Archive for March, 2009

What’s Wrong with Education? part 1

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

What’s wrong with education today?¬† As an educator myself, I am often confronted by the public wanting to know how they can help or what is wrong.¬† I often wonder myself.¬† As I see it — everything is wrong.¬† There’s not just one reason that we can just eliminate and fix education in one big swoop.

So what is wrong with education?¬† Let’s start with the teachers.¬†

Teachers seem to be a different breed these days.¬† Often they have their own agendas, and many times they’re only in the classroom to get a paycheck.¬† When I went to school, my teachers seemed to enjoy teaching, and they seemed to work together for the betterment of the students.¬† Oh, many teacher’s these days say “we’re here for the children,”¬† but it is only lip service.¬† They talk the talk.¬† They walk the walk.¬† But they don’t have the students at the heart of their efforts.

It is state assessment time in my school district.¬† As department head for the math teachers, I am responsible for gathering all the calculators in the school and prepare them for testing.¬† Testing is high stakes here.¬† Poor performance by students can really thin out the staff at a school — or even cause a district to lose some schools.¬† In fact, our district will be losing control of 8 middle schools to the state at the end of June — all because those schools have been continuously performing below standard for 10+ years.

You would think that the teachers would be concerned for their jobs, seeing that our neighbor schools are vanishing before our eyes.¬† But they are not.¬† When I asked the math teachers to turn in calculators by a deadline Monday, after giving them at least a week’s warning, they did not.¬† I had to spend my planning period visiting their classrooms and collecting all their calculators.¬† Like I don’t have my own papers to grade, or gradebook to average, or lessons to plan.¬†

Then there were the excuses when I figured out that there are at least 35 calculators missing — an entire class set!¬† And this does not account for the damaged calculators that were turned in.¬† They weren’t damaged before.¬† Oh, they’re still usable.¬† But try explaining to a test-stressed student that the calculator is still usable even though the screen has been scored so badly that you can barely read the numbers.¬† Oh the excuses were flying, but none of them explained why not one single teacher had monitored the usage of the calculators or why they had not locked them up when the calculators were not in use.¬† Fortunately, we had just enough (only 13 leftover) to cover all the students in all the testing rooms.

Then explain the math teacher who came to me the next day wanting me to temporarily return her class set of calculators to her.¬† She knew that I could not.¬† She knew that these calculators had already been memory-cleared and prepared for testing, and secured.¬† But she asked anyway– because she had scheduled a chapter test the day before state assessment began — even though I had warned them at least a week in advance not to schedule a test or plan for calculators these two days.

But the teacher that tops the cake during state assessment week is the teacher that refused the last set of calculators because he wanted scientific calculators and these were graphing calculators.¬† It didn’t matter that there were only 13 calculators left — half of what he needed for his testing room.¬† He felt his students would be at a disadvantage because he never taught them how to use graphing calculators.¬† He never taught them — even though he had a class set of graphing calculators the entire semester.¬† He had refused to use his math lab fees to buy batteries, so his calculators did not work.¬† He had checked out some more graphing calculators two weeks before testing — and I had given him a pack of batteries for each calculator– but he still did not teach them how to use the calculators.¬† On Monday when I picked up the calculators for testing, the batteries were still in their unopened packs.¬† He had been given everything he needed, and he still failed the children.

Ok, so the test is created where they should be able to pass without a calculator.¬† And I feel that every student should be able to find the on button and turn on the graphing calculator.¬† They really don’t need the bells and whistles, so in that sense the graphing calculator will work just like a scientific calculator.¬† But… these kids were taking algebra.¬† They should have been taught how to use them.¬† They will be in geometry next year — my geometry class.¬† And they will be at a disadvantage because the other math students have been taught the bells and whistles.

Will the calculator make a difference in whether these students pass or fail the assessment test?  Probably not.  But whether the teacher taught what he was supposed to teach will.  I wonder what else he did not teach.

Easter Tubes

Sunday, March 22nd, 2009

Easter Tubes have been posted for you to use.  These tubes are free to use.  All I ask is that you do not claim them as your own, or that you do not redistribute them.    I created these tubes using DAZ Studio. 

easterprev

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Easter Circle Tags

Sunday, March 22nd, 2009

New tag available:

pameastercirclesrdb

 

Available for download here.

