Sunday, February 28, 2016

This is What a Mission-Based Student-Centered School Culture Looks Like

To quote Max H and his Student Council Meeting notes of last week, "You may have heard of the 'Note.'" If you were in Ms Stiles' class last week, or in Mr Mattson's, or in Doc Weaver's, or in Senor Woodward's, then you may have discussed it. --And, of course, Riley H (or the Artist, as Max calls her) posted a great response to it on Schoology. 
Riley's artwork, created in response to Senor Woodward's assignment.
Senor Woodward's description of the assignment
As Senor says, Riley's work proved without a doubt that art challenges cultural perspectives. 
Riley's response to the note-writer.

The responses on Schoology, as of this morning.
When the Administration tells you that it wants Marshall students to "own" the school's culture, this is what they're talking about. When something happens that is inconsistent with our Mission, they want you to call it out, as Riley did. 

The writer of the "Note" was neither respectful, nor self-disciplined, nor compassionate. There is little integrity in an anonymous note. There might have been some intellectual curiosity in the "Note," but that curiosity was unlikely to be satisfied by leaving such a note. 

The "Note."
The ideas and events that inspired Riley's artwork are important and worthy of civil discussion. And disagreement about those ideas is possible, though there are logical flaws with the note-writer's argument, flaws I hope that most students can identify. 

The popular media of our country does not have the same values that our school does. The Mission asks us to stand against the tide of disrespectful and intellectually-impoverished pseudo-ideas we encounter.

No one who dies, in any way, is just a "drop in the ocean." Let's all try to be more compassionate and build a better school culture. In fact, I challenge my students, especially my seniors, to think and discuss with me this week how they can be true leaders, leaders who help create a more Mission-based student-centered school culture.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Old Alfred is Probably Rolling in His Grave...

...While perhaps clever George is chuckling?

Once again, in AP Lit, as we start working on a revised version of the World War I Poetry project (this year combined with Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried), we began by reading some pre-20thC poetry. I asked two students, Andrew J & Hana A, to choose some additional students to work with them on finding a way to perform two poems:  "The Charge of the Light Brigade" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, and "The Destruction of Sennacherib" by George Gordon, Lord Byron. The aim was to emphasize the rhythm. After about half an hour's practice, here's what the two groups came up with. (I think the experience has scarred Riley H, Azalea G, and Ryan S for life, so be gentle with them.)

Monday, February 1, 2016

Case Almost Closed: The Middle of the End of The Case of the Lady Slipper Stalker

[This is the Middle of the End of The Case of the Lady Slipper Stalker. See also Parts OneTwoThreeFourFour-and-a-HalfFour-and-Three-QuartersSuggestions for My Dear ReadersA Note from Mrs HudsonFive,  A Plea For HelpSix, SevenSeven-and-a HalfSeven-and-Three-QuartersEightA Most Ingenious TheoryNine, Ten,  Ten-and-a-Half, and The Beginning of the End.]

Blake & Elana
Dear, Dear Readers! After nearly an entire year of dreary inactivity, during which I have been subject to the most intolerable boredom, The Case of the Lady Slipper Stalker has, by happenstance, been resuscitated! Chance has breathed just enough life into its fearsome nostrils that it might expel its last fiery breaths before expiring once and for all. (I knew, Dear Readers, that my patience and perseverance would be well-rewarded one day...)

I was visited last Friday, the 29th of January, by young Master Blake Goldschmidt and his constant companion, the lovely Elana Neve. During the course of a pleasant conversation about their collegiate exploits,  Blake astounded me by asking if I would like, finally, to know the identity of the Stalker! Shocked and surprised, I spluttered out a vehement affirmative, and the young man proceeded to reveal the long-sought-after moniker of the Culprit. 

One of many bumper stickers in my classroom.
But before I share this most delicious information with you, my Dear Readers, I must reveal an aspect of The Case which I have heretofore hidden from you. Yes, I withheld from you a most disturbing element of the mystery. 

Back in March and April of 2015, the curious Case of the Lady Slipper Stalker moved into the ether of Cyber-Space. This realm of electronic communication was new to me, and I found it both terrifying and mystifying. 

I was being taunted by a Person known only by the curious Electronic-Mail address of Why would he use such a strange address? As many of my Readers know, my students--for varied and fairly-obvious reasons--sometimes refer to me as the Draagyn. My classroom is littered with dragon-related items, some of which are treasured gifts from former students.  
The Blue Dragon from Mr Zastrow

For instance, the esteemed Mr Mark Zastrow gave me this lovely Blue Dragon Statue when he graduated in 2005. He, along with two of his peers, wrote a haiku about their fear of the Draagyn, which I copied and taped to my Rocking Chair.

