Jun 082015

My learners have been using Plot.ly for a week, and have asked me a ton of questions on how to do certain things with their data. I wanted to add details to my last post on Plot.ly v. JMP and tell you the decision I made regarding the issue. All of the questions I have below are actual questions / issues  my learners ran into using Plot.ly.

Issue 1. How to add % totals to the columns of data in a graph?

One group of learners had a beautiful graph made in Plot.ly. It was nice, communicated well, but had lots of information in it. They wanted to put the % of each column in the graph to make it more informative.

In other words, they had this ……….and wanted this. (the reason for the arrow in a sec)

graph1 graph2

Yes, these are JMP graphs. Why? Because after an hour of looking, I could not find a way to have Plot.ly do it. Their help is silent on this issue, and I looked through a whole bunch of graphs shared on their website and found not a single one to do that.

As far as JMP, it took two clicks. I can’t show the menu because it is a drop down and as I tried to screen cap, it went away. You click the red triangle I pointed to, hover over to “Histogram Options,” and click on “Show percents.” If you want to “Show counts,” you can do that too. One or both! Two clicks. This was incredibly simple to do in JMP, incredibly difficult in Plot.ly.

Issue 2: Chi-Square test

I already dealt with the fact that Plot.ly calls graphs that use categorical information histograms in my last post. This has caused so. much. confusion.

But now my learners are trying to do the statistics for their data and see if there are significant differences in their samples. They are trying to DO statistical inferences. If their data is quantitative, they can do a t-test easily. Well, they can do a two sample t-test easily. They cannot do a one sample t-test or a matched pair t-test. They cannot do a z-test in Plot.ly, and as it turns out, you cannot do a Chi-Square test in Plot.ly unless you already have the summary counts.

Really? I can do the “histogram” to get the counts, but I cannot import those counts into the table to do the Chi-square? It won’t count the instances of words to count them for the test?

For example, if the learners data looks like this:

data1  Plot.ly will do a histogram for it and tell me what percent or what counts there are for Gender and AP/Honors.

If I want a Chi-Square test for these two columns, the only way I could make it work was to look at the graph of counts, write down the information into a two-way table, and enter the counts as a matrix in the graphing calculator.

To do the same thing in JMP, we do the following steps:

1.  Go to Analyze, Fit y by x JMP1


2. Click on OK. That’s it. The output contains the following:

JMP2  A mosaic plot of the graph which is nothing more than a stacked bar chart, except the width of each column is proportional to the total number of things in the column.

Next, we get the contingency table. If I click the red triangle, I can choose other values to include or exclude from the table.

Finally, the Chi-Square test p-value.

That was around 6 clicks, instead of making the graph, counting from the graph and writing a table, and then inputting the table to the calculator.

Issue 3: separating data by a response

The group who was doing the AP/Honors and work in Issue 2 had another problem. They asked for GPA and the number of hours you worked. But they needed the mean GPA of only those in AP/Honors and those not in AP/Honors, as well as the number of hours worked.

Plot.ly will give us the total 1 variable stats for the column of hours worked, but it will not give it to us in two groups of Y/N based on type of classes taken. It will not do it.

Enter JMP. 6 clicks. Analyze, Distribution, put the variable where you want them, OK.


That’s it. You get a 1 variable stats for those who are in AP/Honors, and a separate 1 variable stats for those not in AP/Honors. Doing a two sample t-test is simple and easy once this information is obtained. This is not information Plot.ly can give us.

Issue 4: Linear Regression t-test

Last issue, and then I will stop. I have several learners doing quantitative projects that lend themselves to linear regressions and linear regression t-tests.

Plot.ly makes beautiful scatterplots. You can adjust the axis, overlay the regression line, insert the equation into the graph, etc. They are pretty.

But, if you want a residual plot. No go. If you want to reinforce the statistics of y=a + bx. No go.

This is what it looks like in Plot.ly.

plotly1 You have y=mx + b from algebra, you cannot do residuals, and you CANNOT do a linreg t-test.

In JMP, it looks like this:

JMP4 5 clicks, Analyze, Fit Y by X, put the variables in the correct spots, and hit OK. Notice this is the exact same dialogue box you use for categorical data. JMP uses the same path for different types of data, but tells you in the bottom left corner HOW it will act on your data.

