Friday, March 17, 2006

I've Moved! Click the link

THE MEDIAN SIB has officially moved. Click HERE to visit the new site.

Please change your blogrolls to my new blog address:

Thanks! See you there!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

An Army of Davids

Last week I wrote about Glenn Reynolds' book, An Army of Davids. At that time I had only heard about it. After reading about it in various blogs, though, I ordered it immediately. It finally got here Tuesday, and I've been reading it every chance I get, which isn't much. Still not finished with it (just finished chapter 2 - I've had to catch up on some book club reading first), but here's what I like up to this point:
Benefits of working from home:
". . . kids who get to watch their parents work up close - the way kids did in the pre-Industrial Revolution, cottage industry days - are likely to have a much greater appreciation of how the world of work operates. . . . At the very least, however, they'll see work behavior modeled in their presence."
On the trend away from big businesses and back to self-employment:
" . . . people who are self-employed are far more aware that there's no such thing as a free lunch and far more likely to look at the bottom line."
And also:
"The secret to success in big business and politics in the twenty-first century, I think, will involve figuring out a way to capitalize on the phenomenon of lots of people doing what they want to do, rather than - as in previous centuries - figuring out ways to make lots of people do what you want them to."
So far, I like it. It isn't the kind of reading that makes me want to stay up late to read it, but I've enjoyed reading it for awhile for the past two evenings.

An Army of Davids: How Markets and Technology Empower the Little Guy to Beat Big Media, Big Government, and Other Goliaths
An Army of Davids: How Markets and Technology Empower the Little Guy to Beat Big Media, Big Government, and Other Goliaths

Thursday Thirteen - 13 of my favorite movies

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen Movies That I Can Watch Over and Over and Over

1. Gone With the Wind

2. When Harry Met Sally

3. The Shawshank Redemption

4. Sleepless in Seattle

5. One Fine Day

6. Pretty Woman

7. Somewhere in Time

8. Bridges of Madison County

9. Dirty Dancing

10. The Sound of Music

11. An Affair to Remember

12. It's A Wonderful Life

13. Ghost

Links to other Thursday Thirteens! (leave your link in comments, I’ll add you here!)

1.Kimmy 2.Norma 3. Nat 4.Ruth 5.Joan 6.Jane 7.Tanya (very funny 13!) 8.Denise 9.FrogLegs 10.Stacy 11.LingerieLady 12.Kelly 13.Chickadee 14.Stacie 15.LazyDaisy 16.Terrell

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The Tomato Test

The difference between knowledge and wisdom...
Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit.
Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.

Check out The Carnival of Education - Week 58

Each week I look forward to The Carnival of Education. It is SO full of good things to read. Week 58 is at The Education Wonks. Click on over and enjoy yourself.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006


I feel like I'm getting into the BIG TIME! (drumroll) I've got my own domain! (wild cheering) My awesome blog designer (Beth at Blue Star Chronicles) has got The Median Sib up and running HERE. However, I am still learning WordPress. So, until I get everything worked out, I'll be double-posting - both here at the "old" TMS and here at the "new" TMS. Hopefully the double-posting will only last a few days.

Check out my new digs and let me know what you think!

From the Hearts and Souls of Children

Two tender stories for today:

I was in the gym at school this morning for bus duty. As the children came in and sat down to wait for the dismissal bell, I felt a tug on my sleeve. I looked around, and there was a kindergartener - holding up some very wilted wildflowers in her fist - just a couple sprigs. However, she was holding giving them to me with a big smile of anticipation on her face. She was radiating the joy of giving. I thanked her and hugged her and told her I would put them in water as soon as I got to my classroom. A gift from the heart that I treasure.

My second tender story: I just received an email from my mother (Ruthlace) who told me that my first grade niece, Haley, found out recently that a classmate had died. When her mother told her that she had sad news to tell her and that her friend, Anna Elizabeth, had died. Haley was very sad, but finally said, "Well Grandshaw will take care of her up there." Grandshaw was my father, and he died many years before Haley was born. However, she has heard so much about him that she was confident he would care for her friend up in heaven. The faith of a child!

Conquering the World in 4 Simple Steps

Let's say it's ten, twenty, thirty, forty or more years ago, and you decide you want to take over the United States and thus the world. You know you can't win against such a superpower in an outright physical battle. However, if you work on the Americans' thinking and values, you know it's do-able. So you set out to conquer the United States in four simple steps.

(1) Place your people in the schools. Get some of your folks in the colleges that train teachers. Get them into as many universities as possible. These are the "educated" people that others look up to and believe. As a bonus, as the students of these people graduate some of them will become teachers and professors. Then they, in turn, will influence new generations of students. Sympathy and empathy for your world view will grow exponentially. Make sure your universities and professors support those who are sympathetic to America's enemies in the name of diversity while, in the name of respecting others, they don't allow those who disagree with America's enemies to speak.

(2) Get the mainstream media in your pocket. In the past, people received their news slowly and only via print media or word of mouth. Now there is instant news, and news can be manipulated to convince people that one thing is happening when actually the opposite is true. Use catchy phrases like "keeping them honest" so people will think you're working in their best interests. People believe the news. They trust those pretty "anchors". It's a business, and money talks. Exaggerate each negative aspect of American society to the point that people become blind to the real freedoms and opportunities all Americans have. Remember that if you tell a lie often enough, people will believe it.

(3) Become involved in the political system. Join the baby boomers who want to work for human rights and equality. Take their sincere and heartfelt concerns and interests and prostitute them until the boomers and their succeeding generations believe they're working and voting for issues that are noble and righteous (freedom of choice, freedom of speech, food and housing for the needy, disaster relief) while in reality their votes end up doing the opposite (e.g. making equal rights incompatible with the sanctity of unborn life, allowing terrorists easy access to American communication systems, and creating generations of people who are dependent on the government and are rendered incapable of being self-sufficient). Convince them that protesting whatever the president does or says is not only what a true patriot does but their responsibility as an American citizen. It doesn't matter what he does or says: disagree with it.

(4) Infiltrate the entertainment industry. Americans have a serious case of star worship. Get in with Hollywood stars, television stars, and music stars. Again, money talks. In a society where there is no such thing as bad publicity, it's easy to convince "stars" to speak up for you and against their own country. After all, they're influenced by the politicians and MSM, too. And if anyone disagrees with you, charge them with being intolerant or with profiling or with . . . oh just anything that provides a smokescreen for what's really going on.

Once you've accomplished those four steps, you'll get the following results:

*Your forces can pilot highjacked airliners into major buildings in major American cities killing thousands of people, and once the dust clears and the MSM, teachers, politicians, and Hollywood have put their spin on it, the people will blame the United States.
*The president will use legal means to protect them, and because the MSM and some politicians says what he did was illegal, the people will ignore common sense and historical precedent and claim the president is a crook and should be impeached. And they will say it often enough and loud enough that even reasonable people take up the cry.
*People will be blind to the absurdities of declaring their support of freedom of speech while censoring those who disagree with them.
*People will believe what the MSM tells them about the Iraq war rather than believing the soldiers who are there on the ground working with the Iraquis every day.
*The MSM and thus most people will largely ignore the real threats in the world and instead will support the very people who threaten them.
*People will condemn a few U.S. soldiers for humiliating prisoners, and they will call it torture. Then they will support murderers who behead, publicly hang, riot, burn and kill thousands not only with no consequences but to the cheering of other murderers. And, again, the people will be blind to the hypocrisy of their actions.
*People will declare that they support our soldiers while at the same time supporting the people who are causing more of our soldiers to be killed and wounded.

