Friday, December 14, 2007

Another holiday themed post...

Since I got more responses to my last posting than any previous post...I'll stick with what works. Next music. There is plenty of bad Christmas music out there. How many times can Jingle Bells be covered? And whats worse...there are FM stations that have been playing Christmas music 24/7 since mid-November.

But there are some hidden nuggets out there that I really enjoy listening to. James Taylor recently did a great holiday album. The Trans-Siberian Orchestra is also a nice refreshing change from the norm.

So my question is...what Christmas music drives you up the wall? there any holiday music you really enjoy?

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Holiday TV specials

I gotta admit...being a history teacher, I love nostalgia. Nothing brings back memories of being a kid at Christmas like a good old fashioned holiday TV special. I was recently talking to Mrs. Taylor about Christmas TV specials and she said her favorite has always been Santa Claus is Coming to Town. I love those old "claymation" style Christmas specials too, but I think my favorites had to be Frosty and a Garfield Christmas.

Now its your turn. Do you have a favorite holiday classic?

The Grinch? Rudolph? Charlie Brown Christmas? Something more recent?

Friday, November 23, 2007

Your assistance required

Its going to be a tough holiday and winter season for many people around the country, and perhaps even more so here in New England. While I was enjoying Thanksgiving on Thursday, my family got into a discussion about the state of the economy and fuel prices specifically.

To be honest, I'm not sure how some families are going to survive the winter. Here is an article from the Boston Globe from last month which talks about how some families need to make a decision on whether to heat or eat during the winter...

If that doesn't depress you enough, the following is an article from the Providence Journal concerning recent cuts in state aid which threatens the delivery of meals on wheels to the elderly...

I could link you to plenty more articles like this unfortunately. My point in all this is a simple one. This holiday season, perhaps more than any other, we all need to think about the state of those less fortunate than us. There are families in our own neighborhoods which suffer from these very issues. This holiday season, please make the effort to make some type of donation, whether it be to a food drive, Toys for Tots, the Salvation Army, etc. The money Norton High raised at the pep rally for the Santa Fund was a great start, but theres lots more work to do.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Veterans Day

I recently attended a social studies professional development day. One of the speakers for the event really stressed the idea that we need to be cautious of who we consider to be "heroes" in today's society. Many people look up to celebrities or athletes who really should not qualify as a hero.

While that topic might be debatable, one thing is not. The need for us to support and honor our veterans in this country. They truly are the heroes.

This is a link to a video clip I recently saw which highlights the importance of veterans in our society.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Democrats vs. Republicans

Recently in my history classes we discussed the election of 1800 and how it was really the birth of political parties in this country. The first "real" presidential campaign took place that year between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. It was the birth of the battle between political parties that continues on to this day.

That led into an interesting discussion about Democrats and Republicans. My concern is that not enough high school students know the major differences between Democrats and Republicans. Many high school students reach the voting age before they graduate, so shouldn't they have knowledge about the two major parties in this country?

After we discussed the basic ideals of each party, I took a quick poll to see which party students felt they fit into. The results were interesting. I had 10 Democrats, 10 Independent/Undecided, and 1 Republican.

I encourage you to find out the differences between Democrats and Republicans if you don't feel you know enough. Here is a link to a web site designed for students who are looking to find out which party they might fit into...

Where do you fall?

Monday, October 29, 2007


I don't think its really hit me yet but a big congratulations go out to the Red Sox. After going 86 years not winning one, to have done it twice in 4 years is pretty incredible. These are special times to be a New England sports fan for sure. My only question is, why don't they have the parade on Saturday so more people can attend?

Special thanks goes out to everyone who attended our sophomore class fundraiser at Friendly's on Monday night. It was great to see so many students as well as some supportive faculty members who went out of their way to stop by. We wouldn't be successful without people like you.

Is this school year flying by for anybody else besides me? Hard to believe Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away!

I just started reading "The Sixties" during SSR. Has anybody else read this? The 1960's is one of my favorite periods in history and I've been meaning to read this book for years. So far so good.

I hope everyone has a good week. Enjoy your free tacos on Tuesday.

Monday, October 22, 2007

I'm Happy...

...for a lot of reasons.

How about the fact that Norton High School had a tremendous showing this past Friday night at the Cann Family Walk-a-Thon. The staff, students, and community really did itself proud. I can tell just how much work went into planning this massive event and all those who assisted in that process deserve a ton of credit. Kudos to everyone involved.

And how about those Red Sox? I feel fortunate to be living in this era of success for the old town team. Think about all the Sox fans from 1918 through 2004 who never got to see their team win anything. We are very lucky to have seen them win it all in 2004 and now they have the chance to do it again. Lets appreciate this while it lasts!

And I'm also happy for the simple fact that I have a loving family, great friends, and a job that I enjoy going to everyday. What is better than that? I think far too often we think about the things we don't have in life and dwell on it. Life goes by far too quickly not to sit back, relax, and enjoy what you have. You'll be a better person for it. Think about it.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

New England

I just recently had the chance to spend a couple of days up in the Mt. Washington area of New Hampshire. Lots of seasonal activities, great weather, beautiful mountain scenery and foliage...what a perfect time of year to be in New England.

