Archive for the Prime Number Posts Category

Big Head or Pirate

Posted in Gifted, Prime Number Posts on December 17, 2012 by Mister A

Very often I tell my students stories that aren’t always entirely true.  One of my favorites is the one about my wives.  You see, my first wife was a pirate.  She died 21 years ago in a bungee jumping accident.  That’s right, my first wife was a bungee jumping pirate! I tell my students.   My second marriage was a total disaster.  She had a tiny head and criticized me about everything I did.  Nothing was ever good enough for her.  I should have never gotten into that marriage so quickly but I was on the rebound from the death of the pirate. Small Head’s name was Snydley.  My final and current wife use to work at hickory farms.  She was the lead cheese cutter there when we met.  She has an abnormally large, but beautiful head…and only one eyebrow.  I am attracted to large headed one eye browed women…and a mullet, curly on the top, straight on the sides…with a little bit of acne.  She is extraordinarily humble and always open to new ideas.  She was one of the subjects in the Habit of Mind study done on highly successful people by Dr. Arthur Costa.  She is the kindest woman I have ever met…the antithesis of Snydley, my second tiny headed with a string bean body wife.

That is a rough synopsis of the stories I tell my students about my wives.  At the end of each year, I ask my students to describe which of my three wives is their favorite.  A very intuitive and perhaps insightful student I have wrote the following in his response to the question.
I like Big Head because to me she almost represents the changes that you have made. I’m not sure if it was intentional or not, but your wives almost seem like an allegory to the evolution of you as a person. At first you were reckless and perhaps less thoughtful(pirate wife), but then you evolved to someone who is too critical of themselves(small head), and then finally you became Big Head, the person of today who is a practitioner of thinking and living in the moment. Big head is my favorite because she is thoughtful, humble, and embraces change, just like you.
My student, Ashlen, is way too kind.  I guess he learned about allegory somehow, and as important or even more importantly, so did I.

A Simple Change

Posted in Educational, Prime Number Posts on November 28, 2011 by Mister A

I am trying something I have done before but fell away from doing for some reason.  Basically, I teach in a 1 to 1 gifted and talented middle school program and during the first quarter while at North Middle School, I had the kids face the Smart Board/overhead while they sat behind the keyboard as pictured below.

Adam is a Banana

Although I am not usually in front of my classroom, when I was lecturing or presenting, I would be in front of the class, looking at the backs of the kids computer screens, and very often, kids would be doing something other than what I wanted them to be doing. Perhaps playing crazy birds, watching Davey goes to dentist, or translating Arabic into Japanese via Google translate.  Probably more often than I would like to admit. So this quarter, I changed it to look more like the image shown below.  The computers or in a circle around our work space and facing away from the center of our area of the library.

mr. a iz da bomb

Now I have the kids backs to me and the Smart Board.   I can see that each and every one of them is on the page I want them to be on and not playing crazy birds, watching Davey goes to dentist, or translating Arabic into Japanese via Google translate. When I am providing direct instruction, I force the kids to actually turn around and look at me. That way, I can tell who is listening and who is not. Something I hate doing is repeating instructions because someone was googling what the weather is like in Bhaktapur, Nepal. With my new classroom setup, it seems I have had to repeat instructions less often. I have had my room like this in the past, but somehow I went back to the old way. I hope I remember the new way from now on. It seems to have really improved my instruction in a very simple way.

On a personal note, I took the first picture above on Halloween of this year.  The kid in the banana suit actually belongs to me.  I think he was the one who was either checking the weather in Bhaktapur or translating Arabic into Japanese.


Posted in classroom tools, Prime Number Posts, Professional Reflection with tags on September 24, 2011 by Mister A

Zunal is a sweet application. I paid twenty bucks for three years worth. web quests are an excellent way to differentiate in the regular classroom and also to help gifted students achieve objectives more quickly than it might take in an ordinary classroom setting. I used Zunal to deliver a 7th grade webquest and an 8th grade webquest to my students over the last week and a half. The web quests were easy to tweak and update as we moved through them and Zunal has a huge bank of webquests designed by other teachers that you can use, edit, and remix to meet your own classroom’s needs.

