As the basketball turns

An interesting story hit the Christian school news recently about one girls high school team that beat another in basketball 100-0.  No, that’s not a typo.  There has been much drama about it since Christians are of course supposed to reflect Christ and show Christ-like behavior at all times.  The principal of the winning school apparently felt that the team did not in this extremely lopsided victory and made a formal apology to the other school.  Their school after all had a winning team and the other one hadn’t won a game in the last four seasons.  The coach of the team felt the apology was in error and respectfully disagreed with it.  Shortly after, he was fired.  Just from this, it may seem that the coach was in the wrong and should have been fired, but from here it just gets interesting.  The coach had apparently just a few years ago led this school from lopsided losses to their current winning team.  Also, according to the players they did not try their best on purpose: missing shots, not taking some shots, and generally not playing hard once they racked up 25 points.  From their testimony there was really not much more they could have done as the other coach wasn’t giving up and it would be silly for the winning team to just up and call the game just because they were winning so badly.  Maybe I’m wrong.  Read the articles and let me know what you think.

Original article (mistitled- the principal was the apologetic one)

Article about the coach being fired

Testimony from the coach and players

Please vote, too.  Voting is good.  After all, voting is what finally removed our disgrace of a governor tonight:

Should coach Grimes have been fired?

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(Sorry for the misalignment of the question vs. the options.  I don’t know how to fix this, though I did try in the templates section)

Left, left, left, right, left

While we’re on the military theme (see last post), I should mention yesterday.  I subbed at the school with the ELL troubles, right next door to that very room.  That was enough to turn a bad day into a much better one, in other words- no problems.  It was all eighth grade this time, and language arts.  Four classes of letting students work on advertisement projects while I just filtered around making sure they were working, one class where they watched the start of a movie (must see if the library has it so I can finish it!), and one tutorial/study hall.  All except one period went very well.  That one period had a few students who did not like to work.  One of them even got on the nerves of two of his group members, girls who bopped him on the head twice with a tissue box.  Hey, I think I forgot to write that part down for the teacher…  It was an empty box and he was laughing after it so no harm done.   The other two thought they would have a little marker war- with open markers.  The one’s white shirt was quite colorful after that.  Hopefully for his mom washable means completely washes out.

What?  You want to know about that military theme?  Well our military uses ads, so that’s the connection.  Okay, that wasn’t it.  No need to bop me with that tissue box 😛 .  I had noticed the teachers were all wearing T-shirts so I asked about them.  Apparently they like to periodically remind students of certain rules and drill them on it.  Each class takes a turn at this and fortunately language arts didn’t get the short straw this time.  Rather, during social studies the students were drilled on proper hallway manners.  That’s right, how to walk in the hall.  I actually ran into this drill- well really they almost ran into me- during one of my planning periods.  Students quietly marching through the hall like the school would ideally have them do it all the time.  Do these drills work?  I have no idea.  They just started them this year so it will take time to find out.  They’re probably wasted on eighth grade though since they will only be doing the drills this year before going on to high school, and you probably know how eighth-grade-itis goes.  They’re minds will be in high school weeks before they leave middle school.

Once again there was a second day with this teacher, and the same sub as last week got the second day.  This time I would have gotten it had I not already been committed at another school for today so I’m not complaining.  It was actually a very easy day too.  I subbed for the industrial tech teacher, and they had just started the, er, hexter.  And semester (6 weeks and 18 weeks).  Which one matters depends on the grade, but in either case this was only their second day there (no school for them Monday) so they hadn’t started on any projects yet.  That, and the fact that I’m not sure they would be allowed to work on them with subs anyway, meant that they would be watching videos.  sixth grade watched a video on how cars are built.  It was quite informative- they showed a plant where Ford Mustangs were being built.  7th and 8th grades watched a video on movie stunts.  I’m not quite sure what that one had to do with IT, but that was what he wanted shown.  Guess which movie series had a prominent role in this video?  Indiana Jones?  Good guess, but only a minor showing.  Harry Potter?  Are you kidding me?  Yep, James Bond.  Loaded with stunts.  Yes, I know that was your first guess- I was just messing with you   8) : .  A very unevenful day with six very good groups of kids.  Today was this school’s turn for 8th grade graduation pictures (tomorrow at Tuesday’s school) but they had it set up so each student had an appointment, so they just left from whatever class they were in at the appropriate time.  Lots of nice clothes on most of them, though many realized their lower portions wouldn’t be in the photo so there were several guys with dress shirts and ties with jeans.  😮  Anyway, uneventful as I said, until about ten minutes before the end of the day when a 7th grader chose that time to be sick all over the table.  That was the end of the video for that group as they all headed away from the sick spot, then couldn’t stop talking about it.  Well, it was the end of the day.  The custodian was called, he was sent to the nurse, and that was that.  Yep, that’s that for today.  😉

What a blast!

