Thursday, December 1, 2016

Signs of the times

I sometimes run a Civil War simulation in my US History classes.  This year APUSH got a speed version of two days.  The kids did a great job with it, but it was a close call for the Union as the Confederacy almost won.  The Confederates played offense early, invested in a navy and captured Washington DC on the second turn when the union forgot to defend it.  Lincoln escaped when the Confederacy missed a capture roll on 2d12.  However, by the fourth turn, the union was on the path to victory and the British (who entered the Pacific Northwest "to keep the peace" after the fall of DC) were evacuating Portland and heading back to Canada.   The kids chose sides and all the girls were the Union and the boys were the Confederacy.  It was a small group because many of my kids were on a trip. 

They were here* 

Follow that link.  I'll wait.

The kids who were on trips who did not participate in the simulation had to read Ari Kelman's Battle Lines on the plane, so their time was totally wasted. 

*I would have been there too had things at school broken slightly differently.  I was the next chaperone on the list. 

Monday, November 7, 2016

My students do things

Like this.  I have a small thing at the end:

Shown on Halloween at assembly. 

Monday, October 31, 2016

Open House Hype: Pleased or horrified.

My school had an open house.  I worked the history room.  The following came out of my mouth:

Of course we will teach your kid how to write a good blue book essay and a decent research paper, any school that says it's doing college prep should do that.  But we also believe it's important to communicate in a wide variety of formats.  Fewer than 10 people have read my dissertation.  If I write a good tweet, 30,000 people will see it (that's my record).  

I didn't mention almost 40k page views for the blog.  I don't know whether to be pleased with myself or horrified. 

Friday, September 16, 2016

Frustrations are high

From my sent email box after I got the fire plan for the University of Pennsylvania:


What's your opening of school bureaucratic nightmare?

Tuesday, September 6, 2016


This showed up in my facebook message box today:

Hey Doc Sal! Your photo of your children popped up in my feed today. Can't believe how grown-up they are! Time really does fly. Happy to see that you and your family are all doing well! Made me think of you and how wonderful of a teacher you always were. Hard as hell, but so invested in each of us doing well not just in, but outside of the classroom as well. That's hard to find, so thank you for caring so much about us and our learning! Hope all is well! 
I taught this young woman a decade ago.  Other than a yearly  birthday greeting, I don't think we've had a lot of contact.  She's not a student that I've kept in close touch with. 

There's a lot of talk about measuring both teacher and student performance.  I'll take it all more seriously when the metrics (or, as the lingo has it now, "measurables") include evaluations like that.  That's the one that matters the most to me and that's why I do what I do.   I'm pretty sure there are tens of thousands of teachers that feel the same way. 

Monday, August 29, 2016

I'm alive!

I've been very busy this summer.  I taught in two different programs that were very different.  One was at UPenn in a course for high achieving high school students.  The other was in a non-electrical environment in NM for adults and families.  You can find that latter program here.

Also, I'm teaching AP US History for the first time starting next week.  Blogging will likely be intermittent going forward.  I'm thinking about shifting to shorter but more frequent posts.  Any input?

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

It's not me, it's you

Dear Wes,
           I used to think it was me.  That time I saw you in New Mexico?  At the cowboy bar/dance-hall?  When you opened for The Band? That was pretty surreal.  Earlier that day, I'd been herding sheep on the Navajo reservation or something, and then drove like a bat out of hell back to Albuquerque with just enough time to shower off the lanolin stink and high tail it over to the place where people went to Boot Scoot Boogie.  And then when I saw you twenty years later in a record store and they set the show up backwards so that everybody who walked into the store basically hit you with the door as they entered?  Good times, Wes, good times.  But tonight?  Tonight takes the cake.   Instead of playing an outdoor concert in the local amphitheater like everybody else in the summer concert series, you played in the lower school auditorium of the school where I teach and where my kids go. Apparently it was raining or some other excuse.  There you were, with a three to four piece band standing where my daughter did her amazon rain forest animals presentation in fourth grade.  It was all too surreal. The joke you made about missing the Dylan concert tonight even though you had second row tickets?  Dude, my boss offered me his extra FIRST ROW ticket, but I had to decline because I couldn't get a babysitter for the kids. (BTW, your kids play baseball with his kids and they all go to that other school.  There are only five people in Philadelphia, apparently) The woman I was sitting next to, who was trying to sell me tickets to the Pro-Ultimate frisbee championships on Saturday and I were the only people at the show under 50 but over 13 besides you (maybe, I'm trying to be generous here), your wife, and the band.  It's never a good sign these days when I'm below the median age of the audience.  But when you brought up the guest artist and the young woman/frisbee fan said, "Hey, that was my high school French teacher!"  That was it.  We're done, Wes.  I finally realized, I'm never going to see you in a normal show.  It's not me, it's you. 
PS.  The gig was great.   Can't wait for the new album.
PPS. I'm looking forward to seeing you on a triple bill with a drag queen Runaways tribute band and the guy from Blue's Clues, just once for old time's sake.  But after that, were done.
PPPS  If you really want me back, you'll play this live sometime at a show I make it to.