Teachers.Do, an interactive online teacher community supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, recently featured Timberview Middle School History Teacher Brian Ketcham on its site.
Once a month, Teachers.Do profiles an outstanding teacher to inspire the education community, and it selected Ketcham for its February profile.
The article highlights Ketcham's passion for finding creative ways to deliver the U.S. History curriculum to his students, including utilizing entertaining video features. It was a lip synched version of a song from the musical "Hamilton" that Ketcham posted on YouTube that caught the eye of Teachers.Do.
Teachers.Do sent representatives to Timberview to see Ketcham's teaching in action, take photos, and conduct interviews in hopes of showing how he shares his love of history and theatre by using the Broadway smash "Hamilton" in his classroom, and by dressing as King George III while covering the founding fathers.
To quote Hamilton, Ketcham is "Not throwing away his shot" to use this musical to get his kids excited about Alexander Hamilton and the founding fathers.
Let me start out my saying this. I love teaching. I have known since I was in 8th grade when my U.S. History teacher made an impact in my life that I wanted to be a teacher. I adore teaching history, and I love my kids. I want to be the teacher who makes the world a better and more understanding place, but law makers are making this harder and harder for me to do. Does anyone else think it is crazy that more people in the state of Texas would trust me to carry a gun in my classroom than trust that I would actually teach my class without a STAAR standardized test to make sure I am covering my TEKS?
With our current system, lawmakers are making mistakes that are setting back education every day. Our best and brightest teachers are leaving to teach non-tested subjects, or leaving the profession all together. The ability to dive deep into content, expand on the people and events in history, and make those connections are lost in the search of standardized test scores. It’s hard for people, who truly love the content and their kids (even those very unique age of 8th grade kids) to teach when lawmakers continue to handcuff them.
I graduated college, taking with me love of History and a History degree from a college known for its superb history department. I read about history, take advanced training on history, explore historic buildings, take over 100 kids to Washington D.C. every year, and give historical tours in my free time because I love my subject so much. With that said, my performance comes down, not to whether my students have a knowledge and love of History when they leave my classroom, but what their scores are and what mine are. They are like a scarlet letter posted on my chest. My amazing fellow 8th grade history teachers and I last year had the HIGHEST STAAR scores of any school in a 5 district area around us. While one may think this would be a cause for celebration, it brought no joy, and just the expectation to continue cutting our lessons for more and more STAAR prep and sadness over the content we already cut.
I invite you, I ask you, and I beg you to stop by any day you want and observe my class. In nine years of teaching, I can promise you we have never had “free time”. I don’t take days off. We work from bell to bell and we have fun. We learn. History is fun if you do it right, and the people I work with do it right. If you stop by any of our classes you will find active, fun and engaging lesson going on every day. We dress up, use technology, and God forbid, share our love for history.
My students need me. They need me to teach them, be there for them, and care when often no one else does. My students need my time so I can foster this love of history in each and every one of them. Give me that time back!
Millions of dollars goes into testing every year. Imagine the impact if we took that and brought in experts, traveled to museums, and used hands on activities to help my students experience history. Imagine if we took some of those millions and used that to hire more teachers with passion. Imagine if my kids had a 20:1 ratio, rather than 30:1 that we have now. Imagine a world, where we could really have time to take a day to reteach something that the kids didn’t understand. Imagine, if we took the time to let students make mistakes, and learn from them. Just like the people they study, they could learn to pick themselves up when they fall, rather than be pulled across the finish line by an arbitrary test deadline that falls in the middle of April, and costs us over a month of instruction time.
I’ve talked to other state congressman and women and state school board members that say they don’t want to remove the test because it will make history a blow off class. Hardly. People don’t teach history because it is easy, they teach it because they have a passion for it and they see the real value in it.
I need you, and my students need you. You are on notice. That great teacher I had in 8th grade no longer teaches 8th grade. Your test convinced him to move to another grade. I know he still works just as hard without a test. I’m tired of your test. It just makes me sad that you have beat me up. I hope you and your colleagues will not play political games, be swayed by the testing lobby’s money, but will advocate for students and teachers. Let me teach History. I won’t let you beat me. You will not beat me. Pencils down.
8th Grade History Teacher (for now)
Big shout out to Sandra Engelland for a VERY nice article she wrote about me for K Magazine. Thanks Sandra.
The link to the very nice article is below.
There is also a nice article about Craig Ottman. Be sure to check out his story.
The K-Magazine Article
The 2nd Annual Brian Ketcham Premorial Game coming up.
