Ramblings: Free Concerts on the Bay in Norfolk

couples dancingapproaching storm This has NOTHING to do with education, technology, or anything requiring THOUGHT. It’s fun, and it’s free: tonight my wife and I went to the free Sunday night concerts in Norfolk on the Chesapeake Bay, and it was very therapeutic. Afterwards, why not get a Blizzard across the street? Go to the end of Granby, turn left at the bay front, and you’ll see the band stand immediately to your right after the condos. Enjoy!

One Comment Can Destroy a Person or Revive a Person; This One’s a CATAPAULT

Today was a normal regular day with an unusual amount of complaints and fires to extinguish. And, to top those off, work followed me home: my email had complaints in it. To take a break, I decided a trip to Wal Mart would help. You know it’s bad when a trip to Wal Mart is comparable to a night out on the town!

I’ve been in a lot of pain and the doctor, trying to figure out what’s wrong, suggested at today’s appointment that we start with an over the counter medicine to start weeding out what things could be wrong.

I scanned the aisle of the modern apothecary and soon found the coveted medicine. I scooped up it up and made my way to the check out. As I placed it on the counter, and the cashier rang up the purchase, a code popped up. The clerk looked at me and said, “Are you over 18?” As I stood there feeling miserable and old and feeble, I looked at her with this INCREDULOUS look, for I honestly could not get the joke.

“Uh, I am WAYYYY over 18.” I could not figure out where this conversation was going.

“Well, you certainly don’t look it!” By this time she was clutching the medicine and staring at me, and the folks behind me were getting restless. I tilted my head and looked at her.

“Trust me–I am over 18.” My look said, “Hand the darn medicine over!!!!”

Then we started a stare down. She blinked and said [I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP], “I need to see some ID please.”

“You’re carding me?!?” I exclaimed.


By this time the joy was more than I could bear. My hands started shaking. I started humming. It hit me–the lady IS CARDING ME. Carding = suspicion of being underage. Young. Real Young. Trouble maker. “My license!” I couldn’t pull it out fast enough. “I’m being carded! Halleluiah!!!!” I grinned at everyone behind me waiting in line, with a Mr. Bean face (refer to the picture above), pointed to the clerk, and said, “She’s carding–me!

She took the license, looked at it, and gasped, “Oh my gosh! You’re OLD!” A lady behind me, totally disgusted, said, “Of all the luck! I’m old too–can I be carded?”

All of a sudden the pain is totally gone. Those complaints? What complaints? Stress? Where?

Time for Total Brain Rest: Fun Technology Information with Ramblings on the Side

While others are on the town on this Saturday night, I sit at the mighty console of my HP banging away on the keys for my paper for grad school. Comparable to a blinking icon of a battery with a line going through it, my brain is flashing the same icon through my eyes. I think it’s time for frivolity and brain rest. Thus, I am searching for the fun, the “Did you ever wonder?” and other wanderings that have no connectivity or transitions:

Computer viruses: Did you ever wonder how they work?

Johnn Carson as Ronald Regan: A play on words (similar to “Who’s on First?”) that’s very funny: Go

This is what it’s like as I think at the computer:

Wikis in Plain English

Take a Tour of the Inside of Your Computer

and finally, history according to sixth graders from a recent email:

History according to sixth graders
The following were answers provided by 6th graders during a history test. Watch the spelling!
1. Ancient Egypt was inhabited by mummies and they all wrote in
hydraulics. They lived in the Sarah Dessert. The climate of the Sarah is
such that all the inhabitants have to live elsewhere.

2. Moses led the Hebrew slaves to the Red Sea where they made unleavened
bread, which is bread made without any ingredients. Moses went up on
Mount Cyanide to get the ten commandments. He died before he ever
reached Canada.
3. Solomon had three hundred wives and seven hundred porcupines.
4. The Greeks were a highly sculptured people, and without them we
wouldn’t have history. The Greeks also had myths. A myth is a female
5. Socrates was a famous Greek teacher who went around giving people
advice. They killed him. Socrates died from an overdose of wedlock.
After his death, his career suffered a dramatic decline.