You get output that looks like this:

JMP3 If you want the residual plot, hit the red triangle next to “Linear Fit” and show residual plot. That easy.

Bottom line

Although I fully understand that every single complaint I have had with Plot.ly can be solved by learning the programming language and learning to program the software, I don’t think I can ask high school learners, in the last 4 weeks of class, to learn it so they can do a project on statistics. Honestly, I don’t want to take the time to learn the programming language of Plot.ly so that I can do it for them, either.

Plot.ly makes BEAUTIFUL graphs. It is a powerful platform to show connections between quantitative data sets. But, it does a so-so to bad job on statistics.

JMP makes graphs that may not be beautiful, but the statistics is primary to the operation of the program and makes doing the statistics easy. I think without some major changes to Plot.ly to work towards the statistics side instead of the data representation side I will go back to using JMP next year.

It was just too difficult to teach the way Plot.ly handles or mishandles the stats.


Aug 262013

Oh what a difference a class period makes.

So earlier today on my prep I posted about the steps I was making in changing / modifying the culture of my classroom. And let’s be honest, I was proud of the conscious efforts I was making in changing the hearts and minds of the learners.

And then the last period of the day hit and I was crushed. The class is working on spreadsheets and financial mathematics and is being introduced to compounding interest through the calculations the “hard way” before we do the formula.

These can be tricky, and if one cell is off by a little bit, the spreadsheet numbers go all wonky and you KNOW something is wrong.

So after working in pairs (it was a group assignment) all period, and I was circulating over and over again giving prompts and suggestions (but never fixing) about the thinking behind the sheets, one female learner asks to stay after class and work.

No problem. I would love to help her I say.. This Senior Female (let’s call her S.F.) says to me after everyone leaves, “I try to remain quiet in class because I feel like I don’t know this stuff as well as others and I just like to think. I don’t want to bother you that much in class.”

That shattering sound you hear is my heart breaking.

So S.F. doesn’t like to speak up in class because she feels like she doesn’t have as good of knowledge as others, and S.F. doesn’t like to “bother me”. Did I tell you that S.F. is female? Did I tell you she is African American?

Heart breaking.

Oh, and what was she doing wrong? Nothing. She had one small error in a spreadsheet covering 40 rows of compounding annually.

That “Status” thing that Ilana Horn was talking about at TMC13? There it is.

I can do all I want to change the culture of my classroom, but S.F. is bringing in a status of “not good enough” and “bothers teacher” and she has learned this over 12 years of classroom time.

What chance do I have to undo 12 years of learned status?

That shattering sound you hear is my heart breaking, again.

I think Ilana’s book is rising to the top of my must read pile. As well as her articles (if I can get my hands on them). This is too important to leave it alone.


picture via flickr

May 282013

Homework has been in discussion for a while in my circles. Is it useful? Why do we assign it? Etc. I came across one strong reason why we should really stop grading homework and start grading other activities that demonstrate learning.

That reason? It is image Chegg.com. I used to think Chegg was just a place from which to rent textbooks, but that is just not true. They also SELL the complete solutions to every textbook we use in my district.


That’s right. They sell the solutions manual. This list of MATH textbooks they have available is 75 pages long if you wanted to print it. I checked. I found our Algebra 2 book, the Trig/Precalc book, and the AP Calc book on the list.

Now don’t get me wrong, I do not think Chegg is doing anything illegal. Immoral perhaps, but not illegal. They are just selling something that some learners will use to cheat. That is not Chegg’s problem, it is the learner’s problem. Other learners would use it as a tool for learning. Don’t blame the tool, focus on the learner, AND focus on my policies that encourage cheating.

After all, why would I make a large percent of a learners grade something called “homework” when the reality is that category really could be called, “that stuff you copy out of the book but don’t really understand but still get full credit.”

Having a service like Chegg available just makes it easier to justify moving to SBG and away from traditional “homework” type assignments.

Thank you Chegg!

Jan 032013

I started out to write a post about my frustrations and fears last week, and deleted it over and over again. I just couldn’t get what I wanted to say correctly on the screen, nor could I collect the facts and links that led me to the conclusions I was making.

I had previously said, “as public school math teachers … we are screwed” in my first Exeter article, and I still feel that way. The alignment of major money against teachers is overwhelming, and I definitely see signs of attacks on public schools and public school teachers. Just look at the research about education right now, it is about merit pay, charter schools, and how to abuse teachers more, not about how to benefit learners more. Look at what the publishers are doing with Common Core.

