Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Greg McElroy defined living life in balance because while at Alabama, he completed his undergraduate education in three years with a GPA of 3.86 and is currently working on a masters degree, was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon, quarterbacked the Crimson Tide to the 2009 National Championship, and qualified for the final round of the Rhodes Scholarship.
Villanova recently suspended a star freshman from its basketball team without any prompting from the NCAA because, "Pinkston is receiving the same treatment any Villanova student would under similar circumstances." Unlike Auburn, Villanova is ignoring that Pinkston was the second highest rated recruit out of the state of New York and reminding us all that no one should be above the law, no matter how talented they may be. Villanova won't be as talented this year, but it's better to hurt a little now so that we can become better athletes and better people in the long run. Hats off to the 'Cats and Mr. McElroy.
A link to the Villanova article if you're interested in reading more: http://sports.espn.go.com/ncb/news/story?id=5890891
Monday, December 6, 2010
Furthermore, these past five months have been incredible in how much I've learned about myself. I love the quote "You've got to go away to come back" and previously used it in reference to sports, but having time away from it all has provided greater overall clarity regarding who I am and where I want to go in life.
On top of all of that, I'm spoiled with all of the different sights I've been able to see since being over here; from places throughout Indonesia (the the mountains near Bogor and the rice patties of Bali) to Angkor Wat and the country-side of Vietnam and Cambodia. While traveling and instead of watching TV I've been able to get through a number of great books. The top shelf represents those I've read while the bottom contains those still on the reading list.
Overall, I am extremely grateful for these past few months and am looking forward to what I will continue to learn!
This picture is of Matt, Ab, and me at the Soiree last Friday.
Saturday, December 4, 2010
Thursday, December 2, 2010
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
On by-product of the current culture of college football is the hasty firing of good coaches, exemplified by "the U" firing Randy Shannon. When he took over the program at Miami, disarray would be a courteous description; academic issues, disciplinary problems, and stagnation on the field. In four years, Shannon has turned Miami into an exemplar for student achievement, a feat wish is too often under-looked in college athletics where, as the NCAA advertises, "over 90% of us are going pro in something other than sports." It should also be added that those lucky few who are drafted and play in the NFL, they won't be there long (average tenure is four years) and thus all student athletes need their degree throughout the rest of their adult lives. Furthermore, the news has been notably devoid of stories of athletes doing things they shouldn't be, despite all the distractions that come with attending college in Miami. Finally, a great culture has been established within a team that has gone to three straight bowl games.
Unfortunately, Shannon didn't win enough for Miami standards. Miami has been lulled into a false sense of believing they have a great football program, when in reality a few outstanding coaches created a history of winning without necessary support structures (outside of the pipeline of talent that comes out of South Florida). "The U" lacks offices, meeting rooms, weight rooms, or practice facilities that would put them on par with the rest of the ACC, needless to say a premier national program. Additionally, they play their home games off campus in a NFL stadium, not exactly the best environment to build an atmosphere for a strong "home field" advantage.
In the discussion on Shannon, Lou Holtz brought up a very interesting point, you make the most mistakes in your first head coaching gig. He referred to his esteemed days with the Tribe as a time when he learned a lot about being a better CEO of his program and was able to use those lessons that the higher level, more exposed programs. We've seen the results with Gene Chizik at Auburn compared with Iowa State and if I were the AD of any university looking for a new coach, I would be thrilled with the successes and character of Randy Shannon and vault him to the top of my prospect list.
Monday, November 29, 2010
Sunday, November 28, 2010
Friday, November 26, 2010
Albert was the "fly" for 9A and shown here was the general strategy for most teams, our strategy (once again noticed by Eca) to come later...
So now on the 9B (can you tell my bias? :) lol) Initially we were in the "first heat" because there were only 5 spots to tape people to the walls and there are 10 classes. About a minute into the taping process, Eca noticed there were some nails sticking out of the wall just above Nada. Consequently, we used the nails to create a sling to support under her arm-pits. Most flies fell between 20 and 50 seconds up on the wall with the 3rd place fly falling at 1:40. The picture below is of Nada 4 minutes in. In watching it, I was convinced Nada would stay up until the nails came out (and at the four minute mark you could see they were showing signs of stress) and so in the interest of getting the second heat started Matt called for Nada to get pulled down.
