I have a feeling that Matt and I would work together very well, but those around us would mostly like think our strong, perhaps heated, discussions as argumentative and determinantal to company health and moral. Wimps.

All government contractors to be restricted so that...

I had this crazy idea this morning. Got to share. I want all government contractors to be restricted so that

  1. The highest paid employee makes no more than 10x the lowest paid employee.
  2. No employee can have more than a 10% share of the company.
  3. The company is not to make more that a 10% profit.
  4. The employees have union representation.

Which answer goes with which question?

Gripe. In real-time group discussions -- Skype, Slack, HipChat, etc -- the interleaving of messages from the multiple participants will cause confusion when many questions are open and answers are given without context. Which answer goes with which question? So, when the question is "do we need to do X with Y" then answer "Re X with Y, yes" and not "yes". It takes so little extra time and, really, if you are that short on time then find another job where clear communication is not important.

It is easier to build a strong children than to repair broken adults

Original image can be found at INTRODUCING KIRSTEN RICKERT

Online texts for the introductory languages at the high school

My letter to the Superintendent regards 1:1 and online texts:

My son Owen is taking French II this semester. I asked why he takes his (heavy) French textbook to school when he could use the online version with his laptop. (As he could do in French I last year.) He said that French II did not have an online textbook. Student gossip was that the school bought Spanish textbooks instead. I asked Mr Mezzanotte about this and he explained that Spanish was now offered at the middle school (and so textbooks were needed) and that high school upperclassmen also take Spanish I and II and are without 1:1 laptops.

Spanish was 1 of the 4 1:1 pilot projects last year. This decision seems like a step backward and not a step forward for 1:1 at the high school. And, I would think, especially so for the pilot's teacher. An alternative would have been to send the Spanish I & II textbooks from the high school to the middle school, provide online textbooks for high school Spanish and French, and then provide laptops to the few upperclassmen taking introductory languages. Without addressing the mixed grade classroom any early success for 1:1 is really hampered.

What can be done now to provide online texts for the introductory languages at the high school?

"that's my work"

I was reviewing the changes in iOS 9 today. It was a bittersweet moment. What I was seeing were interactions and interfaces and coordinations that I had so wanted to be involved with developing when I was 20. I am too far removed from the tools and skills needed to do this kind of work today. Perhaps I should just be glad that these tools exist and that I use them. It would have been gratifying to point to a patch of pixels and tell my family "that's my work."

Update: In my late 20s I was hired by Apple's Advanced Technology group. I was elated. A few weeks later the offer was rescinded shortly after John Sculley ousted Steve Jobs and put a freeze on hiring. I was miserable.

Programming Language Checklist

Regards the checklist item "Shift-reduce conflicts in parsing seem to be resolved using rand()", I think I have used that language. http://colinm.org/language_checklist.html

Printing duplex, again

This posting is mostly here to remind myself about printing duplex on a Mac. Without some tool to help it is almost impossible for me to remember how to allways be successful manually printing duplex on a simplex printer. Not finding a good tool, I wrote the following script. Place this script in your "$HOME/Library/PDF Services" directory as, for example, "Process for Duplex" and now your "PDF" menu in the Print dialog box will have a "Process for Duplex" option. When you select this option it runs this script.

What this script does is to separate out each page of the original PDF into its own file. It then joins all the odd pages together in ascending order (eg, 1, 3, 5, 7) into an "odd pages" PDF. It then joins all the even pages together in descending order (eg, 6, 4, 2) into an "even pages" PDF. Further, if there are an odd number of pages then the first even numbered page is a blank page (eg, blank, 6, 4, 2). This blank page is needed to force the last odd pages to be printed with a blank "back". The script then opens the odd and even pages documents in Preview for review and normal printing.

