Monday, February 28, 2011

In Honor of the Devil...

My Speech students have started working on their Devil’s advocate speeches. For those trivia diehards out there, the popular expression comes from the Advocatus Diaboli, a canon lawyer whose purpose was to seek out evidence and make a case against the canonization of any candidate for elevation. Pope Sixtus V established the office in 1587 and Pope John Paul II abolished it in 1983, paving the way for a dramatic increase in the number of canonizations. At any rate, my students will not be attempting to demonstrate the sanctity or lack thereof of any individual; instead, they will have to articulate a position on a divisive political issue from a vantage point with which they would normally disagree.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Waiting for "Superman," Protests in Wisconsin, and Personal Reflections

Davis Guggenheim’s “Waiting for ‘Superman’” is a trenchant and timely documentary on the myriad problems plaguing the U.S. public school system. The film’s investigation of the deleterious effects of teachers’ unions struck me as especially poignant in light of the recent protests in Madison, Wisconsin. Teachers there shutdown several school districts as they marched on the capital to protest Governor Scott Walker’s plan to limit the powers of the unions.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Clickers for AP MC Practice

I tested out the Clickers technology with my AP English IV class today. The results were a huge improvement over my previous approach to AP MC practice questions.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Autonomous Islands or Constellations of Meaning?

There have been some discussions over the last few years about the possibility of interdisciplinary projects at St. Thomas. Sadly, most attempts at cross-curricular work have fallen flat because curricula do not sync up perfectly across disciplines, assessments are notoriously difficult to craft collaboratively due to divergent methodologies and rubrics, and the school culture seems ambivalent towards interdisciplinarity in general at times.