However, the ingenuity of 9B was not appreciated by all and there was talk of our class getting disqualified. Like I said in other posts, throughout the Homeroom Challenge I gave my full support to student-driven ideas while offering minimal input, but at word of this I did speak up to Matt and the principal that it would be exceedingly unfair to 9B because they didn't violate any of the previously stipulated rules and it would send a terrible message to the kids that intellectual progress could be stunted if it created an "unfair advantage" as determined by the powers at be. Well, the argument for entrepreneurialism at least allowed us to reach a compromise where 9B would do it again, but this time without use of nails. Since some of my students weren't exactly pleased with this compromise, I decided to take a significantly more active role in the second taping to ensure that Nada would be able to stay up for at least 1:40.
Thursday, November 25, 2010
The 10th Grade facilitators are ready to start the telephones!
Hanif, the 6th grader who won most photogenic of the week (for pictures exactly like this one:)!), with both sixth grade teachers, Dennis and Cris
Grades 8 and 9 ready for it to begin.
9B ready for it to begin...well almost, Abi's not quite ready...or is he meditating on our strategy?
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
From left to right: Tania, Natasha, Eca, and Nada
Eric and Daniel, just walking down the hallway (two of the best costumes from the day, plus as a big fan of 'The Three Musketeers' I thoroughly enjoyed Eric's choice)
Monday, November 22, 2010
I shared this clip (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OqokqE5dRmM&feature) with my kids to reinforce the importance of hard work and determination in character building. While I think the biggest take away was the thick New England Kennedy accent (which is most notable on "hard") it enabled us to joke about the Semester final (Why are we making mock exams and working for an entire period on solving 4 problems? Because they are haaard! :)!)
Sunday, November 21, 2010
After being completely blown away with "Slaughterhouse Five," I wanted to read other Vonnegut works asap and while "Breakfast of Champions" didn't match the quality and depth of "Schlachthof-funf," this quote frames the novel and by using this as a lens in which to view the rest of the book also makes it a giant. Another quote from it that I really liked was:
"But some of the nonsense was evil, since it concealed great crimes. For example, teachers of children in the United States of America wrote this date on blackboards again and again, and asked children to memorize it with pride and joy:
Next up on the reading list, Sun Tzu's "The Art of War."
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Monday, November 15, 2010
Sunday, November 14, 2010
Lastly, this weekend I've been falling in love with Yo-Yo Ma; the articulate manner in which he discusses music, the amazing way in which he plays the prelude to Bach's Cello Suite 1 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JysJGTUASrQ) and the fact he totally bros it up with James Taylor (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KAkoYcfDmrk)
Saturday, November 13, 2010
This is in the chapter regarding why beautiful people earn, on average, 5% more and also how being tall is as important a determinant of wages as race or gender. While the defensibility of such a position is pretty ludicrous (especially given the extremely small and unrepresentative sample size of American presidents responding to specific needs of the time - i.e. I doubt Lincoln was thinking to himself after the 1860 election, "Alright! Now I finally get to suspend the writ of habeas corpus for a little while, yes!") but does highlight the entertainment that can come from analyses commonly used in economics. Lastly, during our professional development days this coming week (we have 2 days with no kids), everyone who went to a conference or other form of professional development is giving an "echo" talk to have a time where some of the main ideas from the conferences can be shared and discussed by the staff at large. I think this is an amazing way to increase the effectiveness of PD dollars and am very intrigued to see how these will go! My "echoing" of the Solo Conference is going to be a discussion on increasing student investment and so any best practices would be appreciated as I'm putting together the workshop! I hope everyone is doing well!