Example 1

Example 2

You can’t look at these examples and not get a sense of dread in the pit of your stomach. If this is common core, then we are just doubling down on mediocrity. And as I struggle with the CCSS and my Exeter project, I am finding out just how difficult it is to work with the CCSS in a substantive way.

Then I read Kris Nielsen’s post, This is How Democracy Ends – An Apology, and it struck a vibe with me.

Here is my takeaway question though. Given that this is occurring, and I believe it is, then what can I do in my classroom to have a positive effect?

After all, I believe I can and do have a positive impact on my learners, and I have faith and confidence in them that they are not all “common”. I need to keep Kris’ article on my desk and re-read it weekly, to remind myself that just because this is the trend, I don’t have to accept it. I can fight against it and give my learners skills and abilities to reach beyond it.

Which brings me to my reason for posting, my resolution for the new year: To reach beyond and push my learners above common place standard thinking, and to give them skills to do the same. In short, my resolution is to fight, every day, to do my small part in not allowing the worst case to occur.

I am re-blogging Kris’ article in its entirety below the fold. It is worth reading, and even has an interesting Venn diagram to explain his arguments. I don’t think I agree with everything he says, but it resonates strongly none-the-less.

Read it. My thoughts above will make much more sense afterwards. I just found myself quoting most of his piece in sections the first time, and realized it would have a better flow this way.

Continue reading »

Dec 162012

I have been thinking and struggling with these ideas for a week now. I read Dave’s post summarizing the study about repeating Algebra 1 and the lack of success in CA, and I really felt I needed to dive deeper in this topic.

So I read many link and downloaded almost every article that was linked in the following pages.

EdSource: Many math students are failing, repeating courses without success

Which leads to the Center for Teaching & Learning’s report: College Bound in Middle & High School.

As well as WestEd’s complete list of Reports (didn’t read all of these for this article) which features the above report. November 2012 is the date on it, so it doesn’t get more recent that that.

There is also this brief from EdSource on Math Readiness in CA.

Dave said something that caught my eye in my Google Reader, and started me down this road of thinking and stressing.

From my limited time in the classroom, too many students seem to have given up on their chance to go to college well before they even get to algebra I, much less algebra II, at least in terms of their effort towards improving their performance or achievement in mathematics.  Yet, if you ask these students, they nearly unanimously say they want to go to college.

It was as if he taught in my department at my school!

Let me backup and tell a story of my department and school.

For the last six years we have had essentially one red cell at my school, SPED Math. Sometimes we have had ELL Math in addition, and one time we had Math as a red cell across the board. We have an extended learning period that meets 4 days per week, and the Math Department has been on the Remediation Roller Coaster teaching proficiency classes 3 of the 4 days for the last 6 years.

No other department at my school teaches during this time, but the math department has stepped up and has voluntarily rode the coaster.

Finally, we said enough this year, and we jumped off that coaster (and have caught some huge flack for it from some in our admin) and focused on freshmen. Now we each have a freshman class of Alg 1 learners who are struggling, and we work with them 45 min per day on math support and skills.

And some of them are choosing to continue to fail, and some are failing because they don’t know how to do middle school math.

Some of them can’t add –11 to 5 to get –6.

The “negative times a negative” is confused with the “negative plus a negative” so some are saying –4 + –5 is + 9.

Yes, these learners are struggling in Alg 1. These learners are the “Can’ts” I mentioned above. They are trying, they are struggling, working, and learning and they will turn into “Cans” by the end of the school year because of this one on one support.

But will they earn credit? I don’t know. They have 2 weeks left in the semester and that time is ticking away quickly for them.

How do we take these learners and get them Algebra 1 Semester 1 credit? According to the report by WestEd it looks bleak. But I have confidence from working with my classes that if we continue to give these Cant’s the constant support they will be able to earn both semester of credits.

Then there is the other group in my support class, the Wont’s. I have 5 learners that just won’t try at all. I am there one on one, I have mentors who are sophomores working with them, and nothing works. They are completely shut down.

These learners have hopes, dreams; they all say they want to go to college and do something with their lives, but they won’t do anything to make those dreams come to pass. How do we remediate this group?