The Rocking-Chair Haiku

Sadly, I don't use my Rocking Chair much anymore, but as the Chair itself was also a gift from students, I would never get rid of it. 

Students entering my room are greeted, of course, by the Street Sign bearing my name, placed in the Transom. The sign showed up on my doorstep one fine summer morning many years ago, still partly-attached to the pole from which I struggled for hours to remove it. 

I later discovered that Katrina Wood (also, class of 2005) had removed it from its proper place and stealthily deposited it upon my stoop. Nygaard Road runs between Highway 2 and the St Louis River, not far from Floodwood, MN. I pass it all the time on my orchid-hunting expeditions into the north-central portions of the state.
The Street Sign in the Transom

And then, there was the Incident of the Rambunctious Brazilian: I used to have a dragon statue on a table in my room, but during a Random Acts of Shakespeare practice-session, a rowdy international student by the name of Italo Clemente knocked it off the table. The only identifiable piece now hangs from the ceiling next to a copy of a haiku the Rambunctious Brazilian wrote about this event.
All that's left of a broken dragon statue, along with a
haiku written by the Rambunctious Brazilian.

But I digress, my Dear Readers... 

Let me resume my tale. The Cyber-Stalker was clearly craving my attention, for he emailed me upon a number of occasions. We embarked upon a lengthy war of words, an exhausting duel of demands and denials. I submit, for your perusal, several Screenshots of our electronic conversation.
The first set of messages from Cyber-Stalker. Note the lack of question marks in his last message.
The second set of messages. My frustration increases.
The third set of messages, in which the Cyber-Stalker reveals his identity as a student.
As you can plainly see, Dear Readers, the Cyber-Stalker clearly wanted me to speak and write about this new element of the case, but I denied him that pleasure. Instead, because he had identified himself clearly as a student in one of my classes, I became ever more suspicious. 

I enlisted the help of Luke Braafladt, an enterprising young Cyber-Entrepreneur, and Mr Benjamin Gagne, also known by the confusing title of the Techie-Trekkie, to try and track down the identity and location of the Cyber-Stalker. Unfortunately, neither of these esteemed gentlemen were able to help me. After some time, I gave up. I despaired of ever knowing his name...

...Until, that is, young Blake decided to give him up. Much to my surprise, Blake told me that Sean Spencer (of the notorious Spencer clan) was the Lady Slipper Stalker!
Does the search above count as a variation of Googlewhack?

Taking up my trusty magnifying glass, I ventured out into the thick fog of Cyber-Space, searching again and again for the lair of the villainous Spencer Clan. I had no luck until I searched through the curiously-named Book of Face. There, among the treacherous Clickbait and the unceasing flow of trivial Status Updates, recycled Links, and ego-bolstering pseudo-Quizzes, I finally located the Culprit!

Yes, I made that! One must always acquire new skillz.
I snuck up on the Villain, and out of the blue, I posed him a question, translating my famous Death-Glare into Cyber-Speak:
A confession at last!
There you have it, Dear Readers, a long-awaited confession from the Culprit himself, the Lady Slipper Stalker! I even emailed one last time to see if the villain would reply, and he did. He even took what he called a Selfie with an item he had intended to leave upon my vehicle but never got around to depositing there. As you can see, the young villain takes much delight in having "stumped" me.
The last, undelivered "gift" of the Lady Slipper Stalker.
While this would seem to bring the Case to a long-overdue close, there remain just a few more loose ends. I myself made an appeal for further information on the Book of Face, in the hopes of binding all the threads together into one tidy weave, but I have as yet received no additional confessions.
A final plea for information--the items underlined in white remain unsolved.
According to Spencer, no other student was involved, so I must remain suspicious of my colleagues where the Photoshopped Image, the Unobtrusive Magnet, the Postal Card, and the Delicate Creation are concerned...
The Magnet & Card
The Delicate Creation
Young Spencer claims that he was the Ghostly Anonymous Commenter(s), but I'm not quite sure I believe him. If any of you, my Dear Readers, would like to confess to this or any other involvement, please do leave a comment on this post. I hope I will not have to wait another year to pen the next installment of this most strange Case.
Partners in crime?
[Update: On the 8th of September, 2016, Ms Kiero (a mathematical mentor to Middle School students) confessed on the social media website, the Book of Face, that she had produced the Delicate Creation!  I am so relieved to know of this fact, Dear Readers, and if any of the rest of you wish to confess to further involvement, I welcome your revelations.]
Ms Kiero 'fesses up!