with the implementation of the new standards" are probably a bit disappointed that Barry does not claim that 2012 was "the best of years and the worst of years" or that "the entire year consisted of the month a April, notorious for being cruel." Those after all are allusions to classic literature that should not be "lost." It's unclear whether Common Core advocates understand the pop culture references.

Of course, the students who are expected to understand Hamlet live in a world dominated by Jersey Shore and Honey Boo Boo. They probably have not heard of either Dickens or Eliot. Emphasis on non-fiction, something the Common Core demands, makes it impossible to teach all of the literature, classic or otherwise, that has been taught in the past. Longer school years will not occur in the current political environment.

Ironically then, the emphasis on non-fiction will mean that Barry's wonderful column will be less appreciated because the "classic literature" will be taught less frequently and totally divorced from the culture that students inhabit.

more here:

Scripture And Song Of Week: Disaster Prediction Edition

I guess I have been inspired or depressed by surviving the end of the Mayan calendar along with the fiscal cliff debacle and warning that the debt ceiling talks will start up again in late January.

Revelation 6

1 I watched as the Lamb opened the first of the seven seals. Then I heard one of the four living creatures say in a voice like thunder, “Come!” 2 I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest.

3 When the Lamb opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” 4 Then another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make people kill each other. To him was given a large sword.

5 When the Lamb opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come!” I looked, and there before me was a black horse! Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand. 6 Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, “Two pounds[a] of wheat for a day’s wages,[b] and six pounds[c] of barley for a day’s wages,[d] and do not damage the oil and the wine!”

7 When the Lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come!” 8 I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

A Minor Musing About Political Glasses: Rose-colored And Half Empty

I'm catching up on my South Dakota blogosphere reading and came across these little tidbits that I found interesting.

Pat Powers, as his his wont, shills for the Republican monopoly that has dominated South Dakota politics  and points to stats that say that South Dakota is the 7th best run state in the nation.

Meanwhile, Constant Conservative takes the bloom off the rose colored eyewear and points out that South Dakota gets more help from the federal government than most other states: forty-six of them to be exact.
South Dakota is number 4 in the nation for percentage of the state budget underwritten by the federal government. Check out the Tax Foundation for the details.
I know that I have a resolution to say something positive about Daugaard, but boasting about a budget surplus and preaching self-reliance while taking advantage of federal largess seems duplicitous at best.

Friday, December 28, 2012

New Years Resolutions For 2013 (Part 1)

For the past two months there has been much more slogging than blogging. In the spirit of a new year and the hope that springs eternal every January 1, every MLB opening day, and every first day of school, I hope to get back on track. I also hope to accomplish a few other tasks that have eluded me in the past.

The first resolution is obviously to get back on track and publish the requisite two posts a day. I will be satisfied to average two daily posts throughout any given month.

Second, to issue an open invitation to Steve Sibson to visit my classroom when I teach my Bible unit. Sibby frequently bombs the Madville Times comments section with assertions that public schools have banned
Bible reading. At his own site, he posts headlines like "Newtown, an America where Bibles are banned and evil is promoted." Representative Steve Hickey can also visit if he likes. (I should give myself 1/2 credit for accomplishing this resolution. As soon as I hit publish the invitation will have been issued. I just need to finalize the dates. If I follow old lesson plans, I should begin the unit in mid-January.)

Third, I probably shouldn't do any more cheating on completing resolutions like I did above.

Next, I want to find one good thing to post about Governor Dennis Daugaard and Representative Kristi Noem. I don't want to cheat on this one either. For example, claiming that Daugaard is not the most reprehensible politician in South Dakota history won't count nor will asserting that Noem is not the least intellectually gifted politician in South Dakota.

On the personal level, I resolve to spend at least six hours watching foreign language television with my wife even though I won't understand a single word. The six hours does not have to occur at one sitting, but it should occur before the end of the school year. In an effort to afford cheating, I will not force her to watch ESPN Deportes to take up the time.

On a more serious level, I will make an effor to do a few more education posts than I have in the past.

I'll post the rest of my resolutions tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Quotation Of The Day: State Rep. Betty Olson Is Wrong Edition

From this Alan Jacobs post:
But what troubles me most about this suggestion — and the general More Guns approach to social ills — is the absolute abandonment of civil society it represents. It gives up on the rule of law in favor of a Hobbesian “war of every man against every man” in which we no longer have genuine neighbors, only potential enemies. You may trust your neighbor for now — but you have high-powered recourse if he ever acts wrongly.
Whatever lack of open violence may be procured by this method is not peace or civil order, but rather a standoff, a Cold War maintained by the threat of mutually assured destruction. Moreover, the person who wishes to live this way, to maintain order at universal gunpoint, has an absolute trust in his own ability to use weapons wisely and well: he never for a moment asks whether he can be trusted with a gun. Of course he can! (But in literature we call this hubris.)
Is this really the best we can do? It might be if we lived in, say, the world described by Cormac McCarthy in The Road. But we don’t. Our social order is flawed, but by no means bankrupt. Most of us live in peace and safety without the use of guns. It makes more sense to try to make that social order safer and safer, more and more genuinely peaceful, rather than descend voluntarily into a world governed by paranoia, in which one can only feel safe — or, really, “safe” — with cold steel strapped to one’s ribcage.
Cory gives his take on Olson's ludicrous assertion that having more armed people in school will lessen school violence here.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Scripture And Song Of The Week: Romans Edition

Romans 12
1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.

State Oral Interp Festival Recap

Blogging has been light for the past few weeks for a few reasons, but the biggest was the effort to complete the tasks on the to-do list for hosting the SDHSAA State Oral Interpretation Festival. Fortunately, the administration, faculty, custodial and maintenance staff, and the food service staff at Yankton High School made the job easy. Lisa Scheve of the Yankton Convention and Business Bureau hosted a great hospitality lounge  and Julia Hussein and the Yankton Parents of Debaters did a marvelous job with concessions. Most importantly, fellow coaches Terri Mandel and Matt Termansen along with the YHS interp and debate students went above and beyond the call of duty to help everything run smoothly. When we host in the future, I'm going to get a lawn chair and sip some lemonade instead of worrying.

I'd like to highlight just a couple of other highlights from the weekend in no particular order:

1. Re-uniting with Darren Jackson, an impressive young man, who suffered through my classes for his entire high school career.

2. Catching up with Cory Heidelberger--one needs to read that term figuratively; no one can catch up with the indefatigable one who walks faster than any other human I have ever seen.

3. Seeing our cat spit his Friday morning pill into the opening of a Coke Zero can.

4. Watching some young'uns from Milbank High School, still wearing their competition dress clothes, use light sabers to complete an assignment over Othello.

I hope to resume regular blogging.