Winter Blast 2009 that is.  Meh- this post is two days late I know. I just didn’t feel like doing a second post on Sunday, and I did start this yesterday but I really didn’t have the time I needed to write the whole thing between work and small group.  Anyway, back to the post.  Friday night through Saturday night had a mini-camp known also known as a winter retreat, titled Winter Blast.  While older kids will be going to a bonafide camp for two days instead of just one in the coming weeks, we packed that time into just 24 hours right at the church.  It helped that we didn’t need to burn eight hours getting them there and back.  It also helped the parents’ budgets since those buses cost money, and so do the extra meals.

Friday evening:  I arrived at about 5:30 and headed into a pre-retreat meeting for the leaders.  We were provided with a small meal and information on the weekend including check-in instructions and the entire schedule for the retreat.  As you can see below the schedule was quite packed and the kids were kept busy:

Daily Schedule
Game Schedule

Once check-in started I took my post handing out T-shirts.  From the beginning there was a problem- the actual sizes, and what the parents based their pick on, were the real sizes of youth medium, youth large, and youth extra large.  As it turned out, youth xl wasn’t available so they went with adult medium instead.  So the sizes we had were M, L, and um- M.  Adding to the confusion were the tickets they gave the parents to pick up the shirts.  They said simply small, medium, and large.  I’m not sure why this ended up being confusing for me as all I had to do was take the tickets at face value and hand out the three sizes according to what was on the tickets.  Probably many of the parents who told me that no, this wasn’t the right size.  I know because of their confusion the tickets were eventually dropped and I was told to go with the sizes printed on their name tags which were the actual sizes.  It was a breeze from there, except we ran out of some of the sizes, and ended up with a bunch of extra youth medium shirts.  In my opinion these shirts, at least the child sizes were smaller than they said but not being a parent I don’t know that for sure.

Enough with the T-shirts.  That just went way too long.  So after that, the retreat was officially underway.  After a brief introduction we went outside to play the first games.  This was Friday night- anyone remember the weather report for Chicago/Midwest?  An arctic front was moving in.  The temperature hadn’t dropped much yet, but that wind was just biting.  Not enough to keep us from having fun, but cold just the same.  After my team lost both games (we switched halfway through- everyone played both games) we went in for pizza.  There was a lot of it.  I think they had at least three or four pizzas left over, and when I say pizzas I don’t mean some dinky 14-inch- I mean a large tray about 16×32 or bigger.  We certainly got our fill.

Next up was the lesson, which started with some up-front games.  This is how each session started.  These games required one or two kids from each team come up to the front and participate in some quick contest.  Over the three sessions we had games including fast-eating contests with gelatin, whipped cream, and baby food; a singing game; and a mummy game (wrap the contestant with toilet paper).  My team won a couple of them, but the results were generally spread out.  I don’t think any team dominated.  Following the up front games were worship (three or four songs), a short drama involving Private Prepared and Private Slacker (guess which one was the positive model? 🙂 ), a lesson from Ephesians chapter 6 (armor of God- hence the military theme you saw on the game schedule), and a small group time.  We went up to our “cabins” for small group time (classrooms really).  The first one we spent together, three of us leaders and nine kids in my room.  For Saturday’s small groups we split into three groups with three kids each.  In these groups we tried to solidify the lesson in their minds and talk about how they could apply it in their own lives.  We also talked to each of them about where they were in their spiritual walks.

With the Friday session over, it was time to go to bed.  We were running late so the optional video was canceled.  One of the boys went behind something to change into his PJs.  A couple others saw this and walked over to him.  Big mistake on their parts.  We learned from this that he doesn’t wear underwear under his PJs to bed.  I really didn’t need to know this fact.  At least I don’t need to pour bleach into my eyes or anything like that to destroy the image like those other two kids.  😯   The interesting thing is I had that boy in my cabin over the summer and either I never discovered this about him, or it is something that changed since then.  Hmm.    Well, it was time for lights out.  As usual when more than one or two kids are put in a room together, it took some time to get them to be quiet and go to sleep.  At least there were only nine of them- last year we had a larger room with about 30 kids.