Satin and Lace 3

Sunday, March 22nd, 2009

Here’s the 3rd part of the Satin and Lace Scrapkit.¬† It contains 2 more tileable backgrounds, 4 lacy scalloped frames, 4 bows, and 4 elements — an egg, a puffy heart, and 2 circle lace elements.

third part of the kit

third part of the kit

Hurry Up and Wait

Sunday, March 15th, 2009

Hurry up, and wait.¬† That is exactly what I did this week.¬† I was summoned for jury duty.¬† Don’t get me wrong.¬† I believe that everyone should do their civic duty and do jury duty at least once in their life.¬† I do believe that it seems like they call the same people over and over.¬† I hear that over here in my parish, jurors are chosen for duty from a list of registered voters in the area.¬† What about the other citizens?¬† The ones who do not vote, but partake in the benefits of our society and have citizenship here?¬† Why not make the list from those who own or reside at an address within the parish?¬† Or those who have driver’s licenses?¬† It’s not hard making a list from those sources.¬† And if¬† solicitors can get our addresses and phone numbers to send us junk mail and sales calls, then surely the government can get the information to form jury lists.

Anyway, however they made their list really doesn’t matter now, because I was summoned for jury duty.¬† So on Monday morning I reported to the government building for 9 am.¬† This was actually a benefit for me, since work usually made me report for 6:30 am.¬† I had to park in the parking garage, but the summons claimed that my parking ticket would be validated, so I wasn’t too worried about the expense.

I arrived 30 minutes early, which was a good thing.¬† I was able to find the room to report and then find a seat.¬† As 9 o’clock got closer, those seats filled up and soon there was standing room only.¬† At 9 the orientation began.¬† The jury officer was a very pleasant woman.¬† She warned us of bench warrants, etc.¬† But while she was talking, I couldn’t help noticing the signs posted around about not smoking due to orders of the fire marshall.¬† Well, wasn’t cramming too many people into a small room when there wasn’t enough seating also a fire violation?¬† And here we were, prospective jurors, who may possibly be judging someone that allegedly committed a crime, broke a law — and we’re sitting here in violation of the fire marshall.

The computer wouldn’t work right, so we could not see the orientation video.¬† Was that good or bad?¬† I couldn’t tell.¬† This was not my first time serving jury duty, but it was my first in this parish.¬† During my last stay at jury duty, I was chosen Jury #3 within the first hour on a burglary case.¬† It took 9 more hours to seat all 12 jurors and an alternate so that we could have trial the next day.¬†

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to actually serve on a trial this time.¬† There were several murder cases up for trial, and they could last a while.¬† So while I sat there watching 70 + – aged people, and full-time students, and others with medical problems try to get out of their jury summons,¬† I just silently hoped that this would not take too long.¬† I was already behind at school¬† from having to take off and then take care of my husband after his surgery.¬† So I sat there and silently waited, hoping my service would be short or reasonable, and wondering why full-time students could get out of a jury summons, and not a high school teacher like me.¬† A mother of 2 toddlers that looked to be the age of 18 months or so had brought the two toddlers with her in a stroller to try to get out of jury summons by saying she could not find a babysitter.¬† Well, she did, sort of — they told her they would let her out for now, but that she would have to return in 1 month to serve jury duty, and better have a babysitter then.

After all that was taken care of, we were told to hang out in the library building next door or in front of it.¬† So that’s what we did.¬† We left the government building to go to the public library next door.¬† Of course, I had brought my own book, but the library would have air conditioning, and seats and restrooms.¬† And a restroom¬† I desperately needed.¬† As I walked into the library, one of the librarians gave me a quick introduction to the library and its available services, warned me not to have food or drinks in the library, and then told me were the restrooms were.¬† She even tipped me off that the first floor restroom had only one stall, but the fourth floor one would have two.

