Pingbacks and Commenting Issues

I am tired of splogs co-opting a small portion of my content and generating a link to their site through a pingback or trackback. I cannot find a recently updated plugin that will allow me to monitor pingbacks before they are posted, and Akismet and Spam Karma don’t seem to be much help. Therefore, I will not be accepting pingbacks until further notice.

Also, I am not receiving e-mails when comments are posted. WordPress has changed some coding, and I am not the only person having this problem, but I also cannot figure out how to fix it without breaking my site, so if it takes some time before I reply to a comment, please understand that I might not have seen it yet.

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Teaching Homer’s Odyssey

For those of you looking for a few good resources for teaching Homer’s Odyssey, you might want to check out the following:

Please enable Javascript and Flash to view this Flash video.

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Any True Crime Fans?

I guess fans isn’t the right word, is it? I mean, that sounds kind of like you “like” the fact that crime exists. At any rate, my husband is a true crime writer, and he will be appearing on a special for Court TV — MyCase.com:

The internet provides a startling new look into the mind of a criminal. Profiles are posted on personal web sites, motives revealed in online blogs, and premeditated plans detailed on email. There’s a new type of investigator following the trail: the Cyber-sleuth. They will show us that, online, we are closer than we realize to clues and insight into criminal minds. TV-14

You can learn more about it at his blog.

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Finding Your Way

Now that I’ve changed the look, I had to make some changes in navigation.  In my old theme, the links to my Ideas, Handouts, and Classroom Blog could all be found in the green bar that used to run along the top of the page.  They are now accessible in the sidebar under “Links.”  Archives that used to be in the sidebar are now on their own page — Archives — which can be found in the top of the page.

It is my hope that now that this blog, aimed at other educators, looks different from my classroom blog, perhaps my students will no longer be confused when they arrive here and cannot find what they are looking for.

As always, if you are confused, feel free to contact me, and I’ll help you find what you’re looking for.

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New Theme

I have changed the look of the blog after having the same theme for some time.  I realize some of the familiar navigation links are not yet available.  I will make all the alterations I need to make for those links to appear.

The header image is courtesy of my husband.  One of my colleagues told me that she happened upon an intersection of Huff Rd. and English St. — right here in Atlanta, and I never even knew about it — and I knew I had to make a photo of the intersection sign my header.  Well, the problem was that I’m OCD enough that the colors not matching any longer really bothered me.  Thus, a whole new look.

I’ll get the old links up soon.

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The Odyssey

I am once again teaching The Odyssey.  I have posted my UbD plan for this unit over at the UbD Educators wiki.  The unit plan is not different from what I’ve done with The Odyssey in the past, but I don’t think I’ve ever framed it with essential questions.  Incidentally, inspired by Tom from Bionic Teaching, I have decided to integrate Google Earth into the project for the first time.  I need to do some more playing with Google Earth so I can figure out how it works, but based on what I’ve seen so far, I think it will be a good tool for us.

The performance assessment is a project detailed in English Journal, “Bringing Homer’s Odyssey Up to Date: An Alternative Assessment,” Vol. 86 No. 1, pp. 65-68, Jan 1997.  I was a student teacher when I first used it (the 1996-1997 year was my student teaching year), and I have always had great success with it.  If you teach The Odyssey, I highly recommend that you get your hands on a copy of that article.  I am going to have the students chart their own Odysseus’ journey using Google Earth.  I am contemplating publication online through a blog or wiki or some other type of website, but we’ll see.

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Flat Judaism?

Many of my students feel a strong connection to Israel and have visited Israel at least once.  Some of my students are Israeli.  When an opportunity for my students to work with students in Israel on a “flat classroom” type of project, I jumped at the chance.  I am pleased to introduce you to our project, which I am calling “Faces of Judaism.”  Together with the Neveh Channah Torah High School for Girls, my students at the Weber School are exploring their Jewish identity through writing.  Some questions guiding our exploration:

  • What does it mean to be Jewish in Israel?  In America?
  • What is my home really like from my point of view as compared with how others see it or portray it in the media?
  • Who am I, and how does my religion form that identity?

We are still very much in the nascent stages of our joint writing venture, and unfortunately, a teacher strike in Israel didn’t come at the most opportune time, but we are soldiering forward despite this setback.

You can check us out at the Weber Writers Wiki and Israel Faces Wiki.

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Prison Performing Arts

My local NPR station broadcast a rerun of This American Life last night that made me stop cold and listen.  The episode, entitled “Act V,” centered around a drama program that serves prisons, exposing inmates to Shakespeare through performance.  Click on the plus sign to listen to the program.

Download link

Stories like this are why I wanted to teach literature.

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UbD Educators Wiki

Some months down the road after its creation, the UbD Educators wiki has fallen silent. I logged in today to find that neither changes nor discussions had taken place in the last 30 days. Yikes!

I take part of the blame upon myself. Having five preps leaves me, ironically, with not much time to plan, particularly now as National Honor Society business has take up much of my time.

Update, 4:45: I have a draft of the lesson for my Canterbury Tales unit up now.

Well, at any rate, I invite new folks to join in, quiet members to speak up, and previously active members (such as myself) to become active again. I think this kind of professional development, sadly, is much more valuable and important than much of what teachers normally get. I’m only sad I can’t get you PLU credits for it.

I’m going to start with a unit on The Canterbury Tales. Wish me luck, but give me time to finish it before you comment.

See you over there.

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Teacher Laptop Initiatives

I remember some time ago, the Teacher Laptop Foundation (site is now defunct, it appears) was attempting to match registered teachers with a company who would be willing to provide teachers with free laptops. I wonder why the Teacher Laptop Foundation folded (or appears to have folded)?

I should think it would be a great benefit for computer companies to provide teachers with free laptops. First of all, I think it displays a commitment to helping teachers and influencing positive change in technology education. I think teachers with laptops would be encouraged to learn more about technology, which could lead to more technology integration in schools. More technology integration in schools can only be a good thing for computer companies, as they stand to benefit from increased sales.

Some schools and districts provide their teachers with laptops. My children attend Fulton Co., Georgia schools, and I know this district provides teachers with laptops. The laptops, I would assume, remain the property of the district, and should the teacher leave the district, I imagine he or she must return the laptop, but while the teacher is employed at the district, I think it’s great to have a computer that can travel.

My own school does provide each teacher with a desktop for use at school, and a very nice one at that. I also have a SMART Board attached to it, which enables me to do some truly great things with technology in my classroom. Frankly, for most of the teachers on my faculty, I believe the desktop is sufficient. My own laptop would be useful to me, however, because I would be able to plan activities with SMART software without having to move anything over using my flash drive. It’s fine for now, but it would be really nice if I didn’t have to do that.

When I Google relevant search terms (such as free laptop teachers education), I feel somewhat discouraged by the results. I wonder why, in an age when we have an initiative to provide laptops for children in developing nations, that we don’t have an initiative to provide teachers with laptops.

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