Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Quiz Bowl

This year, myself and a buddy of mine, revived the Quiz Bowl Team at Olive Branch High School. We have a great group of students. They are all highly intelligent, and they are a lot of fun to be around. Two weeks ago, we hosted a late night quiz bowl practice. It started at 4 p.m. and lasted until 1 a.m. The kids had a great time. We had lots of tournament practice, but most importantly, we had a scavenger hunt of the high school. The hunt lasted a little over two hours. The kids had a great time. The minute it was over, the kids were begging to have another one. So, we are planning on having another one soon, maybe in May. Last Saturday, we went to a quiz bowl competion at Ole Miss. We placed in the top 24 out of 64 teams. I was extremely pleased with their progress. Many of our students have never been on a quiz bowl team, and for this to be the first year back for quiz bowl, I was pleased with our placement. In addition, the Thursday before our competion at Ole Miss, we took a group of Math Students (some my quiz bowl kids) to the Mississippi University for Women in Columbus for a Math Tournament. This was the first time we had ever participated in this competition. We placed 7th in the competition. Once again, I was pleased with our progress. I believe that with more time and practice, we will place ever higher.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

A New Semester

Oh, a new semester has begun. The students are energized and ready to go, and so are the teachers. WRONG! As always, our break is never long enough. However, this year, our break was even shorter. Our last day was December 20. Teachers had to report back January 2 and students reported back January 3. It just seems to get shorter and shorter each year. At least we did go back to a three day week! So, that makes Friday come much quicker and faster! It seems with each break, we come back to school and beging to plan for one thing, the next break. Everyone is now counting down the days to King/Lee Day, then President's Day, and then the biggie, Spring Break! Everyone is already looking forward to all of these. This new semester does bring about some good things though. As teachers, we can all set goals. We can try a new teaching technique, and we could try new student motivations and involvements. At times, the break does seem to refresh us all. It gives us a fresh start, and a sense that we do not have long to go. After all, we are half way there! To you first years, the hardest is over. This semester will fly by. I have already been back in school three days and they have flown by. After all, remember, just one more week and then we get a holiday :)


In the beginning, blogging seemed like a good idea. It was a way for all of us to stay in touch, and make sure that everyone was keeping "their sanity." In addition, it was a great way to get new and exciting ideas. We could see what techniques worked for people when it came to important issues such as classroom management and student achievement. However, as our second year comes to a close, blogging has become more and more of a challenge and a requirement. I use to enjoy expressing my thoughts and opinions on here, but now, it seems like we are all rushing to sit down right before the deadline to get these in. Don't get me wrong, blogging was a good thing, at first. Like I said, it was a means of communication and a way of "venting." Now, though, it becomes harder and harder. We have so much other stuff going on and we must try to find the time to submit a blog on some topics that we know little to nothing about or that we do not even care to write about. Thus, I believe that it might be better to end the blogging either after the first year or the first semester of the second year. This would make it better.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Quiz Bowl

In my other blog, I spoke of the quiz bowl team that I
started here at Olive Branch High School. When I was at Ole
Miss, I helped moderate quiz bowl competitions for five
years. In addition my current roommate (and a teacher at
OBHS) helped moderate, as well. So, since my both had so
much knowledge of the quiz bowls, it would only seem
appropriate if we started a quiz bowl team. Also, a friend
of mine moved to Olive Branch, and he was actually in charge
of the quiz bowls at the University. (That is how we meet
him plus through a mutual friend.) So with all this
knowledge, of the competition we decided to start a quiz
bowl team. By the first of September, we had fifteen
dedicated students. They loved the competitions, and they
grew to love the practices. At times, they even refused to
leave practices. They wanted to stay and practice longer.
October came, and it was time for competition. With only
two months of practice, I thought that our time excelled to
a high level. I knew that we would be competitive, but I
never thought we would do as well as we actually did. We
placed 2nd in our bracket, and 9th in the overall
tournament. I was so excited for them. I know that as we
continue to practice, we will get better and better. Our
next tournament is in March. We are already busy at work
for this tournament. I love quiz bowl because it gives me a
chance to work with the extremely smart kids, and they all
have great personalities. In the end, it is one of the most
rewarding things that I have done since I became a teacher.

