Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Summer Blockbusters

I have seen 4 great movies this summer. And the season for big movies is still young.

In order of greatness
4) Angles and Demons
3) Wolverine
2) Terminator Salvation
1) Star Trek (unexpectedly great)

Books I have read this year- In no particular order
Born Standing up (Steve Martin)
Brass Verdict
The Music Lesson

Saturday, May 9, 2009


If you have charisma, then you can send a message. Teaching is not an exact science, but it is a message. I know algebra and I memorized the order of topics to teach graphing linear equations. As you go up levels, students can handle more quantity of steps per day, but the system stays the same. I have the routine in my brain, both from teaching it over two dozen times and reading/talking about it in graduate classes. When you have nothing, as I did 4 years ago, you can't help but sense that it was all done for a reason. Steve Martin once said "It is possible to will confidence". It is necessary to will charisma. Be happy and smile. When you sense a class is missing the point and they may be thinking your not knowledgeable, be confident.

Be confident your lesson is yours and good days are a great feeling andwill return. Remember those days are a flash in the pan. I remember how hard it was to be good for a class period and how I had to will charisma. Whether it is teaching a group of unmotivated seniors a week before exams, taking over a vacating teachers classes 2 months into the school year, or asking to take the toughest students for your class be charismatic. A wise man once said feelings work outside in. Studies prove that to be true. If you are with a charismatic person and they are happy, you will be happy. If you are with a charismatic person and they are down, you are more likely to be down. In my career I try to get find feelings that are locked inside and make those feelings along with good ideas come out. That is why I smile so much.

Friday, May 8, 2009

This one is for the Teachers

When you are in front of a group of people you get, like actors, afraid of forgetting your lines. Teachers have more than just lines to remember. They need to remember the lesson order, activities, talking points, and questions. The first thing I was told about college hockey was don't trip over the blue line when your name is announced. Big strong men afraid. Everyone has fears but I challenge myself each and every time I see something that brings fear. I challenge myself to not be afraid. It is innate and all great teachers are great at looking at an incident as a chance to face what otherwise is frightening. This innate characteristic brings out the "I don't even see fear" side of me. I take fear as a different feeling completely. I take it as a passionate moment that only happens when your alive. I love to take on more responsibility in the presence of fear. Give me the opportunity to topple the obstacle. George Washington felt that way and he lost more battles than he won. People saw him as a failure but he didn't crack under certain peril.
It is a uniquely unexplainable feeling but I will tell you what happens. Teach a lesson on quadratic equations and create non-problems. Build up the lesson by scaffolding around the mistakes that kids make. If you are factoring don't tell them to write Not Factorable. Tell them to keep going and reply to the question about factoring with, "not factorable is not an answer it is a concept". It very well is factorable but not with whole numbers is the correct answer. Now look at the new Star Trek movie and tell me Captain Kirk isn't the epitome of a fearless man. In the latest installment Kirk beats the unbeatable college test. No one passes the drill because it is meant to show that men are meant to face fear in life. This is like factoring. No one can factor x^2+2x+5=y... I want students to, not fail, but realize there is something more. Hear this strange concept. At Kirk's college, you are meant to fail in the face of fear. Feel the fear and realize you will not make it. Teaching professionally has helped me to see something I have inside. I am near sighted and far sighted when faced with insurmountable obstacles. That is why I am able to have the character I have. Character, to me, makes looking at fear as a part of life possible. Character is doing the right thing when no one is looking and no one will ever find out you did the right thing. Kirk and Washington believed this.
I do my homework and get ready for each day planning what will happen. I think everyone should plan their day: teachers and students and accountants and insurance agents and athletes and administrators and CEO's.

I leave my cell phone in the car and the world behind me at times. When I go into a movie theatre it is to be taken away and sometimes it takes me right back here.

Eric Grasso

Friday, May 1, 2009

Create a volume word problem

Answers go on the ning. Also on the ning is your project proposals.