Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Lock Down



My son and daughter got to experience their first, and hopefully last, lock down at school yesterday. My little one didn't have much to say about it and it didn't seem to bother her. I think maybe she is too little to understand what a lock down actually means. My son thought it was cool and exciting of course. My wife and I were alarmed. I can't say that I was scared for my kids. They were in good hands. My son asked a few "what if" questions but for the most part seemed to feel safe in the school. I think it was handled well by the St. Francis staff and I commend them for their efforts.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Diigo


Diigo is a social bookmarking site. I know, your saying "Great, another bookmarking site to learn how to use!". Yes it is but it has some real potential as a great teaching and learning tool. Not only can you bookmark a site and get to it on any computer that is internet capable but you can highlight parts of the site (article) and even add sticky notes to parts of the article. You can create groups and start group discussions. One of the best features is that you can tie all the bookmarks you add to your delicious account (another social bookmarking site). Check it out! I think once you learn how to use it that you will really like it.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Twitter to the Rescue!

The very few of you that think Twitter is useless need to check this out!

By the way... love this cartoon!

So Far So Good...In the Sports World


So far it is a good time for me to be a fan of the teams that I am a fan of. The White Sox are winning their division and the Lakers are up 3-0 in their series against the Nuggets. Hopefully the Lakers can bring home another title! It would be nice for Kobe to be able to validate his MVP status without Shaq around.

Another couple of positive notes about sports...the Yankees are sucking it up and the Cubs are ahead of the Cards!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Another Busy Day


I woke up this morning and went for a 1/2 hour walk. It was chilly but a good way to start the day. When I got home I helped my wife and kids clean the house and then I took my son to the grocery store to get some stuff for tonight. When I go home I ate lunch and then went for another walk with my wife. After we got home I mowed the yard, did some weed eating, put some mulch around some of our small trees, and cleaned the front porch off! I put around 18,000 steps on my pedometer! It sure felt good to get outside and get some work done and my yard is looking pretty good.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Solar System Projects Graded

I got the 8th grade solar system projects graded today! It is always a relief to get projects graded. I have to give much of the credit to my sub and the paraprofessionals in my room. They made sure the projects were set up in an orderly fashion and easy to view. The students did an excellent job on the projects. The only thing I have left to do is to take pictures of all the projects. I plan on getting that done tomorrow. As a class, some of the students have to help me with creating Payson's first voicethread. If you don't know what a voicethread is then you need to pay attention to my blog for future posts. The kids put a lot of work into these projects and it showed in the grades they received. Congratulations 8th graders on a job well done! If anyone is in the school visiting in the next 3 days or so they are more than welcome to check in at the office and make a trip down to my room to see some interesting projects!

New Program Toys

I am having some fun with some new programs. The first one is Twitterfox. It is Twitter but it is open only down right above the taskbar. It updates (refreshes) automatically and you decide how often. It doesn't have all the features of regular Twitter but the refreshing feature sure makes up for it. If you have a Twitter account try it out. I think you will like it.

I also downloaded a free PDF creator called PrimoPDF. For those of you that don't know what PDF is it is a file format that allows everyone, no matter what program they may have (Word for example), to read and/or print your document. I think this is a great tool!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

A Great Day With My Family

I had a wonderful day with my family today. My son and I went out for breakfast this morning and then we wen fishing. We caught a ton of fish but none of them were keepers. We then went to the store and got stuff to grill out tonight. When we got home we got stuff put away and then went for a geocaching. After gerocaching my wife, my son, and I went for a walk while my daughter played with the neighbor girl. What a nice day for it! We came home and grilled out and then had an enjoyable family meal. After supper we made smores over the fire pit. It was pretty much a perfect day!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

2 For The Price Of 1!

Today I had the pleasure of having two student-observers in my morning classes. It was wonderful to have two energetic, thought provoking, students working with me today. I feel that both of these young ladies are going to be extremely good teachers. They seem to take in information, and ideas, like a sponge! It takes me back to when I started teaching and the feelings of "I am going to save the world!" I would like to think I still have a little of that left. Both of these students jumped right in when it came to helping the students out with questions and they both seemed really interested in the projects that were going on in my class. I wish them both the best of luck and I hope they stay as positive and energetic as they currently are!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Projects, Projects, Projects Everywhere!


My room looks like a F5 tornado came through! I have solar system projects, and parts of projects, strewn throughout my room and it is driving me crazy! For those of you that don't know me I am a self-confessed neat freak about my room and desk. The projects are going to be wonderful, and the kids have put a lot of time and work into their projects, but my room is a disaster. It will probably take a day in class just to get it put back together and make sure that all the pieces of left over project picked up and/or thrown away. If the projects are as good as I think they are going to be then it will all be worth it.

The seventh graders are having to do some coping because of the mess. We are trying to get a blog project done in the middle of the war zone. They are coping well and my project-combat experience is coming in handy.

