I'm currently reading What Successful Math Teachers Do (overdue at NYPL!). In spite of the title's specificity it is all completely applicable to non-math teachers (I'm chemistry/physics/biology for example). The book is thin and is a list of 79 research papers, summarized in two-page bullet pointed outlines. The articles compiled by the book come from a wide variety of journals including German language teaching publications. I read most intently these eleven techniques
#4 Make Classroom Activities Flow Smoothly Kounin's classic study (1970) of ineffective teachers found...continuous disruption and chaos...Effective teachers...prevented problems rather than handling them once they arose. One way they prevented problems was by making sure students were not sitting around waiting for the next activity but were engaged in meaningful work all the time. #7 Do More Than One Thing At a Time
Kounin (1970) found that effective teachers would overlap activities, keeping track of several activities at a time. If students are putting homework on the board/overhead, the teacher can work individually with students. If a student is collecting the homework assignments, the teacher is free to introduce the next activity by posing a problem that will tap and review student's prior knowledge of the topic they will discuss next. While talking, a teacher can walk, observing what the students are doing in their notebooks or checking for homework.
From links at Sojourners I found a Lent blog that describes the attempt to run a household food plan for six weeks on food stamp budget. It works out to five dollars a day.
Their journal is fairly interesting diary, not really glum. They endorse Target, Aldi, and Trader Joe's. There is a brief wine review where they describe Vinos Sin Ley M4 Bullas as "a dark, bitter, catalonian anarchist with enough guts to
stand up to red meat yet enough complexity to be enjoyed on its own." The author points out that this is not really a simulation of living in poverty, since, just for a start, poor working people don't have a lot of time to cook from scratch and strategize their menu via an internet blog and, moreover, probably don't live next to a Trader Joe's.
TubeCAD blog smells like a soldering iron, looks like a physics lab manual, but sometimes reads like the Arts Section from the NYTimesis. Along with monthly discussions of how to build a stage phono preamplifier or tube crossover there are things like an ode to the headphone which notes that
1) the best fidelity listening experience may be a pair of headphones WITH a whole room subwoofer set for 70 to 100 Hz, 2) many people prefer cheap, bad fidelity for the same reason that Joan Collins preferred TV over film late in her career, or 3) with headphones you can hear "normally unfamiliar and uncharted musical events: the floorboards creaking beneath the 300-pound jazz bass player, the hall’s reverberation ... George Harrison’s thick-fingered flubs..."
As a heavy user of the public library I cherish the fact that there is a branch of the NYPL so close to my high school that I can go run to it on my lunch hour without even putting on a coat or hat. It seems to actually lie within the boundary of the school itself.
It's been a good month at the library already. Since Jan 20 I've gotten
Movies: loudQUIETloud--the Story of the Pixies Reunion Tour, Franz Lang's ' M' (didnt watch it), a Shonen Jump anime (couldnt get into it), Spike Lee's 1963 documentary Four Little Girls (simple and skilful telling of one specific aspect of the civil rights movement, including valuable on camera footage of the victims parents who were very reluctant to talk at first, and, from a wheelchair, the 95 year old ex-Governor George Wallace).
Books: Richard Russo's That Old Cape Magic (great beginning, slow middle, same as Bridge of Sighs), Biafra Revisited (which explains Nigeria in the 1950s was a virus that seems to be the inspiration to every bad African government since then: Liberia, Idi Amin, Rowanda, et al), The Professional Lesson Plan Book ("stop planning the day before and become a great teacher") , What Succesful Math Teachers Do (totally generalizable to any high school teacher -- a very businesslike, tabular cataloging of 74 research articles, including ones from journals in Eastern Europe that they must have had to translate! Written by a Stuyvessant High School math teacher, Daniel Jaye)
Albums: Electric Light Orchestra Greatest Hits, First Monkees album (with a dozen added versions, demos, and tracks, revealing historically but not good music), two by Talib Kwali, Lil Wayne's Tha Carter II, Mission of Burma (reunited) Onoffon, Madvillain's Madvillainy, LCD Soundsystem The Sound of Silver, and Brazillian 1960's weirdos Os Mutantes.
I had a GREAT conversation with some fellows from Poland at the Lincoln Center Performing Arts Library (New York) last weekend. We were watching Laibach videos in a exhibit room full of Eastern European Underground Theater (on view there for free until March 2010). (That branch and the main 'Stone Lions' branch of the NYPL both have exhibitions that rival regular museums! )
The conversation I had with the Polish guys'centered around the main question "how the heck do you know about Laibach?". My answer is that I was lucky enough to stumble across the band when I was doing interviews in the mid-80's. I took a tape recorder back stage after a Laibach show in Detroit (St Andrews Hall) and asked them a few questions. I mainly asked them "Why do you guys dress up like Nazi's and then sing such weird songs?"
They're a pretty weird band. And I'm not fascinated with them for any dark reasons. They seem to have history, anti-war, and a long-running joke all combined.
For the beginner, these are the main characteristics to know about Laibach: 1) They take their name for the Hapsburg favored name for the capital of Slovenia. 2) They have the straight faced humor of Eastern European political theater. I can confirm from talking to Laibach that they stay in character all the time. 3) They take authoritarian imagery and subvert it. Their costumes, videos, music, all reflect a war state. What are they trying to say? It is definitely ironic -- they are not actually fascists. But what they are doing with the fascist imagery I am not sure. I know they played a concert for the people in Sarajevo several times after the wars of Yugoslavia last decade. 4) Spoken word samples in their songs seem to be martial, authoritarian political leaders: Josep Broz Tito, Benito Mussolini, and some terrifying French man on this, my favorite song by them, les Priveleges de Morts. (Thanks Remi Valdolle).
Their favorite musical material is appropriation of innocent banal pop tunes seemingly re-done as soundtracks for Triumph of the Will. (e.g. "Life is Life." )
I don't have time to analyze here what exactly I get from listening to Laibach but let me just clearly say they are not really fascists nor am I. And whatever they're doing it's pretty unusual. I connect with it because I am a pacifist, deeply disturbed by war, and I like the combination of something awful with something that is joke-theater-irony (e.g. Bjork's Dancer in the Dark movie).
UPDATE: The reviewer at AllMusic writes an incisive sentence sweeping away all my confusion on Laibach's posturing: "Since fascism needs a scapegoat to flourish, the members of Laibach
mocked it by becoming their own scapegoat and willingly sought
alienation." -- David Jeffries