Archive for the ‘ Education ’ Category

Dodgeball 7s and World Peace


Dodgeball 7’s was an idea for an afternoon of fun sponsored by the Dubai American Academy Senate.

The primary purpose for this event was to bring a smile to every face in the school.  I think it worked!

Explanation:

The Girls are the dodgeball players.  Each grade (Freshmen, Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors) entered two teams coached by Boys.  The teams each had an entrance to the dodgeball arena designed to strike fear into the hearts of their opponents.  As you will see the Freshmen and Sophomores did not scare anyone, but I still have nightmares about the Junior and Senior entrance!

Speaking of nightmares, the Junior cheer leading routine will give anyone bad dreams, so watch at your own risk!  Did I mention cheer leading?  Each grade also got to compete in a cheer leading competition, but all the cheerleaders were Boys coached by the Girls.  Good fun!

We also had live commentators, a sideline reporter, and lots of other surprises!

All teams had 3 days to practice.

World Peace?

What you are about to see is teenagers from around the globe, working together as best friends and having a blast!  There are no less than 40 nationalities represented in these players and cheerleaders.  If these are the future leaders of the world, maybe there is room for optimism…

Enjoy the Video!

The Story of Teddy Stoddard (Weekly Inspiration #19)


For all of you overly emotional saps (like me) out there, this story might entice a tear drop or two, so have a tissue ready.  This is a classic story that has inspired many teachers over the years, but we can all learn lessons from its message.  Enjoy!

There is a story many years ago of an elementary teacher. Her name was Mrs. Thompson. And as she stood in front of her 5th grade class on the very first day of school, she told the children a lie. Like most teachers, she looked at her students and said that she loved them all the same.
 
But that was impossible, because there in the front row, slumped in his seat, was a little boy named Teddy Stoddard.

Mrs. Thompson had watched Teddy the year before and noticed that he didn’t play well with the other children, that his clothes were messy and that he constantly needed a bath. And Teddy could be unpleasant. It got to the point where Mrs. Thompson would actually take delight in marking his papers with a broad red pen, making bold X’s and then putting a big “F” at the top of his papers.

At the school where Mrs. Thompson taught, she was required to review each child’s past records and she put Teddy’s off until last. However, when she reviewed his file, she was in for a surprise.
 
Teddy’s first grade teacher wrote, “Teddy is a bright child with a ready laugh. He does his work neatly and has good manners. He is a joy to be around.”

His second grade teacher wrote, “Teddy is an excellent student, well liked by his classmates, but he is troubled because his mother has a terminal illness and life at home must be a struggle.”

His third grade teacher wrote, “His mother’s death has been hard on him. He tries to do his best but his father doesn’t show much interest and his home life will soon affect him if some steps aren’t taken.”

Teddy’s fourth grade teacher wrote, “Teddy is withdrawn and doesn’t show much interest in school. He doesn’t have many friends and sometimes sleeps in class.”

By now, Mrs. Thompson realized the problem and she was ashamed of herself. She felt even worse when her students brought her Christmas presents, wrapped in beautiful ribbons and bright paper, except for Teddy’s. His present which was clumsily wrapped in the heavy, brown paper that he got from a grocery bag.
 
Mrs. Thompson took pains to open it in the middle of the other presents. Some of the children started to laugh when she found a rhinestone bracelet with some of the stones missing, and a bottle that was one quarter full of perfume. But she stifled the children’s laughter when she exclaimed how pretty the bracelet was, putting it on, and dabbing some of the perfume on her wrist.

Teddy Stoddard stayed after school that day just long enough to say, “Mrs. Thompson, today you smelled just like my Mom used to.” After the children left she cried for at least an hour. On that very day, she quit teaching reading, and writing, and arithmetic. Instead, she began to teach children.

Mrs. Thompson paid particular attention to Teddy. As she worked with him, his mind seemed to come alive. The more she encouraged him, the faster he responded. By the end of the year, Teddy had become one of the smartest children in the class and, despite her lie that she would love all the children the same, Teddy became one of her “teacher’s pets.”