According to WestED, making them retake Algebra 1 will not work. My anecdotal evidence supports the research as well. The Wont’s have made a decision, whether consciously or not, that they will not try. And they will not go to college, let alone graduate from high school without the Alg 1 credit.

According to the WestED report, the reason why is they were pushed into mathematics at a higher level then they were probably ready for. Since they were working far higher then their cognitive skills allowed, they just gave up.

How do we get a learner who has given up to re-engage? This is a struggle I face daily in my support class and as a department chair. I need to come up with a plan to help them, but no research I have seen gives me any confidence in how to approach this.

All I know is I can’t just say “retake the class.” That is a path towards failure on top of failure. It is also what our district considers “Accepted Practice.” (see number 16).

If anyone has any ideas, research, articles, or any other thoughts, please send them along. I need them. Badly.

Nov 272012

In which the CCSS website makes changes to the notation of the standards without really communicating it.

So today I am working on the Exeter Project, aligning questions to the CCSS, and one of the persons I am working with is using this notation for the standards that confuses me greatly.

After some research, I discover that there are TWO different notations for the SAME standards! What the hell? So I do some further research and find out what is going on. I was so irritated that I had to write this up and ask for help.

First, let’s compare the website to the PDF for a grade 8 standard.



which is compared to the PDF below:


Hmm, one says the standard is Math.Content.8.NS.A.1 while the other says the standard is 8.NS.1.

Okay, the Math.Content is throw away, but where does the extra A in the first standard notation come from? Any guesses? After a bit of research and finding a memo on it, I discover the extra A means, “Know that there are numbers that are not rational, and approximate them by rational numbers.”

No joke. Read it for yourself.

… In math, however, cluster headings have an important design function in organizing the subject matter and in adding important meaning to the individual content standards; math cluster headings are also proving crucial in implementation efforts. Therefore math cluster headings have been given identifiers (such as A, B, C, for example). By this means, the identifiers preserve links between standards and clusters, which is necessary to ensure that applications using the system can preserve the meanings that arise from considering the cluster headings and the individual content standards in conjunction with one another.

To differentiate the Common Core State Standards from state standards (in other domains or as part of the optional, up to 15 percent standards additions), CCSS is now added to the front of the dot notation identifiers. For example, what appears in the PDFs as RL.2.1 is officially CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.2.1. It is assumed that educators will continue to use the shorter RL.2.1 in conversation, but the official dot notation identifier will contain the CCSS component.

The publication year of 2010 is provided in the metadata and XML for the standards but is not included in identifiers. Any future refinements to the CCSS will be appended with a revision number, for example CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.4.4r2, or http://corestandards.org/ELA-Literacy/RF/4/4r2, reflects the second revision, or third version of CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.4.4.   http://www.corestandards.org/common-core-state-standards-official-identifiers-and-xml-representation

Great. We haven’t even fully implement the CCSS, and we are already forcing down a new naming structure.

At the high school level, this ends up looking like this:


vs the PDF:



Why does this matter? Why does it upset me and cause me some heartburn? Because if I am doing a search for a standard, and I am using the official PDF standard, I search for A.SSE.1a and I will find some problems / lessons. However, now the CCSS group has doubled the amount of searching work for me, because I also have to search for A.SSE.A.1a in order to get full results.

Computers are very literal, and they are NOT going to give me results for both searches.

To make matters worse, the CCSS group says explicitly that they expect teachers will continue to use the shorter version (and I don’t think anyone in their right mind will add the useless CCSS.Math.Content.HSA to the front).

Aren’t the CCSS FOR the teachers and learners? Clearly not. It is clear the standards are being written for someone not in the the classroom and using them daily. If they were, we would have one nomenclature to use that is consistent and easy to search. These standards are only in implementation for about a year and we already have a bifurcation of nomenclature.

Seriously, can we fix this? Teachers need 1 name, 1 set of search terms, not two. What happens next year when they decide to add a third for whatever reason?

This is ridiculous.

So what do you think? Which name should we, as teachers, use for these standards? Which one will you use? Which one should I use for my project?

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Jul 172011

It was the best of conversations, it was the worst of conversations, but in the end, it was an educational conversation for my cousins and I.

