I can respect that.

Another day in the life of a middle school…

It’s the end of the school year and everyone’s ready for the last day of school to be behind us.  We can imagine the sun on our faces and the sand in our toes, yet we are still required to be at school.  The students are expected to adhere to the rules set in place hundreds of days ago. We are expected to enforce said rules.  Neither of us want to do our part.

The following conversation was overheard today in the detention room:

Mr. Chewning noticed another teacher walking towards the dining hall.  “If you see Billy over there, please tell him he has four minutes to be in detention.”

“Will do.”

— Four minutes later —

Billy breathlessly skids into the room announcing, “I completely forgot!”

“Since you were in the dining hall during the first part of the lunch break, can I assume you’ve already eaten?” Mr. Chewning questioned.

“Some.  I had an ice-cream sandwich” Billy replied.

A random 6th grader was dropping off an assignment in the room and couldn’t help interjecting as he left,  “Dessert before lunch; I can respect that.”

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Whisper May starts on Cinco De Mayo

In our Pre-Algebra class, Mrs. Wilson and I could all tell that our students were getting a little restless nearing the end of the year and the noise level of our very active class was getting a little too loud for our liking.  We encourage our students to work together, and because they are all at different places since it is self-paced, it can get a bit noisy.

So we looked at each other and decided we were just going to whisper for the rest of the day.  I’m not really sure who started it, but once we made up our minds, we just kept feeding off of each other.  Just to keep things straight, italicized and gray is whispered…

“Can I get a little help with number 3 on this sheet?” Johnny said.

“Why are you yelling at me?!?!” Mrs. Wilson whispers, ears covered in pain.

“What do you mean?  I’m not yelling…” Johnny retorts in confusion.

“Yes you are,” I chime in, in my quietest voice I can muster without laughing. “Steve, do you know why Johnny is yelling? He’s SO LOUD!”

Amazingly, Steve caught on right away.  “I don’t know.  He’s kind of hurting my ears.  Do you think he could talk quieter?”

“So… why are we whispering?” Johnny finally gives in.

“Because it is Whisper May.  None of your other teachers are celebrating Whisper May month?” Mrs. Wilson questions.

“No, because it isn’t a thing.  If it were Whisper May, why didn’t we start on May 1st?  Today is May 5th…” Johnny isn’t buying it.  But he is whispering…

“Well, Whisper May isn’t really a full month, but it would be awkward to call it Whisper-twenty-three-days-in-May…  It starts on Cinco De Mayo and ends on the 28th.” I love coming up with random untrue facts on the fly.

“Oh. But why from the 5th to the 28th?”

“I don’t know.  That’s just how it is,” I respond.

Slowly but surely, the entire class is whispering instead of talking.  Since we start our class out with a moment of silence to get them quiet and focused, it isn’t hard to move from silence to whispering.  Now let’s see if we can actually make it all the way to May 28th.  It really surprised us that we didn’t really have to tell all the students that they needed to start whispering.  We just convinced a few students and then everyone ended up whispering.  We have to get it started again each day, but other than that, it’s been relatively easy to maintain.

I’m pretty next year is Year of the Whisper in the Chinese Zodiac…


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My Most Important Apps

chromeI just got a new Mac and found myself missing a few vital programs when I first fired it up.  If you are new to Macs or if you are looking for a few helpful programs, here are the first few I installed.

Chrome (free) – Safari seems to be getting better and better (and perhaps now it is even a better option than Google Chrome, but I still prefer Chrome as my browser of choice.  In any case, it is good to have a few browser options in case a site isn’t working on one of them for some reason.

1password1Password ($50/free trial) – Many people don’t use a password manager. Many people don’t use seatbelts.
Yes they do!  Everyone wears seatbelts now.  It’s not like it was in the old days… (I have a crazy old-man voice in my head.  I call him Clarence.)
Are you sure?
Yes sirree.  Seatbelts.  Everywhere. It’s madness.
Cool.  I guess people got the message.  I guess they are all using password managers now too, huh?
Why in tarnations would you need a password manager? I just have one password that I use for everything so I can remember it.  My memory isn’t what it used to be…
Well, there are a few reasons why it is good to have a password manager, and I use 1Password (watch the video – it’s succinct) .  There are a ton of similar products, but 1Password was the one I settled on; I really like what it can do.  It is expensive, but it does a good job and for the convenience, it is worth it to me.

hazelHazel ($29/free 14 day trial) – I was surprised how much I enjoy having this app installed.  It automatically files, organizes, and keeps your computer clean.  The main idea is you set up rules for the app to follow and every few minutes, it checks to run the rules.  It’s hard to understand without experiencing it, so download it for free for 2 weeks and see what I mean.  One of the rules I use is: look in the Downloads folder.  If a file is older than 1 week old, move it to the trash. I figure that if it was important enough, I would have moved it to a specific folder outside of the Downloads folder within a week.  The rest of the stuff is just taking up space, so I delete it to get rid of it.  I also have a rule to empty the trash once a month, a few different rules to help keep my Google Drive folder organized, and one to clean up (and organize) my desktop (I’m talking to you driveicons-all-over-your-desktop person).