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Friday, November 5, 2010
Sunday, October 31, 2010
[Mistakes are my favorite part of teaching. I love to tell my students this principle because many of them are so afraid to make a mistake when they are solving a problem that they inhibit their intuition and other creative problem-solving ideas. Freeing students to make mistakes, but to learn from them, is a great facet of being an educator because it empowers students' thoughts and ideas by putting them on an equal footing with all other ideas presented in the class. Too often are students hamstrung by trying to regurgitate knowledge, and so through highlighting the advantages of making mistakes I try to get students to think more deeply about tasks at hand.
Additionally, examining student misunderstandings and following their unique processing skills to determine the best way to guide their future work is extremely demanding. I have to understand various elegant and some inelegant, yet still logically valid, solutions to each problem to help students approach their work in a way that is mathematically sound and in line with their thought processes. Furthermore, to guarantee long-term conceptual understanding, these next steps must be presented in a way that will be meaningful to every student. Over my three years of teaching, I have been academically challenged in ways that I never expected given my "easy" middle school curriculum, but the process of learning to think like others has been exciting and enriching and will forever affect my critical thinking by encouraging increased breadth and depth of thought.]
Word Count: 248
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
First of all, I want to thank you for your podcasts throughout each week because they are a fun way to stay connected to college football despite living 10,000 miles away in Jakarta! As I have been listening this season, a couple questions have continued to nag at me and given eight weeks of sheer chaotic entertainment, the answers seem more veiled than ever, thus I was interested in your (and your co-hosts) expertise.
I grew up in Upstate New York, what I affectionately refer to as "the heart of Big East country," and have been a supporter of the league since the days of our relevance in football, i.e. when Miami, VT, and BC were still in the conference. Given the current underwhelming state of mediocrity, my first question is whether or not the Big East, with only 8 teams, will ever be relevant in the national title discussion again? The Northeast is one of the weakest areas of the country for recruiting talent and even though South Florida technically "opens up" the fertile ground of talent in Florida to the rest of the league, just as your pointed out regarding the Northwest schools and their newly limited access to Los Angeles, it only occurs every other year.
My second question involves your boys in blue; if Boise State played in the Big East, solely for the sake of argument, would their membership in the weakest AQ conference provide them enough legitimacy to put them in the national championship game if they ran the table? Given the current formula, it is foreseeable that a one-loss SEC Champion (i.e. Alabama) could play a one-loss Big 12 Champion (i.e. Nebraska) for the national championship if there are not undefeated teams in the other AQ conferences despite Boise and TCU or Utah potentially having unblemished records. Even though Nevada, Hawai'i, and Fresno are probably better than the best (whoever they turn out to be) in the Big East, would the fact that, as you said, "They (the Big East) got there first," be enough for Boise to clear this final hurdle?
Thanks again for helping to shed light on the beautiful mess of this season, it's a lot of fun to see hints of parody and some of the big boys take a backseat to the little engines that can!"
Monday, October 25, 2010
To solve this, math teachers must promote individual thought on a daily basis and in a variety of contexts as every student will excel in different situations and success in one area can be used to promote successes in others. The discovery of concepts should not be limited to formal mathematics, but should also include logic philosophy, and generic problem-solving questions. These various disciplines demand similar thought processing skills and moving between them all can increase student investment and promote cognitive flexibility. Finally, writing must be the act that permanently cements these concepts in students' minds. Taking time for students to write what they notice, what the next step should be, other ways to solve similar problems, and what they learned can highlight individual learning at critical points in the lesson and promote higher order thinking skills.
While the idea of a timer is a good one (and is a good idea for the teacher to have timed out each portion of the lesson for themselves to have in the back of their head), a noisy timer can disrupt student thought and increase anxiety to finish before the bell instead of being completely devoted to the problem at hand. Math takes time to digest and so our sense of urgency needs to be translated into a steady, disciplined, and directed thought process that focuses on depth and not so much breadth.
Saturday, October 23, 2010
P.S. I love Jim Boeheim's description of the Syracuse area, "It's beautiful eight months out of the year, the other four we play basketball."
In general, I apologize for not having a post up here recently, but as soon as the internet was functional again at the homestay (it's still very hit or miss, mostly miss, at school) it went back down for a while. I guess it's the inconsistency and having to cross my fingers every time I turn on my computer that is most frustrating. It has promoted a lot more reading of "Tender is the Night" and reflecting on my teaching - to be detailed in the next post.