Okay, enough with the Dickens reference. During the summer I take a little motorcycle trip. Okay, not so little. I do around 2500 miles from Nevada to Montana and back to see family and some beautiful country. During the trip this summer, I attended a family reunion north of Missoula, MT, and a family picnic in Helena, MT. During each family event, I met with a very bright and talented young girl who was going into the 5th grade. I will call the first one C1 (for Cousin 1, they are actually my cousin’s daughter, but cousin is close enough) and the second one C2. These two bright young girls have some amazing similarities.

Both C1 and C2 come from very supportive families with several siblings. They both have college graduates either as parents and / or grandparents. Both C1 and C2 are entering the 5th grade next school year, and they both are encouraged to do well and school and are given any resource or opportunity they need to succeed in school.

And then the similarities end. There are some irrelevant differences. They each live in a different state (Utah and Montana), but the school districts are similar sized (I looked them up.) Because of this, and because I don’t know any different, I will assume that both C1 and C2 are given similar opportunities in the school for success. [Okay, this might be a deal killer of an assumption, but I have to make it in order to not be angry at what is to come.]

There are also some amazingly important differences. I asked C1 what she likes best about school. Her answer was “Lunch” and then “Recess” and then “Friends”. Even after all that, I couldn’t get her to name an academic subject. When I asked her about math, her reply made my die a little inside. She said, “Math is icky. Math is where you do this.”  The ‘this’ was put her head on her left hand, a thoroughly bored expression on her face, she looked up at the imaginary board, and then with her right hand she mimicked taking notes and writing numbers.

I died. Seriously. I wanted to cry right in front of her. C1 thinks that math is the time when you are bored stiff, quietly taking notes on something on the board. Later, just to make sure I was not imagining that she was as bright as I thought, we walked down to the railroad tracks about a 1/2 mile away. I challenged her to give me an estimate on how many steps it would take. She said 200 the first time. We started walking, and she counted to 100 before she looked up and said she was too far off. I asked her to revise her estimate. She squared the number to 4000 (in her head, as a 4th grader!). Then she said that 4000 was too big, and she cut the number in half to 2000. Then she said that she guessed, based on the 100 steps she counted already, that the number of steps it would take would be between 1500 and 2000.

Yea, she is bored in math class. Go figure.

Then I visit with C2 in another city. C2 and I have met once a year for the last 2 years. Last year, we talked about mathematical patterns in oven hot pads she was making, then had a discussion of 9’s, adding, multiplying, and dividing, and the neat patterns that are present when doing math with 9’s. That was when she was just finished with the 3rd grade, and entering the 4th grade.

This year, that was old hat. She wanted to know some addition “fun math tricks”. (her words) I asked her if she remembered the things we discussed last year, figuring that she would have forgotten some things and I could re-cover them. No. She had expanded on them. She went on to explain to me the difference between prime numbers and composite numbers, and factoring and dividing.

Long story short, we ended up doing modular arithmetic, in mod 5, 7, and 9. She, on her own, continued to do tables for the multiplicative inverses in mod 11 and 12. Why 11 and 12? 11 is prime, so they all work, while 12 is composite, so there are numbers that don’t have inverses. AS A 5TH GRADER!

I found out that C2 will be taken to the middle school and doing 7th grade math while in 5th grade. C1 will be doing 5th grade math in 5th grade, but could be doing so much more. The best of conversations, the worst of conversations, all rolled up in one week.

What did I learn? I learned that some learners are being driven away from math. Whipped, beaten, and driven away, even though they are smart and very capable. I learned that WE are teaching some learners that math is a subject to be feared and avoided, not because they can’t do it, but because WE have not given them a REASON to do it.

Why are we doing this?

Jun 272011

I admit it, I read the funny pages first thing on Sunday morning. Okay, maybe I should first admit that I have a daily subscription to the newspaper and read it cover to cover every day. But, on Sundays, I read the comics first.

Yesterday’s Doonesbury was an instant classic in my mind, worthy of my comics wall. Here is a link to it. I will wait while you read the whole thing. … … …

I know, right! They nailed the problem with memorizing random facts in only 5 panels. The other 3 are there just to be funny and set the mood, but panel 3 and 7 are the set up and punch lines.


The three panels in between show Zip’s friend asking some random questions on science, philosophy  and history, along with the fractional seconds it took Google to spit back the correct answer.

I took an informal poll last year in my class year, and around 50% of the class had smartphones that could access the internet. The rest of my learners could text questions to Google and get answers back (they had texting, most of them did not know they could do that) and all of them knew about Cha-Cha.