Google Drive (free) – Since St. Christopher’s School is a Google Apps for Education school, I get 1 TB of storage.  And since I get 1 TB of storage, I use it as my backup solution.

evernoteEvernote (free) – I find that as I’m surfing around the internet, I run across articles and sites that I’d like to keep for future reference. I also can take notes from my phone or computer that will sync with each other. Evernote is great because you can tag your notes, sites, and articles.  If you’re one of those people who like to use search terms, Evernote is made for you. If you take a picture of your handwritten notes (and you aren’t too messy), it can even search any words in those notes for later abporganization.

Adblock Plus – I get tired of seeing unwanted ads on all my websites. Adblock Plus does a good job of getting rid of them.

If you have any apps I should keep an eye out for on a Mac, feel free to comment!




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My Favorite Child’s Desire

hermioneOn the way home from the pool the other day, this gem of a conversation occurred.

Out of the blue, Paco asked, “How old is Hermione in the first Harry Potter book?”

“I don’t know, maybe nine?  I confessed.

“How old is she now?”

Doo doo.  “Siri, how old is Emma Watson?”  Dee dee.

“Emma Watson is 25.”

“How old is Harry Potter?” Bug inquired.

“I would guess the same age…”

harry“Ask Siri.”

Oh sure, like she knows everything. Doo doo. “How old is Daniel Radcliffe?” Dee dee.

“Daniel Radcliffe is 25,” Siri answered with mocking superiority.

Paco’s turn again. “How about Ron?”

“I don’t know what Ron’s name is. Yeah, yeah… Ask Siri.” Doo doo. “Who is the actor that plays Ron Weasley?” Dee dee.

“OK, I found this on the web.”

Oh! Not so smart now are you, Siri?  You can’t even say his name. You have to make me look at my phone while driving. You call yourself a friend. Ha! Don’t you even care about my safety? Alright, let’s see… Rupert Grint. No wonder I don’t remember his name. Rupert sounds more like Hagrid than Ron.

Doo doo. “How old is Rupert Grint?” Dee dee.ron

“Rupert Grint is 26.”

“Why are they different ages?  In the book they are all the same.

“It’s like mom and I are sometimes the same age and then at different times in the year she’s a bit older.”

No response.

“You know how Mrs. Wilson  and I are the same age?”

“Yes,” they both responded.

“But she’s actually older because she was born first.”


“It’s like that.  Hey, next time you see Mrs. Wilson, make sure to tell her that she looks older than I do.  Feel free to tell her she looks 45.”

“No! I’m telling her you told us to say that,” retorts Paco.

“Why aren’t you on my side? I’m your dad. I thought you were better friends with me than Mrs. Wilson.”

“I’m better friends with her son.”

“I’m better friends with you, daddy. My friends go: you, Mrs. Wilson, her son.” Bug has a way of trying to smooth things out when her brother is at odds with one of the parental units.  Even though we were joking, she knows how to choose sides wisely.

“My friends go: Mrs. Wilson’s son, Billy, Jimmy… ” Bug’s eyes grew wider with each proclamation, incredulous at her brother’s lack of loyalty.

“Wait, wait, wait… You’re picking those guys over me?” I jested. “I guess I know who my favorite kid is now. Bug, what do you want me to get you?  You can have anything.”



tapedispenser“I want 100 rolls of tape and a black tape thingy that has sand in the bottom. And a doll. And a puppy. And a pretend cell phone.

“You should get a real cell phone,” Paco pressed.

“Nope.  I just want a pretend one.”

Oh for the days when 100 rolls of tape and a black tape thingy was all I wanted.


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Don’t disagree with Wolverine



A few days ago, the kids were out grocery shopping with Casey. As most of you are well aware, these trips rarely involve children walking hand-in-hand while harmonizing favorites from the Sound of Music.  Although there were no such sweet melodies on this excursion, the kids were actually behaving. We’ve recently introduced a behavior management system for the summer and it seems to be working. It’s cut down on the whining, misbehaving, and ignoring, but even better, we are seeing some changes in their hearts.  More on that in a different post.

At one point in the store, Paco (a name I’ve called my son since birth – I have no idea why) happened to spot a package of shish kabob skewers. I can assure you he didn’t want them because of his love of exotic cuisine. Eating chicken nuggets and fries from our favorite local Mexican restaurant is about as wild and crazy as that boy gets.

“Can I get those sticks? I want to make a Wolverine outfit!”

“I’m pretty sure we have some at home. You’re welcome to use them when we get back.”