My Plans for Next Years

My plans for next year are easy. As most everyone knows, I
am in this profession for the long haul. I am not one of
those who plans to teach for a couple of years and then move
on to that big fine office with the big leather chair. That
is not for me. I plan to continue to teach in Olive Branch.
In fact, I have every intention of being here for at least
25 years. I enjoy my job. I love the people that I work
with, and I have made lasting friendships at this school. I
have a very wonderful administration, and they support me
110%. Most importantly, I love the kids. They are always a
lot of fun, and they add interest to sometimes a dull day.
I plan to continue to coach our newly founded Quiz Bowl
Team. When I was at Ole Miss, I always helped with the
UMAIT and Brain Brawl Quiz Bowl Competitons. When I came
here to Olive Branch, I was shocked to discover that one of
the largest high schools in the state did not have a quiz
bowl team. So, I (along with some help) set out to found a
quiz bowl team. We did so, and they are already performing
extremely well. So, as for next year, I plan to continue to
work with them. In truthfulness, I am looking forward to
next year. I believe that as I continue to teach, I will
become a better teacher, and hopefully, one day, I will
reach that "Master Teacher" level.

Friday, November 03, 2006


Well, after a long two weeks, the day has finally arrived. That is correct, today is homecoming. For the past two weeks, I have been helping with the freshman float. I was asked about three weeks ago to be the chairman of the freshman float. I graciously accepted the offer. Mostly because I love working on stuff like this, and it sort of took me back to my former years of high school. All week has been Spirit Week. It has been so much fun. The kids really got into it, but most of all, the teachers got into it (including myself). Monday was career day and I went as a farmer. Tuesday was Halloween Day and I went as Santa Claus. Wednesday was pajama day, and I was happy to go in my Ole Miss pajamas all day long. Thursday was 80 year old day. Yes, I came as an 80 year old with the walker and everything. Today was Blue and Gold Day. This year, the theme for homecoming was OB Pride (recommended by myself and another teacher). We decided to go with this theme since we recently split into multiple high schools. This would allow the kids to have a sense of what it is actually like to have OB Pride. The theme of our float was Take A Ride With OB Pride. It included race cars, and the kids waved blue and yellow checkered flags. The kids had a great time with it. The truth is, I think I did as well. The point is this. High School cannot be just about work. It has to promote a sense of duty and pride. To me, that is exactly what was done here today.

Sunday, October 29, 2006


I love Mississippi. I was born and raised here, and too many times, she is not treated with the respect that she deserves. All too often, stereotypes begin to play a key roll when people speak the name of Mississippi. But to me, these stereotypes are not true. Most people have a sense of fear when they come to Mississippi for the first time. It is that, “Lock the door when driving through there” mentality. They seem to believe that racism stills reigns, but I disagree. In fact, most of my friends are black. We all have a great relationship with each other. Hence, people should not automatically make assumptions about a certain place. The truth is that you will find genuine people who put other needs before their own. Mississippi is the most giving state in the Union, per capita. Morgan Freeman once said that “I did not choose Mississippi, but she chose me.” I totally agree with this statement. In fact, I am glad that she chose me. From the vast Mississippi Delta to the gentle rolling hills, Mississippi has so much to offer. This past summer, Matt Lochen and I took a 7 day tour of Mississippi. We stayed with people that I knew all along the way. We went through the Delta to Merigold, Yazoo City, Clarksdale, Belzoni, and many other small unique places. We then went down to Vicksburg and Natchez. We then headed down towards Jerry Clower’s home at Route 4, Liberty, Mississippi. We went to the gulf coast to see the area devastated by Hurricane Katrina. To say the least, it was a fun . Matt was able to see what all Mississippi had to offer, and I was able to see thing that I had never seen before. From this, I really saw what Mississippi really is. She is a wonderful state with great people who love and value each other.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Football, nothing else like it!

