History In Halstead

Location: Halstead, Kansas, United States

This is my seventh year at Halstead which is also where I live with my wife and my soon to be two year old daughter.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Pitt State Game

Who will win the Pitt State Game this weekend? Post a guess for extra credit

Unintentional Sexism????

I got take out Chinese food last night for dinner since I was too lazy to Mac anything at home. As I was finishing up my delicious meal my wife opened a fortune cookie and here is what it said:

Behind an able man, there are always other able men

Looking at the quote I suppose it could be read many different ways:

1. The term man was used to simplify the fortune and there was no sexism intended. This would be akin to saying "all men are created equal."

2. It was meant to be funny since most people would expect the quote to say behind an able man is an able woman.

3. It is a straight up sexist quote

4. It was unintentional but some people might read it as sexist.

Your Opinion: What is your take on the quote?

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Good News From the Homefront

I have had the chance this summer to talk to a lot of former students and I am quite proud to say that many of them are doing well for themselves. Also, I have discovered that many of them are attending college and majoring in social science or education fields. It would be ridiculous to believe that I was responsible for this but at least I can be assured that I didn't do too much damage to turn them away from areas. Also, I have one aide interested in economics (maybe) and another who will probably major in history (and maybe go to Pitt State).

Friday, August 25, 2006

Uh-Oh... Somebody was Wrong

In an two year battle royale the art teacher and me have have been arguing over outsourcing. I am a straight up fan of it and as a stockholder I expect my BODs to act in a legal and ethical manner that provides dividends and increases in the stock prices. I have know economic, moral or ethical problems with outsourcing. Our art teacher sees it as one of the greatest evils in the nation. Now I have more evidence that his view might be more emotional instead of economic:

Taking a swing at conventional wisdom, Princeton professors Gene Grossman and Esteban Rossi-Hansberg argued that wages for the least-skilled blue collar jobs had been rising since 1997 as outsourcing boosted productivity.

The professors presented their paper on Friday at the Kansas City Federal Reserve conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The meeting's theme, "The New Economic Geography," comes at a time when some fear that the United States is becoming trapped in a wages-prices spiral to the bottom by cheap labor in India and China.

The Princeton economists contend that many observers tended to gloss over the productivity benefits involved in the offshoring of labor.

They presented evidence that the productivity effect had helped raise real wages for the least skilled among U.S. blue collar workers -- those who do jobs most likely to be shipped overseas -- by about a quarter of a percent per year between 1997 and 2004.

So is outsourcing good?

PS Kyle you should appreciate this too!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Source For World History

Her is the source for the Palestinian/Israel timeline assignment.

A Breif History

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Advice For Your Life

As a teacher it is my reposability to teach a lot of information to my students. In addition to this try to mentor them in one possibility of how to lead their life. This encompasses a lot of practical informations. One great site for such information is Signum sine tinnitu--by Guy Kawasaki. Here is a sample from his ten things to learn this school year:

How to explain something in thirty seconds. Unfortunately, many schools don’t have elevators or else students would know how to explain things in a thirty-second elevator pitch. Think mantra (three words), not mission statements (sixty words). Think time, not money, is the most important commodity. Think ahead, not on your feet. At the end of your thirty-second spiel, there should be an obvious answer to the question, “ So what?” If you can’t explain enough in thirty seconds to incite interest, you’re going to have a long, boring career.

Monday, August 21, 2006

An Economics Story

Icame across the delicious tidbit of information in the local news weblog and it will find a place in my economics class:

When more than 60 people showed up at the Wichita City Council meeting this week to protest the proposed displacement by Starbucks of minority-owned Sarah’s Ice Cream and Bakery at Mid-Continent Airport, council members got the message and instructed city staff to work it out. Given travelers’ stated desire for a Starbucks, the best outcome would be for the airport to have the benefit of both businesses. It certainly needs more such amenities. And the way this episode was handled suggests there is still a lack of sensitivity at City Hall to the concerns of the African-American community. That’s hard to believe, given the steps taken since 2003 in response to charges of institutional racism, including formation of a task force to review city relationships with minority contractors.

I ike the discussion of havin both coffee shops in the airport as a discussion starter for competition but there is a better discussion about the expectations of those who pay the rent at the airport and what they expect in return for their rent. Of course, there is also some room to talk about government interaction ith a local economy. Finally, it will give a hance to talk about the book The Undercover Economist.


