Sunday, 2 December 2012

Outside the... Balks? Huh?

So everyone is curious about my title.

Well as a lifelong learner (and product of the TDSB's gifted program) I've always been challenged to think creatively and try to do just what the title says.

I've been pondering this whole blogging idea since Royan Lee's "Spicy Learning" blog was introduced to me over a year ago before going to ECOO11. Up to that point I had assumed a personal brand was all about you know, buying or whatever. Surprisingly this isn't actually taken, even though I'm a Minnesota politician (born April 16, 1952) and a member of the Minnesota Senate representing District 42, who actually ran for governor too. [#WrongDigitalFootprint?]

Anyways, at ECOO11 we talked a lot about a lot of things, including digital footprint (thanks MzMollyTL!) and being a role model for students online and so on. After drinking from that fire hose I've begun to implement a lot of the things I learned or was exposed to there - but it's taken me a while. The one thing I really didn't want to rush into was my brand. So I waited on it until the inspiration hit, and two weeks ago it did.

For the last few years, when I'm assigning a particular project, I like to challenge my gifted students (because life has come full circle that way). I like to say to them "THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX... B - A - L - K - S". They kind of stare at me and go "HUH?" But it makes them think!

Going back even further in time, I can't claim the credit for the saying. It comes from one of my favourite "Silly" Albums - The BnL "Snack Time" album and the song "Crazy ABC's written by Steven Page and Ed Robertson. Here's the first few lines from the lyrics (if you are an english teacher - you could probably work this concept into a really neat assignment):

A is for aisle
B is for bdellium
C is for czar
And if you see him, would you mind telling him-

The whole song goes on like this and is uproariously funny. If you haven't heard it, and you're a teacher, and you like funny things, give it a listen!

So they go back and forth, and at the end they have this little jokesy conversation that goes something like this...

Okay, when you say zed,
For the benefit of our American friends
You really mean Zee, right?
No I mean Zed, like, like Zed Zed Top.
Zed Zed Top?
Yeah, you know the guys with the big long beards,
well, except the guy whose name is Beard,
he has a moustache
I always thought that was interesting
You done with the alphabet?
No extra letters I haven't heard of?
I think so.
Well this was a great help, I think, you know,
the contribution you made to world literacy
Well, I'm just saying, kids
I'm just saying
Think outside the box a little bit
Box with an "r"
Yeah, well, no, box with a b-a-l-k-s, like a pitcher.
Ahh, as opposed to b-a-c-h-s,
Right, think outside the "balks"

And hopefully THAT will help you understand my blog title! :) Thanks for reading!


  1. I totally thought that's what you meant;) Congrats on starting the blog adventure. Looking forward to your posts, buddy!

  2. First, what I want to know is: how did I not know about BNL's Snack Time album? I am ashamed of myself, considering I own not one but two of those 5-song yellow indie cassette tapes that the band made way-back when. Hmph - some fan I am!
    Secondly, welcome to the blogosphere! Since I learned so much from YOU at ECOO (and also have been slowly implementing things like the school website improvements you suggested), I was surprised to hear you weren't already deeply entrenched in this. Your Twitter micro-blog makes me think.
    Third, one day we need to talk about the TDSB gifted thing. My parents actually declined my gifted school placement because they wanted me to attend my local school. My own girl is in a different school board with a different model - it'd be neat to hear about your experiences back then (and now). Future blog post maybe?

    1. Teaching gifted identified classes has been both challenging and rewarding, as well as really interesting. I've learned a lot more about myself (and what it must have been like to teach me in elementary school:). I have had a unique opportunity to interact with parents and share some of my experiences, so YES, I will DEFINITELY have to ponder some kind of blog posting.
      A major problem I have is that I like to take lots of time to ponder and reflect (my philosophy background)... things that are not very conducive to our current "hyper-space". So who knows when I will get around to doing that!
      (BnL SnackTime is the last album with Steven Page by the way - they won a Juno for best kids album 2008 I believe)