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      1. No PARCC, no problem–if we get creative

        At the very end of 2018, a New Jersey appeals court struck down the use of the PARCC test (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) as a graduation requirement for public high school students. That’s great news for the many people, including me, frustrated by the excesses of standardized testing. [Read more →]

        Stupid for holiday music

        I stumbled across something last year and tucked it away: Studies show Christmas songs can be bad for your stress and mental state. [Read more →]

        Things we coulda, shoulda done

        I was watching the Vikings-Patriots game Sunday, and the announcers were talking (I mean, they’re always talking) about Viking Sheldon Richardson. Unlike most announcer blather, this ended up being an interesting story about a player who had gone through some self-imposed rough times to be where he is today. In a Minneapolis Star Tribune piece, Richardson discussed what he would say to his younger self: [Read more →]

        This blog has bee difficult to write

        This blog has bee difficult to write! [Read more →]

        Really? Rain?

        I have always thought that our votes for those who would lead our nation would e with expectations we, the people, have about how they would strive to respect the trust we place in them, through their words and their actions.

        Perhaps we should expect less of them?

        [Read more →]

        Can we, should we, introduce adversity, even pain?

        Each day that I head over to my job at Drexel, I think about how I get to be around amazing, motivated students. That’s one of the main benefits of the career I chose. [Read more →]

        Casino Night raises $15,500 for Palmyra High School science programs

        PALMYRA, NJ – Science programming at Palmyra High School (PHS) will receive a $15,500 donation as a result of a Casino Night fundraiser conducted by the Palmyra High School Foundation for Educational Excellence (PHSFEE). [Read more →]

        Hacking the educational narrative with good old D&D

        Well, it’s about time. We’re playing some D&D. In school. For the good of all. [Read more →]

        3 Guys, 3 Generations, 3 Missions

        A little bit of family, a little bit of history, and my own, personal experience of how – as Bob Dylan once observed – the times they are a’changin’ … I am recently returned from a trip to the nation of Cuba … just 90 miles away from the United States … but worlds away in other respects. The relationship between our two nations has seen a lot of changes over the past 150 years-or-so … and there may be more changes ahead. [Read more →]

        Making bad sideline behavior public

        Summer’s getting darn near over for many (as I’ve said before, though, not for me, so direct your sad thoughts elsewhere). Children will be taking to the fields again. Parents will be preparing for time on the sidelines and bleachers. For an unfortunately sizable portion of the latter group, their time will be spent… yelling at the officials! [Read more →]

        Just when you thought it was safe to talk digital literacy…

        I stuck up for the kids. And I stuck up for their devices. I did it right here. I wrote, “This summer, our kids will be a writing a ton.” I said, “We might if not encourage then at least recognize what they are doing.”

        Then along came Apple “Tapback.” You may have encountered this app. You sent someone a text message, labored through the effort of writing. Then back at you came your exact message, in quotes, with a few tiny introductory, qualifying words in the beginning, such as “Liked,” Disliked,” “Laughed at.”

        I was at the fine Council of Writing Program Administrators conference in Sacramento last week. It’s attended by people like me who have dedicated their lives to teaching writing, reading, literacy. One morning, I was talking with a friend, and, while kvetching about this Tapback function, I mentioned that post I had written.

        Let’s cut over to a travel practice of mine. For years, for every work trip, I would create a little travelogue of the experience to share with my kids. First, I used PowerPoint, creating one slide per day describing my trip while adding facts about the place. I’d include pictures, sometimes a little quiz.

        They seemed to enjoy it, often asking me on the phone when I was going to email the “slideshow.”

        But time passed. It got to the point that no one read my PowerPoints, certainly not in a timely fashion. I was annoyed, because it wasn’t an easy thing to create them. I’m busy at these conferences. Sometimes, I would end up posing them on the plane, all bleary-eyed.

        So, I switched technologies, going for the easier-to-access Google slides. This worked for a while, but even then I could see their readerly interest diminishing. After all, the kids can drive now! What do they want with slide show about Dad’s journeys?