6. In the Olympic games, Greeks ran races, jumped, hurled biscuits, and
threw the java.
7. Julius Caesar extinguished himself on the battlefields of Gaul. The
Ides of March murdered him because they thought he was going to be made
king. Dying, he gasped out: “Tee hee, Brutus.”

8. Joan of Arc was burnt to a steak and was canonized by Bernard Shaw.
10. It was an age of great inventions and discoveries. Gutenberg
invented removable type and the Bible. Another important invention was
the circulation of blood. Sir Walter Raleigh is a historical figure
because he invented cigarettes and started smoking.

11. The greatest writer of the Renaissance was William Shakespeare. He
was born in the year 1564, supposedly on his birthday. He never made
much money and is famous only because of his plays. He wrote tragedies,
comedies, and hysterectomies, all in Islamic pentameter. Romeo and
Juliet are an example of a heroic couple. Romeo’s last wish was to be
laid by Juliet.
12. Writing at the same time as Shakespeare was Miguel Cervantes. He
wrote Donkey Hote. The next great author was John Milton. Milton wrote
paradise lost. Then his wife died and he wrote Paradise Regained.

13. Delegates from the original 13 states formed the Contented Congress.
Thomas Jefferson, a Virgin, and Benjamin Franklin were two singers of
the Declaration of Independence. Franklin discovered electricity by
rubbing two cats backward and declared, “A horse divided against itself
cannot stand.” Franklin died in 1790 and is still dead.
14. Abraham Lincoln became America’s greatest Precedent. Lincoln’s
mother died in infancy, and he was born in a log cabin which he built
with his own hands. Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves by signing the
Emasculation Proclamation. On the night of April 14, 1865, Lincoln went
to the theater and got shot in his seat by one of the actors in a moving
picture show. They believe the assinator was John Wilkes Booth, a
supposingly insane actor. This ruined Booth’s career.

Put Yourselves in Their Shoes: Are Students Bored Out of Their Minds?

Yesterday at home, in the midst of blowing my nose, I trudged through my textbook in my Masters class, totally bored out of my mind, frustrated and often had to get up and walk around to relieve the stress. I’d look out the window, try to put on some quiet music, or SOMETHING to relieve the tension, the stress and the stark raving boredom. For example, once after reading four pages, I asked myself, “What have I just read?” and my response to myself (imagine me sitting there in an empty house TALKING to myself) was, “I have NO clue!” Piaget and Kohlberg are not the most gripping, edge-of-the-seat reading, and the terms being thrown at my eyeballs, such as discontinuous theories of development, heteronomous morality, ad nauseum, almost made me want to press my face against the window and scream, “Somebody PLEASE help me!” Knowing that a test waited in the rafters motivated and prompted me to practice my coping skills, but I wondered, “What if there was something else to motivate me besides the threat of a test?”

Then, while on a tangent, I tried to picture a teacher in front of me, pasty colored with that deer-in-the-headlights look, very tense, saying, “This is going to be on the test in May and you better learn it! Come to remediation! We’re going to have seven big practice benchmark tests before May, on top of tests on every chapter up till then! I’m cancelling your recess today because we need to review for the test!!!!”

Where’s the motivation, besides scaring me half to death, in getting me to LIKE learning and attempting difficult subjects because the teachers are being scared half to death because they’re being scared by ___, and on up the chain.

What would I want to see as a student if I was back in K-12 again?
a) more laughing and humor with the teacher leading the charge (I remember my favorite professor in college who would occasionally fall backwards out of his chair, or tell us to put our notes away and just ENJOY history for once, and he was the HARDEST professor on campus whose tests were BEARS. Guess what? He motivated me more to try my best than the ones who were task masters and talked in a monotone all period.)
b) more chance to explore the topic of study. What about a Mashup?
c) let me get up and stretch when I can’t stand it anymore. I can’t imagine sitting for 6.5 hours perfectly still.
d) remember those of us who can’t sit still or keep our mouths closed. What if I could get together in a group and discuss a webquest with a friend?
e) Change location. On warm days, how about if we sit out in the school yard for class?