The list goes on. The blindness goes on. The hypocrisy goes on. The madness goes on.

Others writing on the absurdities of the left: Michelle Malkin, Blame Bush!, The Crazy Rants of Samantha Burns, Classical Values, Blue Star Chronicles, The Mudville Gazette, All Things Beautiful, Gina Cobb, American Soldier, Scrappleface, Michelle Malkin (again), Stop The ACLU, Atlas Shrugs, Dr. Sanity, Protein Wisdom, Rhymes With Right, Ankle Biting Pundits, Cox & Forkum, My Vast Right Wing Conspiracy, Red State, David Limbaugh, The American Spectator, The Black Republican, Stuck on Stupid

Open Trackback Tuesday (Linkfest Haven, Open Trackback Alliance)
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Linked to: Conservative Cat, Third Word Country, TMH's Bacon Bits, Adam's Blog, The Uncooperative Blogger, Blue Star Chronicles

Monday, March 13, 2006

Translating Those Report Card Comments

I found a great book for teachers: The Reading Teacher's Book of Lists. It has a list for just about anything in the area of reading education: phonics example words, picture nouns, easily confused words, math vocabulary, literary terms, predictable books, basic sentence patterns, activities for language development, onomatopoenia, palindromes, English sounds not used in other languages, web sites for reading instruction, book interest arousers...and the list goes on. There are 194 lists! One of the lists that captured my immediate attention was the list entitled "Report Card Help." It lists 20 diplimatic ways to describe a child's behavior. I'll select my top ten.

So, without further ado, for parents who are trying to decipler what those report card comments REALLY mean, and for teachers who are looking for kinder and gentler ways to impart bad news, here is my TOP TEN list of Teacher-ese for undesirable student behavior:

(10) is a klutz: "has difficulty with motor control and coordination"
(9) smells bad: "needs guidance in development of good habits of hygiene"
(8) is lazy: "needs ongoing supervision in order to work well"
(7) has a big mouth: "needs to develop quieter habits of communication"
(6) bullies others: "has qualities of leadership, but needs to use them more constructively"
(5) is disliked by others: "Needs help in developing meaningful peer
(4) eats like a pig: "needs to develop more refined table manners"
(3) cheats: "needs help in learning to adhere to rules and standards of fair play"
(2) steals: "needs help in learning to respect the property rights of others"
And my #1 favorite report card comment translation:
(1) lies: "shows difficulty in distinguishing between imaginary and factual material"

Now you know. You can go back and read your own report cards or those of your children and know what the teachers were really trying to tell you.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Forsythias Against the Clouds

I took this photograph this afternoon of a forsythia branch. It was of a bush in RT's backyard. I had to lie on the ground to aim the camera skyward to get the clouds for the background. I really liked the contrast of the yellow blossoms against the blue and white of the sky. There's nothing more graceful than long, flowing branches of forsythia in bloom.

The Carnival of Blue Stars - 5th Edition

Welcome to the fifth edition of The Carnival of Blue Stars. First of all, thanks to Beth at Blue Star Chronicles for asking me to host the carnival this week. It's my first time hosting a carnival, and trust me, it's a LOT more work than it seems! It has been fun, though, to scout the web for great articles about our soldiers and their families.

All of us who are part of The Carnival of Blue Stars are proud of and thankful for the military men and women who are serving our country in the most dangerous parts of the world. It is because of our soldiers, both present and past, that we are able to enjoy this land of freedom and plenty. This fifth edition highlights some of the personal stories of our soldiers and their families.

The history of the Blue Star Banner can be found here. And remember that you can still join the Blue Star Blogroll.

Links and trackbacks are welcome, appreciated and reciprocated.

Now on with The Carnival of Blue Stars:

Let's start off with a report from Uncle Jimbo at BlackFive that shows us clearly who is the most trusted group in America. We've known it all along, and now the polls back us up.

Then check out Army Wife's Life, where there's a wonderful post about what NOT to say to a friend with a deployed spouse. Good advice! She also asks for some responses. Have any of you had people say less-than-sensitive things about your deployed loved one? Leave her a comment to tell her about it.

Prairie View has a message that will be helpful for everyone who is dealing with stress and priorities - not just those connected to the military.

Beth at Blue Star Chronicles asks "On Whose Side Were You When It Mattered?"

I know the American people are courageous, generous, patriotic and honorable as a general rule. But most are not even aware of the danger that is insidiously creeping towards us. . . .
Either we open our eyes now, or we will see the danger later when it will be a much larger and more powerful force to deal with. If we wait until we can't ignore it anymore, we will pay a much higher cost in our defense.

Thank goodness we have such a wonderful military that's dealing with that danger. And while you're at Blue Star Chronicles, take a look at this post. Beth has reason to be proud, doesn't she?

Laura at The Wide Awake Cafe received scary news this week. Go give her some support.

A Rose By Any Other Name has a post by Anna that honors not only our military but all the people who work to protect us.

These are our heros. They are police, firefighters, paramedics, EMTs and soldiers. If you ask them why they do it, most will say that it's their job, it's what they do, because they can, because they are needed. None would call themselves heros, but they are because they do the jobs that the rest of us are unable, unwilling or too afraid to do. Despite what some would say, they are keeping us safe and free.
Stuck on Stupid tells about the fight of one soldier's wife to keep the promise she made to her husband before he shipped off to Iraq.

Red Hot Cuppa Politics gives us an update on Joshua Sparling along with information about the weekly Friday protests outside of Walter Reed hospital where Joshua is recuperating.

Thirdee at Code Red 4 Troops has a story about another soldier.

Giving up the fame of the football field at 29 years old, one B Company recruit
looked for a glory that was more permanent than any trophy.
Our armed forces are filled with these men and women who love their country and are ready to put action to their words. Head over there and read the entire article.

One Marine's View tells us of his homecoming after serving in Fallujah. It brought tears to my eyes to read of this courageous soldier's return home. The photo accompanying the post is wonderful - an award winner.

America, this place is awesome and now I see fist hand what we have been fighting for.. . . The airplane landed on the east coast as the pilot stated “Welcome back to the United States Marines” and the plane erupted in cheers.
We join the others in saying, "WELCOME HOME! We love you and are proud of you."

How about a little controversy? Eric at Classical Values writes about gays in the military. Go read his post and let's him know what you think?

Over at Seaspook's Rants, Seaspook talks about a topic we don't hear much about at all. Seaspook is a retired Navy Chief.

Aubrey at has President Bush's Saturday address about the 3-year anniversary of the start of Operation Iraqui Freedom. Information is provided about Iraqui and U.S. successes that we don't hear about through the MSM. 4 The Little Guy also has a report about the difference between what we hear about Iraq from our soldiers versus what we hear from the MSM.