Big game on the Plains today; I think I'm rooting for Auburn simply because Les Miles has been beyond lucky and it's unfair to the kids on the opposing squads to continually have LSU pull out games that they shouldn't be winning. Lastly, the end of the Dan Hawkins era in 'rado would be a good thing, especially as they transition to the Pac-12, and upgrading Troy Calhoun or Gary Patterson into an AQ spotlight would be a good thing as both of them have definitely proved themselves at the slightly lower echelon.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Sunday, October 17, 2010
Saturday, October 16, 2010
Friday, October 15, 2010
As I was riding on the ojek to school this morning, I realized how much I preferred my current morning commute. It's not that I don't have to take the subway to work anymore, I actually miss the N train and hope Joe is starting to realize how awesome it is now that he's in Brooklyn :), but more that I don't have to shlep up the hill from the Prospect Park subway stop to MS 88. Walking up these four avenues every morning subtly changed my mentality every morning whereas getting dropped off at the front door of the school maximizes morning efficiency (and as a Goddard boy, mornings are arguably :) not our favorite time of the day).
Lastly, I leave you with a comment from a kid who usually isn't associated as one of the more academic students at Mentari but who has shown solid progress throughout the year as he left my classroom today. "Wow, my brain hurts! We did a lot today...and I think I understand it all!"
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
[At nineteen, I led the third smallest business in a competitive market with a limited number of firms (14), relatively high barriers to entry, and strong brand loyalty. Despite these limiting factors, we became second largest in the industry in two years time. Not only had our firm grown, but our client-list had expanded substantially and we were able to build our corporate reputation through peer and national recognition. Much of this success was due to our internal re-focusing on the principles of our organization; fellowship, leadership, scholarship and service. This organization was the Nu Chapter of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity at William and Mary and my experience as president highlights the importance, and even educational function, of fraternities. While they are labeled 'frats' with many negative stereotypes, social fraternities provide invaluable experiences not found within the classroom or other campus organizations. A fraternity is an incubator for management because of large membership rolls, constant and multi-faceted event planning, conflict and risk management, some of the largest budgets for student organizations, and routine reporting to regulatory bodies within the university and to the fraternity at large. Furthermore, through ad hoc and permanent committees, growth in organizational leadership is not limited to the executive boards of fraternities, but can be delegated and fostered throughout the members. This 'incubator' had led to such a high percentage of leaders in business and government with backgrounds of fraternal membership and overall I'm proud to be referred to as a 'frat boy.']
Word Count: 247
Day 1 of the campaign went extremely well. I'm so proud of the student leaders and the maturity that many of the students are showing throughout these discussions. My main concern is how to find useless products now that Billy Mays isn't telling me what to buy.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Monday, October 11, 2010
"The Other Side of the Equation"
[A growing number of major news agencies and school leaders are highlighting the importance of helping ineffective teachers transition into new careers, however, there has been an inadequate discussion of the other side of the equation; creating and molding excellent teachers. First of all, there needs to be increased recognition of the importance of great public school teachers and improve their prestige, pay and diversify the opportunities for promotion. Outside of the three "P"s, there needs to be a change in teacher education. A degree in teaching should be synonymous with the most arduous of majors. Increasing the rigors of these programs will help separate the wheat, those truly dedicated and interest in changing the lives of their students, from the chafe, those entering the profession for seemingly steady employment prospects and government-employee benefits. Furthermore, distinguishing the merit of a degree in education will promote the prestige of teaching and discourage the adage that "those who can't do, teach." Finally, there needs to be an overhaul for the continued development of teachers; no longer can staff meetings be considered "professional development." Administrators must make adequate, meaningful, and deliberate time for real development, both within teachers' daily schedules and during separate professional development days. Additionally, oversight and following through to ensure these sessions are effectively achieving the desired end of continued improvement is needed. Overall, improving teacher quality must be as central as the elimination of under-performers because otherwise public education will lack the necessary effective, long-term change.]
Word Count: 245
All the caveats given for the other two drafts apply to this one as well.