So what are the “Profound questions about what it means to be a student?” Here is my weak attempt at listing some.

  1. In an era where every learner has never known a time when information was not immediately findable, why do we (teachers) spend so much time asking learners to memorize formulas and facts?
  2. The comic makes an implicit assumption that faster is better. Is that correct? Is it important that a learner memorizes a fact and can recall it on demand, even if that means more time?
  3. The other assumption Zip makes is that Google or Cha-Cha are more accurate than his own brain, memory, understanding. Is that correct? I know I have asked questions in my classes and some learner says, “Why should I do that, I will just Cha-Cha the answer.” My response was, “Go for it, get your phone out and do it.” [That shocked the heck out of him, but he did it, and Cha-Cha failed!]
  4. Is there a middle ground? Can there be vital things they need to memorize, important things they don’t, and less important info they can look up?
  5. Is the goal of the lesson understanding (in the context of UbD) or rote memorization?
  6. Finally, what evidence is necessary for demonstrating the difference between the two in 5?

I think Doonesbury fit very nicely in my current PLN content discussions. Now it is time to do something about it.

May 012011

I was having a conversation the other day with a recent graduate of my high school. This person was shocked at how bad education is, because they are in college and doing well. All the things they hear in the media was creating a huge cloud over their head because they had a great high school experience, learned a ton, challenged themselves daily, and is now excelling in college.

They asked, “How did education go so downhill in such a short amount of time.” Essentially, the graduate didn’t understand how, in the span of two short years, education went from being something people support and want to succeed, to something people are constantly attacking. This post is for that learner, as well as to consolidate some of the information I have for that person and have it for myself in an easier to locate place.

First off, the issue that is most frustrating is the constant barrage of bad, wrong and very negative information about teachers and teaching. Bill Ferriter, at The Tempered Radical summed it up very succinctly. It really isn’t easy to be positive everyday in the classroom when you know that people who would be lividly angry if someone told them how to do their job feel that they are “experts” at education and start demeaning teachers and telling us how to do our job. They believe they are somehow experts at education just because they went to school 20 years ago.

Then you have the Governor of Minnesota declare war on educators, oh sorry, just the unions. And it goes on. Creationist attacks on science education occurred in over 10 states last year. School vouchers, which are code words for allowing public money to be used at religious schools are brought up every year by the republicans.

It goes on and on and on. Education is under a concerted and organized attack in the United States. Our learners are being tested to the point where teachers can’t teach anything but the material on the test, the tests are re-written every few years to make them harder and harder, and then the republicans scream bloody murder because the same number of learners are passing the tests. Duh.

And everyone just allows the republicans to get away with the lies, the distortions and the rampant framing of the debate. Randy Turner has a great piece entitled “Gutless media has failed American Schools.” Absolutely correct.

The media has not challenged the rampant lies about education. The facts are easy to find and dig up. Not only have the scores gone UP on the NEAP exam, but they have gone up significantly! The number of graduates from American colleges have DOUBLED in the last decade! (But Bill Gates is allowed to spin this as a negative?) The number of kids graduating high school is at an all time HIGH! (But the graduation rates are so low? How are graduation rates calculated? Do you know? I do. It is a shell game, designed to make the numbers appear lower. This school district has a good explanation of the game.)

So the politicians have defined schools as failing, independent of any facts. The media has gutlessly gone along with the redefinitions, therefore allowing the entire discussion to be framed in purely negative terms.

If this was the military, people would be screaming bloody murder! When the soldiers in the field do not accomplish the goals set out for them, we do not blame them, we blame the generals. but in education …

When we don’t like the way our students score on international standardized tests, we blame the teachers. When we don’t like the way particular schools perform, we blame the teachers and restrict their resources.

Compare this with our approach to our military: when results on the ground are not what we hoped, we think of ways to better support soldiers. We try to give them better tools, better weapons, better protection, better training. And when recruiting is down, we offer incentives. via

Not for teachers though. The gutless media has allowed the debate to be framed entirely in the context of greedy teachers (who have to work second jobs to make ends meet) and failing schools (that will see record cuts this year because they are failing?)

No. This is wrong. I, for one, will be standing up to anyone who repeats the framing of the discussion. In formal debate terms, the framework is being rejected by this debater. I will explain this in public, in person face to face, and in public on the internet.

