Today, I felt

like a teacher in every single class. I didn’t feel like my job was a joke once. I was reminded that making seating charts is always a GOOD idea, even if they are not perfect, and students yell for the first two minutes of class. I simply ignored any questions about seating and happily got students to work, and my classes were magically infinitely better. Upon Lemov’s suggestion in Teach Like a Champion, I placed students in paired rows. I would endorse this arrangement since it really does focus students forward on the teacher, minimize distraction, and create space, while allowing students a partner to collaborate with. Just as a sidenote, I used several of Lemov’s techniques in class today, and they yielded clear results in student responses and understanding

I guess I must admit that there was a point when I looked up during fourth period and G was adjusting his pants in the corner and asked me to fix his belt while R was sleeping and HH was being horribly explicit about female parts, but I got it under control and got them working on their projects fairly quickly. And I fixed a belt that was in pieces at the same time. Kids told me they would rewrite edited pieces tonight. The Pigman’s legacy lives on in students’ eagerness! Fourth period does semi-real work every day now! 

Our half day felt pretty classy for me, but the after school pd was painfully bad/humorous in that way where you have to laugh or else you will tear out your hair. I wish I could quickly depict how absurd it was, but I guess all I can give you is the fact that it lasted from 12:30 to 4:20, involved a lot of messy group work that was supposed to demonstrate the usefulness of students working together, and yielded drawings of Lincoln and Hiroshima supposedly from the perspective of a person who experienced it (the accuracy of this image was actually debated by our faculty, and it was a huge cloud raining reddish drops, drawn by a faculty member, unprompted by the instructional strategy being covered, looking like it either belonged in the MOMA or on an overly proud mamma’s fridge). I can’t describe it better than that.  

Alright, I leave you with this choice exchange that started my day. Setting: right by the front office. 

t: where was you yesterday?
me: i told you where i was going - you don’t remember? 
t: nah, where was you yesterday?
me: i was in a magical placet: yeup, you was gettin high
me: nope! i was observing some really great charter schools in raleigh
t: mmhhhmmmm, gettin high!!!
bunch of other students standing around: guffawing loudly

Teach Like a Champion... or something like that

I think the first thing to point out is that this book is available in it’s entirety via PDF on the internets. That seems like a dead giveaway that they are doing all they can to promote this conglomeration they call a book. I think the other troubling fact is that Missouri’s Standards were based on this book (according to Parker). Let’s throw out some Missouri fun facts:

-In 2013, Missouri was number 41 out of 50 in “Quality of Education“ according to Education Week. http://www.connectmidmissouri.com/news/story.aspx?id=846672

- Missouri teachers are the 6th worst paid in the country. http://progressmissouri.org/content/10-embarrassing-facts-moleg-should-be-dealing

-A serious contender to be Missouri’s representative in the Senate believes in a little something called “legitimate rape.”

However, when looking further into the Quality Counts state by state report card for 2014 I was pleased to see that MO received 100% in a category… That category being standards. With hope renewed I tried for round 7 of attempting to read this book. I cannot lie, I only made it 2/3.. fine 3/5 of the way through the book. But to be fair, a lot of what it written is what we have been talking about in class.

Much like Teach Life a Pirate, Lemov explicitly lays out a goal for how we should be teaching then provides a detailed road map full of quips, stories and anecdotes. There are so many techniques (49) that it didn’t quite make sense to try and summarize them. But if i were going to pick a technique to talk to the class about it would be Vegas. Because who doesn’t love Vegas?

“Every lesson needs a little ‘Vegas.’” The sparkle: when you observe the production values: music, lights, rhythm, dancing. But it’s not sparkles for nothing. Vegas reinforces academics and much like the technique, it helps students remember the tidbit. Unfortunately like most trips to Vegas it is sweet, short and to the point. I liked this one because it can use daily learning objectives or it can be used to review something from a previous lesson that will be a precursor to what you are about to study. It also often involves catchy little phrases or songs that help break up the monotony that classes sometimes become. The kids don’t even realize they’re reviewing or learning because it is fun and lord knows this is how I feel like all teaching and learning should be. 

There are some things about Lemov’s book that bothered me. He gave techniques that have been around forever new names, perhaps to make them more enticing, but I am not really sure. “Do now” aka morning work, bell work, entry slip. 

I found some of his examples of student and teacher interactions to be dry to the point where i had to make myself read them numerous times to get the gist and many seem somewhat unrealistic of actual scenarios.

Lemov emphasizes the importance of classroom management and small, simple tasks, and as we have learned in class, these are important keys to a successful and productive classroom.

