30 January 2009

Way cool Web sites and news about me (sort of)

After listening to an story on NPR about the old IBM Model M keyboards (which I did love for their typewriter like feel), I did a little surfing online for the company that makes them today. The IBM Selectric-like feel of those old keybaords was wonderfully reminiscent of my 7th grade typing class with Mrs. Weesa (not sure of the spelling on that name anymore, so forgive me Mrs. Weesa). I didn't do well at the time in that class, but I did learn to touch type, and I don't peek at the keys. Although I love all the extra media and application keys on my Microsoft Wireless Multimedia Keyboard, I do miss that clickety-clack of a real, spring loaded, heavy duty, built to last keyboard.

After checking out that bit of retrotechno, I decided to hunt for more cool tech. I found Steampunk. These are beautiful works of art that, alas, are not for sale. That keyboard is downright beautiful. I've always been fascinated by the aesthetic of cyberpunk: analogue and digital coming together in such crafted elegance. [post scriptum: I found a site where a man makes keyboards like these for sale - Datamancer.net. Heck, the name of the site alone requires a little creative loafing on my part!)

In other news (look around a bit, you'll see me standing out from the crowd), the high school where I teach is now award winning. I wish the recognition weren't merely for high test scores because so much more happens at Northgate than simple standardized achievement. I work with some very inspired teachers, and I have students that impress me every day. I'm proud to be a teacher at NGHS. Go Vikings!

25 January 2009

Inauguration of a New America

Tuesday at school, we watched President Obama's inauguration on CNN. My upper level French classes most often tend to be filled with the most liberal students in the school. Because we are in the Bible belt, that tends to be the entire population of 11 liberal high school students. Being who I am, I think that may be why they're attracted to my courses.

During the new president's address, we commented to each other, and when the address ended, we commented more. My favorite part, right now anyway, was "To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist." That call for peace, for the end to the anger in the world, it was the line that touched me.

As a teacher in a public school, the next portion of the speech that touched me was this passage: "What is demanded, then, is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility -- a recognition on the part of every American that we have duties to ourselves, our nation and the world; duties that we do not grudgingly accept, but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character than giving our all to a difficult task." Making this nation great requires hard work on the part of all Americans. For years I have heard criticisms of thrown at our country, our people and our schools--by Americans! The only way to improve our country is to get off "our" critical backside, take off the necktie or high heels, roll up your sleeves and get to work on making the United States a better country. I believe in public schools, so that's where I teach. I believe that public school teachers are great people, so I work hard to be a great teacher and to help my colleagues to the same. Thank you, Mr. President, for the reminder that each and every one of us is responsible for our success or failure in the world.

Although our previous president was not necessarily my favorite, I do not envy the hard tasks he faced during the last eight years. In all, I feel hopeful for this new administration. I'm grateful that this new president has a very different vision for the United States, and I look forward to the changes to come.

17 January 2009

Things to do

Finally, with the Eastern Orthodox Christmas just around the corner, my little Episcopalean tribe is taking down the Christmas tree.

I've also decided to clear off my Stephen King collection of hardbacks and rare paperbacks. If this link works, you can see my Amazon storefront. Maybe if you're looking to update your collection, I might have the book you need.

I plan to sleep a little extra this weekend because of the Monday federal holiday.

Tuesday, my school system is authorizing classes to have students watch the Inauguration during the school day. I'm glad; it's an important experience to witness.

10 January 2009

New semesters all around

It's 2009, and with the new year came a new semester for my high school and a new quarter for my online degree program. My teaching course load includes an art class and three French classes. I'm glad that this term I have one advanced French class with students who really want to work on the material. My art class is smaller this term, too. It looks to be a good semester.

For my online courses, I've enrolled in one course in collaborative professional settings. The other is in curriculum development. The courses seem to be off to a good start. I've got all of this week's work done, and tomorrow I will dig into the next unit.

My kids are enjoying their new school terms. Both have had positive comments on their teachers and classes, but I'm sure each would have enjoyed a few more days for Christmas break. I think I would have as well.