Anyway, a test awaits me. Now, which of the following do NOT explain the principles of psychosocial theory? a) ……….

Is Insanity the Requirement for a Driver’s License in Tidewater???

Note: For a school staff to grow closer and develop a team mentality, sometimes it’s good to NOT shop talk. When we share frustrations, ideas, thoughts, dreams, ad infinitum, it lowers our stress immensely. Today I am sharing what irritates me.

I sometimes wonder why Tidewater Virginia (we’re on the seaboard by the Chesapeake Bay/Atlantic Ocean) drivers possess a license, for what I have witnessed in the last month is nothing less than terrifying. Terrifying, not only because I fear for my safety, but terrifying for how—shall I go out on a limb and say dumb—the driver behind the wheel can be. Mind you, we all make mistakes, but mistakes happen because of a momentary lapse of cognitive functioning. What I have witnessed is not just carelessness, but TOTAL lack of brain function. And, what is getting scarier, I am witnessing this EVERY time I am on the road. When I pull into my driveway at the end of the day, I rejoice for making it home safely!

Moreover, drivers are getting rude. Common courtesy is becoming a relic of the past. I’ve never been so tempted to buy a tank for my main mode of transportation.

Examples of what I am referring to, starting from this morning and working backwards in time:

a) The speed limit for the main street that goes by our subdivision is 25 MPH, and in the morning, I drive straight towards the sun rising, thus causing near blindness. I noticed the lady behind me was so close that I could not see most of her hood. To add insult, as she drove on my tail, she was reaching in the backseat, on the floor of the passenger side, and continued to get closer. I glared in my rear view mirror at her, locked eyes, and that made her get even closer.

b) Every morning, as I drive over the West Norfolk/Pinners Point bridge, and traffic is backed up for about a mile, drivers will pull around, go to the front of the line as it branches off towards the midtown tunnel, and cut in front of those who had waited their turns. As a result, I’ve learned to stay in the far right lane because this is common practice. If cars are merging in from West Norfolk road, I’ll leave a spot open for them, but the driver goes on to get as far ahead as possible.

c) While driving to Richmond on I-64 last week, I said to my wife, “Let’s see how many pass me” and set the cruise control at the speed limit, 65 MPH. For 90 minutes, every single car passed me. The next day we drove to Williamsburg. I stayed in the middle lane, and as I looked in the rear view mirror, a car was so close that I could see what was on the dashboard. The driver was on her cell phone, obviously irritated at someone. At the last moment, she cut over in the right lane, nearly causing the driver to wreck. Sad point? She had no idea that she did it.

d) The week before Christmas vacation, as I drove towards Pinners Point, a semi truck was tailgating so closely to me that the hood of the truck took up the full view of the back window. I was so scared that I started getting short of breath. Assuming that the truck driver would realize his error and pull back, he did not. I couldn’t pull over to the side on the bridge because the semi driver was weaving back and forth.

e) The driver who brought my daughter home for Christmas break, I hear, was driving 100 MPH on I-64. My daughter told me that it scared her. As a father, you can imagine my horror! Thankfully, a State Patrolman was nearby and clocked her going at a mere 80 MPH. What a blessing that ticket may be!

So, if you see me ahead of you some morning or afternoon, please be different and be polite, respectful, and let me get home alive!!!