The game is on Thursday, July 24th from 6-8 PM. It will be played at the home of YOUR Fort Worth Cats, LaGrave Field. We will be playing softball on the big field. Gates open at 5:45. Show up if you want to watch. I figure we can have about 25 people show up and play. Everyone else can watch.
Here is the best part. I'm paying for the field rental. It will cost you $10 to play. The even better part? All the money that people pay to play will be donated to Kidd's Kids. All of it. If you want to pay more than the $10, (think $20), that is even better. If you want to come watch, swing on by and drop some money in the bucket. It should be a great time and now, for a great cause.
You'll be watching or playing the Premorial at the same exact spot where people have watched Hall of Famers play at such as: Hank Aaron, Sparky Anderson, Bob Feller, Stan Musial, Yogi Berra, Brooks Robinson, Rogers Hornsby, Jackie Robinson, Babe Ruth, Ralph Kiner, Brian Ketcham (see what I did there), George Sisler, Duke Snider, Warren Spahn, Joe DiMaggio, Willie Mays, Paul Waner, Don Drysdale, Willie McCovey, and Ted Williams.
Seriously, though, this should be a fun game to attend and hang out at. I just ask if you come to watch that you pick up your trash on the way out.
Could Texas survive? If you ask most Texas where they are from, they would not say the United States, they would say, Texas.
Texas obviously has some swagger, and is a bit of a bully.
Could it survive on it's own however? Well...
Facts are Texas is the 2nd largest state in size (Alaska is #1) and in population (Hello, California). Also, no story about Texas would be complete without someone telling you Texas was it's own state at one time. The glorious years of 1836-1845. Heck, they even had Presidents and their own money. Texans will often forget to tell you that California was also, as was Vermont, and heck, Hawaii was a Kingdom. They usually forget to tell you Texas wanted to join the U.S. in 1836, and really wasn't successful and riddled with debt when they did join the U.S. in 1845.
Of course, even Texas got the 15 year itch and tried to leave the United States in 1861.
Now, back to the point of this blog. Would Texas succeed if it seceded?
Texas has around 26 million people which would put it in the mid 40's of largest countries in the world. The Texas economy would also be in the top 15, that is, assuming California doesn't leave the U.S. also and become the world's 9th largest economy. Texas compares fairly well to Australia. Some of you may know that the U.S. has 3 power grids. West, East, and Texas. This would give Texas a advantage compared to other states. In addition, Texas possesses one-fourth of the nation's oil reserves and one-third of its natural gas reserves. All pluses.
What Texans fail to see often is how much Federal money is funneled into Texas. Education, highways, and jobs all come partially from federal money. These things all cost money, and while most states couldn't swing this, to my surprise, it turns out Texas is one of a handful of states that send more money to DC than DC send back to Texas. According to the Star Telegram, Texas sent $198 billion to Washington and the state got back roughly 90 cents of every dollar. The math isn't ever that easy. For example, an natural disaster or tragedy they would not have federal funds to help them out.
Seceding would be a lot like a divorce. Having a standing army and border control (Texas has a large border with Mexico and the U.S.) would be expensive and currently is mostly paid for by the federal government.
How would you pay retiring workers who paid into SS? Would there be a mass exit of Texas if Texas went this route? What about Medicaid? Medicare? Would Texas owe a chunk of money for it's share of the U.S. debt? How would Texas deal with massive job losses with the U.S. Army and likely other companies like BNSF, and Lockheed leaving the state?
Just like a lot of people who are married, they stay married because they'd rather stay in a relationship they aren't very happy about to avoid the ugly cost of a divorce.
Can Texas legally secede? No. Contrary to what a lot of nuts and Rick Perry may say, no where in the Texas nor U.S. Constitution does it say Texas can leave it and when they want. The Supreme Court has heard cases on Secession before, and what do you know, they have shot them down every time. Don't believe me? Check out Texas v. White 1869, or Williams v. Bruffy 1877. I don't really care what Thomas Jefferson or John C. Calhoun thought on the matter. It appears the Supreme Court sides with Andrew Jackson's view of our Federal Union. Sure Texas could try to fight, but I highly doubt Texas could compete with the U.S. Military spending. Plus, even if they did squeak out a "it's not worth fighting them" war with the U.S., they would become basically a isolated North Korea, next to the U.S. Best case scenario here for Texas, Dennis Rodman will still be around to patch things up.
The task: 1) Acknowledge the nominating blogger. 2) Share 11 facts about yourself. 3) Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
Baseball HOF only allows 10 so, here is my list.
Author : Coach Ketcham
Teacher, Lover of U.S. History. None of my thoughts are deep, and spelling and grammar are rarely double checked.