        So, I changed technologies again. I came to them. In a family group text, I’d pepper them with info and the occasional picture. They’re always interested in seeing my hotel room and the view, and they seem perpetually fascinated by the various sandwiches and people I encounter. I also still tell them about the place I’m visiting, at times dropping a little reality on them.

        So there’s your context.

        At CWPA, I had been sending these texts, but now I was getting stupid “Tapbacks.” It was this I was lamenting to my friend.

        In the midst of my barrage of sandwich- and view-related texts, I also sent them a more somber note about Sacramento’s large homeless population. “On the downside, there are millions of homeless people here.” I want them to think about these things, these tough social justice issues!

        I had sent that text the night before, and just as I was talking to my friend about digital literacy, I got a Tapback from my lovely daughter. She quoted the above and began it with “Laughed at…”! Mind you, my daughter may be many things, but she’s not insensitive to the plight of others. In fact, sticking up for the downtrodden has long been one of her best traits. My friend, who knows some of the exciting stories about my daughter, and I looked at this Tapback and, considering our conversation about digital literacy, just had to laugh.

        Later, when I asked my daughter about this choice of Tapback, she simply said, “I didn’t know what you were going for.” To her, I was the problem!

        Okay, digital literacy, you’re making it tough for me to have your back.

        A team Honor Roll recognition

        I am proud of my youngest, Zachary, for concluding his elementary school years (that’s it for us!) by achieving Honor Roll for the year and High Honor Roll for the last marking period. He did well and worked hard. But this is a total team win. [Read more →]

        Injury

        As I trailed the ambulance that transported Nate, my 16-year-old middle child, to the hospital last weekend, it struck me: In all their years playing sports, none of my kids had ever been seriously hurt. [Read more →]

        Digitalk and the surprise of summer literacy

        Summer’s here, and the battle against literacy apathy and attrition can be renewed. Now the enemy forces of Screen have added Fortnite to their mix. Also, it’s a World Cup year. [Read more →]

        Is this a good product/service?

        Sometimes, you can find warning signs about that thing you’re about to acquire/do — maybe not-so-little indicators that what you want may not be all that great or healthy. [Read more →]

        A world where Memorial Day only es once a year

        It’s been more than forty years since I made my last, final and permanent move out into the civilian world … leaving behind the life of a military brat, which had been mine since the day I was born … and making a new life ‘out there’ …

        Life is different off-base … and, so are the people … not better, not worse … just different …
        [Read more →]

        We have a soccer development system: It’s called high school

        I’ve marveled at the war that’s been waged on youth sports through our hyperpetitive culture. Everyone wants their kid to play up. As someone who has bee increasingly involved with soccer, I was particularly flummoxed when I heard that the club soccer system was discouraging kids from playing high school ball. [Read more →]

        A moment of history, an example of cinematic license

        With Memorial Day rapidly approaching, expect to see more than the usual amount of war movies on television, entertaining us with tales of conflict and character in the battlefield … or, at least how ‘Hollywood’ imagined?it.
        [Read more →]

        Marking a special day ‘out west’

        Marking a special day out here, in the far western reaches of Texas, reaching back over the centuries to recall a day of celebration and thanks? near the end of a long and arduous journey.

        Marking a time when a band of European settlers were seeking new opportunities in a new land. It was a venture that did not pass quickly or easily, there were delays of all sorts – some natural, and others political. Even by the standards of that time, centuries ago, the journey challenged the bodies and the souls of all – men, women, and children – yet they persevered until they reached the gateway to their destination. There, on the banks of the waters, they paused to celebrate, and give thanks.
        [Read more →]

        Top ten reasons this will be my last Top Ten List

        10. Scott Stein has done such a remarkable job of creating and maintaining this site, I wouldn’t want to do anything to detract from its excellence.