. . . all I can say is that the Iraq War vets I’m spoken with paint a much different picture of the situation than what I see in the MSM
This next recommended reading is a tad on the commercial side, but I enjoyed reading it anyway, and I'm oh so tempted to buy that book! Go read about it at Soldiers' Angel - Holly Aho.
Beth at My Vast Right Wing Conspiracy gives an example of how our soldiers are resourceful and determined not only in battle but in play, too. And Echo9er has some wonderful photos from Iraq. The sunset picture is awesome! Hooah Wife and Friends tells us of the Wednesday Hero.

That's it for this week's Carnival of Blue Stars. I am humbled by all the people out there who are blogging in support of our troops. Thanks for your contributions to the carnival and for your words and actions of support of our troops. I hope you enjoyed this week's Carnival of Blue Stars.

Next week's carnival will be back home at Blue Star Chronicles. Send your entries for next week's carnival to

You can find the Carnival of Blue Stars at The Truth Laid Bear's √úberCarnival.

Weekend Linkfest: Basil's Blog, TMH Bacon Bits, Stuck on Stupid, Adam's Blog

Christian Peacemaker Teams - An Expected Outcome - And The Journal of Tom Fox

Several months ago when terrorists kidnapped a Christian Peacemaker Team, I wrote that they were stupid to go into a war zone. High, lofty ideals mixed in with people who hate them simply because they're westerners. Tom Fox, the American member of that team, was found dead this past week. His hands and feet were bound, he had been tortured, shot in the head and chest, wrapped in blankets and black pastic bags and left in a garbage dump. This is from The Washington Post:

Fox, 54, was the only American in a group of four Christian Peacemaker Teams members taken hostage last year by a previously unknown group, the Swords of Righteousness Brigade. . . .

Fox worked with families of incarcerated Iraqis, often serving as the only link between them and their families on the outside, said Paul Slattery, a member of his support group from Langley Hill Friends Meeting. Fox also escorted shipments of medicine to clinics and hospitals and worked to form an Islamic Peacemaker Team.

I admire the team's motivations and ambitions. I am incredibly sorry that he lost his life in such a barbaric and undeserved manner. The news reports tell us that he knew of the dangers he faced. He kept a blog "Waiting in the Light" - the last entry was November 8, 2005. Here is an entry from August 30, 2005 that is indicative of his politics:
We have seen again and again in the last one hundred years the evolution of warfare to the point now when the first two parts of war that have been in play for centuries, that of middle-age men sending out young men to fight and die to keep the middle-age men in power, has added a third component. Still the young fight and die to retain the power of the middle-age men but now most of those who lose their lives in the conflict are women and children.
So the Islamic Taliban leaders sent their young men to run planes into the Twin Towers and Pentagon in order to keep themselves in power? And George Bush responded to that threat to keep himself in power? On August 18, 2005 he wrote:
We must come from a spirit of love and compassion to help our leaders and many of our fellow citizens come to see that if we truly love God then we must make a drastic change of direction in the course of our country. The only way we will gain respect is by showing it to others, even those we disagree with. The only way we will gain love is by giving it to others, even those we disagree with. Love of country must always be subordinate to love of God. Love of country alone sets us on a course towards the disasters that have befallen other counties over the centuries.
The LA Times reported the Christian Peacemaker Teams' reaction:
"We mourn the loss of Tom Fox, who combined a lightness of spirit, a firm opposition to all oppression, and the recognition of God in everyone," Christian Peacemakers said in a statement posted on its website.
I agree with Fox and the Christian Peacemaker Teams on many of their beliefs. However, God is NOT in everyone. At least not a God of love and peace. And the United States is the bastion of freedom and non-oppression that people from all over the world strive to reach. Despite what you read and hear via the MSM, people die every day trying to get to the United States from other countries.

Love of country also involves protecting ourselves. Because we "ignored the bad behavior" of the Islamic terrorists in the past, they became bolder and more aggressive. There ARE evil people in the world. There ARE evil religions in the world. Put the evil people with the evil religion and you get Islamic terrorists who don't care whether you want peace or war. They don't care if you have love in your heart for them. They don't care if you see God in them. We have seen documented plans for further terrorists attacks in America. Terrorism is becoming an ever stronger force in our world. Their plan is to take over our country and make it a Muslim country. Seeing in real life the Muslim plan of society makes that a completely untenable idea. We MUST defend ourselves and our freedoms.

Yes, Tom Fox's ideals were admirable, but I believe they were unrealistic and unworkable. Thank God for our military and for President Bush who are making sure that people like the Christian Peacemaker Teams have the freedom to continue in their bubble of delusion; and who are working against tremendous pressure from within our own country to make sure that the Islamists who torture and kill such gentle-hearted people are stopped.

Other information on this topic: The Christian Peacemaker Teams site, Tom Fox is remembered by friends, News story information, CBS News

Others writing on this topic: The Autonomist, Michelle Malkin, Gina Cobb, Media Lies, Rhymes With Right, Mudville Gazette, Dr. Sanity

Linkfest Haven Links: Basil's Blog, TMH's Bacon Bits, Stuck On Stupid, Adam's Blog, Is It Just Me?, The Real Ugly American, The Uncooperative Blogger, The Crazy Rants of Samantha Burns, Blue Star Chronicles

Friday, March 10, 2006

Newspaper in Education - the true value of today's newspapers

In honor of Newspaper in Education week, Random Yak has a touching post about how despite all the negative feelings about the MSM, he feels differently about newspapers.
There's a lot to be said for our friends in the MSM and their capacity to assist with training the young.
Go read the whole post. It'll only take a minute. It will certainly set straight all those people who say that today's newspapers aren't worthwhile.

Jay Bennish - "American Patriot" Reinstated

Jay Bennish has been reinstated in his job as geography teacher at his school in Colorado. According to the news he has promised to give all sides of an issue in future classes. I wrote a post about Bennish last week that stirred up a discussion in comments. Here is a comment I received today - by an "anonymous" person (of course). It took about a minute of exploring to find out that the comment probably came from someone using a computer at the University of Colorado. So the attitude is not surprising. (I cut/pasted the comment exactly as it was written.)

When are people supposed to start thinking and making decisions based on the vast information provided them (from various sources!)? Many have denounced Bennish for presenting controversial viewpoints (I truly hope they've actually listened to the audiotape) to highschool students, claiming they are not old enough to make their own decisions when only presented one side. Let's give the students a little credit, maybe they won't be making the same decisions as you or those in office, but that does not make them wrong. If students are not allowed to question theyare not being taught, but indoctrinated. Applause goes to Bennish for presenting viewpoints that the right-wing administration is trying to quench by calling them unpatriotic. To be proud of our country (true patriotism) we must be able to question it's policies. If we lose our voices we become a dictatorship and not a democracy.
I doubt the person realizes how absolutely ridiculous and contradictory his/her comments are. First this person tells us that people MUST start making decisions based on the "vast information provided them," and then he/she contradicts that by writing that high school kids are old enough to make their own decisions when only presented with one side of an issue. Sure...THAT makes a lot sense.