A year later, she found a note under her door, from Teddy, telling her that she was still the best teacher he ever had in his whole life. Six years went by before she got another note from Teddy. He then wrote that he had finished high school, third in his class, and she was still the best teacher he ever had in his whole life.

Four years after that, she got another letter, saying that while things had been tough at times, he’d stayed in school, had stuck with it, and would soon graduate from college with the highest of honors. 
 
He assured Mrs. Thompson that she was still the best and favorite teacher he ever had in his whole life.

Then four more years passed and yet another letter came. This time he explained that after he got his bachelor’s degree, he decided to go a little further. The letter explained that she was still the best and favorite teacher he ever had. But now his name was a little longer – the letter was signed, Theodore F. Stoddard, M.D.

The story doesn’t end there. You see, there was yet another letter that spring. Teddy said he’d met this girl and was going to be married. He explained that his father had died a couple of years ago and he was wondering if Mrs. Thompson might agree to sit in the place at the wedding that was usually reserved for the mother of the groom.

Of course, Mrs. Thompson did. And guess what? She wore that bracelet, the one with several rhinestones missing. And she made sure she was wearing the perfume that Teddy remembered his mother wearing on their last Christmas together.
 
They hugged each other, and Dr. Stoddard whispered in Mrs. Thompson’s ear, “Thank you Mrs. Thompson for believing in me. Thank you so much for making me feel important and showing me that I could make a difference.”

Mrs. Thompson, with tears in her eyes, whispered back. She said, 
 
”Teddy, you have it all wrong. You were the one who taught me that I could make a difference. I didn’t know how to teach until I met you.”

The power of encouragement is immense!  Here’s to all the parents, teachers, grandparents, and friends who find the lovable and bring out the best in all of us!

The Cracked Pot: Weekly Inspiration # 18


I apologize for not posting last week but this weeks inspirational story will make up for it!  This one goes out to all you crack pots out there!

A water bearer in India had two large pots, one hung on each end of a pole which he carried across his neck.

One of the pots had a crack in it, and while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the bearer’s house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.

For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer bringing only one and a half pots full of water in his  house. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect to the end for which it was made.

But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do. After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream.
“I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you.” “Why?” asked the bearer. “What are you ashamed of?” “I have been able, for these past two years, to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don’t get full value from your efforts,” the pot said.
The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in his compassion he said, “As we return to the  house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path.”

Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it some. But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so again the Pot apologized to the bearer for its failure.

The bearer said to the pot, “Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of your path, but not on the other pot’s side? That’s because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you’ve watered them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my  table. Without you being just the way you are, I would not have this beauty to grace my house.”

Each of us has our own unique flaws. We’re all cracked pots. Don’t be afraid of your flaws. Acknowledge them, and you too can be the cause of beauty. Know that in our weakness we find our strength.

This story always reminds me not only to appreciate my own flaws and imperfections but also to value and appreciate the flaw and imperfections in other people.  Long live the cracked pots!

What Life Is About (Weekly Inspiration #17)


Has it already been another week?  Crazy!  In case you have been wondering what life is all about, I dug up one of the first weekly inspirations I ever used in one of my classes.  It is targeted for high school aged people but I think every point made applies to us adults as well!

What Life is About

Life isn’t about keeping score. 
It’s not about how many friends you have 
Or how accepted you are. 
Not about if you have plans this weekend or if you’re alone.

It isn’t about who you have kissed, 
It isn’t about who your family is or 
how much money they have 
Or what kind of car you drive. 

Or where you are sent to school.

It’s not about how beautiful or ugly you are. 
Or what clothes you wear, what shoes you have on, 
Or what kind of music you listen to.

It’s not about if your hair is blonde, red, black, or brown, 
Or if your skin is too light or too dark. 
Not about what grades you get how smart you are, how smart 
everybody else thinks you are, or how smart 
standardized tests say you are.