The rest of the trip went fine and as soon as they entered the house, the story was relayed to me. The call of Minecraft was too strong however, and the superhero-craft-project fell by the wayside for the time being. As I began to help Casey put the groceries away, Bug (my daughter’s nickname derived from another nickname: “Ladybug”) scurried into the bathroom and proceeded to hop onto the toilet without closing the door. As this is a common occurrence in our house, I hollered “Don’t worry about the door!” Bug has recently caught on to my sarcastic quips enough to realize what I really meant and hopped off, waddled over to the door, and shut it while muttering, “Sorry.”

I went to check in on Paco to see how his castle in Minecraft was coming along. I rhetorically asked, “In what world is pooping with the door open okay?”

“Minecraft world,” Paco responded.  I stared at him quizzically. “I don’t even know what you are talking about,” he added candidly while mindlessly tiling his castle’s floor.

“I’m talking about pooping with the door open.  In what world is that an okay thing to do?!?!”

“This world,” he responded with a chuckle.

“I disagree.”

“Disagreements with Wolverine lead to disasters,” he said straight-faced.


Looks like I may be in for some trouble as soon as he dons his adamantium claws.

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Black Friday Tradition


Black Friday tradition

Every year (for the past 4 years) we drive out to Covesville to get our Christmas tree. It often takes a while to find the perfect tree but this year, it was waiting for us right near the top of the hill. We found it in 5 minutes!

We really enjoy hunting down our tree and cutting it down as a family. Also, it’s hard to beat the $25 price tag…

via http://bit.ly/1y0QIFE

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Cyber-Bullying and Social Media

Notes on cyber-bullying and social media – Elizabeth Englander

View article and presentation at: http://bit.ly/1yOzHwy

2000 students in first study

55000 students 8 – 18 – in 2nd study (international)

A little bit of meanness is a good thing when you are growing up. So dealing with a peer who is a little bit mean is actually good. The difficulty is knowing where to draw the line? When does productive becoming damaging?

Text based is going away and picture based is becoming more relevant in the past year or 2.

For parents it’s not about being an expert in every app/site. You just need to teach kids about the issues in all of these apps to deal with the issues they may come across in any app…


Pictures and images – kids don’t believe there are any rules about the kids taking and posting pictures of other people. But they believe there should be rules and social norms about them.

Disinhibition – should you say in real life what you posted online? Emotions become more intense online because you are able to interact with many people quickly and build up the emotions from that interaction (texting 30 friend and getting lots of feedback to fan the flames as opposed to talking on the phone with 1 friend).

Increase in self-focus – because there’s not another person right there looking at you, you get more self focused.

Misinterpretation – someone reads what you wrote in a different way then you meant. Emoticons can actually be helpful to help with misinterpretations.

Digital environments is referring to places that you can’t see or hear someone. So not Skype, etc

The Internet feels deceptively private. When you are in a private space physically, your online time feels a bit more private even if they know it isn’t private. When kids regretted sending or posting something, 83% of the children say they posted from their bedroom.

Children owning smartphones. 46% of 5th graders own smartphones. I believe our numbers are lower thTn that but I’d love to get some data from LS.

Adult predators aren’t the biggest danger online. Peers from the same school are the biggest issue students will run into.

Smartphones aren’t phones. Don’t think of them as phones.

Just because they have “privacy settings” doesn’t mean the site is private.

Kid sexting isn’t ALWAYS a serious problem (meaning it isn’t always accompanied by damage). It isn’t rare nor is it pathological. Sexting usually isn’t prosecuted currently in the USA. Sexting needs to be addressed before high school.

The real issue is kids coerced into sexting. 48% of boys were coerced into sexting while 70% of girls. Pressure or coercion was at least part of the reason for sexting when someone said they were coerced. Sexting in this study refers to sending a naked picture of yourself to someone else.

Choice of friends is so important. Will they be a good influence on you or a negative influence?

Self-cyberbullying- making a 2nd persona to bully themselves and then showing friends/parents that they are being bullied. 15% of students who are bullied say they self-cyberbully (and they do this so that other people worry about them). Only 16% of those self-cyberbullying kids had this method work for them (people believe them and they liked how it made them feel).

Teach students the 24 hour rule. Wait 24 hours before you post/respond when you’re mad.

Vamping – kids stay up talking and chatting when their parents think they are asleep. 75% of kids say they go online or text when their parents think they are asleep. 1-2 hours a night… They need downtime but when their schedule is packed, the only time to do it is sleep time.

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Leg Injury

Just finished my last game of the adult 7v7 season and crushed my right leg. Not really sure what happened but I can’t walk too well right now. I’ll check in with Dr. Van. Monday to see what she thinks about it.

I did score 2 goals and we won 5-3 with only 6 players. A nice finish to a not so great season. In this season I had 2 of my worse losses I can remember. 0-8 and 2-12. Ugh.

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