Saturday, December 29, 2007

Tidy Up Your Teacher's Desk

This post is inspired by an article I read in a Wired Magazine, Allen, David. "Tidy Up Your Desk...." Wired Aug.2006: 022-023.

  1. "Stack the Knickknacks", well, not sure teachers have these because students do not give teachers anything these days. My desk is covered with curriculum CDs, a US/NC flag, whiteboard markers (most of them are almost dried out), a cup for pencils I find on the floor, and several coffee mugs. I guess coffee mugs would qualify as knickknacks. Pile it up until you can see the desktop
  2. "Line up the books and binders to establish a perimeter for your work area." I would not really recommend this for a classroom. Piled up books end up falling when students try to slip late homework on your desk and then accuse you of not asking for their homework or tell their parents or guardian you lost it on your desk. Do I like do, throw the textbooks in a box and stick them in the back seat of your car. I have used the say textbook for so many years I have the answers memorized. I only use them to write lesson plans. They have the Standard Course of Study numbers our school district requires on lesson plans so they can fire teachers that have poor test scores by saying we are not teaching the curriculum.
  3. "Hit the Container Store." Container Store? Forget that! The only place I can afford to go to is Big Lots. I bought some cheap CD containers. They are full. I need to weed my collection. Bet I have some CDs of Apple software that will not run on Leopard. I also park my truck near the school dumpster at the beginning and end to the school year. When teachers retire or quit, I volunteer to carry their old stuff to the dumpster. If there is something like document trays or pencil holders, I just drop them in the back of my truck and keep on going.
  4. "Set Aside A Few Minutes daily to clear your desk." The Wired Magazine article suggests using your daily planner to schedule time each day to clean off your desk. Use iCal or Google Calendar to make a repeating appointment, each school day, to remind you to clean off your desk.
  5. "Create A Folder Hierarchy." The article changed describing the desk to the computer desktop. Tip: "group files into folders labeled by year, then make subfolders for each set of tasks. Make sure your naming conventions are clear and concise." This is a problem on my Windows machine. However, I love Leopard's new feature called Quick Look/Slideshow. This is awesome for unorganized teachers like myself. I never remember what I saved a file as. If I download a curriculum file from our State Department of Ed, they name their files differently and I never remember to rename them.
  6. "Color Code Your Files." Sweet! I am not going to do this. The article recommends using bold colors for "urgent" files.
  7. "Move Your Folders." This tip is lame. "...create a desktop shortcut pointing to current assignments." Have you heard about Instead of using a flashdrive, I am trying this. Shortcuts are useless if you are having to work on multiple computers at home and at school.
  8. "Choose Attractive Wallpaper." I like this tip- "if you've got a background worth looking at, your're more likely to keep the desktop free of file and folder clutter." I am doing to download some photos from Harley-Davidson for their bikes and maybe set up that "retirement date" ticker. That is worth looking at. Cheers!
Happy New Year.

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Sunday, December 23, 2007

Remembering the Green Swamp

Festive Freaking Fruit Flies

With temperatures in the lower 70's today and upper 60's yesterday, fruit flies have invaded the sweet potato processing plant next door. I have sprayed Black Flag so much that my coffee tastes like bug spray. If I had the money, I would be on a cruise or in the mountains skiing. However, low teacher pay makes this only a dream.

The exact same thing- Invasion of the Fruit Flies, last year at Christmas time.


The best way to avoid problems with fruit flies is to eliminate sources of attraction. Produce which has ripened should be eaten, discarded or refrigerated. Cracked or damaged portions of fruits and vegetables should be cut away and discarded in the event that eggs or larvae are present in the wounded area. A single rotting potato or onion forgotten at the back of a closet, or fruit juice spillage under a refrigerator can breed thousands of fruit flies. So can a recycling bin stored in the basement which is never emptied or cleaned.

People who can their own fruits and vegetables, or make wine, cider or beer should ensure that the containers are well sealed; otherwise, fruit flies will lay their eggs under the lid and the tiny larvae will enter the container upon hatching. Windows and doors should be equipped with tight-fitting (16 mesh) screens to help prevent adult fruit flies from entering from outdoors.


Once a structure is infested with fruit flies, all potential breeding areas must be located and eliminated. Unless the breeding sites are removed or cleaned, the problem will continue no matter how often insecticides are applied to control the adults. Finding the source(s) of attraction and breeding can be very challenging and often will require much thought and persistence. Potential breeding sites which are inaccessible (e.g., garbage disposals and drains) can be inspected by taping a clear plastic food storage bag over the opening overnight. If flies are breeding in these areas, the adults will emerge and be caught in the bag.

After the source of attraction and breeding is eliminated, a pyrethrum-based, aerosol insecticide may be used to kill any remaining adult flies in the area.

simple fruit fly trap

A better approach, however, is to construct a trap by placing a paper funnel (rolled from a sheet of notebook paper) into a jar which is then baited with a few ounces of cider vinegar. Place the jar trap(s) wherever fruit flies are seen. This simple but effective trap will soon catch any remaining adult flies which can then be killed or released outdoors.


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Sunday, December 16, 2007

Twitter or Pownce

As a classroom teacher, I should probably avoid using presence social networks altogether. I once was told by one of my college professors that if you coach sports, or mess with politics, and teach school-- you must live in a mobile home because you have to move often. Online presence my be the new coaching/messing with politics topic in the coming days. 

Saturday, December 15, 2007, the kind folks at warned of impending network disruptions. Early in the morning, I began to notice folks looking for alternate Twitter-like solutions. Pownce was the immediate preferred replacement. The chatter flew. Someone quickly posted a wikispaces page for educators to "help transfer twitter refugees to Pownce". Great use of a wiki! 

After joining Pownce, I added about 30 educators as my friends. As I was busy sending invites on Pownce, I keep noticing Twitter was still online in and Twitterrific continued to refresh. Heck, Twitter has never been known for having the most stable API. I think that is part of the alure for me. Twitter is like my old CB radio. It has channels in that I follow educators that I have read their blogs, attended their professional development sessions, or listened to their podcasts or vlogs. These 30 educator "friends" in Pownce pales in comparison to the humble 75 educators I follow on Twitter. 

I love the enhanced features of Pownce and plan to try to continue to use it as long as others stick around. 

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Social Networking in our School

Fifth period class was well underway when one of my students asked if I had gotten the text. It was caught off-guard by the question. My first instinct was to say yes. However, day had not been a normal day. Students were mostly in shock. One of their classmates had been missing since November 19th. A body had been found
and positively identified as the your male. Several of my students had known the student since kindergarten, others were related to him. The student that asked me about the text message was kind enough to share the message with me. I have deleted the names from the message but wanted to blog the content of the message.

Fr: Jus yesterday Delemerz was found dead n we want 2 send lov 2 da family n hope that justice is done
De 6 9:14 a.m.

None of my students needed to check their emails, MySpace, Bebo, Facebook, personal blogs, typepad, and more are all blocked. Still their social network was uninterrupted.

My sympathy's are with the families and classmates in their time of bereavement.

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