In which my students remind me why I do inquiry.
Okay, I’ll be honest.
I’ve been having a rough time this year.
Everything makes so much more sense when I backwards design my units and front-load them with labs so that the kids learn by DOING science and THEN we make sense of it together afterwards.
And then we got to evolution and it’s the back half of the year and I’m tired and I’m like “this is my specialty and I can teach it in my sleep.” So I end up lecturing a lot.
Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t lecture the entire time. I did some station work, some partner mini-projects, etc, but I lectured a lot.
And then I did this awesome natural selection simulation lab. Kids colored small paper butterflies and hid them around my room. My principal came in and acted like a predator and “ate” butterflies.
When he was done, we counted up the surviving butterflies and the dead butterflies and analyzed our data. We looked at how the surviving butterflies were better suited to the environment (aka my classroom) and why my principal was unable to find them.
Today I asked my kids what they thought of the lab. I do this a lot and they’re used to giving me feedback. Usually I get stuff like, “I wish we had more time” or “It was really fun and you should definitely do this lab next year.”
Today I got this:
“You should do this lab next year, but I think you should do it on the first day of the unit. Last week I was really confused about natural selection but then we did this lab and it all clicked. I think it would be better to have this experience and then talk about natural selection rather than talk about natural selection and then have the experience.”
THIS KID IS IN 7TH GRADE, YOU GUYS. THIS KID JUST JUSTIFIED INQUIRY FOR ME FOR THE REST OF MY CAREER.
I LOVE MY JOB.
AND I AM REJUVENATED AND FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR I WILL LECTURE WITH PURPOSE.
Repsol Calls For Inquiry Into The Latest Movements Of Their Actions : http://newish.info/23961-repsol-calls-for-inquiry-into-the-latest-movements-of-their-actions
working from the ground up
I’ll be frank: I might be going in over my head sometimes. But that’s okay, because time is definitely on my side now. In addition to saving money and cooking, the other primary goal for me in the month of November is to formulate my business strategy for Old World Slovakia with the goal for project launch sometime in December. But I’ll get to that in a second, because there is a lot of ground I need to cover before then. This is also probably the most critical part of the process since it involves all the legal frameworks for operation.
I bookmarked a few sites last week that I’m getting around to reading now. Most of them are just blogs or articles from business magazines about starting up businesses, especially food-oriented ones. I also found the Alabama health department website; it was surprisingly informing in the worst of ways. Now I think this is the point in most people’s live where they finally decide whether they’re Democrat or Republican, conservative or liberal, statist or libertarian. That’s a bit of my own bias, but I also have vivid memories from my childhood of my dad struggling with this. Government is full of bullshit. Lots and lots of bullshit: legal jargon, inane statutes, and red tape. I’d prefer not to descend into a diatribe about politics and regulation, morality and society, but it’s worth noting that many people do not have to deal with this on a regular basis - or at least deal with it at this scale and complexity. I believe that this probably has some sort of influence on the way people define their political stances. Remember, government is all about supporting ‘competition’, ‘free markets’, and helping small businesses…by making your life hell to start one.
Moving on. I have to be pretty realistic about what I can accomplish from the get-go. I do not have much capital to invest in this venture yet, so my goal needs to be to maximize my profit from the least amount of investiture possible. Without a doubt, having a permanent restaurant space or even a fixed preparation space (kitchen) is way out of the question. Not only do I not have the money to rent and prep the space, pay for the insurance, and maintain it (without staff, mind you), I just don’t think I have the demand or the footprint yet to do that. As I said, I’m working from the ground up this time.
Another route that could be possible is that of mobile concessions or food truck. I think this would be an appropriate goal for sometime mid-to-late next year. The mobile option, while bound to many of the same rules and regulations as a permanent building space, affords me with a lot of different benefits. It is significantly cheaper to acquire and maintain one compared to renting a or buying building space, and allows me to go to the customers, as opposed to waiting for them to come to me. Old World Slovakia may not yet be that kind of product that’s going to draw people out, to come to a space, and eat. It’s fairly unique in terms of the typical offerings of Southern food establishments, but a definitely step above fairground food. Of course, all you need to do is what those TV shows about food trucks to see some pretty unique and creative examples of what people are doing with this kind of enterprise.
