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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Slackline Yoga

How cool is this?

This guy is living an amazing life, totally devoid of consumerism, and loving it. Probably couldn't name a single current t.v. show, doesn't own an item of clothing that is fashionable (at least not on purpose), and lives his life going from adventure to adventure. No retirement plan, no 401K. Of course, his marriage fell apart, and I shudder a bit at the idea of this guy trying to raise kids, but what a unique human being!

He's in the spotlight because he is the originator of Slackline Yoga: holding yoga poses while balanced on a giant rubber band (OK, it's actually a piece of 1" flat tubular webbing, you know, like rock climbers use). They string it between any two anchor points three or four feet off the ground, then stand on it, sit on it, and do yoga on it. Check the videos on the site. I've done a little yoga myself, and this looks way more difficult. I'm thinking my buddy Mike Shea is probably reading this and thinking about going out and getting some 1" flat tubular webbing.

So that's a nice little distraction.

I've had five job interviews so far, and all went well. One rejection letter, four deafening silences. Well, not quite silence. My manager at Wal-Mart, Bob, told me that he talked to someone at Free State and told them about how awesome I am (not quite his words, but that's how I heard it). And my pastor told me the same thing, so it looks like Free State is interested enough to check up on my references. That's the job that will have another round of interviews. It's also a school which the children of some friends are or will be attending. My friend Anna really wants me to be there, as her daughter Monica has not had good math experiences so far. If anyone is capable of praying me into that job, it's her. And frankly, she could do worse for me. I was impressed with the principal, and the building itself is only about 11 years old. Maybe 13. Anyway, it wasn't around the last time I lived in this town. So it is hard-wired for internet, has projection computers and screens in every room, and it's close to the Lawrence Aquatic Center.

I'm not sure whether I would prefer a high school or jr. high teaching position now. As I have already written, Jr. High has some points in its favor. Granted, some of points in that post had to do with South Jr. High specifically, but some of them were universal. I am sure that I will be satisfied with any job in this district. The different schools face different problems, with a wide array of students from different ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds. However, it seems that the district is strongly inclined to actually improve learning in the schools, rather than impressing politicians.

Tomorrow I have an interview at Highland Park High School in Topeka. Google Maps tells me that it will take about 27 minutes to drive there from here. We'll find out tomorrow. Horyon wants to take Maxine to the zoo at Gage Park, so I may drop them off first then go to the interview.

I'm not overly concerned about the interview itself. By now I've had lots of practice. The interview with Central on Monday was the toughest, in a way. The principal (who will not be there next year), a vice-principal, and a math teacher took turns asking questions. I answered their questions as best I could, including a pitch for a teaching idea that I've been developing since the first interview at South Jr. High. In hind sight, it might have served me well to put together some plans and ideas before starting the whole interview process. On the other hand, anything I come up with is just ideas, not experience. Let's see what you think of my plan:

Once a week we have a student-written test. I divide the students into groups of two or three, and they write a math word-problem, together with the problem that it breaks down to, and the solution. I collate the problems, clarify them, change a number or two, mix in a few of my own problems if needed, and pitch them back as a test during the next period. Every week the problems are based on the unit we are studying. Their grades are based on the problem they have created (as a small group) and their score on the test (as individuals). In a more experimental direction, I would also like to partly base their grade on how other students perform on the problem they wrote. To me, this would bring out the competitive spirit even more than usual, spurring them on to write problems with misleading information and requiring creative solutions. Of course, for me assigning grades in a situation like this would be a bit more of a headache than the usual test grading. I would have to do a fairly complex spreadsheet for each test. And I doubt I can get Miran (my former office assistant) to come help out on this for five bucks an hour.

I would like to hear your opinions on this, with this pre-comment reply:

I know it sounds difficult, as though I am asking for something that they simply will not be able to do. However, it is my experience that when students trust you, and you ask them to do fiendishly difficult things, they come through for you. PLUS this requires no out-of-class time. So comment away, especially if you have an idea that will make this go more smoothly!



1 comment:

Colleen said...

I think the kids could do it. Definitely would help them understand the process of solving problems better if they were involved in writing them. We kind of do this with the kids at the elementary school I work at, only in reading class. They have to write questions for the rest of the class to answer a couple of times a week. It's fun to hear what they come up with and it forces them to read the text closely. They get competitive about it too. Good luck on the job search--I'm sure it is frustrating and nerve-wracking.

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