The Wichita Eagle has endorsed an idea of adding new restrictions on driving for teens until they reach the age of eighteen. The Eagle would like to see a more graduated, transitional approach to teen licensing in Kansas, including a period of driving with nighttime or teen passenger restrictions, or both. The Eagle would also like the Legislature to take another look at banning cell phone use by teen drivers. Obviously, since I am thirty-one years old this law doesn't matter much. It also will not effect my daughter since she will be operating under another set of 'family' laws. I do wonder if there is a better way to improve teen driving records without imposing new laws.

Any ideas?

Thursday, August 17, 2006

A Preference for Ignorance

I came across the quote while reading Tech Central Station. It looks at government spending and how well (or poorly) the government spends money. This is a topic that I have been ranting about for sometime and I thin the quote has a lot of truth.

In the fields of health care, education, and assistance to poor countries, we rarely measure value properly. It seems as though we prefer to be ignorant about what succeeds and what fails. We know shockingly little about the cost-effectiveness of very expensive programs.

Read the rest of the article here.

For discussion: Do you thinkpeople are intersested in the government spedning money wisely?

Things Are Looking Up

We are about to finish the first week of schol and I am impressed with how things are going. The teaching staff seems to be motivated and highly professional. They are setting high expectations and working well together. The studetns are giving a good effort and they have been very respectful. There are a couple of potential problems that might blow up but hopefully they can be resolved before they get bad. Overall, the 2006-07 year has a A- grade!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Interesting Information

My economics class bought stock in Gilead Labs last year and it is looking like it was a good choice. The stock is out performing the major indexes and it is also doing some social good. It has teamed with Merk Labs and is trying to create a once a day AIDS prevention pill for females. The goal would be to provide this drug at low cost in poor countries (mainly Africa). I had never heard of this company before last year and none of my students had ever invested before last year but together we learned about a nice company, investing and AIDS prevention. Not bad for a high school econ class.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Are We Fighting World War III?

The basis of my first unit in World History/Geography is an analysis on whether or not we are fighting World War IIL. I thought it would be a good way to integrate current issues, history and geography into a single lesson. We used this NPR clip as an intorduction:

Are we fighting World War III?

What do you think?

First Day of School

Halstead High School started the the 2006-07 school year today. I was looking forward to getting back into the swing of things and today did not disappoint me. My classes look pretty solid and I think I am going to be able to do some pretty impressive things with my students. Attitudes of both the students and staff seemed positive and the school climate was good. The first day of school is typically pretty good so its not a great barometer but I will take a good day anytime that I can get them.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Transition Day

We had new students at school today in order to tell them about how we do things and our expectations. This meant a whole lot of 9th graders, some foreign exchange students and transfer students. This was a brand new idea and I thought it went over well. The conversation was light, the atmosphere was celebratory, there was a lot of humor but the message still seemed to get across. My contribution was a top ten list of why we have a dress code. It is listed below. Tomorrow we start school for real so we'll see how well things sunk in.


  1. Imagine Mr. Knoll wearing some of the outfits that aren'’t allowed.
  2. It’s worth leaving something to the imagination
  3. It might take your attention away from Mr. Gerber's interesting lectures
  4. It’s sure a lot better than school uniforms
  5. You might accidentally get a hook, hoop, stud or other piercing snag on a locker and that can be pretty darn painful.
  6. It might inspire you to go to college, become a teacher, get a master's degree, become a principal, become a superintendent and then pressure the school board into getting rid of the dress code.
  7. It is a good excuse to get your parents to buy you a brand new wardrobe
  8. Short shorts and sleeveless shirts with large holes are pretty uncomfortable when a classroom is 50 degrees.
  9. Dress codes are better than metal detectors at the doors and policemen in the halls.
  10. You can save money on hair dye

Friday, August 11, 2006

Things Are Coming Into Shape

We welcome new student next Monday and then start regular classes on Tuesday. I like to actually try and teach the first day since most of the other teachers are just going over class policies and rules. In my world history class we will discuss whether we are currently fighting World War III using this NPR clip . My US history class will look at statistics as historical evidence and my Sociology class will discuss how we act different when we are in groups. Overall it should be a pretty solid first day.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

It's Go Time

The school year is about to start and I'm pretty excited about it. I have some good ideas for classes and I saw my rosters which look pretty good. I do have huge classes this year (18-23 per class) but it shouldn't be too much of a hassle. My aides are super fantastic and will help me to no end (I will also rant to them on a consistent basis). we will integrate a lot more technology this year, many more primary sources and a lot more THINKING!!! Overall, it's go time so let's hit it!

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