Resolutions for a Technology New Year

Resolutions, which mean one wants to stop doing something that keeps being repeated, or starting a new habit that one wishes they would begin but aren’t brave enough to do so, are often laughed but not usually followed through. Your TRT has compiled a list to reflect on, and I’ve numbered them starting with areas that are the easiest to keep and not break. To whit:

1. I WILL NOT GO IT ALONE: I find it much easier, when experiencing stress or problems, to have a buddy beside me to help carry the load and share the experience together. Have you wracked your brain for ideas on how to get a concept across to your students and go blank? Are you feeling like you need to do something new with your lesson plans? Do you feel all alone within your four walls? Invite me to help plan with you, coteach, look for resources, ad infinitum. How do you start? Give me a time, your lesson plan/ideas, and we’ll plan together. The least effective way is to say, “Drop by anytime.” Coming in cold and winging it is not the best way. Mrs. Bean and Mrs. Barrett are the queens of following the proper procedure; we’ll plan ahead of time before I come in the room.

2. I WILL TRY SOMETHING NEW: Kids love NEW things! Can they predict four weeks ahead of time what your class will be like? Do they enter your room with anticipation or dread? When they see YOU learning, THEY want to learn. Do you teach Math? Use an Excel activity. Science? Use a Thinkfinity activity. I have tons of ideas.
Why not start reading blogs? Check the blog list to the right and see if there’s something that interests you. Make a comment on somebody’s blog and start a discussion. Tammy Worcester has a wonderful post about leaving comments–make a blogger’s day!

3. I WILL GIVE MY STUDENTS A FUN TEST: Do you know how your classes learn best? Give them the multiple intelligences test. You’ll be surprised how easier they will grasp concepts if you can focus to their styles.

4. I WILL PUT MYSELF IN THEIR SHOES: Have you signed up for Tech Tuesdays? Become a student again and learn the latest in technology integration. Sign up for an online class with PBS’s Teacher on Line. CII (WHRO) has classes on line that are cheap and short (we’re members).

5. I WILL QUIT SAYING “I DON’T HAVE ENOUGH TIME”: Who does? Instead, reach out to others. See #1. What would it be like to join forces with your team and have a big cross curricular unit where you all teach together? Reserve the lab for half a day and coteach with the TRT! Change venue–what would it be like to set up the COW laptops in the cafeteria? Think big and reach for the stars.

6. I WILL GET TANGLED UP IN A WEB: Have you ever heard of Web 2.0? Wiki’s? Blogs? Join Classroom 2.0 and see what teachers across the world and collaborate together. Let me show you the possibilities.

7. I WILL CHECK IT OUT: Visit the library and try a document camera, data projector, new book, online resources, or visit a colleague’s class during my planning period.

8. I WILL STOP THE VIDEO: Oddly enough, kids don’t always get ecstatic over seeing videos in their entirety. Break the video into segments and discuss each one. Be brave and explore the teacher center in Discovery Education.

9. I WILL STOP TALKING SO MUCH: Be a facilitator and have your classes work in cooperative groups. Start with Marzano’s technology integration strategies.

10. I WILL BRING A COW TO CLASS: When was the last time you used one of our Carts on Wheels? If it’s been awhile, invite it back! I’ll be happy to train you and show you all the cool things we can do.

and finally…

11. I WILL LAUGH MORE: Science has proven laughter relives tension, stress, and makes us HAPPY. Why not try watching or looking at:
a) The 16th Century Help Desk (YouTube):
b) The Best of Sign Language (London’s Daily Telegraph). True signs seen around the world. This is a non educational site.
c) I Love Lucy- Vitameatavegamin (YouTube). This is a very famous sitcom from the 1950’s–my favorite of all times.

In the Midst of Difficulties One Realizes What is Important

Have you ever had a quote go past your ears that causes you to stop, turn around, come back, and listen to it again? Today was one of those that I heard one by Wintley Phipps: “It is in the quiet crucible of your personal private sufferings that your noblest dreams are born, and God’s greatest gifts are given in compensation for what you’ve been through.”

You may wonder what this has to do with a blog about Instructional Technology/Educational Technology/I.T. and the like. Stay with me on this.

I was crunching statistical data on this blog, and my assumption was that the pages which were read the most would be about technology education. Imagine my surprise when I saw, at the top of the list posts on quotes for inspiration and encouragement. Could this be a need that many have?