Then there's the comment about "If students are not allowed to question, then they are not being taught, but indoctrinated." BINGO! That was part of my argument with what Jay Bennish did. He put on a show of accepting questions, but then he effectively squelched the viewpoint of the student who disagreed with him, and then he continued with his very one-sided, very anti-American viewpoint. And what he said WAS anti-American. Forget Bennish's criticism of George Bush. There is no way to call his bashing of the very foundation of our country - democracy and capitalism - anything but unpatriotic. There is a HUGE difference between constructive debate/disagreement and sedition.

It is always amusing to me how some liberals try to make everything a "freedom of speech" or "freedom of choice" or "hearing all viewpoints" issue rather than looking at ALL issues fairly and rationally.

How quickly would they change their tune if the "one side" that was being presented to the high school students was from the opposite side of the spectrum - Well, for example, the far radical right. Let's only teach, for example, that we should bomb the hell out of Iraq and Iran - hey, throw in Afghanistan while we're at it, and we should torture every terrorist we capture in order to get information, and we should put up thousands of miles of fences or walls (our own version of the Wall of China) to keep out illegal immigrants. Oh yes, and be sure to tell them that the United States is right no matter what. They should have blind faith in anything our president says or does. Do you think for a minute the commenter would say that the high school kids are old enough to make decisions after hearing only that side of things? I wonder what the ACLU would say about that classroom teacher?

Questioning and debate are what make our country great. It frightens me to think that so many of our children aren't learning those skills. They accept what is being preached via the MSM and via Hollywood rather than thinking for themselves.

I think there is a pattern forming in the comments I've received. Look at this other response:

I agree with the teacher totally :D I was taught a pack of lies about the Native Americans when I was in school and nobody complained about THAT. If my daughter had a teacher that was REALLY teaching her the TRUTH, which this man seems to be doing, then I would applaud him. You don't want truth in American Schools though. You want a biased religious based curriculum that teaches children to follow the leader and NOT think for themselves. Perhaps if the children went out and did some research instead of relying on what is TOLD to them, we NEVER would have had this mess of a war we have, the financial state we are in, nobody without health care, people sitting on rooftops waiting to be rescued, racial bias, homophobia . .. Oh hun the list goes on. Why NOT allow a different view to be taught in our classrooms. What are we afraid of, our children actually being educated??? (TMS note: This was by someone named Lady Celticfire)
Okay. So children should go out and do research instead of relying on what is told to them, BUT then we should also allow a different view to be "taught". What if that different view was the radical right ones mentioned earlier? Another reader wrote a reponse to Lady CelticFire, and she assumed I wrote it. Oh well, can't really expect these people to READ what they're responding to here. So much for her research. The following shows us where she is coming from:

You need to do YOUR research about what Communism REALLY isHAHA No I am really not trying to offend. But you DO need to do some research on Communism. Have you actually read the Communist manifesto? Karl Marx said "To each according to his need, from each according to his ability." Not share all your personal possessions. That is NOT what Communism is. Thats not what Socialism is. Please, Please I beg you, actually figure out what Communism REALLY is before you start talking about what some right wing conservative from the 1950's said. Please. You say you are a teacher, well I also have a college degree and the first thing I learned in college was How To Do Research!!!And a lil PS I wouldn't want your stuff, thanks I worked hard for my own. Maybe you should share your STUFF with those less fortunate...
Don't you just hate all those assumptions? I am a Republican. Therefore, I don't give anything to the less fortunate. I don't research what I write. I don't want truth in American schools. All I want is religious bias. The pattern here is that they don't think we SHOULD think for ourselves. We should buy the whole "Bush is wrong. The war is wrong. The United States is wrong" mentality. And if we don't then we're just close-minded and are afraid to think or let others think.

Bring on the questions. Let children question and think. Jay Bennish has the right to believe whatever he wants to believe. His beliefs don't keep him from being a possibly wonderful teacher. However, when he teaches, he should stick to the subject he's being paid to teach, and he should give an UNBIASED presentation of the viewpoints, and let the students decide for themselves what to believe.

Atlas Shrugs has this to say:
So Jay Bennish . . . . is back in school on Monday. . . . but the media won't
publish those ridiculous Danish cartoons.No double standard here, keep moving,
nothing to see.

For more information on this story, check out the following: Michelle Malkin , Cox and Forkum (Re: Substituting the 3T's for the 3 R's in education), Stop The ACLU, Big Dog's Weblog, Conservative Thinking, The Nose On Your Face, Scrappleface, California Conservative.

Please excuse this quick diversion from this list of blogs with Bennish stories to bring you a quote from Random Thoughts of Yet Another Military Member which offers this scenario for when Bennish returns to the classroom to offer both sides of the issue:

Teacher (Bennish): Ok class, thats why capitalism is bad, and Bush is like Idi Amin (see I told everyone I wouldn’t use the Hitler reference anymore). Now do any of you fascist baby killing supporters want to offer up a opposing view?
Class: No!
Bennish: Ok, good, none of you are obviously indoctrinated in the Bush Youth yet, so I will offer the opposing view. I once heard a Republican helped a old lady across the street, before stealing her social security check to help pay for the illegal occupation in Iraq. Class Dismissed!
I thought it was funny. I had to include it. Ok - now on to other sources for comments on this story: Slapstick Politics, DPGI, The Education Wonks, The Blue Site.

TMS is Part of the Open Trackback Weekend
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I made a recent post about my 10,000th visitor. In that post I promised a guaranteed one-of-a kind Blog Hog tote bag (follow the link above to see a photograph of one) as a reward for being one of my treasured readers.

Turns out that visitor #10,000 was my sister (Blue Star Chronicles) who had already received a bag for being my 1,000th (or was it 1,500th? 2,000th?) visitor. So I checked to see who visitors 9,999 and 10,001 were. Visitor #9,999 was Jane from Cozy Reader, and visitor #10,001 was Second Twin.

Fortunately I happen to have exactly TWO bags left. So(drumroll, please!)Jane and Second Twin - You both are winners! To claim your bag, just send me an email ( with your name and address, and I'll speed your bag on its way to you.

Thanks to everyone who reads THE MEDIAN SIB. I appreciate your visits and your comments.

Friday Forum - It's All About Books

Each week I receive an email from Friday Forum with a topic or questions for blogging. This is the first time I've actually used the suggestion! Look at the topic for this week, and you'll see why I decided to use it. Feel free to follow the link and join the Friday Forum or see previous weeks' topics. Here are the five questions for today:

1. How often do you read? Daily - multiple times daily. . . literally for hours each day. Most of it is reading with children as part of my job, but I also read aloud to children, read for my own enjoyment, read lots of professional books, and each night before I go to sleep, I read for a few minutes before turning out the light and zzzzzzzzzz.

2. Who are your favorite authors? My favorite children's authors are Patricia Polacco, Lois Lowry, Shel Silverstein, Mem Fox, Gary Paulsen, Dr. Seuss, and Doreen Cronin. I don't have a favorite author of adult books - probably because I read such a strange assortment of books.