Well, as I rounded the corner to the first floor restroom and saw the line waiting there, I reasoned that the fourth floor restroom would be a better choice.¬† So I pressed the elevator button, and waited and waited.¬† After waiting for that elevator for 10 minutes, I decided I might as well try the stairs.¬† There was no use waiting for the restroom on the first floor anyway,¬† the line had not moved any while I had waited for the elevator.¬† So I chose to walk up 4 flights of stairs — not a good idea for someone like me who has high blood pressure and heart problems, and is overweight.¬† But I was careful and slow.¬† I walked up a flight of steps and then rested for a few minutes, and then another flight, and then another rest, and then another — and finally up on the fourth floor¬† I took a breather and followed the signs to the restroom.¬† My gamble was correct.¬† There was no line at all for the restroom, and so I was able to go in immediately — and collapse!¬†

No, I didn’t pass out, but I told myself that perhaps it was not so smart going up all those flight of stairs.

After a little rest, and walking around the fourth floor looking at exhibits of pictures of Baton Rouge during different historical eras,  I walked down one flight to the 3rd floor and walked around that floor, too.  It was a non-interesting floor.  Just books of non-fiction arranged on shelf after shelf, and plenty of jurors just sitting around, making phone calls to loved ones and complaining about having to do jury duty. 

Well, my legs could not take the walking anymore, so I walked to the elevator and told myself that I was going to wait no matter how long it would take.  But the elevator came rather quickly, and I went down to the first floor, out into the courtyard and sat on one of the ledges and read from my book.  By noon, the breezy, cloudy day had turned into a beautiful sunny day, and my arms were getting sunburned.  People were mumbling about being hungry, some were eyeing the restaurants across the street.  She had told us not to leave for lunch without her dismissing us, but some were leaving anyway.

Around 11, we noticed her come around and go into the library.¬† She was picking jurors “at random” and assigning them to panels,¬† sending them to lunch, and telling them when to return.¬† When she came outside, and others started crowding around her, she warned them away, saying she was picking people at random. I wondered about how scientific her “at random” was.¬† Being a math teacher, I knew that just picking people by sight was not random, but perhaps she was using some other method that I was unaware of.¬† Could the state’s capitol parish be so low in technology that it had to pick jurors by sight?¬† Some days I wonder about living in Baton Rouge, and letting Baton Rouge lead Louisiana.¬†

By noon, she had “finished” selecting people.¬† Well, not really finished–she had stopped.¬† I had learned that Panel 1 members were sent to lunch, so was Panel 2 members.¬† Panel 3 members had been told to go home, and not return until Wednesday.¬† She stood around and then gathered those of us still in the courtyard and told us:¬† “If you are not assigned to a panel [and I wasn't], go home and return tomorrow at 9.”¬† So that was my first day at jury duty — waiting around at the library, reading 3 chapters of my book, and people watching.

I got home in time to take my husband to his doctor’s appointment.¬† He was the last patient, so we had to wait a while in the waiting room.¬† The wait was worth it for him — He was told he didn’t need his crutches anymore, and to start walking around with his boot on, eventually to wean himself back into a tennis shoe.

Day Two was just more “Hurry up and wait”, only it involved the traffic.¬† I decided to leave a little earlier because my legs were sore from all the extra exercise I had done the day before, still feeling a little weak.¬† That was a good thing, because my 30-minute trip turned into 1 hour and 45 minutes.¬† Traffic was bumper to bumper.¬† At first I thought it may be because of the construction or an accident, but I soon found out that it was because of protestors on a walkway over the Interstate.¬† When I drove under the 3 protestors of¬†”sodomy is a sin”¬†(yes, that’s it only 3),¬† I silently thought:¬† “fall off that walkway in front of my car, and I’ll show you what sodomy with a car will feel like.”¬† And these drivers!¬† Why were they slowing down?¬† Those dumb protestors were up on the walkway out of the way of our cars.¬† The protestors can believe what they like (and I do think sodomy is a sin)¬† but don’t bother me while I’m trying to do my thing.

And I was sure I would be late for jury duty, and there would be a bench warrant.