Life just isn’t. 

Life is about who you love and who you hurt.

It’s about who you make happy or unhappy purposely. 
It’s about keeping or betraying trust. 
It’s about friendship, used as a sanctity or as a weapon. 

It’s about what you say and mean, maybe hurtful, maybe heartening.

It’s about starting rumors and contributing to petty gossip. 
It’s about what judgments you pass and why. 
And who your judgments are spread to.

It’s about who you’ve ignored with full control and intention. 
It’s about jealousy, fear, ignorance, and revenge. 
It’s about carrying inner hate and love, 
letting it grow and spreading it.

But most of all, it’s about using your life to touch or poison 
other people’s hearts in such a way that could have 
never occurred alone.

Only you choose the way those hearts are affected, and those 
choices are what life’s all about.

Every time I read this it helps get my priorities in order.  Enjoy the week!

Re-thinking Critical Thinking


Yesterday I was reading comments posted online about a news paper article.  It was amazing to see how negative people were.  Not just to the author but to the other people making comments.  They were vicious and nasty and insulting. Continue reading

Scary Questions


My colleague Todd Lile and I have started a new Blog at teenedge-ucation.com I wrote the following post for that blog but thought it fit well here too.  Check out our other blog and sign up for an email subscription.  That blog should get pretty good in the near future.  Here is the post: Continue reading

Kids and Guns


At the risk of being controversial, I want to talk a little about hand guns.  There is a lot in the news right now about the right to carry guns openly in coffee shops like Starbucks and even on college campuses.  Recently, the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled that the University of Colorado did not have the authority to ban students and visitors from carrying guns onto the campus.  What?

I spent some time reading up on some statistics for gun related violence in the United States.  What I read shocked me.  Some gun advocates make the claim that “guns don’t kill people but people kill people”.  I agree with that 100%.  People do kill people but who makes guns?  People.  So a gun just sits there waiting to do what it is made to do (hurt and kill).  Without a person it will do nothing.  However just the fact the gun is there, makes it more likely something will happen.  The Center for Disease Control reports that in 2000, there were 23,237 accidental shootings in America.  What?

Being a teacher I am interested in kids.  The numbers on kids and guns are even more scary!  The CDC reports that in 2006 3,184 children were killed by guns, while another 17,451 were shot with non fatal wounds.  Less than 3000 people died in the 9/11 attacks in 2001.  How much money, time and resources  have we spent trying to make our country, airports, and the rest of the world safe from other attacks like these?  Ask yourself which is more dangerous: an airline passenger with a container holding more than 3.5 ounces of liquid, or a gun in the hands of a child?  Which one of these do we spend more money on?  What?

Peggy Patten did some frightening research on children and guns and found that even after a week of intense education about guns, safety, and prevention 65% of children left alone to play in a room with a hidden gun, picked it up, played with it, pulled the trigger, looked down the barrel, etc. Unfortunately in real life, kids occasionally find real guns.  When they hurt themselves we can say it was not the gun but the child at fault.  But both the gun and the child were doing what they are meant to do.  A child explores.  A gun wounds or kills.

People make guns.  People make kids.  People make rules and laws that given them rights.  People make rules and laws to protect the members of their group or society.  People disagree about these rules and laws and make rationalizations for keeping these rules and laws even when they endanger, rather than protect, members of their group or society.  Guns do not kill people.  People kill people.  People make guns.    What?

Many Americans have died  protecting our rights and personal freedoms.  When an individual sacrifices his or her life in defense of these rights, we call that person a hero.    The Constitution gives us the right to carry guns and maybe this is a right worth fighting and even dying for.  But is it so important that we are willing to accept the steep price of innocent dead?  Is this individual right more important than the general welfare of the community?  Are we willing to say that the children, who die at the wrong end of a hand gun, are worth sacrificing to protect our individual freedom?  Does this make them heroes?  What?