So next day, after about 3-4 hours of sleep, I woke up to a couple of the kids talking about a half-hour before wake-up call.  That was it for me- no going back to sleep so I got up.  Bathroom and teeth-brushing aside, it was time for breakfast.  Why do they brush their teeth before breakfast anyway?  Eating will just dirty them up again.  Personally, I choose to take care of my teeth after breakfast so they are fresh until midmorning snack or lunch.  For the most part breakfast wasn’t bad, though the sausage patties left something to be desired.  The head of the kitchen studied under a world-famous chef, but when the source isn’t good no chef can do anything about it.  Following breakfast was another session and another set of games.  This time I thought my team won one of the games, but I found out later I was wrong.  A pair of leaders had been playing on our side and apparently we got penalized for it as they were too good.  Oh, well.  Fair is fair.  Lunch consisted of hot dogs, fries, and peas & corn.  Then they brought in ice cream bars much to the delight of the kids.  Afternoon was much the same as the morning, and I know we won at least one of the games.  The temperature, by the way, I think was lower than the night before for our games, but without the icy wind so it actually felt a lot better.  After the games was free time.  Sort of free anyway.  Since there was a 5:00 service at the church the kids were confined to only a few areas: the gym for dodge-ball and beachball volley ball, the cafe area for board games and crafts, and the junior high room for things like 4-square, air hockey, and carpetball.  They had another area briefly to watch a video, but that was done shortly after the start of the service as the younger kids needed it.

Dinner time with linguini and meatballs followed, with a wrap-up ceremony with the parents to end the time.  That’s where, to my changine, I found out our team came in fourth place.  Well, my teams had first place last year and second place for the last two summers, so I could accept this though it left me wondering as I thought the Saturday games went well for us.  When I asked, that’s when I found out about the penalties for the one game.  Better luck next time, eh?  So all in all, I had a good time with this and will continue to do it as long as I’m working with this ministry.  Well, time to wrap this post up I guess.  I know I skipped over some things like unpacking and packing and the group photo (taken from the roof!), but this post is long enough, don’t you think? 😛

A taste of India

Sa- a deer, a female deer
Re- a drop of golden sun
Ga- a name I call myself
Ma- a long, long way to run
Pa- a needle pulling thread
Dha- a note to follow pa
Ni- a drink with jam and bread

Hmm.  Something doesn’t seem quite right there.  On Friday, I, along with the 6th grade body of the school I was at, got a little lesson in playing the sitar.  A college student who used to attend that middle school came in to give a demonstration.  The teacher I subbed for had “concert” written on the schedule, but it really wasn’t a concert though he did play a couple of short tunes.  I hestitate to use the word “song” here, because apparently classical Indian songs are over 15 minutes long, but what he played for us were tunes about half a minute in length.  The reason?  He is just a sitar student himself, but that was good enough to bring him in for a demonstration for students who are in the middle of learning different world cultures in social studies.  As far as being a student, in fact, he told us that it takes about 20 years before one can be considered a good enough sitar player to play professionally in India, and another ten before one can teach.  Wow.

He started off with a little lesson on musical notation.  Remember the song above?  Well, the form of musical notation he has learned for Indian music involves a musical scale similar to that referenced to in the Solfège technique, from which we get the syllables do, re, mi, fa, so, la, and ti.  For Indian music, the syllables used are sa, re, ga, ma, pa, dha, and ni.  The music also doesn’t use the staff Western musicians are familiar with.  Instead, they use |, ^, and -.  These symbols tell them how to pluck the playing string (the one of 17 strings used most of the time) and a letter above the symbol tells them which note- the first letter of the aforementioned syllables.  A dot above or below the letter. if present, tells the octave.   The sitar is capable of playing three octaves.

Along with the lesson, he played a little bit of a CD which included a type of percussion instrument that typically accompanies the sitar and is capable of 30 different sounds on two drums.  I forget what he said the name of this instrument is.  Again, he also played a little bit himself.  During one of the class periods, a teacher, my former junior high band teacher in fact, came in halfway through with his “Beatles” class (seems the one school with its African drumming course- see post archives from about a couple months ago- isn’t the only one to have such specialized music classes 😮 ) and asked Bob (the sitar player- what do you mean you thought he was Indian? 😛 ) to play some bits from the few Beatles songs featuring George Harrison on the sitar (Youtube link).  He wasn’t very proficient on this though as his studies were primarily Indian music.

All in all it was a very interesting lesson I thought, even though I learned it five times. 😛  This turned out to be a far better day than the day before.  I was definitely pleased that I did not get that second day in that ELL class.