3. What genre most interests you (For example, suspense, romance, horror, contemporary, etc.)? Children's literature. Some of the best writing in the world is in children's literature. In adult literature I read mostly nonfiction - self-help type stuff. There are only two non-education related magazines that I read each month: Readers Digest and Guideposts. I subscribe to several others, but I rarely read them. They just collect dust for awhile until I gather them up and give away. I won't renew those subscriptions when they run out.

4. What elements of a book most appeal to you (character development, plot, dialogue, etc.)? I call it the "connection factor." Whether or not I can connect with the text.

5. Do you buy books written by celebrity authors? Why or why not? Sometimes I do. It depends on the topic and the author. Again, if the connection factor is strong, I will buy it.

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Thursday, March 09, 2006

American Idol - My Predictions

OK, I'm going out on a limb here, but my unpublished predictions last week were 100% correct for who would be off the show. So here are my predictions for this week. The show starts in about an hour. So I'll find out soon enough.

Elliott and Kevin will be out - unless Kevin wins the "cute" factor, in which case Will is gone.
For the ladies, it's Kinnik and Melissa.

Can't wait to see if I'm right.
Update: I can't believe Ayla and Gedeon didn't get enough votes to stay. They both are SOOOO much better than Elliott or Melissa. Oh well! As PawPaw so aptly pointed out: If I wanted them to win, I should have voted. I think Kevin is there because he's cute and people kinda feel protective of him. Didn't Gedeon absolutely NAIL his good-bye performance? Wow! And I had tears in my eyes when Ayla sang her last AI song. Oh well. On to next week.

Remember or Re-Member?

I started off my morning reading a post by Ruth at Ruthlace. It's about remembering and re-membering and poetry and life and growing old and personal history. Here's an exerpt:
One Sociologist, working with the elderly suggests we hyphenate the word remember to "re-member" to distinguish it from ordinary recollection or reminiscing. Re-membering is more than "Backward, turn back O man in your flight. Make me a child again just for tonight." Re-membering is the reconstructing of one’s members, the figures who properly belong to one’s prior selves. Through re-membering, a life is given shape and form and extends back into the past and forward into the future as an edited story. Without re-membering, we lose our history and ourselves.
It's one of those posts that kept my attention and made me think. Go and read it. It is worth the three or four minutes it'll take to read it well - and the time it will take to re-read it, which I know you'll want to do. Ruth writes:
I learned in working with the elderly there is a difference in the mental and emotional health of persons who just recollect or reminiscence about their past and those who re-member.
Perhaps that is the long-term value in some of our blogging. Not the heated political debates or social commentary, but those posts where we think back and write about our lives and the people who have touched us and influenced us. I wish you all a day of re-membering.

Thursday Thirteen - Thirteen of Carol's Favorite Quotes About Reading

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen of Carol's Favorite Quotes About Reading

I'm a reading specialist, and so the topic of reading is probably more interesting to me than most folks. I live and breathe reading. I also collect quotes about reading and books. I put one of my favorite reading quotes in the reading newsletter I write each month for the parents at my school. Here are thirteen of my favorites. (Shhhh! Don't tell anybody, but numbers 5, 6, and 8 are my absolute favorites! Well, and #13, too.)

1. "To read without reflecting is like eating without digesting." ~Edmund Burke

2. "Reading is to the mind, what exercise is to the body. As by the one, health is preserved, strengthened, and invigorated: by the other, virtue (which is the health of the mind) is kept alive, cherished, and confirmed." ~Joseph Addison

3. "When you read a classic, you do not see more in the book than you did before; you see more in you than there was before." ~Clifton Fadiman

4. “It is a great thing to start life with a small number of really good books which are your very own.” ~ Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

5. "No matter how busy you think you are, you must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance." ~Atwood H. Townsend

6. "Reading makes immigrants of us all. It takes us away from home, but more important, it finds homes for us everywhere." ~Hazel Rochman

7. “Because words are essential in building the thought connections in the brain, the more language a child experiences – through books and through conversation with others, not passively from television – the more advantaged socially, educationally, and in every way the child will be for the rest of his or her life.” ~Mem Fox

8. "So please, oh please, we beg, we pray,
Go throw your TV set away,
And in its place you can install
A lovely bookshelf on the wall." ~Roald Dahl in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

9. "A library is a hospital for the mind." ~ Unknown

10. "When I look back, I am so impressed again with the life-giving power of literature. If I were a young person today, trying to gain a sense ofmyself in the world, I would do that again by reading,just as I did when I was young." ~ Maya Angelou

11. "A book is a garden, an orchard, a storehouse, a party, a company by the way, a counselor, a multitude of counselors." ~ Henry Ward Beecher

12. "Reading furnishes the mind only with the materials of knowledge; it is thinking that makes what we read ours." ~John Locke

13. " You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them." ~Mohandas Gandhi

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!

1. Norma

2. Elle

3. Tanya

4. Jane

5. Joan

6. Ruth

7. Jade

8. Katherine

9. better safe than sorry

10. Melli

11. FrogLegs

12. Dawn

13. Wystful (no URL given)

14. Stacey

15. Chickadee

16. Karin

17. Kimmy

(leave your link in comments, I’ll add you here!)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Entries Due for the Carnival of Blue Stars - Edition #5

I am honored that Beth at Blue Star Chronicles has entrusted the 5th Edition of the Carnival of Blue Stars to me! As you know, the Blue Star is a symbol that shows you have a relative or friend serving in our armed forces. The Carnival of Blue Stars is an opportunity to highlight blogs that support our soldiers. Here - let me quote Beth. She says it much better:
The Carnival of Blue Stars gives us, the families, friends, supporters, veterans
and current service members an opportunity to have a voice in the Blogsphere.

If you would like to submit a post for this week's Carnival of Blue Stars, please email your name, the name of your blog, the title of your post, and the URL of your post to mc849(at)aol(dot)com. Carnival entries are due by Saturday noon (Central Standard Time). The Carnival will be here at The Median Sib on Sunday morning.

Last week's carnival can be viewed here.

If you would like to learn more about the history of Blue Stars, or if you'd like to join the Blue Star Blogroll, click here.

The Carnival of Education - Week 57

Week 57 of the Carnival of Education is up at Math and Text. This is always one of my favorite reads each week. It points me to articles in the world of education that I might not read or know about otherwise. So head over there and enjoy!

Linked to: Blue Star Chronicles

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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Abortion Rights vs. Sonograms

I remember a little over five years ago when my daughter and son-in-law invited me to go with them to witness the sonogram during which they'd find out if their baby would be a boy or a girl. Of course during the sonogram, the technician would also take measurements and do other checks to make sure the baby was developing normally. I was excited. When I'd had my two pregnancies back in the 70's, I had felt fortunate to hear the baby's heartbeat via a stethoscope. That seemed like a pretty advanced medical achievement at that time. I had never even heard of sonograms.

As I went into the sonogram room, I told my daughter and son-in-law that I would sit off to the side. My intention was to be an observer and not intrude in any way on their experience as the baby's parents. My resolve to stay in the background lasted about a minute.

