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Tuesday
Nov252008

Picasso generator

 

Bring out your inner cubist...

From Mr. Picassohead

Tuesday
Nov252008

Stop and take a deep breath

Our school district projects budget cuts of about three million dollars next year. That's five percent across-the-board if the cuts were to be made uniformly (which is impossible). And our district is in GOOD financial condition compared to many across the state, nation and world.

But you know, I am almost looking forward to the cuts. Echoing Tim (Assort Stuff) Stahmer's great blog post from a couple days ago, 2009-10 just might the year we can stop, take a real deep breath, evaluate our programs, reflect, and re-prioritize our budgets. (I rather enjoy doing budgets, making transparency a priority as long time readers may remember.)

This email below was shared with me by Nick Glass from TeachingBooks with whom I was visiting at the SLJ Summit. It was sent in response to a sales inquiry for his excellent product. (Used with permission, product names deleted to protect the innocent, see my product endorsement policy).

All I can tell you is that we are INUNDATED with electronic teaching resources. This past year we have implemented ________, an online writing program; _______, a comprehensive curriculum for math, language arts, and science grades K-12; the ______ program which is helps secondary and adult ELL learners learn English; ______ which is an ELL program for younger learners; _____ at the high school level; _____ at the alternative high school; and a new standards-based electronic gradebook.

We are tapped out, maxed out, and stressed out. We have all of the technology we can manage (more than we can manage actually) and we have neither the funding nor the capacity to look at any more resources in the foreseeable future.

Could this have been written by the educators in your district? While we have not implemented curricular tools and programs at the level described above, our district has been pushing things at our teachers at a rapid pace: SmartBoards, math games, a new student information system/gradebook/parent portal, streaming digital video, a "common assessments" program, expectations of teacher created webpages, etc. All this on top of a new "professional learning community" approach to self-directed, evidence-based staff development. A new "strategic road map." Higher percentages of ELL, FRP, and SpEd students. Nastier state tests and passage rates required for graduation. Whew!

Maybe applying the techno-brakes a little in 09-10 might be a good thing. A hard look at our tech and library budgets is in order. As I myself preached in 1995:

As much as I hate sounding like a Republican*, I have to say more money is not always the answer to better services to staff and students. A good budget requires planning, prioritizing, and accountability. When those things are done, better programming is the result - even without an increase in funds. (Budgeting for Mean, Lean Times.)

Can budget reductions ever have positive outcomes?

* For you whipper-snappers, back in '95 the Republican party was considered not just socially, but fiscally conservative as well.

Sunday
Nov232008

Typos

Why one should never trust a spelling checker...

I admit it. I make errors. Public ones. Like writing this:

For those of us who were once English teachers, to funny not to share... Doug


And of course, the misspelling was brought to my attention:

I am a devout reader of your blog (not that I always agree with you), but I felt, as an English teacher, the need to point out the irony of the mistake in your first sentence...

"For those of us who were once English teachers, to funny not to share"

"too funny"

No offense intended!

So, OK. That was embarrassing. I replied:

Hi,

Here are the possible reasons I made such an error:

  • I deliberately left out the second “o” because my computer is running low on them and I need to conserve.
  • I’ve always been confused about to, too, and 2 (as well as tutu – both the costume and the politician).
  • This was actually a contest to see who could find the error – AND YOU WON!
  • Like the Navajo blanket weavers, I purposely make an error in each thing I write, honoring the notion that only God is perfect.
  • I suck at proofing my own writing and need to take the time to do a better job of it.

Anywho, I will leave the error in situ as a lesson in humility. Thanks for the catch.

All the best,

Doug

While making such a dumb mistake and being called on it never exactly makes my day, it doesn't really slow me down much either. Nor should concern about your own writing being perfect prior to publication keep you from writing and publishing. Fear of errors keeps too (or to) many people from contributing to the common good.

After writing I don't know how many words in books, articles, columns and this dumb blog, you'd think I would get better at crafting a decent sentence and avoiding typos. But I still can't re-read a single thing I've written without the urge to re-write - even if just a little. And deliberate or not, I bet almost everything I've written still has grammar or spelling errors still in it.

_______________________

On a completely un-related note, my buddy Ian Jukes is still suffering from a foot infection. In my last email to him, I suggested that he simply lose the foot and attach a wheel or inline skate or even a little skateboard. I listed several advantages:

  • easier to make close connections at airports with new speed
  • add a few LED lights and do a big “Starlight Express” number as a finale to his keynotes
  • big down hills = no need for taxis
  • twice the life from one pair of socks
  • add a generator to recharge the laptop and cell phone

I am sure there are other benefits as well. But I also realize that he is probably more attached to his foot than I am. This is my Heely-envy coming out. When will they make these things for my size weight person?

Could this be Ian's big finish to his future keynotes?