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Life Skills

Dear Wise Elders



My class had run out of steam. Once, in early August, there had been four full tables of more than six people each. I needed a valet to help park the walkers that had to be lined up at the door. When we compared our answers we often had people trying to talk over each other. Today we sat sparsely spaced around two tables. I addressed the ten older adults. Doing my best not to show my exasperation, I asked, “No stories? Anyone? ”.

It wasn’t their fault and it wasn’t my fault. Well, actually it was my fault.

Race for Presents part 2 - The Point System

My basic point system works in multiples of 5, making tallying point totals easy even for the mathematically challenged. Small tasks and demonstrating positive behavior are worth the minimum 5 points. Bonus tasks and something you want to recognize as especially good are worth 10 points. Group completion of large assignments and homework starts at 25 points and goes up from there, but nothing is ever worth more than 100 points and there should be very few 100s. At the end of every class, the group points are tallied and the totals written in sharpie on the scoreboard in the back of the room.

30 Day Race for Presents


Teachers – What if I told you there was a single system that could handle most discipline problems, guarantee high student engagement in classroom activities, and ensure most, if not all, of your students turn in their homework every day? Read on, because all of this and more can be yours for one low price.

No, I’m not going to charge you for the information. However, the first thing you have to do is spend about $40. Every year I patiently wait for sales on games like Connect 4, Jenga, Monopoly, and Scrabble.

Summer 2014

I hardly know where to begin. It's been a whirlwind of activity for me and for Purplearn. For me, the summer of 2014 will be remembered as days cool enough for me not to melt into my usual uniform of suit and purple tie.
I wore this uniform at the class I taught at Brookdale. I grew up across the reservoir from the college campus and it is still beautiful. In room 101 of the ATEC building my twelve students and I explored game theory and proper cooperative learning techniques. I am already looking forward to my next classes there in the spring.

Meeting the criteria from United Health Care

We just received a new magazine from United Health Care called Renew. In it there is an article entitled "A-Z Brain Booster". It is not a serious, scientific article, but more of a fluff piece where they assign each letter of the alphabet a word that they feel people should do to help keep their brains healthy.

Out of the 26 different things they highlighted, the Purplearn program meets 11 of them. The one I want to mention here is the one we find most important here at Purplearn - Have fun with friends.

Book continued


The absent-minded science teacher, an old woman long past her usefulness that we are unable to be rid of due to the influence of the teacher’s union, shuffles up to me, begging for my key for the third time this week. Once again I graciously open her door for her and as I stand there with a frozen smile waiting for her to realize that she can go in now, I look around me. Above my head broken or missing ceiling tiles make a checkerboard pattern, and I mentally plug the face of the kid who broke each tile into the proper hole.

The First Paragraph of the Book

I am dancing to the music as I step in a semi-circle to the left and punch my opponent’s face with my right hand, turning my heel and rotating my hip in unison as I strike to impart more force. I pause and center my weight so I use my body more than my arms to throw my limp opponent away. Then as the lovely Ms. Lopez sings the end, “Until it beats no more,” I step to the right and slowly raise my center of gravity, feeling my body expand with my inner energy. My imaginary opponents dispatched and the Tai Chi short form done, three quick, measured steps and a tap of my finger stops the music.

Active Listening - A Life Skill

There is an old saying, “Do as I say, not as I do.” This saying expresses the fact that often people do not follow their own advice. Every year, somewhere around the third day of school, I present the children with my modified version, “Do as I say and as I do.” When I ask for a volunteer to repeat back to me what I just said, about half the time the response mimics the original expression and not my modified one. I like it when I get this wrong answer here as it really drives home my point. The fact is that we have gotten too impatient to really listen anymore.