As everyone knows, I love football. For as long as I can remember, I have been a huge football fan. So many times, football gets put under the microscope, so to speak. Many people do not believe that football should be held in high regards. While I agree with this, I also disagree with this. Academics are the most important things in a school. However, for so many students football is their form of "enjoyment" when it comes to high school. Football is "their way out, " so to speak. Anyway, football is important to so many students, and it gives them an opportunity to be actively involved in the high school activites.

This past Friday, the largest game in the state of Mississippi was played at Olive Branch High School. In fact, it was named as the game of the week in the USA Today. The number 1 team took on the number 2 team. That is right, South Panola High School took on Olive Branch High School. It was one of the most exciting football games that I have been to in a long time. We had to be at the school pretty much the entire day to help with parking and other things. By 5:30, the campus was packed and we had closed the campus. By 7:30 the stadium was closed as over 8,000 fans packed the stadium. It was so exciting to be there. Everyone was happy and cheering for their Tigers or Conquistadors. In the end, South Panola won 12 to 7. However, Olive Branch should have won the game. They lost due to a fumble on one of the last drives of the game. To say the least, it was a great game, and it provided a way for us to come together as an Olive Branch family.

Getting Kids to do Their Homework

To get students to do their homework, this is never an easy task. I struggled for a semester with class averages in the basement in Pre-Algebra. Everyone told me with Pre-Algebra not to expect a miracle. They said that normally class averages would be in the high 60s, and I would have to accept that and move on. At Christmas last year, I decided to change that. At that time, I had two classes of Pre-Algebra. Both of their averages were in the mid 60s. Everyone kept telling me how good that was for those classes. The problem was that they were not doing their homework. Homework counts about 50% to 60% of my average. So, if you don't do your homework, you will fail. I decided to turn it into a class competition. I wrote both of the class averages at the top of the board. Each day, I updated them. I told them that whoever had the highest average at the end of the nine weeks, I would give them a pizza party. They didn't exactly understand the concept of how to get their averages to go up. So, I told them that I would make a deal with them. I told them that if everyone would do their homework and bring it to class, I would promise them that their class average would go up. If it didn't I would eat my notebook. So, the next day, everyone had their homework. The class average shot up by 2 points. The kids got so excited! Both class averages began to rise. The kids were doing their homework. By May, both class averages were in the mid 70s. This was a huge accomplishment. This year, I started out with the same procedure. As I look at my front board, my Pre-Algebra averages are 78, 77, 76, and 80. So, it is clear that this will work. Turn your homework into a class competition, and they will improve. If you only have one class of a particular subject, then set the bar high. For example, tell them that if they get an 80 class average, then you will give them a reward.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Computer Class

Well, I guess I could say I was the lucky one in this case. This time, I got to sit back and observe what was going on. I guess you could say that I was on the outside looking in. As most people know, I did not have to take the computer class because I already had this class. I am extremely grateful that I have already had this class, actually. I took this class two years ago, I think. I took it under Dr. Clif Mims at the University of Mississippi. He was an excellent instructor, and he showed us so many neat things that we could do with the computer. Out of all the classes that I have taken to receive my master’s degree, I would say that this was definitely one of the most beneficial classes to me. He showed us how to build a webpage,shortcuts in Word, and how to do neat things with PowerPoint. I still use some of the stuff that the taught us. This course was so helpful to me. He taught us how to make animated figures pop up on the screen and dance. He also showed us some awesome websites were we could get valuable material. Do I remember everything that he taught us? No. But, I have used a lot of his methods in my classroom when it comes to technology. Some of us in Mississippi Teacher Corps do not use Power Point. Why? Because some people do not know how to properly use Power Point. They will tellyou that they do not know how to use it. This course (the one that I took) would have been so helpful to everyone! It is something that we can actually use in our day to dayteaching lives. The whole point of this program is for us to take classes to help us become better teachers. These courses need to show us new methods and ideas to carry backto the classroom. In short, if it won’t benefit me in the classroom, then I don’t need it. This is one class that was an excellent course to offer to teachers. Technology ishere, and it is the future. In short, I believe that it is my fellow 2nd year teachers who have lost out in this battle. They could have learned and used these valuable resources that they could have been taught in an actual computer course.