It got me thinking about how fortunate I feel to have grown up in this special part of the world. I don't think enough people take advantage and appreciate all that New England has to offer. Over the last few months, I've had the opportunity to spend time in each New England state for one reason or another. They all really have their own character and special appeal. Whether you enjoy the city life, beaches, mountains, wilderness, New England has something for everyone. Anybody who has had me in class this year also knows how I feel about having so much history in our own backyard.

What makes New England special to you? Do you have a favorite area of New England that you've been to? I'd be interested to hear your thoughts. I personally enjoy Cape Cod and Vermont. Can you recommend a great spot for a vacation?

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Columbus Day

So we've reached the first "long" weekend of the 2007-2008 school year. We can all agree that 3 day weekends are great, right? But can anybody tell me why we celebrate Columbus Day?

So in 1492, he sailed the ocean blue, right? Or did he? How was the story of Columbus taught to you in elementary school? Was he portrayed as a hero? More than likely.

I'll make this a quick post but I'll ask you to follow this link to an article written by Jack Weatherford, author of "Indian Givers."

Mr. Weatherford is one of many historians who wish that the true story of Columbus be put out in the mainstream for people to read. Anyone who has read "Lies My Teacher Told Me" is also familiar with the information Weatherford has laid out.

Let me know your thoughts on Columbus, especially after reading what Weatherford has to say.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Random notes

A couple of thoughts as we near the end of a beautiful fall weekend...

First off, I want to extend thanks and appreciation to the Attleboro YMCA for once again holding a team building session this past Saturday at Camp Finberg. I have to admit that this was probably my favorite out of all the sessions I have been to thus far. Its pretty neat to have gone through several sessions with the same group and see the cohesiveness and unity really start to come through. The activites we participated in were much more physically demanding than ones we've done in the past and it required the utmost in trust and teamwork. I think just about everybody left Saturday with a nice feeling of accomplishment. And to see Mr. Barth go flying into a briar patch was pretty special also.

I also wanted to pose a question to students about field trips. A senior in one of my psychology classes mentioned to me this past week that he has never been outside the walls of Norton High School in the 3+ years he's been here. Mr. Dewar also mentioned to me that its not uncommon for that to happen. Personally, I think thats a bit of a shame. Having the opportunity to take learning on the road and see it in action can be such a great and memorable experience. Its safe to say that students forget many things they've learned after they graduate high school, but I'd be willing to bet that field trips are not one of them. I can recall with great clarity some of the cool places I got to see while in high school and I think all students should be given that chance. I'm looking into a couple of different trips for some of my students this year.

How do you feel about field trips? What are some of the memorable ones you've been on in your academic career? Where would you like to go before you graduate?

Monday, September 24, 2007

Get involved

This past Saturday I had the opportunity to participate in a "team building" day with some of my fellow teachers from Norton High School. The focus of the session was to build leadership skills as well as to get a chance to become more comfortable with some of the teachers I see on a daily basis but might not necessarily know as well as I should. I think my leadership skills could definitely use a boost so the opportunity was a good one for me personally. The opportunity to get to know other staff members is also great especially for the newer teachers like myself. This was actually the 3rd team building session that I have attended with Norton High School students and staff members in the past year.

Why am I telling you this?

Because it wasn't long ago that I was in high school and I never got involved in these types of activities. When Mr. Dewar interviewed me for a position at Norton High School, I had noted to him that I was eager to get involved in some different activities around school for the simple reason that I never had much of an opportunity to do so when I was at that age. My parents told me well in advance of graduating high school that a good portion of my college education would have to be paid by me. Knowing I wanted to go to college, I got myself a job and worked as many hours as I possibly could and saved as much as I could.

The positive side of that? I was able to go to the college of my choice and I'm proud to say I have no student loans remaining. The negative? Well as I stated earlier, working 40+ hours a week in high school didn't allow me the flexibility to get involved in many after-school activities. Oh sure I did a few things, but not to the degree I would have liked.

It wasn't until after I graduated college where I really looked back and wondered what might have been had I had more opportunities to get involved. The biggest thing I wondered is how many more friendships and relationships could I have forged? Would it have changed my opinions of staff and other students that I already knew? Who knows how it could have changed my life.

Luckily for me, I'm back in the high school environment and I'm going to have the chance to take advantage of some of the many opportunities that come up. I've got a chance for redemption.

My suggestion to you? If you aren't involved in something within the school, DO IT! Its not too late. I would have never guessed that 5 years after graduating high school, I would be thinking back upon the things I didn't do. Don't make the same mistake. There are plenty of opportunities out there. Even if you don't have a ton of time, theres always something you can do to get involved.

Who might just learn something about somebody you thought you already knew. Yourself.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Anybody out there?

Welcome one and all to my official blog. Gotta admit I've never been one to blog...or to even think about blogging. But due to overwhelming demand, here it is. Just kidding. At any rate, I hope to use this blog to occasionally post my thoughts, musings, and maybe even an occasional rant. No, rants. Well...maybe.

In actuality, I'd really like to use this space to interact with my students at Norton High School. I might occasionally put up a reflective topic or question that I'd like an opinion on. Possibly a chance for extra credit? Never can tell. I might occasionally incorporate a homework assignment with this blog.

So before I go, do you have something on your mind? An idea for the sophomore class? Thoughts on any current events? The new high school schedule? Summer reading thoughts? New courses you'd like to see taught at the high school?

Until next time.