Tuesday, July 2, 2013

It's Been a Long Year...

It's funny how things work out. This academic year has been the most rewarding of the five or so
years I have been a teacher. It has also been the most difficult. There are a lot of things I have wanted to write about this year, but I never had the time. This year has seen a lot of things change. More than I thought could change in a year. It will take some time adapt. Some things will require more time than others.

I believe that I have been spoiled these past few years. I taught seniors this year. By a series of happy accidents I have been given the privilege of teaching these same students as many as three years in a row. (Four years, if you count my time as a sub.)

For all I know it happens all the time. But it felt special to me.

These students did me the honor of requesting that I give the invocation at their graduation. Several people have asked me for the text. (May it be a sign that this blog is not quite dead yet.) Next year is going to feel like my first year all over again.

God our Father,

Thank you for this day, and for everything that brought us to it. Thank you for the gift of these students, for the parents and family, for the faculty and staff, for all those assembled here, and for those who could not be with us. Thank you for helping us to guide these youth with patience, and with understanding, and with love.

Thank you for giving us the strength to reach this day, from you when we needed it, from each other when we forgot you, or thought you absent. For it is you who gave us each other. It is you who gave us this time together.

After this day, let these young men and women be lights in new places. As they were for each other, as they were for us, though we are now a little dimmer with their passing. 

And please God, keep them safe.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Class, Please Take Out Your Phones

Welcome NCEA attendees!

Below is a copy of my presentation. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions. Please visit Room C10 for a collection of help and how-to articles written for the faculty at Nolan.

If you would like to see current examples of my current class websites

If you want to implement something like this in your class, PLEASE follow at least very basic security guidelines. You are in effect extending your authoritative voice onto the internet, you don't want to loose control of it. There are plenty of security how-to articles out there, or you can look at this presentation (pdf) I gave to the Marianist Education Consortium summer workshop on the topic.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Correlation Does Equal Procrastination

The panic spike is an observable phenomenon in the analytics of websites hosting academic or other study-related material for high school students, particularly second semester senior students. The term "panic spike" is a bit of a misnomer, it is actually a cluster of visitor spikes that occur just prior to and on the dates of major exams.

These events taken on their own, with no other supporting data, can be difficult to interpret. It could simply be an indicator of last-minute study, a brush up or skimming of the notes before the exam.

By itself, the data may suggest but not prove lack of preparedness in students. Correlation does not equal procrastination. However recent traffic spikes like the one pictured above are more pronounced that spikes observed last semester. That in itself is suggestive, but any diagnosis of senioritis would require an examination of traffic data combined with exam performance data. That additional information however is above the classification of this blog and will not be reported here. It is our hope that the above reported information will be combined independently by individuals with access to their own grades, and thereby offer appropriate encouragement. 


A more old-school performance metric.
I posted the above text on my economics notes blog, the place where I host all notes for lectures, videos, and anything else I do in class. My reasons for using that platform have already been explained on this blog, so I won't get into it now. But this semester has given me second thoughts.

It's not that I am afraid they are using the site to cheat, but the knowledge that nearly all of the material covered in class is available online may have lead some of my students into a false sense of security. My initial thought was to pull down the website just prior to exam time, but that would only encourage them to make copies ahead of time and thereby procrastinate by a nearly identical method. I want to keep the site up, I think it does genuinely help. But perhaps stronger use guidelines in the classroom are appropriate.

In any case, it's fun to see this kind of data in the classroom. Imagine if we could get detailed data on textbook use and engagement. Without, of course, giving reading quizzes to make sure they do what you told them, which has the side-effect of padding their averages (and wasting time).

I wonder if, once the transition to e-textbooks eventually takes place, Google-style analytics on their use will be available to teachers?

Just a thought...

Friday, January 4, 2013

It's Our Room...

Merry Christmas Mr. Skees!

For your gift, we decided to flood your classroom. Now we know you could smell it from the top of the stairs, so it isn't that much of a surprise. You can say goodbye to those stacks of paperwork neatly organized and filed you left on by your desk before break, and pretty much anything else you left on the floor. We missed your furniture (but might not next time, you never know), but we did manage to kill all of the boxes of tissue left from the last semester your students gave you. Now, you might be thinking that you get new carpet out of it, but just remember...they still don't know where the water came from....but cheer up! You get to teach in the auditorium for at least a week!

It's our room. 


The ghosts of band members past

I found the above scrawled onto my office window. It only showed up after I kicked the AC on and the glass fogged up.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Winter (Break) is Coming.

The semester is coming to an end. I have been teaching economics and AP Macro for just about 82 school days. Teaching a new subject for the first time always seems to suck, and these two classes are the fifth and sixth times I have taught a new subject in four years. This means I have not had time for much of anything but school since since sometime back in July. But that's not a bad thing. 

It's good to know that I have been keeping my students busy too.
One of my economics students tagged my school Facebook account in this post.

Today is the last day of review and exams are next week....

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


It's Halloween in the Dungeon, and you are invited to take part in a scavenger hunt. I came back to find this stuck to my classroom door.
Here are the rest, in no particular order.

Have you seen the Slenderman?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


I have been Norsemen moderator for less than a quarter, and have had maybe a half dozen requests from girls to join the Norsemen. I'm told that we are a boys-only group, but I haven't checked. In truth, I stalled every time I was asked the question.

At lunch today, a colleague told me about this.