As the technician moved the wand (is that what it's called?) over my daughter's belly, suddenly there on the screen was the baby! So clearly! I jumped up to get closer so I could see more clearly. As the technician moved the wand, she pointed out the baby's beating heart, the backbone, the brain. We could already see the fingers and toes and face. When the technician told us it was definitely a girl, we all cried, "Lily!" because that was to be her name. We watched as she moved her arms and then began to suck her thumb. We were all crying with joy at the absolute miracle that was Lily - still growing inside her mother, but alive and well and very much a real baby. She was no longer a depersonalized "fetus". She was our Lily.

When looking at a pregnant woman's abdomen, it's hard to visualize a baby underneath all those layers of skin and tissue. A sonogram makes it real. After seeing with clarity the baby's features, there is no denying the human life that is there.

And that bring me to my topic. I was reading Cozy Reader the other day and saw this post referencing this article in the Lexington Herald-Leader. The article reports that a pro-life clinic in Lexington has installed a sonogram machine. It's effective. What do patients see during their sonograms?

"We've had babies wave. ... We've had babies smile. We've had babies suck their thumb. If they've had a little bit of caffeine, they're jumping around," said Frost, the center's nurse manager.

Kim Conroy, Sanctity of Human Life director for Focus on the Family, says two-thirds of the women who view their fetuses on an ultrasound machine at a pregnancy resource center end up rejecting abortion.

I can understand that. Once a woman realizes that it isn't a "fetus" but a real, live, active baby in there, abortion suddenly becomes not such a welcome choice.

However, some abortion-rights activists have opposed the use of sonograms. These are the people who claim they want women to make informed decisions. Instead of wanting to make sure that women who choose to abort their baby understand fully the ramifications of their decision, they claim that the use of sonograms puts inappropriate pressure on women.

"It's a manipulative tool," said Ginny Copenhefer, a former lobbyist with the Kentucky Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. "I don't think it's fair to heap guilt on them because they feel they have to terminate a pregnancy. That's just the most cruel form of abuse that I can imagine."
Again, this remark and attitude exposes the often two-faced nature of many on the left. All the talk about "pro-choice" is merely a popular sound bite. They talk the talk of informed choice but can't walk the walk. Women should be able to make truly informed choices and understand that there are reasonable options to abortion. Better for a woman to KNOW what she is "terminating" than to live with a lifetime of regret once she learns that she ended the life of another human being - her own child.

Although the pro-abortion proponents would have us believe otherwise, the debate on abortion truly isn't about "choice." It isn't about government trying to dictate what we do in the privacy of our homes. It isn't (as I read on a pro-abortion site earlier this evening) about Christians trying to grow more Christians. That's just silly. It's a life and death debate about protecting babies.

Yes, there are some serious issues about unwanted children, poverty, maternity health care, child care, and many others. As a society we have trouble handling the children that are already here. And if there are laws against abortion, what do you do with women who get abortions anyway? There are major issues involved in making laws against abortion. However, there is a bottom line. There are some matters that are open to interpretation and belief. On others issues, civilized nations need to draw a line in the sand. Human life is precious. We don't decide who has value and who is worth saving based on another person's feelings. We should do everything we can to protect those who can't protect themselves.

The 10,000th Visitor - Is it YOU?

My how time flies when you're blogging! Seem like only yesterday when I started this blog. At the time I tried to think of a clever title for my blog but was having no luck. I wanted something unique and meaningful to me but not something unwieldy to say or write. Then, since I'm the middle of seven children, I typed in "Middle Child", but that name was already taken. For some reason substituting the phrase "The Median Sib" came to mind, and I typed that in, clicked "submit"...and lo and behold, no one had taken that name. Thus, The Median Sib was born.

The 10,000th visitor to The Median Sib will be here within a little while. Sure, there are some blogs that receive that many visitors in one day - in a few hours. For me, though, the 10,000 mark is significant. As I type this, the site meter is at 9,997. If you're the 10,000 visitor and you would like a guaranteed one-of-a-kind Blog Hog tote bag (see photo below), let me know. I have a couple left, and I'll be glad to reward your loyalty in reading The Median Sib.

Most of all, thanks to each person who makes The Median Sib a regular part of their reading each day.

Rocks, Stones And Pebbles Are We

There's some great reading available at The Black Republican. He refers to the Glenn Reynolds book: An Army of Davids: How Markets and Technology Empower Ordinary People to Beat Big Media, Big Government, and Other Goliaths.

Those of us in the blogosphere not big enough to actually sling the big missiles, we are the rocks. Those of you who don't actually blog yourselves but just use blogs as a source of news and information, you are the rocks. We are the ones that make the impact, the ones who make sure the shots from the Davids are felt by the Goliaths. Oh, we little Davids may occasionally take a shot or two ourselves, but our real value lies elsewhere. By bringing up issues at home, work, or school and using arguments advanced by the New Media (whatever your viewpoint), by holding elected officials accountable for their actions with information gleaned from blogs, by writing letters to newspaper editors, by informing friends, family, and coworkers about the issues that affect their everyday lives that otherwise gets hidden or overlooked by the MSM, we ensure that those shots fired by the Davids actually strike flesh. The choice of those "five smooth stones" by David was of critical importance, as is the impact each of us can have.
I like that metaphor. I've often been discouraged by the news and felt that my one small blog is insignificant. However, a single rock can have a big impact, but the greater impact is all those rocks together.

But as time has passed we rocks have become more polished, smooth, hard, and have learned to be self directed... and our impact is being felt. Expect the leftist Philistines to become more and more anxious as they begin to see their champion Goliaths - big Government, the MSM, Hollywood, Academia - suffer a death from a thousand cuts.

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Excerpt: The city of Santa Cruz, which often takes controversial approaches to social issues, has now established what is believed to be the nation's first hotline for day laborers -- most of whom are undocumented -- to report unscrupulous employers.
Weblog: Freedom FolksTracked: 03.07.06 - 9:01 am

Islamophobia? Yes! Islamohatred? No!

I admit it. I am Islamophobic. That doesn't mean I hate Muslims or the Islam religion. It means simply that I fear what Islam has become. I fear Islam because of the the radical, irrational, beheading, murdering and pillaging Muslims that are shown in the news. I fear them because they carry signs declaring that they would kill us without a second thought simply because we are not Muslim. I fear them because of the Muslim mother who sent sons on suicide missions and said she wished she had more sons to sacrifice for Allah. I fear them because some of their leaders have encouraged the ones in other countries to blend into western society in order to gain trust to later help with terrorist activities.

I think any non-Muslim in his/her right mind is Islamophobic. It is a smart thing to be in today's world. It isn't an irrational fear, but a fear based on widespread real and visible evidence of unstable and irrational Islamic behavior.

Islamophobic is not Islamohatred. I don't hate Muslims. I hate some of them - yes. But as a group, I don't hate them. I think that the large majority of them were likely born into the religion and don't realize how destructive it has become. They know only what they are being told by the radical and murderous leaders.

We should be proud to be Islamophobic. Only idiots wouldn't be.

You can check out Wikipedia for a thorough description of Islamophobia.

There is Islamophobia Watch: Documenting the war against Islam.