As teachers, we need to stop being complacent and allowing the people who created the problem to frame the discussion about how to “fix” the problem. Instead, we need to reject their assumptions and start over.



Edit: 14 May 2011.  The facts are even easier to find as people start actually looking at the economy and taxes.

I wonder where this terrific economic “trickle down” is? Clearly the richest Americans are making more, but they are paying taxes less than ever, and they certainly are not creating jobs with that wealth. Well, maybe jobs in China (manufacturing) or Switzerland (banking).

Edit 31 May 2011

And more evidence of the fact that effective tax rates are the lowest not only in the recent history of the US, but that the US has the lowest corportate tax rate of all industrialized nations. From the NY Times.

Edit 1 June 2011

Well, the issue of when is still open, but how is pretty well detailed. I have been on the receiving end of the religious right’s anger before, so I do understand exactly what is the issue here. Susan Ohanian, who has won awards for her investigative journalism has followed the money trails on the attacks on education and teachers. The religious right is a large mover in this, because they want to dismantle the public education system in the US, as well as Bill Gates and friends. The money rarely lies in issues such as these.

Edit 6 June 2011

This just gets worse and worse. At the federal level, corporations are taxed less than citizens are. The website ThinkProgress breaks down an article on 12 corporations that had $173 BILLION in profits and payed no taxes! Really.  This is based off of an article by Citizens for Tax Justice that shows clearly our revenue problem in the United States.  I guess idealogues like InvestorJunkie have less and less leg to stand on, just the same lame arguments based on a flawed and outdated ideology.

Edit 10 June 2011

Wow, the edits on this post are going to deserve a post of themselves, I think.  One of the complaints is that teachers are “ineffective”, whatever that means. Usually, what they mean is that the test scores of the teacher don’t meet some arbitrary and illusory criteria that will change every year in order to make more teachers appear to be ineffective.  Of course, the reality is that the learners family income level matters more than a teacher ever could. The quantity of research on this is staggering, but the ideologues dismiss it all with things like, “the poor in the US are better off than the rich in other countries,” as if that comparison actually means anything.

Edit 25 July 2011

As the summer winds on, the debt ceiling debate rages on, and the republicans are lying to the public continuously about the debt and why / how it occurred.  The rational person sees the evidence and realizes that the Bush tax cuts are a major cause of the current problem, and need to be reversed. The delusional just keep denying the evidence as usual.

Edit 7 Aug 2011

Scott McLoud posted this graphic today showing the true amount of dollars in taxes actually paid in the US both compared to other countries and ourselves over time. It is very telling, as well as indicative of just how much the teabaggers lie about taxes. Something has to give.

Jan 292011

What a difference a year makes. Or not. No, it did make a difference. A year ago, I was in the middle of my 3rd year of teaching. Do you remember your third year? If it sucked, because you felt like an utter failure at every single lesson, every single exam, and everything else you did, then yes, you remember.

So, I stopped blogging. I am still looking for success, and I am finding some better success now, but a year ago, no.

With that explanation, I am going to explain what I learned, and then re-launch my blog.

What I learned by taking a year off. First off, I didn’t really think I had anything to contribute to the larger community of teachers as a whole. I now realize that I was horribly mistaken! I do have something to contribute, and I am not a horrible teacher. I may not be a great one, but I am not horrible. What I have to contribute is the successes I do have! My learners are awesome! My fellow teacher ROCK! And together, we have done some amazing things. I can share those amazing things.

You know that model of competence? Yea, that one one that has Consciously Competent, Unconsciously incompetent, etc. You know, this one. I learned that I have Unconscious Competence in technology. I dealt with some teachers and had it drilled into me that it is not necessarily a good thing to be unconscious about that!

Damn. That is why I was so frustrated on some issues with fellow teachers! I just assumed that everyone can write in html (you mean they can’t?).  So, I spent part of the year thinking on how I can help. How can I do better at teaching my co-workers?

So, in the end, I learned a lot about me. My goal is to have one substantive post about my learners and classroom every week. I also post a daily or every other day link on Twitter about tech and / or interesting idea about teaching.

I also started the SLF (Student Learning Facilitator) program with Washoe County School District. I will be writing about this process. Honestly, it is the best training I have had, hands down.

Bon Voyage, my friends. So begins a new chapter in finding Success!