Actually, I arrived with 7 minutes to spare.¬† I had to drive up to the 4th level of the parking garage to find a parking spot, and then wait for 2 elevators to pass before I could get on one to take me to the office where I was to report.¬† I reported, and was told:¬† “You’re on Panel 4.¬† go to the library and wait.”

And wait I did.¬† I read more chapters of my book in the library, and talked to my hubby on the phone.¬† I sat in the library for a while, and then went outside to enjoy the weather again.¬† There’s not much seating in the area where there is shade, so I stood there talking on the phone until the Jury officer came and told me that Panel 4 could go home and report back on Wednesday for 10:00.

Wednesday’s traffic was better, but only a little bit.¬† I left even earlier, and still had a little drive.¬† I signed in and was told to wait in the library again.¬† Tommy had gone back to work, so all I could do was people watch and read.¬† The people weren’t worth watching after three days.¬† I had seen them before, and now they just looked despirited and mulled about picking out books and magazines.¬† One lady went down the magazine aisle that held all the ladies magazines.¬† I’m not sure what she was looking for, but I am sure that she picked up every ladies magazine there, read the cover, and put it down — only to pick up another.¬† A young man was walking around and would just pause, like he was deciding whether or not it would be worth walking upstairs or down that aisle one more time.

This waiting was getting boring, was getting tiresome.¬† After the first day, I had learned my lesson.¬† I had packed a small bottle of water and some snacks in my big purse.¬† So I stepped outside near lunch to drink and eat.¬† They don’t pay our lunch while we sit here and wait for the library, and they don’t care that some of us are used to having lunch at 11 instead of noon.¬† I was glad for my snacks, my blood sugar was going crazy with this schedule upset.¬†

Finally, we see the jury officer walk up to the courtyard.¬† She just looks around and then goofs around with one of the jurors.¬† Other jurors notice her and soon all eyes are on her.¬† We had learned our lesson not to crowd around her, and so we just sit or stand where we are and watch her, waiting — begging with our eyes to tell us what’s next — there’s got to be more than this waiting.¬†

And sensing our stares, she holds up 4 fingers, calling Panel 4 over to her.¬† We gather around her, and she says:¬† “Panel 4 members only.¬† Thank you for your service.¬† You may go home and are dismissed for the rest of the week.”¬† Panel 4 members sigh a relief, and express their thanks to her.¬† We gather our things, and start walking back to the parking garage.¬† But as I walk away, I wonder if my term of jury service was worth it to the taxpayers.¬† I never even sat on a jury panel query or even a trial, but I’ll be receiving three days’ pay.¬† Whether it was worth it¬† or not, I did know that when I walked into my classroom on Thursday, there would be some very unhappy students.

Easter Renders

Sunday, March 15th, 2009

I’ve been working on some renders for Easter.¬†

I created one, called¬† It’s Bunny Season!¬† You can view it here:
http://artzone.daz3d.com/index.php?/gallery/user/vi/&mid=146130&aid=43317

Easter Loot is posted at my Renderosity gallery.  Milbaby  sure likes eggs:
http://www.renderosity.com/mod/gallery/index.php?image_id=1848962

Satin and Lace 2

Sunday, March 15th, 2009

Here’s the second part of the Satin and Lace scrapkit that I’m making.

Ribbons and Twists

Ribbons and Twists

Download

New tutorials

Sunday, March 15th, 2009

I’ve posted a new PSP tutorial, called Mage Night.¬† A preview of the tag created is below.¬† Below the tag is the link to my tutorial.

New tutorial!

New tutorial!

Go to Mage Night Tutorial:

 

I’ve also posted new Photoshop tutorials:

dragonlightlinesrdb

Go to LightLines Tutorial:

Satin andLace Part 1

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

satinlaceprev1

8 backgrounds

DOWNLOAD

Luck ScrapKit

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

In honor of Friday the 13th and upcoming St. Patrick’s day, I have created a scrapkit, called Luck:

Wishing you a little luck!

Wishing you a little luck!

The scrapkit includes 4 papers, three of them are size 2000 x 2000 pixels.  The black paper is 800 x 800.  It also includes 3 frames, 3 twisted ribbons, 3 knotted ribbons, 3 luck charms, and 2 bows.