However we have read a lot about differentiation and visited last semester and revisited in greater depth this semester. It has been a large part of our work yet Lemov designates a short paragraph to differentiation. In Technique 3 he says, “We’re sometimes socialized to think we have to break students up into different instructional groups to differentiate, giving them different activities and simultaneously forcing ourselves to manage an overwhelming amount of complexity.  Students are rewarded with a degree of freedom that’s as likely to yield discussions of last night’s episode of American Idol as it is higher-order discussions of content.  Asking frequent, targeted, rigorous questions of students as they demonstrate mastery is a powerful and much simpler tool for differentiating. By tailoring questions to individual students, you can meet students where they are and push them in a way that’s directly responsive to what they’ve shown they can already do.” That seems like quite a distinct turn.

To be fair there is a ton of information in the text and like any reading it is easy to find something you disagree with or would write about differently.

I’ll wrap up by ending with a quite from the book that I found I really enjoyed, a subject we discussed quite a bit when looking at classroom management. I just thought he wrote it well, Technique 37 reads, “Some portion of student noncompliance – a larger portion than many teachers ever suppose – is caused not by defiance but by incompetence: by students’ misunderstanding a direction, not knowing how to follow it, or tuning out in a moment of benign distraction. Recognizing this means giving directions to students in a way that provides clear and useful guidance… To be effective, directions should be specific, concrete, sequential, and observable.”

Lemov doesn’t have it all right, but he’s not as dry as I previously thought he was. Perhaps it’s the overwhelming amount of information he gives? Perhaps it’s because this is the least interesting book I read this semester and we’re at the end? The world may never know the answer. Mainly because they’ll never read this blog.


Pernštejnsko-lobkowiczký oltářík

Období renesance přináší do uměleckého řemesla nové techniky zpracování přírodních materiálů. V Itálii vzniká tzv. florentská mozaika, též nazývaná technika in pietra dura, která zpracovává vzácné polodrahokamy. Touto efektní, ale velice nákladnou technikou, při které umělec vytváří barevné mozaiky z nařezaných tenkých plátků kamenů, je vyzdoben pernštejnsko-lobkowiczký oltářík z Lobkowiczkých sbírek.

Roku 1603 byl věnován císařem Rudolfem II. jako svatební dar Polyxeně z Pernštejna a Zdeňku Vojtěchu z Lobkowicz. Oltářík o výšce 65 cm patří mezi vzácné rodinné památky. Je vytvořen z ebenového dřevaa do mozaiky poskládaných vzácných minerálů (ametyst, chalcedon, jaspis atd.).

Centrální výjev je lemován rámem vytvořeným z českých granátů zasazených ve zlatě. Autorem výzdoby je s největší pravděpodobností italský umělec původem z Florencie Giovanni Castrucci, který se svojí dílnou působil na dvoře Rudolfa II.Centrální výjev oltáříku znázorňuje sv. Markétu Antiochijskou, která je zachycena při modlitbě, se sepnutýma rukama. Světice klečí před křížem s trnovou korunou, nad kterým je latinský nápis: „in hoc signo vinces“ („v tomto znamení zvítězíš“). Ze sluje za sv. Markétou vylézá drak. Pravou část výjevu zabírá pohled na krajinu s kostelní věží. Osobu dárce připomíná malý habsburský znak, umístěný v levém dolním rohu mozaiky. Architektura oltáře roste z členitého soklu s volutovými konzolami a vázami, který vlevo zdobí lobkowiczký a vpravo pernštejnský erb. Není pochyb o tom, že lobkowiczký znak byl později upraven, jelikož obsahuje Řád zlatého rouna. Ten ovšem 1. kníže z Lobkowicz získal až 20 let po svém sňatku. Prostřední část předsunutého soklu zdobí v mozaice provedená veduta imaginárního města. Centrální výjev oltáříku lemují po stranách dva sloupy, horní část uzavírá volutami zdobený štít.

Rudolf II. nejen, že věnoval novomanželům tento skvostný dar, sám se dokonce svatby zúčastnil. Toto, pro panovníka neobvyklé rozhodnutí, poukazuje na důležitost, jakou císař přikládal věrné službě habsburskému dvoru, kterou členové rodu Lobkowiczů po generace prokazovali. Oltářík, který sloužil k soukromým modlitbám, je vystaven v Lobkowiczko-rožmberském sále Lobkowiczkého paláce, hned vedle portrétu císaře Rudolfa II. Velmi podobný oltářík se nachází v pokladnici hornorakouského kláštera v Kremsmünsteru. Zde znázorňuje centrální mozaika sv. Jeronýma. Autorem je pravděpodobně Ottavio Miseroni, další z vynikajících umělců dvora Rudolfa II.