Category: Teaching

Bomb Threat?

Tuesday night I had a quiz scheduled for my Java I class.  At least I call them quizzes.  Everyone knows they are exams, but calling it a quiz is an attemtpt to lessen the pressure.  I count the overall grade on the quizzes as 25% of the total grade and count their best 5 out of 6, so each quiz is really 5% of the total grade, with one mulligan. 

Projects (aka homework: programs they have to create) counts 50% of the grade.  The final projects, which are individually created to be different for each student, counts 20% and the catch-all “classroom participation” is the other 5%.

Anyway, after letting them ask any question they wanted for the first 15 minutes, we started the quiz at 6:15pm.  At around 6:35 one of my students finished (she’s good!), asked when she should return and went to her car “to chill.”

At 6:40pm the alarms went off.

Progressive Epilogue

It was a third party that captured 22 electoral votes and 4 states in a presidential race, elected governors in 7 states, sent dozens of legislators to Congress, and controlled all or part of numerous state Houses and Senates – yet it was only prominent on the national scene for a decade or so.  The People’s (a/k/a Populist) Party was born of anger and frustration at the failure of either major party to look after the concerns of a large segment of their ostensible constituency, and in the course of their stampede across the American political landscape, they shifted Overtons, crashed gates, and exerted their forceful, righteous will upon the craven Democrats and sold-out Republicans of their day.

It’s a good thing we’re safely removed from that sort of (way) pre-9/11 thinking – it allows us to historiorant in peace about a time when conflicts of class, pretense, and presumptuousness rent asunder the House of Donkey, and ushered onto the stage a cast of characters straight out of The Wizard of Oz.


On the one hand I have never been someone who celebrates “special occurences” since I have always believed that each event is special in its own way.  On the other hand my past bouts with my OCD have imbued a certain Monk-like behavior as regards to numbers.

Today is the 100th consecutive week with a Teacher’s Lounge.  The special meaning that holds for me right now is that it means in 4 more editions, TL will reach having existed for two years and on the following Saturday will be it’s 2nd birthday.  If the calendar went metric, maybe I wouldn’t have to quibble about this. 🙂

But I’ll start planning (famous procrastinator words) something bigger for next month.

Meanwhile there is today.  What I would like to generate is some feedback.

March of the Progressives

The little guy, whether he lived in a tenement in the city or in a ramshackle house on the plains, was getting trampled by the money trust and the captains of industry.  Disgust with both major parties was growing as pandering pols refused to take a decisive stand on the major issues of the day, and the White House seemed incapable and/or unwilling to change things.  Money and cynicism were inseparable from the political process, and tabloid journalism ruled the media, fanning the flames of America’s basest passions and prodding the nation toward an imperialist horizon.

No, this isn’t another story from the Cave’s BREAKING!!! desk – but it could have been, a little over 100 years ago.  Join me, if you will, for a look at how turn-of-the-century Progressives dealt with issues not all that dissimilar from the ones currently being bungled and shied away from in Washington…

A Week in the Life

It’s my plan every Saturday to post the essay portion of Teacher’s Lounge as a diary here.  So sometimes I’m going to mention Docudharma as if it is some other place.

Having no time…or a topic…this morning, I took the fall back position…

Genocide & Intent Of The Infected Blankets

Plains Indian Smallpox

Indian genocide is a controversial subject on the internet and on this site. Genocide and Holocaust are words that are easy to throw around, often to grab a reader’s attention, but proving them is something else. What one group calls genocide, another group may call progress. This statement is used in the same context as the saying…one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.

The argument for Indian genocide is based primarily on letters written by General Jeffery Amherst during the French and Indian War.Letters by General Amherst and Colonel Bouquet mentioning spreading smallpox to Indians does not mean that this was ever carried out.
Assumptions derived from letters and oral traditions are not proof of anything.

Is this going to be on the test?

I’ve been a teacher for 31 years.

Never in any of that time was it not the case that students wanted me to teach to the test.  “Is this going to be on the test?” is the single most asked question I have received.  If I were to tell the students the material was not on the test, the majority would have tuned out immediately.

There have been the few…a very thin layer indeed…who have actually wanted to learn the material deeply, who asked, “Why?” and weren’t content with “Because.” as an answer.  I have cherished each of those students.  They are the reason I have been able to come back to teach every year.  It is for them that I refuse to give up.

Defective Products?

I have the schedule from Hell.  I suppose it could be worse, but any sane people would see a worse schedule and stop the insanity.  I’m on the cusp of instanity, so it slid through.

I have classes MW 6-7:45 and TTH 10-11:45, 4-5:45 and 6-7:45.  Tuesdays and Thursdays at 2pm is when faculty meetings take place…every week.  So I have just about enough time open on those days to eat lunch.

Anyway, that’s not my topic.  I met my classes this past week and tried to impress them with how much fun they can have if they want to do so…and how much it would please their instructor if they adopted such an attitude.  Only time will tell me if I was successful in that.

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