Everybody’s Got Their Limits, Nobody’s Found Mine

As the year winds down and I have some time to reflect, I’m thinking about my soundtrack. Particularly during the past 5 months of teaching. I can tell a lot about how a year went, just by reflecting on my soundtracks. Normally they are a weird mixtape of old stuff I listen to, new music I learn about, and music I create. This year though, only one album comes to mind, “Beat the Champ” by the Mountain Goats. Continue reading

So who is the enemy?

The following is taken out of context from a chapter taken out of a larger context from my book, which represents a piece of a life that I still don’t really understand. But whatever, it seems relevant right now. 

When I was teaching in Northern California, I was driving to a beach to take a swim at around five thirty one morning in early fall, when the street was blocked off due to a fire. I had to turn around and head back because there was no way to get around it. As I did this, I turned on the radio and heard the news: in New York City, the sky was falling. I came home and turned on the television and saw buildings I had just seen for the first time a couple years ago falling to the ground. I went to school and discussed it with the students, listening to their questions and theories, but I had little to contribute. As time went on, we were told that it had been a plot hatched by Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden and members of the Taliban in Afghanistan. Continue reading

How Food Trucks Will Save Civilization

This trimester, I am doing a project on food trucks in my algebra 1 class. We started off talking about pancakes thanks to a friend of mine, Vanessa Svihla from the University of New Mexico, who gave me a problem to pose, “How many pancakes can fit in my car?” Kids have been working on this problem and other pancake math problems such as “How many people would the biggest pancake in the world feed?” But things were too “mathy” and my classes are kids who have not been successful with math. At all. So I felt like what I was doing wasn’t really going to help them in the end and needed a place to land. It was really bothering me.

I am usually OK with these kinds of existential crisis where I feel like I’m not grounded and everything is falling apart because it usually means that I’m about to learn something great. In this case, I’m just went back to what I already knew, which is that we needed to end this three weeks with a deliverable related to our project at the end of the trimester. I had committed to have one of these every three or four weeks so before Christmas break, so I decided I want to have my kids have a business plan sketch for a pancake stand. That will give us a focus and a way to feel like we aren’t just floating around in pancake batter. So I had them design and start building custom to-go containers with a memorable logo, a menu, and a budget for a crowd.

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