To print the document first print the odd pages. Take the printed pages as a group and place them so that the blank side is up and the top edge is placed at the head of the printer tray. (I have a Dell B1163w laser printer and it prints on the face up page in the tray in starting at the head. Your printer is likely to be different.


function split() {
   pages=$(/usr/local/bin/pdfinfo "$file" | perl -ne 'print "$1" if /^Pages:\s+(\d+)/')

   /usr/local/bin/pdfseparate "$file" "$dir/p-%d.pdf"

   # prepare the list of odd pages in assending
   for o in $(seq 1 2 $pages)
      O="$O $f"
   # join the odd pages into one file
   /usr/local/bin/pdfunite $O "$odd"

   if [ $((pages % 2)) == 1 ]
      # add a blank page to for the "back" of the last page
      base64 --decode --output "$f" <<EOH
      pages=$((pages -1))
   # prepare the list of even pages in descending/reverse order
   for e in $(seq $pages -2 2)
      E="$E $f"
   # join the even pages into one file
   /usr/local/bin/pdfunite $E "$even"

   # remove the intermediary files
   rm -f $O $E

# remove title and printer settings
shift 2

for f in "$@"
   dir=$(mktemp -d "/tmp/duplex-XXXX")
   split "$f" "$dir" "$dir/odd.pdf" "$dir/even.pdf"
   open "$dir/even.pdf"
   open "$dir/odd.pdf"


Update: Matt points out that monochrome, duplex laser printers are under $100 and so you really don't have to manually handle the paper. He is right. I just happen to have an almost new printer and so can't justify replacing it yet.

Rick Wormeli and standards-based assessment and grading

Last night I attended Rick Wormeli’s lecture in the Cumberland, RI. He was invited to speak and train at the Cumberland High School in the day and talk with the parents in the evening. He was bringing his expertise in standards-based assessment and grading. When I first heard about the lecture I thought, “Ok, I will go and listen to a Common Core advocate because I need to understand the opposition.” I expected to be annoyed throughout the lecture. My expectations could not have been more wrong.

When Wormeli says “standards-based” he is not talking about any particular instructional program. What he means is that the student will be assessed and graded only on evidence of mastery of the standards. It is not based on student behaviors, neat notebooks, hygiene, or other subjective judgments. To do so is “grade falsification” and that is unethical. (He raises the unethical issue often.)

With a standard everyone involved has a clear picture of what needs to be mastered and how the evidence of mastery contributes to the grade. How the student achieves mastery does not contribute to the grade. The path, as it were, can be different for different children. And it is the teacher’s professional role to find that path with the student. Thomas Guskey in Education Leadership asks of teachers “Is my purpose to select talent or develop it?” Clearly it is to develop it.

He advocates for rework. “When,” he asks, “is a professional evaluated on the average of his or her work over time?” When you pass your driving test on the second try you have passed the driving test. You have shown evidence of mastery. You are not told that based on the average of the two tests you will need to take and pass a third test so as to raise your average. What matters most is the current level of achievement and not the past levels. The same is true for students. If the student shows evidence of mastery of the standard then the student has passed. Formative tests and quizzes are to aid the student and teacher in evaluating progress towards mastery. They are not graded. They are diagnostics. It is only the summative tests that are. And these can be retaken/reworked.

He is quite formal with how he consent to rework. He wants to know when and how the student expects to spend their time to improve their understanding of the standard? This then becomes a contract between him, the student, and the parents. In Mr Wormeli’s class rework is not an opportunity to skip the preparation for the original test or assignment.

Wormeli state that the standards should be atleast school-wide if not wider. Without that there is no way to fairly accesses students. If Ms World’s History 101 class uses a different standard than Mr Universe’s History 101 then how can either teacher know that the student is prepared for Ms Congeniality’s History 202 class? All that the teachers know for sure is that the student was passed along. And that is all the administration knows. And that is all the parents know. The student, you can be sure, knows the truth.

Wormeli is a dynamic speaker. He has vast teaching experience at elementary and secondary schools. He seems to have countless experiences and examples to draw upon. He is funny, playful, and, when needed, skewering. He is also very well rehearsed.

He covered lots of other ground and had time, mental, and physical conditions allowed he and the audience would have remained in the auditorium well into the night. I do plan to follow up on his lecture by reading his writings and viewing the videos he has done.