20110924-091502.jpgOn a personal note, I was reading someone’s blog the other day and they said they don’t blog if they don’t have something they feel is worthwhile saying. I think I have felt that way before, but I think I am going to approach blogging a little differently his school year. I started blogging because it made me reflect about what was happening in my classroom. I plan to force myself to blog even if I feel at times that I have nothing to share. Forcing myself to reflect once a week or so can only help me improve my ability as a teacher.

SWSR Principals – Blog Post #83

Posted in Educational, PLN, Prime Number Posts on March 16, 2010 by Mister A

Dean Groom recently asked me to respond to a form regarding one thing principals can do to close the the gap between how teachers encounter and use ICT in the classroom — and how their students encounter and use it outside the classroom.  CLICK ME TO ACCESS THE FORM.  My response was as follows:

One thing school principals can do to facilitate positive change is to gain an understanding of what a PLN (Professional Learning Network) is.  Once that understanding is gained I believe they should encourage teachers to utilize and develop their own PLN.  The use of a PLN should be promoted as the newest and best way to keep up with the incredibly rapid rate at which our world and education are changing.  A teacher, or anyone else for that matter, cannot possibly know everything…but he does need to understand and know how TO FIND ANYTHING OUT and a PLN is a resource that can do just that.  A powerful PLN will close the gap for an INDIVIDUAL TEACHER, and for his/her students as well, faster than anything else.

Dean Groom helped me win this award for classroom computers

Dean Groom is the greatest sword fighter in all the world and a hacker and a pizza delivery guy too.

My 79th Blog Post

Posted in Educational, Humor, Prime Number Posts with tags , on February 27, 2010 by Mister A

This is my 79th blog post.  I want it to be something spectacular and extraordinary.  You see, 79 is by far, my favorite number, and no, it isn’t because I was born or graduated in the year 1979.  It is because I am a teacher, a man, and I am 79 years old.  When I tell my students that I am 79 years old, a good portion of them actually believe me.  They are like, “WoW, you are older than my Grandpa!”  I tell them I love being 79 because it is a prime number and I love the PRIME Numbers.  I say to them, “In fact, if I were any kind of a number you know what kind of a number I would be?”… and they all respond, “PRIME”.  This is when I throw them a curve ball and say, “nope, IMAGINARY“.  Sometimes I will actually begin teaching my 12, 13, and 14 year old students about the set of imaginary numbers and although a few of the more mathematically gifted students in my classrooms vaguely grasp the concept, it usually goes over most of their heads.

This blog post makes me wonder why I continue to blog and I guess this guy said it best when he said to blog for yourself…reflecting about how and why you teach will only make you a better teacher.  And I very badly want to be a better teacher…which is better than being a mailman.

Blogging My Way Through a Construction Zone

Posted in Educational, Mobile Learning, Prime Number Posts, Vacation with tags , , on October 15, 2009 by Mister A

The only time I have time for blogging any more is when I am driving on a highway, flying on a plane, or riding on a bus.  I just started a new teaching position as a gifted and talented specialist and I feel as if I haven’t got a clue what I am doing.  I think everyone should feel like that once in a while because I believe that is when real learning occurs.

My last post was about microblogging in the classroom and my students have been doing just that during this quarter of school.  We are using a tool called Shout.em which is very similar to Edmodo.  Some of the kids really “get” microblogging and are asking questions, sharing information, making connections, and getting to know one another in a new way.  Other students are not sure and some see it as a big waste of time.  There is an old saying that goes something like this:

“Contempt prior to investigation will lead a man to everlasting ignorance.”

This attitude seems pervasive with people who do not see the purpose behind the connected learning applications like shout em, moodlechat, Quest Atlantis, Second Life, Reaction Grid, etherpad, etc. can provide.  I am finding that the students who investigate with an open mind, in most cases, find the purpose behind connected, anywhere, anytime learning applications and begin utilizing them to enhance their own learning.  When email, fax machines, telephones, automobiles, nose hair trimmers, and toasters were first introduced many people didn’t see their purpose either…until they decided to investigate them with an open mind.