The past month my wife has had a cancer scare (we’re not out of the woods yet), I’ve had bad news at home, normal work stressors, and this morning a person pulled out in front of me and we collided. To add insult to injury, this was our good car that I’ve babied, and the car looks totaled. What’s left at home? The old ’88 Ford. Once I gathered my thoughts, it dawned on me that:
–I have a home
–I have food in the refrigerator
–My daughters do not give us trouble
–I’m enjoy my job as a TRT
–I’ve got a great staff that I work with
–I’m happily married (26 years)
–I have my health
–The worst thing that happened this morning that metal got damaged
–The air conditioning works
–I’m safe
–I have at least one car that works (albeit old and ugly)
–I have friends
–I’m content (not always happy, but content)
and I’m loved.

Sometimes we have to get shaken to the core to realize how to focus. Do you have words of wisdom on what you’ve done to look on the bright side of life, in spite of sufferings?

What If You Were Told You Only had Six Months to Live?

I have a friend who is dying. He was preparing for surgery, but instead, found out that he has stage four malignant melanoma. BOOM! Out of nowhere–he had no clue. The cancer is inoperable and so he has only six months. Now, you’re probably picturing him being in despair, depressed, and down. Yes, he’s had his moments, as can be expected. Today he spoke at our Sunday gathering, and his response is a lesson for us all.

He considers himself blessed beyond means. He can’t comprehend how happy he is. The resulting silence in church said much about the reaction of the congregation. There were four points for us to reflect on, but the first one got me the most.

For, you see, he considers the six months a gift to be able to say goodbye. Wow.

He and his wife went on their long planned cruise anyway. He snorkled. He danced with his best friend of 40 years, his wife. He got to see his brother from Colorado. He is able enjoy life–still.

As I looked around from the balcony while he spoke, eyes were being wiped–even the big burly guys.

What suddenly would be important to you if you were told you had only six months? What suddenly would hold no importance?

We as educators have many blessings in front of us: the students. Is it more important to give of ourselves? Will students remember that act of kindness, or will they instead say, “Wow! I remember how fascinating adjectives were!” Will they remember those awesome lessons on how to better take a standardized test, or will they remember feeling a community in your classroom?

Are we living our lives for others, or ourselves? A teacher can answer that easily: for others.

Thanks, Dan. What a gift you’ve given me.

A Prime Example of a Powerful Presentation–Avoiding Powerpoint Poisoning

VSTE logoWhile my mind and brain are at a holding pattern at 20 years of age, the lower part of my body is going on with life anyway, dealing with the reality of 49 years of life.

My brain thinks, “Yo, dude, we’re 20!” and my lower extremities think, “Yeah, right.”

I tend to ignore pain, and recently, while helping host a couple from France at the Archives and Collections at Colonial Williamsburg, I was having a “Wow!” moment seeing behind the scenes, not realizing that the searing pain in my knee was trying to send a signal to the brain (“Yo! I’m 20!”) that something was wrong. To get to the point of this diatribe, I was told by my doctor that I have arthritis in my knee (Knee to brain: “We’re in trouble down here! Note how swelled up I am!”) (brain to knee: “Shut up! I’m having too much fun! I’m 20!”).

So, the most comfortable spot to stop pain was, I found, to lean sideways on the office chair at home, prop my left knee on the third desk drawer that’s propped slightly open, being careful not to hit the drawer pull, and prop my right knee against the computer desk. Turn the chair sideways enough to face the monitor, and, voila, the pain disappears!

I spent my time exploring Classroom 2.0 looking for groups that might give me some pointers for my VSTE presentation in Roanoke in February (reaction: stomach tension, knees knocking, and subsequent pain), I came across [trumpet fanfare, please, complete with pipe organ] an eye-popping, head shaking, WOW, blog for how to present well, thanks to Nancy on one of our recent conversations regarding Movie Maker.

Please check it out! Your time will be well spent, and if you’re a presenter, it’ll make a difference!

Do I Dare Disturb the Universe? and the posting: Presenting about presenting by Scott Elias