        9. Its premise, as clearly stated in its logo, is that it is “a journal of American culture [or lack thereof]”.

        8. I have done my best to reflect American culture [or its lack], and have found it impossible to do so when I am out of the country for extended periods. Its culture [or lack] doesn’t penetrate very far into foreign lands, and it is impossible to really reflect the country’s culture when one is not steeped in the Modern American Zeitgeist.

        7. Winston Churchill once said, “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.” I totally agree, and when I was young, we actually had a democracy in the U.S.

        6. Our democracy has been replaced by a plutocracy (government by the wealthy). The rich keep making more rules to make themselves richer, they get the U.S. involved in foreign wars through false flag operations (Nayirah testimony, Saddam’s WMDs) and the like (Timber Sycamore) because war is profitable and, to pay for the wars thereby lining their own pockets, education is cut, help for poor people is cut, millions are thrown off health care, and virtually everything that can be termed ‘humanitarian’ vanishes. The wage gap keeps growing wider and wider, to unprecedented widths, through such devices as the recently-passed Tax Bill (Ayn-Rand-asshole Paul Ryan’s raison d’être), and the poor and middle class suffer.

        5. It’s obvious we don’t have a democracy because the laws never seem to reflect the will of the people, most of who want sensible gun laws, environmental regulations (see Flint, Michigan), campaign finance reform (Citizens United), DACA, net neutrality, enough control over the banks so the country doesn’t have another fiscal meltdown, healthcare that doesn’t bankrupt families, a livable wage, etc., etc.

        4. The two-party system is really a one-party system now, each party bowing down to their corporate overlords, and the Democrats would rather see a Republican win than a Liberal or Socialist like Bernie Sanders, while the deck is increasingly stacked against ever creating a third party. The consolidation of media panies means less and less voices, the wealth of the media panies means no dissenting voices (a successful teachers’ strike will get virtually no media coverage because it might give other teachers ideas or, God forbid, encourage unionization), and the spread of the likes of Sinclair Broadcast Group makes sure the talking-point lies make it down to the grass-roots level. ics like Bill Maher and Stephen Colbert do a great job poking fun at individuals like Trump, but they never really challenge the underlying system, which is diseased at its core.

        3. I’ve spent the last 20 years working in education (at Temple University’s Center on Innovations in Learning) and education has bee a joke, with Betsy DeVos appointed Secretary of Education, schools crumbling, and students daily facing the possibility of getting shot. Teachers are paid a pitiful salary, some working three jobs and selling blood, and when they try to strike, their opponents get talking points to discredit them from the State Policy Network, funded by the Koch brothers and the Walton Family Foundation. And if a school can’t afford supplies and a teacher decides to step up and buy their students paper and pencils, the teachers used to be able to take a tax deduction — but not under the new Tax Bill, which now lets the One Percenters deduct expenses for their private jets. But then, if you can keep the electorate stupid, they’re easier to lie to and easier to steal from.

        2. Trump isn’t the disease; he’s just a symptom. People say he isn’t effective because the Tax Reform Bill is his only acplishment, but through executive orders gutting environmental regulations and every good thing Obama ever did, horrendous judicial appointees whose effects will be felt for decades, and the appointment of inpetent department heads who were chosen because they loathe what their department does (causing their departments to slowly implode, as their best minds and long-time employees resign in frustration), Trump has actually acplished quite a lot. Ever since that pathologically-lying unfaithful narcissistic asshat got elected and threw America’s (and the environment’s) deterioration into overdrive, I can’t stand it anymore, so I applied for, and was granted, political asylum by the British Government.

        1. By the time this Top Ten drops, I will be living an ocean away, no longer immersed in this toxic Zeitgeist. I wish you all well, I hope Great Britain doesn’t follow America’s lead, and I will miss many of the people in America, including loyal readers, and especially Scott Stein, who I thank for the opportunity for a little spleen venting. I may return if the country can turn itself around — and that’s the biggest ‘if’ since Rudyard Kipling started projecting the titles of his poems onto the night sky over Gotham City.
         

        Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appeared every Monday since February 2, 2009, up until today.