TheTeacher: Is S/he a Conductor?

My musical tastes are eclectic; walk in to my house, scan my CD collection, and you’ll see quite a range of genre. Instead of being interested in only one category, I like many varieties. For example, it just doesn’t feel right to play classical music on a hot Virginia day–but on a cold day, it seems to fit the mood/season of the day. Kenny G in the winter? Never (except at Christmas). If all I had to listen to was Kenny G, I’d grow weary of even hearing the first note of the saxaphone.

I’ve always been a fan of Baroque and Classical era music, and I often have enjoyed watching a symphony play, for example, a great Vivaldi number. The violins are in sync, the harpsichord is chirping away, and the conductor looks at home leading his Charge. The conductor sets the tempo, pace, and “feel/interpretation” of the music. He is, in fact, a facilitator, and coaches the symphony to come together to produce a beautiful sound.

After reading RSS feeds and reading a post on Langwitches, take a break from the hecticness of the week and take time to listen to the presentation from TED in 2009. Are you a conductor?

What Is Going On at CES and JTY?

Recent events and news occuring at our schools:
Mrs. Connell took her class on an “archaeology dig” to Colonial Williamsburg. Using Ignite/ION to begin the lesson, students were able to review key terms, and afterwards, Mr. McKee shared information from his own digs at CW before students embarked on their own “dig” in the classroom. After the activity, students presented their theories about what they thought items were that they dug up.

Mrs. Daniels recently made a Kidspiration template for students to use during their computer lab time

Ms. Laughlin is working on Main Idea interactive activities in the computer lab and is preparing to web using Inspiration

Mrs. White had students import pictures of themselves into Paint, cut out digitally parts of imported pictures and insert their own faces on to the space to create new “creatures” to help discuss classroom rules. I have even had feedback from teachers in other buildings who have commented that they want to do this activity in their own lessons!

Mrs. Baum recently had students make sensory word posters using Big Huge Labs. They also made synonym posters in Microsoft Word to make words come “alive” and increase their vocabulary awareness.

Mrs. Cash is preparing to use Thinkfinity interactives in her unit on cells.

First grade teachers at CES are preparing to use laptops with their students on a regular basis.

Mrs. Barrett is having a Past and Present cookout with her students on Friday. They will use measuring cups and recipes to prepare fried apples over an open campfire and compare past cooking (campfire) and present (camping stove). Students will take pictures with Hamilton Cameras of the day’s activities and parents who are attending.

Mrs. Serafine, Crist, and Patgorski are reporting exciting things about advanced Inspire training at Tech Tuesday.

Mrs. Patgorski and Sanford are STOKED about the Quia training that they are receiving at Tech Tuesday and are already using it regularly in their classrooms.

Mrs. Jernigan has jumped on the Inspiration bandwagon and is asking how to make containers and restrictors on her flipcharts!

Mrs. Kirk was the first one to jump on board and has begun working on her professional development Menu!

15 teachers at CES have already expressed interest in attending morning Promethean Users Group meetings (could it be the food? Nooooooooooo….)

The 4th and 6th grade teams at CES are preparing for an Archaeology Dig and Colonial Fair to be held this Spring. We’ll be making videos of the day as well as Voicethreads/podcasts.

Mrs. McCullough is excited after her Data Projector training as she prepares to use it for her Social Studies classes.

Mrs. Rhodes is smiling now when she mentions technology! You’re our poster child! 

Mrs. Lyman used her Promethean Board with Mr. McKee and Mrs. Sherrill on the first day it was up, and students learned so quickly how to maneuver through the Menubar that all three teachers were able to step back!

Mrs. Butera is enjoying her document camera cart very much!

Mrs. Sirna is working on a Voicethreads project

Mrs. Hudgins missed her MCPS room so much that she went on a hunt for another data projector and loves having one back

Mr. Shenk is incorporating technology in his PE lessons on a regular basis with a data projector cart and digital equipment to track exercise and time activities.

Ms. Campbell reports that her MCPS room is great for helping incorporate technology into her music lessons as she teaches guitar and other instruments.

Mrs. Woody worked with all first grade classes and took them on Geometry Scavenger Hunts in the building, shooting geometry pictures wherever shapes were found that they were studying

Mrs. Jordan is working with a group of fifth graders on Math picture collages with pictures taken around the building

Mrs. Blanford is using her ActivSlate and Document Camera with great glee in the Reading Lab!