Others writing on Islamophobia: The Anchoress, FaithFreedom, Michelle Malkin, Sister Toldjah, Power Line, Captain's Quarters, Blue Star Chronicles, Atlas Shrugs, All Things Beautiful, Pedestrian Infidel, Right Truth, Water Cooler Wisdom, The Fall of Jericho, Mark Levin Fan, Infidel Bloggers Alliance, Cox & Forkum, Infinite Monkeys, Gina Cobb, Protein Wisdom, Jihad Watch, My Vast Right Wing Conspiracy, Mudville Gazette, Little Green Footballs, Iraq The Model.

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What does it really mean to be Islamophobic or xenophobic?
Excerpt: The terms "Islamophobia" and "xenophobia" are being tossed around and thrown at Americans like wet toilet paper to the ceiling of a boy's highschool bathroom, and some of it is sticking. It's sticking only because we let it, only because. . .
Weblog: Right TruthTracked: 03.07.06 - 7:17 am

Monday, March 06, 2006

A Day in the Life of a Reading Teacher

It's Monday morning. The alarm clock rings at 6:15. I'm showered, dressed, and ready to leave by 7:15 - coffee in the cup-holder and bagel on the seat beside me. It's a forty minute drive. During that time, I listen to talk radio, eat my bagel, sip my coffee, and enjoy the mostly scenic drive.

7:55 Arrive at school. I put my lunch in my little classroom refrigerator, put on name tag, check to make sure things are ready for my first reading group. Then I head to the gym.

8:10 I'm in the gym for morning bus duty. I remark to the other monitor that the kids are unusually quiet this morning. Each day seems to take on its own personality. Mondays are often calm with the children getting more rambunctious as the week progresses. One little girl in kindergarten who has had a difficult time in getting along with the other children, is calm and well-behaved this morning. I give her a "high flyer" card to hopefully encourage the good behavior (Alfie Cohn would disapprove).

8:35 A.M. Immediately after the Pledge of Allegiance and the daily announcements, five fourth graders came to my room for a reading group. Full of energy except for S. She seems a little quiet. I decide to ignore it for now and see how things go. We get started on our lesson. They ASK to write in their journals, and that's the first thing on our agenda. As the other children start writing, I see that S is just sitting there - staring off into space. "What's wrong?" I ask. "Do you feel ok?" Her reply: "I'm bored." Quite honestly, I think "burned out" would be a better description. She goes to school all day, comes to me for reading, and then three days a week she stays after school for a 90-minute reading clinic. I don't blame her. I'd feel like a zombie at times, too. I work with her for a few minutes and she gets involved in writing in her journal and doesn't seem so "bored" anymore. She is probably still bored and is just putting on show to keep from hurting my feelings. Elementary children still care about such things.

9:45 A.M. My third grade group bursts into the room. One child, K, is coughing. A lot. I pass hand sanitizer around to everyone - a fairly regular practice of mine. I believe it cuts down on the number of colds and viruses I get. K tells me that it's his birthday, he doesn't feel good, and he has to go to the dentist this afternoon. I sympathize, and then I ask the children to share about their weekend. I get the usual responses: "I went to WalMart and got a new game for my PS2." "My friend came over and we played." "My uncle took us for a ride on his four-wheeler." Then it is K's turn. I will give you an exact quote:
"I was coughing really bad and I drank a Dr. Pepper and it turned into an ooze - a goo - and clogged up my throat. And that's why I'm coughing so much."
Okay, that explains that!

10:30 My second grade group. My biggest challenge when it comes to behavior. I feel guilty writing that because there are only four children in the group. However, L and B are in that group, and they're a handful. Sweet as can be, but mischievous and loud. They ask for hand sanitizer, and I pass it around. As the children tell me about what they have done since we met last Friday, B listens to the others. Then he says: (another exact quote)
"I went to the animal store and got three dogs. My mom said to get something for my sister. So I got her a raccoon and when she saw it, she yelled. So I had to put it back in its cage and I got her a rabbit."
THREE dogs? A raccoon? A rabbit? Is he serious? I look at him, and it seems obvious from his expression that he is lying. But there is also a look in his eyes that begs for acceptance. I see no benefit in calling him on it. I smile, comment on the number of animals he got and we go into our lesson.

11:15 My student from the Ukraine. We've come a long way, and I see real progress today. He reads on grade level for the first time. Yes, it is painfully slow and tedious. The material is too difficult for him. However, it is a text he wants to read because he is interested in it (animals with poisonous venom), and he actually figures out most of the unfamiliar words on his own. Painstaking, but definite progress.

11:45 Here come my kindergarteners. This is a group of high-achieving girls - an absolutely delightful group. They're just a little older than Sweet Stuff, and everytime I look at them, I think of Sweet Stuff. Today we read two Level C books, and they do a great job. I give them Dr. Seuss stickers (Yes, I know Alfie Cohn would disapprove again) and high fives, and they are thrilled. It ends my morning on a high note.

12:30 Lunch is a bowl of chili - leftover from dinner last night and heated up in the microwave in my classroom. Quick trip to the restroom, and some work on a book order I must complete and send to the central office by Wednesday.

1:15 My first grade group. I hear one little boy before he even gets inside the classroom - cute as can be but with a shrill voice. As he walks in he announces loudly: "I have to go to the bathroom. It's an emergency!" I'm sure all the classrooms in our hall hear his proclamation and are relieved when I give him my blessings for a trip down the hall to the bathroom. He walked past two bathrooms to get from his classroom to mine but felt he had to get my permission before going. And that's a good thing since I DO have to know where they are at all times.

2:00 Another quick walk down the hallway to the ladies room, and then back to the classroom for some paperwork.

2:30 My fifth grade group. I love all the children I work with, but this fifth grade group has five boys who each have an enjoyable sense of humor. The only girl in the group (also with a funny sense of humor) is absent today. The fifth graders keep me on my toes because they're so full of energy and all that pre-puberty exuberance. They're FUNNY, and we have a good time together. They love to read aloud to the group and ask to do it each time they come to my room - their choice of material. Of course I encourage it. So we all listen as one reads some jokes, another reads a page from The Stupids Step Out (fifth grade humor, without a doubt!), and another reads a couple pages from a book about helicopters. Then we work on some test-taking skills - reading a passage and answering questions about the text. They read the text perfectly, but all five of them bomb in answering the multiple-choice questions - questions dealing with main idea and details. Except for the main idea question, the questions are just simple "right there" questions. We talk about each question and how to find the answers. It is a struggle, and it is obvious what we need to work on during our next class.

3:20 The fifth graders go back to their homerooms and afternoon announcements are made over the intercom

3:30 The bell rings and the children are walked to either the bus line or the car line. I don't have afternoon duty, and so my work with the children is finished for the day. I complete some paperwork and finish writing comments in some of the children's journals.

3:45 The official end of the day for me. I gather my things, turn out the lights, lock the door, and head home. Another day of school finished. It has been a good one.