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I am too tired and lazy right now to write up anything, but upcoming are two posts.  The first is about an interesting day I had on Friday with a musician who came in and talked to the students.  What sort of musician?  You will have to wait for the post for an answer to that.  😮

The second post will be about the winter retreat we just had, essentially a 24-hour lock-in at my church, also known as the reason I am too tired to post right now.  Note the lack of an accompanying picture to complement this post which just serves to give proof to my tiredness. 8)

Why bother making this post at all?  Why to add to my diminishingly-increasing post count of course. 😉

Until tomorrow. 🙂

Back to ( )ELL…

The regular reader knows just what letter to place in the title parentheses to complete the picture of my day today.  Some time ago I wrote about an experience at a school that left me passing over certain assignments for the next year.  A couple of months ago took the challenge and subbed for that teacher again since most of those former ELL students were gone and was relieved that things had changed for the better, so when another ELL assignment popped up at that school I took it without a second thought.  It was for a teacher I don’t remember, but it shouldn’t have been a problem.  Well, we have second thoughts for a reason so taking the job without one was akin to famous last words like, “Nothing will go wrong; trust me.”

So, at the beginning of the day I arrived and it was mentioned that it was a two-day assignment.  What?  Two days?  I had to check my schedule again because I was sure it was only one day.  The teacher, who was there but would be testing students, finished going over the plans with me and I went right to a computer.  Yep- just one day.  At that point I was actually hopeful there was a mistake and it was supposed to be two.  By the end of the day I was glad it was not a mistake at all.  For some reason the two-day absence was put in as two separate assignments- my guess being that the software they use cannot support multiple-day assignments as I have never seen a multi-day assignment posted.  I had two such assignments a few months ago in this district, but it was put in manually as a different job number for each day which just serves to validate this theory.  So apparently what happened was I got one day, another sub got the other day.  I do hope she is up to it.   Ironically, she was there today subbing for another ELL class, the one I had no trouble with earlier this year.

When going over the plans I was somewhat pleased to find that I would be covering three math classes.  I expected the toughest would be 8th grade, so once that was over (it was the second class- 7th grade was the first) and things were still going, if not smooth, only slightly rough I thought it would be a pretty good day.  The rough spot for 8th grade was really no more than the quick quiz at the beginning being anything but quick for a few students, making less time for going over homework and letting them get started on their assignment.  So, after a two-period break I was ready for sixth grade math.  Remember those famous last words?  Ready- Uh-huh.  This was the loudest and most complaining class I’ve had in the last couple of years with some boys who loved knocking over the books of each other while I wasn’t looking.  Sigh.  They even complained when I didn’t check in their homework.  I mean, who complains about that??  Just take the extra day to have it done as a gift and keep quiet about it!  Then the plans called for them to take a test which they had in their packets.  Did you catch what was wrong with that sentence?  In their packets.  So what happens when some students couldn’t find their packets and the teacher didn’t leave behind extras?  Well, I found out.  I had three kids run to the office, which I only did because it was just down the hall, so someone in the office might take pity and make some copies for me.  Then I found some students only had one of the pages.  They had ripped the other page out, which had a prior assignment on the back.  Back to the office?  Not a chance- the secretaries suffered enough with the two runs (they only copied the first page last time) so I just marked down their names and let it go.  I also forgot to thank them after school too when I checked out- oops.  And throughout this there were some students who just would not stop talking.  I needed this class before the two-period break, not after.

So after this class was a multi-grade language arts class.  Needless to say, some of the 6th-graders from math were back for two more periods (block period).  While not as bad as the prior math class, it had its own challenges.  8th grade left after the first half to see counselors from their respective high schools they would go to next year, and that relieved some pressure but not all- remember 6th grade was still there and so was a very obnoxious 7th-grade girl who loved talking back and doing as little work as possible.  After this class and a tutorial class (study hall) the day was finally over.  Now I’m writing it up for you to enjoy too…

Teaching poll (part 1)

I’m just looking to see what sort of age groups you might be interested in teaching if you ever decided to teach.  Feel free to choose more than one.  You will note that there is some overlap in grades since not everyone defines the categories the same way.  For example, in some places middle school is 6-8, other places 7-8, and still others 7-9.  I am told there are even places where 5th is considered middle school, but I am yet to be convinced that is actually middle school or combining disparate grades in a building due to space or some other special reason (sorry, L).  I do know a district that has a school for just 5th and 6th grades due to a gang problem.  This district considers 6th to be middle school, so the 5th grade were on an elementary program while the 6th grade switched classes as they would in a regular middle school.  I am almost certain that 5th grade will always be on an elementary program even if inside a middle school, but please comment if I am wrong about this (please, even if you don’t normally comment on my blog 🙂 ).  So anyway, vote away!  Later, I’ll ask about favorite subjects to teach, whatever the age group.

If you were to ever teach, what age group(s) would it be?

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