Mrs. Ruben reports that she is passing her wireless keyboard around during lessons for students to use during the lessons

14 JTY teachers will be attending Breakfast with your TRT on 11/7 in room 108 to learn about Promethean tricks and Promethean Planet

Mr. Nonnemacher shared a home video and pictures of a hail storm with his flip chart for 4th grade’s study of storms

If I missed something, feel free to share by adding a comment and letting us all know!

Where’s Brian?

Wondering why there have been no new posts? My apologies–from grad school (six hours) to surgery (an awesome three inch scar!) to preparing my elder daughter for moving to Asia to work, time has been crazyily (is that a word) busy lately. I got to attend ISTE in Philadelphia and was able to network with likeminded technologists and have a plethora of ideas to go through. However, I won’t be able to focus on those until this semester is over. Thanks for stopping by!

I hope your summer is going well.

Blogosphere Finds: Technology Integration Links, Ideas, and Professional Reading

Sort Google images by subject (new)

Technology for K-2/Early Childhood
Teach K-2 and want a great idea for your room? Write up about Voicethread

Facebook-like project for Biographies and the like

Video Making: Green Screen
Learn about green screen usage and see an example of a weather video project:
Another link from Langwitches

Professional Reading/Thinking
Will Richardson’s And What Do YOU Mean by Learning?

Interesting Post SOL project Idea:
Digital Story telling Ideas and other digital projects: Go

Break Time: What do You Wish You Could Have Done Differently?

great wall and fogThis post was originally meant to be a collection of links from the Blogosphere, but it took a different direction:

Just the other day I started daydreaming while reading my statistics book (imagine that—not being gripped by excitement while in the depth of alpha coefficients!) and was thinking of adventures I’ve had in my life and how much I missed them. While my eyes were blinking rapidly trying to stay awake, they finally surrendered to the struggle, and before I knew it, my head was over taken by gravity — I kicked the Lazy-Boy chair back and propped up my feet.

You know how, while drifting off, memories and thoughts flash before you like a slide show/movie, and those thoughts can appear out of nowhere?

I was reminded of a flying lesson where I flew into a cloud, only to hear my instructor say, “There are television antennas around here somewhere…”

Or, I thought of the time of the panic that we missed the plane in Hong Kong, only to discover that the empty gate meant that the aircraft was late and reassigned to another gate…

I won’t forget the time I was profiled at customs in Europe and taken aside for intense questioning…

Imagine how we felt once we started recognizing the rats where we lived in China and started naming them (the screams emitting from the first floor let us know that some didn’t recognize Mr. and Mrs. Rat and the family)

Or I think of the thrill the first time I saw The Great Wall of China appearing on the horizon…

This recent encounter with statistics came to mind after reading a link on Cool Cat Teacher Blog, Be There. Joe Ehrman referred to a study where those in their twilight years were asked, “What more do you wish you would have done in life?” Their answers?

1) Left More of A Legacy
2) Reflected More
3) Taken More Risks
Take time to take a break from the rigors of work (take a risk!) and think (reflect more) by reading the article here. What do you wish you would have done more of?

Fun Friday: Geography Through a Travel Blog

travel mapOK–Academic Review’s over, Benchmarks are over, the weekend’s here, gas prices are going through the troposphere…why not take some time to sit back and read the travel blog of Nicholas Rapp: “In the summer of 2009, Nicolas Rapp decided to take a break from his Art Director job at The Associated Press to attempt a one-year overland travel around the world in a 1996 Toyota Land Cruiser. He was back in New York in February 2011 after traveling 15 months and 37,000 miles.” If you like Amazing Race, for example, this is your time to experience a similar adventure from your house. Nick’s blog can be found at Trans World Expedition.

There are also some great resources in here for the classroom–especially the web cams that are attached to the map above. There also might be some ideas that you can get from here, such as writing prompts (If you could travel anywhere, where would it be?, etc.). Enjoy the weekend!

Technology and My BucketList: I Found a Lost Friend

imagesHave you seen The Bucket List? Viewers know that the main character is given little time to live, and so sets out to accomplish those things that he’s always wanted to do in the little amount of time that is left. As he accomplishes each wish, it is checked off. In other words, the goal is to live life to the fullest.

Watching the movie, my wife and I turned to each other and asked what each other would put on their list. I pondered about mine, for experiences that I have had many never experience in a lifetime. What would really matter? Staring at the ceiling and pondering the question, I KNEW what one of the top ones was: I wanted to find my best friend from elementary. My last contact with him was in 1979, and that was when he decided to try my old phone number to see, if by some chance, I was still there. Imagine my surprise, after seven years, I hear his voice on the other end of the line from Wisconsin.