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Time for a coffee transfusion Excerpt: ...Weblog: third world county
Tracked: 03.07.06 - 3:30 am

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Winter Camping and Weekend Fun

PawPaw and I went camping last night on our land out in the country. The difference this time is that there is now a road through the property and right up to the campsite. The last time we camped there we had to carry our camping supplies down a hill and then up another. That included carrying firewood. We didn't get there last night until it was dark, but since we were in PawPaw's jeep, it didn't matter. We got the fire started and just enjoyed sitting there on the hill breathing in the fresh air and looking out at the countryside all around us. We listened to a pack of coyotes bark and howl. If you've never heard the sound of coyotes, it's kinda spooky sounding at times. This morning we listened to what sounded like dozens of wild turkeys gobbling and clucking.

Dinner was delicious. I had gone by Publix and bought stew beef, onions, potatoes and carrots. So I made beef stew. I brought my large cast iron skillet, and we cooked the stew directly on the fire. Yum! We wrapped a couple rolls in aluminum foil and placed them next to the fire to warm. Cooking out over a fire make food taste so good. We had brought all the ingredients for s'mores just in case either of the kids and their families could come visit for awhile. However, Scalawag is sick again, and Stinkeroo needed to get the kids to bed early. So I now had graham crackers, marshmallows and Hershey bars stashed away for the next camping trip.

After dinner we set up the tent and got everything ready for bed. Then we just sat out by the fire and talked for a long time. We boiled water and made hot chocolate for PawPaw and herbal tea for me. Soooo relaxing. Then we went to bed. The temperature was in the mid-twenties last night -- and I felt it. I've never slept with a hat on, but last night I did. Not only did I sleep with a hat on, but I pulled it down so it entirely covered my face - but my nose was still cold! My sleeping bag is supposedly a 20 degree bag, and PawPaw's is a 15-degree bag. But we both were cold. However, it wasn't an unbearable cold.

For the first couple hours I was warm except for my butt. I could NOT get my rear warm! I finally decided that the only explanation is that my last minute necessary visit behind a tree before bed cooled it off and it took awhile for it to regain some heat. Does that even make sense? But why else would that be the only part of me that was cold? Finally the cold shifted to my feet, and I was warm except for my feet. So the night was filled with restless sleep. But the sun dawned beautifully, and we both felt great despite a less than perfect night's sleep.

We got out the cast iron skillet again for breakfast - bacon with onions and green peppers and hash brown potatoes. I tried canned biscuits again -- and out of the ten biscuits, we were able to salvage four that were not burned to a crisp or still doughy. So breakfast was wonderful, too. And the coffee we made over the fire -- absolutely perfect. After walking around the land for awhile, we packed everything up again.

We spent all morning and early afternoon burning brush piles on the land. PawPaw was able to get a burn permit for today but not for tomorrow. So he's trying to get all of it burned today. It doesn't SOUND like a big job, but it is. He's still out there burning right now.

Another successful and fun camping trip is over. Tonight we're babysitting Sweet Stuff and Sunshine for a couple hours so their parents can go out to dinner. I'm looking forward to that.

I think we're joining Hillsboro UMC tomorrow morning. I really like the small church and country atmosphere of that church. Last Sunday they had an old-fashioned community songfest, and it was so enjoyable. There's just nothing like those old hymns.

I LIVE for the weekends. This one has been wonderful so far.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Jay Bennish - Communist Agent for Colorado Schools

Coming home from school today, I listened to the news about Jay Bennish, a 10th grade geography teacher who taught communism and anti-Bush, anti-America thinking along with (or in place of) his geography lessons: Here's a summary of what he taught in the taped lesson that is being played and replayed on the radio, TV and Internet.

(1) He compares Bush to Hitler.
(2) He thinks capitalism is at odds with human rights, caring and compassion.
(3) He teaches that the US government working WITH the government of another country to try to decrease the amount of illegal crops justifies other countries coming to the U.S. and destroying legal tobacco-producing areas.
(4) He teaches that the U.S. is the worst terrorist country in the world.

And those are only the highlights of his lesson. I read through the transcript of the lesson and if I hadn't been TOLD it was a geography class, I never would have guessed it.

When the student who was secretly taping the class disagreed with him, he accepted the disagreement and then very "reasonably" explained why the student was wrong and quickly brought the lesson back to the U.S. and Israel being the real terrorists. It was this calm, outward acceptance and consideration of the student's questions and then turning it around on the student that bothered me the most.

As a long-time public school teacher, I have always been aware of the tremendous influence I have on the children I teach. Children identify with their teachers, and they often emulate them. Sometimes when kids are going through their adolescent rebellion phase, they are prone to trust teachers before their parents. Teaching is an absolutely mind-boggling responsibility.

I wrote awhile back about the book Children's Story by James Clavell. The story covers one class period in an elementary classroom. Although there is no direct correlation between the story and what Jay Bennish did in the classes he taught, there are some similarities that are striking and chilling. As I said before, Children's Story is a quick read - maybe 30 - 45 minutes at the most. It's worth the effort, and it will make you consider the power of the classroom teacher.

Further reading on the Jay Bennish story: Michelle Malkin, The American Check-up, Plains Feeder, The Political Dogs, The Defiance, Is This Blog On?, Severe Writers Block, Survival Theory, Intercepts, The Education Wonks, Conservative Thinking, Right Wing Nation, The Uncooperative Blogger, Freedom Folks, Tundra Tabloids

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Thursday Thirteen - Thirteen Books for Read Across America Week

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen Books to Read for Read Across America Week

I'm a reading teacher, and books are a major part of my life. Here are thirteen of my favorites - some for children - some for adults - and a combination of genres

1. The Giver by Lois Lowry (I first read this as an adult and was thoroughly captivated by the story. A futuristic story for mature upper elementary children)

2. Pink and Say by Patricia Polacco (A true Civil War story from Polacco's family. I can't get through it without crying. Even more touching because it's true. Great for all ages)

3. Summer My Father Was Ten by Pat Brisson (for elementary age children - a story about respect, neighbors, and making amends and learning from mistakes)

4. Hatchet by Gary Paulsen (for upper elementary children - a story of survival in the Canadian wilderness)

5. Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl (About Frankl's experience in Nazi concentration camps, and what he learned from it)

6. The Good Earth by Pearl Buck (I first read this in high school and still remember it clearly. Set in China - a tale of survival and hardship and priorities)

7. The Clan of the Cave Bear (Earth's Children #1) by Jean Auel (I read this when it first came out many years ago. It's the best one of the series)

8. Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For? by Rick Warren (Provides a plan for a purposeful life)

9. Whoever You Are by Mem Fox (I love the rhythm of this book for young children)

10. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (I read this in high school, too, and it still remains a favorite)

11. Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss (A classic for all ages. Children love the rhymes and sillines)

12. Frindle by Andrew Clements (For upper elementary children - how even children can change the world)

13. The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg (Stimulates the imagination - wonderful inspiration for writing)

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!

1. Norma

2. Shelli

3. YellowRose

4. Mel

5. owlhaven

6. Jen

7. Kimmy

8. Ruth

9. Joan

10. Jane

11. LadyBug

12. Elle

13. Moe

14. Lyn

15. Stacie

16. Enigma

17. Mama B.

18. Chickadee

19. Jane (better safe than sorry)

20. mar

21. Denise

22. kdubs

23. Lazy Daisy

24. d. challener roe

(leave your link in comments, I’ll add you here!)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!