My high school class is also doing a project. It is one of my students' favorites. We are making roller coasters out of pipe insulation. We use a marble for the roller coaster car. They are enjoying it and like having all the room in the multipurpose room to work on it. We get into the math and how Newton's laws relate to it tomorrow so we will see how excited about it tomorrow. :)

I think all three classes are having a good time with the projects and learning quite a bit at the same time.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Geocaching in Quincy


The kids and I just got back about 45 minutes ago from geocaching. We had a blast! If you don't know what geocaching is then let me explain. You get your GPS and punch in the longitude and latitude and you're off! That is basically all there is to it. You are trying to find a geocache that has been hidden in a certain area by another GPS enthusiast. You get the coordinates off the web from the geocaching site. The "treasure" can be in about anything that is weather proof. Sometimes there are trinkets in the container, sometimes you just sign a log that other geocachers have signed. Today we found one in a fairly small container that looked much like it's surroundings and the other lead us to a gravestone (2 actually) in a cemetery. The last one included a short history lesson. We did both of the geocaches in about an hour. I would highly recommend this as a family activity! We hope to make our own geocache this summer!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Year is Wrapping Up

It is that time of year here at school. It is time to see what you can squeeze in between leaving early for track meets, assemblies, field trips, end of the year meetings, etc. It is a great time of year for me because it keeps me on my toes. What better way to get the adrenaline flowing than to see if you can adjust lesson plans on the fly! At a time in the year when it would be very easy to just get in a groove, and stay there, all the distractions make sure you stay on top of your game. I guess I am really asking for it next week. I will be in the middle of three different projects! I say "Bring it on!". There are roughly 35 days left of school and I intend for my students, and myself, to enjoy them and learn something in the process. Let's rock 'n' roll!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

My Wife's Birthday


Today is my wife's birthday. She turns 40. Although it sounds corny, she is still as pretty today as she was the day I met her. I would like to thank her publicly for all she does to keep my kids and I in line. That is a difficult task some days! She is the "organizer" at home and makes sure the kids have their snacks, and lunches, for the day, and makes sure all the papers are signed and get back to school. I couldn't ask for a better wife and I don't think I could get lucky enough to find another one like her. She knows when to get on me about certain things and knows when I need some time to myself. My wife has never told me I can't go out with my friends but always makes sure that I know she will miss me when I am gone somewhere. She is special. I love you Sue. Happy Birthday, and may we have 50 more birthdays to celebrate together!

Quote to Live By

I love this quote. Something for all of us to think about!

"Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people."
- Eleanor Roosevelt

Field Trip With Fourth Graders


I decided about a month ago I was going to take a personal day and go on a field trip with my son and his class. They were going to Springfield, Illinois to visit Lincoln's Tomb, Lincoln's home, the Capitol building, and the Cathedral. I was skeptical in taking the day off from teaching to escort 4th graders on a field trip but my son it worth it. I know his teacher is very organized so that is a big plus for me. The big day was yesterday! There are 21 kids in his class and he goes to a private school in Quincy, IL. We left right on time at 7:15 am. The kids were exceptionally well behaved and thoroughly enjoyed themselves. We were worried about the weather but the rain held off until about our last stop. I took around 80 pictures. It had been an extremely long time since I had visited these places. I think the last time I was there was when I was in about 5th grade...as I said "a long time ago". It is surprising to me what a visit to some our 16th President's haunts will do to the patriotic side of you. It really makes me proud to be an American when you hear stories of what this one U.S. citizen was able to do in a time of great change. To me the Cathedral was the most interesting place. I had not been there and the Priest that gave the tour was young and full of energy. He really knew his stuff! What amazed me the most was that the amount of information the fourth graders knew about the catholic religion and it's symbols. Very impressive! The Cathedral will be being remodeled this time next year so next year's class will not get to visit. They had a spot in the church that they were testing out different things to see how it looked. It is already a beautiful place but when it's remodeling is finished it will be unbelievable!

Camping


As I told you earlier I was going camping with my son this past weekend. The weather was great. The food was great. The weekend was great. We did a lot of hiking, a little fishing (nothing was biting!), and a bunch of talking and storytelling. When we got there we took a pretty long hike which lead into some fishing. When we got back we started the camp fire and the kids played with this air-forced rocket system. It kept them entertained for quite awhile. We had a good supper consisting of roasted pork loin, wild rice, corn, and applesauce. After supper we played a little football and took a night hike. Myself and a couple of other dads took it upon ourselves to add a little excitement to the hike. We decided to hide in the woods and scare the living daylights out of our brave scouts. It was hilarious. After we got back from the hike we sat around the camp fire and told ghost stories. We were all in be by 10:30 and the rafters in the cabin were a bangin'! Many of the dads were very proud of there snoring and didn't take much time in showing it off. It was still rather chilly in the cabin so we had to stoke the wood burning stove in the middle of the night. Blueberry pancakes and eggs were served for breakfast around 7:30 and we had the place cleaned up and we were on the road by 9:00. A great experience for early Spring!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Way Too Long...

spring

It's been way too long since I have posted. It's not that I haven't had anything to say, we are just getting Spring weather and outside sure is sounding better than inside. My son and I are doing the Scout/Camping thing this weekend. 60 degrees and sunny...can't beat it. I hope to get the rest of the yard raked on Sunday as prep for the fertilizer. I have been walking outside as much as possible instead of the mall and it sure feels good to do so.

On the work front, school is winding down but there is still much to do. We have an 8th grade project coming up next week and we will start their autobiographies in early May. 7th graders will probably get one more shot at blogging and they start their projects in early May. I will be taking next Tuesday as a personal day to go on a field trip with my son to Springfield, IL and on Friday of next week I have a committee meeting on Friday morning. The tech director and I will be having a couple of days of meetings coming up to discuss what technologies to use in class and how best to use them. It is a busy time!

I will try to be a little more on top of my writing!
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