Racializing The Bird. And Creating an Organizational Culture of Happiness.

Whew.  The last 9x9x25 post of the semester.  What to write about?  So many topics, so few sentences.
So, I choose to briefly discuss two discoveries I made this week.

While browsing my phone, I discovered one could “emoji” the finger (aka, the bird).  But to my chagrin and perturbation, I saw that this crude symbol has also been racialized–that is, you can flip off someone on the internet in a variety of skin tones, which could take on a number of meanings, none of which could be good.  This is what my research turned up:

“The Reversed Hand With Middle Finger Extended emoji supports skin tone modifiers. A yellow (or other non-human) skin tone should be shown by default, unless an emoji modifier is applied.”
I share this not to be provocative (ok, maybe a little…but I got your attention!), but to draw attention that bigotry is alive and well, and unfortunately on the rise.  We–the human race–have found yet another way to denigrate each other, based on nothing other than the color of our skin (over which we have no personal control).  This discovery–and its potential to stir up hatred and turmoil, at both a group and personal level–truly saddens me. 😢

Continue Reading “Racializing The Bird. And Creating an Organizational Culture of Happiness.”

The role of the professor in discussion boards

By Samantha Fitch

This is less of a post that muses about teaching or blogging, and more of a question for those of you experienced online professors. In attempting to engage students, and particularly in attempting to attain an element of that near-impossible feeling of being a cohesive online group (as you would foster in a real classroom), I’ve been assigning some online discussion boards. I’ve already mentioned that, next time, I’ll try to implement even more student-involved and personalized elements, like video or group work. However, I am a bit perplexed as to the professor’s role in an online discussion board assignment. For example, I had been posting a response to a few students’ comments, when I particularly agreed or when I felt they were missing something that was key to their understanding. Continue Reading “The role of the professor in discussion boards”

blog 7 – Lucky

If you know me, you know I see the glass mostly half full.  When asked how I am doing, the response is: “living the dream.”   For me it is true, but I also understand the dream is dependent on your lens.  We have problems we need to address, as does everyone, and my goal is to do the best for the most and stay positive, upbeat, and active.

I am sitting in a hotel room in San Diego enjoying a beautiful view of the bay.  I am smelling the sea air.  And I am getting to do what I love: learn; this makes me lucky.

I am at the AMATYC conference, which is the yearly national conference for mathematics teachers.  This is my second year of attendance, and both of my years of attendance, it re-energized my teaching.  It is like the phone call from my best teacher friend, a chance to hear new and be reminded of old ideas to improve my practice.  Teaching math is hard as our success rates are traditionally low and the students do not “enjoy” learning math.  Math is hard work to learn.  The conference gives me a chance to learn new ideas for implementation in my classroom; the goal: reach a broader audience of students. Continue Reading “blog 7 – Lucky”

The Truth about Privilege


And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one.

After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them.  And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more.  His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.  He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them.  His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.  Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed:  And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.  His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed:  Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.  Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.

Matthew 25:15, 19-28

Do you ever wonder where your talents lie?  We all have them, but what are we doing with them?  Are we reaching our full potential?  Have we become satisfied with living a four talent life when we have been given a five talent ability level?  This can easily happen without us even knowing it.  Those who become great are those who are not afraid of greatness.  I wonder if we are afraid of greatness.  Are we afraid to leave our comfort zone and venture out far enough to reach our true potential?  And if so, why?  Why are we not able to go out on the limb, even if we know that’s where all the fruit is, to paraphrase Mark Twain.  Contrarily, why are some found so frequently dangling from these limbs and subsequently, gluttonously gathering up all of the fruit?

Continue Reading “The Truth about Privilege”

Failure to Read… What Am I Doing Wrong?


A few weeks ago, I expressed to one of my classes that I was concerned that they were not reading the material listed (by date) on the course syllabus, re-emphasizing that this was important information.  I also announced that within the next week or two, I was going to give an in class quiz on the reading assigned for that week.  “Like a good Boy or Girl Scout, BE PREPARED,” I admonished them.

Image result for students taking a test

    So two weeks later, I gave a quiz over the reading for that week.  The first question on the quiz was:

   I ___________ read Articles #12-14 on Poverty.”  
     a.  did
     b.  did not

There were three other short answer questions on the quiz, each on asking for the gist of the article.  I didn’t ask any “picky” questions, or any detailed “trick” questions.  All I wanted to know is if they’d read the articles and had a basic comprehension of the main ideas of each.  The reading totalled less than 25 pages.

Most of the class finished very quickly.  This worried me.  And when I graded the quiz right after class, my fears were confirmed.

100% of the class answered “b.” to the first question–not one student had read the articles.
Continue Reading “Failure to Read… What Am I Doing Wrong?”


I find it hard at times
To continue with these rhymes

It takes a bit of skill
When done it can be a thrill

To post something each week
Almost makes me out to be a geek

Always the topic should meet
Some academic treat

This one will be short
For there is really nothing to report

The students are mostly great
In fact, a high percentage at this rate Continue Reading “Seven”

To Canvas or Not To Canvas: A Rebellion Against Sameness (Part 4… the last one)

“What you’ve all been waiting for!” (I seriously doubt it, but I can indulge in this delusion.)

What do I do if I don’t use Canvas?  (I’m referring here to face-to-face courses, and some hybrids.  While you could apply some of these techniques to online teaching, obviously not all are applicable).

In nutshell, here it is:

1.  I use paper everything (almost).
Every assignment, every announcement, every handout… anything I would put on Canvas I give to students in paper format.  “Hard copy.”  Our print shop is great–timely and efficient (they even deliver close to my office!), so I can produce paper copies almost as efficiently as I can post stuff on Canvas.  This accomplished several things:  *I know my students actually SEE the assignments or materials.  *They can manage these things in a real, physical way (it seems to be slightly harder to ignore something on paper than in the Canvas shell).
Continue Reading “To Canvas or Not To Canvas: A Rebellion Against Sameness (Part 4… the last one)”