In other news, this past week I worked with one of the sixth grade teachers at the school, Cristina, to develop an anti-bullying program to be implemented by the older students educating the younger students about bullying, why it happens, its harmful effects, and how to change it to create a more positive school culture. Today we "trained" the older students in what their responsibilities would be for this campaign and to be honest, I was concerned with how this would "stick" with them. First of all, due to the difference in dismissal schedule, we needed to break the training into two sections: the 7th and 8th grade student leaders were led by Cristina and I had the 9th and 10th graders. I don't know many of the 10th graders and so I wasn't sure if a lack of a personal connection would inhibit our time together, but I was blown away in such a positive way by their response. I am intrigued as to how successful the program will end up being, but I am hopeful! I hope all are doing well!
My goal for tomorrow: 250 Take 4 - "Frat Boy" - get excited lol
Friday, October 8, 2010
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Word Count: 243
Similarly to Take 1, this is equally rough, but I'm just throwing spaghetti on the wall until an idea sticks and merits a full editorial process. Let me know what you think (and thanks for the thoughts on Take 1, reading oratory is a little more difficult)
Also, I'm very intrigued in the Michigan/Michigan State game. I'm surprised that both of these teams are still undefeated, so this should be an interesting litmus test (or a continued coming out party for Denard Robinson) Additionally, given the quality of the Michigan spread offense and the incompetence of the Greg Robinson-led (yes, the same Greg Robinson who led Syracuse to a 10-37 record over 4 years...) Michigan defense, the shoot-out should be fun to watch!
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Now for a College Football Rant: (for those disinterested, this is your cue :) lol)
Monday, October 4, 2010
"Welcome to the first day of your new job! You graduated from fifth grade, but this is the Big Leagues; you have to move between classes, the material is more in-depth, eighth graders loom in the hallways, and you have one hundred new sixth grade friends. Middle School isn't easy, but we will all be successful here because "you work hard to get good, and then you work harder to get better." All of you, each and every one of you, are good, but we need to work harder to get better. We will be pressed for time and will have to work efficiently each day, but that's because we are working harder to get better. We will have this attitude every day in class because we are what we repeatedly do, and we are people with a purpose: working harder to get better. We are making excellence a habit; it is not something we can turn on or off at will. We play in the game like we practice because superstars don't form overnight so our practice is going to be excellent. Mistakes will happen, but we are at ease with mistakes because it is through mistakes and correcting them that we learn and don't forget. So welcome to the first day of your new job; let's become great together!"]
-Word Count: 253
Some of the phrasing isn't exactly how I want it yet, but further editing will wait for one of these to come out on top. Picture of the day: Ab's kids really liked how this picture shows the presence of lichen in Angkor.
Sunday, October 3, 2010
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
This is the top of the gate into Angkor Thom. Words honestly cannot describe.
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Mouhot to have come across Angkor Wat in the midst of the rainforest. It eerily spoke of an ancient golden age, but also of nature's ability to perpetually create unparalleled beauty; sunsets, mountain vistas, or trees intertwined in temples. Visiting a place like Angkor highlights the fact we view our surroundings in snapshots. We can take Angkor at its present state, or we can delve into the history of the Khmer for greater understanding. However, we can forget to do similar analyses with the places we've made familiar; i.e. knowing New York now compared with where it was in the 70s and 80s, or before September 11th, or during the time of the Lenape when bears lived in Manhattan."
And from Friday, 17 September 2010:
"Leaving Siam Reap is bittersweet. The people have been incredible, the scenery has been breath-taking, and the prices hard to beat, but I'm excited to return to Jakarta because for as much as I've learned about these cultures over the past few weeks, I want to learn that much more about where I'm living and have similar conversations that I've had throughout my trip. One thing that has struck me has been Cambodians impression of the French. During my conversations with the high schoolers and other locals, they will always ask me if I've been to France, when I intend on going, and what I want to see when I'm there. I suppose the actions of the American during the Vietnam War and dealing with the horror of Pol Pot would help restore these relationships sooner, but it was something I wasn't expecting."