Another reason I like this option is also because of the fact that it has to be small, optimal, and code-compliant. When I worked at Europa’s and Bella Italia in Cape Girardeau, the catering jobs we did always straddled preparation in our kitchen, which obviously met code requirements for food handling, and execution and cooking on site, depending on the needs of the client. I think my first hurdle in starting up Old World Slovakia is determining what is going to be permissible for me in terms of location for food preparation. The Alabama health department made it very clear that food preparation in home kitchens should be avoided, and for good reason.
What’s not very clear to me is if a much smaller scale of operation can allow one to be exempt from this rule. It’s clear that home kitchen preparation should not be allowed for public concessions where there is no real means to quality control or punish negligence should something occur. But at this point, I’m not entirely interested in that; I don’t want to get involved in public events or festivals, precisely for that reason. I know I don’t have the facilities to properly execute it. A food truck, set up to code, would rectify this problem and I would be in total business, but alas, I’m not there yet.
So going back to my experiences at Europa’s and Bella, I think it would be perfectly legitimate that if a business arrangement is made between the caterer and the client for a private event (that is: not open to the public, fixed small party size, limited menu, and other terms contractually agreed upon) to do the food preparation and execution on site, given that the client has available facilities to do so (kitchen, display space). I remember doing a catering job at a local orthodontist’s house for his daughter’s rather large wedding (ceremony and reception at the house, and yes, it was a large house). The food was mostly prepared in our kitchen, but we cooked everything on site. They had a room in the basement where the cooks almost committed suicide trying to cook everything. We mostly worked upstairs, setting up another large room for the buffet and taking over their kitchen to wash and dry dishes and glasses. While it was a bit of a nightmare set up, it worked off well for such a large party.
While John and Jerrianne had the necessary licenses and permitting, sometimes I wonder if these catering jobs were kinda ‘under the table’ for their friends, and they had their professional business to fall back on in case they were had. If that is the case, then maybe I shouldn’t be writing this, because that’s exactly what I might end up doing.
So, it’s probably just time that I write an well-thought out email to the Alabama Health Department, lay out my ambitions, and see exactly where I stand. Most of the time these laws are so convoluted that it just takes a person on the ground to reinterpret it to you. Then I also get one of them on record, so if I do ever get in trouble, I’m taking someone down with me at least. Also, I’ll be able to begin a working relationship with someone in the state-level government who could serve as a linchpin in this process. But that might be too much to ask from a state bureaucracy paper pusher. But maybe not…it is Alabama. People are a little bit friendlier. In New York, no chance. Take a number and sit the fuck down.
I’ll get to that email and send it off this week. It also happens to be my mom’s birthday this week, so I’ll be busy trying to figure something out for that, too. I need to plan a trip to Biloxi sometime to scout out a potential job, too, so this might be something I do tomorrow and while I am waiting take care of other business.
As I said, there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done, and I don’t really have an income right now. All of this is going to be a giant balancing act. Aside from the aforementioned birthday, there’s also a little family reunion of sorts we’re planning mid-November at Auburn’s homecoming football game. There’s also this game called Skyrim which comes out in a week. My life might go completely in the wrong direction once this gets installed on my computer.
I think I’ve gotten the marketing side of enterprise nailed down enough that it’s ready to go, but I still have to work through all the cooking and expense estimates before I embark on anything serious in December. The cooking part unfortunately requires money to buy the food, and some of the food my dad won’t particularly eat, so I might be cooking for myself. Either way, a month is a good bit of time to figure it out, maybe more. Then around mid-December, I have a plan starting to formulate in my head.