As we all know, careers and children get in the way, and soon the timelines of our lives start rocketing at full throttle. In my case, it was survival mode. My wife and I were living on love after graduating from college: she a day care worker and I a substitute teacher for three years in a small town in Ohio. Can you believe our food budget was $25 a week??? No matter how hard I tried, principals seemed to not know of my existence. We moved to Virginia, and entered the depths of our careers.

For years I wondered, what happened to D? He was no ordinary friend. Growing up without a father or brother (both died), D. was like that brother I never had, and his family always welcomed me as one of their own. In other words, I felt safe. Growing up in a family of all females with no male mentor, D. was my link to male sanity. Moreover, his sensitivity to peoples’ emotions was a trait I had not seen in any other person; where one might shrug off an expression or comment, D. would zero in and have an uncanny grasp of getting to the bottom of situations. For example, one night his father came home from work and I was terrified. A kind and gentle man, D.’s dad had done nothing to gain this reaction, but the male mentors in my life were derogatory and found it easy to find fault with me. In other words, I only knew ridicule. D. was able to assess the situation with few words from me. “Hold on,” he said, as he left the room, “I’ll be right back.” He had gone to prepare his father and understand the timidity. D. was soon standing in front of me, and to shorten the story, had me with his father, totally relaxed.

I also learned a lot from him that I was unable to be taught from an all female household (all good). Never once did I feel insulted, hurt, or was my ego damaged. The family was likewise—people matter more than anything.

When the fateful day came when I found out his family was moving, I kept a stiff upper lip there but cried the whole way home. Each summer I was invited to his house, and the friendship continued until another transfer took his father to Wisconsin, and somehow, contact was lost.

For years I tried everything I could think of to find him. In fact, I even investigated organizations that would find people and was very tempted to pay the fee to do so. I was stumped. I didn’t know what to do.

Fast forward to a strange event–my best man from my wedding joined Facebook. If he could do it, could I? My sole purpose was with graduate school correspondence with colleagues around the state, but NOT for personal interaction. In other words, I rarely opened it. This happened for a year plus.

I don’t know why, but one day, as if watching a plane go across the sky with a banner behind it reading, “Have you thought of checking on Facebook, dummy?” The light bulb came on, my feet zoomed to the mighty HP in my home office, and I went searching. I typed his name in and just a few names came up. Soon, there was a face looking back at me. “Could that…be…him?” I pondered, stared, contemplated, and studied the portrait. Interestingly enough, the person looked nothing like the friend of 40 years ago. Aging—could it be possible? I typed a message to him and asked if he had lived in the same town as I. Imagine my surprise, on the next day, when I get the following message:

Yup. It’s me Brian, and I’ve been looking to find you too. It’s great to hear from you.

I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced one of those Hollywood movie moments where dreams come true, this was it. Did I hear the angels singing above?

Soon we were talking on the phone for almost three hours, and it was easy to reacquaint, and as my wife said, eavesdropping, “”Wow—you were immediately delving in as if time was not long at all!” Life is good, and this old soul has Facebook to thank. Whoever would have thought that technology could bring such great things to ordinary living? Social networking–when used correctly–is a great benefit in these stressful times.

Now, if you’ll hand me your pen, I have something to check off my Bucket List.

The Kennedy Center Free Concerts Online: Music Teachers?!????

Presentation1My wife and I recently “left Dodge” “ran away” “escaped” to DC for some much needed R & R (no wonder English can be so hard to learn!) and wanted to experience Washington on a low budget/high fun level. Not only did we get a great hotel bargain with a room that had a kitchen, meet up with loved ones, get free parking at the hotel, experience awesome weather, and forget about responsibility, but we also attended a free concert at the Kennedy Center. Named the Mellenium Stage at the Kennedy Center, free concerts are given nightly at 6:00 PM–totally free–and if you can’t attend, you can watch it online. Styles vary greatly (such as the Japanese drummers concert), but numerous other cross cultural, classical, and sundry styles of music are played live.

Even if you cannot find a concert that meets an SOL (would something tie in with a story in the reading basal? Social Studies?), take some time for YOURSELF and take a break to relax.
Cathedral sunlight
(tried my hand at photography while touring the Washington National Cathedral–here’s one that I thought was an interesting angle of view)