More so an excuse for a mini reunion of Auburn grads, I’d think it would be fun, and beneficial, to organize and have a dinner party somewhere in Birmingham, Alabama. As my friend Rich pointed out, Old World Slovakia could really gain some traction in the city, which has transitioned and fashioned itself from industrial steel city (like Pittsburgh) to somewhat-cultured and sophisticated cosmopolitan crossroads. In addition, I have lots of friends from the years spent at Auburn who would probably be up for a little dinner party and get together. In turn, they’ve also been in Birmingham for a year or so, and have their own networks of social and business contacts that could be turned to my benefit. As I’ve said before, we’re used to these kinds of shindigs and shenanigans.
So now I just need to find the perfect host for such an event (maybe Jacob or Sean can help me with this…like…Jacob’s loft or that side space at Architecture Works), put out the APB to any interested parties, maybe ask for a couple bucks donation to lubricate the machine, set a date, and execute.
Oh, hey, how’d this get here? Jacob, isn’t this your loft? Jee, it sure looks nice.
I’ve also passed an idea on to my friend, Rex, a fellow architecture grad from Cornell. A fellow foodie, Rex has set himself up with his own photography and cinematography studio in North Carolina. In some ways, I’m hoping to emulate his success in my own way with Old World Slovakia. Lots of the photos I’ve put up on here were taken by Rex, and I’ve always been impressed with his work. I’m not just trying to butter him up to work with me, but his eye and touch with Photoshop can really improve the look of whatever he photos. I’m not much of a photographer myself, nor do I have the necessary tools to make anything look great. But Rex does. Let’s call this little dinner event I’m thinking about a promotional event. I need someone to document the events that transpire that night. I want to start building the catalog of imagery that I can in turn use for marketing and promotion. Yeah, I am trying to start small, but doing this will really ratchet up the quality and seriousness of my endeavors. That can only help. And it can only help Rex, who will get paid, but also get the intangible benefits of expanding his market beyond North Carolina.
So the stage seems to be set for a showdown throwdown in Decemeber. Well, I don’t have anyone to duel with, but you get the point. I have to set up goals. I have to keep myself focused and working. Otherwise, I am (and will…I don’t think I can stop it) spend 200 hours playing Skyrim. And then all of this momentum that’s been building will all be for nought.
Mark it down. December, Old World Slovakia is coming to you. Book your plate today.
Are you interested in participating or assisting in this grandiose scheme? Shoot me an email at email@example.com. I need all the help I can get.
Stay hungry, my friends.
Question Parking Lot
I’ve missed this wonderful educational community! It’s good to be back. Today, I learned about a cool strategy called “Question Parking Lot.” You designate a part of your blackboard/whiteboard as a “parking lot” aka box. Inside of that box you put in some questions that students ask you. These are questions that you a) can’t answer b) want to address later.
This is a wonderful way to encourage students’ curiosity and also not shut them down.
Do you have any questioning strategies that you like to incorporate into the classroom? Do you have strategies that help to encourage curiosity or inquiry?
im not trying to criticize or hate, but how does ur url relate to ur blog? or did u just think it was a neat url?
My url? As in “KNOW homo”?
“No Homo” began to circulate when I was an undergraduate as a phrase to justify compliments and statements made by others. It always bothered me.
I believe language has as much power as you grant it. In my own way, I decided to manipulate it.
I believe in the power of knowledge and the desire for people to know their history. The LGBTQ* community is unique it its history. I cannot ask my mother what it meant to be a queer woman in the 70s/80s when she was a teenager and young adult. My grandfather didn’t know what it meant to be gay in the US Navy/Army in WWII. I belong to a community with a huge history but not one I can receive through oral tradition.
Thus this blog. I started KNOWhomo when I was going through a bit of a rough patch in my life. Knowing one’s self gives you purpose; knowing one’s self can help ease the mind. I have been lucky enough to encounter others via Tumblr who are also interested.
I never thought it was a neat url. I did think it was fun word play and it is a name I stand by.
I yearn to KNOW more.